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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Finding direction for aimless living
 
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 If life is a journey with death the destination, enjoying the journey seems to be important doesn’t it?

The question that arises is how we enjoy this journey!

What helps us gain the skills to properly understand the events around us and decipher their importance to our lives.

Why do we exist at all?

Birth is the start of our life journey, but is not the origin of our life. We all come from our fathers and mothers (today at least...in the future some may be developed in Petri dishes).

Knowledge of ourselves doesn’t even start at birth, for none of us can remember even that (probably just as well!)

Our first childhood memories should be of being loved and cared for. Most of us had some years of this at least. Then we grow a little and we start to test boundaries and find out not everything goes our way.

Sometimes life hurts!

Yet we know there is a purpose to our life! An ultimate purpose! There must be something, we reason, since otherwise life is meaningless.

Solomon one of the world’s greatest minds set about searching for the meaning of life. He starts at the point where everyone that starts this journey starts. Here are his first words from Ecclesiastes, from the first chapter in the book we believe was written or directed to be written by him.

These are the words of the Teacher. He was the son of David. He was also king in Jerusalem.
 “Meaningless! Everything is meaningless!”says the Teacher.
“Everything is completely meaningless!    Nothing has any meaning.”

 He starts as a person without understanding, on the path of life. He then investigates many different aspects of this meaningless activity we call life, to find a purpose. Experimentation is how many learn, so he experiments with different aspects of life.

He says this “Come on. I’ll put pleasure to the test. I want to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless “Laughter is foolish,” I said. “And what can pleasure do for me?”

Trying to experiment further he says..

I tried cheering myself up by drinking wine. I even tried living in a foolish way. But wisdom was still guiding my mind. I wanted to see what was really important for men to do on earth during the few days of their lives.

He tests out drinking alcohol and drinks too much, but finds it pulls one down. So instead he starts to try and make a name for himself. He strives to control others (like many businessmen and politicians today).

In his day you could have considerable control over others and a king had absolute control.

What did he do?

He says...

So I started some large projects. I built houses for myself. I planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks. I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made lakes to water groves of healthy trees.

 I bought male and female slaves. And I had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem ever had before. I stored up silver and gold for myself. I gathered up the treasures of kings and their kingdoms. I got some male and female singers. I also got many women for myself. Women delight the hearts of men.

Surely this gave him purpose?

At the conclusion of this activity he sums it up with the following statements...

I gave myself everything my eyes wanted.
    There wasn’t any pleasure that I refused to give myself.
I took delight in everything I did.
    And that was what I got for all of my work.
But then I looked over everything my hands had done.
    I saw what I had worked so hard to get.
And nothing had any meaning.

 The experience of those who reach the top of their chosen activity (e.g. Olympic champions) is often to ask where we go from there, and if not answered correctly, we have the same experience as Solomon. It’s all meaningless!

He looks at the different ways people fill their time in life.

Sparknotes
[1] webpage explains the way he does this as follows

 “He notes that just as there is time for each good thing in life, such as birth or love, there is always a time for its opposite, such as death or hate. It is often hard for mortal humans to understand the difference between wickedness and justice, but God distinguishes between the two. The Teacher notes that human labor is marked by competition, envy, and oppression. The Teacher praises the virtues of human cooperation, noting the advantages that a team of two or three individuals has over one person alone.”

So it appears there are better ways to walk the path of life. Some things are better than others and we can discern what some of these are. Within Solomon’s life the first glimmer of true purpose starts to form. We see he is evaluating how God views life to determine what is the better course.

We need to do the same don’t we?

 Yet everyone dies, whether we are good or evil! So what is the difference in the end? Solomon decides “So man should enjoy his work.” This is good advice. If we don’t enjoy what we do each day, let’s find something else to do!

He discovers it is better to have two people together than be lonely. He advises we make friends as well!

He states

“God has already planned what now exists.
    He has already decided what man is.
A man can’t argue with the One
    who is stronger than he is.
The more words people use,
    the less meaning there is.
    And that doesn’t help anyone.

  Solomon’s conclusion is that God is in control.

After all his evaluations he concludes...

Everything has now been heard.
    And here’s the final thing I want to say.
Have respect for God and obey his commandments.
    That’s what everyone should do.
God will judge everything people do.
    That includes everything they try to hide.
    He’ll judge everything, whether it’s good or evil.

 Following God’s guidelines for living is the only true way to live. Death is not the final stage of existence. After death God will judge everything. There will be nowhere to hide and we will stand and answer for our life. All of it! Everything we ever did! Full exposure!

Yet, Jesus who is also God came to earth to make sure he could support us. God so loved us that he came as Jesus to help us understand what true living was about. Jesus died so that he can stand with us at judgement and tell his father he has paid the price of all our mistakes.

The judgement will go well for us who live our lives following paths that Jesus has cleared. The paths we are guided along by Holy Spirit. That way everything we do has eternal instead of temporary value.

We have ultimate purpose for all the time we will exist.

Isn’t that great! Isn’t that pure direction and purpose of our life.

