31 March 2015

My Rights Your Wrongs

Have you ever heard of the phrase “you have the right to remain silent”?

How about the phrase “the right to bear arms”?

Haven't we all had our 'rights' violated in some fashion in the past?

Haven't we all at least felt as if we had a right removed or trampled upon?

Let us consider; how are rights derived and enforced? Although you have a right to remain silent, have you ever found yourself compelled to answer or face consequences of some sort? About the right to bear arms; isn't that notion written down somewhere and currently enforced by such a decree? That right's decree has spawned books of laws and procedures to further legislate this right and define where and when this right begins and ends.

When in a heated conversation, have you ever wished you had reserved that right to remain silent and prevented some words from being vocalized? Too bad others don't also exercise their right to keep their mouths shut, lol.

Some argue Today about the right to natural / organic food, to clean uncontaminated water and many other suggestions that seem reasonable and obvious for some, but somehow doesn't seem reasonable to others.

Don't rights depend on a system or popular consensus to enforce and uphold the rights? If you proclaim new and unheard of 'rights,' are they automatically respected and honored by others?

So where do rights come from? And how are some rights believed in and supported while others are argued over and denied?

We've seen kings and kingdoms trampled by force despite the 'right' of the monarchy to rule. We've seen property rights suspended due to lack of tribute / tax payment. We've seen animal rights exist where none were previously conceived.

How can anyone tell what is right and what's wrong?

30 March 2015

Valuable Friendships

I had a friend today tell me in anger and disappointment what they really thought about me. I don't think they are my friend any more ( as they see it ) although I still consider them my friend despite their words. I have learned a great deal from them from past conversations and a greater deal now hearing them express themselves without filters.

I listened to their thoughts on my work, my lifestyle, my faith and my points of view. Not to share every bit of criticism that filled my ears this morning, I'd like to respond to what I heard and how their angry attack helped me ( sounds nuts, I'm sure ).

There is always some truth when people are willing to unleash their unfiltered thoughts. I embrace these moments. I try to decipher what is said in angst and hatred as opposed to what is honestly seen and was held in respect. I was told to actually help others instead of having fireside type chats with people in coffee shops. This was already on my heart. Hearing it from this person gave weight to what was already being made clear by Him who speaks to our innermost thoughts.

I used to boast about all the things I had, was doing and thought about doing next. Since my current chats are not always about these things, some opinions are that I have not accomplished much in my life thus far. I'm sure this is supposed and I understood why this would be an important priority for many. Seeing a lack of ambition in someone like me can be confusing for those who gauge life according to secular pursuits.

Another lesson learned today; people are sensitive although they may seem strong and unfazed by others or people's opinions.

26 March 2015

The Unknown Terrorists

What image typically comes to mind when you hear or read the term 'terrorist'?

I likely do not have to explain in detail, for you already have that idea in your mind. You could also perform an internet search and look at images beneath that title 'terrorist.' Let us consider: is this a factual and honest definition of what that term means? Is it true that all terrorists fit that visual description? Perhaps we should read what, in fact, is the definition of the term terrorist.

One of the main definitions depicting the actions of a terrorist is “the use of violent acts to frighten people to achieve a political goal.” This could be a bit too narrow, but we can use this definition to adequately identify who are real terrorists.

Have you considered that a terrorist is one who calls for the dropping of bombs onto others? These terrorists are typically dressed in nice suits with very respectable titles before their names.

Another easily overlooked terrorist is one who blindly follows orders by the finely dressed terrorists. This overlooked terrorist is applauded and supported by popular consensus by people who believe in the justified use of violence to achieve political ends.

Yet another type of terrorist is one who works on their own to project a supposed threat, sometimes fooling people into blaming other parties.

We can see using the definition of a terrorist in the political context that many who are deemed heroes and honorable people are, by definition, terrorists. One must consider their personal role in supporting and accepting such activity and not be led astray to narrowly judge according to opinion. Mainstream media has incorrectly visually identified one type of terrorist. This type of terrorist is usually not in agreement with the popular terrorists we love.

