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Friday, April 13, 2012

Why tell a story with meaning?
reading.jpg
 
 
Don’t we love to hear stories with meaning?


Nothing captures our interest like a simple word picture that touches us emotionally and intellectually at the same time.


Communication is about the movement of meaning from one to others, and that does not always require the most direct path to be taken.

Consider this story;

"Two men lived in the same town. One was rich. The other was poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle. But all the poor man had was one little female lamb. He had bought it. He raised it. It grew up with him and his children. It shared his food. It drank from his cup. It even slept in his arms. It was just like a daughter to him.

 "One day a traveler came to the rich man. The rich man wanted to prepare a meal for him. But he didn't want to kill one of his own sheep or cattle. Instead, he took the little female lamb that belonged to the poor man. Then he cooked it for the traveler who had come to him."[1]

It generates indignation at the behaviour of rich man’s doesn’t it?

It seems like it is a story with a purpose, but the purpose is hidden from the listener, other than the immediate experience and understanding of the injustice.

These are highlighted, and even without understanding the meaning, we know this!

If we read 2 Samuel 11& 12 we get the full story. It is about David and Bathsheba. How King David abuses his authority to get a subject put into the thick of battle to be killed, so he can take the man's beautiful wife as his own.

Nasty behaviour right? God thought so as well!

He sent this prophet Nathan to tell David. The way Nathan did this, was by means of the story above.

Smart wasn’t it?

Listen how David reacts on hearing this. . . David burned with anger against the rich man. He said to Nathan, "The man who did that is worthy of death. And that's just as sure as the Lord is alive. The man must pay back four times as much as that lamb was worth. How could he do such a thing? And he wasn't even sorry he had done it."

Consider how this story has got the meaning across to David without him even knowing it has happened!
 
Imagine if Nathan had tried to tell him directly how badly he had behaved by having sex with Bathsheba, and killing her husband. Perhaps if he had tried this direct approach, David’s anger would have been directed at Nathan, instead of himself.

As it is, Nathan follows up on David’s anger by saying;

"You are the man! The Lord, the God of Israel, says, 'I anointed you king over Israel. I saved you from Saul's powerful hand. I gave you everything that belonged to your master Saul. I even put his wives into your arms. I made you king over the people of Israel and Judah. And if all of that had not been enough for you, I would have given you even more.

  " 'Why did you turn your back on what I told you to do? You did what is evil in my sight. You made sure that Uriah, the Hittite, would be killed in battle. You took his wife to be your own. You let the men of Ammon kill him with their swords.

  " 'So time after time members of your own royal house will be killed with swords. That's because you turned your back on me. You took the wife of Uriah, the Hittite, to be your own.'

 "The Lord also says, 'I am going to bring trouble on you. It will come from your own family. I will take your wives away. Your own eyes will see it. I will give your wives to a man who is close to you. He will have sex with them in the middle of the day. You committed your sins in secret. But I will make sure that the sin the man commits with your wives will take place in the middle of the day. Everyone in Israel will see it.' "

The reaction of David?

Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

Parables help us understand things at a deeper level that direct instruction.
 
They don’t need to be long to get their point across either.

So what is the purpose of this for today? Here’s a parable with a message we can apply to ourselves and our relationship with God today.

Jesus asks. . .(and I have modernized it)

"Two people owed money to a certain lender. One owed him half a million dollars. The other owed him 500 dollars. Neither of them had the money to pay him back. So he let them go without paying. Which of them will love him more?"[2]

Notice the lender loved each equally, it’s the debtors who love differently!

Think about that today, how it applies to us,  and see the answer to this parable and why it was told, in Luke 7.

Have a wonderful day!


[1] 2 Samuel 12 NIRV
[2] Luke 7:40-43 NIRV
Fri, April 13, 2012 | link          Comments

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Lost sacrifice . . .
"Sacrifice, which is the passion of great souls, has never been the law of societies."
Henri Frederic Amiel

jAr_perfume.jpg
 
 
Yesterday in the business world, a group of project managers of high cost information technology projects were discussing how things have changed in the consulting world in the last 20 years.

 
It seems like the average consultants skills have distorted and warped.

 Where before responsibility, truth and integrity were part of the key skills evidenced by this group, now self-preservation and myopic focus on selfish work practices abound.

 So much so, that a room full of a project managers with a collective experience of over 100 years of project management, all agreed that their skill set now included having to find ways to assist people who simply lied to us and provided false promises, to do this LESS of the time.

 
Wow!

 
Where are we going?

