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Deep Calls to Deep

Credit: NaturesFan/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: NaturesFan/Flickr/Creative Commons

There are times when ‘life happens’ for all of us. We find ourselves stranded in deep waters where waves of trouble and trials crash over us again and again. Our emotions are in turmoil.

Many times, I have found myself in a place where words could not be spoken. The heart cry of my sadness and grief echoed out over the waters of my despair. But during these times God reaches out to us:

“Deep calleth unto deep at the voice of thy waterspouts; all thy waves and billows are gone over me. Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindess in the day time and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life. I will say unto God my rock why has thou forgotten me? (Psalm 42:7 KJV)

This is also the only place in the Bible that refers to waterspouts. Waterspouts are created during ocean storms when funnels touch the water connecting the ocean with the heavens. It speaks of the connection that God longs to make with us during the storms that rage through our lives.

In Hebrew ‘deep’ (tehom) is described as an immeasurable chasm or abyss. And during times of trouble we sense that chasm in our own lives. We feel the separation from God, the source of comfort, love and grace.

Pastor William Bradenton writes that during times of emotional upheaval, the Spirit of God desires to comfort us with His touch. This is the “Deep calling to Deep:”

“It is the Spirit of God reaching deep into the spirit of His children, bypassing all that would attempt to impede the sweet communion and fellowship God so passionately desires to have with us.”

The Bible also describes the Lord’s voice as the roar of rushing waters (Ezekiel 14:2). It likens God’s voice to the sound of a cascading waterfall calling out to us (humanity) from the heights  of  heaven echoing the heart cry of  His love and yearning for connection and relationship with us.

Through our emotional turmoil, a cry begins to form in the innermost recesses of our being.  There are no words, only deep emotions stirred by our grief, pain, and troubles. The groaning of our humanity from the deep pains in life can be traumatic:

Romans 8:26 speaks of a groaning that words cannot express as the Holy Spirit prays through us. The Spirit within us calling out to the Spirit of the living God to help us overcome our obstacles.

Emotional turmoils are part of life. We can’t avoid them.

There were occasions when Christ also experienced painful emotions. His agonizing prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane for His Heavenly Father to remove the cup of suffering, and then on the cross when Jesus cried out: “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?”

King David was a man after God’s own heart who experienced extreme highs and lows of emotions. From the high of bringing the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem with celebration and uninhibited dancing to the low of terrible anguish and sorrow over his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband.

David experienced the full spectrum of God’s love, mercy and grace despite his sin, failure and shortcomings.

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise him, my salvation, and my God, My soul is cast down within me, therefore, I remember you.“(Psalm 42:5)

Yet through these times, deep calls to deep and again and again, waves of forgiveness, grace and mercy return to us from the heart of our covenant-keeping God. Our broken and ruined state is met with waves of divine grace.

The deep affliction of our heart calls for the release of God’s deep mercy towards us. Eighteenth century preacher Charles Spurgeon wrote:

“The grace of God is deeper than the depths of our sin, higher than the heights of our rebellion, broader that the breadths and lengths of our depravity. The deep of your misery calls to the deep of sacred mercy, and faith shall hear a favourable answer.”

In times of emotional turmoil and frustration, call out to God.  There is a royal oath of covenant sealed by the shed blood of Christ giving us perpetual entrance into the presence of God.   The bruised and broken body of Christ covers our humanity and made a way for us to touch heaven.

“Do not forget that there is another deep, whose remembrance will remove from you the bitterness of your present sorrow. There is love in heaven towards you which will never grow chill, immortal and unchanging love, and besides there is a royal oath which can never be broken. A covenant ratified with blood that can never be dishonoured.” (Charles Spurgeon)

God will meet us and help us! And off in the distance we will see glorious waves of mercy, grace and love expanding to meet us in our time of distress and need.

 

 

 

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Billy Graham’s ‘Valley of Decision’

Billy Graham speaking in Oslo, Norway in 1955. Credit: foto.digitalarkivet.no/Wikipedia

Billy Graham speaking in Oslo, Norway in 1955. Credit: foto.digitalarkivet.no/Wikipedia

Billy Graham died Feb. 21, 2018 at his home in North Carolina. Born Nov. 7, 1918, he was 99 years old.

Graham was arguably the most famous Christian preacher of the last 100 years. It is estimated that he spoke to nearly 215 million people in 185 countries and probably 100’s of millions more watched him on TV.

And his TV ministry had as much of an impact as his live preaching. He differed from many modern TV evangelists in that Graham’s TV ministry reached non Christians.

When I was going to seminary, there were two twin brothers, both who went into full-time ministry, who were saved watching Billy Graham on TV. The former pastor of the church I attend was also saved watching Billy Graham on TV.

In 1934, at the age of 15, he was led to the Lord by a traveling evangelist Mordecai Ham who was holding revival meetings in Graham’s hometown of Charlotte, NC.

So much is being said about Billy Graham, that I really don’t know what I can add.  But I thought I would share a story about Billy Graham’s early days, that has always struck a chord with me.

One of Graham’s favorite passages that he used in many sermons was about people being in the “Valley of Decision” about faith in Christ:

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!
For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.
 (Joel 3:14 NASV)

But what many don’t know is that Graham faced his own personal “Valley of Decision.”

Some believe that Billy Graham was not God’s first choice to be the evangelist that would shake the world. Many felt that belonged to a Canadian evangelist named Charles Templeton.

Templeton (1915-2001) was a popular Canadian preacher in the 1940s and 1950s. As a Nazarene pastor, people lined-up outside the doors of his Avenue Road church in Toronto, Ontario to hear him preach.

At a Youth for Christ rally in 1945, Templeton met up with another up and coming evangelist Billy Graham and the two men established a close friendship and often shared the same pulpit.

As Templeton moved out from his pastoral role into an evangelistic ministry, he held rallies to packed out crowds numbering upwards to 30,000. He had a profound impact in Evansville, Indiana, where during a two-week campaign nearly 91,000 people attended the meetings in a city of only 128,000.

After Templeton left, attendance at churches in Evansville jumped by 17%.

He became so popular that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), the government-owned national TV and radio broadcaster, gave him his own weekly TV program.

However, things began to unravel for Templeton when the leadership of the Nazarene church sent him to Princeton to study theology. By this point, Princeton was liberal. It was there that Templeton began to question his faith, and this led him to publicly renouncing his faith in 1957.

Templeton’s renunciation sent shock waves across Canada in both religious and secular circles.

Templeton even tried to influence his friend Billy Graham to go down a similar path of unbelief and was encouraging Graham to attend Princeton as well.

This attack eventually forced Graham into his own  ‘Damascus road’ experience in the San Bernardino mountains. One August night while out for a walk, he fell to his knees and confessed he couldn’t answer Templeton’s questions but chose to believe the Bible.

In his auto-biography, Just As I Am, Graham writes what he prayed that night:

“Father, I am going to accept this as Thy Word-by faith! I’m going to allow faith to go beyond my intellectual questions and doubts, and I will believe this to be Your inspired Word.”

Having made that decision, Graham said:

“When I got up from my knees at Forest Home that August night, my eyes stung with tears. I sensed the presence and power of God as I had not sensed it in months. Not all my questions were answered, but a major bridge had been crossed. In my heart and mind, I knew a spiritual battle in my soul had been fought and won”

Having come through his “Valley of Decision,” God’s anointing fell on Billy Graham and millions were save through his ministry. He had an open door to world leaders and became known in the US as a pastor to the presidents.

During his crusades, so many people were drawn to his message that meetings were often extended. A crusade in Los Angeles scheduled for three weeks ended up going for eight with packed out crowds each night.

A 1957 crusade at Madison Square Gardens in New York city ran nightly for 16 weeks. Even in his older years, he was still sharing his faith. Just before his 95th birthday, he released a video on the hope of salvation and wrote Where I am: Heaven, Eternity and Our Life Beyond his last of 32 books in 2015.

Having faithfully served the Lord for over 80 years, Billy Graham is now with Jesus.

As for Templeton, he went to work in the media. He wrote a number of fiction and nonfiction books including the Act of God in which the bones of Jesus were purportedly found. The last one he wrote was titled: Farewell to God: My reasons for rejecting the Christian faith. By this time, doctors had diagnosed Templeton with Alzheimer’s and there is strong evidence this was his motivation for writing the book.

Just before Templeton’s death, Lee Strobel interviewed the former evangelist. Despite all he had written, Templeton still said that Jesus was the most important man in his life and then with tears in his eyes Templeton said he missed Jesus.

Source:

What does it mean to be a prayer warrior?

Credit: Jelle Goossens/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: Jelle Goossens/Flickr/Creative Commons

In the book of Colossians, the Apostle Paul talks about Epaphras a person who was now traveling with Paul.

12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. 13 I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis. (Colossians 4:12-13 NASV)

In this verse, Paul describes Epaphras as being from the Colossae church and tells how Epaphras was “wrestling in prayer” for those in his home congregation.

Other Bible versions translate it a bit differently, with some saying he was “laboring fervently” in prayer.

The word translated “wrestling” by the NIV is the Greek word “agonizomai.” Thayers Greek Lexicon describes the word this way:

“to enter a contest, contend in the light of gymnastic games. To contend with adversaries, fight.”

The word “agonizomai” is derived from another Greek word “agone,” that referred to the gathering of the Greeks at their national games. We call them the Olympics today.

It described the wrestling and boxing matches popular at the early Greek Olympic games. Though “laboring fervently” is not necessarily wrong, it does not portray the battle or fight this word was describing.

There was one thing about the wrestling matches in the early Olympic games that differs from the fights we see today. In today’s match, unless there is a knock-out blow or injury, most fights go a predetermined number of rounds with a group of judges voting at the end on who won the match.

That did not happen in the early Greek Olympics. Fights continued until one fighter gave up often through a submission hold, injury or in some instances, though rare, death.

The two combatants fought until one person decisively won.

So this was how Epaphras was wrestling in prayer for the people in Colossae.  It was all out war. It was not for the meek. You needed perseverance and training as these were often very brutal brawls with a minimum of rules.

But the word “agonizomai” also speaks of something else. Thayers adds that it was metaphorically used to describe a “struggle with difficulties and danger.”

Every fight has its challenges. There will be moments of discouragement when you are hurt physically and you have to fight through the pain. At other times you will be beaten mentally and feel like quitting, giving up, thinking what is the use, I can never beat this opponent.

But to be victorious, a person must be willing to battle through their doubts, fears and pain. You must dig deep to find the perseverance you need to keep praying, fighting and contending.

Many times we are battling satanic forces. In Ephesians 6:12, Paul says that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers. He uses a different Greek word here for wrestling, “pale.” It described a specific move where the victorious wrestler placed his hand on the opponent’s neck to pin him to the ground.

But we are not always fighting the demonic.

Sometimes when we wrestle in prayer, we are actually contending with God as the Patriarch Jacob did.

24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. (Genesis 12:24 NIV)

The man Jacob wrestled was none other than an angel sent from God. After that match was done, Jacob demanded a blessing.

I also remember the story in the Gospels when Jesus and the disciples journeyed into Phoenicia and a woman began pleading with them to heal her demon-possessed daughter (Matthew 15:21-28).

This was a picture of prayer in action.

At first, they tried to ignore her and Jesus and the disciples did not even respond to the poor woman. Have you ever felt that God was not hearing your prayers? Then take a lesson from a determined Phoenician woman.

This woman would not stop, she continued to badger the group. So the disciples tried to shoo her away, but she continued calling out for help.

Finally, the disciples complained to Jesus about this insolent woman prompting the Lord to speak to her.

So what was the first thing that Jesus said to this desperate woman?

He told her that it was not God’s will for her daughter to be delivered. He said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house Israel” (v 24).

Have delays in answers to prayer ever made you question if it was the will of God?

But did that stop the woman from praying? No. She continued pleading for Jesus to heal her daughter.

So then Jesus insulted her:

“It’s not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs” (v 26)

The word “dog” was a term that many Jews used as a word of contempt to describe gentiles. But the woman countered that even the dogs get the crumbs that fall off the table of its master.

A few months ago, I felt God gave me direction through several circumstances on how to pray about a situation that was concerning me. But as I was praying something happened that was opposite of what I was praying for.

I actually became offended at God. I was upset because I thought the Holy Spirit had given me direction and now it was taking a completely different turn.

So I decided to take the mature route — I got mad and quit praying about it.

A while later, after I quit pouting, I resumed praying brief, one line prayers about the situation. I watched as it changed and moved back to limbo.

It is still not resolved the way I was initially praying, but I need to keep pressing into God about this situation.

We can get offended and stop praying, but not the Phoenician woman. Amazed by her relentless determination, Jesus said she had “Great Faith” and healed her daughter instantly.

There can be roadblocks in your prayers, and sometimes God is the one who throws them out. How serious are you? How much do you want it? How willing are you to battle in prayer for what you need?

To the persevering victor, goes the spoils of prayer.

Is the Nazirite vow for today?

Taylor James from "Samson" YouTube Capture

Actor Taylor James from movie “Samson” YouTube Capture

I read an interesting interview with actor Taylor James, a Christian, who plays the role of Samson in the full-feature movie “Samson” released earlier this month.

In an interview with “Pure Talk,” Taylor talked about a vision he had a few years earlier that actually prepared him for the lead role in the movie.

Taylor said:

“I had a vision as an actor and a person a few years ago to grow my hair and to maintain a certain physical appearance. It was my guiding light.”

After this vision, another Christian provided further revelation on what lay ahead for Taylor.  The person added that at some point Taylor would be returning home to South Africa and leading “his people.”

Taylor had actually been born in South Africa and lived there for six years. When the role of Samson came up, Taylor auditioned for the lead role and was surprised when reading the script that much of the movie would be shot in South Africa.

Then, when he noticed the movie’s subtitle “A man who leads the people,” this confirmed to him that God would give him the role of Samson.

