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Friday, February 4, 2011

Three holiday parties each year! I like a God that likes a good party!
partydance.jpg
I like to compare the holiday season with the way a child listens to a favorite story. The pleasure is in the familiar way the story begins, the anticipation of familiar turns it takes, the familiar moments of suspense, and the familiar climax and ending.
 
Fred Rogers

Jerusalem is a festival and a lamentation. Its song is a sigh across the ages, a delicate, robust, mournful psalm at the great junction of spiritual cultures.
David K. Shipler

So many times in life we find ourselves waiting for an event that comes our way much to soon, or far too late!


Anticipation is half of the enjoyment and failure to achieve the optimal experience can leave us dragging our heels as life passes us by.

How much do we do that would not be done if we were not somehow interrupted by the love of life in some uncertain way?
 
It gives us vitality and strength to continue through our days in a way that supports the simplest of activities, and enables the greatest of achievements!

 

Without these focal points of desire we loose energy, activate poor judgment, and cycle endlessly on the mundane. Faulty premises abound and soon our life drops into the humdrum existence that fails to flow with the glory and power of God!


God never planned this that way! He was ultimately focused on our development as people and wanted the very best for our desires. Nothing on this earth is so important as our getting to know him abundently and deeply.

 Every feast day was set with this in mind. They were flavours of life, wrapped in anticipation, and coated with the excitment of the five senses as we see, smell, taste, feel and hear the joyous noises of the great festivals of God.

This is why God has said in the past to his people:


Deuteronomy 16:16 (New International Reader's Version)


All of your men must appear in front of the Lord your God at the holy tent. They must go to the place he will choose. They must do it three times a year. They must go there to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Booths.


No man should appear in front of the Lord without bringing something with him.


God is supremely interested in us! He wants us to be supremely interested in him as well! We are to be happy to be with him in the presence of others as we rejoice in familiar ways over the glory of the life events he unfolds, crafted specifically for us and not others!


In the past, three periods each years were to be devoted to the activity of loving God and others, and they were not optional!

These were the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Booths.


The Feast of unleavened bread starts off with the Passover which represents Jesus death which was performed to clean up our sins (selfish, nasty, ignorant and stupid things we do).


The feast of unleavened bread and the feast of booths were seven day events, and the feast of Pentecost took one day.

Devout hebrews were required to attend these feasts where they partied together and enjoyed a time of deep focus on God.

Needless to say, many failed in this responsibility, but it was them that were disadvantaged, not God.


This is so much how we often approach our times with God, too busy, too tired, to lost to the world and unable to make a difference in the lives of others, or ourselves.


Can we not learn that God is a God who wants us to rejuvenate ourselves, to have great things to look forward to and anticipate, and to have comfortable rituals that make us feel more connected to Him.


 He doesn’t need the rituals, they are for us!

They help us connect, consider and stop complaining!


That’s what I want to do today, connect with God, consider Him, and stop complaining!

I want to bring myself to God anticipating his power to rejuvenate my life regularly as I go out of my way to get closer to him!


What about you?
    
Fri, February 4, 2011 | link          Comments

Thursday, February 3, 2011

How do I study the bible?
GivingGold.jpg
A fisherman was asked how to catch fish. Thinking a little, he finally said, “go fishing!”

Why do we make everything so complicated? Life is short, we are busy, there is plenty to be done, and then we try to make big complicated plans that are so difficult to follow.

When it comes to the bible, we have almost as many ways of studying it as there are people because, believe it or not, God wants to deal with each and every person in a unique special way!

There are of course some basics we have to comply with!

Like, buy and own a bible!

So which one?

One that you can read and understand!


There are those that try to translate from the original language word for word (normally more difficult to understand) and those that translate the meaning (easier).

It doesn’t matter when we are starting which one we pick up, but let’s get one that appears to be reasonably understandable. Old fashioned King James can be very flowery and have beautiful words and rhythms to it, but often we don’t get the meaning! So get something a bit more modern. I like the NIRV or NIV versions for simplicity,but truth.

Okay, so what do we do once we own a bible?

Simple! we READ it!

There is a trick to understanding the bible however, and it is not to start at the beginning (that’s complicated and rather weird stuff).


