Sunday, June 28, 2009

I'm rebuked for bad manners/not being "saved"

This is primarily a Bible reading and commentary blog entry, but I decided to give everyone a thrill and use a "National Enquirer" type of title for this blog posting! I mean, who wants to read another of my "Bible reading" or "Bible commentary" titles when they can read one about my being sad or uncomfortable or afflicted instead? ;-)

Being homeless I have been taken in by a Christian man where I earn my keep being his housekeeper. Tonight he rebuked me for some bad manners of mine from yesterday (cussing) and while he was on the subject mentioned that I'm not saved, don't know what God wants, and belong to a pagan cult (he means the Catholic Church).

Well, he said his piece and I said mine and I hope he feels better, since I sure do not.

However, I'm good at making lemonade out of lemons, and wine out of vinegar (much harder than the lemonade trick) so this lesson or, rather, this quiz for my readers popped into mind. (I'm logged on using my battery power on the laptop to save electricity, it sure costs a lot around here...)

I have a question for any Christian reading this blog. Why did Jesus say the following using the words he used and not the alternative I suggest below?

What he said:

"Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house there are many mansions. Were it not so, I should have told you, because I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again, and I will take you to myself; that where I am, there you also may be. And where I go you know, and the way you know." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where thou art going, and how can we know the way?" (Matthew 14:1-5)

Now, before I point out the specific question I have, I need to put this in context. This statement by Jesus is the beginning of a long passage where he is comforting the Apostles at the Last Supper. Jesus knows he is going to be betrayed and in fact the whole episode of Jesus announcing that someone will betray him and the betrayer thereupon leaving (Judas Iscariot) the Last Supper has just taken place (Matthew 13:21-30). For those of you who do not have the scripture in front of you, even though Jesus identified Judas as the betrayer and Judas did leave the table, the Apostles did not make the connection that Judas was the betrayer and leaving the table in order to do so: "But none of those understood why he said this to him. For some thought that because Judas held the purse, Jesus had said to him, "Buy the things we need for the feast"or that he should give something to the poor (Matthew 13:28-29).

OK, here is my question to you. And yes, I know the answer. Do you?

Why didn't Jesus say either or both of the following:

1. "I go to prepare a place for you, except for the betrayer Judas Iscariot."

2. "I go to prepare a place for you, except for the betrayer Judas Iscariot, and I also go to prepare a place for the disciples not present here at this Supper, and also for every person who believes in me in the future."

Since the Apostles understood that Jesus was speaking to them (that's why I included up above that Thomas' being the first to reply makes that clear), but they did not know that Judas had left not on routine business but to betray Jesus... why would Jesus during some of the last words he ever spoke to them make clear that Judas was not having a place prepared for him in heaven? Why would Jesus have allowed the Apostles to assume that Jesus, who never lied or was disingenuous, meant all Twelve, including Judas? And to be perfectly clear, why is Jesus only referring to preparing a place for the Twelve, but not the other seventy disciples, not at the Last Supper, or, better yet, state that he, as the Son of God, is preparing a place for all those who believe in him in the future? Why does Jesus use wording indicating only all of the Twelve?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

I offered to help Michael Jackson in 2003

I was approached electronically via a celebrity who was, supposedly, a friend of his. I had to read between the lines regarding who he was asking questions of me on behalf of (since all these nutjobs use assumed identities online), and it was, in addition to others who were and are in great spiritual trouble, Michael. I offered unasked for flat out to help him for free any time any place. I not only did not receive a reply but I was embarrassed and often degraded by the people who had first brought Michael's problems to my attention. I soon realized that Michael needed urgent life and soul saving help in 3 areas: 1) authentic self identity 2) removing addictive substances from his life and 3) saving his soul away from cult beliefs.

Imagine what could have happened if I had been allowed to help Michael six years ago which now, because of the misery, seems like ages ago, as the sanity of this world is just falling apart. Michael went from a God believing little boy to a tormented addicted deluded mechanical being, and I cannot begin to express how sad this has made me though not as sad as it would have some years ago because who cannot see that this is where such delusion results? I've blogged repeatedly about this that wordly and spiritual reality are not "choices." One is either a servant of the real God, or one falls away and is not, and the consequences are dire.

I feel the anguish of the well meaning members of his family and of course for the children.

Read about this family

How sweet to read, in these sad and too mechanical and cold times, a story of joy and normalcy, of real humanity.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Music talk: Leadbelly

I'm a big fan of the blues. A lot of young people don't know about the traditional greats. Check out Leadbelly, one of my favorites. I've linked to a tune that often runs through my mind, as it was popular when I was a child "way back when."

A collection of thoughts/reflections today

Here is a collection of thoughts for today and the past few days.

1. In Revelation (the Book of the Apocalypse) it reads (when describing the heavenly Jerusalem) “And the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass” (Revelation 21:21).

Imagine how beautiful heavenly gold is, where it flows purely under spiritual feet. Now think about how the people who most loved gold will never see it again after death, for they, unrepentant and unsanctified by God’s forgiveness and grace, are in hell.

This is an example of where one reads a fact in the Bible (that St John observed that in heaven Jerusalem has a street of gold, and how there is no temple or sun “for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof” (Revelation 21:23) and can then, on further meditation regarding that passage, can extract wisdom. By thinking about the irony and futility of sin, where those who loved gold the most on earth will not see the street of gold in heaven, one better understand the truth of all that scriptures contains and how the truth of salvation history has continuing urgent applicability throughout all time.

2. My opinion about the election unrest in Iran is that the problem in Iran, which I am surely concerned about and disappointed about, is, nonetheless, a temptation to the arrogant and self righteous in the western world.

Consider Iran a mini-case study in not only diplomacy but also in faith and reasoning and also morality (and sin). Ironically I am not referring to the sin of oppression, which is apparently occurring during the protests (always be careful to have the complete facts before jumping to conclusion. Facts involve collecting both the truth of what is happening and also putting it in reasonable proportion and context). I am referring to the sin of hubris, egoism and arrogant self righteousness. Who is the United States, France or any other country to criticize a country that is a theocracy, just because those countries “don’t believe” in either state religion or that specific religion?

A theocracy does not function the same way as a republic or a theoretical democracy, I mean, duh, think about it. The entire structure of not only the government but all decision making is based on entirely different criterion in a theocracy than in a republic or a theoretical democracy. It’s hilarious that in the television series “Star Trek” a generation of liberal mush heads grew up admiring its godless but “moral” “non interference in alien cultures” stance, yet these liberals (and self described conservatives) can’t wait to criticize and interfere in an earth based reality based genuine different culture. If aliens were presented on “Star Trek” wearing the hijab, burqua or other conservative female garb the popcorn eating viewers would be applauding the noble Enterprise crew’s “non interference.”

Turn off the TV fantasy and get real about respecting other people’s culture and religion. Also, as another example of thinking out of the box (but being reality based), I have heard that Neda, the woman who appears to have been tragically killed in a protest in Iran, was at the protest with her father. That may or may not be true as facts are, as I warned above, sketchy. Parents, I have to ask you, do you think that taking a child who still is young and has life ahead of him or her, even if they are “mature” and in their twenties, to a protest where there is life threatening danger is a good idea? That is not a decision that I would have made. I would not go to a protest or other danger if a younger member of my family insisted on going with me.