It is interesting, because by allowing his hair to grow, Taylor was to some extent fulfilling the Nazirite vow found in Numbers 6. We know that Samson was also a Nazirite having been dedicated by his parents at birth to deliver Israel from the Philistines:

For behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” (Judges 13:5 NASV)

There was one other person who was dedicated a Nazirite at birth and that was John the Baptist (Luke 1:13-17). Like Samson, John had a specific purpose and calling that God wanted him to fulfill.

So what is the Nazirite vow?

According to Numbers 6, it was a voluntary dedication to God that people could undertake for a time. It has a specific beginning and ending. Samson differed in that he was dedicated at birth, which may explain the leniency that God showed Samson throughout his life.

For the vow’s duration, a person was consecrated to God.

All the days of his separation he is holy to the Lord. (Numbers 6:8 NASV)

It was also a vow both men and women could take (v. 2) and during the period of their vow, there were three things that a person needed to avoid (Numbers 6:3-7).

  1. They could not consume anything associated with grapes, including drinking wine or even eating raisins or seeds. They were also told to avoid other fermented drink;
  2. They were not to cut their hair during the time of consecration; and
  3. They could not touch a dead body and thus would not be allowed to even attend a funeral of a family member.

At the end of the Nazirite vow, a person was required to shave their head and have a priest make a sacrifice on his or her behalf. It was also common practice to have the shorn hair thrown in with the sacrifice (Numbers 6:13-17, 20).

So is the Nazirite vow still valid for Christians today?

Perhaps.

It seems that the Apostle Paul took the Nazirite vow. In Acts, we are told that Paul shaved his head in fulfillment of a vow he had undertaken:

18 Paul, having remained many days longer, took leave of the brethren and put out to sea for Syria, and with him were Priscilla and Aquila. In Cenchrea he had his hair cut, for he was keeping a vow. (Acts 18:18 NASV)

Though it is not explicitly said, most presume that Paul took the Nazirite vow. This meant that he had finished his vow and the period of dedication was completed.

In Acts 21:23-24, we read that Paul was not alone, four others had taken the vow as well, and having shaved their heads were now heading to Jerusalem to fulfill the last part that included the sacrifice:

26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day, purifying himself along with them, went into the temple giving notice of the completion of the days of purification, until the sacrifice was offered for each one of them. (Acts 21:26 NASV)

But we are not sure exactly when Paul began his Nazirite vow or why he did it. Some suggest he may have started the vow in Acts 18:5, when we read that Paul made the decision to devote himself to the word of God and reaching the Jews.

So we have five believers in the early church taking the Nazirite vow.

Are there any other hints of this vow found in the New Testament? There might be.

In the Book of Romans, Paul talks about Christians being a “living and holy sacrifice” (Romans 12:1-3). This may be a subtle reference to the Nazirite vow when a person actually sacrificed their hair at its completion.

Then in 1 Corinthians 7:5, Paul talks about a married couple refraining from sex for a time of prayer. Though this was not one of the conditions of the vow, it is somewhat similar in that Paul sets a limit to this period of separation.

Sources:

Is God Real? or Donuts in the Snow

Credit: nfnitloop/flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: nfnitloop/flickr/Creative Commons

So, is God real? If yes, why is there suffering in this world? Why doesn’t God fix our problems, if He loves us? This is an old argument, and I learned the answer a few days ago.

Here is some background. Right now, where I live in Canada, we are in “Roll up the Rim to Win” season at Tim Hortons. Timmies is a cultural thing here, we all go there for coffee or tea and conversations. We also eat too many donuts there.

In season, we roll up the rims of our paper cups and learn what we have won. I usually win a chance to play again; they are very kind when they say “no.” When I win a free donut I tear off that statement from the rim, and keep the ticket. One thing I really don’t need is a free donut and I can think of something worse, two free donuts. I had two winning tickets that I carried with me like a guilty pleasure.

I do contract work, and some days I start early. I live in a northern city, so those work days start in darkness, in the winter. I’m used to it.

A few days ago, I walked out to my truck, on a cold dark morning, and I saw someone walking in the alley. I watched and the man had a bad limp and seemed lost. He also seemed harmless, so I asked him if he was OK. He was trying to get through private yards, with deep snow and fences, and he was frustrated. I gave him better directions, and if you are wondering, I couldn’t offer him a ride. I was on a schedule and we were going in opposite directions.

Then I made myself do something that I resisted. I held out one of my donut tickets and asked him if he wanted it. He snatched it out of my hand like it was important, and thanked me. That was my ticket, and it hurt to let it go, even if I was never going to use it.

So, how is this news, and how is this story worth reading? Why don’t I tell you something important? I gave a donut ticket to a stranger, beside a garbage bin, in the snow, on a dark morning.

That donut was a cup of cold water.

In the Bible, Jesus told us “And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink because he is a disciple, I solemnly tell you that he will not lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:42).

That refers to people helping the followers of Jesus, and that man did not seem religious, but cold water is only important to the one who is thirsty. It might mean nothing to the giver. The man in the alley really wanted that donut. We are also told “One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, And He will repay him for his good deed” (Proverbs 19:17).

The whole point is the other guy. Our culture is filled with narcissists, “What’s in it for me?” people who must be famous, and it’s hard to understand the other person’s needs. The common attitude is “How is this going to make me rich and famous?”

I can’t see God, but I can look in a mirror and see a servant of God. And I can look at the end of my arm and see a hand. When we have human suffering, we also have the power to make it go away. God does not need to intervene after delegating the job to us, there are 7.6 billion of us.

In the donut economy, I won another donut that same day, and I won a free cup of coffee two days later. Today I found someone digging through the garbage looking for cans to recycle for money, a dumpster diver, and I gave him tickets for coffee and a donut. He thanked me sincerely. Then a friend called and wanted to talk about some business, and guess where we met? He paid for a large cup of tea, but no donut, and I only won a chance to play again.

But then it’s not about me, or you. The whole world will know that God is real when people see us doing His work. They will have no doubt. The problem is to wrestle our egos down, and to wrestle the donut ticket from our tight grip. We will never get rich and famous doing that, and then doing “trivial” things for other people, and for God. I believe that is our most important assignment.

That is my recent answer to the old question.

I beg you to live in a way that is worthy of the people God has chosen to be his own. Always be humble and gentle. Patiently put up with each other and love each other. Try your best to let God’s Spirit keep your hearts united. Do this by living at peace. (Ephesians 1: 1 & 2)

… But this isn’t what you were taught about Jesus Christ. He is the truth, and you heard about him and learned about him. You were told that your foolish desires will destroy you and that you must give up your old way of life with all its bad habits. Let the Spirit change your way of thinking. (verses 20 to 23)

… Instead, be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ. (verse 32)

Fourth super volcano discovered off coast of Japan

Nagasaki, Japan located on Kyushu Island Credit: 663highland/Wikipedia

Nagasaki, Japan located on Kyushu Island Credit: 663highland/Wikipedia

There are three super volcanoes in the world. One is found underneath Yellowstone park in the United States, another near Mexico city and the third in Italy.

But according to a report in the Dailymail, a fourth has been discovered off the coast of  Japan’s Kyushu Island and there are indications it’s active.

Japan is made up of four main islands and Kyushu is the third largest and most southern of the four. It has a population of 12 million and perhaps its most famous city is Nagasaki that was hit with an atomic bomb in World War II.

The volcano discovered off the island’s coast clearly falls into the “super” designation. Its dome is 10 kms wide (6.2 miles) and is 600 meter high (1,968 feet). They estimate the cauldron located beneath contains about 32 cubic km (7.68 cubic miles) of lava.

According to the Kobe Ocean-Bottom Exploration Center (KOBEC), the group that made the discovery, a new dome is building in the crater of Kikai volcano that is about 19 kms (12 miles) in diameter. It is believed Kikai exploded around 6,000 years ago. KOBEC works out of Kobe University.

The new dome is only 30 meters (100 feet) below the surface of the ocean. There are several indicators that lava is building up beneath the smaller dome. This includes columns of heated water and bubbling gas. The dome also has several intrusions that is also an indicator of a lava build up. These intrusions take place when lava under pressure breaks through the surface.

The scientists working for KOBEC said that it could explode at any time.

Though I have studied Biblical end time events off and on for several years, it never occurred to me until recently that one of the major Biblical end times passages was actually talking about active volcanoes.

In his description of the coming Day of the Lord, the prophet Joel says it will be marked by columns of smoke, blood and fire. The prophet also saw the sun darkening and moon turning red.

“I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth,
Blood, fire and columns of smoke.
31 “The sun will be turned into darkness
And the moon into blood
Before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. (Joel 2:30-31 NASV)

For years, I interpreted this passage as referring to some type of destruction on earth that resulted in great fires.

But I no longer believe this.

The columns of smoke perfectly describe the smoke, steam and ash that come off active volcanoes. The fire describes the molten lava and blood describes the deaths associated with volcanic explosions.

The darkened skies reflect the thick ash pouring into the atmosphere that can darken the sun. We even seen it happen to a lesser extent after Mount St Helens exploded in 1980. Though in this instance, because of its smaller size, it was more of a haze, than real darkening.

So it seems that in his vision of the end times, Joel saw (note the plural) columns of smoke. This means there will be several volcanic explosions. And because the sun actually darkened, it suggests these are significantly larger explosions.

Though we have seen the devastation created when smaller volcanoes erupt such as Mount St. Helens that exploded in 1980, killing 57 people and destroying 250 homes and 47 bridges, we have yet to see the devastation caused by a super volcano.

The 3,000 foot (910m) plume coming off Mount St Helens in 1982, two years after it exploded. Credit: United States Geological Survey/Wikipedia

The 3,000 foot (910m) plume coming off Mount St Helens in 1982, two years after it exploded. Credit: United States Geological Survey/Wikipedia

Scientists say the deaths resulting from an explosion of any of the world’s super volcanos could easily hit millions, perhaps tens of millions.

KOBEC researchers estimates that if the volcano off the coast of Japan exploded it could kill 100 million people (Joel’s blood) and would undoubtedly cause a “volcanic winter” (Joel’s darkening of the sun).

They did add there is only a 1% chance it will explode in the next 100 years.

Sources:

It’s time to re-calibrate! You don’t have to save the world

Credit: Visions Photographiques/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: Visions Photographiques/Flickr/Creative Commons

It’s easy to lose ourselves in the spinning and twirling events of our daily lives. Often, we burn out when we give all our time and energy for a worthy cause or in meeting the needs of those around us.

I am learning that I am not indispensable and that the world can do very well without me for a while.

The harsh reality is that we often become “indispensable” in our own eyes. We get lost in the illusion that the world can’t make it without us.

We must step away and take a good look at who we have become. My ego loves the attention and the “need to be needed.” I call it my “save the world mentality.”

My husband can attest to the many times I have asked him to remind me that “I don’t have to save the world.” Because that mentality has ruined my health, run me into the ground, hurt my most valued relationships (husband and kids) as I ran off to save the world, leaving them and myself behind in the dust.

Maybe stepping back for a while will create new opportunities for someone else. “Letting go” may also allow you to step into something new that will refresh you and create the balance you desperately need in your life.

I believe balance is important to God and that includes our mental and physical health, and emotional well-being.

A few days ago I read a prophetic word by Lana Vawser

“There is a deep circumcision of the heart and re-calibration taking place out of His love.”

God desires to bring us to a place of “beautiful brokenness.” A place of surrender and yielding our plans, hopes and dreams for a time. It seems to be about a re-calibration, re-setting, making minor adjustments.

Lana continues:

“It’s a re-calibration, it’s a refining, it’s a reawakening and shaping that the Lord is doing, a deep molding of the heart. A deeper place of yieldedness to run after nothing else but Him. To not chase titles, a big ministry, more favor but bringing them to a place of ‘beautiful brokenness.”

The word “calibrate” means to adjust and make small changes. Refine means to fix flaws, correct and mold into something beautiful and elegant.

We create a heavy imbalance in our lives when we believe that we are indispensable. I have been exercised and challenged to take a good look at my life and allow the Holy Spirit to make the necessary adjustments to temper me.

We spiritualize ourselves into a frenzy of doing and end up over-functioning and doing the work of ten. What if we let go and made room for others to step in and do the work that one person was so desperately trying to accomplish?

Do we need to repent of our need to be ‘indispensable?” Lana seems to suggest that repentance is part of the “beautiful brokenness” that God is working into His people in this season.

Who are you becoming? Let the dust settle so you can get a good look at yourself again and let the world spin without you for a while.

“The word of God is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. It cuts all the way through, to where soul and spirit meet, to where joints and marrow come together. It judges the desires and thoughts of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12)

The disgusting, but not surprising, behavior of the media at the Winter Olympics

South Korean ski resort Credit: Uwe Schwarzbach/Flickr/Creative Commons

South Korean ski resort Credit: Uwe Schwarzbach/Flickr/Creative Commons

It seems that some in the mainline media have gone absolutely delusional.

It involves the fawning headlines pouring out around the world over the appearance of Kim Yo Jong, sister of the North Korea’s sadistic communist despot Kim Jong Un, at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

As a member of the North Korea’s powerful inner cabinet, Kim Yo Jong is a major player in this sadistic regime serving as “vice director of propaganda and agitation.” Many suspect she is more than just complicit in what is taking place behind closed doors in North Korea.

North Korea is renown for its many death camps spread around the country where tens of thousands of Koreans are brutalized, raped, tortured and murdered for things as simple as not bowing properly before statues of Kim Jong Un, who people are forced to worship as a god.

Even today there are eight Americans in jail in North Korea. And just a few months back, the media reported on the terrible plight of American university student Otto Warmbier who was arrested and brutalized for supposedly stealing a North Korean propaganda poster at a hotel.

Having been imprisoned for 17 months, last year North Korea unexpectedly released Warmbier and he returned to the US on June 13, 2017. When he arrived, Warmbier, 22, was in a zombie-like state, awake, but unable to speak or even move. Warmbier died six days later on June 19, 2017.

The media know this, but treat the “vice director of propaganda and agitation” like it never happened.

But her appearance has many in the mainline media falling over themselves in their effort to glamorize Kim Yo Jong with Reuter and CNN awarding her a “diplomatic gold.”