25 March 2015

The Food Bank

This morning I pass by a building with a banner announcing a time and date for a Food Bank. I've been to several of these before. As I walked by, I began to experience a play of words in my head.

At a Food Bank, you are credited with food. Some food needs preparation, other items can be consumed immediately. There is no interest charged. No debt is realized.

At a Money Bank, you are indebted with paper. Depending on the kind of paper you are given, special attention is given to the terms. Interest is always charged.

Interesting that the food is something which will go bad if not used while the money can be used at any time.

What if the roles were reversed?

What if the money had a time limit to its use while the food would last a long time.

Why can't money be credited to anyone who comes to the Money Bank?

Why isn't the food charged interest?

Imagine receiving a dozen eggs from the Food Bank and having to return later that month with two eggs as payment for the 12! Sounds preposterous. But this is the expectation with the paper money.

Let us consider: the money was printed out ( in cash form ) or 'made' on a computer screen much like I press buttons on this computer keyboard and letters make words.

The food was grown somewhere. People were needed to harvest the food, package it, deliver it, etc.

Although folks come up with new recipes or ways of preparing food every day, who made the food? 

However, with money, that idea was made up some time ago.

One still cannot eat money.

Money is used to buy food.

Food is sold for money.

Can money be removed from the equation?

23 March 2015

All Things Purposed

To some people, the world is a chaotic and unpredictable mess. I would partially agree, and I understand this sentiment.

To others, nothing happens in the world without a purpose and reason. I fully agree, but I don't always understand.

I was walking the other day and heard the sirens blaring from emergency vehicles. My curiosity led me to turn the corner to where the emergency vehicles had lined up. A man had fallen three floors and was already covered with a sheet. The blood was red and bold. Everyone there, even the emergency responders, where solemn. Quite impacting is the affect of someone passing. Your heart begins to take inventory. You realize how precious life is, and how one never knows what the next moment may bring.

The man was painting an apartment building and seems to have slipped off a ladder.

I prayed for his soul, for his family, relatives, friends, the onlookers, their hearts, etc.

I couldn't help but get sad and a bit emotional at the thought of his family ( wife and / or children ) or relatives and their response to receiving a phone call about this. I thought about anyone he was financially supporting.

In my mind, I could understand that nothing happens outside of God's will. Not only did God know this man and his heart's condition, He also knew the exact moment this man would leave this plain. I then put things into perspective and consider the reflection his family and friends will make after hearing about the death of their relative / friend.

All things have a purpose, even the murder of the Son of Man. To those at that time, the death of their Teacher made no sense. It was as if He had failed. But that wasn't so!

22 March 2015

What You Don't Know You Don't Know

If only people would choose to listen more often than speak. Perhaps they would hear the manner in which the people around them are trying to love them, comfort them, hold them close and reach into their hearts to shake out the fear and darkness.

If only people were to think more highly of others prior to thinking highly of themselves. They may realize that others have more to offer than initially perceived. Do not the subjects support a king's kingdom? If the king is ignorant of the plight of his subjects, how will he enjoy the fruits of their labor if he is aloof and unconcerned?

If only those who desire to be first would realize the value in being last. Being last allows for the detours and pitfalls along the path to be made more evident.

What if people were to not act as if they knew all there is to know about any given subject? We may see less and less people with pie in their face and needing to adjust their ideas to reflect the newest realities.

I often times hear people scoff at the contents found in the Word of God. Even the phrase “the Word of God” makes some folks cringe. Consider; if the message found therein speaks to your heart, or exposes your heart, or makes sense of some of the senseless things happening in the world around you, could the words and message in scripture really have originated from the minds of men? Could so many predictions have originated from the minds of men? The attributed authors step beside their egos and give glory to God for their lives along with their projected work!

Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.

- Proverbs 30: 5

21 March 2015

Going Greek

This life is a continuous learning experience, that is, if you are looking to learn from life.

