Category Archives: Uncategorized

More on Ezekiel’s temple

So another year goes by and here I am again pondering Ezekiel’s temple!

 

Here are links to some good articles explaining the diffiulties of Ezekiel’s temple being either the first (Solomon’s), the 2nd (Ezra’s), or Herod’s. And why it couldn’t be the temple in the eternal state. I am apparently not the only one who finds a symbolic interpretation a bit hard to swallow 🙂

 

This article explains that Ezekiel’s temple (which he calls the third temple) will require vast topographical changes and will be as big as the entire city of Jerusalem. Since such a state has not existed and we don’t see it now, we must assume it is for some future time and so will remain sealed until that time when “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of G-d, as the waters that cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). https://www.templeinstitute.org/future_temple.htm

 

EZEKIEL’S TEMPLE — WHAT? WHEN? WHY? http://www.rj-anderson.com/docs/temple.html

 

Is Ezekiel 40-48 Prophecy Concerning Temple Literal, Figurative or both?   http://biblestudydata.com/moodle/mod/page/view.php?id=153

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Hope in death

Last year I lost a friend and a brother. When I saw him in early December 2012 he wanted his blood pressure checked and said he had been sick for 2 months and wasn’t getting better. He seemed mystified as to the cause and keep exclaiming about how fatigued he was. He’s lost a lot of weight and I was shocked at how small his voice was. Now mind you, it was still morning and he had just arrived from the mountains on the back of a motorbike so may have been a bit hoarse from that. I checked his BP which was high. He said he’d been to the village clinic up there and they had checked his blood for cholesterol, sugar, etc and put him on BP medicine/ He told me all his symptoms and I thought it sounded like hepatitis. Later that day I went to town and got some vitamins and some herbal liver thing and more BP medicine. A few days later he went to town to see a doctor and had an ultrasound and a chest x-ray. He had multiple abnormalities – enlarged liver, intestines, prostate and aorta – so I was a bit unsure as to what might be the underlying problem.

I left a week later and sometime after that he was hospitalized for a week. They gave him intravenous antibiotics but it didn’t seem to do anything so the doc sent him home and said he couldn’t do anything more  for him. He told the sister that the test results showed a “hole” in the liver and the upper intestine.

By January he’s not eating, but having pain attacks day and night. The No people don’t hold back when they are in pain. So it means everybody else in the tiny house is involved in the attacks. I suggested they ask the clinic for pain medicine but he said he’s tired of medicine made by man’s brain and will just trust God to do what He is going to do. Can’t argue with that I guess.

A month later….
empty_tomb1
He continued to decline. Various people had visited, some even strangers who came because of a mutual friend. Many brought some herbal or other “medicine”. He dutifully tried them all though none helped and some seemed to even make him worse. Near the end he was having more pain attacks and was unable to eat. He became very agitated and spoke of fear of dying because of his sins. I texted some verse references to his sister, verses speaking of God’s love, His provision of forgiveness for all who confess their sin and believe in Him. Jesus has promised that whoever believes in Him, though he die yet shall he live.  God doesn’t lie, His promises are true, if we confess our sins He is faithful and just and will forgive us. It’s a promise. His sister read those passages to him in their language. Somehow, they sunk deep in his heart and he changed. It was as if all he had heard in church over the years finally made sense, he finally understood. His family says the change was dramatic. He was calm and peaceful. And several times over the last few days of his life he marvelled that there is nothing more mportant in this life than trusting in God. It was a very difficult death for the family seeing a strong healthy man in the prime of life whittled down and emaciated in such a short time. But his testimony during his last days was a bright and shining hope in the midst of an otherwise unendurable situation.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Catching up

No blogging doesn’t mean nothing’s happening! It often means lots of travel and lots of work. It can also mean being sick or having no power or internet connection. Sometimes it’s just being in a funk or experiencing cognitive dissonance moving among  all my worlds. There’s a LOT happening, in every area, from all directions. Some is really, really inspiring – some is really, really disheartening.  Since I have a little time the next few weeks I’ll see what I can do to catch up a bit. Below are a couple of posts I found  on my hard drive to get started…