In its article, entitled Kim Jong Un’s sister is stealing the show at the Olympics, CNN wrote:

“If ‘diplomatic dance’ were an event at the Winter Olympics, Kim Jong-un’s younger sister would be favored to win gold.”

But CNN wasn’t along in its lavish praise. Reuters titled its article: North Korea heads for diplomacy gold medal at Olympics and the New York Times used the headline Kim Jong-un’s sister turns on the charm, taking Pence’s spotlight.

Any attention given Kim Yo Jong is only happening because of the media. By glorifying her, they are the ones thrusting her into the spotlight.

No one else is.

So why are some in the media glamorizing one of the world’s most murderous and sadistic regimes?

Perhaps the best explanation I have heard is “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Many in the media absolutely hate US President Donald Trump and because North Korea hates Donald Trump, North Korea becomes a natural friend and ally.

Others have suggested that some in the media are now very left-wing and have a natural affinity to this communist regime.

But calling evil, good is not a recent phenomena. Thousands of years ago, Isaiah prophesied:

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter (Isaiah 5:20 NASV)

According to Isaiah, a darkness needs to come upon a person’s mind for someone to portray evil as good.

We live in strange times.

Fortunately there is some sanity in the midst of this. The New York Post and Fox News wrote articles condemning these stories. One media personality tweeted that this type of behavior is the reason no one trusts the media anymore.

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US Vice President Mike Pence Declared ‘Mentally Ill’ Because He is a Christian?

Former US President Barak Obama being interviewed on The View on July 28, 2010. From Left to Right: Whoopi Goldberg, Barbara Walters, Joy Behar, Sherri Shepherd, and Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Credit: Official White House photo by Pete Souza/Wikipedia

Former US President Barak Obama being interviewed on The View on July 28, 2010. From Left to Right: Whoopi Goldberg, Barbara Walters, Joy Behar, Sherri Shepherd, and Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Credit: Official White House photo by Pete Souza/Wikipedia

Mike Pence, a born-again Christian, is also the Vice President of the United States. Recently the former governor of Indiana was labelled mentally ill on a TV program called The View simply because Pence believes Jesus speaks to him.

It all started when The View played a brief clip from another TV program called “Celebrity Big Brother” where Omarosa Newman made a comment about Pence. Prior to her role on reality TV, Newman worked at the White House under President Trump.

Newman said:

“As bad as you think Trump is, you would be worried about Pence…. everyone that is wishing for impeachment might want to reconsider their life. I am a Christian, I love Jesus but he [Pence] thinks Jesus tells him to say things.”

This began a brief discussion on The View about the US Vice President.

Vice President Mike Pence Credit: D. Myles Cullen/The White House/Wikipedia

Vice President Mike Pence Credit: D. Myles Cullen/The White House/Wikipedia

Host Sunny Hostin zeroed in on the fact that Jesus was speaking to Pence adding that despite being elected governor of Indiana, Pence was hated in that state. Hostin based that opinion on the fact she attended law school in Indiana.

Hostin claimed she was a Christian but did not want anyone serving as vice president who spoke in tongues.

However, it was fellow host Joy Behar who went the next step. She said “it’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you.”

Behar then mockingly added, “That’s called mental illness, if I’m not correct. Hearing voices.”

Not all agreed with Behar’s diagnosis of Pence, Sherri Shepard added that Christians believe that they can speak to Jesus and Jesus will speak to them, but did question it if Christians did it too much.

We shouldn’t be surprised by this accusation of mental illness against believers. Early in Christ’s ministry, Jesus’s family also thought Christ was crazy. Because of the Lord’s healing and deliverance ministry, opposition was starting to mount against Jesus.

In an effort to discredit Christ, the pharisees said that Jesus was demon possessed and was casing out demons through the authority of a more powerful demon called Beelzebul (Mark 3:22).

But it didn’t stop there, perhaps under pressure from religious authorities or out of embarrassment over the wave of opposition building against Christ, Mark records:

21 When His own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, “He has lost His senses.” (Mark 3:21 NASV)

The phrase “His own people” means kinsmen or family. Though Mark does not list who these people were, ten verses later Mark says this group included Jesus’s mother Mary and Christ’s half brothers (Mark 3:31).

The Greek word “lost his senses” (Greek ‘exeste’) literally means to “stand outside of oneself,’ a description of a person who had lost his mind. The same word is used in Acts 26:24, when the Roman procurator Festus accused the Apostle Paul of going mad, before shipping him off to a Roman prison.

And the word “kratesal’ translated “take custody” is used to describe Herod’s arrest of John the Baptist (Mark 6:17). It seems the family was intent on forcibly taking control of Christ and probably taking Him back to Nazareth. Apparently they were unable to do so because of the large number of supporters sitting around Jesus (Mark 3:31-33).

However, as Christ’s ministry continued to unfold, the attitude that Mary and Christ’s half-brother James (Galatians 1:19) originally had of Jesus significantly changed.

Sources:

Babylon is Imploding

Island jutting out of Australia's Great Barrier Reef Credit: matlacha/Flickr/Creative Commons

Island jutting out of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Credit: matlacha/Flickr/Creative Commons

In Australia there is a disagreement among scientists about global warming and the death of the Great Barrier Reef. Now the ‘disagreement’ has produced threats of firing and career termination for university professors, and lawsuits in court.

I worked in a large university, in Canada, and I know one thing is true; if you want to understand any controversy in the system, just follow the money. You might believe there is a secular world system that stifles all dissenting opinions, including Christians who believe in Jesus; and you might be correct. But, in my experience, the system is supported with taxpayer money, and it is filled with scared people who are counting the days to retirement. The evil world system is imploding with money problems.

In Australia, agriculture and industry and tourism could lose billions, and university professors could lose, or gain millions in grant funding because of the Barrier Reef. That’s the new way to pay for higher education, with funding applications. I understand the fight, even though I have never been to Australia.

“Truth” now has dollar signs attached.

When one of my sons was 16, I got him enlisted in the army reserves. For me, that meant stern discipline from ‘Mother Army’ for a teenage boy, and a part-time job, and a summer job, and rebates on university tuition.

Any father would vote for that.

I didn’t expect him to go into combat on the other side of the world, three times. He is doing very well now, and I support his decisions, but it was a shock to shake my young son’s hand as he got on the deployment bus to fly to a war, far away. I know he was in danger many times there.

I am not disagreeing, but why do governments send young reservists, just out of school, to fight in a war?

They are cheap and wars are expensive.

My career in the university ended with one meeting. Someone from HR slid a paper across a table with this information: they were giving me some money, and paying me for several months, but I could be arrested by security if I came to work, and giving me a small pension for life.

Why?

I was too expensive to keep and it was cheaper to buy me out. I am the only one who can defend my reputation now, but my work was good, and I was not fired, technically. I had no power to change the decision, and there was no discussion, but I was permitted to resign. Oh, and the small pension included a “top-up” until I turned 65. Everyone gets that extra money if they retire early. They really want to get expensive people off the payroll.

I also had to sign a promise that I would not slander them. Their reputation is safe with me; I have nothing bad to say about people who give me free money. After that meeting I found another job, and I left the university knowing that Babylon really is imploding.

The Bible describes the true condition of our modern civilization “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (Revelation 3:17)

Those words were written to a Christian church, but they also apply to our secular world today. We are broke, information is something to sell, and the truth belongs to our grandparents. We live in the bankrupt information age and the news always has dollar signs attached.

We are beginning a wild ride, brace yourself.

There is some good news that does not move. We can trust Jesus who said:

I have told you all this so that you won’t lose your faith when you face troubles. People will tell you to leave their synagogues and never come back. In fact, the time will come when they will think that killing you would be doing service for God. They will do this because they have not known the Father, and they have not known me. I have told you all this now to prepare you. So, when the time comes for these things to happen, you will remember that I warned you. (John 16:1 to 4)

I have told you these things so that you can have peace in me. In this world you will have troubles. But be brave! I have defeated the world! (John 16:33)

 

 

‘Abba’ may be about family

Credit: Yu Wei Lin/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: Yu Wei Lin/Flickr/Creative Commons

Family is family. In the end its importance supersedes everything including a job. Some can spend hours at work, but on their death-bed regret that they did not spend more time with their family.

The Bible is clear. Salvation comes through faith that Christ died for our sins. But God wants more than just belief, He wants believers to truly identify as a child of God.

Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:16 NASV)

The word Abba, was a term of endearment, probably more closely translated in English as “Daddy.” Though this is the relationship that God desires to have with us, how many Christians truly look upon God as their “Daddy?”

This was a relationship that Jesus had with His Heavenly Father. As we see in Christ’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, it was His “Abba” relationship, that helped Jesus endure the crucifixion.

36 And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.” Mark 14:36 NASV)

Though many Christians acknowledge the Biblical statement that we are sons and daughters of God, how many truly believe it? For many there is an invisible barrier that prevents them from developing the “Daddy” relationship that our Heavenly Father desires to have with us.

According to a study conducted by Baylor University, breaking through that barrier makes a big difference in a person’s sense of well-being.

Their study found that older people who have a strong “attachment” to God not only have a more optimistic view on life, but they believe they are truly forgiven and have a higher sense of self-worth. In the end this produces a “higher life satisfaction.”

The researchers asked 1,024 people aged 65 and over a series of questions with a four choice response ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.”

This included questions on whether the person felt they were forgiven by God or if they needed to change things in their life to receive God’s forgiveness. The researchers referred to this as “transactional forgiveness,” where a person has to do something to receive God’s approval.

Those who had a strong attachment to God felt more forgiven while those with less attachment struggled to feel forgiven. The study noted that a person’s attachment to God was not based on how often they prayed or even attended Church services, because these can be “transactional” as we try to gain God’s approval.

I believe the attachment to God described in the report is the “Abba” relationship that God desires to have with us. Believing Christ died for your sins, does not automatically mean that we look upon God as our Heavenly “Abba, Father.”

Lead author Blake Victor Kent wrote:

“Beliefs about forgiveness and perceptions of relationship with God go hand in hand. This is not just about religious practice, such as attending religious services or praying, which a lot of research already addresses. This deals with how people perceive their quality of relationship to God.”

Unfortunately the barrier that hinders us from moving into a closer relationship with our “Abba, Father” may in part be due to a broken relationship with our earthly parents.

If their love for you was conditional based on how well you behaved or if they were distant, even divorced, this can impact your relationship with God.

To break through this barrier into an “Abba” relationship with our Heavenly Father may require you to forgive your earthly parents.

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Siberian River turns blood red, just one of many in recent years

Molchanka River turned blood red: Credit YouTube capture

Molchanka River turned blood red: Credit YouTube capture

It hasn’t reached Biblical proportions yet, but when the Russia’s Molchanka River recently turned blood-red over night citizens, media and even scientists were perplexed and a bit shocked.

Many saw a Biblical connection with the plagues of Egypt when God caused the Nile to turn to blood as one of the judgements of God (Exodus 7: 14-24).

But there are also three other Biblical references to waters turning blood-red found in the Book of Revelation and similar to what happened in Exodus are considered judgements of God.

In his first mention, John says when an angel sounded a trumpet, he saw a large burning mountain crashing into the ocean and a third of the sea turned red:

The second angel sounded, and something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea; and a third of the sea became blood, (Revelation 8:8 NASV)

Most suspect a large burning mountain as a reference to a massive asteroid hitting the ocean. John also mentioned in the following verse that a third of the ships of the sea were destroyed, undoubtedly due  to the massive tsunamis that would spin-off such an impact.

Over the past couple of years, there have been several reports of near misses by asteroids. Asteroids are larger than meteors and because of their size and speed could wipe out a city if they ever hit earth.

The second mention of blood-red water is found eight chapters later and refers again to a sea, but also adds rivers and streams:

The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became blood like that of a dead man; and every living [a]thing in the sea died.

Then the third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of waters; and they became blood. (Revelation 16:3-4 NASV)

Now it is natural for us to think that this is happening all at the same time, but is that necessarily the case?

In recent years, there have been several reports of rivers and waters turning red around the world:

But there is a third reference to rivers turning red in the Book of Revelation found in Revelation 11:6, that says the two end times prophets have the ability to turn rivers red and bring on plagues. It is uncertain who these two prophets are, but I suspect similar to what happened in the Book of Exodus, this is tied to God’s judgement on nations due to their treatment of believers.

As for the Molchanka River’s sudden turn, the Russian Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources has taken samples of the water to find a possible cause and to find out if the water is toxic.

Sources:

The Dance of Life

Flamenco dance, Seville, Spain Credit: Laurence Vagner/Flickr/Creative Commons

Flamenco dance, Seville, Spain Credit: Laurence Vagner/Flickr/Creative Commons

These past few weeks my eyes have been opened to my need for love, respect and acceptance from others. I tend to accuse others of being uncaring when they dismiss my plans and ideas.

I demand from others what I am lacking in myself and make others responsible for the way I feel.

When I quit blaming others for the way I am feeling (angry, hurt, rejected), only then can I see what the real problem is — my lack of self-esteem mostly.

I needed to ask ‘why’ am I blaming someone else for my lack of self-worth and insecurities. Why do I so badly need to be right?

Resentment and anger are dis-empowering. They debilitate and cripple us, yet we unknowingly lean on them like crutches to get the emotional support and love that we so badly need.

When we seek love without giving it to ourselves first, (embracing our value and worth in God and believing that) we will never be satisfied with what we get from people.  We will find ourselves continually seeking to get it from others by acting out our woundedness and insecurities.

Taking responsibility for how I respond is aligning myself with the way God wants me to live.

I call it the ‘Dance of Life.”

Like a wave ebbing away from the shore we release our need to be right, dominate or control a situation. We fall back into the ocean of God’s love.  A gentle rhythm and strength builds as we grow in the awareness of God’s intense love for us.

Waves of truth and affirmation wash over us, refreshing our mind and spirit. And, in one clean sweep we move outward and forward again into God’s purposes.

The ‘Dance of Life’ is forgiveness and letting go of what we so desperately need in the midst of the tumultuous waves of emotions. It’s learning how to forgive and let go of anything and give back in kindness.