Part of being a parent (or a mature adult of any form) is to look at the long view, the big picture, and help younger people make mature decisions accordingly. Also, are things going so well in the United States? Are things going so well in France? Are western countries in possession of such perfection that they can devote an unprecedented amount of ink and TV time about Iran’s election and theocracy?

3. I find I have to remind people yet again of the following:

In heaven: “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new. ‘ And he said unto me, ‘Write: for these words are true and faithful’” (Revelation 21:4-5).

Think about this: if God erases all death, sorrow, crying and pain, what do you think happens to the people who cause death, sorrow, crying and pain in others? Read onward just a few passages further.

In hell: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).

Notice the categories of people that God himself lists as being cast into hell for all eternity, the “second death” that occurs after their body dies and each person is judged by God. Do you notice that it is not only the unbelievers in God, but also the “fearful” who are sent to hell? Those who “fear” to serve God in their lives have to be genuinely concerned about meriting hell for their lackluster and tainted faith. Also notice that it not “whores” but “whoremongers” who need to fear hell. A whoremonger is someone who promotes whorish behavior. As Jesus demonstrated repeatedly, whores are forgiven, but whoremongers are not. Think about the filth of modern society and understand how many millions of whoremongers exist in society today. How about the abominable? I was in a church service this Sunday and someone flashed an obscene gesture in my direction. Um, have people gotten so stupid that they do not realize that personal beefs, playacting, and obscenity and disrespect is not only sinful and bad to do, but when it is in a house of God (no matter the denomination, for all exist in theory ‘in his name’) that this is an abomination? Call me an ass or whatever on the street and it is a sin and boorish behavior (and probably based on idolatrous beliefs) but if you do the same thing in a house of God, it is an abomination, and risks being unforgiven and being cast into hell upon death.

And, finally, notice that “all liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.” I’ve written extensively how “liars,” being those who disobey the Commandment against false witness, includes not only flat out lies but also all forms of misrepresenting of information, whether about a person or a business. Withholding information is not a way “around” lying but is part of false witness. Friends, this modern society is entirely comprised of liars. You need to shudder in fear at how generations are being taught falsehood and to live entirely within falsehood, raising their children to be unable to tell the difference and who, in fact, raise “acting out a part” and being “poseurs” to a high art of lying. All, unrepentant and unforgiven, will be cast into hell after being judged by God, and in the scripture you have been warned by St. John’s witness of God’s own words in heaven.

4. I have one continuing ongoing regret and sorrow, which will delight those who enjoy knowing about my pain. I regret that I ever had the level of affection for humans that I have been among. Whether love, friendship or adoptive parenthood, I regret the depth of my love and affection because they did not want nor deserve it-not because I am so great, but because they have all believed so little in God. It is one thing to love someone who needs help with their faith, or who have not received the word of God into their lives and hearts. It is another thing to have affection toward those who manipulate both my affection but also their faith (such as it is) or who are idolaters who secretly worship pagan non-existent gods and who decay genuine glorification of the real God. I am actually ashamed at how much I have loved certain people, only to find how filthy they have been toward God, in their minds and in their theoretical hearts. I can’t even think of family, friends, ex-loves without being ashamed that I loved people who care so little for God, and who cover up such dark and disgusting beliefs.

5. Wow, I am glad that even though it was for bad reasons (going broke and the sadness of my family and so called friends decay) that I gave up golf and sold my golf clubs. Enough said.

6. Isaiah 30:1 Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my Spirit, that they may add sin to sin.

Bible commentary and faith/reasoning case study

Here is another case study regarding the use of faith and reasoning. This is an important example because I address some of the tremendous errors in both faith and total lack of reasoning based on genuine science that is rife in society today. In this case study I demonstrate how science has explained much of how the human brain and psyche works, and how one particular phenomenon that gives rise to error in Biblical interpretation and even worse, occult practices and beliefs, is actually a natural human neurobiological phenomenon.

There has been some coverage in the press recently of a discovery that was made some years ago regarding the “blind spot” that every human has due to the structure of the eyes. Because of the way that human eyeballs are structured and placed every single person has a blind spot where they literally cannot see any object that is placed there. So why do people not lack vision in reality there? Why do people “see” things that are in the blind spot? Because the human brain evolved so that it uses logic to “fill in the blank” of what it can’t see. So when an object is held in front of a human in the exact blind spot, the person still perceives its existence and “sees” it because the brain keeps memory of what that object looked like when it was not in the blind spot. You can do an Internet search on this for more information.

We also know about “phantom limb” syndrome, where a human who has lost an arm or leg still often has sensation or feeling of it, often with genuine continuing pain. The brain is hardwired to retain memories of how the limbs work and feel, even when they no longer exist. This is another example of how the brain “fills in the blank” (though here it is more of a problem than an aid) where a person still “feels” their arm, quite genuinely, even though the arm is no longer there.

Another example of how science explains how the brain “fills in the blank” is seen when one studies how babies learn. When a baby is first born he or she has strong powers of observation (for example, seeing and recognizing facial expressions after only a few days) but he or she does not yet have the knowledge or experience to understand the context. Babies don’t realize that they are an individual being and that mom and dad are separate human beings until several months have gone by. The brain’s ability to “fill in the blank” is how the baby learns about his or her world in this way. Baby eventually observes that mom and dad are separate beings, and that they still exist even if they cannot be seen. That is why “peek-a-boo” is one of the favorite games of most babies and toddlers! Peek-a-boo is a very life affirming game for babies and children because they are learning to “fill in the blanks,” to trust that a human still exists even though they are temporarily hidden or out of sight.

In a practical way, think about how early humans survived by hunting and gathering. What if the human brain could not “fill in the blanks?” A deer could run behind some trees or rocks and the pursuing hunter would not realize that the deer is “still there” if the brain did not use logic to “fill in the blanks.” But humans are hard wired by their biology, and honed through evolution and individual learning, to comprehend the world, even if one temporarily cannot see an object.

So why am I discussing this in a Biblical context? It seems rather obvious biology when one reads the examples that I’ve given above. That’s good, because indeed, my first point it to explain that the Bible (and the Koran) is given to actual human beings with actual neurobiology that can be explained by science. In this case study I am laying the foundation of what we know and what we are still discovering about human neurobiology so that we can start with what is known and true, and then explore how this knowledge is lacked or skewed in very problematic ways.

First, understand that this neurobiological need and desire by humans to “fill in the blanks” never really turns off. It’s not like humans use this talent only to compensate for the blind spot in their vision, and as babies learn, and to logic their way through situations where some information is hidden. Humans tend to crave “filling in the blanks” and THAT is where there is risk of filling in the blanks with garbage. Let’s first start by looking at perfectly understandable ways of how humans “fill in the blanks” in ways that are not strictly true, but are part of their emotional well-being.

In the most innocent examples, think of a child’s dream. A child may dream, for example, that Santa Claus appeared to them and told them that they are going to get a great present for Christmas. This does not mean that Santa Claus made a spiritual visitation to the child, obviously, as any rational adult understands. The analysis of the dream is that the child wants a good present for Christmas and has some excitement or anxiety about it. So the child has a dream about receiving a good present for Christmas and this is the type of dream that we call a “wish fulfillment” dream. The child’s brain uses a dream to process the excitement or anxiety that the child has about getting something for Christmas. Santa Claus is a “fill in the blank” figure. The desire for a Christmas present-and the accompanying anxiety or excitement-is the “raw material” of the dream. But to smooth out the edges, to make the dream safe and to make it “complete” the child’s unconscious adds the safety figure of Santa Claus. Santa Claus can be trusted and Santa Claus is the one bringing the gift.

