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Friday, August 19, 2011

Should we ignore the “Sabbath” day guidelines? They are out of date aren’t they?
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"We're asking just let us know you want to take the day off."
Jim Bogart


        
Thirty years ago, in many countries of the world that claimed Christian heritage, the stores were closed on Sundays.

 

Wow! Times have changed!



 Was this right or wrong?

              Are we doing the right thing now by allowing stores to be open?

  Sometimes it’s easiest to look at what the bible says rather that specifically debate the topic directly. So that’s part of what I plan to do today.

 John 5 [NIRV] says this

 Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath day. So the Jews began to oppose him.
 
 Jesus said to them, "My Father is always doing his work. He is working right up to this very day. I am working too."

 Hmmm! Jesus broke the Jewish lore by helping and healing people on the Sabbath. He says God never stops working either. Interesting isn’t it? We so often think of Jesus as doing nothing wrong and forget what a rebel he was in a passive way!
 
 So Jesus did what others considered work on a day of rest!

 But we also read the commandment

 Exodus 20:8
 "Remember to keep the Sabbath day holy.

 So was Jesus breaking his own law?

 It appears so, but it depends on what keeping it Holy means right?

 This is heavily re-emphasised in

 Exodus 31:14 & 15 "Keep the Sabbath day. It is holy to you. Those who misuse it must be put to death. Those who do any work on that day must be cut off from their people. Do your work in six days. But the seventh day is a Sabbath. You must rest on it. It is set apart for me. Those who work on the Sabbath day must be put to death. The people of Israel must keep the Sabbath. They must celebrate it for all time to come. It will be a covenant that lasts forever.”

 Pretty significant law in those old times right?

 We see a slightly different slant in Leviticus
 
 Leviticus 16:31
 That day is a sabbath for you. You must rest on it. You must not eat anything on that day. That is a law that will last for all time to come.

 Here we see the statement “that day is a Sabbath for YOU”.  The problem here is that a special Sabbath was being addressed not a normal Sabbath. (Special Sabbaths were national feast and worship days)

 I guess if we want a definitive statement from Jesus it occurs in Mark 2:24-28

 One Sabbath day Jesus was walking with his disciples through the grain fields. The disciples began to break off some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to Jesus, "Look! It is against the Law to do this on the Sabbath. Why are your disciples doing it?"

   He answered, "Haven't you ever read about what David did? He and his men were hungry. They needed food. It was when Abiathar was high priest. David entered the house of God and ate the holy bread. Only priests were allowed to eat it. David also gave some to his men."
 
   Then Jesus said to them, "The Sabbath day was made for man. Man was not made for the Sabbath day. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath day."

 This is the crux of this matter!

 The Sabbath day (one rest day out of seven) is made for man.

  It’s for us the Sabbath was put into place. We are not created to work and keep working. We need to have a day away from normal work type activities.
 
 That is also the day we should spend focussing on our God and how he loves and helps us. It’s also the day we do some introspection and evaluate what we have done in the last week and how we measured up to our objectives and God’s guidelines. [Do you do that on your Sabbath?]

 Jesus is the Son of Man. He knows what we as humans are able to do and not do while staying true to God!  He says he is in charge of determining what is okay and what is not okay to do on the Sabbath.

 We have to be aware that God loves us sufficiently that he wants us to honestly be able to do what is necessary to stay in a comfort zone on the Sabbath, but not to do things that are unnecessarily taking us away from God on that same day.

 Each of us have to answer to God on our use of the Sabbath.
 
 Generally, I try to be very careful of what I do that I consider work on the Sabbath. Not every week has my Sabbath on the same day. It could be a Sunday, or a Saturday. I know many in church leadership take Mondays. Whoever we are and whatever we do, the rule still stands. . .

 One day of rest in seven is God’s guideline for our own good. We as mankind are not created to only obey rules (like the Sabbath rule). We are created to follow God in love. God wants us to honour him by resting one day in seven and Jesus will judge whether we have done this or not. No-one else will!

 How about we plan to have one good day of rest a week?

  It’s for our own good!
Fri, August 19, 2011 | link          Comments

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The written words of God do not give eternal life!
          
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"They that approve a private opinion, call it opinion; but they that dislike it, heresy; and yet heresy signifies no more than private opinion"
Thomas Hobbes




Heresy?

 

I am sure that is what most people think I am speaking heresy when they read the title above.


  Unfortunately my statement is backed by Jesus words, so it seems to be true. See John 5:39-40 [NIRV] where Jesus is reported as saying this. . .