Let’s go and live with purpose today!
Thu, September 6, 2012 | link          Comments

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Some historical aspects of Baptism...why do we get baptised?

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   “Where did John’s baptism come from? Was it from heaven? Or did it come from men?”  ~ Jesus (NIRV)



Have you ever wondered where baptism originated before it became a Christian ceremony?


Let us find out...


Some investigation shows that the baptism started with ancient Hebrew people and the  bible guidelines they received. They seem to have had various reasons that they immersed in water;
  1. The day before special holy rituals (e.g. Festivals), and sometimes before the Shabbat,
  2.  Apparently if you converted to Judaism then you had to be immersed in water (in something called the mikveh)
  3. After a skin disease was healed (spiritually or otherwise)
  4. If you were a women you immersed in water after your monthly period, prior to resuming sexual relations,
  5. Men after having sex,
  6. If you wanted to use a pot or kitchen item made by a gentile, it had to be immersed in water first,
  7. After contact with a dead person, or creature.
     

That first few seemed to be relatively spiritual in nature and perhaps the others are also, but they also seem to have had practical aspects as well, don’t they?

Then, when getting immersed there seems to be a higher priority on getting immersed in “living water” which refers to flowing natural water , or the tub of water called the Mikveh (generally at the temple).

These ancient immersions were basically to maintain ritual purity for spiritual purposes of keeping oneself right for God.

On discovering this, we start to wonder about John’s baptism, which is known to have preceded  Christian baptism.

We know the bible says John's baptism was baptism related to repentance. It looked towards the time when the Messiah was to come, and was a commitment of people to repent and get ready for the kingdom of heaven.

Let’s see what acts says about this...

One day Jesus was eating with them. He gave them a command. “Do not leave Jerusalem,” he said. “Wait for the gift my Father promised. You have heard me talk about it. John baptized with water. But in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”[1]

Here is Jesus talking of baptism by Holy Spirit as being different than baptism with water that John did?

Is this perhaps another type of baptism? Seems like it doesn't it?

Then when Jesus says “Go into all the world. Preach the good news to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved.”[2] is he talking of a water or spiritual baptism? Its difficult to say isn't it?

When Jesus also says says “Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”[3] He doesn’t specify whther it's water or spiritual either, does he?

Confusing! Perhaps we need to understand the significance of baptism. The significance  is explained in the following verses...

When you were baptized, you were buried together with him. You were raised to life together with him by believing in God’s power. God raised Jesus from the dead[4] saying we are symbolically dying to the old self and rising renewed to live for Jesus from that point in our life onwards.  Yet again it does not say how, water or spiritual!

Hmmm! Where else does it speak of baptism?

Well,
Romans 6:4 says “By being baptized, we have been joined with him in his death. We will certainly also be joined with him in his resurrection” confirming the symbology of baptism that we have just learned.

Perhaps we can understand more by uinderstanding the conditions for baptism. These are given as follows,

Peter replied, “All of you must turn away from your sins and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then your sins will be forgiven. You will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children. It is also for all who are far away. It is for all whom the Lord our God will choose.”

This seems to mean baptism is for those of us who believe and repent, or turn away from wanting to sin. We also seem to need to believe Jesus is the son of God, the Christ. Now these words were said on Pentecost day(a very spiritual day) and it says they were baptised. Again we are not sure here whether it was spiritual or water baptism! It simply does not say!

Maybe to see whether water is involved we need to read what Peter, one of the guys who walked with Jesus , says...

Christ died for sins once and for all time. The One who did what is right died for those who don’t do right. He died to bring you to God. His body was put to death. But the Holy Spirit brought him back to life.

 By means of the Spirit, Christ went and preached to the spirits in prison. Long ago they did not obey. God was patient while Noah was building the ark. He waited, but only a few people went into the ark. A total of eight were saved by means of water.

The water of the flood is a picture of the baptism that now saves you also. The baptism I’m talking about has nothing to do with removing dirt from your body. Instead, it promises God that you will keep a clear sense of what is right and wrong.

Jesus Christ has saved you by rising from the dead. He has gone into heaven. He is at God’s right hand. Angels, authorities and powers are under his control.[5]

At last, we get to hear that water and baptism are linked. Water baptism and spiritual baptism are also linked. When we get baptised, we are publically proclaiming we are for Jesus, that he is our hero and guide, and that we want to follow God’s guidelines for our life. That is baptism!

But it is also more than this, baptism is a spiritual empowerment and renewal. God pours his Spirit into our lives in a new way and we experience Him more deeply after baptism.

Today, I am glad we investigated this ceremony. It is critical and central to our love of Jesus and doing what he wants us to do.

Have you been baptised? Dyou want to be?

If you have been baptised ...are you living in the truth of that baptism, or did you not believe before getting baptised? If you don’t believe, then baptism is void! Belief is a prerequisite!

Hey, have a great day as you contemplate this mystery!