I could give more examples but want to just quickly make this point so we can move on. This is why dreams are populated by symbolic figures (Santa Claus, angels, demons, godlike figures, aliens, mythical creatures, the Queen of England, etc). It is not that those figures are actually “making an appearance,” “sending a message” or are even real. Rather the dreamer is dealing with the core contents, the raw materials, of their dream and then embellishing the dream with “fill in the blank” figures to make the dream a more complete and more contextual experience. For example, suppose that a person has a dream that involves a demon. Even though the sequence of the dream may be as follows: 1) demon appears in dream 2) action takes place and dream proceeds and 3) dream concludes with or without some sort of resolution or bottom line the actual sequence of the dream is 1) the unconscious mind has raw material that needs to be processed and so a dream will now take place and 2) because the material is of dubious due to moral or other anxieties a demon is utilized as a “fill in the blank” figure to appropriately categorize the dream for the dreamer.

Therefore, far from a demon being “sent with a message” to the dreamer, the dreamer is having a dream about raw material that is fraught with content that is most appropriately labeled as being in the category of a matter that would be best symbolically expressed by an imaginary demon figure.

Just to make sure that I am being clear in this explanation, let me use a silly example before we move on. Rather, the example is very serious and sad, not silly, but I will show you a realistic explanation and compare it to a totally silly explanation. Suppose that a war veteran has a recurring traumatic dream that involves helicopters. It may or may not be a repeat of an actual war experience that he or she had or witnessed. The repeating motif of the helicopter is a “fill in the blank” object. It symbolizes the context of the raw material of the dream and a genuine dream interpreter can help the individual to understand how the helicopter provides some sort of fill in the blank context for the raw material anxiety of the dream (whatever the point of the actual dream may be). Someone who does not understand the “fill in the blank” neurobiology of the mind and body of the dreamer, on the other hand, might tell the dream that the “spirit guide of helicopters is sending a four bladed messenger from the spiritual junkyard of where all deceased helicopters go.” LOL, I wish I was kidding, but I am not.

Before there was radio, television, cinema and of course computers, video games and “fantasy genre of literature,” despite what moderns think previous generations of humans used to be extremely reality based. Most humans lived in a world that was only one season of bad weather away from starvation, and one day away from an illness or injury that could destroy the breadwinner of a family. Modern humans like to think that previous generations were “superstitious” or “ignorant,” but actually the total reverse is true. Modern humans are totally superstitious and ignorant, while previous generations were totally reality based and fantasy had little or no component in their life.

This is a modern problem due to two reasons. The first reason is that exposure to all the imaginary entertainment material that I listed above has over-stimulated the “fill in the blank” mechanism, turning it from a survival trait and aid into a phenomenon that is actually counter to survival. The “fill in the blank” survival trait is being used by moderns as an actual hindrance to common sense, reality and ultimately survival and thriving in real life. That is due to the second reason which is the pandemic of pride, egomaniacal beliefs and inflated feelings of one’s own importance in the world order and indeed in the spiritual order. Genuine humility is the total antidote against the modern pandemic of egomaniacal “fill in the blank” misuse and distortion.

Because of ignorance, lack of reality and egomaniacal individuals and culture we have a situation where everyone thinks that he or she is a player on some sort of stage of the divine matters of the world. No longer does a child have an innocent dream of an angel appearing and saying something nice: now the family declares the child who has a dream with an angel to be “psychic” and “gifted” with a “messenger.” A mere fifty years ago people still had common sense and would brush off these dreams as interesting but normal, and would just reassure their child accordingly. No one but a handful of nuts would run around thinking their child is divine or that they are some sort of important players in spiritual reality.

Suppose a child today dreamed that she received a purple dress from an angel. Years ago sane and logical parents would realize that the child had a dream about clothes, usually a wish fulfillment type of dream (wanting special clothes or having anxiety about not having nice clothes) and that the angel was simply fill in the blank material to make the dream safe and nice for the child. What would happen today? I wish I was joking but here we go.

The parents, aunts or uncles, grandparents or ‘spiritual directors’ of the child would declare her a “seer” who is being “visited by angels.” They would declare the child (and of course the whole family) as being “special” and “gifted” in “spiritual matters.” They would make the child hypersensitive, and even imbalanced, about her every dream and nutty thought, raising her up to be someone “different” and “in touch with universal forces.” They’d ruin her life and worse they as a whole would walk away from genuine salvation through God, creating, instead, their own false gods and beliefs. But it would not stop there.

If this family had money and influence they would declare “purple” to be “their” color. They would start to reckon that the angel gave their child a purple dress in the dream as a sign that they are special and will be rewarded. The color purple would therefore become their false idol and their tool for inflation and exploitation. They’d build businesses around the color purple and block others from “using” “their” color. So they’d start to make money and power and influence using the concept of purple, concluding that it is their “due” since, after all, an angel “gifted” their little darling with that right and “connection.”

Meanwhile, God had other plans for that girl that the family now totally blocks since they are no longer alert to the guidance of the genuine God through the genuine Holy Spirit. As the old saying goes, when you have a hammer everything looks like a nail. Modern children and adults are now in the belief that every little dream, burp or nutty thought they have is being “spiritually gifted.” I mean, if you think I am joking, do an Internet search on “indigo children.” That is just one example where people have enabled, both individually and through the freak show society, a total lack of understanding of and a humility regarding the reality of the human being and how unreachable the authentically divine is to human beings.

The Bible and the Koran are, of course, the places to “detox” from out of control “fill in the blank” thinking and thus regain a sense of the reality of the human and the divine. So the second part of this particular blog entry is to demonstrate how to combine the scientific neurobiological knowledge that I have pointed you toward with proper understanding of God’s word and revelation, to regain humility and reality and, hopefully, eventually genuine wisdom, not false “spiritual insight.”

People who don’t read and study the entire Bible have developed erroneous stereotypes and beliefs that are kind of a combination of anecdotal cherry picking of Biblical events combined with lack of understanding of actual history and culture of the time, instead of looking through distorted modern filters. To make a joke but a pithy point, it’s like they read the Bible looking for clues about how teenagers in ancient Israel programmed their IPODs. Modern people think that Biblical people (and hence God himself, since he revealed himself to those ancient generations) think and feel like modern people and that’s totally not true.

So to make a specific example, modern people seem to think that Biblical people were “open” to “messages from angels” and this was some sort of honored and common place thing. In fact, the opposite is true. If a family announced that their little darling had a dream of an angel giving her a purple dress and claimed some sort of spiritual gift, they’d get themselves killed, probably by stoning, as a result.

How do we know this is true? Just read the Bible and understand the timeline. God went long times, often for hundreds of years, without saying a single thing or sending a single message to any person or prophet AT ALL. Far from “everyone” being “open” to divine messages, God is often totally silent to absolutely everybody. The Bible offers absolutely no justification for thinking that little Madison or Brittany is receiving a “gifting” of “spiritual insight” from an “angel” or anyone else. People understood that a dream was just a dream. In fact, they were the experts in discerning genuine divine revelation 1) exactly because the genuine thing is so rare and 2) God’s usage of selected prophets was well known.