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Flash Mud Flood

On December 3, 2011 a strange flood swept through a mountain village, killing six people, destroying 36 houses, severely damaging another 150. The English news said it had been raining  a lot causing a a flash flood. But according to the locals, it wasn’t a normal flood, it was a cold mud “eruption” from under the ground. It just suddenly happened, shooting boulders and mud up in the air as high as a tree according to a witness resting in a hut on a nearby hillside. The eruption site was in a small valley upsteam not near any houses but the huge boulders and mud overflowed into a stream bed flooding a series of hamlets downstream.  They said something similar had happened about 100 years ago according to their ancestors. A geologist in the area advised them to move and not to rebuild the village as he said the same thing could happen within the next 20 years and so it would not be worth rebuilding on the same site. Of course, resettling hundreds of people is not such an easy thing to do! Meanwhile the government, the Salvation Army, and other relief groups have been bringing food, clothes, and other supplies such as shovels, buckets, and tools. The following is a video taken with a cell phone by a relief worker bringing in supplies. As of today (March 12) many are still living in tents or with relatives in other villages nearby.

 

See also http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5MLnwqVqO0

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Experience Trumps Scripture

A recent case of a minister “acquitted” of violating church constitution for marrying his same sex partner.

His defense?

He suggested that Presbyterians not begin with the Bible when addressing the issue.

“In our debates in the Presbyterian Church over homosexuality, if we begin with the Bible, we will likely reach a polarized stalemate,” he wrote. “Bible discussions are too often divisive. When we begin with the Bible, we are not beginning with a natural place for all of us.”

Rather than the Bible, the beginning point for discussions on homosexuality, he maintained, should be “the personal experiences we all share.”

While Protestants always look to God’s word to guide them, Barron contended that Scripture is not the only source of moral authority.

“We also look to the continuing revelation of God in our experiences in history and tradition, in science, in reasoning, and in everyday events to guide us. Scripture and experience both must guide our moral decision-making. And reliance on one without the other can be dangerous and offensive,” he stated. (http://www.christianpost.com/news/presbyterian-panel-acquits-gay-minister-49235/)

He couldn’t have said it more clearly. When Scripture is not our moral authority, our experience and reasoning can justify anything.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Even more Bibles

Here are some more I saw at a Christian bookstore:

Grandmother’s Bible

True Identity Bible

The New Women of Color Study Bible

Adventure Bible

Real Life Bible

Young Women of Faith Bible

Super Heroes Bible

Veggie Tales Bible (!)

Kids’ Study Bible

Boys’ Bible

Marine’s Bible

Police Officers’ Bible

Firefighters’ Bible

Soldiers’ Bible

Airman’s Bible

Nurses’s Bible

Bride’s Bible

Groom’s Bible

Oswald Chambers Devotional Bible

Illustrated Family Bible

Explorer’s Study Bible

Family Life Marriage Bible

TD Jakes Holy Bible

Woman Thou art Loosed edition

Spirit-filled Life Bible

Life Principles Bible (Charles Stanley)

Sports Devotional Bible

Celebrate Recovery

Men’s Devotional Bible

Serendipity Bible

The Voice (a new rewrite of the New Testament)

Overwhelmed? Words fail me!

Except for The Voice,  most of the Bibles listed are  standard translations such as NIV, KJV, NKJV, NASB, NRSV, New Living and Holman. They have the Bible text and  primarily vary in covers, notes, highlighting, pictures, colors, reference material, and inserted commentary.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Troubled days

It seems that many believers in America are troubled these days, not only about the financial crises but also major changes happening in their country at a rate so fast that no one can keep up with it. Many are troubled about the future and what it might hold. Many wonder what they should do to prepare in light of what seems certain to be difficult days ahead.