 "You study the Scriptures carefully. You study them because you think they will give you eternal life. The Scriptures you study give witness about me. But you refuse to come to me and receive life."

 It’s not the words in the book that give the eternal life, otherwise anyone that reads them would immediately be able to have eternal life, and that is not what happens.

 It is bringing ourselves to the point of accepting and believing in Jesus, to the extent that we want to do what he suggests, and then the love of God grows deep within us!

 I just watched a movie on Netflix called “Bulletproof Monk” about a Buddhist monk. The whole premise of the movie is based on him spending his life traveling around the world protecting the ancient Scroll of the Ultimate, which if anyone reads, would make them all powerful. (Total nonsense but entertaining!).
 
 Sometimes I think we treat the bible the same way, we think if we chant a verse or two at the appropriate time, the incantation will cause a supernatural event.

 Nonsense!

 We are being no better than witches and the Satanists who read the “our father”(Lord’s prayer) backwards, because they think it undoes it!

 This is not rational thinking, or logical and the one thing I do find is that the closer I get to Jesus, the more rational and logical my thoughts are. Although in some strange way I also grow more emotional and sensitive.

 Jesus is the door to true spiritual life and YES, we do need to read the bible to understand Jesus and the one he reflects, our Father God.

 
 YES, the words of the bible help us with this!

 We must however, never forget, it’s not the words but the relationship that is in the balance.

 Do we tip into the pool of love and compassion and wonder of Jesus, or do we dip into the dry legalistic reading of words, sentences, semantics and drop away from truth which is only found in Jesus.

 I want to have Jesus more each day, have Holy Spirit show me the words I need to grasp for that day.  I need to have life in a day full of vitality and joy. A day totally dedicated to Jesus, the one I love! In so doing I want to try to live the right way, asking forgiveness for where I fail.

 Now that is life!

 I do hope you can enjoy it that way as well! So let’s read the biblical words but go to Jesus!

Thu, August 18, 2011 | link          Comments

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Buying a home! Ever notice how sales people treat us?
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Grabbing a wallet or cheque book, we head out to town, the mall or the nearest place where our dollars will be accepted with a smile by someone in sales.


 It’s amazing how pleasant people are when they are after our money isn’t it? That same person would not give us the time of day normally, but when we have dollars, it’s different.

 
Yesterday I went to Yorkdale mall as I needed a new suit for work. I was dressed in cheap rubber sandals, shorts, and a T-shirt. My son was dressed similarly and he wanted to buy a dress shirt for a wedding. It was interesting that although there was about three attendants in the store, not one approached us or wanted to help.

 That was because we looked like the type of people who don’t buy at those type of stores. Anyone seen “pretty woman” where Julia Roberts dressed like a prostitute goes into a store on Rodeo drive in Hollywood and gets shunned.

 
That was my experience at this store, except when I finally corralled an attendant and demanded assistance to buy a Calvin Klein suit, the $’s got the better of him and he was then most helpful, ignoring my inferior appearance.

 Lesson learned, I up scaled my dress just a tad
and switched the shorts for a pair of black jeans and the sandals for canvas sneakers.

 Now I was suitably under-dressed for my next experiment in testing the salespeople of our world. I was in the market for a condo
and planned on visiting many presentation centers in the city in that regard.

 
Why do I dress down for the environment when I go to buy something?

 
Simply because I want to try and determine if the person helping me is spinning me sales talk, or if they are really trying to help me.

 Those who react adversely to my appearance are generally the high powered sales people
and so those are the people I would rather not deal with! A genuinely helpful person is much more appreciated!

 Thinking of this, I was wondering how many people are accosted by Christians who have an ulterior motive in addressing others.


 
Are we really honestly just loving people and letting God deal with them and their lives, or are we trying to push them in a “godly” direction as determined by ourselves.

 I hope it’s the former!


 
That’s my objective! I want to provide what people may need to understand God, but leave it to them and God to form the relationship that can only develop between two people. God did that for me, it’s the least I can do for others!

 
So, today I want to watch my language and conduct to be sure I treat others right. Where I have failed in the past I ask for forgiveness and I know that if I allow Holy Spirit to guide and lead, I will go the right way. Hope you have the same!

 

Have a wonderful day!

Wed, August 17, 2011 | link          Comments

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Jesus is so very difficult to understand sometimes, isn’t he?
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"Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith."
Reinhold Niebuhr


Coming from Africa originally, from South Africa, one of the commonwealth countries, the English I spoke due to my accent and cultural differences varied somewhat from the Canadian English spoken in Toronto where we lived.