Riding public transportation yesterday, I was near a young woman who was boasting to an acquaintance of hers about her fighting and how she has humiliated certain individuals. I could tell in her eyes when I asked if I could ask her a question that she was on guard in hearing me address her. I asked a few questions, revolving around the explanation in the purpose and reason behind the violence she glorifies. She mentioned it was about domination; exuding power over another.

This is the very pecking order we accept as normal and just when we see it performed through certain classes of people in society; the politicians, the military, the wealthy. However, when this pecking order is presented through the lower classes in society, it is portrayed as vulgar, low and unjust. The news of street violence in the inner city is portrayed in a different manner than the violence called for by politicians and committed by military personnel in faraway places.

The culture of violence is evident, but the bias is quite difficult to identify.

When reading about Greek fraternities, sororities and the ancient Greek culture of military training, of slavery, of citizenship and class distinction based on physical strength, the present cultural climate becomes clearer to identify. The bias also comes into view. The disdain for one class of people while the praise for another class of people committing the same unconscionable acts becomes apparent.

The blatant hypocrisy and duplicity screams at you from the pages of history. The repeating of ignorance and arrogant justification is noticeable, but when most are distracted and plugged into a culture they cannot objectively separate themselves from, the hypocrisy is understandable.

20 March 2015

To Life

It is evident to those who desire to see the bigger and objective picture that life has been an unfolding to the reality that there is order and there is a Designer to all we see.

Different peoples at different times, who by human nature produced religions to explain the world around them as well as explain themselves, have been pointing out the consistencies of life. This doesn't mean the message in Christ ignores them. We see these consistencies repeated elsewhere throughout time and history. Doesn't this show God to have been at work with all peoples at all times?

To establish order and direction, the culmination of this experience must have been shown through someone / some particular people.

We look at what has happened to the people who produced Yeshua in the flesh. What has become of those people, their history and their culture? Doesn't history state it was demolished and thrown to the wind? This was predicted several times in their writings. Do they boast in Yeshua? They do not. If some who were part of that culture / religion before, they as other people from various cultures Today, have converted to the faith in response to the message. Their pride is now in an encompassing message, not their pedigree.

Does Yeshua debunk or disparage the paths of other peoples? Doesn't His message speak to the sensibilities of the heart and not heritage, lineage, religion, culture, skin color, economic status, etc.?

His message transcends all of these man-made modes of the mind.

We should look at what God has done over the expanse of time, otherwise, we are blown by the wind with every new and cleverly produced argument coming up with yet another distraction to what is evident to those who seek the truth despite themselves.

19 March 2015

Amazing Grace

I believe people are saved by God's grace. The message of the Gospel of Christ is that no man can save himself. There is no righteous act men can do which renders self-salvation. This is where religion ( including some Christian religious organizations ) are wrong.

The longer I live, the more the reality of His grace makes absolute sense. I look back at my past, even my recent past, and thank God for His grace. This morning while on my knees and going over what was on my heart and mind yesterday, I must thank Him; praise His Holy Name for His abundant and unconditional grace.

What are the bounds of grace? Are they visible? Is His grace conditional? Is there a list of do and do-not-do which we may go by that will ensure we are in His grace. Some would answer yes while pointing to the Gospel and subsequent letters to the saints. Has the individual who just came to faith not stand in grace because they don't know or haven't been enacting the entirety of the Gospel message? Could this be true? Is there a 'grace period' like a job?

Grace is the man hanging on the cross next to Christ who heard “truly I tell, Today you will be with me in paradise.”

Grace is the jailor who came to know Christ after being prevented from killing himself after the angel unlocked the gates and chains of the disciples; he and his entire family were baptized that night.

Grace is the reality that you are still alive despite your shortcomings of yesterday.

Man is fallible. God is infallible. He knows and understands your corruptibility. He also knows the sincerity of your heart regarding your human nature.

Grace is how Christ treated those who condemned Him.

18 March 2015

You're The Reaper

Decisions we make affect us primarily, others secondarily.

