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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

God's Immutability

The unchanging nature of God gives me peace and assurance because I know that He is not erratic or given to emotional behavior.  He is forever the same (Hebrews 13:8).  I know that when I come to Him in repentance, He will hear me and honor His Word.  He will forgive me and restore me to fellowship with Him.  He will not be cranky one day and say, “I don’t feel like forgiving you today, or go away.”  I know that His Word stands forever and that He is no respecter of men as Romans 2:11 assures me.  Therefore, whatever station in life I am in He will perform His Word.  He is forever of old and His love and generosity, made manifest by the sacrifice of His Son, is ever available and ever new for all who come to Him.  As I am coming to know Him in relationship more and more, I have the confidence of knowing a dear friend, whom I can trust because He is ever the same.
Patti

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

God's Omnipresence

The knowledge that God is in all places at all times is a freeing reality because He is potentially availible to every person equally.  There is no need for jealousy or to feel left out or neglected.  I do not have to wonder if God is too busy to hear my prayer or preoccupied with another's child's problem.  He is never out of town or out to lunch, as it were.  While it may be disconcerting to know that nothing escapes His gaze, it gives my life the element of accountability.  No matter where I go from the North Pole to Antartica, He is pervasive and availible.  If I make my bed in hell or climb Jacob's ladder, He is there.  It is comforting to know that He sees everything and when other people hurt me, they are not really getting away with anything.  He knows how I live my life every moment and in this I can have confidence that all things do work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.

God sees your heart.  He knows exactly your hurts and dreams.  He created you to dwell forever with Him in a love relationship.  Rest in Him.  I pray for salvation and relationship.  God moved heaven and earth to prepare a place for you, please consider His sacrifice and love for you.  God knows every part of you and He loves you incredibly!

Patti

Monday, June 27, 2011

God’s Omnipotence


The truth that God is all-powerful gives me the confidence in my Christian walk.  He will never fail, He will never tire of me and He will never fall asleep or forget me.  There is nothing that God cannot do.  He is strength; He does not just possess it.  God is able to reach down to me in my lowest place and meet me in my need.  He does not need anyone’s permission or even a reason, other than He loves me.  I do not have to worry that He will get sick or die or ever not be able to do what He has promised.  God created nature and has power over it; if necessary, He will even cause the sun to stand still for me (Joshua 10:13).  If I am thirsty, He can cause water to issue out of a rock for me (Exodus 17:6).  God has all power and He laid down His life and took it up again for my salvation and remission of my sin, as John 10:17 tells me, “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it up again.”  I can rest peacefully knowing that my Father is watching over me and there is none greater than He.
God wants to be your Father too.  He is asking for your heart in exchange for eternal life in the future, and a blessed life now.  When you hear His call, please answer.  He loves you.  I pray for salvation and relationship.  If you have been saved in the past, but now feel far from Him, He is calling you home too.  As long as we are still breathing, it is never too late to call out to Him.

Patti

Shadows of Christ



The wilderness tabernacle was emblematic of the life and ministry of Christ.  The tabernacle was a temporary tent constructed for God’s Glory to dwell in as the Israelites trekked across the Sinai Desert.   The tabernacle proper, the materials used to build it, the manner it was to be approached and the elements therein symbolize aspects of Christ and God’s plan for salvation of mankind.
To enter the tabernacle, one would have to pass through the camp of the tribe of Judah.  The name Judah means ‘Praise of the Lord.”  Coming into God’s presence in praise speaks of the knowledge of Who Christ is and expressing this knowledge as thanksgiving and awe at His great sacrifice.  To enter the tabernacle’s outer court, one would have had to enter the gate of the Four Pillars, which correspond to the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  To respond to the call of relationship, one must first hear, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).  Christ is the Word of God as John 1:1 describes, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Numbers 2:3 tells us of God’s orderliness, “And on the east side toward the rising of the sun shall they of the standard of the camp of Judah pitch throughout their armies. .  .”  God’s desire for orderliness in our lives and in the Church is apparent in the life of Christ.  Christ’s ministry was not an afterthought or second line of action.  The prophesies of Christ’s life in the Old Testament and their fulfillment in the New Testament are numerous.  Isaiah 9:6 prophesies, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”  The fulfillment is spoken in Luke 2:11, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ, the Lord.”  The life and ministry is ordained, as He is the Lamb slain from the foundation.  The walls of the outer court of the tabernacle were constructed of linen, symbolic of Christ’s righteousness and the imputation of it those who believe in Him. The linen was stretched on poles of made acacia wood, an incredibly hard wood, which was covered in brass, symbolizing judgment.  The linen was attached to the poles with silver pins that represent salvation.  The tabernacle stood as a visual representation of God’s plan for the Israelites and to us today.  Other aspects of the tabernacle will be explored in future posts.  I pray that God blesses you and speaks these truths to your heart.
Patti


Sunday, June 26, 2011

What Is Left


Joel, the prophet son of Pethuel, cries out to the inhabitants of the Southern Kingdom of Judah to hear God’s entreaty.  Joel’s name means “Jehovah is God.” The prophet uses the analogy of a scourge of locusts to illustrate the complete and total destruction that will be experienced by the ungodly in the coming Day of the Lord.  The content of this book is prophetically multi-dimensional, in that it describes the past, present and future on several levels.    Joel speaks of the Day of the Lord, which is another term for The Second Coming of Christ.  The prophet beseeches the people to turn, repent and pray for deliverance.  The name of Joel’s father, Pethuel means “God delivers or enlarged of God,” and that is the hope and promise that this book offers.
Joel describes the total destruction:
Joel 1:4 “That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpillar eaten.”
A scourge is facing our society as well.  What drug addiction has left, AIDS has eaten, and what violence and Anorexia have left are: generations of children who are growing into dysfunctional and lost adults.  The dollar-driven media and entertainment culture that inundates our psyches daily in this society broadcasts disease and calls it desirable.   The minds of our children are being poisoned by violence, sexual images, materialism, and warped body images.  Media advertises opinions and ideals and unless we consciously reject these ungodly mirages, we are selling our lives out to them.  An enemy has done this.  A good minister will not only present the problem facing a people, but offer God’s solution to it as well.  Joel does just this:
“Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning.  And rend your heart and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God for he is gracious and merciful slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of evil” (Joel 2:12,13).
Our children are at stake.  The problem has been presented: Satan wants to devour our young, just as he attempted to kill Jesus through Herod.  The solution is total repentance and turning to the Lord as our help and Deliverer.  We can’t live like the world and it call it Godly.  Our children see and take in everything we do.  The need is repentance and obedience in allowing God to have His way in our lives.  There is blessing promised now and in eternity to those who will listen and obey God.
Joel 2:25,26,27 “ And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.  And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed.  And ye shall know that I in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed.”    