The obvious proof of how Biblical culture was in reality is clear when you look how Jesus was treated. As soon as people heard that he was not denying being the Son of God they sought to stone him. Jesus was actually the Son of God and performed thousands of miracles to authenticate his representation of God the Father on earth, yet people of his home town sought to push him over a cliff and to stone him. Even with abundant proof there was a reality based resistance by the people of any danger of false prophets and idolatry. Therefore, far from the people of the Bible being “open” to “frequent” “angelic visitation” etc, God demonstrates in his holy scripture how rare such an authentic event is. It is so rare that when the “real deal” of the Messiah came along and performed works that only God himself could provide through Jesus, many viewed Jesus presenting himself as being of the divine as an abomination.

I’ve taught and I repeat again that understanding the Bible means understanding both what is actually said and what, equally important, is NOT said. Only by reading the entire Bible and understanding its complete context can you start to discern not only what takes place in Biblical times, but you start to notice the gaps, the things that simply do not take place. The more you read the entire Bible the more you realize how rare any sort of divine communication between God and humans is in truth. Here is an example of learning from what “did not happen.” We are going to look at some scripture here as one example of the pattern of what actually happens, and does not happen, throughout salvation history. The bottom line is that you will see that a handful of people throughout the ages are called by God at the time when God is ready to use them. Until that time they lead normal lives and they certainly are not “cultivated” to be “spiritually elect.” Let us look at King David.

The first King of Israel, Saul, has become unsuitable in the eyes of the Lord God, so God summons Samuel, the priest who God has designated as the consecrator of kings in His name.

1 Kings 16:1
And the Lord said to Samuel: How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, whom I have rejected from reigning over Israel? Fill thy horn with oil, and come, that I may send thee to Isai the Bethlehemite, for I have provided me a king among his sons.

Samuel obeys God and goes to Bethlehem. When the ancients (the elders of the city) wonder, with some fear, why Samuel has come to their city, Samuel assures them that he is there only to perform a sacrifice to God. Samuel then invites Isai and his sons to attend the sacrifice so that he can look them over and figure out which is the one that God intends to become king. As Samuel is meeting each of the sons of Isai God is speaking to him, giving him general direction.

1 Kings 16:7

And the Lord said to Samuel: Look not on his countenance, nor on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him, nor do I judge according to the look of man, for man seeth those things that appear, but the Lord beholdeth the heart.

Just as an aside, notice that God is teaching not only Samuel but also those in the future who will read his Word in the Bible not to judge each other according to appearances. That is the Biblical foundation for the old adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” referring to people, of course. How far has society come from the Lord God’s very instructions! All people seem to do these days is to judge people by their appearances. This is another example of how sinful this society has become, and how vanity has caused humans to do the opposite of what God has told them to do.

Notice too that God is allowing Samuel to discern who the right son is on his own. Obviously God knows who he has in mind, as God, being all knowing, knows everyone even before they are born, and of course what his own Will is regarding those he calls. But God teaches humans how to be the best they can be and how to discern his Will through their own God given wisdom. So God tells Samuel that God has perfect ability to behold the interior of every person’s heart, and God lets Samuel go through the review of each son to discern which is the right one.

1 Kings 16:10-11
Isai therefore brought his seven sons before Samuel, and Samuel said to Isai: The Lord has not chosen anyone of these. And Samuel said to Isai: Are here all thy sons? He answered: There remaineth yet a young one, who keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said to Isai: Send, and fetch him, for we will not sit down till he come hither.

This is where I’d like you to notice not only what happened, but what did not happen. Notice that Isai obviously did not have a clue that any of his sons had a divine mission. Even when Isai is told by Samuel that God has sent him to select one of his sons and to bring them all, you can tell that Isai had not a clue which son it would be. In fact, Isai omits bringing the youngest son, the one who will, it turns out, be the future King.

Do you see where I am going with this commentary? It is obvious that David, along with his brothers and his family, led a perfectly ordinary life with no clue of a “divine calling.” If God did not “cultivate” David with sending him and his family “divine messengers” and “spiritual gifts,” how in the dickens do modern people think that their little Dicks and Janes are receiving “callings” and “psychic giftings” of a divine nature? Such a lack of understanding, scriptural integrity, common sense and humility simply boggles the mind. The scripture must be understood as the perfect Word of God and that includes understanding that God is role modeling reality throughout the Bible, both where it is explicitly stated and where through simply reading what happened (and did not) humans can discern truthful divine reality. The Bible not only does not support the modern delusion of many divine “messages” and “gifts,” it directly refutes it through the rarity of such occurrences throughout the thousands of years of salvation history.

1 Kings 16:12-13

He sent therefore and brought him. Now he was ruddy and beautiful to behold, and of a comely face. And the Lord said: Arise, and anoint him, for this is he. Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren. And the spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up, and went to Ramatha.

A ruddy face means a face that is reddened by the force of the winds from being long hours outdoors. Samuel is not saying that he selected David because of his looks, obviously, as we just read that the Lord advised him not to, and that all the other sons had already been seen and determined not to be the one. Samuel is simply reporting that David was extremely pleasing in his appearance, and that, as many sheepherders are, he had a wind burned face. Samuel had been seated, as he is the honored guest representing the Lord God, and as he sees David God tells him to arise and that David is the one to be consecrated, which Samuel immediately does. And then there is something that you, dear reader, as you read this slowly and with new attention, cannot help but see with clearer eyes: “And the spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward.”

David was not “cultivated” or “prepped” with “guides” and “angels” and “spiritual gifting” and so forth. The opposite is true since that is reality: people lead normal lives until the moment that they are, if they are of the rare elect, called by God. Scripture documents that it was only when the totally clueless (in the sense of having no advance warning or “signs” of being “special”) Isai and his sons are presented, and David is selected, that the spirit of God descends onto David “from that day forward.” No “special dreams,” no “indigo children,” no “destiny,” no “angelic guides,” and all the other modern lying hubris that is not only taken for granted today but actually, shockingly, thought to have “biblical justification.” Actually reading the Bible for what it clearly says and demonstrates reveal human and divine reality and the way things really DO work, and how they simply do not.

Throughout the Bible one can learn this lesson that I have presented today: how rare it is that a few people have a consecrated purpose from birth or youth and how when that does happen God himself makes it quite plain when and how it occurs. It does not occur any other way. I’ll leave it to you, since that is the whole point, to read and discern what the Bible is actually illuminating for more examples of what I have shown you today. One hint is to read more about Samuel and how he was first of all coming into being because his mother so desired a son. “Angels” did not “guide” Samuel’s mother to want a son who is destined to spiritual greatness. As usual the reverse is true where it is ordinary human reality that creates the natural sequence of events. Anna so wanted a son that she prayed to God for a son and then promised that if she received a son she would dedicate him to God’s service. There was no “prompting” by supposed divine apparitions about some sort of “spiritual destiny.” Life as put into the natural order by God simply does not work that way, with the exception of Jesus Christ born of the Virgin Mary, and the one who announced him, John the Baptist. Virtually all other callings to service to God occur as they occur and not as some sort of spiritual “gifting,” “karma recycling” or “destiny,” which is actually anti-biblical and anti-reality. This case study of King David is beautiful in its clarity, and now that you have read this you can reread the scripture about the birth and calling of Samuel and understand the proper order of events. I’ve blogged about Samuel and his mother before, so you can reread those with these thoughts in mind too.

