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Friday, October 29, 2010

Why does God keep secrets?
Why does God keep secrets?

 Every man should know that his conversations, his correspondence, and his personal life are private.
Lyndon B. Johnson 

We all have secrets we want nobody to know right?
SafeSecrets.jpg

 As a Christian, I know that there is actually nothing I can keep from God, so why is it that God keeps secrets from me?

 
 Is this fair?

 In the ancient writings a guy Moses is explaining how God is setting up an agreement with his people and it says in Deut 29:9 . . .

 Be careful to obey the terms of this covenant. Then you will have success in everything you do.

 Then God gets Moses to report that he says the following . . .

 I'm making this covenant. I'm sealing it with an oath. I'm not making it only with you who are standing here with us today in the sight of the Lord our God. I'm also making it with those who aren't here today.

 So we see his promise was not only for that time but also for this time (we are part of those who were not there that day).

 Then he ends this part of the agreement with those words that imply he keeps certain things secret. . .

 Verse 29 The Lord our God keeps certain things hidden. But he makes other things known to us and our children forever. He does it so we can obey all of the words of this law.

  We as people have finite ability to accept change and new things. We are easily overwhelmed by circumstances and situations. In fact, the more sensitive and loving we are, the more we seem to have the potential to emotionally react to the point that we cannot continue as situations become obviously overwhelming.

 A young man that I know was explaining to me how two years ago he was overwhelmed by almost everything in his life. He had become anxious about to much and was unwell. Then this young man suddenly understood who God was and decided to trust God. He allowed God to direct his life and didn’t try and do it all himself. Today he is strong no longer anxious and confidently moving into the unknown.

What is the difference?
 

God for one! The young man trusts God to do the best for him and has found that trust is well founded.

Secondly, he allows God to keep things from him until the time is right. He has learned that he does not want to know everything about his life and what he will do. All he wants to know is what God wants him to do now!

 He understands that God keeps certain things hidden so that we can have the confidence and strength to obey what he wants us to do today, without getting scared of what he might lead us to do tomorrow.

 This is what we can learn from this! Simply following  God instructions today enables us to grow and do amazing things in our future.

God is fair!

God doesn’t keep secrets from us because he has something to hide, rather God keeps secrets from us because he knows we can only accommodate a small amount of change before we get anxious, and God wants us to have peace in our lives!

 
Let’s thank God for understanding us better than we can understand ourselves!

Fri, October 29, 2010 | link          Comments

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sorry! We can’t just “let scripture interpret scripture”…because…

 I take exception with statements like “When we say let Scripture interpret Scripture we are saying, let God interpret His Word for us.”[1] …because it is so easily misunderstood!
TranslationCulture.jpg

 In fact my response to this is NONSENCE!

 
 Yes, I know many people get uptight with that answer, so I will explain my perspective. . .

 There is NOTHING we read that we understand exactly as the original author of that material intends.
 
Each and every one of us gives meanings to words that are dependent on our own life contexts.

 Think of the simple difference in that word sex at ages two, twelve, twenty two, forty, sixty and eighty! The very same person will give that word different meanings at these different ages and the word itself hasn’t even changed!

 Then consider a homosexual or lesbian saying the word, and the differences they impart to that same word. Do these two groups have the same understanding of the word?

 What I am saying is that the same word can have many different meanings that differ subtly depending on our past experiences!

 Unfortunately when it comes to interpreting the original biblical languages of Aramaic, Greek and Hebrew into English, the same meaning can be explained in many words since there is not always a one to one correspondence in the words of these different languages.

 Then, today we have little understanding of nomadic agricultural life of ancient people. City life, easy living, no need to kill animals for our food, or grow it to eat it softens us and gives us less of that harsh reality that ancients lived in.  

 To understand what the author is saying in that context means understanding the life he was living when he wrote it. If we add to this that we no longer believe in sacrifices and slaves and many other cultural norms of the days when the ancient texts were written, we find we are less likely to understand, than we are likely to understand!

 So what do we do? Why should we even try to understand and what is the approach to understanding that we could take that makes sense and is “safe”?

 There are basically two very important principles we must start out understanding.
 
The first is that nobody really can state exactly what a text means except the original author. 

The second is that we should approach interpreting bible words with love of God in our hearts and with openness and humility that includes a willingness to research the background and listen to what others have to say on the subject.