The person who inflicts pain on another person doesn't realize how life functions. Believing one is free from consequence because they didn't experience a consequence does not mean a wrong goes unpunished. They do not realize the surreal manner in which life brings the return. Some say 'karma.' Others term this 'fate.' Still others, 'reaping what you sow.' We have words defining the eventual recompense for wrongs.

The internet has videos showcasing instant karma, or real-world responses to people's ill actions. 

Sure, these could be categorized as 'chance' and anomalies, but are they?

Have you ever had a memory haunt you? Maybe something said or done which didn't come back to bite you at first. You may beat yourself up because of it. For some, they remember things they 'got away with' and consider themselves lucky or ahead of the game. But is this truly so? Perhaps they are at a loss compared to the person whose conscience affects them for the wrongs they've done to others.

Yet, the point in writing this particular blog is to reflect on how personal actions also affect the initiate, not only the receiver(s).

If someone lives long enough and finds themselves reflecting on their past because their present is hindered ( old age, an injury, a life event, etc. ), herein can creep regret and reflecting on past wrongs.

But isn't the hope of forgiveness what grants peace after reflecting on past wrongs?

Isn't the desire to right the wrongs done what speaks redemption into view?

Isn't sorrow for having committed the wrongs what beckons the learning of life's lessons?

Isn't knowing that, despite your shortcomings, you're still loved by some One who rejoices at your gratitude for grace and asking for His forgiveness?


17 March 2015

The Eaves Are Dropping

Sitting in a fairly quiet coffee shop, minding my own business, I sometimes cannot help overhear what is being said near me. At times, the conversations are quite interesting. Occasionally I invite myself into the conversation. I am moved to share my peace ( or two copper coins worth of opinion, depending on the listeners ).

However, sometimes I cannot take what I hear and quickly grab my headphones to hear some music. It is a bittersweet reaction. I find myself grateful for God removing the drama of the world, removing the cycle of despair the unfruitful methods this world brings.

Other times I hear new business opportunities. When listening closely, I decipher the unmentioned risks and the overall scam involved. In other instances, I hear accounts of dramatic relationships and how they go sour time and time again. I become grateful because I see I've been removed from that path which I was pursuing while believing I was 'okay' and being 'normal' like everyone else.

The bitter part of the bittersweet is how my heart is pained hearing those who seem trapped, as I was. This is why I can't help but at least voice my opinion or make suggestions. I push past the possibility of embarrassment to at least try and point out something they may not see or are overlooking purposely or by mistake.

“Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” 
- 1 Peter 1: 17-19

16 March 2015

Ex Malo Bonum

Why do bad things happen to good people? 

This is a question often asked when searching for an answer that comprehends how a benevolent God can exist while tragedy and wickedness also exists in the world. 

I'd like to try and answer why evil exists. 

My answer may not be welcomed or accepted, but my answer will be according to my faith in the all knowing and omnipresent God who sees all that happens in creation. 

My answer is according to my finite understanding of the Infinite.

If darkness didn't exist, would it be possible to identify what light is?

If night time didn't follow day time, would someone be able to distinguish one from the other?

Science states, without the respite of the night, plants would be scorched from being continuously exposed to the sunlight. 

We can see a neutral answer to why darkness compliments light, and is necessary. 

Yes, I am using a simple and wholly unrelated answer, but the analogy and comparison in terms providing understanding forwards my point.

Some people have a difficult time understanding how the innocent can suffer at the hands of the wicked with many times no justice being realized. 

I know it is a convenient answer to say that the innocent will see justice, if not while on the earth – this material plane, certainly in the spiritual world where energy never dies. 

This is where hope stems from. 

This is how faith is recognized as well as rewarded.

How do I know justice is served after death? 

Consider how the memory of those good among us continues while the memory of those bad among us fades away ( or are forever vilified ). 

Consider also the lessons of the good which have reaped positive results in those who learn from the good.

15 March 2015

Let Your Light Shine Bright

Do you think that only certain people have a 'light' within them?