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mystery Revealed

The Apostle Paul speaks of the mystery of God's plan for the Church in Chapter 3 of the Book of Ephesians.  What had been veiled previously in the Old Testament is now made known.  God intends for His Church to be made up of Jews and Gentiles alike.  Ephesians 3:6 delineates this truth, "That Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel."  What could not be understood in the ages past is now revealed in the person and work of Jesus Christ.  Ephesians 3:9 reveals, "And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid by God, who created all things by Jesus Christ."  Now even Satan and his minions are privy to God's plan, Ephesians 3:10 speaks,, "To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God."  God's eternal purpose has come to fruition in the person of Jesus Christ.  Ephesians 3:11 tells us, "According to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord."  A mystery must be revealed to be understood, Paul speaks of this revelation in Ephesians 3:3, "How that by revelation He made known the mystery. . . "  God's Divine eternal plan for the Church is the unification of all men, this is illuminated by the cross of Christ, and the price of its realization is paid by His Blood.   

Friday, June 24, 2011

What Does a Christian Look Like?

Shh. . . . Let’s go on a field expedition into the wild to see if we can spot and identify a Christian, otherwise known as a Praisius Alwaysicus.  No physical description of this specimen is available as they are birds of many different feathers.  Their habitat is generally in sanctuaries, although they are frequently seen witnessing in the marketplace and streets.  Their range is world-wide and they have been known to migrate on missionary journeys far from their natural habitat.  Their voice is a beautiful trilling sound, and frequently peals of Hallelujah and Amen are heard coming from their nesting places high in the rocks.  This bird’s most identifiable feature is their love and caring for others as they seek to include them in their flock.  Note:  Sometimes a Purple-speckled Pew Warmer or a Loose-beaked Magpie will show up in the habitat of the Praisius Alwaysicus, they don’t need to be shooed away, just showed the way.  Shh . . . I think I hear a Praisius now, let’s see if we can observe him in his natural activities.
Christians are Christ-ones.  To be called a Christian is to belong to Christ; to be called a little Christ.  The name Christ, in the Greek is Christos, meaning “anointed”.  When we accept Him as our Lord and Savior, He imputes His righteous nature to us.   His substitutionary death on the cross has bought us this opportunity.  What about those birds who aren’t displaying the characteristics of their adopted flock?  When we are saved, we are given the Spirit of Christ and freed from our past sins.  We are changed from “glory to glory” as we mature in obedience to Christ.  Our display of Christ-likeness depends on how much of ourselves we are willing to give to Him.  Incidentally, He wants all of us.  When a baby bird is first hatched, it cannot fly or feed itself.  That baby depends wholly on its mother for food and protection.  A baby bird’s feathers are fluffy and incapable of flight.  If one were to fall out of the nest, it would cannonball straight downward.  We need to help our fellow baby Christians to grow and develop their strength in Christ, so that they can catch the wind of the Spirit themselves. 
These are some characteristics of Christ that one would expect to see cultivated in His offspring:
Faithful:  I Thessalonians 5:24 “Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.”
True:  I John 5:20 “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ.  This is the true God, and eternal life.”
Guiless:  Isaiah 53:9 “And He made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death; because He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in His mouth.”
Obedient: Psalm 40:8 “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is written within my heart.”
Merciful: Hebrews 2:17 “Wherefore in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.”
Patient: Isaiah 53:11 “He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearer is dumb, so he opened not His mouth.”
Longsuffering: I Timothy 1:16 “Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting.”  
Compassionate: Luke 19:4 “And when He was come near, He beheld the city, and wept over it.”
Loving: John 15:13 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down His life for His friends.”
Humble: Phillipians 2:8 “And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
Forgiving:  Luke 23:34 “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.  And they parted His raiment, and cast lots.”

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Not as the Scribes

The teaching of Jesus Christ is exemplified by His authoritative rendering of the scripture.  Jesus broadened the scope of the Law by proclaiming that we are responsible for each thought, and not only our actions (Matthew 5:28).  Jesus taught compassionately, but resolutely.  His mission was set before His eyes and He did not waver from it.  Matthew 5:17 describes His mission, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets:  I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.”  Jesus used several teaching techniques in the gospel of Matthew.  Let us look at his methodology and the implications thereof.
Jesus’ use of repetition is illustrated in Matthew 5 as he begins each discourse with, “Blessed are. . .”  the listeners would have had no doubt what the outcome of this proscribed behavior would be.  The use of repetition sinks truth into one’s spirit.  Jesus’ use of logic is displayed in Matthew 6 as He describes the conduct of the Pharisees who wear their piety only to be seen of men.  Matthew 6:1 relates, “Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen of them.  If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”  When a behavior and consequence are juxtapositioned logically one is able to make a more informed choice.    Jesus’ use of hyperbole is demonstrated in Matthew 5:29 as he instructs, “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee. . .”  The magnitude of losing one’s entire being in hell is not worth allowing its members to rove unchecked.
Jesus uses the device of illustration as He teaches the people to pray the Lord’s Prayer, “After this manner pray ye:  Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. . .”  The imagery of a father would have been most poignant to the people of this patriarchal society.  Jesus used the device of parable to teach the wisdom of hearing and of obeying His words, “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it”(Matt. 7:27).   The imprudence of building your life on the shifting sand is made crystal clear.
The effectiveness of Jesus’ teaching ministry is hinged on the authority and candor by which He delivered His instruction.  Jesus masterfully utilized repetition, wove parables, employed illustration, and spoke hyperbole to highlight the truth of His teaching.  Matthew 7:28, 29 speak of His teaching, “And it came to pass, when Jesus ended these sayings, the people were astonished at His doctrine: For He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”  

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Sign Of The Times

Outside of my window, overlooking my little garden stands a tree.  Throughout the year, its portrait in my window frame changes with the seasons.  The summer green of its leaves fades into vibrant shades of red and ginger before they become dry and brittle and waft to the ground.  My nosy, striped cat bounds up its trunk, with her ears back confidently chasing whatever dares move.  Her descent is comical as the bravado of the climb has denigrated into an awkward backward wide-eyed shimmy.  In winter it stands as a sentinel of spring with its boney arms supporting drifts of snow, as small round wrens scatter the frozen white tufts earthward.  Spring awakens with a long yawn as tender green leaves begin to emerge from its renewed branches.  A feisty hummingbird uses one of its branches as a perch to defend the feeder full of sweet nectar bobbing below.  Any interloper is buzzed with a sharp fly by and he returns to his loft.  Years ago I noticed that in the middle of July, one vibrant red leaf appears on the tree.  It is a sign of the times, a blatant reminder of fall, in such a lush green place.    
In Matthew 24:3 the disciples inquire of Jesus, “. . . ‘Tell us,’ they said, ‘when will this happen and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’” Jesus had just spoken of the impending destruction of the temple as they walked through Jerusalem.  Jesus answers them in verse 24:4-8 “Watch out that no one deceives you.  For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.  You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed.  Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.  Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  All these are the beginnings of birth pains” (NIV).  This statement is akin to the red leaf on my tree heralding fall, Jesus is saying, “Not yet, but these things are coming.”
Even more surely as the turning of the seasons, the Words of scripture will come to pass.  I pray that you are ready at His coming.  The Blood of Christ has bought our opportunity for entrance into eternity with God.  The newspapers are reading like scripture, the unrest in the Middle East is exacerbating, Israel is being singled out; consequently, there is an accelerated sense of spiritual urgency.  The cross is our only safety.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

