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Friday, April 27, 2012

Is marriage dying?
  
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A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person. ~Mignon McLaughlin

Isn’t it rather shocking that the 2010 census of the U.S.A, shows that for the first time there are less than half the households having married couples in them. 48.4% to be exact are married!

Isn’t it interesting what our western countries legal focus on marriage (and taxation that goes with it) has done marriage in? Then add to that our free sex now that we have the pill, and our modern ability to avoid responsibility in the sexual act, and we have a regular melt down of commitment of people to each other and God.

Not being an expert, I can only surmise that perhaps the deepest reason why marriage is reducing is that we haven’t actually being marrying people when we have been performing that marriage ceremony over the last years.

How many married couples are willing to link themselves to God and each, under a covenant that cannot be broken?

Romance and love for each other has replaced the focus on the promises to God and each other that may not be broken. It has replaced the duty to love only the spouse, not others of the opposite sex in a sexual and romantic way. Girls and guys hop into bed outside of marriage far easier than any time in the past, without understanding the spiritual tsumani they are unleashing. Selfish desires seem to drive people in our culture. Honor and respect for God and others counts less now, doesn’t it?

Children and teens are abused so easily aren’t they?

Splitting a family destroys a young person’s life and is selfish! It steals a family from them and replaces it with distorted values that often conflict. Relativism gets born from that young person having to say both parents are okay, even when they do vastly different things and have differing morals! It’s so tough on those young people! Amazingly, some even make it past this and become true responsible people who love God and promise never to repeat their parents mistakes. Unfortunately, some also decide marriage is never to be undertaken since it obviously fails! Who taught them that!

Perhaps it is better for us to carefully consider marriage for what it is, that spiritual link between three people, two who will have physical attraction for each other and commit to living together forever on this earth, and God who oversees the covenant. We should be writing into our prenuptials that divorce will never be an option and the other party can have everything we own and have, if we go down that path! Marriage is serious folk! Not a pleasure play!

A reminder on Old testament covenants. In those time an animal or two was split down the middle and the two halves laid out either side of a path. Then those promising, walked between the dismembered animal parts and gave authority to the God or a person enforcing the covenant, that they could be treated likewise of they broke it.

Marriage is a covenant folk!

Why? Because that’s the level of commitment we need going in! Marriage results in children (generally) and the life of another to be formed from fresh innocence is not to be abused. God will take retribution on those who hurt innocent children. Either in this life or the life to come! Forgiveness does not reduce the payment to exacted! Accepting Jesus merely moves that payment from our own responsibility into God’s himself. What a loving God!

That said, God wants marriage to be spiritually sound. We can do this, even if it is difficult because God himself will help us. The first principle is to get married only as Christians. A non-Christian marrying a Christian is asking for failure! There is no spiritual basis and no covenant! There is in fact, no marriage in Christian terms. A state driven marriage is just another contract. Like the one you have for a cell phone. In the West it seems to last almost as long! What a sad situation!

Our children need love and parents that guide them into wisdom, knowledge and spiritual awareness. Not just that scientific, arts and work skills stuff!

True God fearing, loving parents, that stay together, give each child the best potential in life. This generates a child who will probably also respect the marriage instituted by God.

Those statistics are okay, if it means the marriages they represent are more spiritually binding and God focussed. If not, they are a sad reflection of a slippery slope of our western society.

Join with me today in praying for more Godly, Christ centric, marriages. Marriages that last and bless children and our society.
Fri, April 27, 2012 | link          Comments

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mary Magdalene, apostle or prostitute?
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 Assumptions! We make so many assumptions every day to help us get on with our lives without having to think too much. Scripts that are written into our minds. Assumptions that help us apply what we consider truths, accepted from our pasts, and which we apply to our current circumstances.

Many of these scripts and assumptions. provide us with the context of our social and our cultures mode of operation. They help us live well with each other!

Stereotype behaviour often arises from scripts. For example, when we say we are going to the doctor, in many cultures it is an assumption that the person will be male. That is not necessarily true in many other cultures. 

An even more social script, gets evoked each day as we dress in the morning. What we select to put on and the order we do it, is very culturally dependant! Yet we do it almost without thinking don’t we? That is, unless we happen to be in another cultural setting at the time!

