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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thanks George Clooney!
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When a guy in the street says Christians are doing good work, it doesn’t go far, but when George Clooney does, it ripples out in a wide wash of publicity.

This week he went on record as saying that in Sudan, the Christians were doing good work.[1] In a country of ethinic violence and killings, people really have to care to help. They have to take risks to help.

The article  says he pointed out that “In a one-on-one interview, Clooney told CBN News that Christian ministries play a key role in helping those suffering.”

"They lead the work a lot of times here," he said. "When we were at the Darfur rally it was ministers. It was a lot of people of faith that had been working very hard on this."[1]

Here in our western world we don’t always see the power of God the way those in need see it! We also don’t seem to have to rely on the power of Holy Spirit as much. When our lives, livelihood and physical bodies are under threat, then we do. This happens much more in the third world.

It isn’t surprising that people who go to areas where great poverty is being addressed by loving caring people find Christians in among them. God asked us to do this. We do it for love! We do it sacrificially because Christianity is a sacrificial religion. Not animals but ourselves!

Let’s remember that Clooney is simply making the work evident. It is the hard working people in the streets of Sudan who are doing it!

Bringing this closer to home let us ask ourselves who is doing the work of helping those in need in our communities.

 Who is in need around us right now? What are we doing to help?

I think we can all learn a little from this public figure. . . 

Doing the right thing is the right thing to do!

How about you and I go and do it today?
Thu, March 15, 2012 | link          Comments

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Was that description of Jesus’ tomb accurate?
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  The Ancient Middle East had a specific way of burying their dead that is significantly different to modern Western practices.

The bible says. . .

Mark 15:42-46 (NIRV) It was the day before the Sabbath. That day was called Preparation Day. As evening approached, Joseph went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body. Joseph was from the town of Arimathea. He was a leading member of the Jewish Council. He was waiting for God's kingdom.
 
 Pilate was surprised to hear that Jesus was already dead. So he called for the Roman commander. He asked him if Jesus had already died. The commander said it was true. So Pilate gave the body to Joseph.

Then Joseph bought some linen cloth. He took the body down and wrapped it in the linen. He put it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance to the tomb.

An alternative version is . . .

Matthew 27:57-60 (NIRV) As evening approached, a rich man came from the town of Arimathea. His name was Joseph. He had become a follower of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body. Pilate ordered that it be given to him.

Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth. He placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb. Then he went away.

How accurate is this according to the archaeological evidence that is known today?

Let us consider that Jesus was condemned, not under Jewish, but Roman law. This was why he was crucified!

If it was Jewish law that was being executed, the likelihood was that he would have been given one of the jewish modes of execution. “Four modes of execution were given in the court: stoning, burning, slaying [by the sword] and strangulation.” (Mishnah Sanhedrin 7:1). [1]

This means Jesus method of death was an authentic Roman death as the bible indicates.

The Jews buried the victims of Roman crucifixion as was mentioned by a non-biblical historian, Josephus: although the Jews used to take so much care of the burial of men, that they took down those that were condemned and crucified, and buried them before the going down of the sun.[2]

This report aligns exactly with the biblical account!

Now at that time it was only wealth Jews had rock cut tombs.

The poorer Jews could not afford these extravagances and were instead buried in a trench grave.

This was one which has a shaft with a chamber off the shaft dug in earth. The body was placed in the earthen chamber which was sealed with mud brick slabs. This would have been the only grave Jesus’ relatives could have afforded.

The bible however points out Jesus was given a grave among the wealthy. Matthew says a “new” tomb.

Why mention “new”?

The Jews re-used their tombs! The bodies were placed in tombs until the had decayed sufficiently that only bones were left. Then they placed the bones in ossuary’s (from about 10-20 B.C. they switched the practice of putting them in a rock “room” called a charnel room for putting them in a stone box called an ossuary).

Jesus was placed into an unused tomb as distinct from one that had been used before.

 This practice was a custom for many years. See 2 Chronicles 34:28 "You will join the members of your family who have already died.”

When Jesus was removed from the cross just before the Sabbath, they needed to get it into a tomb quickly. There was not time to dig an earthen trench tomb and so a different plan was made as the body needed to be buried within 24 hours and the Sabbath would have stopped this since you couldn’t bury on the Sabbath.

We also now know it was common to wrap the body in a linen shroud. Jesus’ body was wrapped in that way.

Archaeology backs up the bible account of Jesus burial with many circumstantial facts.

Why was Jesus body never found? The bible says it is because he rose from the dead. Thats a subject of a different blog, but it is similarly accurate in its details.

 Isn’t it wonderful that God gave us all these facts to discover if we are patient and look?

