Friday, October 31, 2008

"Trick-er-Treat!!":But Not For Children

Certainly it was not on the eve of hallowing dead saints when Eve wandered off by herself into the midst of Eden just to "look at" what God had warned her "Not to touch." But Eve, being the more social of the pair went off in search of new perspectives.
Lucifer, (a.k.a., Satan, the devil, the father of lies, a liar from the beginning, et cetera) was waiting. Satan, wisely costumed as what was one of the most beautiful creatures of God's creation, was 'hanging out' near the tree of Good and Evil. Hoping (perhaps praying to himself) that one of the pair would pass within earshot, the devil didn't have long to wait.
Eve soon stood near the tree contemplating its beauty, probably wondering how anything so beautiful could be so deadly. (I've heard there are women that are like that tree). Anyway, the father of lies, loosed a long, low whistle that caught her ear and Satan caught her eye. He asked Eve, "Didn't God say that that you could eat from any tree in the garden? (Seeds of his "trick" are planted in the mind of Eve). Eve replied, "Well, yes that's true except He said that this one tree--the one that has the knowledge of good and evil, we are not supposed to even touch".
Comment: One has to assume God had held classes for Adam and Eve, all on the 101 level, in "Good," "Evil," "Death," "Temptation," "Sin"; all the basic stuff which, if they did their homework, would keep them out of trouble. Well, evidently Eve spent her evenings watching 'Wheel of Misfortune' instead of boning up for the big test.
Back to Our Story. So Satan says, "It's not true (what God says), you're not 'gonna' die (already his vocabulary was slipping). Besides, God knows that when you take just a little taste of this beautiful fruit your eyes --by the way, they are beautiful--will be opened and guess what; you'll be just like God; you'll be smart like God; you'll enter a new, higher, more exciting sphere of existence. Besides, aren't you tired of just doing this borrring gardening stuff? The trick is in the trap and it's set to spring.
Eve picks the fruit, takes a bite, and waits for a peyote-like reaction; not much really; like smoking dried banana peelings. Fruit in hand she finds Adam and says. "Here; try this. It's not bad."
Adam heaves a big sigh because he knows what's up and so he takes the treat Eve offers and makes the decision to eat the fruit. Eve was tricked. Adam treated the warnings of God lightly and soon they saw they were naked and wrapped their bodies in the large leaves of a tree to hide mostly their shame.
Adam and Eve had to wait several hundred years to feel the final clause of God's warning, but it came. It came with a vengeance; murder of one of their first two sons, sickness, labor pains, sweat, weeds, and worst of all, the cackling laughter of Satan echoing through the corridors of space; his signal to all the worlds that he had "tricked Adam and Eve into a 'treat' with deadly, eternal cosmic results.
"Trick-er-Treat!! e.c.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

