Everyone Wants to Know

 

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!    Romans 11:33

I’m Star Trek fan.  I grew up with the original series.  I still enjoy the old series along with the new movies since J.J. Abram’s reboot of the franchise even though I know the message isn’t always a Christian one.

I watched another William Shatner special on Netflix about how Star Trek changed people’s lives and inspired a lot of the current tech we now take for granted. This one was about searching for answers to the universe; not just us on being on Earth.  He interviewed several notable people; ending with Stephen Hawking.  Interesting conversations, all.

The questions remain the same: Why are we here?  How did the universe happen?  How does it work?  Is there an intelligent design?

The answers from each are very much the same:

“I don’t know, but WE will figure it out!”

As if we’ve figured out anything yet on our own! As one of the people he interviewed said, we’ve screwed things up on Earth pretty thoroughly.  What makes us think going to another planet will solve all of our problems?

If you really want to know about the universe, just look at the Bible. Pretty much everything is in there.  It’s history has always been proven accurate.  God loves us and wants to have a loving relationship with us.  Unfortunately, we are so busy trying to figure out what WE want to do next that we ignore the bounty He offers us.  See “What Did They Do?”.

Relax. Enjoy the ride.  If you like poking around Creation to see what you can learn about how God works, I don’t think He’ll mind.  Just don’t let that become your god.

I would offer the thought that scientific research can be a loving dialogue with God. We figure out how He did something, find ourselves amazed, and God chuckles with the pleasure of watching His children’s expressions of amazement.

She Died Alone…?

I heard a sad story on the radio the other day while driving. An elderly woman with no family or close friends had died.  She was found sitting in front of her television, which was still on.  The TV Guide lay beside her.  The date it was opened to was about six months ago.

This poor woman had been dead for about six months, and no one knew, There was no one in her life to check on her or wonder why they hadn’t seen her around.  Not even a neighbor.  It was saddening and just a little scary.

Who wants to die alone? Who wants to feel something happening inside their body and just know that this is the end?  They gasp in surprise as they feel the stroke.  The heart attack happens, and they know it’s big by how much it hurts.  They feel themselves fading, the tunnel vision sets in, and there’s no comforting touch of a loved one…or ANY one to ease their pain and passing.

But does anyone really die alone? Did that old woman really sit there for half a year?  No, she did not.  Her body did, but she was nowhere around.  She was someplace else.  I hope it was heaven.  If she was a Christian, she’s in heaven at this moment, experiencing the greatest joy she’s ever known.  At the moment of her death, Jesus came to her and escorted her there Himself.  Or maybe it was a long gone loved one, family or friend.  That’s how many people tell it from their near death experiences.

“Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Why yes, yes He is. In life or in death God is with us.  No matter where we go in this life, God is with us.  When we die, He is there.  Not one sparrow falls without your heavenly Father’s knowledge.  Do we seek a comforting touch in our last moment?  God will give it.

Or maybe that loved one. I can’t help but think of the passage from  Hebrews:

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…”  Hebrews 12:1

There are all of the believers in Christ who will welcome His elect into their company in heaven. I can imagine being passed person to person, one holy embrace after another.

The pastor at my home church told me once how he had seen comatose patients suddenly sit up at the moment of their death, arms outstretched to someone unseen, and joy on their faces. Their Saviour had come for them.

He had also seen people in comas suddenly recoil, terror apparent, lifting their arms to ward off some horror. These were people who had not accepted Christ.  Pastor could only imagine what demons those people tried to escape as their body gave out.

No one dies alone. The company we have chosen awaits us.  We will melt into the sweet embrace of salvation or struggle to escape the clutches of the damned.  However we die, we won’t be alone.

Unspoiled

26 Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.    Matthew 27:26

Good Friday is my favorite holiday for a number of reasons. First, it recognizes the climax of our redemption.  When Jesus cries out, “It is finished!” we know that God’s plan for salvation succeeded.

Second, it’s the one Christian holy day that hasn’t been misappropriated and perverted by secular society. Babies and rabbits are just too easy.  But torture someone to death?  The boys at Abu Graib should count their blessings.

The Bible is so succinct and those events are so old that we have hard time really appreciating the magnitude of what we read sometimes. Let’s take a look at what happened, courtesy of Killing Jesus by Stephen Mansfield.