With Fire

The breaking of the four hundred years of God’s silence through a prophet during the Intertestament period marks the ministry of John the Baptist.  John, as a forerunner of the Messiah, did not focus his twenty to fifty thousand person ministry on himself, but to the Annointed One who was to come.  John’s message was simple: repent and turn from your sin, for the Messiah is coming.  John proclaimed that the One coming is greater than he. John  baptized with water for repentance; however, the Messiah to come will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.  John proclaims the Messiah shall bring judgment; this came as a welcome relief the sorely oppressed people.  John stood as a witness to Jesus’ identity as the Christ; subsequently, this truth was further revealed by the events that occurred at Jesus’ baptism.  Matthew 3:16,17 relates, “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.  
Jesus, as the spotless Lamb, had no spiritual need of John’s baptism to repentance.  Jesus submitted to the water baptism in Matt. 3:15, "And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him."  He identifies with humanity; so that in turn, we are able to identify with Him.  John’s baptism signifies an outward change, a turning from sin; whereas, Jesus’ baptism with the Holy Spirit signifies an inward change and indwelling of His Holy Spirit.  Immediately following His baptism, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.
The temptation of Christ in the wilderness reveals several major aspects of Jesus’ ministry and our own necessary spiritual warfare tactics.  Hebrews 2:18 explains that Jesus’ temptation connected Him integrally to our own human plight, “For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.”  In the first temptation, Jesus, desert-worn and hungry is enticed by Satan to turn stone into bread.  This lure speaks of a lack of trust in the provision of the Father and the use of Jesus’ power for His own preservation.  Jesus counters with Luke 4:4, “And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.“  This illuminates a profound truth in our own warfare, the fact that the Word is our weapon.  In the second temptation, Satan entreats Jesus to bow down and worship him to gain the kingdoms of the world.  Jesus know that His Father’s Kingdom is not of this world, and no promise of materialism or fame will ever profit anyone one whit. Luke 4:8 records His reply, "And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. " In the final temptation, Satan twists scripture as he coaxes Jesus to throw Himself from the Temple pinnacle.   Jesus had no need to step out of God’s timing, to make a spectacle of Himself or to tempt God.  Jesus answers, “. . .It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.”  In the third temptation, Satan entreats Jesus to bow down and worship him to gain the kingdoms of the world.  Jesus know that His Father’s Kingdom is not of this world, and no promise of materialism or fame will ever profit anyone one whit. Luke 4:8 records His reply, "And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve" (Luke 4:12). The Hypostatic Union of God and man is firmly illustrated in His temptations.  Jesus is so fully God that His flesh does not interfere with His ability to overcome Satan, and conversely, Jesus is so fully man that His Godliness does not interfere with His ability to be truly tempted.            

Take Heart

The teaching of Jesus was unique in the authority that He displayed as he related the Word of God to His listeners.  Matthew 7:29 describes this truth, “For He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”  The mode of Jesus’ teaching was adaptable, as He taught a wide variety of audiences.  He also taught His disciples deeper truths than He did the masses, as Matthew 13:11 speaks, “He answered and said unto them, Because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.”  Jesus employed several instructional devices in His teaching, such as rhetoric, logic, repetition, illustrations, poetic forms and parables.  The Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5, 6 & 7, is an excellent example of Jesus’ instruction and use of some of these various techniques.
The context of Jesus’ teaching included training on the reality of Holy Trinity, although the term Trinity is not used in scripture, Its truth is implied.  Jesus illustrates God as Creator, as He explains His providential care (Matthew 10:29-31).  Jesus describes God as Supreme in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy Kingdom come.  Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.”    
Of Himself, Jesus taught throughout the gospels of the truth of the Hypostatic Union of His personage.  As the Son of God and the Son of man, He is able to intercede for us being fully holy as God and fully tempted as man.  Jesus shows our filial relationship with Himself in Romans 11:16, “For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root be holy, so are the branches.”  Jesus’ function as the spotless Lamb of God spoke of His propitiation for our sins and His death by Divine necessity as He bridges the gap between God and ourselves.  His death was voluntary, as an offering and a triumph over sin, death and the enemy (John 15:13).
Jesus taught of the Holy Spirit as our Comforter, who was to come in His stead (John 15:26).  The Holy Spirit, as our Paraclete will come along side us as John 14:26 declares, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”  The title, “Paraclete” comes from the same root as the word parallel; He “comes along side us.”  The disciples received the Holy Spirit in John 20:22, “And when He had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.”
These truths of God’s aspects and character are important in understanding Him in the right way.  In comprehending God the Father, as infallible, all-powerful and all-loving, we are then able to rest in His love and sovereignty.  When we see Jesus as our Intercessor, Brother and Savior, we are able to come to Him for salvation and trust Him for eternity.  When we hold the Holy Spirit as our empowerment, Comfort and life line, we are able to confidently live this life that we are called to.  If you don’t know Jesus as your Savior, please know that He is reaching out across eternity for you today.  Trust Him; he has your best interest at heart.  If you are a Christian and feel worn down by the fight, remember that the Holy Spirit is there as our empowerment, call out to God in your distress.  Even when it seems that He doesn’t hear us, He does.  Sometimes in His silence, He is building our faith.  He is always working in the diverse situations in our lives.  Take heart, God loves you and is in control!

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Atmosphere

Against the backdrop of the severely oppressed Jewish world, Jesus' teaching and miracles uniquely set Him apart from the status quo.  This information is important to the understanding of the mindset of the times that Jesus lived and ministered in.

In the brutally subgugated socieity of Roman occupied Palestine, where the ninety percent poor paid eighty percent of the taxes, unrest and upheaval were not far below the surface of everyday life.  Beneath the Roman Emperor Tiberius, Pilate as Procurator, and Herod as King, the religious ecclesia were allowed to practice self-government to the extent that it did not interfere with Roman interests.  The ten percent of the rich consisted of the religious rulers and the Herodians, or tax collectors, of which Matthew was one.

This Patriarchal soceity generally spoke Aramaic and was indoctrinated in the Platonistic World view.  In contrast to the logical, Aristotelian World view held by Rome and incidently, the West today.  One example of Platoism would be one venerating a title, such as father or rabbi as worthy of respect-- rather than investigating the individual and deciding their worth by evidence.  The Jews of this time were a devout people and faithfully observed the feasts and festivals of the ceremonial Law.  As the Diaspora of scattered Jews returned for the Passover, the city of Jerusalem would swell from its usual 55,000 people to easily upwards of 200,000.

