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Peter walking on water by Amedee Varin (1818-1883)/Wikipedia

Hello My Name is Peter

I am six weeks short of age 65. I have never written anything about my experiences. I met Jesus 48 years ago. When I was very young my rather fiery, English war bride Mother would have regular outbursts. All that it took was for one of my friends to call me Pete. She wore hearing aids and there were many different things she didn’t hear, but, she always seemed to hear when I was called Pete. Mother would yell from wherever she was and say “Do not call him that! I named him Peter!!” I always found it odd and a little embarrassing. I was born again when I was 17. I started reading the Bible and I went to my Mother and asked her “Why do you get so upset when people call me Pete?” She explained, from a very deep place inside of her, that I was named Peter, after the Peter in the Bible. It didn’t matter how old I got, teenager, adult, father of my own children, she maintained this right …

St Paul Minnesota Credit: James McLarnan/Flickr/Creative Commons

When Our God Fails Us

I am sure that everyone believes. I am a Christian, and that comes from a choice that I made when I was young. Now I follow and worship Jesus. Many of the people around me, including some friends, do not follow Jesus; but everyone believes. Everyone has a god. Recently a famous journalist in Canada published an article starting with the words “People my age grew up believing the world, led by the West, was becoming more progressive. It wasn’t and isn’t.” The title was “Lose your illusions. It’s an ugly, dystopian world.” If you read Mr MacDonald’s article, you might be offended. He has some strong negative opinions, and he gives out much anger. For example, he describes the United States and Saudi Arabia as “Republic of Dystopia, our southern neighbor, and the Kingdom of Draconia, Canada’s most violent and temperamental weapons customer.” He also describes the President of the U.S. and his American supporters as the “savage, braying president, and guffaws from the simple-minded flying monkeys he commands at his rallies.” RELATED: Lose …

Credit: Chris Campbell/Flickr/Creative Commons

Are you self harming?

Whenever I heard the word ‘self-love,’ it made me cringe as I immediately thought of ‘selfishness’. I was pretty sure this was not the Christian way. In my mind, self-love and selfishness were the same thing. But as I pressed into my journey to wholeness — physically, emotionally and spiritually — the idea of needing to love yourself kept coming up. I wasn’t sure how Biblical this was but thought I needed to find out if it was or wasn’t. It seemed that to heal from past issues and recent traumas that constantly triggered me, I was being pointed in the direction of ‘self-love’. What was I getting myself into? And how did this fit with the verse, “deny yourself and take up your cross and follow after me?” Jesus shed His blood on the cross to save the world and it started to feel like I was doing the same thing, making personal sacrifices for others. But were these the sacrifices that God was asking me to make? Was I being motivated by love …

Lauren Daigle singing at Winter Jam in Columbus, Ohio in 2016 Credit: Caleb Cook/Flickr/Creative

Lauren Daigle, a story of God’s calling and anointing?

I was reading an interesting article on the sudden rise of Christian singer Lauren Daigle, 27. If you have watched American Idol over the past few years, you may already have heard of her as she was a participant. Today she has a successful career as a Gospel singer. But in September 2018, Lauren caught many by surprise when her song “Look Up Child” suddenly took off coming in third on the Billboard 200, a secular chart. This put her behind Paul McCartney and Eminem, but ahead of superstars Niki Minaji, Drake and Ariana Grande. Of course her song dominated the Christian Billboard charts, but coming in near the top on a secular chart suggested her Christian-themed music was spilling over into the secular market. In an interview with the Associated Press (AP), Lauren said that one of the goals of her music team has been to “extend the tent pegs.” This is a reference to a verse out of Isaiah, where the prophet gave a word to the barren women to start singing with …

Priscilla Shirer: YouTube capture

Don’t be out of step with the Gospel in terms of race

I was recently struck by the words of Priscilla Shirer, 44. She is a black woman, a motivational speaker, TV host, author, preacher and founder of Going Beyond Ministries. Priscilla recently had her first acting role in the Christian movie War Room playing Elizabeth, the wife of Tony Jordan. Chuck Bernal, the pastor of Lifepoint Church, recently shared a video on Facebook of some profound statements Priscilla made about race, politics and the Christian faith. On the video that has been viewed nearly 7.5 million times, Priscilla said: “I do not describe myself as a black woman because that gives too much power to my blackness. “I don’t want my race to be the describing adjective of who I am as a woman. I am not a black woman. I am a Christian woman who happens to be black. “It’s the job of your adjective to describe the noun of who you are. If there’s gonna be an adjective describing me it’s not gonna be my race, it’s going to be I’m a woman who …