 Then, I noticed that Canadian East coast people speak a different English from central province people. The westerners speak differently from both of these. Then the way American English differs from Canadian English is subtle but it is definitely different. None of these are considered to be the queens English, and yet we do understand each other fairly well!

 The difficulty is not really in understanding the words, but what they mean in the new context. Our minds have to leave the place we learned to speak the language and migrate to the place where we are now listening to it. Only then, do we have the ability to properly understand those words in their new environment.

 I guess that’s why Jesus is sometimes difficult to understand!
 
 The words are clear but we don’t always get the context.

 Let’s take a look at the following excerpt from John 5 [NIRV] as an example

 Jesus answered, "What I'm about to tell you is true. The Son can do nothing by himself. He can do only what he sees his Father doing. What the Father does, the Son also does. This is because the Father loves the Son. He shows him everything he does. Yes, you will be amazed! The Father will show him even greater things than these.

  "The Father raises the dead and gives them life. In the same way, the Son gives life to anyone he wants to.
 
   "Also, the Father does not judge anyone. He has given the Son the task of judging. Then all people will honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Those who do not honor the Son do not honor the Father, who sent him.
 
   "What I'm about to tell you is true. Anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He will not be found guilty. He has crossed over from death to life.
 
 "What I'm about to tell you is true. A time is coming for me to give life. In fact, it has already begun. The dead will hear the voice of the Son of God. Those who hear it will live.

 "The Father has life in himself. He has also allowed the Son to have life in himself. And the Father has given him the authority to judge. This is because he is the Son of Man.
 
 "Do not be amazed at this. A time is coming when all who are in the grave will hear his voice. They will all come out of their graves. Those who have done good will rise and live again. Those who have done evil will rise and be found guilty.
 
 "I can do nothing by myself. I judge only as I hear. And my judging is fair. I do not try to please myself. I try only to please the One who sent me.

 Let us try to get an idea why this is difficult to follow.

  First he says

 The Son can do nothing by himself. He can do only what he sees his Father doing. What the Father does, the Son also does. This is because the Father loves the Son. He shows him everything he does. Yes, you will be amazed! The Father will show him even greater things than these.
 
 In my simple way I get that it is saying that Jesus knows what Father God knows, that Father God loves Jesus, but I have no idea what the greater things than “these” are or exactly what the “these” are either.

 
 I can assume the “these” is speaking of the miracles he has just done, but since John’s gospel is not written chronologically (at least it doesn’t appear to be) what miracles are being referred to is simply unknown.
 
 It is above my abilities to understand! Maybe you can do better?

 If you do, let me know in the comment section below or send me an email J

 Next Jesus says, The Father raises the dead and gives them life. In the same way, the Son gives life to anyone he wants to.

 I think I get this. . .Jesus has the ability give life to people who are dead. There is a confusion here also but since the confusion is better described a little later in this blog,  I will leave it until then.

 Next is . . .

  Also, the Father does not judge anyone. He has given the Son the task of judging. Then all people will honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Those who do not honor the Son do not honor the Father, who sent him.

 At first look this seems simple to understand, right?

 The Father doesn’t judge, but Jesus does.

  That’s understandable, but if we factor in that the Father knows what the Son knows, it begs the question how someone can know exactly the same thing as another and yet not form a judgement on what is known?

 
 That’s a bit more difficult to understand!
 
 Then if God is one, how does he do this "split personality" thing?

 
 This is an impossible aspect to understand!

 
Moving along, I think we will get the next piece. We need to honour Jesus because if we don’t, we are not honouring God.
 
 Then Jesus says   "What I'm about to tell you is true. Anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He will not be found guilty. He has crossed over from death to life.
 
 "What I'm about to tell you is true. A time is coming for me to give life. In fact, it has already begun. The dead will hear the voice of the Son of God. Those who hear it will live.

 If we hear about and believe Jesus is who he says he is, we have eternal life, BUT only if the person also believes that God the Father sent him.

 
 That’s a piece that is poorly explained in churches today isn't it?
 
 What do you think? Is that what it is saying?

 Perhaps we often fail to point out that we need to understand God the Father is the one who has eternal life and enables Jesus to have the same.
 
 A subtle but important difference!

 Believing this is what gives us a life that is without death.

  That I get! What I don’t get clearly is “The dead will hear the voice of the Son of God. Those who hear it will live.”

 Is he talking about the physical dead at that time. Is he talking of the spiritually dead then and now? Is he talking about both?

 It could be any or all of these!