CCorrie Ten Boomorrie Ten Boom survived some of the worst horrors of World War 2. She knew that those days would be coming again and shared her heart in a letter written in 1974 about the coming tribulation. May you be challenged and encouraged.

“The world is deathly ill.  It is dying.  The Great Physician has already signed the death certificate.  Yet there is still a great work for Christians to do.  They are to be streams of living water, channels of mercy to those who are still in the world.  It is possible for them to do this because they are overcomers.
Christians are ambassadors for Christ.  They are representatives from Heaven to this dying world.  And because of our presence here, things will change.

My sister, Betsy, and I were in the Nazi concentration camp at Ravensbruck because we committed the crime of loving Jews.  Seven hundred of us from Holland, France, Russia, Poland and Belgium were herded into a room built for two hundred.  As far as I knew, Betsy and I were the only two representatives of Heaven in that room.

We may have been the Lord’s only representatives in that place of hatred, yet because of our presence there, things changed.  Jesus said, “In the world you shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  We too, are to be overcomers – bringing the light of Jesus into a world filled with darkness and hate.

Sometimes I get frightened as I read the Bible, and as I look in this world and see all of the tribulation and persecution promised by the Bible coming true.  Now I can tell you, though, if you too are afraid, that I have just read the last pages.  I can now come to shouting “Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” for I have found where it is written that Jesus said,

“He that overcometh shall inherit all things:
and I will be His God, and he shall be My son.”

This is the future and hope of this world. Not that the world will survive – but that we shall be overcomers in the midst of a dying world. Betsy and I, in the concentration camp, prayed that God would heal Betsy who was so weak and sick.
“Yes, the Lord will heal me,”, Betsy said with confidence. She died the next day and I could not understand it. They laid her thin body on the concrete floor along with all the other corpses of the women who died that day.

It was hard for me to understand, to believe that God had a purpose for all that.  Yet because of Betsy’s death, today I am traveling all over the world telling people about Jesus.

There are some among us teaching there will be no tribulation, that the Christians will be able to escape all this. These are the false teachers that Jesus was warning us to expect in the latter days.  Most of them have little knowledge of what is already going on across the world. I have been in countries where the saints are already suffering terrible persecution.

In China, the Christians were told, “Don’t worry, before the tribulation comes you will be translated – raptured.” Then came a terrible persecution.  Millions of Christians were tortured to death. Later I heard a Bishop from China say, sadly,

“We have failed. We should have made the people strong for persecution, rather than telling them Jesus would come first. Tell the people how to be strong in times of persecution, how to stand when the tribulation comes, – to stand and not faint.”

I feel I have a divine mandate to go and tell the people of this world that it is possible to be strong in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are in training for the tribulation, but more than sixty percent of the Body of Christ across the world has already entered into the tribulation. There is no way to escape it.
We are next.

Since I have already gone through prison for Jesus’ sake, and since I met the Bishop in China, now every time I read a good Bible text I think, “Hey, I can use that in the time of tribulation.”  Then I write it down and learn it by heart.

When I was in the concentration camp, a camp where only twenty percent of the women came out alive, we tried to cheer each other up by saying, “Nothing could be any worse than today.” But we would find the next day was even worse.  During this time a Bible verse that I had committed to memory gave me great hope and joy.

“If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye;
for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you;
on their part evil is spoken of,
but on your part He is glorified.”
(I Peter 3:14)

I found myself saying, “Hallelujah! Because I am suffering, Jesus is glorified!”

In America, the churches sing, “Let the congregation escape tribulation”, but in China and Africa the tribulation has already arrived. This last year alone more than two hundred thousand Christians were martyred in Africa. Now things like that never get into the newspapers because they cause bad political relations. But I know. I have been there. We need to think about that when we sit down in our nice houses with our nice clothes to eat our steak dinners. Many, many members of the Body of Christ are being tortured to death at this very moment, yet we continue right on as though we are all going to escape the tribulation.