I hope that you have found this helpful!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"Don't get too attached"

A lot of people wonder if they will be "together in heaven" when they die. This is natural when one thinks of one's spouse and children. However, the way things are these days, I recommend that you be like me and "don't get too attached."

Many will recognize that expression, usually given by a parent to a child who has brought home a stray animal. Parents tell the kids "don't get too attached" because the animal will either be given up for adoption, rehabilitated and returned to the wild, or, if it very sickly, will die. So parents, knowing that children have tender hearts, caution them in dubious circumstances not to get too attached.

For years I have had that thought in my mind as I observe the people around me, people who are increasingly in denial and defiance of God. No matter what a "great friend," "bubbly person" or "good chap" that someone is, increasingly the odds are against seeing most of the people that you know on earth arrive in heaven. It's not a place that people who are lukewarm, and most especially, antagonistic against God just "drop into" by default. Even those who "proclaim Jesus as their Lord and Savior" and reckon they are saved, then turn around and engage in occult practices or who embrace modern day idolatry and believe you me that puts them on the wrong road to the big hot place that's not much fun at all and hardly the first choice for family or friend "reunions." I don't plan on being there, my friends.

I'm not playing God but regular readers know I have a pretty good feeling for these things and all I can say is that for some insane reason even the "good guys" are crowding the road to hell. So I'm just "not getting too attached."

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Four great images of St Peter

The El Greco is amazing; I've always loved that one alot.

Repeat of lyrics of a favorite song

This is my favorite "Elton John" and "Bernie Taupin" song. I think I have blogged about this before.

"Where To Now St. Peter?"

I took myself a blue canoe
And I floated like a leaf
Dazzling, dancing
Half enchanted
In my Merlin sleep

Crazy was the feeling
Restless were my eyes
Insane they took the paddles
My arms they paralyzed

So where to now St. Peter
If it's true I'm in your hands
I may not be a Christian
But I've done all one man can
I understand I'm on the road
Where all that was is gone
So where to now St. Peter
Show me which road I'm on
Which road I'm on

It took a sweet young foreign gun
This lazy life is short
Something for nothing always ending
With a bad report

Dirty was the daybreak
Sudden was the change
In such a silent place as this
Beyond the rifle range

I took myself a blue canoe

[ ]

Friday, June 12, 2009

Understanding Jesus' words and other dialogue

Here is another quick thought where I'm going to point you all in a direction but not go through extensive scripture citation.

When one reads the scripture, specifically the Gospels and the writings of the Apostles, one realizes that Jesus and the disciples frequently quote from and reference the Biblical writings of the prophets. These writings are what Christians call the Old Testament of the Bible today. The Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament) were deeply studied by pious Jews of the time of Christ, of course. The Gospel tells how the scholars at the Temple admired and were astonished by the knowledge of the young boy Jesus.

Most Christians when asked to name an example of Jesus citing scripture would think of the famous exchange between Jesus as he fasted in the desert before commencing his public ministry and Satan, who tried to tempt Jesus away from his mission. This is recounted in Matthew 4:1-11.

Here is the point that I'm going to make for you to consider.

Whenever anyone "cites scripture" (to use a modern expression that everyone takes for granted these days) they did not do it with the technique or attitude that people utilize today. Today people having "dueling scripture" mentality that is based upon "knowing where to look for 'the answer' in the Bible" and thus they center upon (somewhat pridefully) citing the "numbers" (book, chapter and verse). No one, not Jesus, not the Apostles, nor Satan himself, did that during Biblical times. No one said, "If you look in scroll number four and read the tenth sentence it says etc etc etc." People simply said "It is written that..."

Then the devil took him into the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, "If thou art the Son of God, throw thyself down; for it is written 'He will give his angels charge concerning thee; and upon their hands they shall bear thee up, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.'" Jesus said to him, "It is written further, 'Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God'" Matthew 4:5-7.

Read for yourselves any place in the New Testament where scripture is cited and you will see that no one gave reference points, such as the book's name, the chapter or the verse, and virtually all used the unchallenged opening phrase to their quotation "it is written."

Why is this important and why am I pointing this out tonight in this blog entry?

I've repeatedly advised my readers that one cannot understand God's words, whether in the Bible or the Qur'an, unless one understands the context of the times. Most people could not read or write and the word of God was an oral experience for them, as God's word was given to the people by the priests, and learned verbally from scholars and family members. No one had the mindset that they had to "prove it is 'in the Bible'" by citing chapter and verse (or scroll or line). So Satan cites scripture and Jesus gives a counter citation, but neither says to the other (duh) "where does it say that in the Bible?" The Bible, of course, did not exist in the chapter and verse form that Christians use today and that is my point.

If one wants a truly authentic emulation of Jesus and the disciples, one needs to read and comprehend the entire Bible, not memorize the key "trick phrases" and citations that bolster one's familiar arguments and beliefs. No one challenged each other "where does it 'say that'" back in the times of Jesus because no one would even think of incorrectly citing scripture.

In other words, authentic knowers of God's word are not "defensive" in their attitudes, as many are today.

So Satan cites scripture without even saying "where" that scripture comes from and "who said it" and about what. In return, Jesus does the same thing, citing scripture without saying who said it and "where it comes from."

Generations of Christian scholars (yep, those early church fathers, both Catholic and Orthodox) performed detailed study of the scripture and footnoting so that future generations would know who and what Jesus and the others were citing.

So if you have an annotated Bible, you can determine by reading the footnote that Satan was citing from the Book of Psalms, while Jesus replied citing Deuteronomy.

Do you understand the two points that I am trying to make? The first point is that neither Satan nor Jesus "came prepared with citations up their sleeves to have that debate." Both so well know the scripture that when the dialogue took place, each could think of the most pertinent citation to make on the spot. How many people do that today? Rather, moderns are proud that they have "pre loaded scripture" that they can cite chapter and verse for the most familiar of purposes and well worn paths of debate, rather than understanding the meaning of the entire Bible, and then drawing from it as needed on the spot, regardless of the occasion for Biblical reference. So if one really wants to be "like Jesus" or the "genuine Apostles," one would have to have mastery of the entire Bible in its content and context, not hopping around extracting and memorizing favorite useful sayings, like they are bullet points for debate cues.

The second point is the temptation that an index system (chapter and verse) provides to those who distill everything into numbers and punch lines. Whenever humans have a technological advance, there is always a plus and a minus. The plus to having written Bibles that are inexpensively printed and able to be read by all is that obviously it is the great equalizer that rich or poor, all can have God's word to have and reference. The minus is that the word of God becomes less of an atmosphere that one is verbally immersed within and becomes, simply put, another intellectual tool.