To Compose, Or, To Decompose

Presently I'm reading Dictionary of Theology by the German, Catholic theologians, Karl Rahner and Herbert Vorgrimler. Lest anyone think that I am some sort of an intellectual let me set the record straight by saying that there are words in here I have never heard of; and that's from someone who reads the unabridged dictionary and thesauri for recreation.
The subject is the soul. And of course the question has to do with the destiny of the soul at death. Does it take flight to an upper- or lower-tier existence, or is it neither? Does one's body simply rest in the grave until That Day?
I've written on this previously but am no more convinced that the churches of today have it right. The Germans only add to the confusion when they speak of "...the principle of man..."
Their first confusing premise is that one must distinguish between "being" and "the principle of being."
They define "the principle of being" as "an intrinsic source of a being, because of which--without prejudice to its unity--that being exhibits a plurality of characteristics none of which can be sufficiently explained by any other, though each one, being part of the whole, is codetermined by the whole. The soul, in Christian teaching, is a principle of being, not an entity which exists for its own sake and has entered in an adventitious union with matter." (pg.483)
Did you get that? Me neither; principally because I don't consider it, "gettable."
As soon as the starter's pistol is fired they deny that they espouse Platonic (after, Plato) dualism but my reading of both the big words and the small ones tell me that the conclusions are the same; the BCE Greeks and the CE Germans. Id est, the soul is immortal. The Germans do it with stainless steel nuts and bolts which is heavier and less poetic than the Greek. (That was close ; I almost left out the "r").
Their essential conclusion (pg.484) states, "Hence reason and Christian faith tell us that the soul does not cease to exist at death, together with man's physical and biological consciousness. The soul is immortal (Denzinger 1440 f.), though this immortality is not to be considered mere continuance as before but a supratemporal fulfillment of the spiritual person who has finished the period when he was free to act in time, and though revelation testifies that ultimately this fulfillment will be manifest as the completion of the whole man.":
If we still don't get it I'll tell you why; or rather I'll let them explain: "...Scripture and Tradition form a single entity because they have a single origin--God's unique revelation--and mutually condition each other."[pg.507] [2nd VC, 9-10].
So there you have it; I think!
Rome uses the convenience of Tradition (you noted the word was capitalized didn't you), reason, faith, and revelation (that word is lower case in contrast to the Biblical Revelation, the true title of which is, The Revelation of Jesus Christ.). Christ is our Premise, our Faith, our Principle, our Promise. "Can you search out the deep things of God" [Job 11:7]
This is hefty stuff and it's time for me to go. I'm tired of standing on this soap box and besides most of the crowd went home long ago to watch TV. God Bless. e.c.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Two Legs of Daniel's Image

Today I read a piece online by Samuele Bacchiocchi, a retired Professor of Old Testament History at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Mich. Anyway, he introduced an idea I had never considered and while not exactly squaring with historical dogma, I found his hypothesis (his word), intriguing.
In short, the idea he offered was that the two legs of iron described in Daniel chapter 2, represent not only the office of the papacy (a historical Protestant Interpretation) but that each leg represents a departure from the truth delivered to the saints. One leg represents (as noted) the papal see and the other represents Islam.
To support his hypothesis he cited Martin Luther and John Calvin--two giants of the reformation--each of whom proposed the identical idea. Bacchiocchi went on to apply the litmus test of Scripture to each of the notable characteristics of these (essentially) apostate religious powers. Some were a better fit for the papacy, some could clearly apply to Islam and some put a prophetic shoe --so to speak--on each foot of the statue.
I was saddened that Samuele thought it necessary to make a plea that his computer not be jammed with hate mail.
Evidently there are members of the church--I will widen that to include members of every church--who are intolerant of a scholarly open discussion of Scripture; particularly where there is a departure from the accepted dogma. (Before anyone gets too excited about me using the word,"dogma," I will point out that synonyms include; "school of thought, philosophy, and doctrine.") Feel free to look it up in your local Thesaurus and check it out.
Anyway...before I so rudely interrupted myself...the way a church grows to better understand doctrine and to grasp the deeper meanings and nuances of what is already known, it is essential that more study, more intense study, and more corporate study be a part of the weekly individual and corporate worship cycle.
I always find it annoying when Bible class before the main service is concerned first, with making it through the lesson and second, engaging in discussion and sharing different points of view. The reason that last one isn't popular is that everyone wants to be right, and those who strive to be the "most right" usually manage to do so by talking the most: Which (sadly) is what I usually do.
If you want to read Bacchiocchi I'll give you the link but you have to want to read, want to think, want to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance, and have to want to graciously accept what He reveals even if it's not the way you've always thought.
I can't resist a roguish thought; the next time a teacher seems to stifle discussion and is so bold as to say he/she wants to get through the whole lesson; raise you hand and inquire (meekly), "Why is so important to finish the lesson?" Then sit quietly, hands saintly folded, a neutral facial expression, all the while sending the unmistakable message that you're patiently waiting for and expecting an answer.
Carry on. Memorize Scripture! Study up, "Agitate, agitate, agitate,"and stay close to Christ. God Bless. e.c.
Here's the link.

