Posts Tagged ‘Scriptures’

The Big Questions

March 3, 2020

The big questions are:

1. How did I get here?

2. How did we get here?

3. What is the purpose of being here?

4. What should I do while I am here?

At the age of 27 years, about 43 years ago, I had made a big mess of my life. So I turned my life over to Jesus.

I am happy about how life has turned out for me and the family that God has given me.

Prior to salvation, I was quite undecided about those big questions listed above. Now, after walking with the Lord for 41 years, I have managed to answer those questions to my satisfaction. There are, however, a few questions hovering somewhat unresolved in my mind.

For instance, as pertaining to the big question #2 above—how did we get here?—I do subscribe to the biblical explanation, although I do not understand it. I cannot comprehend all that is being described in chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis.

GutnBible

I do understand, and accept as true, that very first sentence of the biblical revelation:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

The verses that follow confuse me every time I try to impose order in my mind about the sequence through which our Creator did his creative work. This confusion does not really bother me. But it does fascinate me to ponder that subject.

Cutting to the chase—that is to say—the end of the book or the end of my life, the big truth that has been shown to me is that I will live eternally after passing through this life’s death.

How do I know this?

As the old song sings. . . the Bible tells me so.

The Word tells me what I really need to know: there is one man in the history of the world who survived death itself, and lived to tell about it:

Jesus.

This is a matter of belief, and I do believe it, thank God. I have been given the faith to believe in my resurrection from death, because Jesus himself has already shone the way—has been there and done that— and has passed that privilege of overcoming death along to me and to anyone else who believes what he has said about it, and demonstrated by his Resurrection.

Now, getting to the point of why I write on this particular day, year of our Lord 2020, March 3. . . while I have been fortunate enough to answer those big questions, there are still a few curiosity points that bounce around in my mind and my soul as I live and breathe in this earthly life.

For Instance, what about that creation sequence that is is described in Genesis?

People have been wondering about it, talking about it for thousands of years. In the last two centuries, speculations about question #2 above—how did we get here?—have taken a wider swath of variation than ever before. As far as I can see, this widening of theories and enquiries is prompted by two main developments in our collective human database—

1.) the discovery of geologic time, which scientifically explains how our earth was continuously rearranged by huge tectonic and geologic forces over millions of years.

2.) Darwin’s discovery of natural selection in the biological developments of life in nature.

As a believer in Jesus, I have no problem with either of these scientific discoveries. I believe these discoveries are merely a human way of classifying the universal and life principles that God set in motion millions of years ago.

For example: Genesis reports, in verse 1:24:

Then God said, ‘ Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind.’

This is just an old-fashioned way of saying: God designed into his creation a written code for ordering the development of life: DNA.

DNAdubhelx

So I hope you’re tracking with me on this. I realize that some of my believing brethren do not subscribe to this interpretation. But that’s okay; we’re not going to agree on everything. By ’n by, we’ll still celebrate our eternal life together with Jesus because of what he endured in sacrificing his perfect life at Calvary.

But the reason I am writing this today is: an amazing thing happened this morning. I had a funny little revelation while reading in Genesis.

In Genesis 2, we learn the truth that:

“. . . the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.,  The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there he placed the man whom He had formed.”

So we learn that Adam—and later Eve, were a special creation, placed in a special place, for a special, divinely determined destiny. But Adam and Eve screwed that arrangement up when they opted for knowledge instead of truth.

So our Creator had to suspend their special status. Consequently, he ejected them from the Garden; they had to  go out and make their way by the sweat of their brow like  all those other humans who had evolved out there in the wild wild world.

A little further down in the scripture we learn more about historical human developments. From Genesis 6:

“Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves . . .”

Who were those “sons of God”? They were the offspring of the Creator’s special creation in Paradise, the children of Adam and Eve.

We are told the names of the created couple’s first three sons: Cain, Abel and Seth.

These boys were, categorically, the “sons of God,” because their parents did not carry the same genetic imprint as those other men and women who originated “east of Eden,” outside the gates of Paradise.

Now just because they were “sons of God” does not mean they necessarily acted like it. You may remember that Cain killed Abel, and that God had a serious discussion with him about what was to happen next. But then God had mercy on Cain, even though he had committed such a heinous deed by killing his own brother, who had not deserved such a fate.

God gave Cain a second chance anyway, by releasing him out into mankind to get a new start.

In Genesis 4, the story continues:

  “Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. Cain had relations with his wife, and she conceived, and gave birth to Enoch, and he built a city. . .”

For a very long time, I had wondered about . . .

a.) these “sons of God”—who they were and where they came from? Answer: They came from Adam and Eve.

and b.) the land of Nod, and the people who populated that land? Answer: They were humans who evolved through God’s natural selection process.

Now I understand more about reconciling the revealed Truth of our Creator with what we ourselves have scientifically understood  about life on this amazing planet.