Several years ago I was in Africa in a nation where a new government had come into power. The first night I was there some of the Christians were commanded to come to the police station to register. When they arrived they were arrested and that same night they were executed. The next day the same thing happened with other Christians. The third day it was the same. All the Christians in the district were being systematically murdered.

The fourth day  I was to speak in a little church. The people came, but they were filled with fear and tension. All during the service they were looking at each other, their eyes asking, “Will this one I am sitting beside be the next one killed? Will I be the next one?”

The room was hot and stuffy with insects that came through the screenless windows and swirled around the naked bulbs over the bare wooden benches. I told them a story out of my childhood.

“When I was a little girl, ” I said, “I went to my father and said,
“Daddy, I am afraid that I will never be strong enough to be a martyr for Jesus Christ.”
“Tell me,” said Father, “When you take a train trip to Amsterdam,
when do I give you the money for the ticket? Three weeks before?”

“No, Daddy, you give me the money for the ticket just before we get on the train.”

“That is right,” my father said, “and so it is with God’s strength. Our Father in Heaven knows when you will need the strength to be a martyr for Jesus Christ.
He will supply all you need – just in time…”

My African friends were nodding and smiling.
Suddenly a spirit of joy descended upon that church and the people began singing,

” In the sweet, by and by,
we shall meet on that beautiful shore.”

Later that week, half the congregation of that church was executed. I heard later that the other half was killed some months ago. But I must tell you something. I was so happy that the Lord used me to encourage these people, for unlike many of their leaders, I had the word of God. I had been to the Bible and discovered that Jesus said He had not only overcome the world, but to all those who remained faithful to the end, He would give a crown of life.

How can we get ready for the persecution?

First we need to feed on the Word of God, digest it, make it a part of our being. This will mean disciplined Bible study each day as we not only memorize long passages of scripture, but put the principles to work in our lives.

Next we need to develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Not just the Jesus of yesterday, the Jesus of History, but the life-changing Jesus of today who is still alive and sitting at the right hand of God.

We must be filled with the Holy Spirit. This is no optional command of the Bible, it is absolutely necessary. Those earthly disciples could never have stood up under the persecution of the Jews and Romans had they not waited for Pentecost. Each of us needs our own personal Pentecost, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We will never be able to stand in the tribulation without it.

In the coming persecution we must be ready to help each other and encourage each other. But we must not wait until the tribulation comes before starting.
The fruit of the Spirit should be the dominant force of every Christian’s life.

Many are fearful of the coming tribulation, they want to run. I, too, am a little bit afraid when I think that after all my eighty years, including the horrible Nazi concentration camp, that I might have to go through the tribulation also.
But then I read the Bible and I am glad.

When I am weak, then I shall be strong, the Bible says. Betsy and I were prisoners for the Lord, we were so weak, but we got power because the Holy Spirit was on us. That mighty inner strengthening of the Holy Spirit helped us through. No, you will not be strong in yourself when the tribulation comes. Rather, you will be strong in the power of Him who will not forsake you. For seventy-six years I have known the Lord Jesus and not once has He ever left me, or let me down.

“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him”, (Job 13:15) for I know that to all who overcome, He shall give the crown of life. Hallelujah!”
– Corrie Ten Boom – 1974

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Ten Shekels and a Shirt

The other day I saw a link to an article called “Ten Shekels and a Shirt”. Since I had just read through Judges last week it caught my eye so I clicked on the link to check it out. Wow!

 The passage was Judges 17-18 about a Levite who went off to seek his fortune and ended up being invited by a guy to set up a shrine. The salary offered was room and board, ten shekels, and a suite of clothes. Some time later the Danites arrived and they made him an even better offer, one he couldn’t refuse.

 The rest of the sermon was basically contrasting two world views:

  … let me summarize. Christianity says,”The end of all being is the glory of God.” Humanism says, “The end of all being is the happiness of man.”

 And one was born in Hell, the deification of man. AND THE OTHER WAS BORN IN HEAVEN, THE GLORIFICATION OF GOD! And one is Levite serving Micah, and the other is a heart that’s unworthy serving the living God, because it’s the highest honor in the universe.