Why am I discussing this?

Well, I came across an interesting cultural difference between the Eastern and Western churches view of who Mary Magdalene is.

 Many people in western churches assume she is the woman who washed Jesus feet described as in Luke 7:37-38

There was a woman in that town who had lived a sinful life. She learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house. So she came with a special sealed jar of perfume. She stood behind Jesus and cried at his feet. She began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair. She kissed them and poured perfume on them.[1]

This is interesting because the bible never actually says she was!

All it says is that it was “a woman in that town who had lived a sinful life”. The idea that she was Magdalene, was first put forward by Pope Gregory the Great. His sermon on Luke's gospel in September 591 A.D. suggested this. He had no real facts to back up this supposition and to date no more have come to light!

Hmmm! An assumption? Maybe a bad one…

Now we do know that the bible also says of Mary Magdalene that . . .

Jesus rose from the dead early on the first day of the week. He appeared first to Mary Magdalene. He had driven seven demons out of her.[2]

And also . . .

So were some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses. One was Mary Magdalene. Seven demons had come out of her.[3]

Perhaps that is why the western church assumes these were the same woman?

Yet the references to Mary Magdalene other than these, paint a very different picture of the importance of this lady.

Matthew 27:56 Mary Magdalene was among them. Mary, the mother of James and Joses, was also there. So was the mother of Zebedee's sons speaks of her being at the crucifixion. John 19:25 corroborated this. She stayed until he died, see Mark 15:39-41. Then she followed the body until it was placed in the tomb, see Mark 15:47.

Matthew 27:61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there across from the tomb. discusses her being at Jesus’ tomb as does Matthew 28:1

Mark 16 describes how she brought spices later to the tomb and then it says Mark 16:9 Jesus rose from the dead early on the first day of the week. He appeared first to Mary Magdalene. He had driven seven demons out of her showing Jesus knew her very well, as well as any of the disciples. He chose to reveal his resurrected state to her, before anyone else! John 20 supports this!

Then she was among the women who tried to convince the eleven disciples that Jesus was alive, see Luke 24:10.

This is why the Eastern Christians of the more orthodox persuasions actually see her as a saint and esteem her almost as an apostle.

The Vatican in 1969 quietly corrected the former pope, by separating Luke's sinful woman, Mary of Bethany, and Mary Magdalene via the Roman Missal. The damage was done however, and so to today, many people assume the two were one and the same.

I was one of these until a day or two ago!

Perhaps the great lesson in this, is that we need to be careful and inspect our cultural and traditional assumptions from time to time. Courage to face our commonly held “truths” and honestly evaluate what backs them up, enables us to move forward in our lives.

I love that God wants us to use our minds. Mark 12:30 says "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your mind and with all your strength.'"

We are to be mindful of the truths of God. That means thinking about them and about what we believe and do!

Let us enjoy our day doing just that! Have a good one!



[1] Luke 7:37-38 NIRV
[2] Mark 16:9 NIRV
[3] Luke 8:2 NIRV
Thu, April 26, 2012 | link          Comments

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

How do we understand “Sixty two 'sevens'”?
   
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Prophecy of the past is interesting when it comes true, as it adds credibility to the person who gave the prophecy.

One of the most interesting is that in that ancient writing of Daniel the prophet, when he says. . .

Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. He instructed me and said to me, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, a word went out, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the word and understand the vision:

 “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place

  “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.[1]

So when was this written (approximately)?



To understand that we need to go to that other Old Testament book, Nehemiah 2:1-8 to find out when the rebuilding of the ancient Jewish temple would occur. This says . . . Wine was brought in for King Artaxerxes. It was the month of Nisan in the 20th year of his rule[2]

Now Artaxerxes ruled in Persia from about 464 to about 424 BC. We know this was Nisan, around the end of the month of February and the beginning of the month of March 444B.. and it was then, that Nehemiah was given authority to start rebuilding the temple that Nebuchanezzah had destroyed around 587BC.

Okay, so Daniel says “From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ “

Sixty two sevens suggest sixty two weeks which might have been the direct interpretation at the time, but we know now it was more likely 62 x 7 or 434 years. The seven sevens would be another 49 years so the total is 483 years.

