I recently discovered that WordPress is inserting ads (in the form of youtube videos) at the end of some posts. Can’t complain about that, since I am using the free service. However, I would like to say that I have no control over what is advertised and never know when one will appear. Their presence does NOT constitute my endorsement of the product.
Used by permission from Forthright Magazine (forthright.net). Copyright © 2013 by Stan Mitchell
“I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).
We live in a time when truth should be up with the whales and bald eagles on the Sierra Club calendar–listed as an endangered species. Politicians parse the verb “to be” (that’s what “is” is, remember?), while Hollywood teaches the absolute truth that morals are relative.
Remember when Churchill accused a fellow member of parliament of expressing a “terminological inexactitude”? He meant that the fellow had lied. And one recalls the Nixon era bureaucrat who spoke of the “credibility gap.”
Lying behind this factual unspecificity (is that politically correct enough for everyone?) is society’s disregard for truth in general. In his marvelously entitled book Truth Decay, Douglas Groothius speaks of the nature of truth.
God reveals truth. “It is not constructed or invented by communities” (page 67). Various beliefs may arise out of one culture or another, but truth is revealed when God chooses to communicate that to mankind. Because God reveals truth, it is therefore “objective and knowable” (page 68). What is more, Christian truth is “absolute in nature.” It is true “without exception or exemption.” (page 69).
There are no occasions when truth can be justifiably abandoned when its application becomes the source of discomfort or it represents a personal and financial setback. The weather may change, but God will not.
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35, ESV).
Truth is universal. It applies to dictators and peasants alike, to our age and to future generations. God’s truth is not “trendy or superficial” (page 73).
Truth is “exclusive, specific, and antithetical” (page 75). That is, for every theological “yes,” there must be a thousand “no’s.” That which is true excludes all that opposes it. “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3), means that all other gods are imposters. Truth is exact and precise, and the slightest departure from the truth is falsehood” (page 75).
When God speaks a word, it is truth. People are limited, and thus express their perspective, their biases, or their limited knowledge. God is limited by none of these things. Those unforgettable words from the Bible, repeated hundreds of times, carry such weight.
“And God said… When we hear, that, “all the earth” should “keep silent” (Habakkuk 2:20).
Jesus in his night-time meeting with the Pharisee Nicodemus establishes one of the foundational doctrines of Christianity. Nicodemus begins by noting that he understood the distinctiveness of Jesus’ teachings and actions.
“Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” (John 3:2).
Nicodemus could have been a witness of the sign manifest by Jesus during the Passover.
“Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing.” (John 2:23).
Truly, Nicodemus could have been one of the individuals who “believed in His name” or at least observed what Jesus had done.
It is not recorded if Jesus ever acknowledged the compliment. What John records is Jesus’ teaching concerning the new birth that was to be established in the New Covenant.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3).
This statement was confusing to Nicodemus. He could not see how an individual could undergo a second physical birth.
“Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?’” (John 3:4).
Nicodemus was confused because he was thinking about an individual’s physical birth and Jesus was taking about spiritual birth.
“Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.’” (John 3:5-6).
Jesus’ teaching differentiates between physical and the spiritual birth. He also teaches that this new spiritual birth was to be constituted in water. Jesus established the foundation of water baptism as the gateway to the Kingdom.
His command at the conclusion of John’s gospel also notes baptism is the point of salvation (salvation being a prerequisite to entering the Kingdom),
“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.’” (Mark 16:15-16).
Peter in the first Gospel sermon teaches by inspiration:
“Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38).
This foundational command is taught as an absolute throughout the New Testament.
History also dictates the significance of water baptism in this context. For centuries following the establishment of the Church/Kingdom writers like Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Tertullian Cyprian, etc. understood that Jesus was talking about water baptism. It was not until the teachings of John Calvin (1509 – 1564) that baptism was excluded as the element of the new birth.
The followers of John Calvin and his misunderstanding have influenced much of the incorrect teachings concerning this context today. It is a sad reality that many who believe themselves to be born again have never studied or understood this simple foundational teaching.
But instead, they have blindly followed the teachings of men to their detriment. We pray they will come to the truth.
Used by permission from Forthright Magazine (forthright.net). Copyright © 2013 by John E. Werhan.
How many jobs will be lost if “big business” is destroyed? How many store shelves will still have items for us to buy if “big business” is destroyed?
If government increases taxes (and regulations) on “the rich” to the point that they become “the poor” (or leave the country), who is going to pay for all those government “entitlements”?
Why would anybody keep working if government is going to take all we earn? What if everybody decides to quit working and rely on “entitlements”? Do we really believe “the Government”, in and of itself, has the money to support us all?