 Over the years a large number of people who have stated “thus says the Lord” have been shown via discoveries in archaeology, and other sciences, that they were totally wrong.

 Our opinions are very important, but always we must understand them as opinions, facts are just strongly held opinions.

 We want to take the bible as literally as possible, but must understand it uses figurative language, strange forms of poetry called chiasmus(that we really don’t get as modern people), many different types of writing genre’s(some that no longer exist today), dates and number schemes that we no longer understand, and words that have changed meaning with time!

 We have a huge amount of new information coming to us daily from archaeology and science.

 We need to evaluate this while understanding God is above and greater than this knowledge.

 He has provided the complexity to help us enjoy discovering new things, and to enable us to learn new things about him as we change in our own contexts.

 We change as people and we change as humanity. (For example as humanity, we are “greener” today than fifty years ago).

 Change enables new perspectives to be developed on the texts. God knows this and uses it to bring life to these texts.

 What is critically important in reading a piece of the bible is context!

 The immediate words and sentences, the section they are in, the books they are in, the historical and cultural context, and also what other writers in the bible have said about this same subject are all very important to understanding.

 This is why it’s so difficult just to pick up a bible and read it like you would a normal book! We have to gain a lot of knowledge to read it well!

 So, let’s take the literal meaning when we can, but let’s also try and apply common sense to understanding the context of these words.

 Let’s make sure God is central since he is the context of this book!

 Reconsider areas where the bible seems to contradict itself because there is lot’s to learn from these types of studies!

 Most of all, let’s remember God is STILL revealing himself to us via discoveries that cause a re-interpretation of parts of his bible and be open to new ideas that bring him praise and glory! 

 
So let’s go read his word today! After all, I love to learn new things, don’t you?



[1] http://www.bible-truth.org/Principles.htm

Thu, October 28, 2010 | link          Comments

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Why do we fight against creation and belief in God? Our past assumes God!

Check out these quotes:

 
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. American Declaration of Independence

SwearBible.jpg

 "O Canada! Our home and native land!True patriot love in all thy sons command.With glowing hearts we see thee rise,The True North, strong and free!From far and wide, O Canada,We stand on guard for thee.God keep our land glorious and free !
 
Canadian National Anthem

 It’s interesting how many people deny our countries were shaped and formed within a cauldron of belief and intents that INCLUDED belief in a creator and God!

 Why were these countries so successful at getting many people to do so much in such a short time? Was it perhaps because of the ability to align people’s beliefs and focus? These statements were part of that!

 Here in North America we get people trying to deny their heritage!

 Even Obama avoided repeating the words creator in many of his speeches on the declaration of independence. Why are we embarrassed to say our forefathers believed in the Christian God so strongly.

 I have even heard it said that the Canadian “God” was not the Christian God, but this is nonsense because alternative forms that were written and didn’t take hold as first sung before the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall was 

" O Canada! Our fathers' land of old
Thy brow is crown'd with leaves of red and gold.
Beneath the shade of the Holy Cross
Thy children own their birth
No stains thy glorious annals gloss
Since valour shield thy hearth.
Almighty God! On thee we call
Defend our rights, forfend this nation's thrall,
Defend our rights, forfend this nation's thrall."[1] 

 We fail our history as we deny our God and creator! Worse than that we are hypocritical as a nation, declaring we built everything ourselves and forgetting how much God helps us.

 
It’s easy to allow the modern conveniences of our lives that remove poverty, pain and suffering to cloud our minds and turn them to ignore the reality that mankind does not determine destiny and has never done so.

We are at the mercy of the forces God alone commands. One volcano can close down flights across the world. A few Earthquakes in specific areas can bring nations to their knees.

 Our God is a powerful God but a merciful God as well!

 In the past Israel was scattered among the nations of the world, lately it is the Christians, but in the old scared writing it says

 After you have had children and grandchildren and have lived in the land a long time—if you then become corrupt and make any kind of idol, doing evil in the eyes of the LORD your God and provoking him to anger, I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you this day that you will quickly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess.
 
You will not live there long but will certainly be destroyed. The LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and only a few of you will survive among the nations to which the LORD will drive you. There you will worship man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell.
 
But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the LORD your God and obey him.

For the LORD your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them by oath.”[2]

 I think this applies today as well because God does not change! He is “the same yesterday and today and forever”[3] so he has the same attitude to people who put him first, and promise to follow him.

