Month: March 2017

Amsterdam, Holland Credit: Werner Kunz/Flickr/Creative Commons

‘Poiema’

Sometimes I like to write poetry or prose. It is my way of expressing myself and connecting to God. It’s often easier for me to write down what I’m feeling than to speak about it. I suppose one could say this is how God made me, and so writing has remained a fairly constant thread throughout my life. Interestingly, I found out last week the Greek word for poem is ‘poiema’. Well this was new to me! Upon further digging, I also discovered this is the exact word Paul chose to use in Ephesians 2:10 when he said: “For we are His workmanship (poiema), created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (NKJV) To think that we are God’s poem, His work of creativity, really highlights this scripture for me. The New Living Translation says, ‘we are His masterpiece’, which brings across how unique He made us all. We are created in His image (Genesis 1:27) and we are His work of art. All we are …

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Will you complete the transformation?

In Romans 12:1,2, the Apostle Paul makes a life-changing statement that believers are “transformed by the renewing of our mind.”  Though we are saved by faith, the transformation for the Christian takes place as we change the way we think. That word transformed is the Greek word ‘metamorphou’ from which we get the English word metamorphosis that describes the transformation that takes place when a caterpillar turns into a butterfly. This transformation is a gradual process for a caterpillar. First it spins a cocoon and then in the safety of this container, the insect dissolves and the mixture of enzymes reform into a new creature – a butterfly. The two insects are so different they can no longer eat the same thing because its digestive system has completely changed — one chews on leaves and the other sucks nectar. Paul says the Christian must undergo a similar transformation. Unfortunately, we can’t spend a few days in a cocoon to complete this change. We are forced to learn on the job. Further, Paul tells us that …

A woman prays near the Tomb of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Credit: Jelle Drok/Flickr/Creative Commons

About Jerusalem

In recent years, I have been blessed to spend several weeks in the eternal city of Jerusalem. This is the only city on the earth which the LORD God of Israel declared, “In Jerusalem, I will put my name forever” (2 Kings 21:4-7). During my time in Israel, Psalm 122:6 was constantly before my eyes;  “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May they prosper who love you.” Jerusalem is the most prayed for city in the universe.  At every meal, Jews pray the blessing, “Blessed are you, O LORD, who will build up Jerusalem in mercy.” Every Monday the Jews recite Psalm 48 from their Prayer Book; “Walk about Zion and go all around her” (verse 12). Jerusalem is a spiritual city (not sinless), set apart for a Holy God. Many days I spent just walking around Jerusalem and was constantly reminded of the  blessings connected with Israel that can only come from the true LORD God.  Indeed the peace of Jesus Christ is evident in the streets and there are places where one can …

Message in a bottle Credit: Kev Lewis/Flickr/Creative Commons

Has the church lost its message?

I was on a Christian website reading an article on Disney’s recent release of Beauty and the Beast that portrayed overtly homosexual scenes in a movie intended for children.  One person commented deriding and mocking the church’s failure to boycott the movie that was a box office success. Baited, several Christians responded some with vulgar comments condemning the person. One used the term “bum holer,” a comment that was later removed. To be honest, I felt a similar resentment towards this pro-gay commenter. I have been a Christians for years but a verse from the Gospel of John cited in a devotional I received recently caught my attention. I wondered if someone had just added this verse to the Bible in the last couple of years, because it seems so contrary to current Christian practice. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn (Greek krino) the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:17 NIV) The Greek word ‘krino’ means to judge as the NASV translated it or to …

Crystal Bassette and her husband Credit: YouTube capture -- This Morning show

From porn star to Christian to pastor

It’s a story that is sure to turn some heads. When she was 21 years old, Crystal Bassette performed in her first porn video. According to the British Newspaper, The Sun, after the shoot she sat in her shower and cried for two hours. She was supporting a son after becoming pregnant at age 16 and was working in a California bar with dreams of becoming an actress. And though initially uncertain about continuing, the draw of a monthly salary of $25,000 proved too much and a month later she did her second porn shoot. Over the next several years, she would make over 100 porn movies. With the money the lifestyle provided, she lived in a mansion complete with a maid, a gardener and seven cars, but to cope Bassette turned to alcohol and drugs. But that all changed in 2014 when she had a serious car accident where police charged her with impaired driving. After the crash, Bassette attended her sister’s church on Easter Sunday and became a Christian after the pastor preached …

Pope Francis Credit: Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston/George Martell/Pilot News Media/Flickr/Creative Commons

Is Pope Francis paving the way for a second exodus from the Catholic church — Reformation Part II?

