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Friday, March 23, 2012

Why keep on struggling with life?
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“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger

 Winter is almost through in this northern hemisphere of our world! Up in the near north of Canada over the last weeks feet of snow slowly washed away in spring rains (early ones). We have had an exceptionally warm spell melting ice and snow revealing the grasses and causing willows to start to bud.

People struggled this winter! Some of them, at times when the temperature was -20C outside, had no wood to warm their homes and were starting to burn wood ripped from their homes. With not enough food, they were worried for their children’s health. It was a tough, tough time!

Yet, they struggled on! In our community as people found out their difficulties, gifts arrived as if from nowhere to help them through, the struggle became worthwhile. Now it’s warm enough, the gifts of wood and food have helped them this far and now with the spring comes new hope!

Our Christian lives often have struggles!

To say that once we are a Christian all our burdens disappear is to lie.

What happens is that God comes alongside us and miraculously our burdens get lighter or  start to be carried for us as we accept God’s help.

Faith is pushing on in spite of negative circumstances!

James says :

“Blessed is the man who keeps on going when times are hard. After he has come through them, he will receive a crown. The crown is life itself. God has promised it to those who love him.” James 1:12 NIRV

God will build our eternal character with the tools that come from our struggles in life.

There is no short cut! Being rich doesn’t really help either. In fact, James also says:

The sun rises. Its burning heat dries up the plants. Their blossoms fall. Their beauty is destroyed. In the same way, a rich person will fade away even as he goes about his business.

It is easy to die within as responsibilities and problems outweigh solutions. The rich have lots more responsibilities that those with less! With that come different types of problems (probably the ones the poor think they would love to have) but everyone has challenges.

Amazingly, God enables us to deal with the problems for those of us who trust him and act on that trust. Sometimes it’s the miracles that others tend to want to call co-incidences that occur. In most cases just enough comes our way to give us “our daily bread” and  if we are honest we are often not sure exactly how it happened.


This is not to say that deep issues, like debt that we have wrongfully built through greed and misdeed disappear. Criminal records are not erased. Forgiveness from God does not automatically remove consequences!

No!

Our lives are not irresponsible ones!

However, by acknowledging our faults (and we all have them) and moving forward with God, trying to make good for the problems generated by past actions, we will move towards a better place in life.

The rest of us have the duty of helping those in this life that are struggling forward in this way.

God wants us to love our neighbours!

This does not mean throwing good money after bad as people abuse our assistance. It means being good caretakers of the money God has given us, but dispersing it in the most effective way to achieve the best results after consultation with God and our godly friends.

Today, as spring starts appearing, I think of how people emerging from the gloom of life this winter need help with building hope. In the southern hemisphere as winter approaches, people need help and support as the winter threatens existence.

Helping others, searching ourselves to find God’s balance between helping and making our own way through life, is God challenge that builds us up. If allow it!
Fri, March 23, 2012 | link          Comments

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Truth comes out under pressure!
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“Once you agree upon the price you and your family must pay for success, it enables you to ignore the minor hurts, the opponent's pressure, and the temporary failures.”

Vince Lombardi

 Mode1: Comfortable soft times let people be philosophical and build imaginary arguments.

Mode 2: Under pressure we want truth, quickly and to do something!

When it comes to choosing a religion, in the west and many first world countries we do this under mode 1 conditions. We have philosophical discussion weighing the merits of ideological stances and yet, we rarely test these arguments against the raw experiences of life.

Religion is what Jesus disliked! He was very negative towards religious leaders during his life. Jesus wanted us to live for God, others and then ourselves in a loving way. He wanted us to live a God focussed life, not build religious structures to talk it.

Unfortunately we often fail to understand that Jesus disliked religion when we talk of Christianity today! The Roman Catholic church is a huge religious structure. Yes, there are many Christians in it, but can I say this is despite the structural religion. It is due to the compassion of God and work of Holy Spirit. In other denominations, we rush around building churches and ignoring our communities.

Is Christianity a real living experience of the power of God?

Let’s test it and see!

When people have their lives at stake and the cost of religious choice is high, what is the choice they make?

I was reading some interesting figure in an article[1] which explained that in Iran, Christian are persecuted. It is seen as the “Western” religion (which is amusing since it originated in the Middle East).

Forty years ago there was only about 200 Christians in the country.

Now the Iranian government is legislating against Christians saying there is to be no selling of Bibles, or New Testaments. Churches cannot teach in Farsi ( a persian language used in Iran).

What has this done?

It has put the evidence in front of the people! People are disillusioned with the corruption of the Islamic Revolution in their country and are turning to truth.

The article explains the estimate is there is now about 370 000 converts and there is a known “traditional” church membership of 80 000 that risk government persecution.

House churches are the main churches and numbers have had to drop to a handful since the 15 to 20 of earlier years are to exposed to government persecution.

How come when Christians are persecuted their numbers swell?

Can I suggest it’s because Holy Spirit is desired, sought and experienced by these believers?

They have to work on faith and God’s power. Arguments just don’t cut it!