 Where is the ability to sacrifice for the absolute truth in the world? Where is the integrity of putting truth above one’s own selfish desires?

 I guess the real reason for this demise is that absolute truth is so struck down by relativistic statements. Then schools never teach kids they mean what they say for fear of parent’s retribution. This means that we have raised in the West, young people who find the adaptation to a business world, where you do get into trouble for failing to deliver, hard to accommodate.

 

The world teaches sacrifice is no longer necessary!

 I know that we no longer offer animals to God, or god’s, in the West, but there is still a need to put the universal good and truth ahead of our own agenda isn’t there?

 Perhaps the problem is the lack of ability to understand what the universal good is?

 As Christians, we know from Jesus’ teachings and the guidelines in the bible what God considers universal truths. This gives us a way to cut through the falsehoods and ambiguity in our world rapidly, with less stress that those poor individuals who try to understand from their “inner” conscience what “truth” is.

 Can we ever know truth from “inner” conscience? 

 I doubt it!

 We as people are inherently self-focussed and a child without teaching never develops adequately. How do we think that as the human race we can drive this amazingly complex universe without guidance from the maker?

 I often wonder if what we are living within, is what Daniel 12:11 describes. . ..
"The daily sacrifices will be stopped. And the hated thing that destroys will be set up. After that, there will be 1,290 days.[1]

 He also says just prior to that . . . Many people will be made pure in the fire. They will be made spotless. But sinful people will continue to be evil. Not one sinful person will understand. But those who are wise will.

 Jesus provides Holy Spirit to us as Christians. Paul encourages us. . .
Brothers and sisters, God has shown you his mercy. So I am asking you to offer up your bodies to him while you are still alive. Your bodies are a holy sacrifice that is pleasing to God. When you offer your bodies to God, you are worshiping him.[2]

 Then Peter says. . .
You also are like living stones. As you come to him you are being built into a house for worship. There you will be holy priests. You will offer spiritual sacrifices. God will accept them because of what Jesus Christ has done.[3]

 Peter explains we are to offer sacrifices to God, who accepts them because of Jesus.

 Jesus makes our sacrifices acceptable to honor God. Our selfless compliance to God’s guidelines supervised by the fire of Holy Spirit in our lives, releases within us an eternal value that supersedes the moment in which we live, enabling eternal value to the actions of our lives.

 We live in more than the immediate here and now!

 We live in eternity at the same time, even if it is not immediately apparent!

 The glory of our daily actions and sacrifice billow out into the landscape of heavenly places and make even more beautiful a place that has surpassing beauty.

 That simple submission to truth and humble acceptance of right living that may be difficult to do unselfishly now, immediately ripples into eternity with extreme value.

 How wonderful it would be, to be able to show those who fail to sacrifice on their daily lives, the value of this gift!

 Amazingly, Godly sacrifices not only benefit us in the hereafter, but they even bless us now!

 Honest attempts to help people at our own expense, to be responsible and to live up to our promises, builds trust in us ourselves, blessing us immediately.

 Consider this. . . generally an untrustworthy man will still want to employ a trustworthy employee over an untrustworthy one, right? Why? He wants to be certain he gets what he pays for doesn’t he?

 Does this mean being trustworthy makes us more employable?

 Consider also this, suppose a person promises us something, and then later does not do it or retracts the promise once we have built upon that promise. We may forgive them, but will we completely trust a similar promise from them in the future?

 
Not likely!

 This again benefits those of us who do what we say!

 Our value in the immediate world goes up as we sacrifice ourselves and stay true to our word and as our actions follow . . .God’s guidelines!

 Today, I plan to be sacrificial in my love of others, sticking to responding the way God would as far as humanly possible, even when it hurts a little to do so.

 How about we all do this?

 Think of the changes it could make to our world!



[1] Daniel 12:11 NIRV
[2] Romans 12:1-3 NIRV
[3] 1 Peter 2:5 NIRV
Thu, April 12, 2012 | link          Comments

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Why is Isaiah so important?
 IsaiahScroll.jpg

"The knowledge of the causal power of thought is the basis of all their (Hebrew) prophecies, as it is the basis of all real wisdom and power." 
James Allen





This last week I noticed Google has provided the full Great Isaiah scroll online at www.googleartproject.com, from the Israeli museum. 



The amazing aspect of this scroll is that the Great Isaiah scroll from Qumran (part of the dead sea scrolls) is the largest and best preserved of all the biblical scrolls. It is almost completely preserved and now it’s available online.

Why did God want us to be sure to have an ancient copy of this text?