Credit: Wonderland/Flickr/Creative Commons

Over 1.4k have committed to attend a Witchcraft event to hex Brett Kavanaugh and others

According to an event posted on Facebook, nearly 1,400 people have committed to attend a rally in New York City to put a hex on the recent Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. What is perhaps equally disturbing another 13,000 have stated they are interested in the event being sponsored by an occult book store in New York city. The event is scheduled for Saturday, October 20, 2018 in Brooklyn. According to Fox News media personality Tucker Carlson,  the event “will include an optional $10 donation” with part of the proceeds going to “Planned Parenthood, to ‘fund their own human sacrifice rituals.’” Though the event will focus on Brett Kavanaugh, he won’t be the only target as it will also focus on rapists and the patriarchy. But equally concerning is the motivation behind the hexes, the Facebook event page goes on to say that the people attending should bring their rage: “He will be the focal point, but by no means the only target, so bring your rage and and all of the axes you’ve got …

Credit: sarah-ji/Flickr/Creative Commons

Are we vulnerable to satanic attack if we don’t forgive others?

Many years ago, my wife and I had a Christian couple over for supper. After the meal we were sitting around talking. I can’t even remember what we were talking about, but suddenly the man exploded in anger. We all turned to the man in utter shock. You could hear the rage in his voice and see it on is face. He was blustery red. His eyes were wide. His voice was loud. We just looked at him stunned by what was coming out of his mouth. When he started settling down a bit, I asked him why he was so angry. He looked at me and said he didn’t know why. What we were talking about was so nondescript that I can’t even remember what it was about, but something we said triggered a fury deep within the man. A rage was so real, that I still remember it decades later. Though the husband didn’t know why he was so angry, there may have been a good reason for the rage. Jesus made an …

Red Square, Moscow Credit: Matt Shalvatis/Flickr/Creative Commons

How to be a Persecuted Christian

Are you a Christian? If ‘yes’ do you know that you will be persecuted? The Bible is very clear about that “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). “Will be.” I recently followed the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. And yes, it is dangerous for me to say that, but note that I live in Canada and I don’t want to pick sides in someone else’s argument. What I noticed was that accusers and the accused were like soldiers on the front line, and they could be sacrificed for the benefit of greater powers. I am sure the dispute was more intense because the U.S. was a few weeks away from mid-term elections, at the time. So much was at stake. I could say more, but I am now in dangerous territory. This is safe for me; I have often traveled to the U.S. and I am always impressed by the large numbers of good people that I meet …

Credit: Jonathan Chen/Flickr/Creative Commons

Don’t let envy and resentment destroy your joy, the story of Miriam

Recently, I have been drawn to the story of Miriam. Her name comes from the word Myrrh. Myrrh was the main ingredient of the anointing oil that Moses sprinkled on the tabernacle, which made it not only visually but also olfactory prominent in Israel’s camp. (Exodus 30:23). And though it referred to the fragrant spice used in the tabernacle, it was also considered bitter. Because of Myrrh’s connection to bitterness, some believe Miriam’s name originally meant “sea of bitterness” or “sea of sorrow” or “rebellion.” Her mother may have given Miriam this name because of their hard life in Egypt. Miriam was a leader among the Hebrew women. She was a prophet and gifted musically. She used her leadership role to direct the women to praise the Lord often through the dance. She was a godly influence in their lives. Miriam was one of God’s special gifts to the people of Israel. As was typical of the day, these dances were often spontaneous. The women would follow Miriam in the dance copying her movements and …

Credit: Ashers Baking Co/Ashersbakingco.com

Supreme court rules in favor of freedom of speech and conscience in England

The United Kingdom’s Supreme Court issued a ruling of sanity in favor of an Evangelical couple, Daniel and Amy McArthur, who manage a family owned bakery, Ashers Baking Co. in Northern Ireland. In 2014, Northern Ireland was embroiled in a campaign to legalize gay marriage and a gay activist approached the bakery’s Netwonabbey location to have it create a cake supporting the gay marriage campaign. The activist wanted a photo of Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie along with the words “Support Gay Marriage” written on the top of the cake. Though an employee in initially took the order, the McArthurs later turned it down stating that they would not be able to make the cake because of their Christian beliefs. The activists took the case to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland that ruled against the company and ordered them to produce the cake within seven days. The owners refused and have been embroiled in a series of court cases ever since, that finally ended up in the Supreme Court. The Christian Institute of England …

Temple of Bel (Baa)l at Palymira, Syria prior to its destruction by ISIS in 2015 Credit: Egisto Sani/Flickr/Creative Commons

Was it a coincidence? Or was there something sinister behind the arch of Baal recently set up in Washington, DC?