The ruling Jewish assembly was comprised of the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Essenes, and the Zealots.  The Pharisee party arose after the Maccabean militarism of the Intertestament Period, or the 400 years between Malachi and Matthew.  They upheld the beliefs of repentance and spiritual renewal; but subsequently, became legalistic in their approach.  The Sadducee party, of which Caiaphas belonged, was potically powerful, as well as, materialstic in their views.  They did not accept the supernatural truths of scripture; such as, the reality of angels or of resurrection from the dead.  The Essenes were a separatist party, who believed the Temple worship was corrupt.  The were, in fact, more stringent in many ways regarding the Law than the Pharisees were.  The Dead Sea Scrolls, found in Quram, shed much light on the previously mysterious group.  The Zealots were the freedom fighters of the era; they opposed payment of tribute to the governing forces.

Above A Servant


In verse 16 of the Book of Philemon, Paul reasons with him, “Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord.”  Paul beseeches Philemon to receive Onesimus as he would himself.  Paul again typifies Christ’s sacrifice as he offers to repay whatever Onesimus has taken.  Paul’s superb debate skills that he learned at the finest schools of the Pharisees, at the feet of Gamaliel, are showcased as he appeals to Philemon to recall that his own eternal life is owed to the ministry of Paul.
Paul expresses his confidence in Philemon’s favorable reply to this epistle.  Archaic legend asserts that Onesimus became the Bishop of Berea.  We can surmise that Philemon honored Paul’s request by Colosssians 4:7-10 as it says, "All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord:  Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts;  With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you.  They shall make known unto you all things which are done here.  Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister’s son to Barnabus. . .”
Paul expresses his faith in his own release in verse 22, as he asks Philemon to prepare a room for him when he is able to come.  Paul then mentions the prayer giant Epaphras, whose name means, “charming.”  Marcus, meaning “large hammer” is also spoken of by the apostle.  Paul then speaks of Aristarchus, a fellow prisoner and a Macedonian of Thessalonica, whose name means, “best ruler.”  Demas is spoken of by Paul, his name means “popular ruler of the people.” Finally, Paul mentions Lucas, his name means “light giving or luminous.”
Paul delivers his characteristic benediction to end this short book, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, Amen” (Philemon 25).  Paul of Tarsus, formerly Saul the Persecutor, a Jewish Pharisee, and freeborn citizen of Rome, gave his life for the cause of Jesus Christ.  The name Paul means, “small” but this great leader and apostle of the early Church was anything but diminutive.  Through the inspired books and epistles that the apostle penned, we are able to glimpse the torrid experience of the first century Church and the sacrifices that they gladly suffered for Christ.  As Christians, we owe this legacy to love to these brave men and women who lived and died for the Truth.  Legend holds that under the order of Porcius Festus, Paul was led out to the Appian Way and was beheaded there.     

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Doulos

Paul shows exquisite diplomacy in his petition for Onesimus as he pleads with Philemon to receive him as a brother, when rightly in his apostolic position he could have demanded it.  In Philemon 11 Paul speaks of Onesimus, "Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me."  Interestingly, the name Onesimus means, "profitable.  The Greek word for unprofitable is a combination of "a" meaning "in the negative," and chrestos meaning "profitable," rendering the meaning of this compound Greek word "useless."  The word Philanthropia means "kindness toward man" in the Greek and is where we obtain the word philanthropy.  The proper name Philemon is derived from this same root.  The scripture speaks of Christian identity in John 13:35, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."

Paul typifies Christ's sacrifice as he beseeches Philemon to receive Onesimus as he would receive himself.  One who was once useless in his sin, has now become a functional minister of Christ.  Paul acted in strict accordance with the Hebraic fugitive law in Deuteronomy 23:15,16, "Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee:  He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him."  Matthew Henry, in his commentary remarks, "It is honorable to shelter and protect the weak provided they are not wicked.  Converts should be treated tenderly that they not be tempted to return to the world."  Christianity introduced a new dynamic of relationship--love and respect that erodes the antagonism between slaves and masters.  This truly exemplifies the restoration and transformative power of the cross.

Philemon 15 speaks of eternity, "For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever." The Greek word Doulos speaks of, "a slave, one under subjection."  This word denotes a slave by choice, Exodus 21:5,6 says, "And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever."  This Doulos relationship is that which we enter into with Christ at the time of our salvation.  

Grace and Peace

"Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:3).  Paul's words resound across the centuries from his imprisionment in a first century Roman jail to our hearts, as we read his epistle written to Philemon of Colossae.  Colossae was a city in the Valley of the Lycus River, which was a branch of the Meander River in the southwest region of ancient Phrygia (Asia Minor).  The occaision of the writing of this personal letter, was Paul's entreaty to Philemon to receive the fugitive Onesimus back to himself as a brother, rather than as a slave.  The motifs of forgiveness, discretion, and restoration ring throughout this short letter, which contained only 334 words in the original Greek text.

The epistle of Philemon was hand delivered to its namesake by none other than Onesimus himself, who was accompanied by Tychicus.  Paul identifies himself as the author, as he acknowledges Timothy as his brother and Philemon as their fellow laborer.  Timothy was Paul's spiritual son, as was Onesimus, as the apostle had led both of them to salvation.  The name Timothy means "honored or valued of God, or worshipper of God."  From the Greek, Philo, means "lover," Philemon's name translates to "friendly or affectionate man."  Paul describes Philemon as dearly beloved, as well as a fellow laborer in this book.  The Greek word sunergos, which is the root of the word, synagogue, is associated with leading together, an assembly or congregation.  This is exactly what verse two of this book says that Philemon hosted in his home, "And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in thy house."  The name Apphia, is qualified in some translations as, "our sister."  The male equivalent of this name means "revivified."  Archippus means, "master of the horse," he was a Christian of Colossae, a close friend of Philemon, and most likely the pastor of this house church.

Paul characteristically offers a prayer of thanksgiving and encouragement as he praises Philemon for his love, faith, and care of the saints.  It is interesting that this letter was written in the early 60s by a slave of Christ in bonds of men, on behalf of a renegade slave, to another slave of Christ.  Each of these men had intimate knowledge of what is means to be constrained by bonds.  Each of these men had tasted the forgiveness that Christ's sacrifice offers.  Each of these men were responsible, as we are, to extend this magnanimous forgiveness to those who have wronged them.