“Pontius Pilate…has not even rendered judgement in the matter of (Jesus), but still he orders the cruelest form of punishment possible shy of death under Roman law… He will give the screaming masses a bloody spectacle whether they want it or not.  What he will not do is free this man…though he already has declared (Jesus) innocent.

“They remove his clothes and tie his hands to a ring that hangs above his head. This stretches the muscles of his arms, back, and shoulders.

“Simple, ingenious, and cruel, this flagellum is a ring of iron or wood to which leather straps are attached. What makes the flagellum so horrific are the bits of sheep bone, rock, or steel knotted into each leather strand.

“…(he) swings the flagellum so as to partially wraps its straps around the victim’s torso… Blood gushes.  Pieces of muscle, even chips of bone, fly into the air.  The body is torn apart.

“With the second strike, Jesus can no longer stand…too stunned and weak to find his feet… Strips of flesh hang loosely, barely attached at one end.”

This is just the warmup. Once impaled through hands and feet on the cross he is a buffet for insects and birds.  He is not stretched out, but rather crouched slightly as though in a partial squat.

“Yeshua’s forearms knot and cramp, the searing agony moving into His upper arms and shoulders.  It is constant, wracking, unspeakable pain.

“Once a victim is impaled, he quickly realizes that if he hangs from the spikes in his wrists, his pectoral muscles paralyze. It means he can take in air, but he cannot exhale.  With his lungs full yet unable to breathe out, he panics…

“The prisoner soon realizes that the only way to keep from suffocating is to push down on the spike through his feet. This lifts him up to relieve the stress on his arms.  It is an unspeakable torturous move.  It rotates his forearms around the spike in his wrists, scrapes his back over the jagged wood of the (cross), and grips his legs in agonizing cramps.  It eases him slightly, though, by allowing him to breathe.  He cannot hold this position long.  Soon, he finds that pressing down on the spike through his feet is so exhausting that he has to lower himself and hang from his wrists again.  Until the panic returns.  Then, the sadistic cycle repeats.  In the barracks, grizzled legionnaires call this “the dance of death.”

Jesus was unspoiled, a Lamb without blemish. He endured this to redeem us from the judgment we deserve.  He stayed true to the bitter end, through all of the agony, all of the humiliation of nakedness and his few remaining possessions being divvied up.  He might have been in too much to even hear the laughter of the crowd and soldiers, but maybe not.

Then God turned His back on Jesus, who cried out in His supreme loneliness and died.

Atheists and Quantum Theory

While I personally do not believe that quantum theory is yet a complete theory, as a philosopher/theologian, I derive some satisfaction in that its implications challenge the ideas of material realists who find no need for there to be a Creator-God. Quantum theory holds that fundamental reality consists not of actual “stuff” but of […]

via Atheists and Quantum Theory — Im ashamed to die until i have won some victory for humanity.(Horace Mann)

Do the Math

25 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, 28 he took Him up in his arms and blessed God…    Luke 2:25-28

Simeon crossed my mind this a afternoon. Luke records what we now know as The Song of Simeon in the verses following those above.  The first line is “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word;…”

In the King James it reads “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace…”

In other words, Simeon, after a long wait, is ready to die having now seen The Christ. God said he wouldn’t die until then.  That was the deal.

I would assume he told SOMEONE about this little arrangement; best friend, boss, high priest, etc. Whether he had this chat with God when old or young, he was old when he saw Jesus.  That leaves me wondering about something.

You see, if people in the temple knew about this little quid pro quo, why didn’t they do the math? There’s no evidence that anyone was filling more and more with anticipation as Simeon got grayer and more wrinkly.  No one was planning a reception.  No one was reviewing prophecy.  No one seems to have paid any attention at all.

Simeon indicated that he’s ready to die in his song of praise and thanks. Someone should’ve noticed that and gone frantic – “Holy frijoles!  Simeon’s dead.  The Christ has arrived and He must be really close by!!!

No one paid attention until Herod had a hissy fit over the Wise Men looking for a king, and he wasn’t it.

Like I said; no one did the math.

I’ve started doing the math in a couple of ways. I’m going to be 60 this year.  This is the first time I’ve started feeling old.  There’s no more “30 is the new 20,” “40 is the new 30,” etc.  Nope.  I’m just gonna be 60 years OLD!