There is strength in letting go and allowing the Holy Spirit to flow over you and through you to a new way. It takes more strength and willpower to let go of something than to push ahead stubbornly.

We become so focused on what we think God wants but I find there is a fine line where it becomes what “I” want more.

Sometimes we need to let go because the timing is wrong or God needs to do more work and preparation in us, even if we think we are ready.

There must be a time of surrender where we are willing to offer our plans, desires and wants to a loving Heavenly Father who knows us best.

Drink from the waters that restore your soul, like the men and women of God in the Bible who learned to wait for God. I am grateful for the checks and balances that protect me from being consumed by wrong things or good things at the wrong time.

Author Lysa Terkeurst from Proverbs 31 writes:

“Perhaps, God is speaking through our situation in a strange way. Will we listen? Will we obey? Even when it doesn’t make sense. We know that God can do something but we want it done the way that makes sense to us. And when it doesn’t make sense – when it feels strange – obedience is tough. Sometimes miracles await for us in the strange form of obedience. But obedience is something we’ll never regret.”

Is this where miracles happen? Through our strange obedience and letting go of plans, just when we think we are moving ahead and it’s right around the corner?

We will never be satisfied with the approval of others until we first approve of ourselves.

“I’ll again build you, and you will be rebuilt, Virgin Israel! You will again take up your tambourines and go out to dance with those who are filled with joy.” (Jeremiah 31:4)

Free Speech Under Attack: Ken Ham Stopped from Speaking

Credit: Charlie Owen/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: Charlie Owen/Flickr/Creative Commons

UPDATE: Since we wrote this article, the University of Central Oklahoma has reversed its decision and will now allow Ken Ham to speak on campus in March.

There is a disturbing trend happening on universities across North America and it is starting to creep into society. It is an attack by those on the radical left to stop free speech, the cornerstone of a free society.

Spurred on many times by radical professors, the left have protested, often violently, to stop conservatives from speaking on campuses. Predictably, they accuse conservatives of hate speech, which simply isn’t true. The real issue is that the left will no longer allow anyone who disagrees with positions they hold to speak and they will protest violently to stop it.

Ben Shapiro, the former editor of Breitbart and current editor of the Daily Wire, was scheduled to speak at the University of Berkley in California in September last year. He had been invited by campus Republicans.

Because Shapiro is a well-known conservative, hundreds of radical left protestors, many wearing black masks, showed up to stop the event. It wasn’t the first time this happened at Berkley, so this time the police were prepared. They set up concrete barriers and kept it mostly under control, but still ended up making nine arrests.

Though Shapiro was able to speak, the total costs for security was $600,000.

At a similar event held seven months earlier at Berkley, radical leftists rioted, setting fires, damaging property and even threw Molotov cocktails at police. They caused an estimated $100,000 in damage and their violent actions resulted in police cancelling the speaking event.

Though the radical left were not able to stop Shapiro, one wonders how many universities are willing to cough up a half million dollars on security to allow conservatives to speak?  There may be a final price tag for free speech.

Ken Ham Credit: Acdixon/Wikipedia

Ken Ham Credit: Acdixon/Wikipedia

Recently, Ken Ham also had a personal encounter with university activists shutting down free speech. Ham is President of Answers in Genesis (AIG), an organization dedicated to defending Christian beliefs. AIG also operates Creation Museum and Ark Encounter that features a full size version of Noah’s ark in Petersburg, Kentucky.

A Christian campus group had invited Ham to speak at University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Oklahoma on March 5. Ham intended to speak on the two world views — evolution and creation.

However, when campus LGBT activists became aware of Ham’s invitation, the small group aggressively pressured university administrators and the student’s association to stop the event.

Though the campus group responsible for bringing in Ham had a signed contract, the administrators caved, ripped up the contract, and cancelled the event.

In an article on AIG’s website, Ken Ham said:

“Free speech in America is under increasing attack by some very intolerant people. In this case of discrimination, I find it highly ironic that after being booked to speak in the school’s Constitution Hall, our constitutional right to free speech and the free exercise of religion, guaranteed under the First Amendment, have been denied.”

“A small but vocal group on campus put up a fuss about my talk and the university caved in, tearing up the contract and contradicting its policies of promoting ‘free inquiry’ and ‘inclusiveness’ on campus.”

Ham will now be speaking at a church venue off campus the same day.

But this is the trend today. Hate speech is now being defined as anyone who disagrees. This is very dangerous for free speech and equally dangerous for democracy.

Sources:

How about a piece of pi (π)?

A Pumkin Pi Credit: Jason Borneman/Flickr/Creative Commons

A Pumkin Pi (π) Credit: Jason Borneman/Flickr/Creative Commons

“And he made a molten sea,ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line* of thirty cubits did compass it round about.” (1 Kings 7:23)

In this passage of scripture, we read about Solomon’s Bronze Laver which was a huge basin used for washing all of the temple implements, thus purifying them. This passage has been the topic of much debate.

Let’s take a look at why.

Solomon’s bronze laver was measured as being 10 cubits across (the diameter) and a line of 30 cubits around (the circumference). This makes the circumference exactly 3 times the diameter.

However, mathematically the diameter times three does not make a circle. If you remember your high school math, in order to create a circle you must multiply the diameter by the value of PI (π) which is 3.1415926. This gives you the length of the circumference needed to create a circle.

So how do we resolve this problem? Is the Scripture in error as the skeptics would quickly point out?

The solution to the problem is really quite simple when you look at the original Hebrew text. The secret is in the word LINE used to describe the circumference – the Hebrew word is spelled with two letters Qof and Vav.

Since the Hebrew language did not have separate numbers and letters as our language does, it was setup so that each letter would also have a numerical equivalent. In this case, the letter Qof = 100 and Vav=6 for a word  total of 106.

Now here is where things get interesting.  In 1 Kings 7:23 where the dimensions of the Bronze Laver are again described as the “line of the circumference”, the word “line” is spelled with 3 Hebrew letters instead of the original two – the 3rd letter Heh has a value of 5, so the word value is now 5 + 6 + 100 = 111.

In Hebrew, when you change the value of the word without changing the meaning, this means it is automatically supposed to be expressed as a mathematical equation. In this case, the formula is as follows: the new value (111) is supposed to be divided by the original value of (106) which gives us a new line value.

111 divided by 106 =  1.04716980320. When you times this number by 3 you get 3.14150943 .

The difference between the Biblical value and our “Computer Value for PI” 3.1415926 is only 0.00026% which is as close as you can get to the value of PI using ancient Hebrew letters. To calculate a circle you only need 3.1415 the rest is irrelevant.

In any case only the 3.1415  is necessary to calculate a circle.

Brian Sass, B.SC.  Paleobiology, works in the information technology industry. He has also served as Director of Technical Development for Creation Generation. Brian has been part of two expeditions into the interior of the African rainforest in 2003 and 2004 searching for evidence of modern dinosaurs. These expeditions turned into significant missionary outreaches as he shared the gospel with a number of isolated African tribal communities.

What are the odds? It reveals God is in control!

Nick Foles running for a touchdown in 24-16 victory over the Redskins in 2013. Credit: Mr.Shultz/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Nick Foles running for a touchdown in 24-16 victory over the Redskins in 2013. Credit: Mr.Shultz/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

What are the odds that the Most Valuable Players (MVP) in the two most important football games in the US and the most important football game in Canada would be Bible-believing Christians.

Not just run of the mill Christians, but men serious about their faith.

The latest was the Superbowl game played on Sunday, when the Philadelphia Eagles upset the Superbowl-laden New England Patriots 41 – 33. The last time the Eagles won a major championship was in 1960 when they won the NFL league title. They have never won a Superbowl that was initiated in 1966 as a championship game between the AFL and NFL.

The most outstanding player of Superbowl LII was the Eagles back-up QB Nick Foles.

But for a season ending injury to their starting quarterback Carl Wentz, another sincere believer, Foles would not have played.

Over the years, Foles has spoken repeatedly of his faith and recently in an interview with CBN said that he wanted to be a pastor when his football days are over. He is currently taking Bible courses online at Liberty University for a degree in Divinity.

“My faith in the Lord means everything. I’m a believer in Jesus Christ and that’s first and foremost,” said Foles.

A perennial back up, Foles had thoughts of quitting football, but felt the Holy Spirit impress on him that God still had football plans for him. And God did. It involved an amazing victory in the Superbowl as he led a team that some say had the most Christians playing for it of any team in the NFL.

After the game, an image circulated of Philadelphia Eagle players praying and thanking God for their victory.

As Foles and even the team’s head coach testified of their faith in Christ before millions after their amazing victory on Sunday, I don’t believe it was a message for America as much as it was for believers.

God is in control.

As we look through Bible history, we see the multiple instances where God raised up believers at critical times in history — Joseph in Egypt, Esther in Persia, Nehemiah in the court of Cyrus the Great and Daniel in Babylon.

As many forces in the world, political, judicial, media and entertainment, are trying to squash the Christian voice in society, God is raising up believers to speak for Christians.

Is it just a coincidence that a back up Christian QB not only wins the Superbowl, but one also helps win the biggest college game in the US — the College National Football Championship held in Atlanta on January 8, 2018?

Tua Tagovailoa, a tongues-speaking QB came off the bench at half time, to lead the Alabama Crimson Tide to a come from behind victory over Georgia Bulldogs. Alabama was losing 13-0 at half time and even the non religious describe Alabama’s comeback as miraculous. Alabama won the game in over time 26-23.

In an interview after the game, Tagovailoa said he was speaking in tongues during the game to keep himself calm. It was an amazing feat considering he was  a rookie who had no meaningful playing time during the season.

Then in Canada, the Toronto Argonauts defeated the heavily favored Calgary Stampeders in Canadian Football League’s (CFL) Grey Cup final played on November 26, 2017. Perennial winners, the Stampeders are the Canada’s version of the New England Patriots .

Like Alabama, the Argonauts were also behind at halftime, losing 17-8.

The MVP for that game was wide receiver DeVier Posey who had seven receptions for 175 yards. His one hundred yard reception for a touchdown also set a record for the longest TD reception in a Grey Cup history.

As Posey was receiving his MVP award he spoke profusely about his faith in Christ and other Christian teammates who had a pronounced affect on him. But the most moving moment for me was when he said that his faith was making him a better father to his kids.

What are the odds that believers would be named MVP in the most important games for these three leagues?

God wants us to know that He is in control.

When people are trying to shout Christians down in the public square, God is raising up believers to speak above the clamor.

There are four things we can learn:

  1. God doesn’t anoint teams, the Holy Spirit anoints players. So don’t pray for your team to win, pray for God to anoint the Christian players on your favorite team.
  2. God is not limited by circumstances. He can anoint back-up QBs to do the job. Under God’s anointing, believers can play like all-stars.
  3. God wants us to know that He will raise-up voices on our behalf, even as society desperately tries to shut Christians down.
  4. This is also a warning to all believers. Get ready. You could be the next person up.

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What does it mean the meek will inherit the earth?

Credit: Serita Vossen/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: Serita Vossen/Flickr/Creative Commons

What did Jesus mean when He said the meek will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5)?

Depending on what dictionary you use, the English word meek leaves different impressions — gentle, submissive, compliant, spineless, humble and maybe even a bit cowardly.

But is this what Jesus meant?

I am not sure meek is the right English translation for the Greek word “praus” used in this verse which is how the King James translated it.

HELPS word studies describes “praus” this way:

4236 praótēs– properly, temperate, displaying the right blend of force and reserve (gentleness). 4236 /praótēs (“strength in gentleness”) avoids unnecessary harshness, yet without compromising or being too slow to use necessary force.

The word depicts a person with power, but one who knows when to use it and when not to. It also describes a person who “avoids unnecessary harshness.”

But “praus” does not portray a person who is weak or cowardly.

Though the word can be translated “gentle” it is not in the sense that we imagine. The word was used to describe war horses trained for battle. They were gentle and restrained around their  handlers, but in battle they charged fearlessly into enemy lines.

Job goes into great detail describing war horses pawing at the ground when they heard the clanging of the enemy’s swords and spears. Under the control of their masters, they were fully prepared to throw themselves into battle if required:

“Do you give the horse his might?….
21 “He paws in the valley, and rejoices in his strength;
He goes out to meet the weapons.
22 “He laughs at fear and is not dismayed;
And he does not turn back from the sword.
23 “The quiver rattles against him,
The flashing spear and javelin.
24 “With shaking and rage he races over the ground,
And he does not stand still at the voice of the trumpet.
25 “As often as the trumpet sounds he says, ‘Aha!’
And he scents the battle from afar,
And the thunder of the captains and the war cry. (Job 39: 19, 21-25 NASV)

In his study of the original meaning of “praus, ” Psychology Professor Jordan Peterson says it portrays a powerful man who is armed with a sword and trained how to use it, but one who also knows when to sheath it.

Maybe it is just a coincidence, but at one point Jesus told his disciples to sell their cloaks and buy a sword (Luke 22:36). Buying a sword also meant preparing yourself to use it. Then when Judas led the priests into the Garden to arrest Christ, one of disciples pulled his sword and cut off the ear of a slave accompanying the high priest.

The disciples were armed and prepared to defend themselves, but then Jesus told the disciple to sheath his sword and healed the slave (Matthew 26: 51-52).

The Bible describes Jesus as a meek man. Yet He charged through the temple overturning tables (Matthew 21:12-17) and He confronted the pharisees over their hypocrisy (Matthew 23:13).

Moses was also described as the meekest man in the earth (Numbers 12:3). But he also killed a guard beating a Jewish slave. Many believe Moses probably saved the slave’s life as the guards were notorious for their brutality (Exodus 2:11-12). Then Moses confronted Pharaoh and warned him of judgement if he did not let God’s people go.

These men were not meek in the way we understand the word the word today. Meekness is not cowardliness. Meekness is not avoiding confrontation or a battle. Meekness is knowing when you should use your sword and when you should keep it sheathed.