I normally advise starting at the gospel of John chapter one verse 19 onwards!


That text starts chatting about a man called John the Baptist who is being asked questions by the religious folk of the day. It’s a good place to start if we are asking questions about religion. John is a follower of Jesus who is also a story teller that uses fairly simple explanations so it’s a good place. (By the way, the John who wrote that part is not John the Baptist, they are two different people
J ).
 

If you don’t want to start there, there other places to start that could be good. Like James, Titus, 1 John, or 1 Peter.

Your choice!


As you read, listen out for advice from God that applies to you, and apply it.

Chat with God! (that’s called prayer). He may not appear to answer immediately, but as you read, you will find he answers using pieces of that book in special ways.


Reading the bible needs believing and being willing to do the good work that is represented by what we read!


As we apply what we learn, God opens up our minds to understand more, and apply more! We learn we are not perfect, that we need to love ourselves and others, and as we do what we read, God’s holy Spirit empowers our lives.


Generally it’s a good thing to read the whole book at the place we start, and then to go back and read it again more slowly thinking about each bit.


When some of the text seems to be particularly interesting or important, underline it and then investigate it. I really like reading pieces that others seem to ignore because I consider myself a gold digger.

I search scripture for nuggets of special knowledge.

That means I go into the text meanings in perhaps a bit more depth than others do. I read up about the guy who wrote the book, how they lived at the time, what the attitudes and culture of the people was. I even read other writings written at the time in the same region.


Simply, I do WAY more than I need to do! I do it simply because I find our bible so very interesting and the more I learn, the more I want to learn!


My hope is that maybe you will one day enjoy reading our God’s word as much as I do!


Then, one day when we have started to understand it, we should do what Timothy, a young guy,  was told to do by that great ancient Christian, Paul…



1 Timothy 4:13

Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.


We do this because we as Christian’s want the best for OTHERS! That means when we find some gold, we pass it on!



 

Hey, I hope that helps and you get to pass on some gold today!

Have a good one!

Thu, February 3, 2011 | link          Comments

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bread without yeast? Why?
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      “I am personally convinced that one person can be a change catalyst, a "transformer" in any situation, any organization. Such an individual is yeast that can leaven an entire loaf. It requires vision, initiative, patience, respect, persistence, courage, and faith to be a transforming leader.”
                    Stephen R. Covey



We most often think of yeast as a thing that is positive and helpful, it puts air into our bread and raises it up making it fluffy and soft and great to eat.


This has been the same since the fermentation process was known by man.

We know fermentation has been known for about 7000 years since they found Seven-thousand-year-old jars containing the remains of wine in the Zagros Mountains in Iran showing the process was known that long ago!


Then about 3500 years ago a bunch of Hebrew slaves get into a desert where they don’t have food and they get given something called manna and make their bread/food from this stuff and God points out to them a pure bread does not contain the fermented components.

This type of bread lasts longer and stays fresh better so perhaps God was looking to their well being when this was explained. The bread also takes up less space which is important if you have to carry everything around with you.


So the use of unleaven (without yeast) bread becomes inherent in the religious laws and the culture of that time.

We get to know
that God doesn’t want inferior bread, the type that goes mouldy easily given to him.


But it is so easy to get yeast in bread. A tiny bit of yeast in the flour would reproduce rapidly and soon the whole lot would become puffed up.


So God and Jesus use this example which would have been known by everyone around in those days.

It explains that if we let a little of selfish, nasty, ignorant and stupid actions and intentions to creep into our lives, it soon multiplies and within a short while we are puffed up with focus on ourselves and not on the tasks and people around us.

We loose perspective of reality and focus in on ourselves to the exclusion of others.


That’s why the illustration of Leaven in the bible is so powerful.


The leaven stands for evil.


An example in our bible that explains this is:

When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. 


“Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”


They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.”


Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. ”


Evil, selfish teachings are represented by the yeast causing bread to rise.
 

That leaven caused Jesus to die!


We need to be careful we don’t allow negativity and selfish motives to infiltrate our lives today and cause us to do the wrong things.


Let’s turn to God and ask him to help us check all our words today to make sure they are positive, uplifting and truthful!
 