The branches on my family tree all get “pruned” by about 70. Especially on my dad’s side.  I figure I should count on a maximum of 10 years before people start formally saying nice things about me.  God may want me sooner or maybe He likes paradise just the way it is a bit longer.  Who knows?

Whether it’s the end of the World coming or me just coming to an end in it, the math says I shouldn’t do anything stupid especially now. Stay the course, continue the race as St. Paul wrote.  I shouldn’t count on that many more years.

By the same token, the end of the world is officially 2000 years closer than it was when Jesus had a little chat about it with his disciples.

Do the math.

If you’re on track, don’t do anything stupid. Cross the finish line and claim your reward as St. Paul said.

If you aren’t right with God, if you have sinned, if you carry guilt over anything in your life, you need to search for Jesus. He’s as close as your next prayer.  Give yourself the opportunity to have your regrets taken care of by Him.  Give yourself the chance to fill the empty place I know is in your heart with the only Substance that will do the job.

Don’t hesitate. Don’t put it off like I did before almost dying of a heart attack.  I kept telling myself it was just a pulled muscle.  For weeks!  Talk about God REALLY not wanting me quite yet!

Don’t tell yourself you’ve been dealing with your pain for a while and can do it a while longer.

Once you do the math, you’ll realize that you might not have a while longer!

Battered

And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.    Matthew 10:42

Well, friends, I’ve been lax this week as far as getting articles written. Obviously.  It’s just been one of those weeks.  Not enough hours or me to go around.

Now, lest I come off as “Woe is me,” that’s not what I’m saying. It’s been challenging, and that’s what happens.  A lot of people are challenged infinitely more than I am!

I conversed with a friend this week who is dealing with some family issues, and it’s been a challenging time for him too for more than just this past week. He’s moved, changed his whole life around to meet a family need.  Sacrifice and opportunity seem to be two sides of the same coin here, as he went from seeing all that was given up to seeing all that opened up.

We all get battered, bloodied, and torn. In the grand scheme of things, some of us have it pretty easy most of the time.  It may not look like much to some, perhaps, but if it’s the worst you’ve ever been, who’s to say?  That’s all you know.

My friend made me think that you can tell heroes from their condition. Heroes are the ones who cross the finish line ripped and scratched.  Some are a bloody pulp.

John the Baptist? Hero.  Camel’s hair clothing, wild locusts, and honey for dessert.

Jesus en route to Calvary? Bloody pulp territory.  It’s amazing He could even walk at that point.

Pick an apostle outside of John. Uneducated, persecuted, hounded from every direction.  Peter was crucified.  Upside down.

Histories are crammed with stories of 1st Century Martyrs meeting horrific ends.

Not one would make the invitation list to anyone’s dinner party.

But despite all of their own sufferings, they healed the sick, raised the dead, and cast out demons. They did God’s work to help others in need even as they were in need.

Can you give someone a drink? Buy them breakfast at McDonald’s?  Take a minute to talk to them?  Share Jesus with them?  People who can do that are the kind of heroes Jesus is looking for.  He wants heroes who can do those sort of things while struggling themselves.

Are you dog-tired, but a son or daughter needs you? Be a hero.  Are you upset over an calamity in your life, and a friend calls with a problem?  Be a hero.

Because real heroes can do it with blood and sweat…and a smile God gave them.

Help from Heaven

The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place.    Psalm 68:17

Do you believe that angels exist? Do you believe that they are active in the world today?  You should.  Seeing an angel is not a common thing, but people do see them.  Some coincidences beg a cause, a providence of God and His angels.  They weren’t seen, but their effect was felt.

A recent article from Great Britain shows that seeing angels is more common than we might think: People Who Believe They Have Seen an ANGEL – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3981538/I-just-lying-appeared-two-beautiful-beings-wings-dressed-white-Incredible-tales-people-believe-seen-ANGEL.html

I recently saw a documentary about the Israeli war for independence in the 60’s. They defeated the armies of several Arab nations intent on destroying them and denying Jerusalem to them.  There was no way they should have prevailed, but they did.  History has recorded their magnificent victory, but it has left out the testimonials of the defeated Arab forces.