The Curse of Borderline Personality Disorder

Credit: Jona Nalder/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: Jona Nalder/Flickr/Creative Commons

Years ago, I needed to buy some small piece of hardware. Since I live in Canada, I went to Canadian Tire, and since I had two small sons, I took them with me. The boys were six and four years old, I think, and they were thrilled. When we walked into the store, they sprinted away from me and disappeared down some shopping aisle. That store had tires, and car parts, and tools, and toys, and more, and I knew I had lost them.

I was not happy about this, so I bought the thing I needed and waited by the front door; they had to surface some time. When I finally saw them, I was shocked. The oldest boy had a sick look of panic on his face, and the little one had a blank desperate look as he followed his brother. They thought their father had abandoned them, and the emotions were real to them. Puppy love feels real to the puppy.

I still feel guilty about that, and I never did it again. Also, I think that was the last time the boys ran away from me in a store, so we solved a few problems.

What I learned is that adults can easily neglect and abuse children. Those little guys needed the adult in their lives to survive and grow, even when they talked back and ran away. Being a parent is an appointment from God.

Also, in the adult world, I have sometimes worked with some interesting women. In summary, they were generally pretty and intelligent, but they were smokers and drinkers and possibly drug users, and when they talked about relationships, they mostly described dramatic breakups; “He had it coming” stories. I found some of them hard to work with.

Once, when I was talking to a Psychologist that I knew, I mentioned these people, and I was advised to learn about “Borderline Personality Disorder.” I am not an expert on any subject in Psychology, but I have learned since then, and the truth is scary.

This is a disclaimer: I am mostly writing about women, here. Most people diagnosed with BPD are women, and I think there is a reason for that. Also, I am sure that men have personality disorders as much as women, but the male experience is slightly different and often described in different ways.

So who are these women who can’t get their lives working? The people I know have stories about sexual abuse as children. Their immature minds could not cope with the things that were done to them, and now they carry a heavy burden of shame and resentment, and they feel profoundly abandoned by the adults who should have cared for them. They have the panic that my sons felt for a few seconds, but extended over a lifetime. One friend with BPD told us that she started drinking at a young age because alcohol made the noise stop, and she became a struggling alcoholic.

I knew a Christian couple that attended a Bible study every week, and they hired a nice girl from another church family to babysit their children. After a few weeks the neighbors told the couple that the girl had a boyfriend who visited after the children were in bed. They eventually learned the truth, the ‘boy friend’ was almost thirty years old, and the babysitter was fifteen. I don’t know if anyone called the police, but they should have. I am sure that girl’s immature mind could not cope with what was happening, and I know her life spiralled out of control after that. If she is alive today, she probably feels like she was abused, and her feelings make that true.

There may be other triggers for BPD besides sexual abuse, but they all relate to neglect and abuse, in the formative years, with the people I know.

Imagine having a horror story written on a page, and referring to that story whenever you relate to other people. Marriage, family and friends, and employment are all viewed through one distorted lens, which means no-one can be trusted. That helps to explain other behavior, like self-medication with alcohol and drugs, and the emotional storms that no-one else understands.

BPD is a life-long disaster for many people, and sometimes life-ending. Suicide and premature death rates are high in this population.

I also know that everyone who is reading this has some burden from the past, something you don’t want others to know; and you can know, that is true about me. This is on a smaller scale than full BPD, and the issues may not be sexual, but I think it’s the same problem. Life comes with scars and we accumulate some heavy burdens through the years.

One man asked Jesus what to do, and He said: “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3: 3)

Jesus gave us a do-over, a clean start without the burdens. I think it’s easy to miss this as truth that we all need, and not just people who struggle with full-scale disorders. We are all disordered until the burdens are taken away, and that is the business of God.

I hope that anyone who struggles with BPD, in yourself or someone close to you, will find peace from God, and a way through the BPD wilderness.

This is my experience in life:

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5: 17)

Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43: 18 and 19)

Blame: The Ultimate Cop-out


Lately, I found myself repeating an old pattern in my life. It’s the one where I suddenly don’t feel good enough or I feel shame about something or an unpleasant memory pops up and I blame someone else for the problem.

I recognize in those moments, I have chosen to become a victim and end up dumping my emotional garbage on my unsuspecting husband. He gets to take the garbage out!

In a moment, my own personal trash is transferred to him and for a few seconds “I feel better.”

But, the “rush” does not last long and soon those sick emotions return. I realize now why many of us like to blame others. It provides a temporary rush that numbs our senses and makes us feel better.

But like all addictions, drugs, alcohol or gambling, the problem is not solved. It returns with a vengeance and we need to dump our frustration, anger and unchecked feelings again and again.

Blaming someone else becomes our temporary fix. We become addicted to it because of the “feel good” it gives us.

I have been on a quest to end this addiction. And at the root of my “blame” problem is the good old “victim mentality.” It’s someone else’s fault for why I feel like a failure some days, so I shift the blame to my husband, my parents, or even my kids.

Taking responsibility for the way you feel in those moments is the only way to deal with this problem.

Many counselors say we should not push the feelings away, but allow ourselves to feel them (without judgement) and contain them without dumping them on anyone else.

We need to take the time to understand ourselves in these moments. Why am I feeling this way? What triggered this? This is how we take responsibility for emotions.

Often, the problem is that I have not communicated clearly and expressed what I wanted or needed and then blamed others for not reading my mind.

Blaming someone else is the ultimate cop-out and  a distraction from dealing with the real issue — us.

Relationship experts, Katie and Gay Hendricks say;

“The need to blame escalates and starts to overtake our thinking. We look for reasons to blame whenever we can. It’s a cocaine in relationships because according to research blame creates a spike in adrenaline and works faster then cocaine, because in less than a second, your body is infused from the inside.”

When our body gets fired up (triggered), the adrenaline kicks in and numbs our emotional pain. It feels good. Pointing the finger numbs you from facing the real issue. It’s like eating chocolate cake, gambling or taking a narcotic.

These feelings are often difficult to address and require taking responsibility for them instead of shoving them away.

Author Geri Scezzaro writes:

“Blame comforts us, at least for a while, with the illusion that we are in control. However, it actually accomplishes the opposite, stripping us of our God-given personal power and keeping us helplessly stuck in immaturity.”

Blamers are typically angry and pre-occupied with what others (parents, church, government) should be doing. This gives them a sense of moral superiority and a feeling that they are in control because they have been dealt a “bad hand” in life.

Comments like, “The church is not meeting my needs.   My boss makes my life miserable. I wish I could work somewhere else.”

This ‘victim mentality’ creates an illusion of helplessness. We want God to fix the other person but ultimately we must take responsibility for our own lives. We are the one that needs fixing.

We must take responsibility for our feelings and create new patterns of thinking that will keep us out of the “victim mentality.”

“Confess your faults one to another, and a pray for one another so that you may be healed. ” (James 5:16)

Spain’s song at Eurovision written by two Evangelical Christians

Casas colgadas de Cuenca, Spain Credit: Jose Luis Mieza/Flickr/Creative Commons

Casas colgadas de Cuenca, Spain Credit: Jose Luis Mieza/Flickr/Creative Commons

Eurovision is an international singing contest held annually in Europe. It started in 1973 and features winners from participating European countries who hold national competitions to select their representative.

It differs from North American singing competitions like The Voice in that participants must sing an original song. But it doesn’t have to be written by the people singing it. In fact, the major emphasis seems to be the song over the performers, though obviously they need to be talented as well.

With a growing Evangelical population, Spain will be represented at this year’s competition with a song written by two Evangelical Christians, Sylvia Santoro and her nephew Raul Gomez. Sylvia wrote the words and Raul supplied the music.

The love song entitled, Tu Canción, won the Spanish leg of the event with 43% of the vote, beating out eight competitors. It was sung by a group called Almaia, composed of two singers Amaia and Alfred.

So far the song has over 750,000 views on YouTube.

Married with two children, Sylvia is a popular gospel singer among Spain’s Evangelical churches and has produced her own gospel album. She works at a Christian university and teaches Sevillana dance, a colorful Spanish folk dance styling from the 19th century.

Raul, who now attends a Hillsong church in London, England, is a talented music composer who had previously won another song event “El Numero 1” in 2013.

Speaking about the win, Sylvia said, “I believe God has put things in the right place and time.” She described her nephew’s music composing ability as a “gift from God.”

Eurovision has a huge following in Europe with between 100 million to 600 million people watching the event each year. This year’s finale will be held May 12, 2018 in Lisbon, Portugal.

There have been notable winners in the past. The Swedish pop music group ABBA won the contest in 1974 with their song Waterloo. They were basically unknown up to that point. Curiously, a Canadian even won it in 1988, when an unknown French Canadian singer Celine Dion sang “Ne partez pas sans moi” on behalf of Switzerland.

According to a report released by the Spanish government’s Observatory of Religious Pluralism, there are 4,025 Evangelical places of worship in Spain, surpassing 4,000 for the first time in the country’s history. The number of Evangelical churches in the country has grown steadily over the past several decades, but has shown a marked increased in recent years.

This is part of a strong Biblical tradition where God raises up believers at key moments in history such as Joseph in Egypt, Esther in Persia, Daniel in Babylon and Nehemiah in the court of Cyrus the Great.

Sources:

There are no racial barriers in God’s church

Jerusalem Temple Mound Credit: Bert Kaufmann/Flickr/Creative Commons

Jerusalem Temple Mound Credit: Bert Kaufmann/Flickr/Creative Commons

I don’t think we fully appreciate the significance of what happened when the Holy Spirit fell upon a group of gentiles as Peter was preaching in the house of Cornelius (Acts 10:44-48).

It took a vision for Peter, where God declared a number of animals clean, and an angelic visit for Cornelius to get these two groups together. After the Holy Spirit fell, it caused such a controversy in the early church they called a meeting to figure out what do to with the hundreds of gentiles becoming Christians.

But a few Bible verses and even archaeology provide a hint of what a radical change this was for the early church that was initially made up of solely Jews.

In 1871 a stone slab from the Jewish Temple that existed in Jesus day was discovered by archaeologist Charles Clermont-Ganneau. On the slab written in Greek was:

“No foreigner is allowed to enter the courtyard and enclosure surrounding the temple. Whoever is caught will be responsible to himself for his death, which will ensue.”

Ancient sign warning gentiles not to enter the temple on threat of death: Credit: Holylandphotos.org

Ancient sign warning death to gentiles if they entered the Temple: Credit: Holylandphotos.org

Greek was the common language of the day and was used because this warning threatening death was not intended for Jews, but Gentiles.

The Jewish temple was broken up into four areas. The outer courtyard was known as the court of the gentiles, and the inner court had three areas, one for women, one for men and one for the priests serving in the temple.

There were walls and warning signs preventing Gentiles from entering the inner temple area.

We even see the threat of violence in an incident involving Paul. He was visiting Jerusalem with a gentile man named Trophimus and a riot nearly broke out after some Jews falsely accused Paul of defiling the temple by bringing his gentile friend into the inner court (Acts 21:27-29).

Though the concept is not found in the Old Testament, the Jews considered the gentiles unclean. This came from the Jewish Talmud, an ancient document providing Jewish interpretations of the law. It basically added hundreds of new man-made laws that God never intended.

We can see the Talmud’s view of the gentiles at work in a confrontation between the pharisees and Christ:

“Then some Pharisees and scribes *came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” (Matthew 15:1-2 NASV)

The Pharisees asked Jesus why the disciples did not wash their hands before eating bread as was the “tradition of the elders” — a reference to the Talmud.

Since there was no refrigeration, food was bought daily at the market and invariably people would come in contact with gentiles. The Talmud ordered Jews to wash their hands before eating to remove any uncleanness associated with being around gentiles.

However, the Bible completely contradicted the views of the pharisees. There were several Old Testament passages that spoke of God moving on the gentiles and bringing them into Israel. Some even spoke of the Messiah bringing the gentiles into the House of God (Daniel 7:14; Amos 9:11-14; Psalm 22:27-28; Psalm 86:9; Isaiah 49:6; Isaiah 42:1).

This promise was fulfilled in the early church which meant that the church was simply the continuation of Israel.

The Apostle Paul clearly taught there was no more division between Jews and gentiles. And some believe he was referring to this temple wall and perhaps even the warning sign when he wrote:

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility (Ephesians 6:14 ESV)

And again when he said:

  • 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28 NASV)

There are no racial barriers in the Kingdom of God or there should’t be.

Sources:

Singing sensation Andrea Bocelli nearly aborted

Andrea Bocelli singing at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in 2015 Credit: World Economic Forum/Flickr/Creative Commons

Andrea Bocelli singing at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in 2015 Credit: World Economic Forum/Flickr/Creative Commons

The Grammy Awards are held annually by The Recording Academy to honor singing achievements primarily in the English-speaking world.

This year’s awards were held in New York’s Madison Square Gardens on January 28th and some described it as more political than musical. This may explain why its ratings are down 24% over the last year.

Aside from the singing awards, one of the highlights of these type of events are the dresses and suits worn by celebrities. This year was no different.

But the one that seems to have gained the spot light, was an anti-abortion dress worn by American singer and song writer Joy Villa. On her dress she painted an image of a baby in the womb and her handbag had the word “choose life” written on it.

In an interview with Foxnews, Villa said she was honoring her decision to give up a child for adoption when she was 21, during a crisis pregnancy.

Villa added that the image was “a painting of my daughter when I was eight months pregnant.”

When asked about the reaction to the dress she admitted receiving “a lot of love, a lot of hate.” Surprisingly much of the love came at the Grammys and predictably the hate came later through social media.

The biggest lie of the abortion industry is that the child is unwanted. There are tens of thousand of people wanting to adopt because they can’t have children of their own.

Ironically, a week before the Grammys, Lifesitenews reported how one of the world’s great singing stars was nearly aborted.

In an interview with “Domenica In,” a popular Italian show, Edi Alighieri told how doctors pressed for an abortion because her child was going to be born blind.

Newly married and thinking she was having an appendix attack, Alighieri went to the hospital. It was then doctors said she was pregnant and that her baby was suffering from congenital glaucoma, a genetic condition involving damage to the eye’s drainage system.