Fully God, Fully Man

Have you wondered why the Christ was born as a babe in Bethlehem? The answers are profound, quite simple, and forensic (legal).
You probably know that there are rules of engagement in war. All this was worked out decades ago in the Geneva Conventions. Of course there are rogues who follow no rules and use war as a way to practice and perfect cruelty to the highest possible level.
The Bible says that there was "...war in heaven..." [Isaiah 14:12-17]. We won't go into the "why" war began but instead we'll talk about "how" that war was, and is, being fought.
Christ came to this earth for one purpose only, to lay the groundwork for the salvation of man and the destruction of the E-Bola-like lethal virus of sin. He did both. To draw an analogy, Satan makes war much like the terrorists today. We never know when or where he will appear or what uniform he will wear. (one of the rules is that a soldier is to be easily recognized by their uniform). Terrorists appear as police, ordinary citizens, women, and even children.
Satan was the first terrorist and he will be the last. God and His angels do not, will not, and cannot mislead in any way. Their mission is "straight ahead." So when Christ came to earth, in order to be Compassionate Redeemer it was essential that He fully apprehend the meaning and feelings of what it is like to be fully human.
He experienced hunger, exhaustion, sleeplessness, pain, sorrow, rejection, loneliness, betrayal, torture, crucifixion, and eventually death.
By doing so His life was not an abstraction of love and redemption; His life was a catalyst that accelerated the reactive collision between Good and Evil. Being "The Son of Man," was a requirement; and article of engagement, if you please. The Book of Hebrews says, speaking of Jesus, that '...we do not have a High Priest who cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities but who was in all points tempted just as are we' [paraphrased]. It had/has to be that way.
Satan is the Al Quida (Al Qaeda) of the universe. Christ has an army of angels, uniformed, trained, orderly, eager to follow and hasten the end of the war. Every war that has ever plagued man is a microscopic dramatization of the Real War that has claimed untold billions of casualties over the millenia.
Will it end? Yes! When? We only know it will be soon.
We're not happy to know only "soon" it will end because that has been the hope for centuries. But this we know; Jesus Christ and His holy Army of angels will be victorious; no question.
God Bless, and stand your watch for Christ. e.c.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

No More Sadness

The Bible paints a picture of Heaven using a big brush and broad strokes. One has to stand back to get the picture but even then, as Isaiah writes, "...nor [has it] entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him..".[Isa. 64:4][I Corin. 2:9].
We know that there will be no more death. In this life we are surrounded and sometimes overwhelmed by death. Most of it is real; some of it is pretended. I have always had difficulty understanding fascination with death as entertainment.
The Romans were good at 'Death Extravaganzas'. Miscreants were torn to pieces and eaten by wild animals as a part of 'theater-in-the-round.' Their death served as bloody signals to society at large: "If you are caught stealing, if you kill someone, if you refuse to pay allegiance to the Empire, if you worship a God we (pantheists) don't know... this will be your fate."
Our society is a lot like Rome because, death-as-entertainment, is big business, except that we eat popcorn and drink 20 oz. 'Colas' while we enjoy?? and wide-screen, stereophonic productions of bad guys (so called) being blown up, blown away, burned up, tortured, and tormented. Odd thing: I've never seen a movie title that read; "You Shall Not Murder," or, "Turn The Other Cheek."
Death is cheered, applauded, laughed at, and we leave the theater effusing over the excitement experienced watching nearly-real bloodshed, nearly-real agony, nearly-real death.
Another odd thing: When I've had to witness death as it really is; when the one being shot doesn't get up for a second "take", when the one in the coffin stays there and the lid is closed, and you watch the coffin being lowered into the ground, there is no cheering, no laughing, no popcorn, no Coca Cola: Just the flow of salty tears. And we remember the words of Poe in "The Raven:" "Quoth the raven, 'Nevermore."
Nevermore on this earth do we see the infant, the child, the brother or sister, the father or mother, the best friend that waits in the dust for the Resurrection call of Christ.
"For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an Archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up in the air together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord." [I Thess. 4:15&16].
I have told my wife (of almost 52 years,) whether we are living or dead, when Jesus comes to get his children my greatest hope and joy will be to make the journey from earth to heaven "...holding hands..."
This is what it means when the Bible says, "...there will be no more sorrow...". God Bless.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Jesus Freak Addict