Faithful Love 12/26/09

From the edges of creation
To the farthest expanse of time
You have written Your love in the heavens
And on this heart of mine

Creator of the lights of heaven
Creator of the lives of men
Out of Your heart
Awakes the seed
The mystery of life
The depth of my need

Faithful Love
You are the Faithful Love

The brightness of the firmament
The beautiful earthshine
A reflection of Your Glory
Your Gracious heart Divine

Creator of the lights of heaven
Creator of the lives of men
Out of Your heart
Awakes the seed
The mystery of life
The depth of my need

Faithful Love
You are the Faithful Love

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Written On Our Hearts

Although cultural relativism dictates differences in practices, it is a universally accepted fact that the mores any given individual culture are to be adhered to.  Humans usually voice this expectation when another has wronged them by somehow impinging on something they feel entitled to.  Most people, who are not sociopaths, agree that there exists a standard by which we should treat each other; but, feel that for some special exception they are entitled to omit themselves from the obligation now and again.  Unlike the Law of Gravity or the Second Law of Thermodynamics, we may choose to disobey The Law of Human Nature.  Entropy is apparent in today’s society as prophesied by the Bible and illustrated by inevitable social degeneration and decline.   In Matthew 24:12 Jesus says, “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.”  All of this talk of entitlement smacks of fleshliness and certainly the law we should choose to follow is to love our neighbors as ourselves.  

The Moral Law is not merely a herd instinct or a social convention.  Nature verses Nurture cannot explain the impetus behind all of the behaviors that humans exhibit.  While hunger, thirst, or sexual desire are strong driving forces in our lives; and, we are hopefully taught, by loving caretakers to suppress or express them accordingly, there lies a deeper guidepost.  The idea of subjectivity flies out of the window when it is juxtapositioned beside the truth.  God’s law is written on our hearts as evidenced by our conscience. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

An Amazing Life

            If God were to become a man, one would suppose that He would lead a most amazing life.  Jesus Christ did, in that He: was born of a virgin, manifested miracles and had a lasting and universal influence on humanity.
            Luke 1:31 records Gabriel’s words to Mary, “And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call His name Jesus.”
            Luke 7:11-17 records the event of the raising of the widow’s son at Nain.  Luke 7:14, 15 tell us, “And He came and touched the bier; and they that bare him stood still.  And He said, ’Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.’ And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. . .”
            The facts that after two thousand plus years men still worship and serve Christ is a testament to his three-year ministry.  “He is the greatest influence in the world today.  There is, as it has been well said, a fifth Gospel being written--the work of Jesus Christ in the hearts and lives of men and nations” (McDowell, TNE, 322).

McDowell, Josh. The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Nashville:  Thomas Nelson
     Publishers, 1999.                  

Jesus Resurrected

            The resurrection of Christ is the sine qua non of the Christian faith.  It is also fiercely denounced by Jewish and secular opinion.  There are several theories promulgated to disprove the resurrection; such as, the Swoon Theory, the Theft Theory and the Mass Hallucination Theory.
            The Swoon Theory states that Christ did not actually die on the cross, but was only unconscious and due to the lack of medical technology, He was believed to be dead.  Is this were true, one would have to believe that after the hours of torment and beating, carrying His cross until exhausted and being crucified,  being pierced, being wrapped in linen and spices, being entombed behind a stone that many men had to move, Jesus revived and moved the stone from the inside of the tomb.  
            The Theft Theory states that Jesus’ disciples came and stole His body away.  This theory was actually widely reported by the Jews.  The tomb was guarded by a watch of guards.  These seasoned soldiers stood guard at Roman command and took turns standing sentinel.  To believe this theory one must accept that the same disciples who were scattered at the crucifixion, somehow garnered enough strength to steal past the guards, roll away the stone, unwrap Christ’s body and meticulously refold the wrapping, and escape again without detection.
            The Mass Hallucination Theory states that the disciples and others who saw Christ after the resurrection were in such a heightened emotional state that His appearance was hallucinated by them.  “Hallucinations are linked in an individual’s subconscious to his particular past experiences” (McDowell, TNE, 274).  McDowell states, “It is extremely unlikely then, that two persons would have the same hallucination.” 

 

 

McDowell, Josh. The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Nashville:  Thomas Nelson
     Publishers, 1999.                  

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Christ In Prophecy

The wealth of Old Testament prophecy fulfilled in Christ is unparalleled.  The magnitude of the reality of these fulfillments is nothing less than the fingerprint of God on Christ’s life and all history.  The prophecy of His birth, the prophecy of His entrance into Jerusalem and the prophecy of His garments being parted at the crucifixion all speak of God’s intricate attention to detail in heralding His Son.

Isaiah 7:14 speaks of Christ’s birth, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”  The New Testament fulfillment is found in Matthew 1:18, 24,25, “She was found with child of the Holy Spirit. . .Then Joseph. . .did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.”

Zechariah 9:9 proclaims, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!  Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!  Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, humble, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.”  Luke 19:35-37 speaks it the New Testament fulfillment, “And they brought him to Jesus.  And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him.  And as He went, many spread their clothes on the road. Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives.”

Psalm 22:18 foretells events of the crucifixion, “They divided My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.”  John 19:23,24 tells the fulfillment, “The soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic.  Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece.  They said. . . ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be.’”

The Bible is absolutely accurate and reliable.  Put your trust in Him.

Salvation Song 9/27/09

I believe, You are Who You say You are

Jesus, The Son of God

You died for my sins

You rose again

Jesus, Messiah

Come into my heart

I need Your Spirit inside me

Your loving arms to guide me

All my sins surround me

I need Your love to unbound me

Jesus, Son of God, come into my heart

Jesus, Messiah, come into my heart

Come into my heart

Sight Unseen

Have you ever noticed a reflection in a mirage? Several summers ago I saw this phenomenon as I was driving behind a large truck on a hot road. I caught a glimpse of the underside of the truck reflected in a mirage on the road. This intrigued me; as, I pondered how it was possible to see a reflection of a real object in an unreal one. The American Heritage Dictionary defines mirage as: “An optical phenomenon that creates the illusion of water, often with inverted reflections of distant objects, and results from distortion of light by alternate layers of hot and cool air. Also called fata morgana.” In cartoons, mirages are depicted as elaborate visions of tropical oases, complete with palm trees and luscious clear pools. They spring up suddenly in the hot desert, and then disappear just as the sun-addled hero is preparing to dive in. This sort of illusion is purely fictional and the product of a writer’s imagination. The road mirages we see are termed inferior mirages, because they appear below the horizon. Superior mirages appear above the horizon, and are due to a cooler level of air occurring below a warmer level of air. These mirages occur over icy landscapes and extremely cold water. This type of mirage causes one to see a scene higher in the air than normal. It is possible to see a boat or island seemingly floating in mid-air. These mirages also distort objects, making them seem elongated. I have never seen this sort of mirage, but at least now I know if I see a boat floating in the air, I’m not hallucinating. That being said, my point is that our eyes can be fooled. Christianity struggled in the throes of the mirage of errant thought until Martin Luther’s eyes were opened by the reading of Romans 1:17, “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith.” Faith is confidence, trust, reliance, assurance, conviction, belief, devotion and loyalty. All of these are traits of God, and traits that He desires to cultivate in us. Deuteronomy 7:9 tells us, “Know therefore that the Lord thy God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations.” When we see the reflection of truth in the mirror of a lie, it is so easy to become disoriented and begin to believe that lie. God’s love is not a mirage.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