 Which world view do you have? You might be suprised, even shocked. He shows that it is not just society at large but churches, missions, and we as individual Christians have drunk very deep at the well of humanism and probably don’t even know it.

 This sermon was preached over 40 years ago but is far more relevant today than it even was then.

 Transcript: http://www.gospeljohn.com/pr_tenshekels.htm

Audio: http://www.gospeljohn.com/audio/tenshekelsandashirt.mp3

 

Leave a comment

Filed under sermons - inspirational, Uncategorized

We don’t deserve merit badges

Here’s a noteworthy quote from http://teampyro.blogspot.com/ (In Phil Johnson’s book review of The Last Men’s Book You’ll Ever Need by David Moore)

…. I would add that I appreciate Dave Moore’s resistance to the therapeutic approach to human relationships that dominates so much of evangelical discourse nowadays. Moore points out that everyone is “wounded” and we don’t really deserve merit badges or undue sympathy for our personal hurts when we ourselves are guilty of waging war against righteousness. Also, while we’re carefully nursing our personal wounds, “we need to remember that we inflict our fair share of them” (p. 118). That’s wise advice, especially in our culture where so many men (and women) “focus on the hurt they’ve received [and] tend to discount or diminish the hurt they inflict on others” (p. 114)-not to mention the sins against Almighty God we’re guilty of. Moore calls us back to a more biblical (and manly) view of our own sin.
Not sure who exactly who to credit it to, Phil or Dave but it was well said!

Leave a comment

Filed under insights, psychobabble, Uncategorized

Themes and Wordles

I’ve been doing some in depth study of the books of Esther and Daniel this past year in order to help translators. So imagine my delight when I learned about Wordle. It’s an online program which makes word clouds out of text. What a fun way to see some themes of a passage! Check out Wordle at http://wordle.net/ and make you own word clouds, or rather, Word clouds.

Here are two I did on Esther and Daniel:

 

 

Thanks to whover sent me to http://markedbyfaith.blogspot.com/ where yipeng has wordled each book of the New Testament.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Uncategorized

Entertainment, the great god

Here’s an article that certainly speaks to today – and what is amazing is that it was written over 50 years ago! I have often noted that the various languages I have learned do not have a real equivalent to the English word “fun”. But the idea of entertainment and “fun”, if not the words, is spreading everywhere. It is like a drug addiction.

Television is probably the number one purveyor of entertainment in the world. Local people have taken to television like a duck takes to water. Rare now is the house in an Asian city that doesn’t have a television. And even in remote areas it is not so uncommon to see a satellite dish propped up on the roof of a rickety house.

But entertainment is also coming into the churches here, faster in some churches than others. A friend goes to what she calls “the dancing church” because it is “fun”. More and more, earplugs are becoming standard equipment for attending church services. You can leave your Bible at home but don’t forget the ear plugs! I’m afraid it is far beyond what Tozer ever imagined…

The Great God Entertainment

by A. W. Tozer

A German philosopher many years ago said something to the effect that the more a man has in his own heart, the less he will require from the outside; excessive need for support from without is proof of the bankruptcy of the inner man.

If this is true (and I believe it is) then the present inordinate attachment to every form of entertainment is evidence that the inner life of modern man is in serious decline. The average man has no central core of moral assurance, no spring within his own breast, no inner strength to place him above the need for repeated psychological shots to give him the courage to go on living. He has become a parasite on the world, drawing his life from his environment, unable to live a day apart from the stimulation which society affords him.

Schleiermacher held that the feeling of dependence lies at the root of all religious worship, and that however high the spiritual life might rise, it must always begin with a deep sense of a great need which only God could satisfy.

If this sense of need and a feeling of dependence are at the root of natural religion, it is not hard to see why the great god Entertainment is so ardently worshiped by so many. For there are millions who cannot live without amusement; life without some form of entertainment for them is simply intolerable; they look forward to the blessed relief afforded by professional entertainers and other forms of psychological narcotics as a dope addict looks to his daily shot of heroin. Without them they could not summon courage to face existence.