That’s my intent! What’s yours?
Wed, February 2, 2011 | link          Comments

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Egypt, millions of protesters, and the Passover
 
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Egypt braces for 'march of a million'[1] says CBC News.

Thousands have gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square for a "march of a million people" to demand an end to Egypt's authoritarian government.


Reading
and looking at the images of the angry people in Egypt as well as seeing this headline about a million people gathering for a march pushed my mind to a similar march probably from a similar place in Egypt around 3500 years ago!

There was a difference however! 


That time it was Hebrew slaves that gathered to leave! 

It is interesting that the way they got to permission to leave was not by mass action and political uprisings. In fact it is likely that the slaves were so subjugated that they had little focus on overthrowing Pharaoh of the Egyptians in any way. People who are pushed about, ordered about and never allowed to have free will finally seem to loose the ability to build planning of that type.

Instead it was done for them!

 It was Pharaoh and not Mubarak that was in control then but the fear was similar.

The bible says:

Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. “Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.”

 
 So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly. They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.

The same core factor was at the heart of the oppressions,
fear!
 

Men fear other men  and it was no different in ancient Egypt1

Like Mubarak, Pharaoh didn’t give up control easily


Unlike the Egyptians the Hebrews didn’t take to mass action, and in fact left it to two men and God. Moses, Aaron and God faced the Pharaoh. Then, one by one, God brought out illnesses and plagues that in strange ways mimicked the Egyptian religions of the day.


In fact according to an article
http://www.helium.com/items/414772-10-plagues-of-egypt the ten plagues had the following symbology
 

1. “Turning water into blood Hapi, the god of the Nile river.

2. Frogs Heqt, goddess of birth. Heqt is often depicted as a frog.

3. Gnats from dust Geb, god of the earth or soil.

4. Flies Kheper, god of beetles and flies.

5. Cattle Apis, sacred bull.

6. Boils Isis, goddess of healing.

7. Hail Nut, sky goddess and/or Horus, falcon god / sky god.

8. Locust Seth, god of crops.

9. 3 days of darkness Ra, the sun god (main god of the solar faith).

10. Death of firstborn Pharaoh.

While these may be a bit of an extrapolation in our thinking, it is clear as these plagues occurred, the Egyptians would turn to their god’s and see how the plague mocked the respective gods power.

There was one God and one power!

In today’s world, the Egyptians are killing Christians. Coptic Christians are at risk daily! We need to pray for them!

The current god’s of Egypt are not helping in any way! Again they are being mocked!

I understand that the main religion in Egypt is the Moslem religion. (State religion since 1980).
 
To those that say it’s a religion of peace, I wonder as I look at the anger and pain in the people’s lives in those images!

It’s a heartless world without God’s love! Perhaps prayer and Christ could help Egypt, but it seems that they as a country have rejected Christ!

We can still pray and try to help them overcome their pain!


In ancient times we guess that it was a similar crowd of people that gathered (this time peacefully) as the Hebrews left Egypt.

The final god, pharaohs son, had died and the Egyptians gave the Hebrews gold, silver and livestock just to get rid of them.

God’s Passover was in place to protect believers, but those who rejected this offer of protection suffered!

Is this perhaps what is happening in Egypt today?

Is there a rejection of truth, honesty, fair dealings.

How can a country stay under emergency law for so many years? Since 1967 until today!

Surely “emergency” is by definition a temporary state?

Do we blame people for getting upset?

I don’t!

Perhaps there comes a time when freedom is important!

I like to believe that the true path to freedom is not through war and demands, but through love, faith and service.

Perhaps we as Christian failed Egypt by not showing and leading in peace, love and Christian support?

Perhaps the reality is we have been so busy with our own wealth and security, that very few of us ever though about those people who needed Christ!

Perhaps we are too late to make a difference to millions of Egyptian people?
 

I hope not! 

To the Hebrew slaves, their lives were totally without hope when God changed everything on that first passover.
 

God is a God of miracles, and I believe that if we as Christians get together, and unified, in prayer go to God for the Egyptian people, great changes can occur that will bless them!

Will you join me in prayer for the improvement of the situation in Egypt and an increase in the ability of the Christians there to make a peaceful, loving difference?