In 2016, the Institute of Digital Archaeology (IDA) announced it was producing full-scale (48′ high) replica of the Arch of Baal that it would put on display in cities around the world. Produced with 3-D printers in China, IDA decided to produce a replica after ISIS destroyed the original arch in 2015 that were part of a Baal temple found in Palmyra, Syria. At the end of September, 2018, the Baal arch was set up in the National Mall in Washington, DC in sight of the US capital. Since the arch was actually a gateway to the ancient Baal temple, when news surfaced of its arrival in Washington some Christians were concerned it might give the demonic a unique ability to influence US society. Baal was one of the major ancient deities of the Middle East that was constantly trying to seduce Israel away from Jehovah. He was considered a fertility god and god of the weather and was often portrayed with a thunderbolt in his hand. The Bible is clear that these ancient idols …

A main street in Jerusalem Credit: lab604/Flickr/Creative Commons

Archaeologists find earliest full Hebrew spelling of Jerusalem

Archaeologists have discovered the earliest full inscription of the name Jerusalem dating from the first century BC. Typically most inscriptions use the abbreviated form of Jerusalem “Yerushalem or Shalem” instead of its full name “Yerushalayim.” The shortened versions of Jerusalem are clearly the most popular spellings. Even the Bible prefers abbreviated forms over the full name. Jerusalem is mentioned 660 times in the Old Testament, but only five are the full spelling including 2 Chronicles 25:1, 2 Chronicles 32:9, 2 Chronicles 25:1, Esther 2:6, 1 Chronicles 3:5 and Jeremiah 26:18: 18 “Micah of Moresheth prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah; and he spoke to all the people of Judah, saying, ‘Thus the Lord of hosts has said, “Zion will be plowed as a field, And Jerusalem will become ruins, And the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest.”’ The inscription discovered during a road construction project was found carved on the foundation support for a column of a Roman building in a village on the outskirts of ancient Jerusalem. …

Fire near Santee, CA during the 1980s. Credit: Rick Bolin/Flickr/Creative Commons

Apocalypse 5: The Final Occupation

This is about the end of the book that is at the end of the Bible. It’s the last installment in a series of articles on the book of Revelation, at the end of the Bible. Revelation is a future description of the end of this age in history. Christians are supposed to read this book, but too many of us are satisfied with a few pictures like 666 (chapter 13 and verse 18) and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (chapter 6), and Armageddon, the great final battle (chapter 16 and verse 16). The pictures are interesting, but we are told to read the whole book: “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” (1:3) We are supposed to make sense of this book, and to understand where we are in history. So, think about something that makes you angry, or someone who has that effect. Now calm down …

Credit: Tyson Moore/Flickr/Creative Commons

Tearing down strongholds of self defeat

Often, I notice in myself and others that we have a tendency to sabotage our own happiness. The expression that “We are our own worst enemy is so true.” We don’t feel that we deserve to be happy and the way we think about ourselves prevents us from receiving God’s blessings.  We’re not even sure that God wants us to be happy, because subconsciously we don’t feel like we are worthy. Many times it has to do with how we were raised.  We don’t realize it but often we are dealing with strongholds that have been passed down from generation to generation. We have blueprints that have been imprinted upon our minds from childhood. If you grew up in an environment where it wasn’t safe to express your wants or needs, you will begin to believe you really don’t deserve anything good. If you were constantly criticized, you will struggle to feel good about yourself. It can feel safer staying stuck in our uncomfortable old patterns than to rock the boat and feel good about ourselves. …

A tapestry of David playing a harp by Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) Credit: Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Why I don’t believe Nitzevet was King David’s mother