You Can't Get There From Here

“You can’t get there from here,” so goes the old joke as the bewildered traveler asks directions from the “helpful” but misinformed local. How many times in our lives have we thought this absurd statement to be true? Sometimes where we are now, and where we desire to be seem worlds apart. What goal in your life seems like an impossibility?
My husband and I took my daughter and her friend to a water park for her 10th birthday. I laid down the rules from the outset; the general mommy fare, stay together, stay with us, don’t run, etc. . . . As soon as we arrived they jumped on the biggest ride there which landed on the other side of the park. Incidentally, this ride was the only way to get to the other side, wonderful engineering! It was called the Stealth, the ride was the shape of a Stealth plane wing and it careens you up and down its triangular shape by your own momentum, until you slide off of the bottom and into a pool. Now, I am she who went to Disney World and only rode the teacups, and felt a little queasy when I did. I hesitantly climbed the wooden staircase to the summit of the ride. As I waited my turn, I had visions of a 10 and 8 year old doing everything I asked them not to. As a tan, zinc-nosed teenaged boy began to shove my raft off the edge, my anxious face reflected in his sunglasses, I asked, “What are the chances of me flying off of this thing?” “Noooooone,” his reply was drawn out in the empty air and summer sun, as I whizzed down the enormous wing. Evidently my body mass was enough to prolong the ride, I swung up and down, in ever smaller arcs until I finally slid off of the end. Slightly rumpled, I got on the Lazy River which floats around the perimeter of the park. I languished in the sun, floating slowly until I found the girls, who incidentally were fine and thought I had lost my mind. One moment I was careening into oblivion and the next I was lazily floating to my destination. God moves us along the paths of our lives, sometimes at lightning speed and sometimes painstakingly slowly. The express route may be tragic, a death, illness or other great loss. It may be a promotion, sudden fortune or other windfall. The slow pace of everyday life may seem stifling or comforting. Regardless, God has a path and a plan for your life. He will be there with you every step of the way. If anyone ever tells you that you can’t get there from here, know that with God all things are possible! He loves you! I pray for your salvation and relationship with Him.

Unchangeable Priesthood

Jesus minced no words in proclaiming His Deity. The New Testament records His direct claims to Deity, His indirect Claims to Deity and His titles of Deity.

At the Feast of the Dedication, Jesus answers the Jewish questioning of His Deity in John 10:36, “Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?” Jesus was not the conquering Messiah that the Jewish people expected. They were looking for the Messiah in earthly terms, a mighty warring king who would usher in the Kingdom, Jesus came in humility, not fulfilling their expectations.

In Luke 5:17-26 the Bible records the healing of the paralytic man lowered through the rooftop. In Luke 5:20 Jesus says, “. . . Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. At the scribes and Pharisees heart’s disdain Jesus replies in 5:23, “Whether it is easier to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk?” Jesus implied His Deity in His forgiving of sins, as God only is able to absolve man's sins.

Jesus’ claim to Deity with the titles of the Son of Man and the Son of God speaks of the Hypostatic Union of His God nature and His human nature. This truth enables Him to be the sinless Lamb of God deserving to open the seals of Revelation. It qualifies Him to truly taste human suffering and temptation without sin and to be our Savior. In the Hypostatic Union Christ's Deity and humaness do not affect each other, so that He is truly sinless and sorely tempted. In this truth, Christ is able to serve as our High Priest and ever intercede for us.

Hebrews 7:24-26
"But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.

Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens"

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Made Alive By The Spirit

Two theories of Christ’s historicity have been purported, either He never existed, or he did not die at Roman hands. Both are positively eradicated by historical evidence from secular authorities, Jewish references and Christian sources.

Secular writers had absolutely nothing to gain by attesting to Christ’s existence. Ironically, secular critics striving to discredit Him only succeeded in fixing Him historically. Lucian of Samosata was one such writer. Of Christ He remarks, “The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day. . . You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time. . .” (McDowell, TNE, 121).

Contrary to the secular disregard for Christ’s historical existence, the Jewish scholars had every reason to discredit Him. He was not accepted as Messiah by the Jews and their scorn for Him was not unapparent. The Babylonian Talmud records, “On the eve of Passover they hanged Yeshu.” The Jews never discredited Jesus’ existence, only His Messiahship.

Early Christians suffered severely for their faith. If they knew positively that the resurrection and ascension did not occur, what would be their motive for steadfastly holding their faith? They also had nothing to worldly to gain except for persecution. I Peter 3:18 proclaims, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit."


McDowell, Josh. The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Nashville: Thomas NelsonPublishers, 1999.

Look Ma, No Hands!

It is amazing how quickly a scent can transport your mind back in time. Standing at the kitchen sink, looking out the window and washing dishes by hand, a torrent of childhood memories came rushing back on a blizzard of bubbles scented of green Palmolive dish detergent. Green Palmolive was the all-purpose cleaner of choice for bicycles, swing sets, unwilling pets, really anything you could spray with a hose. After washing my bike, I would find one of my dad’s old oil cans, the kind with the clicky bottom and the long snout, and oil the chain and do other minor “repairs.” We lived at the bottom of a hill, just perfect for gliding home on your bike or skateboard, as long as you were careful to turn into our yard before hitting the highway on the other side of our house. The graveyard of ill-fated pets in our backyard was a testament to the dangers of the highway. My mom would stand at the kitchen window and give us the OK sign when we did a particularly neat trick. Flying down the hill we would yell, “Look Ma, no hands!” and maneuver the bike into the yard without a glitch. One of us realized that if you hit the curb just right it could be jumped like a ramp. A neighborhood boy sailed down the hill one day and hit the curb and did a complete flip. He landed on his back and the wind was knocked out of him. We were supposed to get married, I wonder if he remembers. My mom saw me get struck by a car from that window. I was running across the street and when I turned, I saw was a looming black car. I hit the side of it and rolled over the hood and landed in the street on the other side. The last thing I saw before being struck was the kitchen window, so I got up and kept running. The only problem was I had gotten turned around and was running back across the street. My mom ran right out of her flip-flops to rescue me. I sustained minor bumps and bruises, and the first of several cracks to the head. . .
I led my mother to the Lord just a few short years before she passed away. She was my cheerleader. As long as I knew that I had her blessing, I could run headlong into any army. I randomly find cards that she has sent me over the years tucked away in my house. One particularly memorable one said, “You’re going to make it, I swear!” The last hours of her life I stayed by her bedside. It was a drizzly, cold December day and the air hug heavy with the inevitable. I played guitar and sang to her, in a lucid moment she sang along with “How Great Thou Art” and told me that I was singing another song in the wrong key. Just before she passed away, I laid my head on her chest and listened to her heartbeat. This woman who I loved more than I can express was slipping away from me and into the arms of our loving Father. I sincerely miss her; but I know that she is safe in Christ. I was able to offer eternal life to the woman who gave me life, what a grand and beautiful irony. God’s offer of eternal life stands open to any who will answer.