Edi Alighieri said she refused the abortion and gave birth to Andrea Bocelli, the Italian singing superstar. Though born with impaired vision, Bocelli did not go fully blind until he was injured playing soccer when he was 12.

Alighieri added it was Bocelli’s blindness that actually led to his singing career. While in hospital to receive treatment for his glaucoma, he met a Russian man who listened to symphony music for hours each day.

According to Lifesitenews, Bocelli is not the only singing sensation whose mother was pressured to abort so were the mothers of Canadian pop star Justin Bieber and Scotland’s Susan Boyle.

Below Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman singing Bocelli’s hit, Time to Say Goodbye.

Sources:

Hindus, Muslims, and Human Evolution

Crossing a river in Kerala State, India Credit: Michel Coutty/Flickr/Creative Commons

Crossing a river in Kerala State, India Credit: Michel Coutty/Flickr/Creative Commons

Something is happening in the world, and it’s like storm clouds gathering.

On January 20, India’s Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Mr. Satyapal Singh made statements that were critical of Darwinian Evolution, including has belief that the subject should not be taught in schools in India.

About six months before that, the government of Turkey made similar statements.

India is governed by religious Hindus, and Turkey is governed by religious Muslims. They don’t have the same religious beliefs, but something about Darwinian Evolution really bothers both groups. It’s one thing they agree on.

It’s easy for English-speaking westerners to think they are the leaders in human progress, but there are other voices.

Darwin’s theory for the origin of the species, evolution, is a logic escalator. In a department store, you don’t need to climb the stairs, you only need to make one small step and the machine will carry you to the end.

Charles Darwin was educated in theology, and qualified to be a minister in the Church of England. Two centuries ago, when he developed his theory, religious leaders, theologians, commonly used this kind of logic to persuade new converts. If you agreed with their first idea, the next idea made sense; and the next, and the next. If you want to understand the ‘sales job’ you should understand where this ‘escalator’ will take you.

It’s like buying a car from a persuasive salesman. If you kick the tires, you might sit in the driver’s seat, and you might go for a test drive. The whole point is to sell you the car.

John Calvin was a brilliant lawyer at the Sorbonne University in Paris, possibly the best university in the world at the time. He became one of the leaders of the early Protestants, and his five points of Calvinism are what we would expect from a professor of law; a logic escalator.

  • Total Depravity (also known as Total Inability and Original Sin)
  • Unconditional Election
  • Limited Atonement (also known as Particular Atonement)
  • Irresistible Grace
  • Perseverance of the Saints (also known as Once Saved Always Saved)

If you can be persuaded to believe that humans are totally depraved, so low that they can never save themselves, the other steps make sense.

And then we have Charles Darwin, the secular theologian. If we agree that natural selection happens, in nature, Darwin’s next belief makes sense, and the next, until we must believe in a universe without God where life emerged from a chemical mixture in a pond, by chance. Darwin’s escalator directs us to become atheists.

That is why Hindu and Muslim leaders, with strong religious convictions, do not like Darwin’s Evolution. The first steps are easy, but they don’t want the final conclusion. Religious people don’t want to lose everything they have to a slick, progressive sales job. They are too clever for that.

It doesn’t help that Darwin’s ideas come from white Europeans, the former colonial powers that oppressed much. A proud Hindu, or Muslim will be deeply offended by ideas that erase everything important to them, ideas that are forced on them by white and English speaking people.

Evolution is not an option, and not something to be persuaded about. It is presented as received orthodoxy, and anyone who disagrees is a fool. We are being convinced against out will, and the reaction is building.

In the Christian Bible, the importance of persuading, and not imposing, was well known. One of the greatest persuaders among Christians, Paul, was convinced, persuaded, and not forced into a belief system by imposed logic, and he gave the same to others.

“We know what it means to fear the Lord, so we try to help people accept the truth. God knows what we really are, and I hope that in your hearts you know us too.” (2 Corinthians 5:11) In other translations “we persuade men.”

I predict a forceful push against Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, right or wrong. It is not possible to arrogantly force logic on people, just because we believe. This trend will spread.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8: 38 and 39)

Sources:

What happened to the forests of Arabia?

Credit: Chasing Donguri/Flckr/Creative Commons

Credit: Chasing Donguri/Flckr/Creative Commons

Maybe the activists aren’t wrong, maybe man is to blame for Climate Change. But maybe we can’t finger CO2 emissions as the reason.

There is a lot of fear mongering going on about what will happen if we don’t reduce CO2 emissions and one of the dire consequences is drought such as suggested by an article, Global Warming Will Intensify Drought, Says New Study, in the very left-leaning English newspaper, The Guardian.

Of course, other articles claim the exact opposite saying that man-made global warming will cause flooding because of increased rain. An article in the Montreal Gazette laid the blame for the flooding that hit the Canadian province Quebec last year on man-made Global Warming.

For global warming elitists it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. Global warming causes every type of weather event under the sun, who cares if they end up contradicting themselves.

Even the recent cold snap in the southern US was blamed on man-made Global warming. Of course, some have realized the irony and are trying to rename Global Warming as Climate Change. But nothing has changed about this theory other than slapping a bit of lipstick on it.

Nevertheless the Bible does speak of dramatic weather changes and seems to lay the blame on man as well.

Scientists have found remnants of a massive forest that once covered the Arabian desert. They believe the climate changed about 10,000 years ago killing off all the trees

Now they can’t blame this climate change on SUVs and CO2, so what happened?

When we turn to the Bible, the Prophet Isaiah speaks of an ancient forest existing in Arabia. For the record, Isaiah prophesied about 2,700 years ago, between 740 BC and 686 BC:

13 The burden upon Arabia.

In the forest (ya’ar) in Arabia shall ye lodge,
O ye travelling companies of Dedanim. (Isaiah 21:13 NKV)

In this verse, Isaiah talks about forests which is the Hebrew word “ya’ar.” Now some Bible versions, such as the New American Standard Version (NASV), translated the word as thickets and did it largely because no forests exist in this area today.

But Isaiah uses the same word in another verse where “ya’ar” clearly referred to a forest full of trees and even the NASV that translated “ya’ar” as thicket in Isaiah 21:13, translates the same word as forest in Isaiah 7:2:

When it was reported to the house of David, saying, “The Arameans have camped in Ephraim,” his heart and the hearts of his people shook as the trees of the forest (ya’ar) shake with the wind. (Isaiah 7:2 NASV)

Some argue if the prophet intended the word to refer to a forest in chapter 7, that he intended the same meaning in chapter 21.

So if a forest once covered the Arabian desert during Isaiah’s day, confirmed by science, what happened?

A hundred years after Isaiah, the prophet Jeremiah pops on to the scene and he prophesied about a drought affecting Arabia:

“Lift up your eyes to the bare heights and see;
Where have you not been violated?
By the roads you have sat for them
Like an Arab in the desert,
And you have polluted a land
With your harlotry and with your wickedness.
“Therefore the showers have been withheld,
And there has been no spring rain.
Yet you had a harlot’s forehead;
You refused to be ashamed. (Jeremiah 3:1-2 NASV)

Jeremiah says the spring rains would no longer come and this was due to the harlotry and sin of the people.

Did the forest that existed in Isaiah’s day die off because of the drought prophesied by Jeremiah? If so this climate change was man-made as God stopped the rains because of man’s sin.

Note one more element of this prophecy, Jeremiah says their sin had polluted the land. The sin was so wide-spread, it seems to have literally soaked into the dirt.

In a warning to Israel, Moses told Israel that if they sinned, the land would spew (vomit) them out (Leviticus 18:28) as it did its earlier inhabitants. This seems to suggest that as sin builds up in a country, it eventually reaches a point when the land and climate turn against its inhabitants.

Sources:

The Wheel of Gratitude

Old watermill in Mabry Mill, North Carolina Credit: Scott Sanford/Flickr/Creative Commons

Old watermill in Mabry Mill, North Carolina Credit: Scott Sanford/Flickr/Creative Commons

Somewhere along the way the wheel of my life got stuck. What was I not getting?  I was feeling pretty rough and everyone in our house knew it.

I was being pulled under and drowning in self-doubt. False perceptions of myself hung like strings of seaweed on the waterwheel of my life as it lurched and jolted  to a stop.

I wondered, what if I am not good enough to accomplish what is at hand for me to do? And even if I do start something, what if I’m not sure what to do next?

Lana Vawser prophesied recently that one of the main strategies of the enemy is to whisper in your ear that ‘there’s something wrong with you.’

“One of the strategies of the enemy, is he is coming in as a slithering snake, whispering”there’s something wrong with you.  “God has withdrawn,” God is far away” and the opposite  is true. The Lord is close, and the Lord is inviting you to a deeper place than you have been before.”   (Prophetic word January 24th, 2018 – Lana Vawser Ministries)

I am learning that it’s OK not to know every step you will need to take when you begin something new in your life.

And, as one  author, Linda-Joy wrote, “it’s OK to feel as if your stuck in the space between what is and what is coming into your life. It’s OK to take the time to slow down, get quiet and sift through the muck of emotions and false beliefs that arise.”

I knew that my attitude of gratitude had slipped away and I needed to get it back.  It was the energy that sourced the waterwheel of my  life.

I started to say thank you. I said thank you when I couldn’t even think of anything to be thankful for.  That’s how stuck I was.  Nothing came to mind.  How bad was that?

I began to thank God for who He was because He is  sovereign and the one above my thoughts and my ways.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways.” (Isaiah 55: 8-9)

Recently, I have been sifting through old stuff (muck) and false beliefs about myself.  Linda-Joy asks, is it possible to feel  strong,  courageous, excited and vulnerable, fearful and unsure all at the same time? I can tell you it is possible.

I encourage you to nurture your friendships. Value them. Show appreciation and gratitude for the people in your life even if they drive you crazy. Be grateful for the lessons you are learning. Be thankful for the people who ground you and share their perspective on your situation with you.

Appreciate those whose personality is not like yours. The one’s where you need to be open and learn new skills just to communicate with them.

It is in my best interests and highest good to acknowledge God when I am stuck.

Offering praise and thanksgiving to God just because He is God is enough to get your wheel moving.  Thanksgiving produces the oil of gratitude that keeps it churning.

“In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you,” (Thessalonians 5:18)

God wants to move on governments, but it’s a battle

Credit: Thiago Santos/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: Thiago Santos/Flickr/Creative Commons

Last summer, CBN reported on a Bible study taking place on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC specifically for the US government’s cabinet ministers. It Is being led by Ralph Drollinger who heads Capitol Ministries, a group that ministers to politicians.

It not only has a Bible study for Cabinet Secretaries but also for members of the US Senate and House of Representative. The group also has studies taking place in nearly 40 state capitols, and even 60 capitols internationally. Bible studies are also taking place on a municipal level in hundreds of cities.

According to Drollinger, the goal of these studies is to give political leaders a Biblical world view.

Drollinger, 63, has an interesting resume. Standing 7’ 2”, he was a star center for UCLA and was actually drafted three times by the NBA. Instead of playing professional basketball, Drollinger decided to play for Athletes in Action, a Christian organization, that has traveling basketball teams that play exhibition games and share their faith at half time.

But Drollinger eventually did turn pro. In 1980 he signed as a fee agent with the Dallas Mavericks, but he retired in 1981 after a knee injury so he could attend seminary.

Though President Donald Trump does not attend the Bible study, Vice President Mike Spence does when he is available. Many of Trump’s cabinet also attend including Energy Secretary Rick Perry, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Agriculture Secretary Sunny Perdue, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson.

Drollinger says this is perhaps the most evangelical cabinet he has ever seen on Capitol Hill and added this was the first time there has been a Bible study just for cabinet ministers.

Predictably as the news of this study broke, it became the focus of attention. Drollinger, who has been leading Bible studies for years at the Capitol, has been personally attacked for the first time.

Two groups, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), also used America’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to find out if staff members from the various departments were being coerced to organize or attend the study. They also wanted to find out if any government resources were being used by the Bible group.

Though it received information from the various departments, FFRF is suing the government because one of the departments did not waive the associated fees because it said the FOIA request was not directly related to government operations.

The FFRF has also referred to the Bible studies as “secretive.” However if it is a secret, it is poorly kept one. Capitol Ministries publishes all the studies being taught on its website for anyone to read. As well, no staff members attend this particular study group, because it is only for cabinet ministers.

In a Facebook post, Drollinger added that Capitol Ministries pays for all the costs related to the Bible studies.

The Apostle Paul encourages believers to pray for Kings and those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

In one of the most intriguing passages that speak of God’s influence on political leaders, we see why.

Speaking to the prophet Daniel, an angel of the Lord said that he was raised up to stand by the King of Persia to not only protect him but to encourage the king as well.

11 “In the first year of Darius the Mede, I [the angel] arose to be an encouragement and a protection for him. (Daniel 11:1 NASV)

This king was none other than Cyrus of Persia who some historians say was one of the most benevolent kings in world history. He also allowed Israel to return from their captivity to the Promised Land.

The angel took his place beside Cyrus after Daniel prayed. From this position, the angel was able to influence this foreign king to make godly political decisions that not only benefited Israel but all the people in Cyrus’s kingdom.

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Despite death threats, former Iranian woman leads hundreds of Muslims to Christ in Sweden

Stockholm, Sweden Credit: Pedro Szekely/Flickr/Creative Commons

Stockholm, Sweden Credit: Pedro Szekely/Flickr/Creative Commons

Annahita Parsan, 47, now lives in Sweden where she pastors two churches. A former Muslim herself, she actively reaches out to Muslim refugees in her adopted country and trains other churches on how to reach those of the Islamic faith.

Over the last 15 years, Parsan estimates she has led 1,500 Muslims to Christ.

In an interview with Foxnews, Parsan tells how she was born into a Muslim family in Iran and was married at age 16, Two years later, her husband died in a car accident shortly after she gave birth to their son.

According to Iranian law, on the death of a husband, the husband’s father becomes responsible for raising any boys. This required Parsan to take legal action to win her son back.