So 444BC plus 483years gives us about 39 years A.D. if we take the modern year of 365 days, or if we take the jewish year of the time of 360 days a year, it is 483 x 360 = 173880 days which calculated out gives us about 33 years A.D.

This suggests what is stated in the message occurs somewhere between 33 and 39A.D.

The exact time Daniel wrote is not known and can only be estimated from what he said, and the happenings at the time.

Daniel goes onto say. . . After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing.

We understand Jesus was the Anointed One, and that this prophecy predicted his death accurately.

More than that, Daniel goes onto say. . .

The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.

The Jewish temple was destroyed in A.D. 70 by the Roman Emperor Titus. It has never been rebuilt!

There were many uprisings and wars that followed, and if we consider the strife in that area right now, it seems like they are still happening.

Isn’t it interesting?

I guess the key aspect we get from this is Daniel was favoured by God and wrote accurately. He wrote many predictions of Jesus!

If these are true, is begs the question of what our relationship with the God Daniel was writing about is.

I know God is my protector and guide in this life.

Is he yours?


[1] Daniel 9:20-27
[2] Nehemiah 2:1
Wed, April 25, 2012 | link          Comments

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ever considered why those old times prophets searched so carefully for truth?
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Freedom is wonderful!


Ask anyone who has been deprived of freedom and you will get an overwhelming agreement that freedom is to be desired above all else.


Are we free?


Sometimes we think we are, but often we let life entwine us in complexities, cares and troubles, changing our attitude and motivation, and locking our minds into misery and self pity.

Often, the mere act of switching our mind and motivation, is the difference between freedom and that captivity those dark emotions.

Physical freedom is one aspect of freedom, but this freedom, God sometimes removes so that we can move from spiritual captivity to spiritual freedom.

We can be physically free and yet horribly locked into a spiritual, mental and emotional hell. Thoughts and our behaviours can torture us to the point we drive ourselves past the beauty in life, and fail to even notice it is there. We damage relationships with others, despite the fact they love us and we should be loving them. We race past opportunities to be captured by the hell goals of wealth, future pleasure and other forms of false fortune.

Then...when our everyday excesses and pleasures are removed, we focus on what is important in life, don’t we? Illness is often one simple way our freedom is limited for a while, to focus us on spiritual truths and freedoms. God does not  easily have us taken into slavery, but uses more immediate and personal tools to limit our freedom. Does this limitation change us?

Consider how much time we spend focusing on our comforts and needs each week!

 
Now consider how much time we spend improving the world in one way or another.

When we weigh these against each other which  wins? Honesty says for me it is more of the former than the latter, and I really do try to focus on the latter. A lot of time is spent trying to help others gain salvation, freedom and truth, and make their lives successful.  Yet even so, I have to continually remind myself that everything we do needs to be focussed on serving God (and often I screw up and forget that, in the strain to earn the money that makes life go on).

Then I think of those prophets of old! Great men!



What drove them to do what they did, dedicating their lives and existence to God.



They risked their lives daily for God and lived. Really lived!

Peter that guy who Jesus chose to lead that first church says this about the search of the prophets for salvation:

The prophets searched very hard and with great care to find out about that salvation. They spoke about the grace that was going to come to you. They wanted to find out when that salvation would come. The Spirit of Christ in them was telling them about the sufferings of Christ that were going to come. He was also telling them about the glory that would follow.  

It was made known to the prophets that they were not serving themselves. Instead, they were serving you when they spoke about the things that you have now heard. Those who have preached the good news to you have told you those things. They have done it with the help of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into those things.

Serving us!

 Those ancient men were dedicating their lives to serving people, including ourselves, so that we would know truth and be set free!

They were freedom fighters!  Spiritual freedom fighters!

That’s what we need to be, spiritual freedom fighters! We need to pick up that sword of the Spirit and do great things in the spiritual world. If you have seen the movie “Braveheart” with Mel Gibbson you will understand the use of a sword in days of old. It is not by chance that God chose to describe his Word as a sword. It inflicts spiritual damage on those spirits who would remove our freedom and take away truth from us.

Yet, it requires us to take up that sword like those prophets of old. We need to have it alongside us every moment of every day. We sleep with it, work with it, and even play with it alongside us.