No one with common human feeling will object to the simple pleasures of life, nor to such harmless forms of entertainment as may help to relax the nerves and refresh the mind exhausted by toil. Such things, if used with discretion, may be a blessing along the way. That is one thing, however, the all-out devotion to entertainment as a major activity for which and by which men live is definitely something else again.

The abuse of a harmless thing is the essence of sin. The growth of the amusement phase of human life to such fantastic proportions is a portent, a threat to the souls of modern men. It has been built into a multimillion dollar racket with greater power over human minds and human character than any other educational influence on earth.

And the ominous thing is that its power is almost exclusively evil, rotting the inner life, crowding out the long eternal thoughts which would fill the souls of men, if they were but worthy to entertain them. The whole thing has grown into a veritable religion which holds its devotees with a strange fascination; and a religion, incidentally, against which it is now dangerous to speak. For centuries the Church stood solidly against every form of worldly entertainment, recognizing it for what it was—a device for wasting time, a refuge from the disturbing voice of conscience, a scheme to divert attention from moral accountability.

For this she got herself abused roundly by the sons of this world. But of late she has become tired of the abuse and has given over the struggle. She appears to have decided that if she cannot conquer the great god Entertainment she may as well join forces with him and make what use she can of his powers.So, today we have the astonishing spectacle of millions of dollars being poured into the unholy job of providing earthly entertainment for the so-called sons of heaven. Religious entertainment is in many places rapidly crowding out the serious things of God.
Many churches these days have become little more than poor theaters where fifth-rate “producers” peddle their shoddy wares with the full approval of evangelical leaders who can even quote a holy text in defense of their delinquency. And hardly a man dares raise his voice against it.

The great god Entertainment amuses his devotees mainly by telling them stories. The love of stories, which is a characteristic of childhood, has taken fast hold of the minds of the retarded saints of our day, so much so that not a few persons manage to make a comfortable living by spinning yarns and serving them up in various disguises to church people.

What is natural and beautiful in a child may be shocking when it persists into adulthood, and more so when it appears in the sanctuary and seeks to pass for true religion. Is it not a strange thing and a wonder that, with the shadow of atomic destruction hanging over the world and with the coming of Christ drawing near, the professed followers of the Lord should be giving themselves up to religious amusements? That in an hour when mature saints are so desperately needed vast numbers of believers should revert to spiritual childhood and clamor for religious toys?

“Remember, 0 Lord, what is come upon us: consider, and behold our reproach. The crown is fallen from our head: woe unto us, that we have sinned ! For this our heart is faint; for these things our eyes are dim.” AMEN. AMEN.

Taken from Root of the Righteous, Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1955, p. 32-33.

 (seen on www.sliceoflaodicea.com)

Leave a comment

Filed under discernment, signs of the times, Uncategorized

Another jaw-dropping sermon

Romans 8:5-8 5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

Galatians 5:19-21 19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

So we are to avoid the lust of the flesh, especially sexual temptation which is all around us nowdays.

Okay. Sounds good so far.

Application? We need spiritual partners.

Huh????

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Advocate

An advocate. Someone who comes along side and stands beside you to support you in a court of law.

My specially challenged brother has a lawyer, an advocate, who is going to court with workman’s comp over a work accident he had last year. That lawyer knows all about the law and its applications and implications. He knows the requirements and the obligations of workman’s comp. He also knows all about my brother’s situation, both the challenges he was born with and those added because of his injury. He knows that my brother definitely falls into the category of people covered by worksman’s comp insurance. If we the family had to plead on his behalf, we would not have much of an idea of what to ask for, other than to pay medical bills incurred. But the lawyer knows that future medical needs and rehabilitation needs will arise because he has a lot of experience in work accident issues. And if my brother had to plea for himself, well, he is totally clueless as to any of the matters above. Without an advocate, he would be totally unable to cope with the court situation.