During what is referred to as the Islamic Revolution, in 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini took power in Iran. The country dramatically changed over night. Parsan remarried and in 1984, her husband decided they needed to flee to Turkey where they were arrested for illegally entering the country.

On their release, the family moved to Istanbul where they worked to raise enough money to travel to Denmark. Though Parson had a daughter with her second husband, he was beginning to beat both her and the son from the previous marriage.

Frustrated and angry, it was in Denmark that she had her first encounter with the Gospel when a Danish woman shared Christ. Though Parsan initially said she wasn’t interested, the next day the woman dropped off a Bible. Parsan began reading it and started praying to Jesus for help.

In Christmas 1989, her situation took a dramatic turn. After a severe beating by her husband, Parsan tried to commit suicide with sleeping pills, but was rushed to the hospital in time to spare her life.

But the police who were investigating the incident discovered her husband was planning to leave her and return to Iran with the children. With this information, Parsan left her husband and fled to Sweden.

Once there, she pursued her new faith. Parson was water baptized and after surviving a serious car accident felt God wanted her to preach the Gospel and after training was ordained a minister in the Church of Sweden.

She has not only led hundreds of Muslim refugees to the Lord, she has also “secretly” baptized many people visiting from Iran and Afghanistan, who then returned home.

She receives a couple serious death threats a year (including bombs) and now has security present during her church services. The police have also dedicated an officer to her case.

After the Day of Pentecost, women began to play an increasingly important role in the early church. One of them was a woman by the name of Phoebe who served the church at Cenchrea, the city where Paul made a Nazarite vow (Acts 18:18).

16 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea; that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and that you help her in whatever matter she may have need of you; for she herself has also been a helper of many, and of myself as well. (Romans 16:1-2 NASV)

In this verse, Paul describes her as both a servant and helper of many. The word servant is the Greek word diakonos from which we get the word deacon. It is uncertain if this reflects her official position as a deacon in Cenchrea, but in the early church the word describes a leadership position as Jesus said those who want to be leaders, must be a servant of many (Matthew 20:26).

But it is the second word ‘helper’ that is most interesting. “Prostatis” was a word used to describe an athletic trainer. This person often a former athlete themselves was a mentor and trainer preparing a person for success in the Olympics.

In this case she was helping many develop in their Christian faith and she proved to even be a ‘prostatis’ for the Apostle Paul.

And because of this, Paul tells the church in Rome to provide her with any help she requires. This statement is most telling as it clearly reveals the vital role Phoebe held in the early church.

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Christians and Human Sacrifice

Credit: Dennis/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: Dennis/Flickr/Creative Commons

Don’t be fooled by my extreme title, Christians don’t drag some poor victim to the top of a pyramid and lay him on an altar; we are more subtle. Picture a group of children who got caught doing something wrong. The most important thing to report to the adults is ‘who takes the blame for this one.’ If we can heap the blame on someone else, we are free and clear. Our sacrificial victim is more like a scape goat.

Among adults, this blame shifting can damage one person’s reputation, and it can damage families and churches. The destruction can last a life time.

In my family, I am ashamed to admit, I fell for this a few months ago. My Dad is very old, and Mom is gone, so we are all concerned about our old father. A few months ago we learned that something wrong had been done with Dad’s money, maybe. I easily believed what I was told and I started to panic. I can remember at least one phone call that I wish I could take back. But here’s the good news; we found one sister to blame for everything. It felt good.

Later we had some group meetings and apologies were made. The financial issues were all corrected and Dad is doing well now. I had to agree with the old truth, ‘It’s not my fault, but it is my responsibility.’ That did not feel so good.

Many years ago, I knew a young woman who was raised in a conservative and old-fashioned church. I won’t name the denomination, but you probably know a group like them. One Sunday morning, in the weekly service, her family was accused of doing something wrong, or one person was accused and they were all guilty by association. The whole church group stood up to vote against the family, and they were all shunned from that time. No-one in the church would speak to them. It probably felt good to put all that blame on one family, but I imagine the victims still feel the pain.

Possibly someone did do something wrong, but that young woman was destroyed by that vote. She lost her whole life, friends, worship in church, and employment. In our circle of friends, that was all she wanted to talk about. But somehow, that destruction seemed right and good in the church back home.

Recently, someone I knew lost their job and I was tempted to say “Well I saw that coming.” That is true, I did see it coming, but blaming them doesn’t make me a better person. I resisted the temptation to slander my friend, and the relationship is still good. You know how easy it is to see fault when someone else is wrong, like when they have problems in their marriage, or with their kids, or they lose a job, or someone has an accident in traffic. On the road, blame shifting and road raging is called bad defensive driving, and among Christians it is just heresy.

We are supposed to believe that our mistakes and failings are forgiven, my sins are gone because Jesus took them away, but it is so easy to make myself right by putting blame on a sacrificial victim.

The Bible is clear about this one; “Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.” (Galatians 6:1)

We have these instructions because we like to do something else. Blaming to make ourselves good is not the religion of Jesus, but it is everywhere among Christians. I see this other gospel in me too often, and I know families and churches that are severely damaged. When the issue about my Dad flared up a few months ago, we almost fell into that pit.

(Proverbs 28) People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy. (v 13) Blessed are those who fear to do wrong, but the stubborn are headed for serious trouble. (v 14) The blameless will be rescued from harm, but the crooked will be suddenly destroyed. (v 18) In the end, people appreciate honest criticism far more than flattery. (v 23)

Canadian Government’s Assault on ‘Freedom of Speech’

Canada's House of Commons in Ottawa Credit: Onasill~Bill Badzo/Flickr/Creative Commons

Canada’s House of Commons in Ottawa Credit: Onasill~Bill Badzo/Flickr/Creative Commons

With the election of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2015, Canada has taken a hard left turn against free speech.

Last year, the Liberal government announced that it will no longer be handing out grants under its Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) program to organizations that do not agree with abortion. Under the program, the government provides funding for about 70,000 students to be hired by religious groups that run day cares, summer camps and drop in centers.

The problem started when an organization called the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada complained that the federal government was funding pro-life groups through such mechanisms as CSJ.

The federal government publicly responded by saying that it will not longer fund anti-abortion groups.

In order to prevent funding, last year the Canadian government chose to only hand out the CSJ grants to ridings that had Liberal MPs who could make sure the money only went to pro-abortion groups.

Apparently, Liberal MPs are not allowed to think abortion is wrong.

However, three pro-life groups who did not receive funding last year took the government to court claiming religious discrimination. The government settled with the groups in November and paid out the funding they would have normally received under the program.

After adding a requirement to the 2018 application form endorsing abortion, the funding was open to all ridings including non-Liberal ones.

On this year’s application, groups are specifically asked their position on abortion, an act that some suggest might be illegal under the constitution.

They are requiring a check mark on a box marked as respecting “reproductive rights” that reads in full:

“Both the job and the organization’s core mandate respect individual human rights in Canada, including the values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as other rights. These include reproductive rights and the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.”

But Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedom clearly protects freedom of religion and conscience.

Of course, part of the problem is what does the government mean by “core mandate.” The government insists it is simply trying to differentiate between pro-life groups who focus solely on abortion and other religious organizations that do not.

However, many religious groups say though abortion is not part of their core mandate they do not agree with killing babies and cannot check the box because it violates their religious views and freedom of conscience.

But if they refuse to click the box, the online application will not be processed. In other words they have to lie and say pro-abortion views are part of their core mandate to receive the money.

Some describe the tie between pro-abortion views and government funding as little more than ethical extortion. Personally, I don’t think government should be funding work’s program at all, however the larger issue is “Freedom of Speech.”

So far it is not illegal to think differently than the government, so why should agreeing or disagreeing with abortion be a condition to funding? This is a serious issue, because the government is using funding as punishment to control how people think.

Freedom of speech is under attack across North America and if the Canadian government wins on this issue, what will be next?

Because of this several groups are taking government to court over the issue.

Though the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects religious freedom and expression of conscience, does it also protect citizens from an abusive government?

Sources:

Does the Bible speak of ‘social justice’?

Credit: J. Stephen Conn/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: J. Stephen Conn/Flickr/Creative Commons

“Social justice” is a favorite term of the left, and recently I have been finding the phrase creeping its way into Evangelical Churches.

The concept is defined this way:

  1. Justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society.
    “individuality gives way to the struggle for social justice”

“Social justice” involves a redistribution of wealth and notice in the last line that the rights of the individual are set aside in favor of the rights of the collective or group. This is nothing more than cultural Marxism pervading our society similar to the political Marxism found in the old Soviet Union or Maoist China.

“Social justice” is made up of an adjective “social” and the noun “justice.”

By definition an adjective is added to a noun to either “modify or describe it.”

Since one of the intents of an adjective is to “modify” or change, it can literally be used to redefine a word.

So when you add the adjective “social” to “justice,” you no longer have justice, but some form of hybrid.

In a nutshell “social justice” is an attempt by those primarily on the left to redistribute wealth — taking money from those they perceive to be rich and giving it to the poor.

It is a blatant attempt to favor the poor.

The Bible speaks often of justice, but no where does it speak of “social” justice.

Provided a person has gained their money lawfully, the Bible does not have a problem with wealth. It exhorts the rich to be generous to the poor, not under compulsion, but willingly.

The Bible is also very clear that we are not to show favoritism to the rich. There is a natural tendency in human nature to favor the rich and famous, perhaps hoping some of their wealth will spill on us.

James addressed this issue when he criticized churches who gave special seating to the wealthy, while the poor were told to sit on the floor:

My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” (James 2:1-3 NASV)

God does not show favoritism and neither should the church (Romans 2:11).

But curiously, the Bible also says that we are not to favor the poor:

You shall not follow the masses in doing evil, nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after a multitude in order to pervert justice; nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his dispute. (Exodus 23:2-3 NASV)

The command is repeated again in Leviticus, but includes an admonition not to show partiality to the rich as well as the poor:

15 ‘You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly. (Leviticus 19:15 NASV)

It is easy to feel sorry for poor people and make judgements in their favor, even if they are not deserving, because the other person is so rich he wouldn’t miss a few bucks.

But in doing so you are actually perverting justice. In fact, the verse in Leviticus describes favoring the poor in such disputes as injustice.

The left have a curious theory that money will solve everything.

When a woman was pouring expensive perfume over Jesus’s head, Judas indignantly stated the perfume could have been sold and given to the poor (Matthew 26:6-13). He was openly criticizing the woman’s right to do what she wanted with her wealth. In Judas’s mind the rights of the group overruled the individual freedoms of this woman.

Jesus asked why Judas was bothering (trying to guilt) this woman suggesting she had obviously heard his condemning comment. Then Christ adds this controversial statement that “the poor will always be with us.”

Was Christ suggesting we will always have an unjust society where the rich take advantage of the poor as Marxists’ claim or was He referring to something else?

Now it is true that some people have a tough lot in life and given a hand up they could turn their life around and be successful.

But many times their poverty has nothing to do with a lack of money but rather lifestyle choices. And no matter how much money people receive, they will end up back in poverty and I suspect this is what Jesus was referring to.

For evidence you only have to look at the list of multi-million dollar lottery winners who are bankrupt within a few years of winning their prize. An article entitled From Rags to Riches to Rags Again: 21 Lottery Winners Who Lost Everything cited a few of these cases:

  • A 19-year-old English man won the equivalent US$14.4 million in 2002 and by 2012 he was living off unemployment benefits.
  • A Canadian man won $10 million lottery in 1998 and having spent all the money hung himself in his garage seven years later.
  • An US woman won a lottery worth $18 million in 1993. She declared bankruptcy in 2001. Reports indicated she was spending $300,000 a year on gambling.
  • Another US man who worked at Home Depot won $31 million and two years later, broke, he committed suicide.

An article in the National Post told of a Canadian man who won $5 million through a winning lottery ticket in 2006. Spending $20,000 a week, within three years he had spent nearly half the money and by 2016 he was broke and heading to jail for trafficking in crack.

In his article, Joseph Brean explains why this happened:

“One view, held by Richard Tunney, a professor of psychology at the University of Nottingham, is that the people who go wild and squander their jackpots are basically the sort who would have behaved irresponsibly anyway, whether rich or poor.”

These people are lifestyle poor and no matter how much money you give them, nothing changes.

There are also examples of people who won millions and actually bettered their lives, but oddly they are in the minority. Some estimates suggest that within seven years nearly 70% of the lottery winners are broke.

Many times money is not the answer to people’s problems and “social justice” is not “justice.”

Sources:

Surviving a winter season

Forest near Oslo, Norway Credit: Thorbjorn Sigberg/Flickr/Creative Commons

Forest near Oslo, Norway Credit: Thorbjorn Sigberg/Flickr/Creative Commons

As I enter the last half of January, I find myself bracing for the emotional challenges these months have brought in past years.

It involves a slow descent into darkness. I often feel trapped, restless and revisit old issues that I thought were healed. Depression and feelings of worthlessness can overtake me as the days get shorter and the cold settles in.

But not this year!

I am putting  my best foot forward as we descend into the shadows of winter. I am like the groundhog who hibernates and waits for the right conditions to resurface.

Actually, in a spiritual sense, it’s the perfect season to ‘exercise grace’.

What does ‘exercising grace’ mean?  For me, it’s the  full release of my ‘doing mentality’ that has been known to drive me and others in my family to utter insanity. In other words cease trying to make things happen.

It means that over these next couple months I choose to embrace knowing that it is ok to ‘just be’ and that ‘I am enough.’

It’s about accepting myself now. God accepts me just the way I am and I will rest in that truth. I  have given myself permission to rest, read and write with just enough exercise to keep me in shape through these months.

There is no need to prove myself to anyone or strive to do anything.

With this intention clearly set in my mind, I noticed that my inner GPS system had made some internal adjustments. The laying down of my plans and projects created an internal reset that  gave me clarity and direction that I was not expecting.

I have delighted in this verse as it rang so true to me these past few weeks.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”  – Psalm 23: – 1-3

My soul has been restored by the very act of laying myself down to rest, refuel and recharge. God’s grace has been my companion and the voice that whispers  ‘just be’ and ‘you are enough.’