A reverse snobbery takes place. How often do you see a bumper sticker with just a citation rather than the words? For example, you'd see the above dialogue as a bumper sticker that simply says "Matthew 4:5-7." Those who are "in the know" would see that bumper sticker and recognize that the people who owned that car are citing that verse for some reason known to them. But where is the knowledge (remember, knowledge is a gift of the Holy Spirit, not of humans' own doing) in saying "Matthew 4:5-7?" Rather, it is tempting to be smug, inviting those who know that verse by number to see your bumper stick and think "Oh, what a great Christian I am; I know what topic they are citing." If you are really of the "texting" and LOL generation, one can say to one's friends "457" and that would be a code word for "Satan and Jesus debating" or "Jesus being tempted." Those who are snide could given themselves user names such as Brit457 and those "in the know" would realize that "Brit" is calling him or herself a tempter, or a refuter of Satan.

Humans are like huge walking slippery slopes of ice where it seems that they cannot resist any temptation to parse or to package the complex and thoughtful and meaningful into sound bytes and killer debating points and eventually smug self referential code talk.

This is why I really avoid that mindset and virtually never walk around citing scripture. I have to painfully look up in the Bible every time I cite scripture (even the ones I often blog about) since my mind just refuses to think of the Bible as a series of numbered "points" to make.

All of you need to realize that it is "not Biblical" to cite scripture in a numeric, catchphrase, or "prove it to me" type of way. People (even Satan) were expected to know the fullness of scripture and then ad hoc state "it is written" a truthful statement or paraphrasing from the scripture, without even "showing off" who said it in the first place. I mean, in Matthew 4:5-7, Jesus is citing GOD, but Jesus himself does not say to Satan, "Well, God himself said the following on the fifth scroll first turning first line....." Everyone was authentic Biblical scholars at that time and it would never occur to anyone to feel they have to state exactly word for word and number by number who said what "in the Bible."

Jesus said to him, "It is written further, 'Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God'" (Matthew 4:7)

Jesus is "citing" the following:

"You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test, as you did at Massa" (Deuteronomy 6:16).

Suppose that debate was taking place today? Can you not well imagine certain Christians who would (in playing Satan's part) reply to Jesus:

1. Where does it say that? Cite me the book, chapter and verse.
2. You did not quote correctly, so your knowledge of scripture is imperfect.
3. Hmm, well, so God did say that, but he is referring to a specific form of putting God to the test (as at Massa). Doesn't that mean that other forms of testing God are "OK?" I mean, wouldn't God have SAID in "any way" if he meant in any way?
4. Boy Jesus, you sure missed the point of what God was saying. I bet you could not even find Massa on a map.

I wish I was joking or being droll but I am not.

Likewise, Jesus did not "correct" Satan's citation of scripture, as Jesus knows full well what Satan is citing and its context and pertinence.

'He will give his angels charge concerning thee; and upon their hands they shall bear thee up, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone' (Matthew 4:6).

For to his angels he has given command about you, that they guard you in all your ways. Upon their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the asp and the viper; you shall trample down the lion and the dragon (Psalms 90:11-13).

Jesus could have said:

1. Hey Satan, always cite what book, chapter and verse, because otherwise we don't know if "God really said that."
2. Satan, you miss the point. That foot on stone thing is just one example of how God will guard me in "all" "ways." So why are you picking out one of the examples in Psalms 90 to test me with? Why not have me step on a few snakes too, etc.

Isn't that ridiculous, if either had challenged the other in those ways? Yet, be honest. Aren't SOME of you reading this going to yourself, "Oh, hey, that would be a 'good point' if either Satan or Jesus challenged the 'validity of the citation.'"

How foolish and near sighted are the moderns of today, even those who have genuine faith in their hearts.

This is why I taught this particular lesson tonight, so that you meet and recognize your danger of being easily tempted head on. All I had to do was play upon the anal compulsive and "making the point" usage of God's scripture as a play ground for word smiths, numerologists and yes even the obsessive compulsive (or their opposite, the sloppy) faithful and you see how easily the refuting of Satan by Jesus would have been ruined if it was put in modern "standards" and the all too common vernacular.

Admit it. If Jesus was standing in front of you and "cited scripture" and one or two of the words varied from what you had in your hands printed in "your" version of the Bible, a seed of doubt about Jesus would be planted in your heart.

It is for that reason that Jesus came when he did in the times that he did, when people were verbal and filled with the spirit of context, not of word smithing and argumentative, defensive "superiority." That is why people said "it is written" because people were getting the accurate message of God across to each other, but not measuring accuracy by ridiculous word plays and number games. Jesus knew that Satan knew that Satan was citing just one example of how God would be "My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust" (Psalms 90:2) so a "gotcha" moment would be pointless since the point was not to parrot words, but to try to apply scripture to a challenge to Jesus. Likewise Satan did not challenge Jesus that "the prohibition against testing only applies to Massa" because obviously Satan knows that God was forbidding all testing of him, and only mentioning "Massa" so that the people would keep that specific chastisement fresh in their memories.

People: you cannot evangelize nor bolster your own faith and the faith of others if you are using "gotcha" techniques in your day to day discourse and even your fundamental understanding of God's word in scripture. There is a profound difference between being accurate and anal (pardon my being so indelicate but the modern vernacular among the young has changed so much that I can't convey the message without using their common lingo). Likewise there is a profound difference between knowing God's entire word and his context and having preloaded favorite scripture debating points.

I hope that you have found this helpful.

Another example.....(extra credit, LOL)

And Paul said, "I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, 'Thou shalt not speak evil of a ruler of thy people' (Acts 23:5).

Paul is referencing:

"You shall not revile God, nor curse a prince of your people" (Exodus 22:27).

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Understanding God view of "the past" and mercy

Human beings are limited, due to their human frame of reference, in their ability to understand God. This little blog posting will not be a scripture citing exercise, but rather, one to help people understand a few things about God that I know puzzles them.

People, being human, tend to obsess about the past and the future, and have difficulty remaining in "the present," which is current time. Almost without realizing it, people thus make the same error when they think about God. They tend to think that God gives greater weight to the past and to the future than he does the present, but this is totally untrue. If one were to characterize where God "pays the most attention" or "puts the highest priority," one would have to say that God is the most focused on what humans are doing in the here and now, and neither the past nor the future.

The error in logic regarding God is easy to understand in its origin. Humans reason using this kind of logic: God judges humans based on sins they have committed and what they have "done in the past" and God alone knows what will happen in the future, so he must obviously be constantly "looking ahead." Thus many people think that God is like them, looking constantly back at "mistakes" and injustices while at the same time just "waiting" for the "next thing" to happen.

Thorough and open minded reading of either the Bible or the Qur'an, however, demonstrate that those views are not only false and misleading, they are actually the opposite of the truth. If one were to characterize what God "focuses on" it can only be described as the present.

When you understand that God is neither "living in the past" nor constantly "looking toward the future," one better understands an apparent, but false, contradiction, which is how can God be all merciful, while at the same time sternly judging what one has done in the past?

Ah, now do you see? God is all knowing, so of course when one dies, one is judged by God on the totality of what one has done in his or her life. Simply having all knowledge of one's past actions, however, is not the same as being focused on the past. God is not looking down from heaven fuming about what one has done in the past. Rather, God is fuming at the present, that one has not changed their ways in the here and now.