How much more do we need an Advocate when we face the holy Almighty Judge of the universe!

1 John 2:1 My little children. I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

Whenever we sin, and we will, it is inevitable, Jesus Christ stands beside us as our advocate before God the Judge . He Himself has paid the penalty of my sin and appeases the wrath of God towards me.

Leave a comment

Filed under insights, Uncategorized

Trials and suffering not about me

Another thing to ponder is that trials and suffering aren’t always just about me.

Many people think trials and suffering come as punishment for bad behavior. Our human response to our own hardships is often “why me?” And our response to others’ hardships, cravenly, is too often “He probably deserved it.”

But are trials and suffering and hardship really a punishment for bad behavior? Well, sometimes, yes. Scripture says that God does punish the wicked, and it also says that He disciplines His own that they may share in His holiness (Hebrews 12:7-10).

James said “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” Joy?? You must be joking! Why? “because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4) So trials also come for the purpose of testing and strengthening our faith.

But sometimes trials and problems are also for God’s glory. Jesus healed a man born blind (John 9). People asked Jesus whether it was the man or his parents who had sinned resulting in the man being born blind. Jesus answered neither, but that this had happened so that God’s work would be revealed in the man’s life. What was God’s work? That a man born blind was healed – people said that never had anyone heard of a man born blind being healed. A sign that Jesus was indeed sent from God.

And sometimes trials aren’t about us at all. Many times our trials and sufferings have profound effects on other people. As I interacted with other friends and acquaintances of my friend who just died, I could see that his life and death have also impacted them in various ways.

Look at Job. Satan came to God asking permission to test Job. He was sure that Job would curse God and die when all his blessings and protection was taken away. But God knew that wasn’t so. He gave permission for Satan to test and try Job.

Job’s “friends” assumed that Job must have done something wrong to deserve such a heap of troubles. Job himself asked why, he knew he hadn’t done anything wrong, and didn’t understand why he was so afflicted. He moaned and groaned and wished himself dead, yet he also declared that “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15). He still trusted God even though he didn’t understand why he was undergoing such trials:

“But if I go to the east, he is not there;
if I go to the west, I do not find him.
9 When he is at work in the north, I do not see him;
when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.
10 But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”
(Job 23:8-10)”.

Job’s trials weren’t really about him at all. They were primarily for our benefit. His trials and trust and God’s reply were recorded for all succeeding generations to see, that we too might understand that God is sovereign. He knows things we don’t know. Even when we don’t understand, even when we don’t see where He is at work, we can still trust Him to work all things for good and for His purposes.

So yes, knowing Who He is and that He is absolutely trustworthy and absolutely able to do whatever He purposes, we can indeed consider it pure joy when we encounter various trials, knowing that there is
purpose in them especially when we continue to trust in Him.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, suffering, Uncategorized

Churches

Having recently arrived back in the country of my birth, I wondered what the church scene would be like these days . Here are some notes….

Church 1 10-21-07

This was a church I had seen on the internet and thought I’d go early enough to get in on the Sunday School. I was a couple minutes late, and even later when I had to run out to the car to get my reading glasses! (That was actually a good start – when was the last time you needed to read anything in church???!)

The Sunday school class was full, probably 50-60 people. They were going thru 2 Cor and were on chapter 5:10. This was not a discussion group on what people thought that verse meant to them. It was the pastor going through it, having people look up cross references or other verses related. And a few other people did volunteer verses or make comments. But the whole focus was to discover what the passage meant to the original audience in its context. The topic also seemed to be “will Christians be judged according to their deeds?” (The answer is yes.)