We have a wonderful God who wants us to be able to find him and follow his guidelines for a successful life.

How about we do that today, and if someone says Jesus death is a story that was made up, gently explain to them why we as Christians don’t think so! Too many non-Christians and Christians would have to be liars to have this story as fabricated!

Wed, March 14, 2012 | link          Comments

Good and evil and are we kidding ourselves?
 
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  Last night I had dinner with a guy who suggested that good and evil were arbitrary, selected by cultures to foster their own values and selected by individuals to make themselves happy.

Interesting!

It took me a short time to suggest that perhaps even without being spiritual in my argument I could perhaps counter this thought by appealing to those around who were a wonderful complex group from Africa, Eastern Europe (with Russian experience), and a Canadian that had Chinese experiences.

I argued that the measure of culture is in how it cares for the poor, the unfortunate and the damaged in it’s society and that a society that doesn’t do this is lesser in some way than another that does.

Even the person arguing against me agreed this to be true and the evaluations of different countries of which this group had lived in (which was a large number of very different political and dictatorial ideologies) also agreed.

I then suggested that caring for these people was a “good” thing as evaluated by everyone, and it was ubiquitous in the world amongst “good” people.

Seeing he was losing the argument, my friend suggested the only reason people help others is to feel good about themselves.

Another at the table pointed out when he has to help a neighbour sometimes it’s the last thing he wants to do, he is tired and negative to doing so, but does so because it’s the right thing to do. Only afterwards does he feel glad he did so!

I think we all know in our hearts that Good and Evil are not arbitrary! Even more so, we all know bible is right to say. . .

Isaiah 10 (NIRV)
Woe to those who make unjust laws,
   to those who issue oppressive decrees,
to deprive the poor of their rights
   and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people,
making widows their prey
   and robbing the fatherless.
What will you do on the day of reckoning,
   when disaster comes from afar?
To whom will you run for help?
   Where will you leave your riches?

We as Christians, Jews, and any others who hold to the Old Testament as written by God must make sure to look after the rights of the poor, widows, fatherless and others who are not always treated right in our society. We should befriend strangers and love our enemies.

That is “good”.

God is the ultimate one that determines “good” and “evil”.
Whether men like my friend feel that this is an arbitrary choice or not makes absolutely no difference. We know we must do these things. We know that ignoring these things and abusing authority (take Hitler as an example) are in the wrong. God’s truths are absolute, not relative!

Today let’s remember it is not the outcome of our actions that should be a measure of our success, but rather our attitude and way that we do what we do! Let us go spread a little “good” around even if we don’t feel like it. That way we increase the eternal value of those around us, and our eternal value in the universe.

 Have a wonderful day!
Wed, March 14, 2012 | link          Comments

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Comfort words! The comfort of knowing before things happen, that they will!
 
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  Forth telling, fortune telling and soothsayers are people that make a lot of money out of people who want to know that will happen before it does. (I think most of these are not really capable or they would win the lotto every time, but that’s just my opinion)

Why do newspapers and magazines often have horoscopes, why are people so interested in what a dead guy by the name of Michel de Nostredame had to say?

We are inherently inquisitive of what will happen and want to see things unfold when they are predicted in the past.

I think our enjoyment of achieving flight is probably a collective sigh of relief at proving all the people right who believed it could happen and wrote their thoughts down over the years. We like to see things come into being in an almost planned way, don’t we?

One of the most comforting predictions ever written are the following words from Isaiah 11:1-5 NIRV

Jesse's family is like a tree that has been cut down.
      A new little tree will grow from its stump.
      From its roots a Branch will grow and produce fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on that Branch.
      He will help him to be wise and understanding.
   He will help him make wise plans and carry them out.
      He will help him know the Lord and have respect for him.
 The Branch will take delight
      in respecting the Lord.
   He will not judge things only by the way they look.
      He won't make decisions based simply on what people say.
 He will always do what is right
      when he judges those who are in need.
   He'll be completely fair
      when he makes decisions about poor people.
   When he commands that people be punished,
      it will happen.
   When he orders that evil people be put to death,
      it will take place.
He will put godliness on as if it were his belt.
      He'll wear faithfulness around his waist.

 It is comforting to see Jesus originated from that root of Jesse and that these words spoken by this guy who lived in the 8th-century BC Kingdom of Judah had his words come true hundreds of years later.

Then we can look at another part of his predication, Isaiah 9:6-7 ,

A child will be born to us.