Someone, somewhere, some time ago coined the term, "Jesus Freak." It was supposed to be an insult and perhaps it still is; that is of course unless one IS a Jesus Freak, in which case it is the highest of compliments.
To belong to this elite group one has to have been credentialed and of course there are requirements. Here is the official list:

1. You have to be poor in spirit

2. You have to show proof of having mourned

3. Meekness is essential

4. You need a big appetite and a real thirst for righteousness

5. Being merciful is a big requirement

6. Pure in heart; this one's good for laughs for unbelievers

7. You have to know how to be a peacemaker

8. You have to be able to keep your mouth shut when others lie about you, spread all kinds of malicious rumors and generally hate you

9. Through all this nasty stuff you have to be able to rejoice and be exceedingly glad because you know there's a big reward waiting for you

That's it. The list isn't long but it's tough. What's more you'll never do any of it all by yourself. Hang tough like Paul and ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit...every day

God Bless you, Jesus Freak and welcome aboard.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Feet Of Iron And Clay

John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, begins the 14th chapter quoting Christ. He writes,"Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid..."
In these days, in these world conditions, many people are troubled and afraid. They wonder if the world will be destroyed by some psychotic zealot or religious fanatics whose hearts and minds are set upon setting up their own kingdom(s) and, like some football team that has just won the Super Bowl, being "number one."
True, times are troubled but God is in control. The history of the kingdoms of this world was written by the Prophet Daniel 600 years before The Christ was born.
It is all described in Daniel the second chapter. Nebuchadnezzar, the king of ancient Babylon (in Iraq) had a dream and when he awoke he was unable to remember it. What he did remember was that he was greatly disturbed, was unable to sleep and that he had to find some way of recalling the dream and learning its meaning. Enter Daniel.
The Prophet told the king that there was a God in heaven that had revealed to him both the dream and its meaning. Daniel told the king that he saw a large image of a man, only this man had a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of brass, legs of iron and feet of iron and clay. He then told Nebuchadnezzar that he saw a stone cut out of a mountain without hands and that this stone struck the statue in the feet of iron and clay. The clay, iron, brass, silver, and gold were ground to powder that was blown away in the wind and the stone filled the whole earth.
Now the interpretation: Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar that he was the head of gold and that the metals represented successive kingdoms each less glorious than Babylon. Silver represented the Medes and Persians, brass represented the Greeks under Alexander the Great. Rome was the kingdom of iron.
Rome was not conquered, it was divided up by the invading barbarian hordes from the North. The ten toes represent the emergent nations of Europe. Some are strong (iron) and some are weak (clay) but they are not miscible nor will they ever be mixed again. They tried to be strong and to unite by intermarriage; it failed. (Even this fact is recorded in Daniel). Every would-be conqueror who tried to unite Europe has failed from Charlemagne to Napoleon. Hitler failed. Stalin failed. Sadam Hussein failed. Putin will fail, Chavez will fail, Iran will fail, Islam will fail; they all will fail because God has etched the line in time; Rome was the last world kingdom.
Oh, there will be wars and others will try to outwit God but they will all fail. The feet and toes represent the end-times of this world. In man, from head to toe, what? That is the end.
The stone cut out without hands that destroyed the image (kingdoms of the world) and its feet and toes represents the Kingdom of God. Jesus Christ is the Rock (of Ages) and we, living in the time of the toes (perhaps the toenails) may be witnesses to the establishment of the eternal Kingdom of Jesus the Christ.
We worry about the diminished value of our homes. We worry about our devalued 401K (now a 201K). We worry about the price of food and heating oil and gasoline but I will point you back to the words of Christ: "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. You believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions (rooms). If it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you and if I go, I will come again and receive you unto Myself, that where I am there you may be also." [John 14:1-3].
God said to Joshua as he was about to take all of Israel into the land of promise: "I will never leave you nor forsake you." Jesus is about to lead His people (those who believe, accept, and obey Him) into the Land of Promise. Joshua represents Jesus as the One who takes His people from the desert of this world into a land flowing with milk and honey.
"If God be for us, who can be against us."
God Bless. e.c.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A "Day of Atonement" For Christians