  Let me paraphrase this a little for us to think about it in our terms:

 After our forefathers had lived in the land a long time—we then became corrupt and made many things more important than God, doing evil in the eyes of the LORD our God and provoking him to anger.
 
God calls heaven and earth as witnesses against our behaviour of our worshiping man-made gods of we make, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell.

But if from there we seek the LORD our God, we will find him if we look for him with all our heart and with all our soul.

When we are in distress and all these things have happened to us, then in later days we will return to the LORD our God and obey him.

For the LORD our God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy us or forget the covenant with our forefathers, of which he was part by the agreements and acknowledgements in our declarations and anthems.

 So what does this mean?

 
It means we should make sure to honour our forefathers by acknowledging God is the one who can lead our land. We need to pick Godly men to lead the nations! Ones that open their mouths to publically honour his name.  

Thanks Mr Obama for putting the word creator back into your description of the declaration of Independence!

Today we will follow the true God of our forefathers!


[1] http://www.pch.gc.ca/pgm/ceem-cced/symbl/anthem-eng.cfm#a0

[2] Deut 4:25-31 NIV

[3] Hebrews 13:8 NIV

Wed, October 27, 2010 | link          Comments

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Change? Difficult? Will it work? What makes change work?
 
A story of change and how Jesus dealt with change and management push back

A true story of change (Matthew 21)
 
DunnoWhatDoIDO.jpg

Our story starts with the current state of people’s access to the temple about 1980 years ago.



 

In those years the blind and disabled were unable to come to the temple. For about 1400 years they had been excluded from the presence of God’s name (and let’s remember that the temple is only the container of God’s name, not God).



 You see the council of the temple was protecting those traditions and quoted laws that said 
Leviticus 21: 16-20 The Lord spoke to Moses. He said, "Speak to Aaron. Tell him, 'For all time to come, no man in your family line who has any flaws can come near to offer food to me.  

" 'No man who has any flaws can come near. No man who is blind or disabled can come. No man whose body is scarred or twisted can come. No man whose foot or hand is disabled can come. No man whose back is bent can come. No man who is too short can come. No man who has anything wrong with his eyes can come. No man who has boils or running sores can come. No man whose sex glands are crushed can come.” 

Unfortunately they didn’t read carefully that the laws only applied to the priests(Levites), not everyone and conveniently forgot that just before that the lawhad  said

Leviticus 19:14

" 'Do not call a curse down on deaf people. Do not put anything in front of blind people that will make them trip. Instead, have respect for me. I am the Lord your God.

 

Then the current state was that the poor couldn’t see themselves as worthy to come into God’s presence because they could not even afford the lowest cost sacrifice the dove. So they voluntarily kept themselves out of the Temple. How could they go in? They were not good enough! Everyone would watch them and know they were not sacrificing correctly for their sins. Everyone would know they were sinners! So they just didn’t go!

Also young people were hesitant to make themselves known because they didn’t have a comfortable feeling of acceptance in the temple area. They were quiet and respectfully said nothing!

 

But change is coming and how does Jesus introduce it? 

Jesus goes to his disciples and warns them in Matthew 20:17&18 that change is coming! The disciples don’t get it, and the Temple council doesn’t yet even know what Jesus plans.

 

“The people will make fun of him and whip him” Jesus says and in Matthew 28 about the Messiah, he says

“Be like the Son of Man. He did not come to be served. Instead, he came to serve others.”

 

Fearlessly then Jesus comes into Jerusalem, but gently but riding on a donkey, riding in what could be a very purpose enhancing mode, but with high risk. This was the time that everyone would see and understand the implications. He was about to bring in change and was not hiding the fact. He proclaimed to the people what he was about to do by this action. He puts himself in front of the people and appeals to them to understand change was starting and to accept it.

 

The Sanhedrin or temple council was not consulted beforehand, but the common  people agreed that this was the one who comes in the name of the Lord by his words and actions. He is proclaimed a prophet who had been told the way by God. Surely people follow the one who knows the way!

 

But then Jesus does something unexpected. He had been to temple many times in the past! In fact, he went multiple times every year since good Jewish men had to attend specific feasts and Jesus was a good Jewish man. Now he does something that he has never done on all the trips before. He is bringing in change.

 

Does he go to the council of temple? No! Not at all! This is how Jesus kicks off that change.