Is there anybody with even a grain of common sense who believes unlimited borrowing and spending will make this country solvent? If it doesn’t work for individuals, it won’t work for the country.
How long can we sidestep or ignore our constitution before we cease to be a country? Maybe just until we finish spending ourselves to death.
What if the children our country aborts today could have, in the next thirty or forty years, made all the difference for good in our sad, sick world?
How can we be so eager to save certain species of animals and so eager to destroy pre-born humans? I saw a photo of a woman protesting for abortion-rights. She carried a slogan that said, “My body shouldn’t be a battlefield”. Is it better that it becomes a killing field?
“You can’t legislate morals.” Really? Do we just strike down all laws against murder (at any age), assault, theft, and all the rest and let everybody do just as they like? That’s called anarchy, I think. Look around. Some places in the world operate that way. See if NOT legislating morals is as wonderful as it sounds.
Think before you vote–while you still have the privilege of choosing.
“Going home to Ireland is just what Danny Egan needs in order to face his past. Will he find release from the nightmares that haunt him? With his wife, Constancy, by his side, Danny returns to his hometown. Reuniting with family and friends, he begins seeking answers that have eluded him since he witnessed his father’s murder when he was ten years old. Donna H. Parker skillfully captures all of his emotions as he struggles to exorcise the ghosts that have haunted him since he was a child. For those of us who have followed Danny and Constancy from the beginning in Constancy’s Waltz, this is another excellent rendering from the pen of Mrs. Parker.” –Gail Hutchison, Elementary school librarian, avid reader
“Donna H. Parker has done it again! In this continuing story of Constancy and Danny the reader travels to Ireland, a land of lush green grass and crashing seas, to solve a mystery of years ago. Woven into this charming tale with affable characters is a web of deceit and of a murder that threatens to undercut the happiness of a couple who are very much in love. Will Danny solve the murder of his father and if so, will the knowing end his nightmares and strengthen his marriage? Danny’s Tune is a book you won’t want to put down.” –Jeannine Van Eperen, award winning author of Trail to Bliss, Rose of the Rio Grande and No Escape from Love
“Ms. Parker’s Danny’s Tune is a great cozy to while away an afternoon. Her mystery leaves no stone unturned. Ms. Parker drops hints, then answers them as the story unfolds. She weaves a story of Danny, who as a child is witness to his father’s brutal murder. With a supportive family, he pulls together clues after the case has gone cold, and while the mystery builds and tantalizes, we see Danny undergo a healing that warms our hearts. For a great read, see Donna H. Parker’s Danny’s Tune.” –Review by Katherine Pym, author of several historical novels including Of Carrion Feathers, a Wings ePress, release
Coming September 1, Wings e-Press will release the fifth book in my cozy mystery series–DANNY’S TUNE. More on that later.
First, a review of the earlier books:
CONSTANCY’S WALTZ, book one. Constancy Grace Stafford never lived up to her middle name, but stumbling over a corpse turns into her worst trip ever. Danny Egan, town cop and master fiddler, defies a direct order to stay off the case. Only he knows how much this waltz with danger could ultimately cost him.
DARK DIAMOND REEL, book two. Constancy’s recent losses have shaken her. Even her engagement to diamond magnate, Zared Fraser, hasn’t helped her recover. Officer Danny Egan thinks he never wants to see Constancy again. Then a frantic S.O.S. proves him wrong and tumbles them both into a deadly reel that will change both their lives forever.
FIDDLER’S LAMENT, book three. Constancy Grace Stafford, fed up with murder, dreams of living a normal, peaceful life. But death at a music show, the clammy darkness of an unmapped Ozarks cave system, and a desperate fiddler’s lament threaten to destroy that dream–and the two most precious people in her life.
JIG OF BONES, book four. Constancy always dreamed of celebrating Christmas surrounded by a large family. She’s thrilled for the opportunity to savor the holiday with her newly-found relatives in South Dakota, but a gang of fossil rustlers and the secrets of a missing shepherd may turn Constancy’s long-awaited dream into a nightmare.
DANNY’S TUNE, book five. Irish ghosts come in many forms. The murderous one that has haunted Danny Egan from childhood may not even be dead. Constancy knows they can’t avoid Danny’s past while they’re in Ireland. She prays the encounter will bring healing, because if it goes bad, the result could forever silence Danny’s tune.
I’m reposting this because it’s great fun, as well as being informative. Go to Thepunnery’s blog for more fun posts, including many (of course) punny ones.
Diamond Jubilee Quiz
Okay, I admit it: one of my long-time hobbies is the study of British history. Indeed, long-time readers of this blog may not find this much of a surprise, considering some of my News Flashes. So perhaps it’s not too far out of character to post something coinciding with this weekend’s celebrations of the Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee.