When Martin Luther, a Catholic seminary professor and priest, pounded his 95 thesis on the door of a Roman Catholic church in Wittenburg Germany on October 31, 1517, he was not setting out to start a new church, he was trying to reform the Catholic church. He was responding to the efforts of Johann Tetzel, a Dominican monk, who arrived in the area selling indulgences to help build a new cathedral in Rome. The indulgences allowed people to buy their way into heaven. Martin Luther said people are saved by faith, not by money. The Roman Catholic church reacted to Luther’s call for reform birthing the protestant church. Now on the 500th anniversary of this reformation is a second one brewing? I have been reading comments on a number of conservative Catholic sites of grave concerns about Pope Francis. Pope Francis who campaigned and won the papacy in 2013 as a conservative Catholic is anything but. Conservative Catholics call Francis a Marxist and a liberal. In 2015, Eugenio Scalfari, publisher of the Italian newspaper La …

Rural village in Sierra Leone Credit: martagiqs/Flickr/Creative Commons

Christian pastor finds one of world’s largest diamonds

Emmanuel Momoh pastors an evangelical church in the village of Yakadu in the Kono region of Sierra Leone, a small country located along the Western coast of Africa. Found in the eastern part of the country, the province of Kono is famous for its diamonds. When he isn’t serving as a pastor, Momoh also works a small artisan mine where he recently found the 706-carat diamond, slightly smaller than a hockey puck. According to experts, it is very unusual for diamonds of any significant quality to be found in these smaller mines, much less one of this size. Yet to be fully evaluated, it is expected the diamond is worth upwards of $50 million — a 813-carat diamond recently sold for $63 million. There is hint of a possible flaw in the diamond that could affect its value. If its size holds true, it could potentially be the tenth largest diamond ever found in the world. Perhaps the most stunning part of the story is Pastor Momoh’s decision to turn it over  to the government …

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Being centered: A personal struggle to belong

Joseph is one of my favorite Bible characters. After studying his life for the past year, I have developed a love/hate relationship with this Old Testament hero, both for the same reasons. He stood faithful in God, no matter what happened. No matter who lied or betrayed him, no matter how far down in the pit life pushed him, he kept serving and looking to God. He stayed centered on God when most of us would have given up on God and our dreams. But I want to look at one aspect of Joseph’s life that is often not discussed but is both encouraging and challenging. Most people agree that Joseph came from a very dysfunctional home: 9 older jealous brothers, 3 step-moms, and a doting father who was clued-out as to the effect that his favoritism was having on his family. After studying Joseph’s life, what I see is a loner. He was a loner but never alone. He was too Egyptian for his family and too Jewish for the Egyptians. At the end …

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UFOs and Christians

Do you remember movies like ET and Close Encounters of the Third Kind? The concept of aliens from other planets has been entertaining us for years. And sometimes the belief in flying saucers with strange passengers, and alien abductions becomes like a religious cult with true believers. Also, life on other planets is a mainstream scientific theory. One of the hottest things in modern astronomy is the search for Earth like planets. When I was a boy, probably about eight years old, my big brother found a new hobby. He became a UFOlogist. He found a source of cheaply printed books with blurry pictures of weird things in the sky, and he let me read them. For a little boy, that was the best hobby ever. I still remember those stories about visitations and abductions, and things in the sky that the Air Force denied. Eventually our mother learned about this and she was not happy. The tension was broken one Sunday, in church. The pastor said something about UFOs, in his sermon, and I …

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Seth, stem cells, teeth and the Bible