Action is where the truth is located and those in persecution know this.

Under mode 2, the truth comes out. Christianity is worth having, even if jail time or even death is the alternative.

Pity that those of us in comfortable countries don’t get it! If we did the power of God would abound in our culture, laws and values.

Perhaps that’s what we need to try an experience today. . .the turning to Holy Spirit to help us with daily life issues.

Maybe we will be surprised how God helps us?

Thu, March 22, 2012 | link          Comments

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The James Ossuary inscription “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus” is real!
  
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In Israel, the authorities tried to prove that this box, that contained bones of the deceased at some point, was a forgery.

They wanted to disprove anything that might give support to the Christian claims and thought people were attempting to promote a falsehood.

 
The trail started in 2004 and continued to March 14, 2012 and the verdict was that it was NOT a forgery.

The ossuary itself was always known to be authentic, what people claimed is that the words were added to it later.

People who were experts at dating and authenticating ancient inscriptions were called in and they all agreed it was not a forgery. Then they discovered an ancient patina (a film produced by oxidation over a long period) in some of the letters of the inscription, one of which was the word Jesus.

What is amazing is the guy who actually found it and kept it since the 1970’s never even knew the New Testament says James was the brother of Jesus!

He was Jewish and didn’t read the New Testament. (His name is Oded Golan)

Now we know the words are true, we know they align to the New Testament, but we cannot know the James is the same James, that Joseph the same Joseph, and Jesus, the Jesus son of the living God almighty.

James, Joseph and Jesus were all very common names in the first century. This could have been another family!

The biblical Archeological Society[1] suggests the probability of getting these three names together by chance based on the popularity of usage on ossuaries at the time is 0.05%. It also points out the population of Jerusalem was about 80 000 at the time, so there would have been about 20 people who could have been called “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus”.

This means we will never really know, but it is possible that Jesus refers to the Christian Jesus.

One thing that is NOT common is to refer to oneself as the “brother of” on an ossuary. Generally, people talked of parents not siblings and definitely didn’t single one sibling out.

If that is taken into account, it suggests this could be the first mention of Jesus from about 63 A.D.

This is a very interesting object that does show that the practices of the time align with the biblical New Testament.

People did go back to tombs to gather bones of deceased into boxes or chests around this time. (For a century before Jesus birth to 70 A.D. this was the practice)

This could have been the box that contained the bones of the real brother of Jesus.

Josephus, an ancient historian puts James death around 62 A.D. and he was a known leader of the Jerusalem Christian church.

What does this mean?

Today we get people who say the bible doesn’t align with the facts of the time.

These people need to understand that this is not true. Our bible is one of the best authenticated ancient books ever.

We as Christian can take pride in that, although subjected to intense scrutiny for many years by the world’s best brains, the bible has not been disproved.

There many be pieces we cannot understand, explain or fully analyse, but over time the book as a whole has been proved accurate and honest in its writings. If we take into account the years over which these documents were maintained and the relative small errors that crept in (and many were later corrected) this is amazing book.

Our God is an amazing God and this last artifact, now proved valid, is just another item supporting our beliefs.

We have a great God whether the ossuary contained the bones of the church leader James or not.

That’s the real thought with which to go out into the world today isn’t it?

[1] http://c795631.r31.cf2.rackcdn.com/james_brother_of_jesus_the_forgery_trial_of_the_century.pdf
 
Wed, March 21, 2012 | link          Comments

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Want to experience God’s guidance?
 
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 On the radio, a man, well respected in Christian circles, admitted praying and getting what he considered an answer from God.

He had asked for guidance as to what to do and it seemed to him that God wanted him to get funds to build a church. He needed $500k!

Something just didn’t seem to work out however!


Issues stopped the planning and the church was not built. Instead, they combined with a church that met on Saturdays, using the same facility on Sundays when the other church vacated it.

This turned out to be far better than the original plan!

How could a man of God, leading others, seem to get incorrect validation by God of the plans he asked God about?

This is a question most of us ask at one time or other!

I guess, we can never be really sure of our motives and actions.

Only God knows if we are really pure in heart and deed! Perhaps that’s why Jesus came, to show us true purity in thought and deed?

Reading Psalm 91 this morning I found it ended in encouraging words:

The Lord says, "I will save the one who loves me.
      I will keep him safe, because he trusts in me.
He will call out to me, and I will answer him.
      I will be with him in times of trouble.
      I will save him and honor him.
I will give him a long and full life.
      I will save him."

It’s not so much our purity, but our love of God and trust in God that protects us.

God will answer, but even if we hear incorrectly, that does not mean God isn’t there for us. He is our protector and shields us from the nastiness of evil.

When we read in proverbs 20,

The purposes of a man's heart are like deep water.
      But a man who has understanding brings them out.
Many claim to have love that never fails.
      But who can find a faithful man?
 Anyone who does what is right lives without blame.
      Blessed are his children after him.

We understand our intentions can be flawed, our faith is often flawed, but if we love and trust God and TRY to live right for God, he honors this trust we put in him.