      A son will be given to us.
      He will rule over us.
   And he will be called
      Wonderful Adviser and Mighty God.
   He will also be called Father Who Lives Forever
      and Prince Who Brings Peace.
 The authority of his rule will continue to grow.
      The peace he brings will never end.
   He will rule on David's throne
      and over his kingdom.
      He will make the kingdom strong and secure.
   His rule will be based on what is fair and right.
      It will last forever.
   The Lord's great love will make sure that happens.
      He rules over all.

 Taken together, it gives us comfort that God was telling people what would happen before it did. The comfort is increased as God also says that a time will come when we will all live with him forever. The fact that the past came true gives us trust that the future will as well. Then we have Jesus who walked the roads of the middle east and explained how we should live and communicate with God. The one prophesied about became a prophet, was a king and priest and was the first Rabbi ever.

God is good! He wants us to gain comfort from his love and relationship with us. It’s up to us to allow ourselves to gain that comfort by reading and considering the words.

Then, we go out into the world and live courageously, knowing the base of our life is solid.

That’s my plan for today. What’s yours?
Tue, March 13, 2012 | link          Comments

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Who was the first “Rabbi” in history?
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Sometimes it is interesting to look back in time to find origins of common terms.

The term “Rabbi” applied to a person describes a Jewish scholar, teacher, or leader that studies or teaches Jewish law. The Rabbi’s lead the Jew’s in cultural and religious life.

The rest of us as are “goy”, or gentiles (that word means “peoples” or “nations” and refers to non-jews).

We hardly think of this word or consider it!

 Most of us in this world are the “peoples” according to the Jews and most of us don’t really consider ourselves to have any sort of Jewish root in our lives. In fact, many would find any such thought appalling.

Why?

Christians to many Jews may be labelled as “Jew haters”. Many of Jewish origin think of Christians and the holocaust with a similar mindset. Atrocities against the Jews permeates the minds of many Jews and divides Jew from Christian. Similarly Christians label (incorrectly) Jews as Christ haters, remembering the incident prior to the death of Jesus in Pilates court.

Why?

Traditional hates reiterated by youth and perpetuated through the years!

I say this with emphasis, since for many, these differences have led to people wanting to segregate themselves into separate cultural divisions.

This is not amusing!

I grew up in South Africa where apartheid was in place and was so wrong! The
whole world condemned it! I find it despicable and so should most. Yet it was status quo for a long time.

Yet the division in attitude and teaching of fathers to sons around the differences between Jews and Christians is also apartheid. The word “apartheid” for those that are unclear of its definition is one that stands for “separate development of peoples”, cultural division. It implies the keeping of purity of one’s culture by the segregation of peoples.

Christians should not hold to such policies because God wanted us to go into all the world to make disciples and that means going to all people. God’s love is for all people. Also, let’s face facts. . .Jesus was a Jew!

In fact in the early church era, Jews and Christians were so similar that Christians attended the Jewish weekly celebrations as well as their own.

Much of the New Testament is very Jewish and to understand it actually requires a deep knowledge of the ancient Jewish world.

We should have great love for our Jewish friends since it is their nation that was chosen by God to bring the messiah to us!

Now for Jewish people who read this I have another interesting fact. Do you know that the first use of the word “rabbi” ever (in the history of written word) was used to describe Jesus!

Amy-Jill Levine writing in an archaeological magazine reports “Jesus himself was a Jew; he is, in terms of dates of documents, the first person in history to be called “Rabbi” (John 1:38, 49, 3:2, 6:25).[1]

Amy-Jill as a Jew and not one who sees Jesus as the messiah says this “For me, personally, the more I study the New Testament, the better informed Jew I become. I can fill in the gaps in Jewish history that I never learned in Hebrew School; I can see the options open to early Jews and better understand the paths they chose; I can hear in many of the teachings of Jesus a helpful restatement of the Scriptures of Israel. I do not worship the messenger, but I often find compelling his image of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus was the first Rabbi in history! Perhaps as we learn greatly from him, it would also be good to heal the hurts of the past between Jew and Christian. Today as we move into our diverse worlds to work and play, let’s remember that and appreciate each other. It’s what God would want!



[1] http://members.bib-arch.org/search.asp?PubID=BSBA&Volume=38&Issue=2&ArticleID=6&UserID=8556&
Sun, March 11, 2012 | link          Comments


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Rift in Evil

By Ken X Briggs

  • Published: September, 2010
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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.

Will there be a rift in evil?

Will they be able to stop the evil in time?

 

 

 
Click here to order Rift in Evil (ebook or Paper available)
  • Published: September, 2010
  • Format: Perfect Bound Softcover(B/W)
  • Pages: 208
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  • ISBN: 9781450250894 

Available from Barnes and Noble, Amazon, iUniverse. Chapters

 
  
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