Español: ¿Por qué no creo que Nitzevet fuera la madre del rey David? My article, King David’s big dark secret, is easily the most controversial article that I have written on opentheword.org. Including my responses, there have been well over 70 comments (English and Spanish) with many disagreeing with the article. It all revolves around a statement, David made in the Psalms: “Behold I was brought forth in iniquity and in sin my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5 NASV) The main point of the article is that I suggest when King David said that he was conceived in sin we are to interpret the verse literally. This means David was conceived in an act of sin by  his mother who is unnamed. No where in the Old Testament is David’s mother named. This is curious considering that the mothers of many of the great Biblical characters are named such as Joseph (Genesis 35:24) and Moses (Exodus 6:20). Now many Christians have interpreted this verse as simply suggesting that David was saying we are all born …

Palu Bay in Indonesia Credit: sulteng 022/Flickr/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

The Holy Spirit still speaks today: Christian Indonesian pilot heeded warning

With Christmas only three months away, it’s important to know that 2,000 years later God is still doing the same thing. In the Christmas story we read of three wise men who journeyed to Israel looking for a new king. They showed up at the palace of King Herod to make their inquiries, a logical place to go if you are looking for a king. Herod, a narcissist and megalomaniac, knew nothing about this new king and was immediately concerned. He asked the wise men to come back to the palace after they found the new king. However, after finding Christ, the wise men received a dream warning them not to go back to Herod and they returned to their home country by a different route (Matthew 2:12). God warned them. They listened. At the end of September, the Holy Spirit warned a Christian pilot with Batik Air, an airline flying out of Indonesia, about similar danger. With a population of 261 million people, 10% of the population is Christian and 89% Muslim. On September …

Joseph interprets the dreams of the Pharaoh by Adrien Guignet (1816-1854): Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Does forgiving forget?

I remember years ago, I was selling advertising for a small newspaper. I was walking down the street to a particular business, when a memory of something that had happened years earlier flooded my mind. It was video replay of the incident. Something I saw or heard on that street triggered that memory.  I had about four or five memories that routinely plagued me. I would do something and suddenly there would a flashback of something negative that happened to me years earlier. There were about four or five memories that continually plagued me. But this time I did something different. As I walked down the street I asked God why I was having these memory flashbacks and I felt the Holy Spirit say to me it was happening because I hadn’t forgiven the people involved in the incident. I had thousands of things happen to me as I was growing up and I would not be able to remember them if you paid me, but there were about four or five memories that I …

St Paul's Cathedral, London, England during the Great Fire attack during World War II, December 29, 1941 Credit: National Archives/New Times Paris Bureau/Public Domain

Apocalypse 4: The Atheist Wars

I don’t believe in Santa Claus. If Santa was God, I would be an atheist. When my children were little, I took them to the mall before Christmas, where other families brought their children to see Mall Santa. Those children had fun, and got coloring books and candy canes, all for free. So where were my children? In the line up with everyone else. With my Scottish name, it must be clear that I love not spending money, and free anything is attractive to me. I don’t believe in Santa Claus, and I told my children that he was not real, but fake Santa sure was fun. And my wallet stayed safe in my pocket. I have met one atheist who truly did not believe in God. I am a Christian and he was a friend of mine. I never saw him in church, but he probably would not object to a visit. He was an atheist, not a hater. Have you noticed that most people who call themselves atheists are angry at God? They …

Are you playing the blame game?

Freeing yourself from the mire of resentment

Sometimes we need a clear picture of what happens when we allow resentment to settle in our spirit. When that happens our pointing finger of blame is often the only thing that can be seen as we sink deeper and deeper in the bog of anger, resentment and blame. And if we don’t pay attention to what is happening, the sticky mire of resentment dries and hardens on us until we can no longer move or even breathe. Great effort is required to keep our hearts from hardening when we feel life is unfair or if we keep getting offended by what people are saying or doing. I will tell you now that these other people have nothing to do with it. No one has the power to make us angry or resentful except us. It is our choice. When we become offended or point the finger of blame, we are giving other people control of our lives. We are giving our power over to them. When we remain offended and angry, we lose control …

Israel captive in Egypt by Edward Poynter (1836-1919) Credit: Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Did archaeologists discover ‘more’ evidence of the Exodus along the Jordan River?