One reason is that many people were trying to make out that the texts we do have from later years, were not accurate reproductions of the ancient text. Finding this scroll proved the opposite!

That is probably one reason, but what is amazing is how much this book is quoted in the New Testament!

For example Isaiah 6:9-10

9 So he said, "Go and speak to these people. Tell them, 
   " 'You will hear but never understand. 
      You will see but never know what you are seeing.'
 10 Make the hearts of these people stubborn.
      Plug up their ears.
      Close their eyes.
   Otherwise they might see with their eyes.
      They might hear with their ears.
      They might understand with their hearts.
   And they might turn to me and be healed."
[1]

is found referred to in Matthew 13:14; Mark 4:12; and Acts 28:26. Luke 8:10 and John 12:40.

Then the references to Immanuel, in the New Testament, point back to Isaiah 7:14 and 8:8[2]


The Eunuch reading Isaiah 53:7-8 is helped out by Philip, who explains it’s relevance, see Acts 8:26–39. He explained it referred to Jesus!

7 He was beaten down and made to suffer. 
      But he didn't open his mouth.
   He was led away like a sheep to be killed.
      Lambs are silent while their wool is being cut off.
      In the same way, he didn't open his mouth.

 8
He was arrested and sentenced to death.
      Then he was taken away.
      He was cut off from this life.
   He was punished for the sins of my people.
      Who among those who were living at that time
      could have understood those things?[3]

Then Isaiah 53:1 which says

Who has believed what we've been saying?
      Who has seen the Lord's saving power?[4]

Is somewhat quoted in John 12:38–40 and Romans 10:16-18, although in a more dispersed way.

More than that, the book of Isaiah contains beautiful references written to specifically refer to Jesus.

How fantastic is this description?

His servant grew up like a tender young plant.
      He grew like a root coming up out of dry ground.
   He didn't have any beauty or majesty that made us notice him.
      There wasn't anything special about the way he looked that drew us to him.
 

 3
Men looked down on him. They didn't accept him.
      He knew all about sorrow and suffering.
   He was like someone people turn their faces away from.
      We looked down on him. We didn't have any respect for him.
 

 4
He suffered the things we should have suffered.
      He took on himself the pain that should have been ours.
   But we thought God was punishing him.
      We thought God was wounding him and making him suffer.
 

 5
But the servant was pierced because we had sinned.
      He was crushed because we had done what was evil.
   He was punished to make us whole again.
      His wounds have healed us.
 

 6
All of us are like sheep. We have wandered away from God.
      All of us have turned to our own way.
   And the Lord has placed on his servant
      the sins of all of us
.

What does that mean for you and I in this 21st century?

This was written a long time ago and the oldest scroll we have is 125 B.C. so what possible application can it have today?

Consider the effort it takes to keep preserved, a piece of scroll easily burned, crushed, distorted and powederised. Consider that God drew our attention to Isaiah 53 for a specific reason, to show that his Son was fulfilling this great prophecy!

God wanted us to know without argument that Jesus was a fulfillment of ancient prophecies, so that today we can believe his message of love and truth.

This means God wants us to read the Old Testament, as well as the New Testament! Those sacred writing are not just for Jews and historians, they are for us as well!

Today as you consider reading something, how about taking a good hard look at Isaiah 53.

It is amazing!


[1] Isaiah 6:9-10 NIRV
[2] Isaiah 7:14 and 8:8 NIRV
[3] Isaiah 53:7-8 NIRV
[4] Isaiah 53:1 NIRV
Wed, April 11, 2012 | link          Comments

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

From food to fitness. . .

Overeating.jpg


 
  We eat so much we will live ten years LESS than our parents, according to common statistics mention on a TED video regarding our current food eating practices.[1]

This Easter weekend is a weekend where many western people gorge themselves on food, drink and desserts.

In the Jewish community we have a Seder or Passover meal in which there is lamb, rich food, plenty of wine and the meal takes about two to three hours in duration.

In the Christian community the meals differ and somehow we have fallen into this crazy ritual of giving of chocolate in the form of Easter eggs (what the Christian significance of that is, is rather dubious). In the west ham has become part of the Easter tradition (despite Jesus not eating Pork), then there are hot crossed buns that according to tradition became popular because in England spiced buns were only permitted on Good Friday by law, at some time in the past.

In Russia the Easter bread is kulich, which has a tall narrow shape and contains sugar, candied peel, almonds, raisins, saffron with an iced top decorated with Cyrillic letters standing for 'Christ is risen'.

Food is part of our festivals and we enjoy it during this time!