It is not being perfect that is the answer, because God points out through the wisest man that ever lived that “No one can say, "I have kept my heart pure. I'm clean. I haven't sinned."

We just don’t have the ability to avoid sin altogether!

We do have the ability to love and trust God completely and he takes our attempts to do right and forms them into an eternal purpose that is right.

We can be sure that God says

He will call out to me, and I will answer him.
      I will be with him in times of trouble.
      I will save him and honor him.
I will give him a long and full life.
      I will save him."

We cannot determine how that saving will look like, it is God’s to determine.

The only surety we have is our knowing that we belong to God’s family into eternity and that he looks after us!

That’s a great consideration as we go out to take on our worldly duties today, isn’t it?
Tue, March 20, 2012 | link          Comments

Monday, March 19, 2012

Opening heaven?
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Heaven in Christianity is a place of eternal life.

A place that God and angels occupy and to which those who God selects (and who select themselves) go!

It is a place of joy and does not have the pain, suffering and negative qualities of this life. Those of us that believe, will get to live together in this place and on to the new Earth and the New Jerusalem.

Right now, we have little opportunity other than to investigate it and get small snippets of experiences, that show us a little of what it will be like!

Some even say that our experiences now, are the contrast that makes heaven so sweet when we get there.

One event in Jesus life is interesting in that it talks of an event where heaven is opened. It is found in Mark 1 (I am using the NIRV)

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee. John baptized him in the Jordan River. Jesus was coming up out of the water. Just then he saw heaven being torn open. He saw the Holy Spirit coming down on him like a dove. A voice spoke to him from heaven. It said, "You are my Son, and I love you. I am very pleased with you."

Notice in this statement that heaven was “torn” open. David Ulansey talks a lot about this in his paper in the Biblical Archeology Society.[1]

He says “The verb schizomenous (torn open) is unusual, as the image it evokes. At the precise beginning of Jesus’ career—the moment of his baptism—the heavens are ‘torn open.’

The heavens open in different events in the bible.

Generally without being “torn” open. See Ezekiel 1:1 where it says  On the fifth day of the fourth month, the heavens were opened. I saw visions of God.”

This opening is less violent as are some others. See Revelations 4:1 where John is invited into heaven gently  After this I looked, and there in front of me was a door standing open in heaven. I heard the voice I had heard before. It sounded like a trumpet. The voice said, "Come up here. I will show you what must happen after this."

David Ulansey also gives examples of . . .

Then he said to the disciples, "What I'm about to tell you is true. You will see heaven open. You will see the angels of God going up and coming down on the Son of Man."  John 1:51

and

"Look!" he said. "I see heaven open. The Son of Man is standing at God's right hand."  Acts 7:56

Here the opening is more orderly. In fact there is only one other occasion the heavens are torn apart and that is in Isaiah 64 and this time I use the NIV.

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
   that the mountains would tremble before you!
As when fire sets twigs ablaze
   and causes water to boil,
come down to make your name known to your enemies
   and cause the nations to quake before you!

Only Mark and Isaiah use the same word schizomenous to describe the event. The other gospels (which we consider written later than Mark and in some ways copied off Mark) do not.

Was Mark showing us this event was a landmark event and was he perhaps looking back to scripture to validate it?

Mark would have used the Greek Old Testament or Septuagint (he quotes from it a lot) and probably not the Hebrew Old Testament. So it is rather unlikely he was deliberately linking this event with Isaiah (although Holy Spirit could have done this for him).

It does however have similarities to Ezekiel in that both were on the banks of a river at the time the heavens were viewed and immediately afterwards both Jesus and Ezekiel hear a voice.

Ezekiel is lifted up by Holy Spirit and Holy Spirit descends on Jesus. This is the start of both men’s ministry.

 To the onlookers this would have suggested Jesus was a new type of Ezekiel. A prophet had come!

Now, there is another “tear” that occurs, this time at the end of Jesus life.

Here as he dies the temple curtain (a few inches thick and very large[60 to 80ft high]) “tears”. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. Mark 15:38

This is like parenthesis around Jesus life work, and shows the increasing involvement of Holy Spirit and God with men.

God is not willing for us to stand off to the side viewing him and his activities. He introduced Jesus to Earth to force us to have to decide about Him. Then Holy Spirit is totally involved in all aspects of Jesus’ life, from beginning to end and when Jesus dies, God tears open heaven for us.

Jesus work started when God tore open heaven and our work started when God tore down the barriers between God and men. In both cases God was opening to us more of himself.

This is good to know. What is more important is what we do with this! Each day as we trundle through our life events, we need to remember that heaven is open to us! We have the ability to see small parts of heaven through that tear in the fabric of space time.

Jesus says if we see him, we see Father God!

If we follow Jesus, Holy Spirit is with us and opens up heaven a little to our experience.

To experience heaven today, all we need do is totally immerse our self in God’s love and do as he guides us.

Now isn’t that a great thought for today?
Mon, March 19, 2012 | link          Comments


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Rift in Evil

By Ken X Briggs

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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?

 

 

 
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  • Published: September, 2010
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