October 11 2008 saw the Jews celebrate Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement. This day was set by God when the Jews were in the Sinai desert after they fled Egypt.
Moses had been given detailed instructions on the design and furnishings of the Tabernacle/Sanctuary as well as specific instructions about the services; both day-to-day and yearly.
Without fear of contradiction I will say that the most important yearly service was the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) the day when atonement was made for the sins of all the children of Israel.
Sadly, the Jews lost sight of, or never saw, or refused to see, the meaning of this day. In Hebrews chapter four the writer says that the Gospel was preached to the Jews in the desert just as it was taught by Christ, his disciples, and those who followed.
Jesus Christ was and is the center of focus in the Sanctuary service. He was the symbol characterized by the sacrifice of a spotless lamb for sin. He was symbolized in the Shew bread ("I am the bread of life"). He was symbolized by the candles that lighted the Holy Place ("I am the light of the world.")
The entire plan of salvation was played out over the year in the tabernacle services. At the final service, there is symbolized the judgement and the destruction of sin. Two goats were chosen; one for sacrifice and one to bear all the sins of Israel. when Arron finished offering the blood for the forgiveness of sin, he came out of the Most Holy Place, put his hands on the head of the sin-bearing goat (which represented Satan) which was led off into a desolate place and left in the desert.
If one believes the Old Testament has no meaning they need to read about Cain and Able. Able sacrificed a spotless lamb as God asked. Able brought the fruits of his garden (his works, if you please) which God rejected. God always rejects our works when we are so arrogant as to suggest that our righteousness is good enough to get us an "admit one" ticket to heaven.
The next place we find righteousness and faith in the OT is also in Genesis chapter [15:6] where we read that 'Abraham believed God and it is accounted to him as righteousness.'
All of these things are iterated in the Book of Hebrews, particularly chapter 11.
Question: Are we ready for the final Day of Atonement? It will come. It is coming. It was prophesied in the Old Testament, in the Sinai desert, in the Tabernacle, and it is underlined in the book of Hebrews.
Have you never heard of this? Don't take my word. Read the Word and let the Holy Spirit speak to you. God Bless! e.c.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Sound of Sirens

Where we live we almost never hear the sound of a siren. It hasn't always been that way. There was Glendale, CA. on Garden Grove Avenue. Then of course, near San Bernardino, CA sirens sounded every day and every night. The police, the firetrucks, the EMT's; it got so we really didn't hear them unless they were headed straight down our street.
So what's the point?
Thank you for asking.
If one is witness to the sights and sounds of emergency that is real, and, if one watches enough television or sees violence larger than life in the movie theater, and, if one listens to enough music that celebrates violence ,their mind and spirit are soon immunized to where violence and emergency are accepted without question or concern as a part of life.
But they are part of life, aren't they?
Yes, they are.
But should we be so calloused as to not be bothered? In today's very uncertain world, shouldn't we be asking, "What's going on?"
What's going on with the economy? not just here in our home Town but across the face of the Globe. You probably heard (I believe it was Merck Pharmaceuticals) that cut 7000 jobs in the last few days. Maybe you or someone in your family has just lost their job. What do we do? How will we survive? Will we be able to pay our bills?
"Oh, this has happened so many times and we always bounce back; we just need a little time and things will be fine;" sure, everything is going to be just fine, every time. All we need is time.
Christ says. "As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man. They were eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage until the flood came and took them all away."
There is nothing wrong with eating.
There is nothing wrong with drinking (except alcohol of course).
There is nothing wrong with getting married and having a family.
There is nothing wrong in giving your daughter in marriage.
So what's the problem?
The sirens; their the problem!!
We don't her them anymore and this time they're coming straight down the street to our house. It doesn't have to be fire or a medical emergency; it doesn't even have to be armed robbery, or, God forbid, something worse.
Then what is it? What are supposed to be looking for?

"Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming--in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the
morning--lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to ll:Watch!"

[Mark 13:35-37]

Perhaps we're able to sleep through the noise of the city; the sirens, the screams, the traffic, the gunshots, the neighbors.

"Be still and know that I am God." [Psalms 46:10]

God Bless! e.c.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Time of Trouble Such As Never Was...

The Old Testament book of Daniel (the prophetic hand that fits the prophetic glove of the book of Revelation) predicts the coming of ..."a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book. And of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever." [Daniel 12:1-3].
Without sounding hyper anxious or paranoid, the thinking man and woman should consider the signs of collapse unfolding all around us:
1). Collapse of agriculture over the world
2). Collapse of sustainable fresh water over the world
3). Collapse of the environment
4). Collapse of the economy; world wide
5). Collapse of social and and political stability; world wide
One could site examples of each of these issues but it is sufficient only to read unbiased news reports and to peruse the opinions of those whom we hold as "expert" in each of these areas of the global economy; (used in the sense to mean more that money).
We read in Matthew chapter 24 that there will be wars, famine, pestilence, and earthquakes and it goes on to say that all these are but the beginning of birth pains. In other words, the labor pains have only just begun. The chapter talks about false prophets who will deceive many, lawlessness, the love of many growing cold (not caring for family, friends, neighbors, etc. Christ adds a thought (that sounds like an echo from Daniel),"..that there will be a great tribulation, such has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be,"
The skeptics among us are quick to remind that there has always been earthquakes, pestilence (disease), lawlessness, wars, rumors of wars, etc. They are correct. But that does not diminish the increase of frequency and intensity of these events.
Go to the Internet and plot the changes in frequency and intensity of natural events over the past decade. You shouldn't be surprised to find just what I described. Things are worsening in the world; even non-religious headlines declare that fact. But for those who are in Christ there is a promise that goes like this (paraphrased). 'Fear not, for I have overcome the world.'
Whenever Christ encountered his disciples, the prophets, etc., the first two words He spoke were usually, "Fear not." Will all that is ahead, if we are in Christ and He in us we need not fear nor be afraid. "Look up, for your redemption draweth nigh." That's right! It's getting closer; "..even at the door." God Bless, and stay tuned. e.c.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Our Collective (Protestant) Short-term Memory