Then as Peter says;

Because you know this, you have great joy. You have joy even though you may have had to suffer for a little while. You may have had to suffer sadness in all kinds of trouble.

 Your troubles have come in order to prove that your faith is real. It is worth more than gold. Gold can pass away even though fire has made it pure. Your faith is meant to bring praise, honor and glory to God. That will happen when Jesus Christ returns.

 Even though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not see him now, you believe in him. You are filled with a glorious joy that can't be put into words. You are receiving the salvation of your souls. It is the result of your faith.[1]

Troubles can come, but they cannot remove our freedom! We win against apparently insurmountable foes. We know that as freedom fighters we are on the side of the God almighty who wields the greatest power in the universe, and yet chooses us to be his warriors.

 Today as we face the world, let’s do it with integrity, strength and knowledge of salvation, built in strength by our faith. Let’s take out the evil we encounter, and destroy it with the love of God!

Have a victorious day! You can do it!



[1] 1 Peter 1 NIRV
Tue, April 24, 2012 | link          Comments

Monday, April 23, 2012

We cannot have grace and pride!

 
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  If grace is the giving of favor where it is not earned, the mercy found when none can be expected, the kind pleasant response to passive, unpleasant or failed relationship interactions, it is something that seems to be getting less and less popular in our modern world isn’t it?

Is this perhaps because we are more focussed on what we can get, than give? In this world of pleasuring myself is it only grace received that is important, not grace given?

Do we perhaps have too high a view of our own importance and superiority?

Do we take great pleasure in our position and the way it puffs us up in public view?

This is pride!

Pride focusses on us getting what we have worked for and owing nobody anything! 

Pride is when we are our own god and making sure that I get what I want.

Pride is being judgemental, looking for praise and wanting to be judged better than others.

Pride is also not owning up to faults! This itself seems to be becoming a national trait that everyone is projecting and promoting. Think of the character "Gibbs" in the NCIS TV series for a pride filled person projected as a good character. So many in the public agree and reward this show by watching it continually. Again perhaps subconciously absorbing this false value system!

Maybe it is sometimes rejection and fear of lacking missing out in life that drives pride!

Perhaps the insecurity of trusting a God who may know more than ourselves erodes our ability to respond correctly to God. Once our faith is eroded it pulls us into this self-worship! Then the self-worship erodes our faith further!

Once we are in this circular maze, we run headlong racing through the passages and intricate paths of our lives, looking and looking for what we perhaps have already seen, but do not recognize. We past in such a hurry on our self-generated haste to get to nowhere in particular.

Where is our life actially heading? What is the final destination? Why are we chasing death with such passion?

Grace on the other had is the way to escape that confining maze of pride!

It is acceptance that God is greater than ourselves! We do not have to be center stage. It is knowing we are already comfortable with God loving us and caring for us!

It is knowing that our purpose is worked out in infinite detail!

Grace is knowing the maze is not circular and that we are moving forward with purpose. It is knowing it is not our design or strength that enables the progress. We deserve nothing but have received so much! We owe rather than are owed!

 Grace is accepting that God’s forgiveness is more important than our own efforts.

Grace is coming alongside others as a friend and helper, where we push together on the loads that we need to move in life.

Grace is understanding that leading is actual a great sacrifice of serving!

Grace is thankfulness that we can receive, despite being unworthy to receive.

Grace is giving without expecting reward or returns from the gift. It is giving because others need and not because it increases ourselves in some way. It is picking up the downhearted, encouraging when there seems no way out. It is building others up even when the rest of the people around them have given up and rejected them!

Grace is extremely powerful!
It is a major attribute of God that blesses us and those around us.

James, (perhaps Jesus brother) quoted the following;

"God opposes those who are proud.
      But he gives grace to those who are not." from proverbs 3:34.

In proverbs itself this is described more directly as. . .

He laughs at proud people who make fun of others.
      But he gives grace to those who are not proud.
Wise people receive honor.
      But the Lord puts foolish people to shame.

 Today as we work, live and play, let’s try to do it with grace! Let us understand it is God’s grace that enables our lives, leads our lives, and gives us the talents to do what we need to do in our daily life.

The love of God powers God’s grace to us.

Our love of God should empower our grace towards others.

Let us go and have a grace filled day!
Mon, April 23, 2012 | 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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