As I reported in my previous article, I am going for stem cell therapy on my knees. I have found the numerous news reports on stem cells very interesting but an article in early January from the British newspaper, The Telegraph, provided an insight into stem cells from a Biblical perspective. Now let’s be clear, no where does the Bible directly discuss stem cells other than references to how God formed us in the womb (Psalm 139:13) in which stem cells play a critical role. But the story about work being done by researchers at London’s King College provided another clue for me. They were testing the Alzheimer drug — Tideglusib — and discovered that the drug can cause teeth with cavities to repair themselves. It does this by stimulating the ‘stem cells’ in the pulp of the tooth. Teeth already have a limited ability to repair the dentine and enamel but the layer is so thin that it is not heavy enough to repair larger cavities. Researchers found that by inserting a small sponge …

Brussels, Belgium Credit: Francisco Antunes/Flickr/Creative Commons

I am heading out for ‘stem cell’ therapy

I am heading out-of-town for ‘stem cell’ therapy on my knees, so posts will probably be a bit sporadic over the next few days. There has been a lot of news recently on stem cells therapy for multiple areas from knees to hips to heart and even the brain. After conception, a baby forms through the use of stem cells and because of this some have described them as mother cells. After you are born, you have stem cells inside you used to repair damaged tissue. They are described as undifferentiated cells, meaning a stem cell can repair a damaged knee or that same stem cell could repair a damaged heart. It is basically blank and takes on the characteristic of the tissue it is repairing. Because of this unique ability, doctors are using stem cells to repair damage in multiple areas of the body. They basically harvest stem cells and then insert a concentrated amount into the damaged area such as a knee or shoulder to encourage repair. Though success is not guaranteed, it …

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The dance of the butterfly

As much as I struggled and fought with winter this year, I have learned that it is just as important as all the other seasons. To be honest, I felt trapped this winter. It’s been hard and I found the days long and the shortage of sun emotionally draining. One day my mood was up (the sun was out) and the next day it would be down (cloudy skies). I missed my flowers and the sunshine. Through this I was reminded of the butterfly and its various stage of cocooning. Some refer to the butterfly’s incubation time as a “holding space” where it completes its remarkable transformation from a caterpillar to a butterfly. The Bible talks about a similar “holding space” for Christians: “Cease striving and know that I am God. ” (Psalm 46:10) I can picture the caterpillar becoming frustrated by the lack of light as the layers slowly envelope its tiny form.  But, it needs to surrender to the cocooning and its time of incubation. I am beginning to understand that this cocooning …

Credit: Luther Bailey/Flickr/Creative Commons

Hearing the prophetic sound

If radio and television sound can be transmitted through receivers, can human beings transmit sounds that are not ordinarily heard by the human ear? If a short-wave radio can receive communication from across the ocean, is it possible for a human to pick up that same information? The prophet Isaiah spoke of supernatural hearing assistance when he wrote: “He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear To hear as the learned. The Lord God has opened My ear; and I was not rebellious, Nor did I turn away” (Is. 50:4b-5). On July 6, 2004, while playing my piano and worshiping the LORD, I heard the cries of young children.  As I continued to worship I discerned the cries of the children were from Australia and a burden came upon me. I began to pace my living room and cry out, “Why are the children crying?” After some time the answer came, “Because they have no one to show them the Father’s Love”. That answer disturbed me as I know there are some very …

Oriental Hornet from Israel Credit: Gideon Pisanty/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

The first solar cell was invented in 1839 or was it?

According to Wikipedia, French physicist Edmond Becquerel invented the world’s first solar cell in 1839. He was 19-years-old and used his father’s laboratory to construct it. It was the world’s first photovoltaic cell to convert the sun’s light into electricity. But was Becquerel’s invention the world’s first photo cell as some claim? According to Dr. Marian Plotkin, an entomologist at Israel’s Tel Aviv University, the answer is an emphatic ‘NO’. That honor must go to the Oriental Hornet. It is a large insect — 25mm to 35mm long (1 to 1.38 inches) — common to the Middle East, Northern Africa and India. In his study of this unique insect, Plotkin discovered this species of hornet actually produces electricity from the sun. Yes it is a living, breathing, solar panel. To prove his point, Plotkin wired six hornets together and was able to produce enough electricity to fire up a digital watch. At this point, they are still not sure how the energy is utilized, but some suspect the hornet uses the energy to dig — …