There was a point to the Protestant Reformation but it seems to have become obscured in the detritus of political correctness and its first-, or second-born; illegitimate child, Ecumenism. "You just need to be loving," is the melody line sung in many churches today. Love is good; it is the center piece of the Gospel; it is the focal point of Scripture and I refuse to even imply that love deserves anything but first place. To admit there is a "first place" is to admit the existence of those who "also ran."
I'd be willing to bet (this would be a thought-bet), that mainline protestants don't know how or why their church came into existence. Perhaps we don't know who may have shed their blood to build up what we say, "I believe," today.
Question: who was the 'Morningstar of the Reformation? Nope!. Martin Luther is the wrong answer. It was Wickliffe who was born in 1330 and died in 1384; a hundred years before the Holy Spirit led Martin Luther to comprehend and champion, "sola fide". Wickliffe was the first translate the Bible (Latin Vulgate to English), and put it into the hands of common people; people like us and our parents. Martin Luther and all the other reformers stand on the shoulders ofWickliffe.
Wickliffe outsmarted the Church of Rome (which was after his head, so to speak) by dying, which of course saved him from being martyred. But forty-years later the vindictive's dug up his remains, burned them and threw them into a nearby creek. Oh, the symbolism of it all. Just as the creek flowed to a river which eventually flowed to the ocean, so did the work of Wickliffe flow to all of Europe and eventually around the world. Who is powerful enough to stop the spread of truth?
Each of the succeeding reformers added a strand to the lifeline that was tossed by adept hands to save the world from being buried under tradition and baptized paganism. I realize perfectly well what I am saying and that some will be insulted, others angry, but some will say, "Thank you Lord."
For most of us television is preferable to reading but here is a short list of required reading for devoted Protestants;
1) D'Aubingne: The History of the Reformation
2) John Knox: The Reformation in Scotland
3) Foxe: Foxe's Book of Martyrs
It might be a long, cold winter (climatically, financially, politically, spiritually, [pick one]), so any or all of these would give one foundation for understanding the price that was paid by the reformers and the hundreds of thousands who believed and followed them. Deep runs the blood that was shed by Rome during the ages when men were trying to extinguish the candle of tradition and start a fire in the lighthouse of God's Word.
If you like working the Internet, check this out; Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre. [Paris; 24 August 1572]. That will give one pause and plenty of food for thought. When you pray this evening, thank the Lord for leading the world out from under the finely shod foot of Rome.
Make it a good day, a good read, and a life rededicated to Jesus the Christ. e.c.

Monday, October 20, 2008

What Happens When I Die?

I'm new to this Blogg'n stuff and when I go back and read my post(s) they sound like they were written by an old man so before I start today I"ll click on, "refresh." There: Now I feel like 1988!
Some think 'Denial' is a river in Egypt and don't even want to think about death but I've been thinking about it and I have questions because I'm getting different stuff from different sources.
Speaking of Egypt, the reason the ancients took such care embalming the dead (especially the wealthy ones) is because they wanted to preserve the body until it met up with its immortal soul.
Hindi's in India (say that fast 3X) cremate the dead for the sole purpose of releasing the immortal soul from the lifeless body.
Buddhists believe in reincarnation as a way for the immortal soul to have a new body so it can continue to enjoy life.
Zoroastrians (Persia; a.k.a., Iran) believed the soul was immortal; they still do.
The Greek philosophers took the issue to a higher level and developed the most sophisticated view of immortality; id est, life after death. Most of that work was done by Plato and Aristotle.
Pagan Rome was clearly pantheistic and had a god for the hinges on the door, another for the door, another for the threshold, and still another for the hearth. Whenever and wherever the yfound a god they liked, they adopted and embraced it. Mithra, (Mithraism) was borrowed from Babylon (if I'm remembering rightly) because that was the god of light and immortality.
Probably everybody agrees immortality is a good thing; provided one finds themselves in the right place. Plato wrote that only intellectuals deserved immortality. (Another philosopher said, "Only the good die young.) (I'm sorry; that was a song. Right?)
So, winding up this opus, all these pagan religions handed off their one-note songs about immortality to the early Church of Rome which adopted these children of paganism without a DNA test: (That's 'code' for, "Does it agree with the Bible?"
Reading the Old Testament I see that when a person dies their thoughts cease, they have no idea what's going on, and they don't praise God.
Reading the New Testament I learn that Christ talked about death as a "sleep" just before he resurrected Jarius' daughter and His friend Lazarus. The Apostle Paul writes about the dead being raised when Christ returns to earth the second time.
So, I'm confused, and the reason I'm confused is because Christianity sounds a lot like paganism two or three thousand years before Christ. I said I have questions and there only two: Q1) Who is telling the truth? The pagans? The churches? Or, Christ and Paul?
The second question is this: Q2 Where does the church (your church and mine) get doctrine? From Paganism, Tradition, or Scripture?
Now if you read this and want to post a comment please do so but do us both a favor and don't bring up the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke chapter 16.) Because parables are stories that are supposed to illustrate a principle and they are not used as a source for doctrine. Don't believe me? As your pastor/priest/Bible teacher/theologian. And one more thing; dont quote Paul " be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord"...unless you read the eitire previous chapter (4) in II Corinthians..
Thanks for tuning in, but please tell me; what's going to happen when I die? e.c.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Why Bad Things Happen To Good People