The question of what to post touches on another hobby: geneology.
Today for your amusement I have a list of twenty English monarchs, of varying levels of fame, in order of their appearance. (I have to specify English monarchs, since numbering gets tricky after 1707.) Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to identify which ones are in the current royal family’s direct lineage.
Or you can skip to the bottom to look at the answers. You might find it interesting.
So here we go:
- Harold II Godwinson (1066)
- William I the Conquerer (1066-1087)
- Richard I the Lionhart (1189-1199) –of Robin Hood fame
- John (1199-1215) –…likewise
- Edward I (1272-1307) –of William Wallace fame
- Richard II (1377-1399) –of Peasants’ Revolt fame
- Henry IV (1399-1413) –who provoked the Wars of the Roses (in a way)
- Henry V (1413-1422) –Shakespeare’s classic hero
- Richard III (1483-1485) –Shakespeare’s classic villain
- Henry VII (1485-1509) –who finished the Wars of the Roses
- Henry VIII (1509-1547) –of Six Wives fame
- Mary I (1553-1558) — who had a boat named after her
- Elizabeth I (1558-1603) –…likewise
- James I (1603-1625) –of Bible Translation fame
- Charles I (1625-1649) –of whom Cromwell took a dislike
- James II (1685-1688) –whose subjects were Gloriously Revolting
- Anne (1702-1714) — has three plants named after her
- George I (1714-1727) –famous for employing G. F. Handel
- George III (1760-1820) –famous (over here) for…well, you know
- Victoria (1837-1901) –famous for not being amused
And here are the answers, as far as I know them. I admit my knowledge is incomplete on the subject; if you have information on some obscure connection that I don’t know about, please post with the details.
1: Nán (that’s “no” in Anglo-Saxon…I think). 2: Oui. 3: Non. 4: Oui. 5: Yea. 6: Nay. 7: Nay. 8: No, but his widow is: she remarried into the Tudor family (yes, those Tudors). 9. Nay. 10. Cywir (that’s Welsh for “true,” by the way). 11: Yea. 12: Nay. 13. Still nay. 14: Aye. 15: No. 16: No. 17: Still no. 18: Ja. 19: Yes. 20: Well, of course….
Used by permission from Forthright Magazine (forthright.net). Copyright © 2012, Christine Berglund.
Almost every garden visitor wants to bend down and pet the Lamb’s Ears. I have a huge mass of them in my front garden, waiting for a good time to transport them to the new Children’s Garden in town. Everyone on the committee for the new project agreed that the downy, soft leaves of this plant would make a fun tactile experience for kids.
Lamb’s Ears, or “Stachys Byzantina,” forms a wooly mat of intertwined stems laying along the ground and rooting wherever they touch the earth. It has pretty purple flower stalks in the summer, which attract bees to the garden.
We so adore soft things like the Lamb’s Ears plants, or if we are fortunate enough to experience farm life, the little lambs born in the springtime. Their innocence and trusting nature draws us to them. You want to pet them and hold them. Most touchable of all are their little soft ears!
Now, this is where our warm, fuzzy story turns gory, bloody, and violent. Like the lamb that that was sacrificed at the first Passover, Jesus gave himself up to a grisly death. His blood was spilled and used like the Passover Lamb to cover our dwelling place doors. When the Israelites slaughtered their Passover lamb, they used the blood to mark the doors where they lived, so that the Angel of Death would not enter. Those doors are our hearts, and if we want to escape the fate we really deserve, they must be marked with the blood from this shockingly brutal sacrifice.
We may think of the Lamb of God in terms of soft, furry, and touchable. I do not disagree. However, Jesus is more than a baby in a manger, or a soft little lamb whose ears we want to stroke. We remember the Cross, and cringe in horror. But his magnificent love made us clean, and his horrific, sacrificial death allows us an abundant life.
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” proclaimed John the Immerser in John 1:29 (NASB).
But how? Not by being warm and fuzzy.
The book of Hebrews outlines how Jesus was our Passover Lamb, tortured and left to die without even the comfort of knowing God was with him. He cried out in agony, like a trusting and helpless lamb, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
This was because the righteous and pure God of heaven could not look upon sin. Sin was exactly what Jesus took upon himself as our Lamb of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).
One downside of the lovely and touchable Stachys plant is that during the summer the center of the plant dies out, becomes revoltingly slimy and ugly. Many a summer I have uprooted this dead stuff and tossed it on a compost pile, only to have it spring to life when I wasn’t looking!
In my garden, it’s a reminder that the Lamb of God had to die, and then rise again.