This is why sincere repentance and conversion, even at the end of a sinful and dreadfully lived life, is acceptable to God, assuming one has not continued sinning while cynically figuring that one can "confess at the last minute" and obtain forgiveness from God. Someone who genuinely has the "light bulb" moment of conversion and repentance will receive mercy from God. Someone who keeps on sinning but figures that he or she can sin for x or y amount of time and then "convert" will not receive that mercy because the conversion is cynical and insincere and of course God knows one's every thought and intention in one's heart and mind.

But because God does not obsess, as humans do, about the past, this is why God can both be perfect in his final judgment of each person (since God knows their every thought and deed from their entire past) yet still be a potentially infinite fount of mercy, since is it conversion, repentence, and reunion in his good graces that God constantly seeks with each human, regardless how wretched their past.

It is this tender concern for every human being that also is the reason that God must be understood as not just sitting around waiting for the "future" to happen. God cares about what each and every person is doing NOW, both in his or her relationship with God and in how each human is living their life with their fellow human beings. God, through the Holy Spirit, is constantly calling upon people to become "right" with God in the here and now AND to have righteous lives, and hopefully fulfilled ones, in the real world in the here and now.

For example, God is not looking at a person who is sinning, for example, and just shrugging dismissively and thinking, well, in so and so many years that person is going to get what is coming to them. No, that is not how God interacts with or prioritizes his relationship and viewpoint with each person at all.

Think about this carefully. You might think that since God knows everything, and knows every future thought and deed of each person in advance, that God is basically in a "wait" mode. That is not true. Why? Sure, God knows what will happen... and what happens is the result of God applying constant pressure in the here and now on each and every person to repent and convert sincerely. In other words, if God did not focus on the here and now with each person, no matter how wretched the person, and if God did not apply as much pressure through the Holy Spirit as he does, on each and every person, the future that God foresees would obviously be a different future than the one that is in his perfect plan.

Here's an example. Suppose you are going to drive your car a long distance, and that you are a rather forgetful person about stopping at the gas (petrol) stations along the way. But fortunately you have a passenger who reminds you every one hundred miles or so to stop at the next station and top off your tank. It would not take a psychic to predict that a forgetful person traveling alone might well run out of gas along the way, and thus not arrive as planned at one's destination, while the forgetful person traveling with the nudging friend will most likely arrive at the destination as planned.

God is like the nudging friend. Thus God's perfect knowledge of the future, and how one arrives at it, and is judged, is based on knowing how each person will or will not react to the constant nudging of the Holy Spirit.

God is constantly focused on his relationship with each person in the here and now, and, through the Holy Spirit, nudges, without destroying each human's free will, that person to do the right thing in the moment, and to live a coordinated and realistic life of righteousness and goodness.

Thus, the future that God is in control of, and knows to a detail that no human can imagine, is based on God's constant "nudging" through the Holy Spirit of each person in the "here and now." God is not "waiting" for the future: the future arrives as it does because it is the result of how responsive each human is to God's constant attention and invitation to participate in grace, goodness and righteousness based on a realistic and reality based relationship with him in the here and now.

So think about this. The world is in pretty bad shape, and there's no sugar coating how estranged many have become from not only God but also day to day goodness, righteousness, and even sanity. Think about how much worse the world would be (if it even still existed at all) if God did not, still, constantly send the Holy Spirit, ceaselessly, to each and every person, attempting to nudge them into the best grace that they can be? Sin and ignorance are tremendously powerful lures that humans promote among each other. Most people would fall into the chaos of sin and ignorance if God did not constantly "nudge" each and every person through the Holy Spirit.

Look at the forgetful driver analogy again just for a moment. How easy it is if one has an amiable companion who reminds you to top up the gas tank every one hundred miles or so? Who could fail to reach their destination then, and in a most pleasant way?

Well, someone who is playing the radio or a CD so loudly that they drown out their nudging companion would be one possible fail. If one is either willfully or ignorantly playing music so loudly that one drowns out the reminders of one's passenger, then one is losing the benefit of the nudging, either on purpose or because one doesn't realize that the nudging is happening.

Someone could also have a chip on their shoulder, or other bitterness, so that when the nudging passenger reminds the driver to stop for gas, the driver snaps at them to stop "nagging" and "mind their own business." In other words, the desire for power and control, coupled with resentment, could cause the driver to ignore the nudging that is for his or her own good.

A third example would be a driver who is so narcissistic and self absorbed that he or she does not even hear and process the words of their passenger. The passenger could be reminding them over and over that they are nearly out of gas and the driver just does not hear them because he or she is too busy thinking about themselves.

The future exists at all because God is constantly focused on the present, on the status of each person in the here and now, and exerts the Holy Spirit to reach and touch each person, striving to be heard and obeyed. It's not like the future just rolls along, arriving when it does, and God just taps his foot "waiting" for it to unfold according to his will. The future arrives minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year as a result of how each person responds to God's constant nudging, invitation and ultimately, "the offer that cannot be refused" via the Holy Spirit.

Throughout the Bible one can see that God is constantly interacting with people in the "small details" of their lives. I don't mean that God cares about one's decor. I mean that Jesus Christ, for example, converted the hearts of thousands one conversation at a time, in the "here and now" of that moment. Likewise God traveled with the Israelites, and dwelt in their midst, particularly, of course, during the time of Moses, listening, with Moses, to each person's problems and woe. This is why God had on the ark the "mercy seat," and why God appeared as the cloud within the tent that was allocated to him. God demonstrated that he is with each and every human, no matter how small their situation, and cares, deeply, throughout their lives.

Everything in the Bible is significant in the "here and now," and not as grandiose "future" prognostications. God tells and demonstrates the reality of his constant presence throughout the pages of the Bible. Think, for example, of those in the Bible who requested a child from God. Did God ever reply with a "big picture" or "the long term outlook?" No. God responded to each request with the "here and now" of the parent either receiving the hoped for pregnancy or not. God does not reply with future prognostications about the "significance" of the prayed for child in the future. Think about it.... of the twelve tribes, is there any mention of what kind of lives each patriarch lived in the Bible? Of their "significant deeds" and their "impact on the future?" Nope. Men and women prayed for children and they received them; God did not have like some laundry list of main "players" in the central casting of the future, and then check them off as each parent vied to have a child.

God constantly issues the invitation to life, and he knows how each person will respond. That is vastly different from "fate" or "destiny."

Back to our analogy before concluding this blog entry. God is constantly seeking to be heard, loved, and reconciled with, through his constant attention and focus on each human's present reality. God achieves this through the constant presence and work of the Holy Spirit among all humans, both believers and non-believers. Thus the Holy Spirit is like the nudging passenger who knows the driver is forgetful and could run out of gas and not safely reach his or her destination without constant reminding and help. Sin and ignorance (both inadvertent ignorance and willful ignorance) plus pride and ego are all human barriers to hearing or even feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit and, ultimately, God.

God does not "care about the past," no matter how dreadful and dire, wretched, evil or sinful, until one either dies and is brought into God's presence for final judgment or, in certain circumstances, when God delivers a smiting while the person still lives. Only God in his perfect knowledge knows why he smites and chastises those who he will while others seem to evade punishment for the moment. Be assured that the wise understand that a smiting can be a great gift, though it may not feel that way, if it saves one's soul by bringing one into a clarity of bowing to God and heeding his presence at last. The truly wise man or woman is glad for a smiting that results in their wake up call that ultimately saved them from hell. That, by the way, is one reason God does not smite everyone who deserves it. God knows that attentive people will understand that someone is smited and that others, through observation and reflection, can understand the message without having to receive a personal smiting.

