Archive for » August, 2010 «

August 28th, 2010 | Author:

Whenever I’ve tried to take pictures of the moon, they’ve always come out like this:

See?  A white blob with fuzzy white stuff around it.  It drove me nuts, so a while back I asked blogger buddy Jim Wetzel, who happens to be an optical engineer, how to get better moon shots.  He responded, as only an engineer can, way beyond my understanding, but with all the pertinent information.  (I’m married to an engineer and around here we now call that “talking engineerical.”)

Anyhow, I played around this week, a day after the full moon which was all cloud cover, and got this:

So then I changed a couple settings, and … drumroll, please … voilà!

Does that look like a picture of the moon, or what?  The only problem is?  I don’t remember what settings took what picture! :)

Category: nature, photos  | 7 Comments
August 25th, 2010 | Author:

It’s been a long couple weeks, but I’m finally getting back on my feet.  Turns out that a new thyroid medication was reeking havoc with my fibromyalgia, causing overdose symptoms.  Eewww!!  Anyhow, that’s done and here I am to thank all of you for your prayers and notes of encouragement.  It’s nice to know you’ve got my back.  :)   I’ve got some catching up to do, but I hope to make the rounds in the next few days.

I recently had a discussion on a Christian forum I joined earlier this summer.  The other party’s most recent post included the following, in reference to the pledge of allegiance, which he insists is a prayer:

Indivisible means we can never be separated from our God who rules over us.

While I agree that individual, born-again believers cannot be separated from God, regular readers who have seen my many, many posts about various aspects of church and state will know that I don’t count America, the nation, in that number.

At the mini level, “indivisible” was included by Bellamy when he wrote the pledge in 1892, not because our country couldn’t be separated from God, but to reinforce the notion that America is “One Nation which the Civil War was fought to prove.”

At the macro level, while our country may or may not have been formed as “the direct result of the providence of God,” I find it impossible to believe that God is currently directing our government to murder over 50 million unborn babies or thousands of innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.  There is an immeasurable difference between God and America, and I believe strongly that we will be required to choose which is first in our lives.

As so often happens when an issue is at the front of my mind, I came across a reference that applies.  I’ve been reading an excellent series at Herescope by Pastor Anton Bosch, who has long held my respect, titled The Money God.  The whole series is worth your time, but in Part III, The Political Kingdom, here is part of what he had to say:

Throughout the 3-year ministry of Jesus, his disciples and the multitudes who followed Him, expected Him to establish a material, political Kingdom. It is likely that a number of the Twelve followed Jesus because of this expectation. Several of them were of the party called the “Zealots.” Simon is specifically named a Zealot (Luke 6:15). And in addition there is evidence that Simon Peter, John, James and Judas (Iscariot) were all Zealots. According to the first-century Jewish historian Josephus, the Zealots were one of the political parties of the day. (The others were the Pharisees, Sadducees and the Essenes – the Zealots had broken away from the Pharisees.) The Zealots were on the extreme right of the political spectrum, and they were called Zealots because of their zeal for national Israel and their hatred of Roman domination.

Throughout the ministry of Jesus there is evidence that the Twelve expected Him to establish a material Kingdom immediately: “they thought the Kingdom of God would appear immediately” (Luke 19:11). In response, Jesus tells the parable about a nobleman who went away to receive a Kingdom, thus indicating that He had to go away, receive His kingdom, and then return (Luke 19:12-27). The request by James and John, through their mother, for the second and third positions of political power in the Kingdom (Matthew 20:21) was also based on the anticipation of an immediate, literal Kingdom.

Jesus frequently tried to discourage the Twelve, and others, from thinking about the Kingdom as a literal and material Kingdom. Sometimes He did so by inference, teaching that the Kingdom was made up of the meek and that the greatest in the Kingdom were little children. But He also demonstrated unequivocally that he had not come to remove the Romans. This He did by paying taxes and teaching obedience to the Romans (Matthew 5:41), even allowing them to crucify Him. But Jesus also taught very specifically that the Kingdom would be taken from the Jews and given to others (Matthew 21:43), thus removing all doubt about a revival of the state of Israel.

Matthew 21:43 caught my attention:

Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it.