Do we not all share in common the breath of life, regardless of our views and beliefs?

“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

- Genesis 2: 7

If you are alive and breathing, you have the breath of life within you!

Viewing the world from this perspective, we can see how gracious God is with every person who has taken a breath.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

- Matthew 5: 43-45

There was a time, when varieties of peoples and cultures had yet to mature into accepting one another as equals, when separation was the norm.

We can now see clearer how God has been gracious with people regardless of their temperament and actions towards others.

We can see how all of mankind is our neighbor.

He calls us to accept each other as brothers/sisters.

If you've learned something from a stranger, seen a twinkle in the eyes of someone, you have seen their light.

We see people's light when they are giving an inspirational speech.

We see their light when they move us in our hearts.

We all have a light to share.

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

- Matthew 5: 16

14 March 2015

Love Disconnection

How do you teach someone about love when they don't believe true love exists because their idea of love means sex, gifts and expectations?

Where can the man/woman who grew up manipulated, lied to, ridiculed, insulted and abused learn to see that not all people will treat them this way?

I recently viewed a documentary about western men visiting Ukraine in search of brides. I heard one man liking women to cars. Like test driving a car, he has to test drive the women prior to considering them for marriage. No virgins exist, so he is dealing with a used product (he says). He's made the trip six times.
Another man, drinking heavily throughout the trip, freely shares his method of conquest. He tells the women that his entire family recently perished in a horrible accident. He uses their compassion and pity to lure them into bed. He's so proud.

The other men justify their categorization of western women. They're money hungry, lazy and out of touch with the classic definition of a woman's role these men have in mind. The men lament on the woes of past relationships. However, they don't realize how they are partly to blame for continuing the culture that promotes the things they are seemingly offended by. They fail to realize their very actions and manner of going about searching for a wife is problematic. They fail to realize the western mindset is already in Ukraine and the rest of the world.

The would-be brides have also been conditioned by the western mindset, the culture being present there and elsewhere.

The western mindset promoted in media has become the world's common denominator.

The method of finding someone to love, according to popular opinion, seems to be quite misunderstood by very many people.

Searching for true love on dark paths.

13 March 2015

Strong Opinions Can Be Wrong

Although the prior covenant depicted in the Old Testament was fulfilled by Yeshua Christ, leaving it completed and thus not in effect, we can still read and learn how mankind Today continues to mirror the shortcomings of the people in those times.

When it comes to reading, learning and being guided by the Word of God ( what can be more amazing and revealing than what God has to say ), why do the religious look beyond what has already been inspired by God?

I ask this because for some religious Jews, they look to the Talmud and the Midrash ( two examples ) as guidance. However, these are the explanations of men regarding the law of God and other revelations. The Muslims also look to the Hadiths and other opinions of men regarding what they believe to be direct revelations from God through an angel to the man Muhammad.

This is what the Lord says:

“Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord. That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

- Jeremiah 17: 5-8

They keep saying to me, “Where is the word of the Lord? Let it now be fulfilled!”

- Jeremiah 17: 15


12 March 2015

More Than The Waters Above And Below

The taste of mint leaves in this ice water is superb. Water on its own is superb. Clear, clean, cool and tasteless water on a hot day quenches the thirst like no other thing can, I think. Adding mint leaves, or wedges of oranges, or wedges of lemons or limes, or slices of cucumber to the water drinking experience brings with it a new level of satisfaction. What else can be added to water to heighten the tasteless thirst quenching experience?

As I'm sure you already know, using the term 'tasteless' in regards to water is not a negative connotation. Does pure water have a taste? We have tasted water that was awful, haven't we? Water is an amazing substance.

Our bodies have more water by volume. At least half of our body weight consists of water. It is from a body of water we are born. It is in a body of water we are nurtured while growing in the womb. When the 'water breaks' is when a woman knows her child is about to come forth into the world.