RockStory1

Glass half-Full

What is Fulfillment?

February 6, 2020

Isaiah set the stage for fulfillment thousands of years ago . . .

Isaiah

Among many other attributes, fulfillment means the Old . . .

IsOldJerus

. . . giving rise to the new:

Nations will come to your light,
    and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

Lift up your eyes and look about you:
    All assemble and come to you;

your sons come from afar,

    and your daughters are carried on the hip.

IsShineCity

Other visionaries catch a glimpse along the way . . .

Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’  Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel.  Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.

EzekielYadV

But the process is indeed a long one, requiring very burdensome periods of human history. Inevitably, and predictably, the going is tough.

But our Creator has a scenario set up where adversity brings forth endurance in the worst conditions, and creativity to produce tangible evidence of forward progress. The striving to fulfill any great, worthwhile endeavor is arduous and prolonged. It is not given to any one generation to construct; nor is it given to any one people-group to fulfill.

Fulfillment of  prophecy and human destiny is distributed  over many generations of people and time.

IsStairway

Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins

and will raise up the age-old foundations;

you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,

Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

IsDamascusGat

Glass half-Full

What Mr. Nawaz says about Islamism

March 22, 2015

Among the people of my Christian tribe, a big question these days is:

Does Jihadi extremism represent, in any appropriate way, real Islam?

This is, as you know, a timely question. And I am curious about the answer, so I thought I would get a Muslim’s written perspective on the matter.

The book I chose is Maajid Nawaz’ autobiographical testimonial, Radical.

http://www.amazon.com/Radical-Journey-Out-Islamist-Extremism/dp/0762791365

Now, having read it, I am inclined to give the “moderate” Muslims of our world the benefit of the doubt. So yes, to answer my own question, I am of the opinion that there is such a thing as a legitimately moderate Muslim, in spite of the Islamofascists who are striving terribly to drag all the Muslims of the world into their gruesome quest for khilafah domination.

My rationale is based mostly in Christ’s sermon on the mount, recorded in Matthew 5, which says this:

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

My inclination is to make peace with Muslims in any way I can. There is nothing wrong with this.

Some of my Christian friends say, however, that it is dangerous to make peace with the Mohammedans. While that may be true in some cases, I believe Christ calls us, based on the beatitude stated above, to take a chance on peace with other religionists whenever possible.

Love your enemies.

For me to cast a blanket judgement on all Muslims, based of the atrocities of ISIS, al Nusra, Muslim Brotherhood and their ilk, would be like casting judgement on all my fellow Christians because of what has been done in times past by the IRA, or Bosnian Serbs, or pedophile priests, or Spanish Inquisitors, or medieval Crusaders.

That’s not to say there are no fundamental, prejudicial problems with the primary Islamic scripture, the Quran; it contains passages that assign second-class citizenship to non-believers, and displays blatant antisemitism in other commandments. This is nothing new, and we should, accordingly, keep an eye, and a legal reign if necessary, on their oppressive Islamic tendencies in places where Muslims are in charge.

And it’s not like we have no problematical passages in our own Bible Scriptures. As a realistic Christian, I can admit that, but I still believe our book is a very long account of our Creator’s deallings with a fallen, sinful mankind, starting with the Jews, then us Christians, and eventually the whole damned world.

So get ready for God’s judgement on all of us. I have an advocate in Jesus. Who will defend you in the final courtroom? Will you have a leg to stand on?

I have read the Bible, and I believe it.

I have not read the Quran, but that is no requirement for citizenship in this world. And I suppose that as long as there is no caliphate governing American lands, there will be no such requirement. And of course there is no obligation in my country, USA, for anyone to necessarily read the Bible, or Torah, or any other sacred book.

Let’s keep it that way.

I am a citizen of this world, and when I hear or read that the third Abrahamic religion contains scriptural judgements about Christians, Jews, and other kaffir types who do not subscribe to Muhammed’s legacy, I am paying attention, because I want to do whatever is necessary to protect me and mine.

At the present time, I am in no danger of harsh punishments from so-called Muslims who are mad as hell. There are, however, Christian brethren of mine who are, as we speak, enduring terrorism in other lands, such as Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and God only knows where else in this unstable world.

So recently, when I was seeking answers about all this, I did turn to Maajid Nawaz’ book, Radical, and I read it.

There’s a lot I could say about his testimony; I recommend the book. But I will wrap this up simply with a quote, which explains in a cogent, concise way, the essential relationship between Islam and “Islamism.” Maajid Nawaz writes:

“Important to grasp is how Islamism differs from Islam. Islam is a religion, and its Shari’ah can be compared to Talmudic or Canon law. As a religion, Islam contains all the usual creedal, methodological, juristic and devotional schisms of any other faith. In creedal maters, there exist ancient disputes, from which we have the two major denominations of Sunni and Shia, each giving rise to numerous sects within their ranks. From methodological disputes, legal theorists and traditionalists debated whether scripture was best approached through systemised reasoning or oral tradition. From juristic differences, major schools of law emerged. And from a devotional angle, lapsed, traditional, fundamentalist and extremist Muslims have always existed. Superseding all these religious disagreements, and influencing many of them politically, is the ideology of Islamism. Simply defined, Islamism is the desire to impose any given interpretation of Islam over society as law.”