This brought to mind this passage:

If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too. But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. (Romans 11:16-23)

God does not love Americans more than He loves the Jewish people.  It is pure arrogance to think that America can never be separated from Him.

August 18th, 2010 | Author:

I’m in the middle of a fibromyalgia flare, and have realized over the last few days that it hurts to think – yes, think. So no WFW this week, but hopefully I’ll be back at it next week.

My apologies, also, to those who have left comments which have gone unanswered.  See above.

August 11th, 2010 | Author:

While I was driving the other day, a curious thought occurred to me to:  God is a lot of things, but He’s also not a lot of things. In fact, as I thought back on my Christian walk, I realized that a good share of what the Holy Spirit has taught me involved changing my view of God and separating Him in my mind from everything and everybody else – the things “God is not.”

It can be hard to change your mind when you’ve believed something your whole life, or when you’ve invested heavily in a certain viewpoint, particularly when it’s about God.  Many people, in fact, refuse to do so, clinging to a lie because it’s too hard to let it go. I believe this is what God calls “a stubborn people.”

For those who are willing to be changed, the first step is often an emotional sense of betrayal by whoever lead you to believe the lie in the first place – a heart-felt, “But I trusted you!”  Some people never get past this stage, turning their back on God and never moving forward.

When we  forgive and move on, though, we find that we’ve acquired some healthy discernment.  We’re not as gullible as we were before.  And after going through this a few times, we find that we’ve become a little more like the Bereans who “received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”  (Acts 17:11)

That eagerness, I think, is key.  The desire to know God’s truth, no matter the cost, no matter how stupid we may look, is what keeps the Holy Spirit opening our minds to new concepts.  Conversely, if we don’t receive a love for the truth, “God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false.”(2 Thess 2:11)

So that’s a peek at the “God is not” process from my perspective, and here are a few of the times I’ve been through it.

God is not my father – my natural father, that is.  Because our natural fathers are often the first male authority figures in our lives, we have a tendency to equate them with God.  While my own father had a lot of good qualities, he was not a forgiving man.  He traveled a lot when I was little, often for three or four weeks at a time, and he was distant by nature, as well.  So when I had sinned and knew I needed God’s forgiveness, I believed I could not be forgiven.  I was resigned to paying the price to an unforgiving God who was always far away.  You can read the rest of the story here, but this was the first of my “God is not” lessons.

God is not the pastor. Right after I got saved, God planted me in a local church.  Because I was so grateful and so open – and because standard church structure encourages it – in my mind God and the pastor were one and the same.  A few instances of the pastor’s humanity and God quickly cured me of that notion.

God is not the church. There’s something special about the first church where we embraced God.  We love all the people and support the church’s activities with a whole heart.  Church often becomes “the place” where we meet God, “the place” where spiritual things happen and spiritual truth is learned.  But God is not confined to a place or time, and when He “appeared” in unexpected places when I least expected it, I finally realized that Sunday morning is probably the least important time of my Christian walk.

God is not the earth. I’ve never been the treehugger that some are, but I surely appreciate the world that God made for us.  I can be captivated by the various shades of green contained in a woodlot or a butterfly flitting from flower to flower.  But these things are not the Creator, merely the Creation.  The ideas that God “is” nature, or God “is in” nature are becoming more common, but they are heresies that are not supported by the Bible.

God is not America. This has been my most recent “God is not” that began three years ago when I suddenly found that I could no longer say the pledge of allegiance.  Since then, I’ve posted about various aspects of this issue, some of which are here:

The problem with all of these “God is not”, and why the Holy Spirit wants to renew our minds, I think, is rooted in the first two commandments:

I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. (Exo 20:2-6)

God is a jealous God, and to the extent that we give glory to anyone or anything else, we take it away from God.

August 04th, 2010 | Author:

Early this summer I bought a book by Laurence Vance titled Christianity and War, a collection of essays.  I’ve been meandering through it as time permits, and one essay that has grabbed my attention is titled Charles Spurgeon on Christian War Fever, also posted here if you’d like to read the whole thing.

In a day when pastors routinely celebrate our military agenda, it’s refreshing to learn that it was not always so.  Spurgeon (1834-1892) had a lot to say on the subject that can and should be applied to today.  So my Word for Wednesday this week are excerpts by Charles Haddon Spurgeon, forward by James, afterward by Jesus.

