Posts Tagged ‘Religion’

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Captivating

September 14, 2010

Today I picked up an “old friend” of a book – John Eldredge and Stasi Eldredge’s Captivating (2005). I simply can’t recommend it enough. It is one of the (sadly) very few Christian women’s books that I have read, and re-read, and been transformed by.

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Christian Apologetics Article on “BioLogos”

September 7, 2010

Another apologetics link – in this case, on the topic of BioLogos, one of the various alternative perspectives out there that tries to fit the Bible into science (in this case, it appears to be a form of “theistic evolution“).

http://creation.com/biologos-evolutionary-syncretism

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Apologetics Links: Genesis 1 & 2 – contradictory?

September 6, 2010

A frequently asked apologetics question (and, admittedly, one that never really crossed my mind even in my most skeptical anti-Bible beliefs) is the perceived contradiction between the first two chapters of Genesis. My simplest preferred answer to this is that Genesis 2 is merely a fleshing out of the details of Genesis 1:24-31.

All links accessed 6 September 2010.

http://creation.com/genesis-contradictions

http://www.gotquestions.org/two-Creation-accounts.html

http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2010/09/03/feedback-genesis-1-and-2#

http://www.tektonics.org/jedp/creationtwo.html

http://creation.com/whats-in-a-name

http://www.christiananswers.net/q-eden/edn-ordercreation.html

Read Genesis Chapter 1 at Bible Study Tools (New King James Version)

Read Genesis Chapter 2 at Bible Study Tools (New King James Version)

*This post is not dealing with the issue of whether or not Genesis should be taken literally, just whether or not the first two chapters of the Bible contradict each other. Further information on the issue of historicity of Genesis can be found at the websites linked above, and clarifying questions should be directed to those websites.

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10 Blogging Commandments?

September 3, 2010

Thought this constituted some good advice. What is it with angry “religious” blogs, anyway? (Speaking as a committed Christian who sees no need for vitriolic attacks on people with different opinions and perspectives – there’s room enough on the Internet for everyone, right?)

http://www.geeksaresexy.net/2008/10/03/church-leaders-draw-up-ten-blogging-commandments/

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And, on the topic of the election…

July 30, 2010

I just inadvertently came across some interesting, hateful, anti-Christian material regarding the Australian election. I don’t normally read this stuff, and believe everyone’s entitled to their opinion… Yet, I do wonder where the logic lies in the argument that Christians should not be  given a voice in politics.

We (as in, my family) pay our taxes, work hard, care about social issues (particularly social justice), and  yet it would appear that some fellow Aussies can’t think of anything better to say than “Oh, those right-wing conservatives are daring to influence politics.”

Despite stereotypes that have presumably been forced on the Australian conscience by the over-influence of American culture in our media, to be Christian is not the equivalent of being a fundamentalist right-wing, gun-toting nutcase who forces Bibles on the unwilling masses and herds them into church buildings like mindless cattle. I distance myself from any such caricature.

I am green conscious, vegetarian, anti-hunting, anti-whaling, and I care about issues such as the rising violence in Australian cities, the suffering of the homeless, the breakdown of family relationships, hospital waiting lists, road congestion, public transport, the quality of life for Indigenous Australians, the treatment of refugees, the unfair lack of services for rural Australians, the shocking statistics on child abuse, the need for high educational standards across all types of schools, the freedom of choice for parents to raise their children in their chosen cultural context, the fight on shameful racist violence… How are these the concerns of some redneck yokel?

I certainly can’t answer for all Christians and won’t deny that some of them hold different views to the PC accepted “norm” but then, so what? Isn’t that what we get when for living in a democracy? Everyone gets a say, and a vote. Including Christians, and representatives of other religious belief systems. It’s not just the non-religious who should get a say in the running of this nation.

Is it a surprise that some Christian citizens take the matter of politics seriously? I don’t think so. Some of us are trying to be good citizens, and it’s not in the name of some conspiracy theory hate-filled attack on minority groups. I can’t believe that it even feels necessary to point out these things.

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Books: A Profound Weakness: Christians & Kitsch

July 23, 2010

A Profound Weakness: Christians & Kitsch (2005, B. Spackman, UK: Piquant)

I’ve been reading this excellent book on and off for a few months. Each time, I am once again amazed by its intelligent exploration of Christianity and the arts (and kitsch). It’s very challenging, too, and there’s a good chance that a lot of Christian readers might even feel insulted or uncomfortable by the text. Not that feeling bad is a problem: sometimes the truth hurts! It has taken me so long to read, simply because it is so big, so deep, that I can only absorb it in small doses. However, it addresses several important issues of Christianity, and I highly recommend it.

It is for anyone who has ever stopped to ask about the meanings (both overt and hidden) behind Christmas card imagery, Jesus statues, graveyards, motherhood and Mary, Christian t-shirts, Bible verse embroidery, multimedia presentations in church, church buildings, What Would Jesus Do? bracelets, icons, relics and several other similar areas. The insights regarding Christian art, particularly in the pressure upon artists to deliberately incorporate deliberate Gospel messages in their work, is especially important. I have enjoyed the process of being confronted by this powerful illustrated text.

I just wonder how I can get all the Jesus bumper sticker types at my church to read it! (Before you ask, I do not have any Christian bumper stickers on my car. My theory is that, unless I’m a brilliant and consistently courteous, careful driver, I probably shouldn’t be turning people off Jesus by inadvertently irritating them. What is it with the crooked parking, lane-cutting, unexplained sudden braking driving habits of people with ‘Fear God’ bumper stickers*, anyway?!)

(Links accessed 23 July 2010.)

More information:

http://www.amazon.com/Profound-Weakness-Christians-Kitsch/dp/1903689139/

http://orders.koorong.com/search/product/view.jhtml?code=1903689139

http://word.com.au/details.aspx?ProductID=546404

http://piquanteditions.com/index.php?manufacturers_id=10

*generalisation for humourous purposes only

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Following Jesus – 5 – Dehydrated Broccoli

October 12, 2009

Genesis 2:16 “And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden…” NIV

Genesis 9:3-4 “Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything… But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.” NIV

Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” NIV

Food… ah food. What an incredibly divisive thing it can sometimes become. No doubt there will be a touch of hmm… irony? Probably not the correct term… but I write as a long-term vegetarian, so if I complain about people making a big deal out of food, it may well seem hypocritical. Sorry if it comes across that way, because that’s not my intention!

Here’s a quote from a book I read recently when researching for a university assignment: “The world now features more overweight than underweight people… This absurd situation is led by the US, where over half its citizens are clinically overweight. It possesses more people on diets than ever before, yet ever-more overweight people, too. Obesity-related illnesses and deaths, often brought on in major measure by gorging on oversized fast foods and drinks, are a major drag on the nation’s economy. In certain countries, fatty foods could eventually cause as many additional premature deaths as from AIDS. The UK has proposed a “fat tax” targeting obesity-related foods such as burgers.”

(From: Myers, N. and Kent, J. (2005). The New Gaia Atlas of Planet Management. London: Gaia. P. 67.)

That was published in 2005; the last I heard it was we Australians who top the list for fattest nation on the planet. Not a proud title, to be sure. I can’t find a straightforward statistic on that, unfortunately.

So, here we are: fat, diseased, obsessing over diets. What does this have to do with being a Christian, you may well ask? As the above Scriptures say, God is the ultimate creator and source of food. The Bible shows that, in the beginning, humans were given “green plants” to eat. As history progressed, and God interacted and intervened with His creation, food was often a part of His instructions – animals as food, but without consuming blood in Genesis 9; Leviticus detailing a lot of rules regarding food; and the New Testament exhorting us to not worry about what we eat, because it’s not the main part of life. God does not ask us to separate the physical and spiritual realms (which is, I believe, an aspect of Gnosticism). He created our bodies, with all their fascinating functions and purposes.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” NIV

However, it is certainly a significant issue. What made me think of it was when I caught a clip on a tv show recently, where the presenters were hailing the ‘newly discovered’ health benefits of broccoli. Then the presenters debated – and I hope it was a joke, but it probably wasn’t – how to get children to eat this magical new form of cancer-preventing, life changing broccoli. The solution was to dehydrate, powder and turn into tablet form a kind of broccoli that children will actually eat. Like I say, I hope it was a sad joke – but the way people around me talk, in their day to day lives about food – one would think that vegetables can only be consumed in tablet form.

Now, perhaps my family is a bit odd. We are vegetarians, after all. But my young children eat broccoli without a fuss. They also eat myriad other vegetables and fruits. We certainly don’t need to give them vegetables in tablet form. They eat all sorts of things – last night (as I write) it was fresh olives, avocado, mixed vegetable patties, and a slice of wholegrain bread. No powdered vegetable tablets. No ice cream or milkshakes or other junk. Just a mixed platter of mostly fresh foods.

Sometimes I wonder if our attitudes to food reflect the way we view the rest of our life. I am sympathetic to the philosophy that food is becoming bland and homogenised and too sped up. Where is the time to enjoy the variety, the flavours, the time spent with family and friends over a good meal?

Instead, we seem to be looking for a quick fix, an easy way out. Stuff down that fatty hamburger and soft drink and appease the guilt with a powdered broccoli pill. We look for cures for terrible diseases that may well be prevented through lifestyle changes. We consume more than we need while millions are dying from starvation throughout the planet. It’s not a surprise that “gluttony” is considered one of the seven deadly sins. It encompasses the concept of complete lack of self-control combined with a withholding of possessions from the needy.

Now, I offer no simple solutions to this. I am not a nutritionist nor a social scientist (not yet!). But I do offer a couple of ideas based on what seems to be working for my family:

a vegetarian or (in the case of some family members) mostly vegetarian lifestyle

eating a variety of different fruits and vegetables

eating plenty of grains – not just wheat, but rice, polenta, rye and many more

including legumes / beans in our daily food intake

sitting down together at the dining table for all meals

trying to allow the time to prepare meals

being aware of seasonal produce

buying local, where possible

not telling our children that we don’t expect them to like broccoli!

ensuring we have a deliberate source of  B12

not leaping on fad diets that promise ‘instant’ weight loss

walking or exercising regularly

switching off the tv

menu planning in advance – and trying something new

incorporating many different styles of cooking – we aren’t interested in tofu substitutes for meals normally consumed by white, middle class Australians, we are looking to try often natural vegetarian meals derived from a variety of cultures.

These aren’t just health options; they are also, we hope, beneficial for the environment – which encompasses the dimension of seeking to help our fellow humans by not destroying the world just to get a fast food hamburger. It also inspires compassion towards God’s creatures. Hmm. That’ll do for now. I’m hungry…

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Following Jesus – 2 – Rules

September 21, 2009

It was an eye-opener to be introduced to the concept that Jesus was not after outwards religious expressions. In fact, I remember feeling outraged that my good deeds were not enough. The thought that God was not after me to be good so much as He was after a relationship – I had never heard such a thing before. In fact, it was so shocking and counter-intuitive, that I remember asking – what human-made religion would ever propose such a concept. A God that is Love Incarnate? Not a lustful, ‘romantic’ love, but a Love that gives itself up as a sacrifice… A Love who would choose to die in the possibility that the Beloved might then turn to Him. It was all a bit beyond me. I had spent so long convinced that Christianity was, ultimately, about being a ‘good’ person. Be nice to other people, don’t be so selfish, help the needy, be a useful member of society – all that sort of stuff. But these things, noble as they are, don’t necessarily require God’s power to work. Plenty of non-religious people are good, useful members of society who work hard, love their families, help the needy and try to do what is right.

Following Jesus is something beyond that. It requires an inward transformation. I see this as happening when I partner with the Holy Spirit, in (hopefully!) obedience to His commands, yes, but also in listening to Him, allowing Him to speak into my life, in not being so hung up on rules and regulations – in being creative and flexible enough to hear what God is saying. Because the problem with rules is that they inspire rebellion, are often really hard to follow, and often miss the point.

It’s like Christian communities that impose dress codes on their members. Yes, the Bible says to dress modestly, but in getting into the rule – dress accordingly – we forget the ‘why.’ It’s not so that we all look like bored, tired, uptight middle class suburbanites – I’m guessing that at least part of it is so that we don’t drag fellow believers down by making them think lustful thoughts! (Matthew 5:28; 1 Timothy 2:9.)

However, relationship with God – that’s something else. The natural expression of knowing and loving God is in desiring to obey Him. That is when obedience to God’s commands becomes an expression of freedom and joy, rather than a burden of rules and regulations.

Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

I suspect that it’s not too difficult to spot the difference between the believer who acts out of joy and genuine inner transformation compared to the believer who is still stuck in the rules and regulations mentality: the former will probably look a whole lot happier than the latter. Just check for the furrowed brow!

Following Jesus

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Following Jesus – 1 – Testimonies

September 14, 2009

Revelation 12:10-11 (NIV)

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”

1 John 5:11 (NKJV)

And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

I became a follower of Jesus just over seven years ago. It was an amazing, pivotal moment in my life. Where once it had seemed as though the whole world was dark and doom, and I felt despairing and fearful, encountering Jesus was like someone throwing the light switch on the world – I had a glimpse of a world bigger than me, greater than I could imagine. Even though things were still broken, light shone through the cracks.

It was a very personal experience, one that I’ve shared before at various church meetings and with other believers (and a few non-believers!). In some ways, I think my testimony – that is, my story of meeting Jesus – may seem unique, as I had been involved in occult belief systems prior to this time in my life. Yet, every committed follower of Jesus I have met has a story of how they arrived at their beliefs.

For some, their story is one of grace and mercy throughout their lives. They have grown up in a Christian family, or maybe somehow became involved in a Church from a young age. Their story is one of a progressive growth and realisation of the personal connection they have with Jesus. Many of these people have a point – or series of points – in their life, where they made a commitment to following Jesus. It was no longer about their parents’ faith, nor going along with the crowd. It was realising that they were in desperate need of a Saviour. Some may have rebelled against what they saw as their religious upbringing, only to eventually come back to the community of believers.

In my own ‘conversion’ – a convenient term; but I don’t think it quite conveys the reality of the experience of becoming a follower of Christ – I had a lot of questions that needed answering. It took well over a year of learning about Christianity before I was willing to take a leap of faith and follow Jesus. Not only questions, but there was a lot of baggage in my emotional and spiritual life that had to be examined. I was carrying a lot of hurt and unforgiveness towards others; yet here was Jesus declaring that we must be forgiving if we desire to follow Him (Matthew 6:12, 14).

Becoming a follower of Christ also meant a series of difficult choices. Everything in my life had to be examined. Every choice and decision. Difficult circumstances were plentiful, but now I was presented with a new question – give in to despair or trust that maybe God can bring good out of the hard times? (Romans 8:28.)

Following Jesus

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Following Jesus

September 12, 2009

As I write, it helps me negotiate, in a sense, my understanding and beliefs. It’s a way of personally reasoning through my thoughts and ideas. Recently it’s been an intersting exercise engaging in online discussion about life, the universe and everything on Facebook.Com with friends and family from my local Church community.

It occured to me that I haven’t actually written a whole lot about my Christian faith on my blog. So, while I do intend to keep the key purpose of this blog as a means of sharing my art folio, I really do want to include a bit more specifically on the topic of life, the universe and everything – from the perspective of being a follower of Jesus.

I don’t intend to address controversies, denominational debates, or any huge issues here. I would like to stick to the topic of just what it means to follow Jesus. I have provided plenty of links* elsewhere on this blog to sites that do deal with the more ‘controversial’ issues of Christianity. Readers are encouraged to visit those sites to learn about possible Christian responses to various issues and concerns.

I hope to keep it simple – to keep the focus on Jesus and the Bible and how I seek to apply His Word to my day-to-day life. Hopefully it will serve as an encouragement to my readers who are also believers; and that, for those of you who do not share my faith, it mght spark your interest in learning more about who Jesus is and what He teaches us today.

For those of you who are reading and wondering what my ‘qualifications’ are, I have been a volunteer leader for about four years in my local Pentecostal-style non-denominational Christian church. I spent one year involved in, and eventually leading a hospitality team that looked after new visitors to a youth programme for high school students. I spent almost three years running a small home group for senior high school girls. The last year has been involved in co-leading a small group for young adults aged 18-25 years, most of whom are newlyweds. For a convenient summary statement of faith to which I ascribe, see http://www.citylifechurch.com/info/statementoffaith.aspx, or read The Foundations of Christian Doctrine (1980) by Kevin J. Conner

* See the Links Page or the Weblinks Category for more links.

Following Jesus

 

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ICR on Progressive Creationism

September 9, 2009

Here’s a link to an interesting article (accessed 1 September 2009), talking about the basics of ‘progressive creationism,’ one of the many attempts to form a theory that combines popular science with Biblical Creation:

http://www.icr.org/article/progressive-creationism/

Quote from the article: “We conclude that progressive revelation—each additional verse shedding infallible light on previous revelation—demonstrates conclusively that “old-earth Progressive Creationism” must be abandoned by those who claim to believe that God has not erred in His written revelation of truth in the sixty-six books of the Bible.”

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By Request?

April 21, 2009

I’m interested in hearing from regular readers (and there must be a few of you because in just over a year I’ve had 30,500 hits on this site). I would like to know if there are any topics on which you would particularly like me to write a blog post. I think it’s a symptom of the fact that I am doing half my usual university study load this semester, and would like to take advantage of the extra time to perhaps write a few short blog posts on up to 5 requested topics.

Please use the comments box to add your (genuine) suggestions. If you are reading this on facebook.com, please follow the provided link to the WordPress Blog and add your comments there.

Suggested topics might include:

– Australian culture.

– Thoroughbred horse pedigrees (maybe there’s a particular horse you’re interested in and want to know a bit about its family). Australian horses preferred.

– Christianity and Apologetics. Have you got any questions about a particular area of apologetics? I may be able to dig up some information for you (as an interested layperson).

– Art! This is primarily an art blog, so I should probably write on art at least once in a while!

– Maybe you have some suggested ideas for my RedBubble Online Store and Gallery, where I sell some of my art designs as t-shirts and art prints.

– Vegetarianism. Do you have any questions about vegetarianism?

– Environmentalism issues.

– Books! I read a lot of books… so I might have some suggested reading ideas for you.

I really hope my readers can help me with this! Be creative.  🙂

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Question #2 – Religion?

January 25, 2009

Reading this on Facebook Notes? Hit “View Original Post.”

What best describes your religious / spiritual orientation?

Here’s the reader question of the day / week / month (whatever it happens to be)…

Feel free to leave an answer in the comments section. All views will be tolerated and it’s not meant to be a debate forum – just share what you think!

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Christmas #27 – Christmas Apologetics And Further Reading

December 24, 2008

This post is mainly on the topic of apologetics. What is apologetics?

Apologetics, understood simply, is the field of theology that investigates the evidence for Christian beliefs. After writing the previous 26 posts in this Christmas series on the topic of the Gospel message, and the meaning of Christmas, I wanted to provide the reader with extra information on where they can learn more.

I have honestly sought to provide links here that will appeal to a broad range of Christians across different denominations. It would be impossible, of course, to provide every possible viewpoint, so I have been selective for time and space constraints. However, I hope that these will provide a useful starting point for those of you who are believers who want to know more about the basis for your faith. I hope that you find it helpful and encouraging.

*Inclusion of a website here does not necessarily imply complete acceptance of opinions put forward by that site. External websites may change without notice. All links given in good faith, accessed 1 October 2008.

Books About Jesus and the Gospel Message

* here I have provided the author’s name and title of the book plus links to online bookstores that sell each book.

Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew. Koorong.

Philip Yancey, What’s So Amazing About Grace? Koorong.

Charles Swindoll, Jesus. Koorong.

C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity. Koorong.

Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ. Koorong.

Ravi Zacharias, Jesus Among Other Gods. Koorong.

Josh McDowell, The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Koorong.

Apologetics Websites

Creation Ministries International.

Institute for Creation Research.

Answers In Genesis.

Leadership University.

Probe Ministries.

TrueU.

EveryStudent.

Compass.

Ancient of Days – Archaeology and Biblical Research.

Biblical Geology.

CreationWiki.

Christian Answers Network.

Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

Got Questions – Bible Questions Answered.

The Creation Research Society.

Global Flood.

Evidence of God.

Creation Apologetics.

The Young Earth Creation Club.

Uncommon Descent Intelligent Design Blog.

Werner Gitt.

Lee Strobel.

Josh McDowell.

Dinosaurs In The Bible.

Apologetics Books At Koorong.

Apologetics Books At Master Books.

Apologetics Articles About Christmas

“A Right Christmas”
http://www.icr.org/article/20101/

“Alien invasion or the meaning of Christmas”
http://www.billmuehlenberg.com/2007/12/23/alien-invasion-or-the-meaning-of-christmas/

“Calculating Christmas”
http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=16-10-012-v

“Christmas and Genesis”
http://creationontheweb.com/content/view/5535

“Christmas Countdown – when does the holiday season really start?”
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/news/2001/dec07.html

“Christmas – what is the true meaning?”
http://www.christiananswers.net/christmas/home.html

“Demonstrating the Christ of Christmas”
http://www.crosswalk.com/news/1177872/

“God of Creation or ‘God’ of Christmas?”
http://www.icr.org/article/700/

“Is Christmas necessary?”
http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/christma.html

“Is the biblical Christmas story true? Is Jesus Christ for real?”
http://www.christiananswers.net/christmas/skeptic.html

“Jason Lisle vs. Hugh Ross debate: annotated transcript”
http://creationontheweb.com/content/view/3414

“Star Witness”
http://www.icr.org/article/254/

“The Drama of the Christmas story”
http://www.leaderu.com/humanities/dramaxmas.html

“The Real Twelve Days of Christmas”
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/news/2004/dec24.html

“The holiday formerly known as Christmas”
http://www.boundless.org/2000/features/a0000373.html

All links accessed 1 October 2008.

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A Bit of a Laugh

December 16, 2008

Here’s some links to a few Christian websites that poke a bit of fun at Church culture. For the jaded, world weary Christian… ! 🙂 And for those of us who are uncomfortable with “This car will be empty in case of rapture” bumper stickers and “Guardian Angel” statues…

Parody News at LarkNews.Com

“Man discovered to have two church families”

http://larknews.com/november_2008/secondary.php?page=1

“Man tired of being used in sermon illustrations”

http://www.larknews.com/december_2008/secondary.php?page=4

“NASA upset at astronaut’s ‘prayer walks'”

http://www.larknews.com/december_2008/secondary.php?page=2

“My church is embarking on something called ’40 days of purpose.’ Can you explain what this is?”

http://larknews.com/july_2004/secondary.php?page=4

“Pastor laments, ‘My son won’t raise hell.’

http://larknews.com/october1_2003/secondary.php?page=3

Christian Culture at Ship of Fools

“12 Days of Kitschmas”

http://shipoffools.com/kitschmas/2008/index.html

“Gadgets for God”

http://shipoffools.com/gadgets/index.html

“Fruit Tube”

http://shipoffools.com/fruittube/index.html

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Living Water

August 23, 2008

Wednesday 28 May 2008 – 10.02 pm

Contemplating the significance of water as a symbol of life in the Bible. There’s some rich truths bound to be discovered there

John 4:14…

…whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life… (NIV)

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Jewish Orthodox Interpretations of Genesis 1

August 6, 2008

Just a link to share with you, this is an article on the question of the Jewish interpretation of the book of Genesis. I found it good food for thought for Bible-believing Christians. It can be found at http://www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/558.

Here’s an excerpt from the start of the article:

Creation days and Orthodox Jewish tradition

by Paul James-Griffiths

After years of agonizing over the literal days of creation in Genesis, I decided to spend time researching this problem at the London School of Jewish Studies in Hendon, England. After all, I thought, why shouldn’t I go to the natural Jewish vine for some answers? [Read Full Article…]

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Vandalising Catholics…

June 30, 2008

Copyright F. Lokot 2008

Tuesday 18 March 2008 – 9.54 am

Reading in the local paper about a series of aggressive vandalism attacks on a local Roman Catholic church. Statues and trees were graffitied, and a memorial garden has been ruined. Sadly, the church members are now stuck fixing their church, while unknown vandals break the law.

A sign saying “Christ has risen” was smashed. And I wonder – if those vandals truly knew the wonder of this Truth, would they still deface churches?

There seems to be a diminishing level of respect out there.

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Jesus, The Word – John 1

May 17, 2008

John 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all people.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God– children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

(John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. (TNIV)

Where the other three Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) focussed more on the natural aspects of Jesus’ birth, the Gospel according to the Apostle John gives us another perspective.

  • Who is the person addressed as “The Word?”
  • In the first paragraph, what are three attributes of the Word?
  • What does this passage say about Jesus’ role in Creation?
  • Who was the John who wrote this Scripture, and who was the John mentioned in the text? Are they the same person?
  • What have we received from Jesus Christ?
  • How do we know God the Father?
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Wise Men Visit Baby Jesus – Matthew 2

May 17, 2008

Matthew 2:1-23
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’” Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route

When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.

When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.

After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.” So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: “He will be called a Nazarene.” (NIV)

  • Does the text indicate how many wise men, or magi, there were?
  • Why was Herod disturbed?
  • Why did Herod say he wanted to find the Christ child? What was his actual motive to find the Christ?
  • How did God communicate to Joseph the need to escape? Where did Jesus spend His childhood?
  • What happened to the young boys in Bethlehem?
  • What are the different ways that God communicates to His people in this text?
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