[1] Acts 1:8 NIRV
[2] Mark 16:15-16 NIRV
[3] Mathew 28:19 NIRV
[4] Col 12:12 NIRV
[5] 1 peter 3:18-22 NIRV
Wed, September 5, 2012 | link          Comments

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Beauty of Godís creation
   
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“Nature in it’s abandonment reflect’s the brush of God in a splendour that man can only try to counterfeit”


There are many things we can enjoy in life, gifts if you will, that are not only there for function, but also for beauty!


To enjoy one of the simplest, the world around us, all that is needed is a trip outside the city and structures of man’s own creation, into the mysteries of the wild and the colors of the bush.

Some of the images below show some of those beauties don’t they? None of those images below depict creatures and environment created by the human hand, and yet they are amazing and wonderful to see aren’t they?

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  Genesis in the bible says God created these creatures and their surroundings! Mankind would have us develop them out of random forces that play a symphony of pressures leading to this amazing whole. However, when it is pointed out that the time is too great to allow for the development of these by random chance,  proud mankind simply indicates there must be such a large number of universes that the randomness is produced with our universe being the chanced correct version.

That’s what I call desperate measures to disprove God!

Perhaps it’s easier to believe God created and Genesis is true! Perhaps it’s more correct? Perhaps he used these forces of nature carefully, moulding each creature using a complexity and variability that no human mind could conceive of.

To argue this happened in such a symbiotic complex way, by chance, is to have an unproved theory. Nobody to date can prove how life can originate from inanimate materials in the natural universe. Nobody can explain how DNA is constructed and nobody can explain where we would get enough time in the universe to enable this to occur via randomness.

Perhaps trusting it did, without God’s purpose is a shallow belief!

Today, as we marvel at the beauty of life portrayed simply while being at it’s heart most complex, let’s remember that we as mankind, were the pinnacle of this creation. God created us in his image! Perhaps that’s why so many people want the glory of a piece of creation for themselves.

Instead, let’s today thank God for his provision, for his life force that courses through our veins and gives us the ability to worship Him.

Have a great day!
Tue, September 4, 2012 | link          Comments

Monday, September 3, 2012

Do bad rulers get away with murder?
   
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I just got back from Africa where life is less well protected than in the first world nations of our world.

For example while I was in Africa, a school friend was murdered in his home with his wife present, then I read in a local newspaper that 34 people were killed by a revolting group of miners.


Then, even worse, it appeared from newspaper reports as if some of the high up officials in the country were taking money to provide protection to the mine managers.

In this situation police fired on the miners and then charged the miners that they fired upon with murder.

Basically, the protesting miners were told that by protesting you are guilty of the deaths of your friends that were protesting together with you!

No thought of the police having dealt with the situation badly seems to surface in the initial days of this debacle!

It seems as if people seem to think that they can do what they want if they have the power, forgetting we all answer to God at the end of their time on earth.

I think the psalmist of psalm 94 says it the best with the words...

“Can you have anything to do with rulers who aren’t fair?

    Can those who make laws that cause suffering be friends of yours?
They join together against those who do what is right.
    They sentence to death those who aren’t guilty of doing anything wrong.
But the Lord has become like a fort to me.
    My God is my rock. I go to him for safety.
He will pay them back for their sins.
    He will destroy them for their evil acts.
    The Lord our God will destroy them.”[1]

We need never fear that the injustices in the world will go unpunished! God will ensure justice!

How often have we felt like others have taken advantage of us? Sometimes when this happens it seems like anger rises up inside of us and revenge enters our conscious minds, doesn’t it?

When this happens, we need to remember that God has said revenge is his to take, not ours!

We need to hand those thoughts to God and ask for forgiveness for them! Then, we should do our best to peacefully correct the circumstances.

What was of interest to me was that those miners had had multiple attempts to get people to listen to their plight, receiving empty promises and no action.

Finally they reacted, and yet, it seems like the reaction was negative for everyone. Many were killed, what a high price to pay! This was with a black government in South Africa.

The Sharpville riots that started the Anti-Apartheid movement come to mind since that was a similar circumstance in the country many years ago (about 1960). Has anything actually changed?

It makes us wonder if injustices in Africa are really race related, or are they simply due to the depravity of mankind?

With the world watching, the government has now backed down and rescinded the charges against the miners.

However, what will be done to help those miners? What will we do to help others who have no food and living in poverty in countries without adequate social assistance?

These questions are hard questions! Yet, those questions are the ones we as Christians need to face and work with!

If we as Christians cannot have love for our fellow man, if we cannot want to find ways of helping, we are failing to do what needs to be done to change our world.

God doesn’t want Christians who speak as if they want to follow Him, but fail to do anything for their neighbours, does He?

No! ... Jesus told us to love our neighbours!

So, today as we consider what happens in our world, lets pray, advocate, help and take part in activities that can help others and remove sin, (those selfish, ignorant and nasty things that God would not approve of), from this world.

Let us make a difference today. Have a great day!
 
[1] Psalm 94 NIRV
Mon, September 3, 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?

 

 

 
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  • Published: September, 2010
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