An entire Arab platoon happened upon a couple of lost Israeli soldiers who were certain they would be slaughtered, caught out in the open. As they steeled themselves for a fight to the death, the Arab platoon laid down their weapons and surrendered.  Why?  Because they saw the Israelis backed up by an army of angels.

This sort of thing happened often in that conflict. What’s amazing is that these eyewitness accounts came from the Arabs who surrendered!

The one thing we need to remember as we acknowledge that angels exist and move in our lives is that they are not the source. Some people tend to worship angels or believe in them, stopping there.  Angels come to us from God the Father.  They are His army for our good.  Salvation does not lie with them.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.   John 14:6

It is good to know ALL of the things God does for us, the entirety of the spiritual world that surrounds us and, indeed, battles over us. We thank God for His love and providence as He sends us His help from Heaven.

The Path You Walk

On that night could not the king sleep, and he commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king.

And it was found written, that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s chamberlains, the keepers of the door, who sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus.

And the king said, What honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this? Then said the king’s servants that ministered unto him, There is nothing done for him.   

Esther 6:1-3

The Old Testament Book of Esther tells of how a Hebrew woman married a pagan king and came to save the Jewish nation from extermination. It is the story behind the Feast of Purim.  It is the story of how God used her and intervened in His own ways.

The king was restless. What better way to bore yourself to sleep that to have underlings read your own history of acts and proclamations?  He was reminded of the event when Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, saved the king from two of his own by uncovering their plot to the king.

“Guys! Did I thank him at all for that?”

“No, Sire.”

“There’s nothing in there where he was rewarded for his loyalty to me?”

“Not a pen stroke, your Highness.”

“Well, we’re going to fix that right here, right now!”

Mordecai gets his overdue honors, which converge with Ruth’s uncovering of another’s duplicity, and, well, the good guys win.”

I was supposed to be on the road heading east on a business trip this week. The weather that hit where I was going plus another storm now close on its heels motivated me to cancel and stay home.  I was going to reschedule for February, but the customer can’t wait that long.

Short version, something’s been ailing me, and I had to lie down for a while this morning. I wasn’t up for a trip.  My office day ended up being packed.  I ended up finally getting a LOCAL appointment I had pursued for a month, and a newcomer to our team is able to shadow me next week.

All things work together for good for them that love God.

A friend had a family emergency that called him home to help care for a parent. He’s staying home now for the foreseeable future.  Ironic that this is a decision on whether or not to move home that has been gnawing at him for a while now.

If we don’t take the subtle hint, God can be pretty unsubtle too.

Now, am I saying God sent the storm for just li’l ol’ me this week? No!

Am I saying a parent’s illness happened just to bring junior home? No?

In either case, who is smart enough to say whether the proverbial chicken or egg came first? Maybe Satan is the one who chucked the defecation in the turbine and God made it come out just fine.  Maybe, as in the Book of Esther, God influenced events by giving someone a sleepless night.  Or whatever.

I’m not smart enough to say I know which is which. The world is too complicated.  It just so happens that God excels at complicated.  What I CAN say is this; when things force you toward a certain direction or decision, maybe that’s what is supposed to happen.  That might just be the out God is giving you from a Satan storm.  Maybe it’s Him nudging you in a direction like a rider nudges his horse with a knee.

Have faith. Stay positive and joyful in God’s providence, under the shelter of His wings.  Go where he leads by study and prayer.

What Won’t We Do?

John 10:10

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

“Tragic British girl, 14, to be cryogenically frozen so she might live again after historic court victory”

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/real-life-stories/tragic-british-girl-14-frozen-9282146

That was the headline just a few weeks ago. It’s a sad story on so many levels.  She has a rare form of cancer that there is no treatment for.  On top of that, her divorced parents are haggling over who gets their way with her remains.

As if terminal illness isn’t enough to ruin your day. Let’s pile on with an argument over the disposal of your remains, as if that’s more important than the physical and emotional pain of your impending death.

Too young to have any legal rights, she sues in court for the right to be frozen until such time as medicine comes up with a cure for her.

Parents will sue each other, divorce each other, and argue over their children to the point of their children having to seek the protection of the judiciary so they can either live or die in peace.

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.