Amazing Evidence

The historicity of the Old Testament can be gauged by the accuracy of textual transmission, confirmation of hard evidence by archaeology, and documentary evidence through archaeology.

An amazing evidence of the accuracy of textual transmission is found in the discovery of scripture in the caves of Qumran. Copies of the book of Isaiah, 1,000 years older than the extant Masoretic scrolls from A.D. 916 were found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. These Qumran copies proved to be 95% the same as the newer copies. The 5% difference was only in obvious pen slips and spelling variations that did not affect the message whatsoever (McDowell, TNE, 78).

Archaeology has never disproved the Bible; on the contrary, many times it has revealed the Bible to be accurate despite contemporary belief. The fire and brimstone described as the demise of Sodom and Gomorrah is archaeologically evident in the geographical area of those infamous cities. It is believed that bitumen, ignited by bituminous pitch by the burning of an oil basin beneath the Dead Sea, hurled down upon those cities. Layers of sedimentary rock have been permanently molded together as a verifiable archaeological testament to the event (McDowell, TNE, 94, 95).

The Bible is accurate and absolutely contains verifiable evidence of its truth.

McDowell, Josh. The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Nashville: Thomas Nelson
Publishers, 1999

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Most Fearful Darkness

The reliability of the New Testament Text is supported by history and archaeology. The number of surviving texts and fragments is very large, the dating process of the materials and writing style is comprehensive, and secular extra-Biblical commentary is well-documented.

There are 5,656 partial and complete manuscript portions of the Greek New Testament that were hand-copied from the Second to Fifteenth centuries. All inclusive from this time period, there exist 24,970 manuscripts. Says John Warwick Montgomery, “To be skeptical of the resultant text of the New Testament books is to allow all of classical antiquity to slip into obscurity, for no documents of the ancient period are as well attested bibliographically as the New Testament” (McDowell, TNE, 35).

In dating manuscripts, several areas are scrutinized to determine the age of the writing. The materials used such as the texture and color of the parchment and the color of the ink are considered. The letter size and form, and the ornamentation of the text is studied. The punctuation and text divisions are also assessed. These factors facilitate scholarly dating of the texts.

Many extra-Biblical writings address Scripture, one striking example is that of Thallus, writing in A.D. 52 and cited by Julius Africanus in A.D. 221, regarding the events of Christ's crucifixion, “On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness, and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down.” Some detractors theorized that the darkness that fell at that time was merely a solar eclispe. Intriguingly, an eclipse cannot occur at the time of the full moon, due to planetary alignment. The crucifixion took place at the time of the Paschal full moon; therefore, any theory of a natural eclipse is overthrown by this astronomical fact.

The scripture is factual; and therefore, is able to withstand scrutiny.

McDowell, Josh. The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Nashville:Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Utterly Life Changing. . .

The text of Scripture has been preserved by scribes and scholars in various manners: the physical recording of text on differing mediums, the meticulous copying of the Old Testament by the Masorete Jews, and the preservation of God’s inspired Word by the canonization of Bible books.
The Scripture was recorded on several materials. One material the Bible was recorded on was papyrus, made from beating out the reeds growing in the shallow lakes and rivers of Egypt and Syria. It was shipped to parts of Byblos, hence the word Bible, the modern meaning of which is “book”. Parchment made in Pergamum, manufactured by scraping shaved skins, was utilized; as well as, vellum made from calf skin that was dyed purple and written on in gold or silver ink. Ostraca, or pottery shards and clay and wax tablets were also engraved with a stylus. Inks were composed of charcoal, gum and water and pointed reeds were used to inscribe Scripture on scrolls.
The Masorete Jewish scribes ritualistically copied the text in such a high degree of perfection that they considered the copy more valuable than the original. Thus, many older copies of Scripture are no longer extant.
The choice of books canonized into the Bible was not created by the church; but, they were recognized for inclusion by tests of their spiritual authenticity. Where the books written by a prophet or a spokesman of God? Was the writer confirmed by acts of God? Does the message tell the truth about God? Does the book come with the power of God? Is the book accepted by God’s people? The heresy of Marcion in A.D. 140 prompted the gathering of Scripture for canonization. The Apocrypha has been unilaterally discounted as inspired Scripture by Reformation churches; although, it is included in the Catholic Bible.

The Bible is the God-breathed, inspired Word of God. It is utterly reliable, utterly unchanging and utterly life changing!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Unicus

The word unique is derived from the Latin "unicus", meaning one, via early 17th century French. Something unique is worthy of note due to its singular nature. The Bible is unique in a considerable number of ways. The continuity of the Bible is astounding and unparalleled in any other literary work in history. Astounding, considering it was written over a 1,500 year period, by 40 plus authors in differing places, at differing times and in differing moods. The Bible was written on the three continents of Africa, Asia and Europe, in the three languages of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. The Bible is completely congruent; it is a single unfolding story. Geisler and Nix comment, “Paradise lost of Genesis becomes Paradise regained of Revelation.” The entire Bible is a foreshadowing of Christ and His redemptive work. The book of Genesis speaks of Him crushing the serpent’s head; Exodus speaks of Christ’s sacrifice as the Lamb whose blood is sprinkled for release from captivity. The Tabernacle is a tactile model of Christ and the mode in which we must approach Him. Prophetic books speak of Him, historical books show His character, and poetic books praise Him. Christ’s bloodline is traced in the New Testament directly to Adam. Jesus’ life and ministry is chronicled in the Gospels and the culmination of His mission is prophetically spoken of in Revelation.
The Bible has been translated into upwards of 2,200 languages, which represents one-third of the world’s 6,500 known languages that represents 90% of the world’s population (McDowell, TNE, 9). The Wycliffe Bible translators are performing massive translation efforts, utilizing 6,000 people in 850 languages in 50 countries. With these translation rates, Ted Bergman of the Summer Institute of Linguistics speculates that by 2007-2022 the Bible with be universally translated (McDowell, TNE, 9).
From the time of Diocletian’s edict to destroy Scripture in A.D. 303, until the modern movement of Marxism, the Bible has suffered massive persecution. French infidel, Voltaire predicted that Christianity would be eradicated within 100 years. Ironically Diocletian’s effort was thwarted as Constantine adopted Christianity as the religion of Rome and Voltaire’s own printing press was used to print Bibles by the Geneva Bible Society (McDowell, TNE, 10).