 
Jesus entered the temple area. He began chasing out all those who were buying and selling there. He turned over the tables of the people who were exchanging money. He also turned over the benches of those who were selling doves. 13 He said to them, "It is written that the Lord said, 'My house will be called a house where people can pray.'—(Isaiah 56:7) But you are making it a 'den for robbers.' "—(Jeremiah 7:11) 

He does apparently weird things! He makes sure the news would carry out of the temple into the streets where the common people lived and worked. He did something very controversial! 

 Money changing had been going on for years. It was traditionally accepted as God’s way of doing things. Jesus had not said or done anything about it in the past, but now he overturns tables.

A point in time changes things forever!
 

People are aghast! “We want change, but do we want this type of change?” They ask themselves.

Jesus destroys the budgetary controls that keep the world and church separated and this takes the temple guards by surprise and the Sanhedrin would have been not only surprised but annoyed. The very life blood of their temple was being threatened!
 

Then he overturns the benches of those selling the lowest cost sacrifice. Why? Is it perhaps because Jesus wants to see the poorest person able to make a sacrifice of worship? He is throwing out traditional controls as he does not want people robbed of true worship opportunities.  

Bit there is more…. 

Blind people and those who were disabled came to Jesus at the temple. There he healed them.  

He invites blind and lame into the temple. This was directly against the traditional law of the time.  

Despite this the council like becasue now they have the law on their side. He brought blind and disabled in, and that is not right. It is against the traditions so they have something to hold against Jesus. But Jesus heals them, clearly stating that the temple should be available to everyone. 

For the first time the blind can really see what goes on in the temple. They are happy, so are the young people. So let’s see how the bible puts it... 

“Blind people and those who were disabled came to Jesus at the temple. There he healed them.  The chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did. They also saw the children in the temple area shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" But when they saw all of this, they became angry.

Instead of praise and support the council of the temple,  in secret they discuss this with each other and organize a meeting that the common people are not aware of. They create an illegal gathering of the Sanhedrin and Jesus is brought before this illegal gathering of the Sanhedrin to be publically humiliated and denounced! 

The common people are not there to hear this. But later the rumours will let them know. 

We know the rest of the story. They hung him on a tree, nailed by hands and feet! 

I guess that council of 70 priests of the temple thought they were right! The roman law and their temple laws were used to enable their actions. 

But God wanted a council of 12 common men! The council of seventy thought they had control, but God always had the control. 

So what the moral of this true story? 

If we do what God wants, no man can stop the work. If we don’t do what God wants NO man can make it work! 
Tue, October 26, 2010 | link          Comments

Monday, October 25, 2010

We cannot always read the bible literally, or can we?
We cannot always read the bible literally, or can we?

 

When critics attack people for interpreting bible meanings literally, they are not always wrong!
confusedNumbers.jpg

 When a person says to a friend in common nasty vulgar language “P..s Off”, do they actually do what the person has said, or do they re-interpret it to mean the person is really annoyed and wants them to go away?

 In everyday language we are quite happy that people exaggerate, use symbolic language, make things appear more or less important by emphasising them or de-emphasising them. 

However, when people come to read the bible, we tend to focus on every word being 100% exactly what it’s says! This not necessarily true!

 This is in fact, foolish! We have to allow our bible to have the use of normal human speech don’t we?

Today I am going to look into this as part of preparing a weekly discussion around the Old Testament tabernacle. Before I do this, I want to use a very clear example to explain that firstly, I am not a heretic and secondly that Jesus didn’t expect us to read every word as if they were what specifically what was said. 

Jesus expected us to have some common sense!

 Let’s look at his words[1] “Do not judge others. Then you will not be judged. You will be judged in the same way you judge others. You will be measured in the same way you measure others.

  "You look at the bit of sawdust in your friend's eye. But you pay no attention to the piece of wood in your own eye. How can you say to your friend, 'Let me take the bit of sawdust out of your eye'? How can you say this while there is a piece of wood in your own eye?

   "You pretender! First take the piece of wood out of your own eye. Then you will be able to see clearly to take the bit of sawdust out of your friend's eye.”

 Anyone who thinks Jesus is talking of planks and sawdust is crazy! They are missing the point right? We would all agree on that! Why? Because it’s OBVIOUS! Right?

So what about when it’s less obvious?

 

 Today, I take us back in history to the time the Israelites are in the desert with their tabernacle and I want to discuss how many people were out in the desert sands. I want to discuss that apparently “boring” book “numbers”.