His grace is the guiding light that leads me through the dark seasons of life.

And, just as there are  seasons in the physical realm, I have learned that there are spiritual seasons.  We must allow ourselves (body, mind and spirit)  to rest in a spiritual sense in the same way the earth rests in the winter.

We need the seasons of spring to recharge and summer to refuel allowing us to bear fruit in the  fall season of our lives.

This holds true as this verse in the Bible states:

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven; a time to be born, and a time to die, a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Even the doctor called it a miracle

Juan Spence Credit: CBN

Juan Spence Credit: CBN

In an incredible testimony reported by CBN, teenager Juan Spence was tagging along in a car ride with a friend on May 22, 2017. His parents pastor a church in Williamsburg, VA.

The road was wet, the friend was speeding and Juan did not have his seat belt on.

The car spun out of control, hitting a post causing it to tumble. When Juan was thrown out of the vehicle through the sun roof, the car landed on his head.

Suffering traumatic brain injury, he was rushed to the nearby MCV Hospital in Richmond, Virginia. When he arrived, the doctors were forced to cut away a part of Juan’s brain to release the pressure.

When officials contacted Juan’s mother, Elizabeth, about the accident, she immediately began praying for her son. Not knowing the full extend of the injury, the Holy Spirit told her, “He shall live and not die.”

Juan’s father Alex had also received a similar word from God that his son would survive.

When his parents arrived at the hospital, the doctors said Juan only had a 5% chance of living and if he did pull through he would be a vegetable due to the extensive brain damage.

Despite the seriousness of his condition, both parents were praying and making declarations of faith.

Within a fewf days Juan came out of his coma and began to move his fingers and toes. Today, he is walking and talking and on the road to recovery.

It hasn’t been without its trials. Though Juan has returned to school, he has had three brain surgeries and is unable to fully move his left arm and is partially paralyzed on the left side of his face.

As he lay in a coma in the hospital, Juan recounts seeing a demon coming towards him, but a Godly angel in armor showed up and fought the demon and it vanished.

His miraculous survival has impacted Juan, who was a typical teen living for the moment. Now Juan understands that God has a plan for him.

According to the family even the doctors are treating Juan’s recovery as a miracle. The doctor told the family, “’I’ve never seen anything like this in all the years I’ve been performing surgery on head trauma victims’ — he said ‘your son is one of a kind’. He said ‘one in a million.’”

But hidden in this story is a hint of a spiritual gift. In the Apostle Paul’s listing of spiritual gifts recorded in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, he describes one of the gifts as a “word of knowledge.”

It is like prophecy in that the Holy Spirit transmits information to the receiver that he or she would not otherwise know. But it differs in one respect, while the prophetic provides information on future events, the word of knowledge provides revelation on a current situation.

I suspect Juan’s mother received a word of knowledge that her son would not die from this accident enabling her to pray in faith.

The word of knowledge is a gift Jesus used several of times with similar results.

In John 1:44-50, we find the story involving Nathanael. When Philip initially told Nathanael about Jesus being the Messiah, Nathanael was skeptical. The full extent of his skepticism was on display, when Philip told Nathaniel that Jesus was from Nazareth, and he sarcastically  quipped  “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?“.

But Nathanael agreed to meet Jesus who dealt with Nathanael’s skepticism through a word of knowledge by saying He saw Philip talking to Nathaniel under a fig tree.

This revelation helped Nathanael to believe.

Later when Jesus was talking to the Samaritan woman at the well, the Lord received a revelation that she had five husbands and the one she was living with was not her husband, suggesting they were probably living together (John 4:7-34).

The woman was so stunned by Jesus’s revelation that she returned to the village telling her friends what had happened.

As the people poured out of the village to see Christ, the Lord said to His disciples look the fields are white with harvest. Though many pastors use this verse to tell people that we need to preach the Gospel because the fields are white with harvest, they miss the important point of this story.

Jesus made the fields white with harvest through a word of knowledge. They were not white until then.

As the world becomes more skeptical about faith and God, I believe the Lord will use spiritual gifts such as word of knowledge to reveal Himself. We just need to be willing to take the risk and proclaim them.

Sources:

Joshua’s Longest Day

Credit: Ross Thomson/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: Ross Thomson/Flickr/Creative Commons

Many people want to understand the  Bible but have difficulty answering questions about some of the seemingly unbelievable miracles that God has performed. But Peter exhorts us to be ready always to give an answer to every man (1 Peter 3:15).

I would like to offer just such an answer as we analyze the miracle of the long day in Joshua chapter 10. The Israelites had just defeated Jericho and Ai in their initial invasion of the Promised Land.

Five Amorite Kings — fearing they would be next — formed an alliance to repel the Israelite invasion. In the ensuing battle, Joshua quickly gained the upper hand, but he also realized that he was running out of daylight to fully route this unholy alliance. With nightfall looming, the Amorites would be able to safely withdraw from the battlefield and regroup for a later attack. To stop this from happening, Joshua called upon God to stop the sun from setting.

12 “He said in the sight of Israel, ‘O sun,  stand still at Gibeon, And O moon in the valley of Aijalon.’ 13 So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, Until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies. Is it not written in the book of Jashar? And the  sun stopped in the middle of the sky and did not hasten to go (down) for about a whole day.”

This was a substantial miracle but is there any proof — besides what is written here — that it actually took place? This is not easy to answer since this event is termed a “singularity” meaning it occurred only once, has not happened since, and is not re-creatable. But if you believe the Bible is the infallible word of God then you already have your answer — it happened.

However, we do have additional evidence. The documentation comes in the form of oral and written traditions from other cultures around the globe. It makes sense that if the sun and moon stood still, then someone else —  other than Joshua — was bound to notice and that is exactly what happened.

One of the more interesting accounts comes from the Maori people of New Zealand. They record how their hero Maui slowed the sun before it rose. The time difference between the Middle East and New Zealand is approximately 11 hours. Therefore, while Joshua was experiencing a long day, the Maori people would have experienced a long night, exactly as was recorded!

Further testimony is found in North America in the Mexican Annals of Cuauhtitlan (the history of the empire of Culhuacan and Mexico). These historical documents record a night that continued for an extended time. Again it would have been night in Mexico, while this miracle was taking place in broad daylight in Israel.

Another account of a long day is seen in the Greek legend of Apollo’s son, Phaethon, who disrupted the sun’s course for a day. Since Greece and Israel have only a one hour time difference, it makes sense that they, like Joshua, would have extended daylight.

So here we have a number of independent sources from different cultures, some thousands of miles apart, that verify Joshua’s long day did take place.

But is there a scientific explanation for what happened that day?

Several theories have been put forward to explain this miracle. Most revolve around a slowing or stopping of the earth’s rotation. Such an event would have put an enormous strain on the geological structures of the earth, resulting in earthquakes, tidal waves and other catastrophes.  It would be the earth’s equivalent of slamming on the brakes.

In Habakkuk 3, the prophet may be alluding to Joshua’s infamous long day in verse 11, which he appears to have seen in a prophetic vision. But it’s interesting to study the numerous events he saw occurring in conjunction with this day.

There are clear indications of earthquakes:

  • The curtains of the Midian tents trembled (v 7);
  • Some mountains were shattered (v 6), while others quaked (v 10);
  • Hills collapsed (v 6).

The prophet also saw the catastrophic effects that the stopping of the earth’s rotation had on the oceans. He seems to be referring to tidal waves when he talks about flooding that violently cleaved the earth (v 9), raging oceans (v 8) and surging waters (v 10).

Habakkuk had no way of knowing that these events would be the normal results of a sudden stopping of the earth’s rotation. This revelation could only have one source — God Himself.

The evidence for Joshua’s long day is beyond circumstantial and the impact of that day was clearly seen around the world.

 

Brian Sass, B.SC.  Paleobiology, works in the information technology industry. He has also served as Director of Technical Development for Creation Generation. Brian has been part of two expeditions into the interior of the African rainforest in 2003 and 2004 searching for evidence of modern dinosaurs. These expeditions turned into significant missionary outreaches as he shared the gospel with a number of isolated African tribal communities.

Is comedian Russell Brand turning to Christ for help?

Russell Brand speaking at an austerity rally in England. Credit: D B Young/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Russell Brand speaking at an austerity rally in England. Credit: D B Young/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

I can honestly say I didn’t see this coming. But is something spiritual happening to outlandish English comedian Russell Brand?

I am not sure how to describe Brand. He has worked as an actor, writer, stand-up comedian, MTV and reality TV host. He is or was an atheist, borderline communist and activist. He is renown for his outrageous and often vulgar behavior.

He was also briefly married for 14 months to pop-star Katie Perry.

But recently in an interview with Relevant magazine, Brand revealed that he may be going through a spiritual awakening. He said, “My personal feeling is the teachings of Christ are more relevant now than they’ve ever been.”

He continued:

“If Christ consciousness is not accessible to us, then what is the point of the story of Jesus, you know? He’s just a sort of a scriptural rock start, just an icon. Unless Christ is right here, right now, in your heart, in your consciousness, then what is Christ?”

So what happened?

Brand said that his divorce with Katie was the starting point of his change. Though for now Katie seems to be ignoring her Christian roots, her parents are Christian pastors and evangelists.

Brand, a self-professed heroin and cocaine addict, went into a 12-step program to recover from his addiction shortly after someone caught Brand injecting heroin in a bathroom at a Christmas party at his agent’s home.

He was apparently introduced to the program by an atheist and initially had to deal with all the “religious talk.” But despite his misgivings, he seems to have taken a second look at the Christian faith.

He openly admits that his “spirituality comes through addiction, so it comes from desperation and fear and this sort of defeat, destruction, annihilation of self in a very humiliating way…. I had no choice but to embrace spiritual life, but now I am grateful for this. It makes sense of my life.”

Brand even wrote a book entitled Recovery: Freedom from our addictions. Though reportedly laced with vulgarity, Brand says it has a Christian message.

AA’s 12-step program initially developed by Christians to deal with alcoholism is now successfully being used for drug addiction. At its core, AA states a person must depend on God, who they today describe as a ‘higher power,’ to break free from addiction.

But Brand seems to have progressed from ‘higher power’ to Christ.

Which leads to an interesting question. Is the Christian faith an instant conversion or a process?

I think it’s both. In its very essence Christianity is believing in Christ for your salvation. You become righteous through faith in Christ.

Does this instantly make you a better person? No it makes you saved from your sin.

But when you are born-again, the Holy Spirit resides inside you and becomes part of your life. While speaking to Nicodemus, Jesus described the Holy Spirit’s vital connection to the born-again experience this way:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:3, 7-8 NASV)

Unfortunately, the born-again experience is belittled in our modern culture, but it is where the Christian faith starts.

Brand may have even hinted at a born-again experience when he said, “Admit you have a problem. Believe it’s possible to change, and ask Him for help. Invite Him in… Capital Hs, of course.”

With the Holy Spirit residing in you, God begins the slower process of transforming your life.

Has Brand begun this transformation? I don’t know. I do know we shouldn’t demand instant perfection and we need to give him some time.

 

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Whose law will we obey?

Mototaxi on the border of Bolivia and Peru. Credit: Tobias Mayr/Flickr/Creative Commons

Mototaxi on the border of Bolivia and Peru. Credit: Tobias Mayr/Flickr/Creative Commons

Believers in Bolivia may soon be facing a difficult decision. According to a report on Evangelical Focus, the left-leaning Bolivian government of President Evo Morales recently passed a law that could make it illegal for Christians to share their faith.

Article 88.11 of Bolivia’s penal code reads:

“Whoever recruits, transports, deprives of freedom or host people with the aim of recruiting them to take part in armed conflicts or religious or worship organizations will be penalized five to 12 years of imprisonment.”

The way it’s worded, the law suggests that recruiting (sharing your faith) with another person could be considered illegal. Transporting a person to church or even to a religious camp could also be interpreted as an illegal act warranting jail time.

The law also equates sharing the Christian faith with armed rebellion.

Because of its vague wording, many are concerned Morales could use the law to clamp down on evangelicals. Bolivia has a population of about 11 million of which 78% are considered Roman Catholic, 19% (two million) Protestants and 3% non religious.

Though Bolivia’s constitution guarantees freedom of religion, Pastor Miguel Machaca Monroy, President of the National Association of Evangelicals in Bolivia, said the law does the exact opposite:

“It is deplorable that Bolivia has become the first Latin American country to persecute the rights of freedom of conscience and of religion…

“Now we have been put in a situation in which practicing the Gospel has been criminalized.”

According to Evangelical Focus, several journalists are also openly opposing the law calling it a severe restriction on Freedom of Speech.

So what are believers to do if the governing authorities prohibit preaching the Gospel?

This was exactly the problem the early church ran into shortly after the Day of Pentecost. In Acts 5, we read that they were preaching the gospel, healing the sick and attracting crowds. Jealous of their success, the authorities in Jerusalem ordered the apostles thrown in jail:

18 They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public jail. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, and taking them out he said, 20 “Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life.” 21 Upon hearing this, they entered into the temple about daybreak and began to teach. (Acts 5:18-21 NASV)

However, a curious thing happened. During the night an angel orchestrated a jail break and told the apostles to continue teaching at the temple. Yes, an angel of God broke the law and released the Apostles.

The next day, the authorities rounded up the disciples again and dragged them before the Sanhedrin and demanded they quit talking about Jesus.

But the Apostle Peter had a revelation on what had just happened. Though, they had been ordered to quit preaching, the apostles understood the message behind their prison escape.

Speaking before the Sanhedrin Peter said, “We must obey God rather than men” (v29).

Then a few chapters later, King Herod had Peter arrested a second time to appease the Jews. As the early church prayed through the night for the apostle, an angel broke Peter out of prison again (Acts 12:6-17).

Though this happened twice, we also have the big contradiction. Between those two jail breaks, Stephen was martyred for preaching the gospel (Acts 7:54-60).

It didn’t always go well for the disciples when they obeyed God instead of man.

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