We live in a world where water is the most abundant substance. There are waters in the ocean, waters in the sky, streams of waters flowing within the ocean and sky waters. The clouds in the sky move as their denser counterparts below them, only much slower.

Water changes form; gas, to a liquid, to a solid. The same water which you drink from a mountain top has the same components which will in due time eventually evaporate from the surface of the ocean, returning to that mountain top or perhaps becoming sealed in ice for a time.

Water is something amazing which carries with it life in more ways than described.

Man is also born anew through water baptism.

10 March 2015

Projected Personas

Anyone watching a moment of television cannot help but be influenced in even in the smallest way by that programming. I was a product of an upbringing before television and radio for hours a day. It was the cartoons firstly. Later came the mini dramas / comedies marketed to young people. Later came the music videos. Along the way the silver screen movies depicting heroes and villains of all types. To project oneself into your favorite television or movie character, or see yourself in any given actor's career, isn't hard to imagine.

Today, having slowly weened myself from consistent media programming, I can see with more clarity how others can perceive themselves and the world around them according to the programming. I still find myself relating, either consciously or subconsciously, to the characters; sometimes considering life decisions based on what such and such character would do. I can thus see how typical it is to project oneself into fictitious characters on television / the movie screen. The projected persona seems to be a part of the westernized culture, and this mentality has made its way into eastern / non-westernized cultures.

I can say that, every time I watch a movie, it is an hour or so of escape. And depending on how well the movie is written, directed and acted out, is how deep the mental journey goes. What I can also identify is the conscious choice to take this journey every so often or not. That decision makes a big difference in objectively seeing the world. Prior to this, I wasn't even aware. I would simply escape the moment I arrived home from school or work. Even in the car, the radio programming would journey me along the lyrical path of the artist, my thoughts suspended.

Choose your programming.

09 March 2015

ProVerbials For The Chosen

Underestimating your positive impact onto others is like forgetting how good the sun's hot rays feel on your skin on a cool day.

No matter how frigid others may act around you, your warm expressions surely do impact their chilly hearts.

Although the pessimist typically only sees the negative and what is lacking, the optimist sees the positive coming from the negative and hope unveiled from the void.

Despite what may seem to be a constant itch of doubt bothering your heart, when faith scratches the surface of doubt, it pours out the questions addressing those doubts.

If you don't hear “thank you” when serving others, that doesn't mean their ingratitude cancels out your loving effort; some One does see and recompenses your good effort.

Working to be acknowledged is like expecting the air to thank you for breathing it out of your lungs.

"My son, if you accept My words and store up My commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding — indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.

For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds success in store for the upright, He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for He guards the course of the just and protects the way of His faithful ones.

Then you will understand what is right and just and fair — every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you."

- Proverbs 2: 1-11

07 March 2015

Why You Are Chosen

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

- John 15: 1-2
- who is the true vine?
- who is the gardener?
- what happens to the branches that bear no fruit?
- what does it mean to be pruned?

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in My Name the Father will give you. This is My command: Love each other.”

- John 15: 16-17
- who makes the choice in this relationship?
- your appointment is for which purposes?
- what is the command?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

- Galatians 5: 22-23
- what are the several fruits of the Spirit?
- which law opposes these fruits?

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.

- 2 Peter 1: 3-7
- what does it mean to participate in the divine nature?

06 March 2015

The Secular Case

Few secular historical sources express compelling evidence of Yeshua Christ and His affect on believers.  Looking at two sources, we can read the interesting yet compelling manner in which they are recorded.  These defeat the argument of revisions made by zealous Christians hoping to rewrite history to compliment the faith.

Here Tacitus, the historian, writing about the Christian climate in Rome after that city's devastating fire:

“Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace.  Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.”

- Tacitus (Annals 15:44 ~65 AD)

Fifty years later we can read Pliny's report to his Emperor about Christians:

“They stated that the sum of their guilt or error amounted to this, that they used to gather on a stated day before dawn and sing to Christ as if he were a god, and that they took an oath not to involve themselves in villainy, but rather to commit no theft, no fraud, no adultery; not to break faith, nor to deny money placed with them in trust.  Once these things were done, it was their custom to part and return later to eat a meal together, innocently, although they stopped this after my edict, in which I, following your mandate, forbade all secret societies.”