Sunday school was about an hour, then they had a half hour to “fellowship” with coffee, tea, juice for the kids and donuts. A bunch of kids appeared from somewhere and of course made bee-lines to the donut table. People stood around in small clumps and seemed to be in intense discussions and seemed to be enjoying themselves. A couple people did notice that I had no name tag and thus must be a visitor and talked to me a little. About 10:25 somebody started flicking the lights off and on as a signal that it was time to go upstairs. To get upstairs you go up ramps, no stairs at all, a nice touch which may in part explain the number of elderly. The sanctuary was pretty full, I’d guess about 300 people. Many were 50+ but many also younger and there were also some families with kids. They had the mandatory “worship team” and overhead. But their “worship team” was a mixed group, a couple of senior citizen and a couple of younger ones – imagine! – one acoustic guitar and no drums. The music was great, right up my alley, and I actually knew most of the songs! Several people raised their hands during some of the singing but it was not a requirement. There was a guy who seemed to be a one-man band – he sometimes played flute, sometimes trumpet, and I think he had a sax also. They had an offering and announcements but the centerpiece was the preaching. I understand that there are 3 guys who take turns preaching and each one is preaching thru a different book of the Bible. Today was the senior pastor, the one who did Sunday school and his passage was Luke 9:1-17. Again, like Sunday school, he just went verse by verse thru the passage making reference to other passages that related to it. He also made some comments on thematic stuff in Luke, ie that a series of authoritative people made statments about Jesus that showed His nature. At the end he spend about 10-15 minutes talking about implications and applications. 1) God is committed to take care for His own people 2) God has promised a lavish messianic banquet for all His people 3)Those who are not prepared will be excluded. Then he followed with a brief presentation of the gospel.

Church 2 10-28-07

This week I was over jet lag so decided I could drive further and managed to get to this church of which I am technically still a member. Where do I start? Maybe I should list the positives: the church is on the university campus and about 60-80% of the congregation are international students. There were at least 100 present, up significantly from 2 years ago. The pastor has stuck around now for 6 years or so. Most attendees were Asian but some European and African too. It was communion Sunday and the pastor made a point about the wine and bread being symbols and also said up front that those who were not Christians need not take it. They had a breakfast of boiled eggs and bread before Sunday school and often have a soup lunch after the service. Today they had birthday cake instead. They did a very good job of welcoming new people and inviting them to other activities or hooking them up with others. The sermon was part of a series on the beatitudes.

The nursery is very well stocked with toys, cribs, etc.

I didn’t know any of the songs, but oh well. They had the apparently now mandatory “worship band” and overhead.

As for the not so positives, oh my. The Sunday school classes to choose from included a study of Mark in special English for new foreign students and those who are inquirers. One was a Purpose Driven discussion group which I ended up in, oh my! Another was studying a book by Dallas Willard called “Renovation of the Heart”, oh my. Looking at the bulletin was a mix too. In amongst a prayer meeting and various Bible study groups, was an afternoon “inner healing prayer teaching” video, Tuesday and Wednesday a Lectio Divina, – “Ancient form of listening to God”. The sermon had some good parts but was pushing “spiritual disciplines” and he associated each beatitude with a “spiritual discipline”. Today’s beatitude was “peacemakers’ and the spiritual discipline was “evangelism”. I never did figure out how they were related. As too often is the case with main line church services, they tend to allude and hint and rarely come right out and say anything plainly – leaving a lot up to the listener’s own imagination.

I feel rather like I’ve been in a center for people with ADD, there was plenty of activity and you were rushed along from one thing to the next. (But maybe I’m still in jetlag??) Good stuff mixed right in with the mind woggling. The guy leading the Purpose Driven class was trying to convince us that we should want to be be robots for God. Sorry. If God wanted robots He would have created them.

It was a rather exhausting day.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

THE TOP TEN PREDICTIONS FOR 2007

1. The Bible will still have the answers.
2. Prayer will still work.
3. The Holy Spirit will still move.
4. God will still inhabit the praises of His people.
5. There will still be God-anointed preaching.
6. There will still be singing of praise.
7. God will still pour out blessings upon His people.
8. There will still be room at the Cross.
9. Jesus will still love you.
10. Jesus will still save the lost.

(received in an email)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized