Thursday, April 27, 2017

Revisiting History

Brenda and I love history.  When we lived up in Maryland (Annapolis and Lexington Park) and in VA (in Lexington, and now in Lynchburg) we loved to visit the many historic sites in these areas:
Williamsburg
Jamestown
Mt. Vernon
Gettysburg Battlefield
Mechanicsburg Battlefield
Monticello
and lots of others...

Spring Break gave us a chance to re-visit some of those. It was quite different this time around.  First, we are a LOT older now.  Second, it was cold.  Third, it was a LOT more expensive.  We saw a lot, but this time from a perspective of older age and MUCH more experience.

We thoroughly enjoyed seeing the sights, but MORE, we enjoyed talking to experts.  We talked to experts in military tactics, in seamanship, in history, in 18th century pharmaceutics, in antique furniture, in converting chocolate beans into chocolate in colonial days.

We enjoy learning, and that hasn't changed.  We love talking to folks who are absolute, indisputable experts on these obscure skills and operations, and that hasn't changed.

We love seeing the kinship we share with Christians of old- those early Christian immigrants, colonists, Gen TJ Jackson, and many others.

So, Thomas Wolfe was wrong, Looks like "You CAN go Home Again".

And it was FUN!!  Here's a few picts but there are LOTS more!!


Monday, April 24, 2017

What My Friend Said

I remember from 10 or so years ago, that it was a hot summer day at the OUTDOOR Rec. pool at UA, and I ran into one of my favorite (yes it could be YOU!) former students there.

The lady, my former student shared with me privately that her marriage was in extremis. 

I replied to her, "So sorry to hear.  I will pray for you." 

And she replied, "Pray for _(her ex's name)____."
I thought the following things (regardless of their accuracy):
1) How sweet- she is thinking of his well-being even in the midst of divorce.
2) How sweet- she is thinking of someone OTHER than herself, when self-focus in the norm.
3) How spiritual that she is able to keep her cool and ask for prayer for her ex.

I shared all this recently with her, saying, "Don't correct me if I am wrong.   I really admire that you said it.  That's good enough."



Her response to me was just as good as the original, "I still pray for him to this day.  We all need prayers in spite of our attitudes and how we treat others. If God can ever get to him it will be better for us all."

We ALL need more friends like this.  

L^rd I lift up my friend... and her former husband.  Thanks for her grace. I have a new hope for mankind... in Christ.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Nice to meet you Carmen!


I was recently speaking at a professional meeting about traveling, teaching, and researching abroad.  After the talk several people wanted to chat, but one young lady caught my attention.  She was interested in going abroad…as a missionary!

Now we are talking about something significant!

She taught at a University close to where Brenda and I live, and her folks lived even closer.  So, during her Spring Break, Brenda and I drove an hour down to see her.  We had a terrific conversation that covered:
1)      Why Professors can be Effective for Christ in the Public University.
2)      How Profs can reach Internationals without leaving the US campus.
3)      How US Profs are welcome most (but not all) places in the world, short- or long- time.
4)      How you can go abroad for a secular purpose and still have a spiritual impact.
5)      How she could have an impact on her students right now!

We prayed with her near the beginning and at the end.  And, before we knew it 4 hours had passed!

Go Figure!  Is Faculty Commons of Cru (Campus Crusade) a great ministry or what??

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Honors for Simon of Cyrene

On the Saturday before Easter, Brenda and I cut through the woods behind our house to reach a wooded trail behind Neil Leitch's house.  Neil maintains a fairly long trail and at Easter he sets up 14 stations to take the walkers through major events of the crucifixion.  It was a beautiful day and a holy experience.

One station particularly struck me, the one about Simon of Cyrene.  There were readings for each of the stations and this one was the shortest. Simon is now famous as the one who carried Jesus' cross as he struggled towards Golgotha.

I have never given much thought to Simon, though my first sermon about 25 years ago was relevant. Part of the text was from Matt 11: "28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Do you think that cross was light for Simon?

How about this more familiar Scripture from Matt 16, "24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

Well, Simon was honored by G^d for whatever reason.  Simon had the opportunity to CONTRIBUTE to the SALVATION of the whole world through simply carrying the cross that was presented.  Can we do the same?

How?

G^d calls us to serve.  G^d gives us opportunities to serve, maybe not in the same manner as Simon the Hero, but opportunities that we can take up our cross, and that yoke is easy and that burden is light.

So, what are we waiting on?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter! Christ is Risen!!!


John Stonestreet of Breakpoint  published a great article comparing the First Adam and the Last Adam as outlined in Scripture. Consider these points that Mr. Stonestreet brought out:
  1. Jesus was “the Last Adam,” >these two men were heads of the human race. 
  2. Old Adam fell by heeding the Serpent's temptation to “take and eat,” the Last Adam NEVER sinned, told His followers, “take and eat, this is my body.”
  3. Old Adam was sentenced to the thorns he earned; BUT New Adam was punished by  thorns he did NOT earn. 
  4. The first Adam failed which let to death on all mankind. The second succeeded, leading to life through His death and resurrection.
  5. The first Adam gave in to temptation in the garden But The NEW Adam beat temptation... also in the garden, this time Gethsemane. 
  6. That first man, Adam, in pride wanted to become like a god; but that second Adam, Who already was God, became a man. 
  7. Original Adam was naked but then wanted clothing,  BUT Last Adam started with clothes but ended stripped. 
  8. The old Adam experienced death by eating from a tree; BUT New Adam experienced death on a tree. 
  9. Old Adam hid himself in shame from God, BUT Last Adam begged God not to hide His face from Him.  
And now my favorites:
 Old Adam blamed his bride; BUT New Adam took ALL blame FOR His bride. 

Old Adam gained a bride when God took her from mankind's side, BUT NEW Adam gained a Bride from God’s side. 
The first Adam brought a curse, the Second cured it for all time!
Old Adam became a curse to ALL, BUT NEW ADAM was a BLESSING to all.
Conclusion: This NEW Adam restored what the Fall of the first Adam destroyed; the NEW Adam makes it possible for us to ENJOY a restored Garden in the New Heavens and Earth.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Changing Judaic Tradition- NOT an easy Task!

One of my old friends, Stan Wallace wrote a blog post that I wish to share more broadly.  Here is my paraphrase of Stan's points:

Changing any entrenched tradition can be a BIG task. What in this world would cause a radical change in Judaism as we see in 33 AD?  A HUGE change occurred, and the cause would have to be HUGE also!

Many, many of the first century Jews changed their beliefs at this point in history and note too that these changes meant they now became social outcasts, and, MORE crucially, if their NEW beliefs were wrong, they faced the eternal judgment of God! 

Consider what could POSSIBLE cause many first-century Jews to radically change at these major, deeply-held beliefs?
  1. Animal sacrifices end.  The Jews believed devoutly that sacrificing animals was the only way to pay for sins. Yet many first-century Jews immediately abandoned animal sacrifices.  Go Figure?
  2. The Law. First-century Jews believed that  keeping carefully the Law of Moses was the entry into heaven. Yet NOW many first-century Jews abandoned this idea.
  3. Keeping Shabbat. Jewish Sabbath was carefully observed from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday. Very strict regulations were enacted to keep this day sacred. Yet many Jews changed their Sabbath to Sunday, RESURRECTION DAY!
  4. Monotheism. The Jewish "SHEMA" clearly declares that God is “one”. This belief is FUNDAMENTAL to Judaism. Then in next few years many Jews began to proclaim the God of three persons existing in one nature (a difficult concept on doubt, even as it is today).  Why take such a strange position unless it is unavoidable?
  5.  Jewish Messiah. Jews expected the Messiah to liberate the Jews from ROME and then rule forever. BUT, all of a sudden, many believed the Messiah to be a spiritual, king who liberated them through his death (another tough concept) and reigned as King in eternity in Heaven and, in the future, on earth.
  6. Resurrection. The traditional Jewish belief was that at the end of time, there would be one BIG resurrection for all; yet suddenly many Jews began to proclaimr the resurrection of The Christ, right then!

So WHAT could cause a HUGE change in long held, ironclad, beliefs?  Well if someone died a tragic death, then DEFEATED Death in total Triumph, and you SAW it first hand...

29 "Jesus saith unto him, Because thou hast seen me, [a]thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."  (Jn 20)

Do you believe enough to CHANGE your traditions?  Really?

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Math and Physics in Scripture

This AM, our Men's Bible study discussed Matt 14, Mark 6, Luke 9, and John 6.  This is a story appearing in all four gospels- the feeding of the 5000.

I have read, and heard, this account numerous times.  Today it struck me a bit differently.  As you may recall, the disciples started with 5 loves of barley bread, and 2 small fish.  They gave this small amount out to 5000 men plus women and children.  Wow!  But it gets better.

Against all reason, the disciples collect the left-overs only to discover 12 baskets full of left overs!

Say what?

Yep, they get ready to feed all those folks, and then the MATH just goes CRAZY!!

But in 3 of the gospels the next event is - wait for it- walking on water!

What?

Yes, defying all physics, Jesus, then Peter (in one gospel account) walk on water.  Now Archimedes principle is that bouyancy equals the volume of water displace.  Let's see, walking ON (as opposed to IN) water displaces NOTHING, so there is NO buoyant force.  What?  The physics just goes CRAZY!

Now I am a scientist, a MATH and PHYSICS kind of guy.  These events STAND OUT to me!

Sooooo, what does this tell me?  It tells me that G^d is NOT constrained by math or physics!  He rules all and makes all the rules!

Soooo, when I am in an impossible situation, when you are in an impossible situation, remember that math and science are no challenge to the G^d who created matter.  Sooooo, those things don't matter.

Trust G^d!  He is ABLE!