 Now the bit "The Father has life in himself. He has also allowed the Son to have life in himself. And the Father has given him the authority to judge. This is because he is the Son of Man.

 This is fairly understandable, except for exactly what he means by “Son of Man”.

  At seminary, I found a lot of people thought they understood this, but for me it was strange because sometimes Jesus is referring to himself as “Son of God” (see a few lines back in the same writing) and sometimes he says “Son of Man”. 

 There has to be a difference!

 To me, perhaps he is talking of his human form when he says “Son of Man”, and his spiritual form when he says “Son of God”.

 
 Confusing!
 
 We all need to decide on this for ourselves right? What’s your opinion?
 
 Whatever it is, we choose we need to check it out against all the usages of these terms in the bible.

That takes time. I am only part way through that process!

 His next statement is "Do not be amazed at this. A time is coming when all who are in the grave will hear his voice. They will all come out of their graves. Those who have done good will rise and live again. Those who have done evil will rise and be found guilty.”
 
 This does perhaps reflect a little light on a previous statement  The dead will hear the voice of the Son of God. Those who hear it will live.”
 
 The context is however slightly different and so we cannot be sure they refer to the same thing.
 
 Here at least we know he is talking of the physically dead because the living dead don’t normally live in graves.

 The definition of good and evil require much reading of the bible and perhaps even an understanding of the Old Testament covenant term usages of these words.

 
 They definitely do not have the simple modern context of those words “good” and “evil”.

 
 That makes this sentence equally as difficult to understand without much study!

 Now for the really amazing statement

 "I can do nothing by myself. I judge only as I hear. And my judging is fair. I do not try to please myself. I try only to please the One who sent me.

 Jesus tells us he has no ability to do anything that is not of the Father.

 I guess this is why we say they are one and the same! Yet we know the Son does different things to the Father, so how can this be?

 This brief look at these words has probably shown us we do not have the context of God.
 
 We are more like an immigrant in a foreign country trying to understand the words, their context and what they show us we should do.

 We are strangers in the spiritual world, travelers in a space that will take us a while to comprehend even slightly.
 
 God has organized for us to have eternity to do this learning provided we take the little we can understand, accept and use it.

 Like foreigners, we will slowly adopt God’s culture, understand his language more clearly and be able to do more in the spiritual realm.

 So, for today, I will take what I do understand and use it while I try to understand more about the rest.

 I do hope you can do the same!
Tue, August 16, 2011 | link          Comments

Monday, August 15, 2011

Love must be honest and true
   
CrossHand.jpg
  
Love is a symbol of eternity. It wipes out all sense of time, destroying all memory of a beginning and all fear of an end. ~Author Unknown

If we consider how many of our symbols of love in the western world are fakes it’s a wonder we know about any truth in love isn't it?

 Consider that heart symbol (). It looks nothing like a heart at all (this probably fortunate since a heart is not a great looking object).
 
No one knows where the symbol originated, but the most pleasant description is the necks of courting swans. Other explanations are buttocks or other parts of women. Inverted hearts in heraldry have been associated with testicles. A math equation representing the heart as (x2+y2-1)3-x2y3=0

 Yeuch! We use these as symbols of love? Is this not a strange way to show love?

 What about Cupid, that chubby cherub with a bow and arrows? 

The word means “desire” which is a positive start! 

Cupid was the son of the roman gods Venus and Jupiter.

But what does a naked little boy with bows and arrows have to do with love, unless we are talking of a very distorted and horrible sex practice?
 

That said, true love is defined well in the bible.

T
his weekend as a group of older teenagers and young adults were discussing how we could love others, the following came up with a bible exerpt as a clear mission statement. 
 


I think this is a great definition, see what you think 

Love must be honest and true. Hate what is evil. Hold on to what is good. Love each other deeply. Honor others more than yourselves. Never let the fire in your heart go out. Keep it alive. Serve the Lord.

 When you hope, be joyful. When you suffer, be patient. When you pray, be faithful. Share with God's people who are in need. Welcome others into your homes.

   Bless those who hurt you. Bless them, and do not call down curses on them. Be joyful with those who are joyful. Be sad with those who are sad. Agree with each other. Don't be proud. Be willing to be a friend of people who aren't considered important. Don't think that you are better than others.

   Don't pay back evil with evil. Be careful to do what everyone thinks is right. If possible, live in peace with everyone. Do that as much as you can.
Romans 12:9-18

 

Now that’s a challenge for today isn’t it?

If we lived this version of love, I think we could communicate love very effectively.


Have a great day! 
Mon, August 15, 2011 | link          Comments


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