Ancient ruins discovered along the Jordan River is the latest evidence that the Biblical account of the Hebrew exodus from Egypt under Moses is true. For decades, Liberal theologians and others have tried to throw doubt on the account that resulted in the birthing of Israel as Moses and Joshua resettled the Hebrews in the Promised Land of Canaan. A group of archaeologists led by David Ben-Shlomo and Ralph K. Hawkins have found evidence of an ancient camp site along the Jordan River near Khirbet el-Mastarah that may be the remains of one of Israel’s early sites before entering the Promised Land. In an interview with the British newspaper, The Express, Ben-Shlomo said: “If they are, this might fit the Biblical story of the Israelites coming from the east of the Jordan River, then crossing the Jordan and entering into the hill country of Israel later.” The ruins were found near Khirbet el-Mastarah generally believed to be the ancient city of Ataroth-addar mentioned in Joshua 16:5. The Archaeologists further stated they found fragments of pottery …

Avril Lavigne in Brasilia, Brazil in May, 2014 Credit: Breno Galtier/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Canadian punk rocker Avril Lavigne surprises with a worship song?

Canadian rock star Avril Lavigne, 34, has surprised everyone with the recent release of a song that some describe as a worship song. Called Head Above Water, this was her first song after taking a five-year break from public life due to her battle with Lyme disease, an infectious debilitating disease commonly spread by ticks. In 2015, she released information that she had been battling Lyme disease since 2014. The disease kept her bed ridden for months. On her website, Avril described how her struggle with the disease led to her most recent hit: “One night, I thought I was dying, and I had accepted that I was going to die. My mom laid with me in bed and held me,” she said. “I felt like I was drowning. Under my breath, I prayed ‘God, please help to keep my head above the water.’ In that moment, the song writing of this album began. It was like I tapped into something. It was a very spiritual experience. Lyrics flooded through me from that point on.” …

Photo of Aldi Adilang's boat at moment of rescue near the Island of Guam. Released by the Indonesian Consulate General in Osaka/AP

Some things are more significant than we realize: Indonesian teenager rescued after spending 49 days lost at sea

An interesting story coming out of Indonesia, may have more significance than we realize. With a population of over 260 million people, Indonesia is made up of several islands located north of Australia. The sea and fishing are a major part of life. Muslims make up 87% of its population and about 10% are Christians.  Because of their dominance, in parts of Indonesia, Muslims extremists are actively persecuting Christians. And recently the world was caught up in a story about an Indonesian teenager, Aldi Novel Adilang, 18, who miraculously survived 49 days at sea stuck in a fishing trap. The raft like boat has a hut on it and is moored in the ocean for fishing. It also has a large light that is turned on at night to attract fish. Adilang had worked in such a fishing trap since he was 16. The owner of takes food, water and gas for the generator out to his 50 fishing traps once a week. However because of high winds, Adilang’s raft broke its mooring and started …

Regular church attendance has positive impact on children in their 20s. Photo: Evergreen Church, Evergreen, Colorado, USA Credit: Kent Kanouse/Flickr/Creative Commons

Harvard Study: Church attendance as a child has positive influence on a person in their 20s

According to a study at Harvard University, children who attended church at least once a week while they were growing up reported having better lives in their 20s than those who didn’t. The study conducted by researchers from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health sampled data provided in the Growing Up Today Study that was part of the Nurses’ Health Study II. This study followed children in their early teens for upwards of 14 years. The sampling sizes were not insignificant and ranged in size between 5,700 and 7,500 people. The researchers were trying to find out if “religious involvement” as a child that included church attendance, prayer and meditation had any impact on a person’s physical, emotional and mental well-being later in life. The results published in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed the positive influences that faith has on children, years later. Compared to those who didn’t, the study found that children who attended church at least once a week reported in their 20s as being: 18% happier; 30% more likely to …

Credit: L Geoffroy/Flickr/Creative Commons

Apocalypse 3: The Eco-Apocalypse

Doomsday cults, and doomsday predictors are everywhere. Some are Christian, but the end of the world is a big thing in most religions. The tradition in Islam is that Jesus will return and rule the world, and the teachings of the Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses are built around preparing for the end. Secular scientists have a Doomsday Clock, and climate change activists have their warnings about the end and our extinction. RELATED: The Doomsday Clock It seems like we all believe, and that makes us targets for cult groups that can manipulate us and ruin our lives. One group from Korea recently moved to Fiji to escape the coming apocalypse and the leaders are accused of abusing their followers. RELATED: ‘I lost my entire family to a cult’: How one woman escaped Grace Road: BBC Note that the Korean group, like most doomsdayers, are concerned about en eco-apocalypse. They were hiding in Fiji, from a coming famine. I have a serious warning for you: we all believe and we are all …