Mosul, Iraq Credit: Kawa Somar/US Government/Voice of America/Wikipeidia

What ISIS intended as evil ends up as a confirmation of the Biblical record

One ancient tradition states the tomb of the prophet Jonah is located near the remains of the city of Nineveh. This particular site has been considered Jonah’s tomb since the 4th century and resulted in the construction of a Christian church and monastery at the site. God wanted Jonah to go to Nineveh and call the city to repent of its sins. Fearing the city would escape God’s judgement if it responded, Jonah refused and sailed off to Tarshish located on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. However, God stirred up a storm that eventually resulted in Jonah being tossed overboard and swallowed by a large fish. Stuck in it’s stomach for three days, Jonah repented and was coughed up on land. He went back to Nineveh who then responded to Jonah’s message. If this tradition is right, Jonah must have stayed on in Nineveh.  However, this is not universally accepted. Other traditions state that Jonah returned to his home town of Gath-Hepher where he died. The Assyrian church initially built at the shrine located just …

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Baby’s stem cells heal mom

In a process officially called ‘fetomaternal microchimerism’ — I love how the name just runs off your tongue — medical researchers concluded that a baby actually helps a mother heal from pregnancy and birth. When a woman gives birth it is a traumatic experience for both infant and mother. During the birthing the mother can actually be hurt and medical researchers found that the baby actually sends its stem cells into the mother to help heal the damage. There has been a lot of news recently about stem cells and their ability to heal damaged body parts and organs. Stem cells are “blank cells” that can repair any type of tissue. If a stem cell is hanging around arm tissue, it will repair that. If it is hanging around heart tissue, that same stem cell will replicate those cells. Along with their ability to heal and repair, stem cells also play a major role in the baby’s creation in the mother’s womb. But this is where it gets interesting. Once, the stem cells have played …

Credit: Michal Strzelecki/Wojteck Strzelecki/Jerzy strzelecki/Wikipedia

Jonah and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge?

You have probably seen a documentary or even a movie highlighting the massive mountain ranges that exist at the bottom of the earth’s oceans. Since they are located thousands of feet below the surface, no one knew of their existence until the 1800s. One of the first hints appeared in 1875, when scientists on board the HMS Challenger were plotting a route for a telegraph cable across the Atlantic. But at that point, they had no idea of the size or extent of these under-ocean mountain ranges. It wasn’t until the 1950s, when American-based Columbia University using a research vessel discovered a massive mountain range that extended up the middle of the Atlantic ocean. At first they thought this mountain range – called the Mid-Atlantic Ridge – was unique to the Atlantic. But as they surveyed the bottoms of the earth’s other oceans they discovered other ranges as well. Though these underwater mountains are only a recent discovery, the Bible actually spoke of them several times, thousands of year before scientists actually discovered them. Perhaps …

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666 and all that

I was stopped by the police the other day. This was the second time in my life, so I was surprised. The officer explained that my driver’s license had expired on my birthday. I thought I had until the end of the month, but I didn’t. He let me off with a warning and I fixed the problem at a registry, right away. A few years ago I saw a car in a handicapped parking stall outside a Halal meat store. I told the female driver about the problem and she basically went ballistic. I thought this new immigrant needed some direction, but she thought I needed something from her. I just walked away. We all know about refugees and migrants who are crossing borders to find a better life in a wealthy country. There are stories now about people walking across the border from Minnesota to Manitoba, the U.S.A. to Canada, in the winter. I appreciate Winnipeg, one of my sons is there and he is doing well, but walking to Winnipeg, in the …

Storm clouds over Corsica, France Credit: hippolyte/Flickr/Creative Commons

For such a time as this

Recently, world events overwhelmed me. I became weak,  unbelieving and fearful. It seemed that I lost hope and my  desire to move forward and attempt things for God. What can God accomplish and do in times such as these. Can I be used to bring healing and change to this world? During these tumultuous days, I am reminded of a request Mordecai made of Queen Esther concerning the fate of their nation in captivity in Persia: “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your Father’s house will perish” (Esther 4:14a) We must not remain silent. Esther chose to use her voice and to speak into a dangerous situation facing her nation. God has a plan and during times of duress we need to listen to His voice. Mordecai continued to exhort Esther: “And who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14b) We are needed. Esther did not want to rock the …