Either God is Love (I John 4:16), or He is not. Either He is in control of all things, or He is not. Daily, hourly, moment by moment over the face of the earth tragedy strikes someone, somewhere. Every human being, at some time or another in their life, will experience the anguish of disease, destruction, death of loved ones, hunger, displacement, abandonment, betrayal, persecution, torture, and the anxieties and fears that come as prelude to one's own death.
We stand numbed and in shock and we ask, "Where is God in all this.? It is the right question to ask and we have a right to ask it; face-to-face of God if we could.
But the question is not the end: Leaving the question to stand alone will almost always lead to hatred of God. Other questions flood the mind; questions like, "I'm a good person; why did God let this happen to me?
That last question is the best question. It is the only one that has any hope of leading us out of the maze of deep emotional pain and disillusion. Often Christian's are the ones who become the most disillusioned and who are in greater danger of hating God because they think their religion is like a Kevlar vest; something to protect them from the bullets of reality. People who do not believe in God have no target at which they can aim the really hard questions that perplex them after disaster strikes. God wants us to ask difficult questions and He wants to give answers: There is a Book that is full of answers; the Bible.
Rightly understood, these answers help us build hope and trust in a way that lets us move on, believing that God is what He says He is: Id est, "Love."
If God permitted only good things to happen to those who say they love Him; and if He set His filter so that the bad things afflicted only "bad people " (those who deny any love, allegiance, or regard for Him), why would we serve Him and give Him first place in our life?
Here is the answer: All of us would serve God for just one reason; to get the good stuff and avoid the bad parts of this wilderness we call life.
There are some things God cannot do and still be God. He cannot force anyone to love Him. If He were to do this He would not be God; He would be "dictator" and "despot."
Remember, there are two opposing forces in this world and in the universe: We call them "Good" and "Evil." They are real, they are diametric, and they are at war for the soul of each person who has ever walked or will walk the earth.
We are witness to cataclysmic collisions between the god of this world (Satan), and the God of the universe (the Creator God). The controversy over the ultimate destiny of each soul is about to end (I believe), and while Satan uses every weapon in his arsenal God can use only one; Love. That is the whole point of John 3:16.
Satan is the god of this world and he is making the best of the time left him to sweep as many people as he can with him into a shared oblivion.
The God of the universe, though He had all the weapons, can use just one; Love. He forces no man or woman to love Him. To be fully God, fully just, fully loving, full and complete Truth, God is constrained (by His Love) to accept our alegience only if it is offered freely and fully. God has to respect our free will. After all, it was God who created and gave us freedom of choice.
So this is why bad things happen to good people. God must permit things both good and bad to fall on us in order to avoid any accusations of coercion so that in the End, it can be truthfully restated, "God is Love." e.c.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

If It Weren't For My Grandson

Grandchildren are smarter and much more informed than I recall from my years as a grandchild. For more than a week I fought the computer and the Internet trying to set up a blog. My grandson did it in mere minutes from the other side of the world--literally--from Mongolia. Like I said, grandchildren are smarter these days.
Usually I write about things ethical, moral, spiritual... substantive. I will post my thoughts on matters ecclesiological and eschcatological. If there is an underlying theme--and there is--it will be to speak in defense of the character of God which is much maligned and misunderstood by the (mostly) misinformed.
The next posting will deal with the issue , Why Bad Things Happen to Good People. Many end up hating God because they are convinced that He is responsible for everything that goes wrong in the world. Insurance companies have a phrase for these calamities; acts of God. Stay tuned; and if you can't do that, tune in, join in, contribute your thoughts, and help resurrect the truth about God.
Caution:I refuse to post mean-spirited comments because they are dissonant with the purpose and philosophy of this blog. e.c.