And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations

Over the years my friend Linda and I have walked and prayed around and through the park that is planted in the center of our city. Yesterday, we sat and prayed at one of our favorite spots. The leaves were just starting to turn color and fall to the ground. And we were drawn to the passage in the Book of Revelation: 2 … On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:2 NIV) We contemplated the meaning of this verse as we have many times over the years. And like many scholars have noted, the interpretation can be unclear concerning this day and age. Many times this scripture would surface as we prayed for our nation. With the leaves falling all around, we began to pray once again that the leaves of the tree (Christ the tree of life) and we His people (the leaves) would receive …

Lund University, Sweden Credit: Nick Thompson/Flickr/Creative Commons

Swedish neuroscience professor under fire for saying there are biological differences between men and women

Sweden’s renowned neuroscience professor Dr. Germund Hesslow was teaching a class in a course called “Heritage and Environment” at Lund University when a student asked a question about sex, unrelated to the class topic. Hesslow came under attack after he answered the question by stating research shows that there are differences between the female and male sex that are “biologically founded.” In other words, some of the differences between men and women are due to biology and not because of societal expectations and pressures. University of Toronto Psychology professor Jordan Peterson has come under similar criticism for stating that the difference in the pay gap between men and women is not because of discrimination, though that is a small part of it, but due largely to biology and the different interests of men and women. He even cites statistics from Scandinavian countries that show women are clearly more interested in fields related to people such as medicine and teaching, while men focus more on the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math). Since the STEM …

Television in abandoned home in Detroit, Michigan Credit: Thomas Hawk/Flickr/Creative Commons

Emmy host insults Christians

Hollywood is so out of touch with real life that they can’t even figure out how to build a successful business. But maybe it is just me who is out of touch, but I have never thought it was a successful business model to insult your customers. Take this year’s Emmy Awards, the Oscars for TV equivalent. One of the co-hosts, Michael Che, took the opportunity to seemingly slag Christians and Republicans. According to reports, Che is also a co-host of Saturday Night Live. During one of his Emmy rants, Che said: “My mother is not watching. She said she doesn’t watch white award shows because you guys don’t thank Jesus enough. That’s true. The only white people that thank Jesus are Republicans and ex-crackheads.” The only good thing about this lame excuse for a joke is that there was only a smattering of laughter and applause. Che set this joke up by commenting on the free fall in viewership for the Emmy Awards. There are a number of methods to measure viewership of a …

Beijing, China Credit: Oneris Daniel Rico Garcia/Flickr/Creative Commons

Is China’s ‘social credit’ system setting the stage for the antichrist?

Some experts are warning that other left-leaning governments may soon be tempted to carry out the Chinese government’s “Social Credit” system that came into full effect on May 1, 2018. The plan introduced by Chinese President Jinping will monitor and control those who don’t agree with China’s communistic policies. People will be issued a score based on their political, social and economic activities and this score will affect their ability to do things in China. Some suspect it is simply expanding a “Social Credit” system already developed by a major government-owned online Chinese retailer Alibaba. Alibaba’s financial division, Ant Financial, developed a social credit system called Sesame Credit. While many western businesses have a point system rewarding people based on how much they buy, Sesame Credit includes a strong social aspect in its system where people receive a rating between 350 and 950. The higher the score the better. The benefits of a high Sesame score include having government visa’s fast tracked, renting vehicles without a deposit. People with high Sesame ratings will even receive …

The brothers show their father Jacob the blood soaked clothes of his favourite son Joseph saying he had been killed by a wild animal. Credit: Domenico Fiasella (1589-1669)/Wikipedia

Is an unbroken pattern a sign of unforgiveness?