God does not care about what a person "has done in the past" unless one continues to do those bad things in the present.

Open your heart to a reality based relationship with God in the here and now and do not allow yourselves to continue to be trapped in obsessing about the past and the future, which only God can understand.

I hope that you have found this helpful.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Previous Bible reading illuminates Revelations reading

When you read the previous reading from Ezekiel and my commentary, you better understand how Jesus Christ appears in judgment, as seen by John in the vision of the Book of Revelation.

Revelation 1:16

And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

God, throughout scriptures, prepares the way for greater and greater understanding of his will, which culminated, of course, in the bodily presence of Jesus Christ, and the giving of the Holy Spirit to the disciples at Pentecost.

So here is a perfect example where you can see how God explains the analogy of his judgment being like a sword to Ezekiel, and then John witnessing the glorified judging Jesus Christ in heaven, in preparation for the end of time, with a sharp sword in his mouth.

An explanation of the specification that Jesus has a "two-edged sword" is needed because again moderns do not understand what was well understood in Biblical times.

A two-edged sword is a sword that can cut on both sides. Many swords have only one cutting edge, and so if one is in a fight, one must always turn that side toward the opponent in order to cut them.

A two-edged sword implies swiftness of striking the opponent, because when both sides are sharp, one does not need to turn the sword or return to position to strike the opponent again. With a two-edged sword one can stroke, for example from left to right across an opponent's body cutting with the "right" edge of the sword, and then in the same motion draw back across the opponent's body from right to left, cutting with the left edge, which is the leading edge. In other words, a two-edged sword means you can lead and inflict the strike with either edge.

Thus John is noticing that Jesus Christ has out of his mouth a two-edged sword, which means great swiftness and totality of judgment.

Bible reading: Heeding God's warnings

God explained to the prophet Ezekiel that genuine prophets are like watchmen who warn of danger, while false prophets are like watchmen who do not warn the people of an impending threat.

Ezekiel 33

1 Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying

2 Son of man, speak to the children of thy people and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman:

3 If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet and warn the people;

4 Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning, if the sword come and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head...

5...But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.

See, God is using several analogies that people of those times would have well understood. God compares his righteous wrath-God's punishment of humans for sin and disobedience-to a sword bearing raider.

This would have resonated to those times where people lived in great danger of raids and attacks, especially from along the sea and coastline. So the people would have understood that God's wrath can come very quickly and without warning.

However, because God is fair and perfect in his justice, God sends legitimate prophets to warn the people of their sin. So the second analogy is that a prophet such as Ezekiel is like a night watchman who is alert and on guard while the people are asleep.

This would also have resonated with people of Biblical times, as people then could not sleep with the security that many take for granted today. A gated city with a trusted watchman was a great comfort and indeed a necessity. So a prophet like Ezekiel who warns exactly what God is wrathful about and will righteously punish transgressors allows people who are just to know that the "watchman" will warn in time to find safety.

So the third analogy is that those who hear the watchman's warning that the "sword" is coming (punishment for sin is nigh) but do not flee (run from sinning, but "remain" in sin) have only themselves to blame for the chastisement.

In other words, those who ignore the legitimate Biblical prophets, not only during their time but in the future as scripture is read, are like people who ignore the warning call of the watchman, and thus, in not fleeing to safety, have only themselves to blame for the shedding of their own blood (or whatever form God's chastisement takes, which may well be in the form of being cast into hell upon one's sudden death).

Then God compares the good watchman to the negligent watchman.

6. But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand.

The only negligent prophet is the false prophet, as God has just explained that the true prophet is like a watchman who sounds the warning. False prophets do not warn the people of either their sins or of the impending certain chastisement. So they are truly like a watchman who looks the other way and does not warn when the sword comes. God explains that both the sinners AND the watchman-the false prophets or, to put it in modern terms, the negligent preachers or deniers of God-will be chastised.

Notice, then, how clearly God speaks and explains the role and responsibility to Ezekiel. Anyone who lived during those times would have totally understood this analogy. God then summarizes to Ezekiel.

7. So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.

In other words, God has appointed Ezekiel the watchman for all of Israel, meaning that all the faithful MUST heed Ezekiel's warnings, given in full authority from God himself.

Far from being mysterious, you can see how clearly God explains not only his "doctrine," in the sense of how and what he expects from the faithful, but he also helps those he calls upon to fully understand their responsibilities. If you read the rest of Ezekiel 33 you will see that God continue to explain for many verses this very analogy of responsibility, repeating examples of those who heed the watchman and those who do not, and of the good watchman and his responsibilities, and the punishment that will be meted out to the negligent watchman.

There is no reason moderns cannot understand quite fully and clearly this warning. One need only think of the modern watchman, such as the technology of the burglar alarm, for a similar analogy. Who wants to sleep with a false burglar alarm, trusting in it when it does not work? That is what the assurances of the false prophet, or the unbeliever, or the "soft" preacher who does not understand that God can and will chastise for sin is like, a burglar alarm that says that the perimeter is safe and that one's family is secure, when in fact the very opposite is true. Blame must also be put on those who put their family in reliance of a faulty system, if one is to use this analogy in modern terms. In this case it would be like the family who deliberately does not place batteries in their fire detectors.

But you see, this is one reason the Bible is ageless. You should not update the Bible to modern analogies because they just do not, as you see above, capture the nuance of the personal relationships of citizens/watchman. It is the responsibility of the Bible reader to understand the analogy in the terms that God himself placed them in in the first place and thus one will be more likely to avoid error. There is no misunderstanding a negligent watchman, a human being, while moderns can split hairs over technical analogies (such as placing batteries in fire detectors) and thus try to word smith and tech analogy their way out of salvation and righteousness through inadvertent or deliberate misunderstanding.

I hope that you have found this helpful.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sad news of police officer killed keeping the peace

Whenever a law enforcement official, fire or safety department member, a service person or, of course, any person is killed, it is sad. It's not the scope of this blog to address each one.

But I had to speak up in tribute about the loss of a particularly gracious police officer, a member of the Mobile (Alabama) Police department, Brandon Sigler, who was killed last night. The city of Mobile is not far from where I currently live, and so I watched the sad news on the local TV channel tonight.

Of all the pathetic things, this officer was gunned down as he tried to keep the peace in the apartment complex where he lived as (get this) two women were in a cat fight with each other. As he tried to break up the fight the boyfriend of one of the women drove up and shot the officer dead.

Family, neighbors, his fiancee, friends, colleagues and former team and school mates are all in shock and all who were interviewed had only one thing to say: That there was nothing at all bad that one could say about him, that everyone appreciated him (both black and white), and that all he did was to try to keep the peace and the neighborhood safe. Even the perpetrator is filled with remorse but now, of course, it's too late.

And so I wanted to say in some consolation, as much as is possible under these circumstances, and with great respect:

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God (Matthew 5:9).

Monday, June 1, 2009

Presumed French plane crash

As usual, I feel very much for those who are presumed lost, especially the young children and the innocent.

Meanwhile, I understand that President Sarkozy's wife has ordered an investigation to ensure that all aboard had a sufficient supply of condoms.

Amen, brother, amen.