What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel.  (James 4:1-2)

Sin is the mother of wars; and remembering how plentiful sin is, we need not marvel if it brings forth multitudes of them.

if we should see at our doors the marks of carnage and bloodshed; then should we more thoroughly appreciate what war means. But distance takes away the horror, and we therefore speak of war with too much levity, and even read of it with an interest not sufficiently linked with pain

The church, we affirm, can neither be preserved nor can its interests be promoted by human armies.

for this I will assert, and prove too, that the progress of the arms of a Christian nation is not the progress of Christianity, and that the spread of our empire, so far from being advantageous to the Gospel, I will hold, and this day proclaim, hath been hostile to it.

For my part, I conceive, that when an enterprise begins in martyrdom, it is none the less likely to succeed, but when conquerors begin to preach the gospel to those they have conquered, it will not succeed, God will teach us that it is not by might.  All swords that have ever flashed from scabbards have not aided Christ a single grain. Mahommedans’ religion might be sustained by scimitars, but Christians’ religion must be sustained by love. The great crime of war can never promote the religion of peace. The battle, and the garment rolled in blood, are not a fitting prelude to “peace on earth, goodwill to men.” And I do firmly hold, that the slaughter of men, that bayonets, and swords, and guns, have never yet been, and never can be, promoters of the gospel. The gospel will proceed without them, but never through them. “Not by might.”

The Church of Christ is continually represented under the figure of an army; yet its Captain is the Prince of Peace; its object is the establishment of peace, and its soldiers are men of a peaceful disposition. The spirit of war is at the extremely opposite point to the spirit of the gospel

First of all, note that this crusade, this sacred, holy war of which I speak, is not with men, but with Satan and with error. “We wrestle not with flesh and blood.” Christian men are not at war with any man that walks the earth. We are at war with infidelity, but the persons of infidels we love and pray for; we are at warfare with any heresy, but we have no enmity against heretics; we are opposed to, and cry war to the knife with everything that opposes God and his truth: but towards every man we would still endeavour to carry out the holy maxim, “Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you.” The Christian soldier hath no gun and no sword, for he fighteth not with men. It is with “spiritual wickedness in high places” that he fights, and with other principalities and powers than with those that sit on thrones and hold sceptres in their hands. I have marked, however, that some Christian men – and it is a feeling to which all of us are prone – are very apt to make Christ’s war a war of flesh and blood, instead of a war with wrong and spiritual wickedness. Have you never noticed in religious controversies how men will fall foul of each other, and make personal remarks and abuse each other? What is that but forgetting what Christ’s war is? We are not fighting against men; we are fighting for men rather than against them. We are fighting for God and his truth against error and against sin; but not against men. Woe, woe, to the Christian who forgets this sacred canon of warfare. Touch not the persons of men, but smite their sin with a stout heart and with strong arm. Slay both the little ones and the great; let nothing be spared that is against God and his truth; but we have no war with the persons of poor mistaken men

We would persuade all lovers of peace to labour perseveringly to spread the spirit of love and gentleness, which is indeed the spirit of Christ, and to give a practical bearing to what else may become mere theory. The fight-spirit must be battled with in all its forms, and the genius of gentleness must be cultivated. Cruelty to animals, the lust for destroying living things, the desire for revenge, the indulgence of anger – all these we must war against by manifesting and inculcating pity, compassion, forgiveness, kindness, and goodness in the fear of the Lord. Children must be trained with meekness and not with passion, and our dealings with our fellow-men must manifest our readiness to suffer wrong rather than to inflict it upon others. Nor is this all: the truth as to war must be more and more insisted on: the loss of time, labour, treasure, and life must be shown, and the satanic crimes to which it leads must be laid bare. It is the sum of all villainies, and ought to be stripped of its flaunting colours, and to have its bloody horrors revealed; its music should be hushed, that men may hear the moans and groans, the cries and shrieks of dying men and ravished women. War brings out the devil in man, wakes up the hellish legion within his fallen nature, and binds his better faculties hand and foot. Its natural tendency is to hurl nations back into barbarism, and retard the growth of everything good and holy.

“But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. (Matthew 5:22)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’ “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. “If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. “Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. “Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:38-45)