Several years back while teaching a Bible School class, I told the students that many young people rashly state that they will not be like their parents. The spontaneous laughter that erupted was evidence that many — if they hadn’t already said it — were thinking it. The class took a more sober turn when I added that often people who make these statements are doomed to repeat the error of their parents. It’s not that this phrase has some magical properties that force the errors of one generation onto the next, rather, it is a principle of God’s word. In Mathew 7:1-5, Jesus condemns judging saying that if we see a sliver in our brother’s eye, it indicates there is a log in ours. Jesus calls anyone who judges a hypocrite because they suffer from exactly the same problem. When we judge our parents, it is a subtle indicator that we have exactly the same issues. But judging can also speak of unresolved issues between a child and parent. More importantly, it may also …

Desert in Qatar Credit: Sam Agnew/Flickr/Creative Commons

Apocalypse 2: Really, It’s their Fault

Have you ever thought about the future of war? The experts predict future combat that will be much worse than anything we have seen before. RELATED: Future war will result in destruction ‘beyond our comprehension’, says US General The Bible has been saying the same thing for thousands of years. Human beings have always been good at self destruction. We think we will succeed by conquering and stealing from the neighbors, and we always bring down destruction, in the end. The Christian Bible ends with the book of Revelation. Most people know about images from the book, but most people do not know the book. For example, if I mentioned the Antichrist, or the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, people everywhere would have some cultural knowledge, but it’s hard to find even a committed Christian who has read the whole book. Let’s change that. Revelation is one narrative, a story that progresses from a beginning to an end, and it is useful for us to read the whole big picture. Those images that we all …

Are you trapped by your emotions? Credit: Stef/Flickr/Creative Commons

What is your addiction?

Believe it or not you may have an addiction! But it’s not what your thinking. I am not talking about an addiction to alcohol, drugs or cigarettes. But many of us are feeding addictions in our lives that have haunted us for years. In my life, I had an addiction or need for people to recognize and acknowledge my accomplishments. In the end, this led to a serious addiction of people-pleasing. In other words, I was struck with “the disease to please,” and would do things I didn’t want to do just to get people’s approval. It was unhealthy and killing me from the inside out. But there are other addictions operating in our lives that many of us do not recognize as well. When we hold on to limiting beliefs about ourselves, then anger, sadness or guilt will show up to compensate for our lack of self-confidence. We substitute unhealthy emotions for our lack of confidence. Sadness can be a way of getting others to notice and feel sorry for us. We need this …

Field of sunflowers, Lower Saxony, Germany Credit: Christian Kortum/Flickr/Creative Commons

Study reveals the heart health benefits of optimism

An article published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology stated that having a positive outlook on life results in a person having a reduced risk of heart disease. In their study, the research group led by Darwin R. Labarthe, a professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, looked at the results of several studies on the impact of a person’s psychological well-being on heart health. They revealed that an optimistic view of life not only positively impacted a person’s heart health, but that optimistic outlook also led to lifestyle choices that physically benefited heart health. This included: A 2017 study that found women who were in the top 25% for highest optimistic ranking had a 38% reduced risk of dying due to heart disease. Several recent studies discovered that people who had a purpose in their life had a reduced risk of stroke. Studies also revealed that people who had the most optimistic outlook on life where less likely to be smokers a year later. Optimistic people were also more likely …

Credit: Thomas Hawk/Flickr/Creative Commons

‘USA Today,’ the Apostle John and the Canadian government provide ominous warnings of the future

In the Book of Revelation, the Apostle John recorded a vision of the future that God gave him. It wasn’t just any future, it is what lay ahead for believers and the world in the end times leading to second coming of Christ. One of the verses that has caught the attentions of many people who study end times events are John’s references to the mark of the beast that would prevent people from buying and selling: 16 And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, 17 and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. (Revelation 13:16-17 NASV) Remember this is a vision that John had of society in the future and he was just recording what he saw. He saw people with a mark …

Dallas skyline Credit: jayRaz/Flickr/Creative Commons

A call to be peacemakers

On Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018, Botham Shem Jean, 26, was in his Dallas apartment when Amber Guyger, a police officer just finishing her shift, allegedly walked into what she mistakenly thought was her apartment. She saw Botham and convinced he was an intruder, Guyger pulled her gun and killed him. Botham was a believer. Originally from St Lucia, he attended Harding University, a small Christian college in Arkansas, where he sang with the Good News Singers. After graduating with an accounting degree, Botham went to work for  PricewaterhouseCoopers in Dallas. He faithfully attended church and served as a youth pastor at Dallas West Church of Christ where he also led worship with what people described as a wonderful baritone voice. But here is the kicker. Botham was also black and because it took police three days to charge Guyger with manslaughter, some have accused the police of protecting her. This past Sunday (Sept. 9, 2018), the church mourned the passing of a favored son. Sammie Berry who serves as pastor of the church Botham attended …