McDowell, Josh. The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Observing Truth

Archaeology and Science are uncovering Truths of God’s creation from the sub-atomic level to the vastness of space. The Anthropic Principle states that the universe is specifically tailored for man’s benefit; on this point, some astronomers and Scripture agree. Genesis 1:26 states, “And God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” Two major tenants of Science are observation and hypothesis; albeit, merely dissecting and cataloging an object or animal does not reveal its genesis or life-force, this is where fact meets faith. God’s fingerprints are apparent on every quark-sized bit of His Creation. In the dead social emptiness left by Postmodernist movement, the world is hungry for truth. Our task as Christians is to know our Father through His Word and to communicate this Truth to the world in an intelligent method.

Archaeology has uncovered a body of documents since 1935 known as the Lachish Letters. These documents consist mostly of ostraca, or shards of pottery, inscribed in ink. They are record of the time period before the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. Interestingly, an imprint of the seal of Gedaliah, a property owner, was discovered in Lachish. This melds seamlessly with the Scripture, that records the name of Gedaliah in II Kings 25:22, "And as for the people that remained in the land of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had left, even over them he made Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, ruler"(McDowell, TNE, 114).

There is much material evidence that speaks of the truth of The Bible's inerrancy, but the genuine test of its veracity is the undeniable effect of it on men's life.

McDowell, Josh. The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Nashville:Thomas
Nelson Publishers,1999.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

"Jesus, My Father,The CIA, and Me"

I received a complimentary copy of this title from BookSneeze.com for this reveiw.
I was in no way paid for this review and the opinions expressed in this blog are genuinely mine. . .




 This "Memoir of Sorts," written by Ian Morgan Cron, is the well-crafted and heartfelt story of the journey of a small boy lost in the insanity of a life lived with an alcoholic father into the arms of his loving Heavenly Father.  This book cuts across denominational lines and sheds light on God's true nature, that of a Healer and Redeemer.  Within the first two pages of the book, I laughed and cried as I was drawn into the story of the less than graceful childhood of Ian Morgan Cron.  Cron's stories are poignant and at times humorous, as his foibles and social awkwardness reminded me of my childhood stories.  Your heart will break for Cron as he recalls a band recital his mother missed due to his father's alcoholism.  Cron relates his reaction to the disappointment, "Likewise, there would be no point in my musing out loud how its physically possible for a hole the size of a galaxy to appear in a boy's chest, leaving him desolate, in the mere five seconds it takes to scan a room" (Cron, 2011,91).  Cron's humor is tinged with the sadness of a soul struggling to find God in the ocean of uncertainty; in this, his humor is made all the sweeter.  Tongue in cheek Cron admits he changed some names in his "memoir," to protect the privacy of others.  Cron admits, "For example, my childhood dog's real name was Tigger, but I changed it to Waldo.  He was very private" (Cron, 2011, 4).  This book is a healing voyage that speaks to the brokenness of the human condition and the wholeness that God offers. 

Chasing After the Wind


The things of this life are fleeting.  That shiny new car will someday be a rust bucket, the new home will become rundown; and inevitably, if we live long enough, lines and wrinkles will adorn our faces.  Chasing after earthly substance is a race that will be surely lost.  The book of Ecclesiastes is a storehouse of wisdom garnered by King Solomon regarding this subject.  There has been some theological debate as to whether he actually wrote this book; although, there is very strong evidence that he did in fact, author it.  Ecclesiastes 1:1 begins, “The words of the Teacher, son of David, king of Jerusalem.”  This statement is rather conclusive and leaves little room for interpretation.  The word Ecclesiastes is the Greek derivation of the Hebrew word, Qoheleth, which means, “Teacher, or speaker in the assembly” (The Archaeological Bible, 1014).  A theme of this book is that physical death is the great equalizer, all men will experience it (save for the rapture) no matter their station in life (Ecc. 2:16).   The book of Ecclesiastes repeatedly refers to the pursuit of earthly treasure and pleasure as “chasing after the wind” (Ecc. 1:14,1:17,2:11,2:26).   
 My kitchen cabinets are in need of refinishing.  That doesn’t seem like such a huge dilemma to deal with, but my late father custom built them and stained them in a lovely dark color that I am seriously considering changing.  The cabinets that are still pristine are beautiful; but the ones that are worse for wear beg to be redone.  A lighter shade would brighten the kitchen and I am going to antique them classic French Country vanilla.  This seems silly, but I am struggling with changing what he labored so hard to build.  As I began to unscrew the cabinet handles, I wondered if he ever imagined that 32 years after he put these handles on that I would be removing them and redoing his work.  Ecclesiastes 2:18, 19 echo my thoughts, “I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me.  And who knows if he will be a wise man or a fool . . . ?”  
Ecclesiastes 1:3-6 muses, “What does a man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun?  Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever.  The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.  The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course.”  In the Hebrew, the word for the Holy Spirit is Ruah, meaning wind. In John 3:8 Jesus explains to Nicodemus about the Spirit, “The wind blows wherever it pleases, You hear its sound but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.  So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (NIV).  Chasing after the wind is futile, unless it is the wind of the Spirit.  I don’t know if my earthly father would consider me a fool for my revisions to his work, but I do know that my heavenly Father is pleased that I am wisely chasing Him.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Peace Be With You

               The means of attaining true peace in your life is in submitting it to the will of God.  Genuine peace isn’t the absence of turmoil or trouble; it is the quiet assurance of God’s love and providence. The book of I Peter was written in the AD 60s to the believers scattered in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia.  It is an encouragement to those suffering for Christ, and it offers us a solid framework for gaining peace in our lives even in the midst of adversity.  The content of the book is as relevant to us today as it was to the early church.  Peter exhorts the faithful in I Peter 1:4, “To an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you” (KJV).  A vitally significant element of the Christian walk is the consecration or hagios in the Greek, of our speech to the Lord.  I Peter 1:15 teaches, “But as he which hath called you is holy so be ye holy in all manner of conversation” (KJV Capitalization theirs).  Another vital factor in the Christian course is obedience.  I Peter 1:22 instructs, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently” (KJV).  The only sound foundation on which to build your life upon is Christ.  I Peter 2:6 reveals, “Behold I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone elect precious and he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded”(KJV).  Believers are given liberty through the Blood of Christ and are called to behave in a manner befitting of Him.  I Peter 2:13 instructs us to be subject to government mandates, “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme” (KJV).  We are to seek peace and follow God’s will.  As believers, we are not to be ashamed of our suffering, but we are to allow God to work in our anguish.  I Peter 4:19 tells us, “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator” (KJV Capitalization theirs).  We are all on a journey, and each of us is at our own point on that road.  God doesn’t expect us to be faultless, He wants us to forgive, repent, pray and keep going.  Even in hardship this is the path of real peace.  Peter ends this book with I Peter 5:14, “Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity.  Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen” (KJV).

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