And a little further down  page 80:

“. . .one can see that, ‘though religious extremism and fundamentalism may pose social challenges, it is Islamism that seeks real power. Like Mussolini’s fascists, who were also socially progressive, it is the toatalitarian aspect of Islamism that gives rise to major concern.”

Yes, Maajid, I am concerned about that, as are many other kaffirs. And that sounds like a “moderate” analysis if I ever read one.

Therefore, in order to, as posited at the start of this, give Muslims the benefit of the doubt, I must say: I  finished reading Radical thinking that if there were more Muslims like Maajid, this world would be a better place.

The book was, as we say in evangelical circles, “edifying,” which means: I learned something from it. Thank you, Mr. Nawaz. Help us keep a rein on those totalitarian-leaning ones among your tribe.

Smoke

Ritual and Renewal in Christendom

February 14, 2015

I was raised in the Catholic Church, and my wife was too. That was a long time ago.

During the 35 years of our marriage, we’ve been intimately connected to a group of Protestant Christian believers. Our group spends a lot of time reading the Bible and discussing the revelation, poetry, prophecy and history that is documented therein.

Our literate emphasis on the Bible, the printed Word of God, has not always been the main thrust of the Christian religion. Widespread reading of the Scriptures only came to the forefront in Christian life during the Protestant Reformation, which was led in the 1500’s by Martin Luther, John Calvin and many other outspoken reformers.

There’s a historical reason why the Reformation, and the Renaissance before it, happened when it did.

About a hundred years before Luther ignited the Protestant Reformation, Johannes Gutenberg’s invention and development of the printing press had begun forging new paths of communication. This new printing technology would greatly proliferate literacy, and the use of the printed word, for centuries to come. The expanded use of printed Scriptures fundamentally changed the Christian religion; it was similar, in a way, to the way digital media has profoundly altered communication during our times.

But before that 16th-century revolution in literate religion came (enabling Christians to sit around discussing the Bible), there was the centuries-old Practice of Religion, and a major part of that religion was Ritual.

Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection is plainly told, for all to see and read, in the four Gospels of the printed Word. We take this for granted in the 21st century, as we did in the last century when I was growing up.

My Catholic childhood practice of religion was absolutely defined by the Mass, which is a ritual that had originated in the events of Christ’s sacrifice, but was later morphed during 1900 years of time into a prescribed, elaborate ceremony. The original purpose of the Mass was to tell the story of Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary, in Jerusalem. But as that Mass came down through the ages, the cognitive element (understanding what actually happened at Calvary) was draped (rather mysteriously in my young consciousness) in ceremonial robes, and spoken in a language–Latin–that I did not understand. And so the Mass became, for me and for millions of others, something else. It became a Ritual.

In my young soul, this produced reverence, and a kind of faith–not a faith of understanding, but of. . .ritual, and yes, belief.

I’m not rejecting ritual altogether. I believe it is a profound component of human community, and can be a pathway toward faithful worship. But my turning, in early adulthood, to (what is called Protestantism) the Scriptures, instead of the Catholic (or HighChurch) ceremonial practice, has been quite productive, and beneficial in how I have lived life.

When Pat and I visited Greece and Italy a few of weeks ago, I was enlightened about all this. It was a kind of epiphany.

In Athens, we saw:

OrthxBrite

I snapped the image in a Greek Orthodox church.

A week later in Rome, we saw:

GoldAltar

This image is from a Roman Catholic church.

These two pix cannot portray the meaning, nor the reverential profundity, of worship as it regularly is offered in Orthodox and Catholic churches of the Old World, and still today through the whole world. But they are a visual indicator of the cultural legacy, and the experiential intensity, that accompanies ceremonies in both major strains of Christendom. (Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic parted ways during the 11th century A.D.)

I will cast no judgement about the formal traditions of my Christian brothers and sisters whose faith is framed in the Old way of worship. I suppose what they are doing may reflect more perfectly what we will all be doing in heaven someday.

These reverential musings, which were recently initiated for me in Athens and Rome, have marvelously, perhaps Providentially, landed on this screen just now, for you to see. Now I will bring this ceremonial sojourn to a visual cadence with . . . one more picture I snapped; it expresses my feeling about our colorful Christian faith, which is visible to those who watch attentively, in the midst of a tragic, and dreary, world.

PiazNovnaColr

Glass half-Full