However, in the past this was only for a short time and then people went back to their grains and vegetables, the major source of sustenance for the next major part of the year.

Today however, with the opulence in the West, we hardly reduce our consumption. We continue to eat! Lovingly, we swallow back plenty of fast food and do limited, to no exercise, and do very little cooking for ourselves.

As a side issue, have you noticed how “fast” and “fats” use the same letters and both describe the modern food convenience?

The bible says our bodies are to be living sacrifices to God. . .

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.[2]

If we are a living sacrifice, then we should be healthy sacrifices shouldn't we.

Who wants to offer a poor quality sacrifice, except a person who can do nothing else, or someone who is abusing God?

Are we abusing God?

Now I know, we all consider this sacrifice to be only spiritual in nature, but Paul says offer “your bodies”, not our “souls” or “spirits”. He is expecting us to give our bodies, over to God to use in his service.

This means we want to provide a functioning body to God.

An over weight, food bulged body, has less capability that a normal, healthy body. In addition, it appears, by giving God a body that eats all the fats, salt and meats, of this current American food culture, we strip away ten years of life that God can use, if we more faithful.

That would be ten additional years of service to God if we look after our bodies.

Notice how Timothy says;

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. [3]

While spiritual training is ultimately of value, physical training is of SOME value. There is value in training our bodies. Exercise is of value!

Where does this leave us?

Over Easter, the emergency rooms have people coming in with heart attacks, diabetes and other food related illnesses. Many people will die unnaturally young, because of these diseases, that come through a lifestyle of incorrect eating and lack of exercise.

Depression impacts so many of us, simply because the natural remedy of sunshine and exercise daily is not prescribed by doctors anymore, because they themselves don’t understand its value.

We as Christians, need to understand that if our bodies are given to us for a time on this earth by God, to enable us to do God’s work, we need to take care of them correctly. Not love them to death!

We need to get daily exercise, we need to increase our fresh fruit, grains and vegetables intake and reduce the fats and meat. Some, on special occasions, such as weekends and festivals is great, but we don’t need meat every day, and fats can be significantly cut down if we are to live healthily.

Commercial foods that force feeds us fats, sugars and salts, load us with meat products (with almost more antibiotics in it than we ourselves take over time) and which drains our life, while weighing us down and killing us early, should be used sparingly.
 
Teaching our children to cook healthy foods most of the time and eat out only once or twice in a week is the path to freedom and doing God’s will in this life.

Can we honestly say we eat correctly or even know how to?

Are we blindly, following our taste buds into living hell that starts to appear as time goes on?

How do we measure up in looking after God’s body that he has lent us for a few years? Will we be able to say we use it correctly, or we abused it?

Let’s make a change today! Let’s start to eat well and get our daily dose of exercise and sunshine.

We may find we enjoy it?


[1] http://www.ted.com/
[2] Romans 12:1 NIV
[3] 1 Timothy 4:8 NIV
Tue, April 10, 2012 | link          Comments

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter
Happy Easter
愉快的复活节
复活节快乐
gëzuar Pashkët
عيد فصح سعيد
Շնորհավոր Զատիկ
xoşbəxt easter
zoriontsu easter
Хрыстос уваскрос
শুভ ইষ্টার
Великденски
Bones Pasqües
sretan Uskrs
Veselé Velikonoce
God påske
Maligayang Pasko ng Pagkabuhay
Hyvää Pääsiäistä
Joyeuses Pâques
Pascua feliz
ბედნიერი აღდგომა
Frohe Ostern
Καλό Πάσχα
ખુશ ઇસ્ટર
kontan Pak
חג פסחא שמח
हैप्पी ईस्टर
Gleðilega páska
Selamat Hari Paskah
Cásca sásta
Buona Pasqua
ハッピーイースター
ಸಂತೋಷ ಈಸ್ಟರ್
행복한 부활절
felix pascha
Priecīgas Lieldienas
Linksmų Velykų
среќен Велигден
selamat hari Paskah
God påske
عید پاک مبارک
Wesołych Świąt
páscoa feliz
Paşte fericit
Христос воскрес
Срећан Ускрс
veselé Velikonoce
Vesela Velika noč
¡Felices Pascuas
furaha ya Pasaka
glad påsk
சந்தோஷமாக ஈஸ்டர்
సంతోషంగా ఈస్టర్
สุขสันต์วันอีสเตอร์
Христос воскрес
خوش ایسٹر
hạnh phúc Phục Sinh
Pasg hapus
גליקלעך יסטער
Sun, April 8, 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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