We can actually change history from right where we are with prayer!

Isn’t it amazing we have that privilege?
Tue, February 1, 2011 | link          Comments

Monday, January 31, 2011

Money, Jesus and Fraud!
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For the most part fraud in the end secures for its companions repentance and shame.
Charles Simmon
 

It is shocking but “The January 2011 issue of the International Bulletin of Missionary Research reported that Christian religious leaders will commit an estimated $34 billion in financial fraud in 2011 while $31 billion will be spent on global missions.”
[1]
 

Horrific isn’t it? 

As a Christian I get appalled that people abuse Jesus so badly and get away with it so often. The article I quoted isn’t one put together by an anti-Christian lobby, but by people who desire to have the church cleaned up, and people who are abusing the church to be brought to justice! Good for them! 

Unfortunately, these statistics will be used by those who want to destroy our Lords image! I predict the televisions, radios and newspapers will abuse these statistics to try and damage/dirty Jesus and his followers in the minds of the public!
 

It’s sad but the article states, “Probably 80% of all cases are kept private or swept under the carpet,…”
 

It is of concern that many Christians are becoming so weak kneed that they cannot stand up and admit sin in their midst.

I have had some experience of Christian church management and have to say we as Christians need to get our act together. Being Christian doesn’t mean forgiving bad accounting, poor bookkeeping practices, and failing to call our elders and leadership to correctly account for money used!
 

Many years ago when I was in Africa trying to get education for the person in the street, we turned to Christian funding and investigated it as a source, and I personally rejected it, due to the fact that it appeared that so much of the money was not reaching the recipients who needed it. At that time they pointed out that more than half of the money was being absorbed in administration and “transfer” fees.

Horrible, that’s why when I finally got to North America, I only provided money through channels that I personally knew had good accounting, clean, thin, audited administration, and I actually generally provide my money directly to people on the ground in the relevant countries.
 

This is a sad, sad, situation. Jesus points out that “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”[2]
 

Stealing from the poor has to be one of the worst actions anyone could do, Christian or not! It is despicable!
 

Jesus goes on to say, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
 

These people are clearly serving money and by Jesus words are not serving God.

Our problem as a Christian is that they are counted as Christians and we are too weak kneed to eradicate this illness from our numbers.

While God has forgiveness for the sinner, we need to understand that people who are doing this should be removed from leadership and never be put in that situation again!
 

Do we ask drunks to run liquor stores, or drug addicts to run pharmacies?

No!

So neither should a sinner who has failed with money be put in the way of temptation and permitted to work in that area again. We can forgive them, but cannot allow them to get exposed to the same situation again!
 

Secondly, we need people who are willing to be unpopular, but who want to keep our church pure, to call for audits of our churches.

The fact that churches are charitable type organizations in no way should exempt them from an audit process!

In fact, we should be more careful!

Churches tend to excuse bad money practices since they have someone devoting personal time to doing the books. Sorry folk, our Lord’s name is too important to excuse poor accountability and tracking under the guise of love! 

If a person loves God they would want everything to be open above board and shown to be so!
 

So , I am sorry this is not my normal blog, but I want to encourage everyone to call for your Christian organization to expose their money flow and be accountable. Be sure of where that money is going, because we know if people are subverting it in any way, it is not what Jesus would want, and it will hurt our ability to correctly care and love for others.
 

Hey, have a great day and call for accountability in our churches and church organizations!
 
Mon, January 31, 2011 | link          Comments


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Rift in Evil

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This suspense thriller centers on Kiara, a beautiful young woman pursued by a murderous group of people, who relentlessly and ruthlessly hunt her and her sisters. Kiara has no idea why she is being targeted! When Kiara and her family turn to the law for help, this fails. Her pursuers’ powers reach deeply into the political and law enforcement world. Family support for her dwindles when they too have to flee her pursuers. Can Kiara escape the clutches of both the law and dishonest big business? With the media broadcasting that Kiara and friends are dangerous and subversive, can Kiara clear her name and bring her pursuers to justice?

 

 
  

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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?

Evil tendrils tighten on their lives and the interplay between the visible and invisible world shows opposing forces at work.

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