 You see if we read Numbers 2:32 we find out that “The total number of all of the men who were in the camps is 603,550, company by company. But the Levites weren't counted along with the other men of Israel.”

 Hmmm! Interesting right? Lots of men! Then in Numbers 26: 51 a second census says “The total number of the men of Israel was 601,730”

 So this agrees. We should take this amount literally right? That would mean a total number of 2 to 3 million people if we take into account the non-men and Levites.

 Okay, so now we start looking at the rest of the bible and taking some common sense into this equation. [By the way this stuff is discussed in Biblical Universities so I am not rocking any boats here..I hope J )

 People have some issues with this number for the following reasons
  • Deserts don’t support that number of people very well
  • There is no archaeological evidence for this size population at that time (surely they would have had garbage and burial sites at least???!)
 So, where do we go from there? I like to trust the bible totally and here we have a dilemma. It starts to appear to be a bit weird! Now weird is good because it means I don’t understand something  and this means I need find out right?

 So, more facts… 
The bible says God produced manna and meat for the people in a supernatural way! The remains of this food would not have created garbage either. (It will decompose)
 
Anything hard like metal and ceramic is precious in a desert so would have been taken with them and re-used. Israelies also buried the dead until they decomposed then they gathered the bones and repackage them in osseries(stone boxes). I know they did this around when Jesus died and assume a form of this could have occurred in the desert. If it did there would be no bones, and even if they didn't, bones get worn away pretty quickly in a desert environment.



Okay, so maybe point one can be overturned with this. I am a little more convinced now (but it takes faith to be convinced right?)

 Okay let’s look at the numbers from inside the bible itself (always a good approach).

 Let’s say if we take Levites into account the number of men would be about a million. We than have to divide this number by the number of Levites that the redemption price required( the Levites represented the first born of each family in the desert according to the bible). This means we get the number of families by the number of Levites (if the bible is take literally) about 22000. This would mean about 40 to 50 guys per family. This is a bit out there! Rather unlikely right?

 Then when we get to Judges, where all the men in Israel go out to protect the land, the numbers are vastly reduced to about 40 000 men. Quite a reduction!

 So it seems like the bible exaggerates a bit...or does it?



The tabernacle probably had about 2000 pounds of gold in it. It would take a lot of people to get that amount of gold together in those days. So maybe there was a lot of people?

 So where do we end up? What appears to be the truth?

 Well there was a lot of gold, and it would have taken a lot of people to carry all the Tabernacle stuff. There must have been a lot of people, because we know the Egyptians went out after the Israelites left and captured more people as slaves than they ever had before. (if we assume the 1446BC Exodus date or thereabouts).

 Does the bible have exact numbers being exactly correct?

Let's allow for some human error in the counts and math and say it was a very big group. Was it literally the 2 to 3 million the bible suggests?

Maybe, and maybe not, but the basic truth is there…lots of people, supported by God, carrying lots of stuff, and with lots of animals. Animals don’t eat manna and meat so it’s not likely the desert could sustain as big a group as the bible suggests if take literally, but for those days the group was very big!

 What do we gain from this discussion?

Well, we are sometimes very easily pressured to take everything in the bible literally, but that is not really how it is done. Everything we read we filter through our knowledge, and biblical information is no different.

We need to be sensible and my basic advice is that we should read the bible carefully, literally where possible, maintaining common sense, an eye for truth, and the inward leading of Holy Spirit?

 We want to be thinking people who love God and not labelled as misguided brainwashed people.

The bible itself says

Proverbs 18:2A foolish person doesn't want to understand. He takes delight in saying only what he thinks.

 Let’s not just say what comes to mind…lets watch our words and consider them…even with regard to explaining Gods word. That’s my objective what’s yours?


[1] Matt 7:1-5 NIRV

Mon, October 25, 2010 | link          Comments


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 RiftInEvil.gifThe town of Zinaville is dropped into a spiral of evil causing a young man and a beautiful but abused woman to launch into an investigation that unveils an evil conspiracy.

A horrific mining accident results in Joshua Robyn's father being killed. Joshua struggles both with himself and his townsfolk as he tries to make sense of an incomprehensible situation. Is it an accident or a murder? Why is there a seeming link to evil? Why is his work environment suddenly threatening? What is the conspiracy about and what are they trying to do? As action moves dramatically from exotic African grasslands to the heart of North America's cities, the plot unfolds and the pace quickens. Will there be time? Why is a beautiful abused young woman in the center of this plot?

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