The thief, of course, is Satan, the ruler, the prince of this world. He sows selfishness and faithlessness all in the name of destruction.  He’s the perfect model for this girl’s parents.  Satan knows He can’t win over God, so his plan is to make God suffer by hurting and destroying as many of us as possible.  Just out of spite, out of hatred toward God for not rolling over for his attempted coup, and out of hatred toward us.  And the last for no other reason than sheer jealousy that God should prefer us over him.

Stealing, killing, and destroying isn’t just a sideline, a fun hobby of his. These are his mission so long as he’s allowed to hold sway on earth.

What’s sad is that we play along so easily. We steal, kill, and destroy in our relationships with relatives, friends, and strangers.  And to what end?  To have a happier, longer life.  What irony!  What exquisite, tortured irony!  What won’t we do to have joy, peace, and eternal life?

Apparently, we just can’t bring ourselves to believe in God and accept all of that from Him.

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly – Jesus

The First Written Mention of Jesus?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3985150/Is-written-mention-Jesus-2-000-year-old-lead-tablets-remote-cave-genuine-claim-researchers.html

Well, wouldn’t you just know it? Another archeological find that – drum roll, please – that gives secular support to biblical accuracy.

The metal ‘pages’, held together like a ring binder, were found in Jordan in around 2008 by an Jordanian Bedouin and make reference to Christ and his disciples.

The lead has been analysed and the words and symbols translated and experts say the tablets date from within a few years of Jesus’ ministry.

There are a few items within the article that gave me some pause, but reading through to the end dispelled any concerns I had about the accurate portrayal of Jesus. Let’s go through the high points one at a time.

The tablets suggest that Christ was not starting his own religion, but restoring a thousand-year-old tradition from the time of King David.

We can just go to the Bible itself for verification on this.

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.  Matthew 5:17

Granted, that law goes back further than King David, but the writer of these lead pages correctly identified what Christ was doing.

Now here’s one that threw me for a moment: And the God he worshipped was both male and female…the books suggest Christ was part of a Hebrew sect dating back 1,000 years to King David, who worshipped in the Temple of Solomon and believed in a male-female God.

‘Dr Schonfield, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, tells us later in the article that A part of the older tradition of the Temple was the Divine Feminine – known to Christians as the Holy Spirit. Jesus had women involved in his ministry.

I see the feminine reference as a non-issue, as it’s a matter of translation. I was once involved in a couple of translation projects in a corporation.  I didn’t do the translating, but I was in charge of ensuring protection of intellectual property during the process.  The thing I learned at that time is that one does not simply translate words; one translates culture.  You need to understand a culture to fully understand its words.

This also reminds me of a book by John Eldredge, Wild at Heart. Loosely, he makes the case that God, although referred to always in the masculine, has both feminine and masculine attributes.  Men and women are “God divided,” if you will.  Married, they are “God united” and create life, children.  The Bible supports this in that God and humanity are portrayed as a Groom and bride.

Enough of that issue for here.

These codices also make mention of James, Peter, and John. The article does not go into what they are mentioned for.  I would very much like to have that portion to see.  In English, of course!

The codices, as they are called, refer to Jesus’ cleansing of the temple also, but in the form of the after effect of His cleansing. From the article: It would appear that Christianity was founded upon what Jesus did in the temple: a place where many Jews believed God actually resided. Jesus went into the Temple to renew a covenant with God.

While this may not be precise, recall this was most likely written by an outsider, someone not part of Jesus’ inner circles. This perception may tell us that the temple episode had further-reaching implications than just ticking off the authorities, cementing His fate within their plans.  It would make sense.

While the codices do not contradict any of the established narrative they place greater emphasis on the physical temple, of the belief in the divine feminine and in Christ’s role in protecting a lineage of Hebrews rather than being the founder of his own movement.

While the language may not be what we typically use in church nowadays, the temple emphasis makes sense, especially when we recall how much time Jesus spent teaching at temple, the torn curtain at His crucifixion, and the prominent role played by so many women in the Gospel’s spread.

These codices were discovered back in 2008. It has taken a while to confirm their authenticity, from translating the “Paleo-Hebrew,” indicative of that era, to the level of deterioration and age indicated by the amount of oxidation and lack of radiation as compared to known samples of the era.

Having them presented at this time with more testing supporting their legitimacy is like an early Christmas present, no?