As I touch this soft plant that shares a nickname with my Savior, I remember that all was not sweetness and softness for him, because of the seriousness of my own sin problem.
I love how plants remind me of such wonderful truths!
“He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for him who died and rose again on their behalf” (2 Corinthians 5:15).
Live for him! He died for you.
How long since you’ve been quiet? Really quiet. How long since you sat still and surrounded yourself with silence? Just you and the space around you. No companion (except for our omni-present God), no cell phone, no computer, no music, no tv, no talking. Alone with your thoughts in a silent space.
Does that sound like bliss to you, or does the idea scare you silly? As I watch the people around me, I get the idea many are afraid to be quiet.
Look at us:
The constant, forced activity… (It’s one of my pet peeves that parents think they must fill every moment of a child’s day with regulated activity.)
The cell phone pasted to every other ear or clutched in every hand…
The “conversations” which consist of people talking in steadily increasing volume and never really listening to one another…
The “music” playing at a painful and dangerous decibel level…
The people rushing at top speed to get from one activity to another before they’re late…
And everybody seems to be late for something. Nobody “has time” to eat, to sleep, to breathe, to think, to become, to BE.
I am reminded of Madeleine L’Engle’s book, A Wind in the Door, when the little farandolae screamed ever louder and whirled ever faster and refused to stop and Deepen. Okay, you’ll have to read to book to see the whole story. Let’s just say that a refusal to be still and quiet was nearly fatal. Is that happening to us? Are we whirling and screaming ourselves into a bad ending?
Certainly the God who created us knows the value of quietness. Look at these verses:
Psalm 37:7 “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!”
Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
1Timothy 2:2 [Paul advises Timothy to pray] “for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”
Proverbs 17:1 “Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.”
So, I challenge you to give quietness a fair trial. It may not be easy at first. Practice it. Don’t give up. Drop some unnecessary busy-ness. Take or make some time each day to be in a quiet place, turn off the electronics and stay still. Pray. Read your Bible. Take a look into your own heart and brain. You may be pleasantly surprised to see what imaginative and helpful things have been lurking in your head–things that weren’t able to get a word out because of constant noise. Learn to be comfortable with the you inside your head. Be still and know that God IS.
If you haven’t subscribed to Forthright Magazine (free), you are missing some wonderful spiritual food. Here is an example.
(Used by permission from Forthright Magazine (www.forthright.net). Copyright © 2008 Richard Mansel.)
We love babies. We gather around them in wonder and coo in total bliss. Purity and innocence radiate from their tiny bodies as they remind us of what is best about humanity.
As Christmas time nears, the baby Jesus becomes a very important part of our society. People proclaim that Jesus [specifically, the baby] is the reason for the season and when the packages are unwrapped and the decorations stashed away, the baby fades back into obscurity for another year. /1
Why are we so enamored of the baby and so hostile to the adult Jesus? The answer lies in the fact that the baby grew up and with his growth came responsibility and consequence on the part of mankind.
Accordingly, people love the baby Jesus far more than they do the adult Lord.
Herod wanted to destroy Jesus for political reasons ( Matthew 2:1-9, 16-18). However, the baby Jesus was not a threat to anyone spiritually. He was just a Jewish baby who had issued no commands or forced men to choose spiritual life or death.
The baby Jesus unites, while the man Jesus divides ( Matthew 10:34-36). His doctrines force people to put away sinful practices and relationships ( Romans 5:6-11). Despite his offer of grace and mercy, most will refuse to come to him ( Matthew 7:13-14).
Jesus is Lord and God, whether as a baby or an adult ( John 1:1-5). Yet, people want to divide them up into the dear Jesus and the dangerous Jesus.
In this confusion, we find man’s destruction.
The Colossians fell into a similar trap. They were worshiping angels because they asked nothing of them and appeared to fill a spiritual void ( Colossians 2:18). Likewise, people are enamored of the baby Jesus because he is not speaking against their sinful lifestyles. In the manger, he offers the warm glow without the fear of being burned.
People have greatly misunderstood the baby Jesus. He is the God of love and grace ( John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9). We can find no better alternatives, so we better not let this one go by ( John 6:68; Matthew 11:28-30).
In doing so, we humble ourselves before him and have our sins washed away, so we can be transformed ( Acts 2:38; Romans 12:1-2). As a result, we will see the baby and the adult Jesus as the true Savior of the world.
When will we accept our sins, so we can give them up? When we do, we can stop playing mind games designed to rationalize away God’s will. Let us make peace and accept him today ( Acts 22:16).
1/ There isn’t any scriptural authority for a religious holiday focused on the birth of Jesus. But we can honor it as a family holiday. http://www.forthright.net/square_one/the_real_truth_about_jesus_birth_1.html