- Pliny (letter to Emperor Trajan ~111 AD)

05 March 2015

Miracles You Say?

I have a 67 year old friend I see every so often at one of the local coffee shops I frequent. We have some of the liveliest debates on political, religious and societal issues. I look forward to seeing him. He's a great guy, very funny and witty. I know I'm going to have an intellectual and thought provoking chat whenever I see him. He's a retired high school math and science teacher.

My friend grew up in an Orthodox Jewish home. He recently shared how his dad was one of the most honorable and honest people he knew. He states his dad never lied to him and would keep his word with anyone he'd speak to. His dad believed in God, but my friend does not.  After years of not hearing acceptable responses to his questions, he eventually stopped trying to believe.

I shared with him the 'proofs' and 'evidence' I've seen in my lifetime while also mentioning the points made in the Scriptures. Every point is arguable and easily reasoned away as something else. I understand this. I can't help but get a bit frustrated when, to me, the evidence is beyond measure. But for others, each and every point can be reasoned away and intellectually defined by science.

Almost everything.

He cannot explain the first-hand accounts I and other people have shared with him regarding the unexplainable things we've seen happen before our eyes. For some, if an occurrence cannot be reproduced by others it is not 'real.' It's the box of the scientific method which prevents people from seeing beyond the construct of man's wisdom.

I cannot reproduce or even begin to suggest how to provide an environment for miracles to happen, but when they do, all I can do is thank God and be grateful.

04 March 2015

It Is You

The old has to pass away in order for the new to be realized.

As Yeshua was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to Him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”

“Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Yeshua. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

- Mark 13: 1-2 (~33 AD)

Contemporary Jewish historian Josephus wrote that the city [Jerusalem] "was so thoroughly razed to the ground by those that demolished it to its foundations, that nothing was left that could ever persuade visitors that it had once been a place of habitation."

- Josephus, Jewish War, 7:1:1 (75 AD)

The temple building couldn't house God's vastness.

To those who sold doves He said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

The Jews then responded to Him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”
Yeshua answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple He had spoken of was His body. After He was raised from the dead, His disciples recalled what He had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Yeshua had spoken.”

- John 2: 16-22 (~31 AD)

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

- 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20 (~55 AD)

03 March 2015

Believing Is Seeing

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man / human being, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into His Presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”

'Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey Him.’

- Daniel 7: 13-14, 27

Then Yeshua came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

- Matthew 28: 18-20

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him.

- Colossians 1: 15-19


02 March 2015

The Human Element: Sydney The Teacher

Recently I overheard a woman lamenting about recovering from her week of work. We eventually sparked up a conversation. She's a teacher near retirement and says she's seen both the city and classroom change since she started teaching in the 1970's.

She can't believe that schools are now serving dinner. She recalls the state's breakfast starting, then the state lunch. When working in a particular low-income part of Los Angeles, she had to figure out what to do when kids would come to school with empty stomachs. She taught them how to make meals out of simple things they had at home. Kids would come to school with a note asking her to sew buttons and repair torn clothes; another lesson.

She admitted the 'system' is broken. I agreed to a certain extent. I mentioned how in primitive cultures everyone had a part in raising the next generation. I spoke about how the elders in the community were usually the leaders because of their wealth of experience and accumulated wisdom. I also talked about how there was no such thing as some members of society being in want because everyone was working together. I was outlining the native cultures to the land currently called America.

She said she was Cherokee! I said she surely knows what I'm talking about. She then recalled how a young relative on the reservation desired a new drum to play music on. An elder, instead of going to the store to buy him a drum, proposed to the young man he learn how to make a drum. He taught the youth about where the parts of a drum come from opportunity to teach life lessons

When we are involved in the world around us and its people is when we realize our place and responsibility.