Welcome to the February 2014 blog!
My morning goal before reading elsewhere in the Bible is to read Psalm 119:18: “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” I recommend the same goal for our readers. There seems to be something fresh in the Word every morning.
Thanks for your response to my new books, People In Proverbs and Life Is Too Short To Spend With A Kicking Cow. Your kind words are encouraging. The books are chocked full of sermon and Bible lesson material. The new books can be ordered from Advance Ministries (advanceministries.org) or by phone 936-537-0250.
Are clergymen trustworthy?
In 2013, Americans rated six professions more trustworthy than clergy: nurses, pharmacists, grade school teachers, medical doctors, military officers, and police officers. Meanwhile, engineers, dentists, and college teachers—three professions which surpassed clergy in 2012—dropped below clergy in 2013. Grade school teachers and military officers rose above clergy from 2012 to 2013, while nurses, pharmacists, medical doctors, and police officers topped clergy in both years.
– Source: Gallup poll
After reading Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, hearing a couple of televangelists, or reading the local newspaper reports of priestly pedophiles, one can understand the mistrust! Let’s work hard to clean up our image.
Muhammad’s birthday a holiday?
A group of Muslim middle school students in Virginia is urging the Obama administration to support the official recognition of Muslim holidays in public schools “throughout the United States of America.”
The kids have taken their appeal to WhiteHouse.gov’s “We the People,” creating a petition that they hope will convince President Barack Obama to back their request.
“With the growing population of Muslims in the United States of America (including first, second, third, and fourth generation) we believe it is high time that Muslim holidays are recognized by schools throughout this nation,” reads the statement associated with it.
Think such a request will be countenanced by the President? I predict many changes for our schools and culture are on the way, probably including this one.
How’s that again?
“All of these school shootings have a common thread: guns have been involved in every one of them.” – Al Gore, again
“Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country.” – Mayor Marion Barry, Washington , DC
“Smoking kills. If you’re killed, you’ve lost a very important part of your life.” – Brooke Shields, during an interview to become spokesperson for federal anti-smoking campaign
This just in: the President doesn’t encourage pot-smoking
In a previous blog we submitted a report of how the use of alcohol is spreading among Evangelicals. With tens of thousands of deaths each year from alcohol and tobacco, is a sad commentary on our times.
Now the President weighs in on the issue in an interview with the New Yorker magazine:
“As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol,” Obama said.
He added that smoking marijuana is “not something I encourage” and is “a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy.”
Hmmmmm…. “a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy”? Maybe like biting one’s nails? C’mon! I am sure millions of youth will abstain as a result of that strong denunciation. What a great example from someone pushing so-called health care down our throats.
Be careful where you sleepwalk
Ambien, a member of the class of medications known as hypnotics, was approved by the FDA in 1992. It was designed for short term use to combat insomnia and was a welcome change from the prevailing sleep aid at the time, Halcion, which had been implicated in psychosis, suicide, and addiction and had been banned in half a dozen countries.
Ambien works by activating the neurotransmitter GABA and binding it to the GABA receptors in the same location as the benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Valium. The extra GABA activity triggered by the drug inhibits the neuron activity that is associated with insomnia. In other words, it slows down the brain. Ambien is extremely effective at initiating sleep, usually working within 20 minutes. It does not, however, have an effect on sustaining sleep unless it is taken in the controlled release form.
After its approval, Ambien quickly rose to dominance in the sleep aid market. Travelers swore by it to combat jet lag, and women, who suffer more insomnia than men, bought it in droves. Sanofi, Ambien’s French manufacturer, made $2 billion in sales at its peak. In 2007 the generic version of Ambien was released, Zolpidem, and at less than $2 per pill, it still remains one of the most prescribed drugs in America, outselling popular painkillers like Percocet and prescription strength ibuprofen.
Although the Ambien prescribing information warned, in small print, that medications in the hypnotic class had occasional side effects including sleep walking, “abnormal thinking,” and “strange behavior,” these behaviors were listed as extremely rare, and any anecdotal evidence of “sleep driving,” “sleep eating,” or “sleep shopping”—all behaviors now associated with Ambien blackouts.
Where It’s Hardest To Be a Christian
Christian martyrdoms doubled in 2013, reports World Watch List in revealing its methodology for the first time.
The top 10 nations “where Christians faced the most pressure and violence,” according to the WWL, were North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Pakistan, Iran, and Yemen. While North Korea has topped the list for 12 straight years, this is the first time that a sub-Saharan African country took the No. 2 slot.
“The level of persecution ‘increased seriously’ in eight countries: Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan, Libya, Egypt, Colombia, and Kazakhstan. By contrast, it ‘decreased considerably’ in two countries: Mali and Tanzania.”
Source: Katherine Burgess [posted 1/8/2014 11:41AM], the 2014 World Watch List from Open Doors International; and Christianity Today
Will the U.S. be on this list in twenty years? If California and New York were considered as countries, where would they be on the list even today?
When does death occur?
Families are forced at times to make difficult choices concerning someone who has major brain damage or disease that incapacitates the brain. Few decisions in life can be more stressful than when to “pull the plug.”
Dr. Richard Senelick (see source below) posted some helpful information on this issue:
“We need an intact upper brain to be aware of ourselves and our surrounding environment. Awareness is a higher-level function that requires areas of the cerebrum to process the information we see and hear. A patient may have their eyes open and look like they’re awake, but if the brain is severely damaged they may have no awareness of their surroundings. We call this a vegetative state.
“On the other hand, people who are in a coma are not awake and have no awareness of themselves or their environment. You can talk to them, pinch them, show them pictures of their family—they will not respond. However, these patients are not brain dead. This is the source of the confusion that leads to the sensational headlines and stories.
In 1976, Karen Ann Quinlan was in a vegetative state, but lived for nine more years after her ventilator was discontinued. Theresa Schiavo had been in a vegetative state for 15 years. After a protracted legal battle her husband was granted permission to withdraw her nutritional support and she died. Both young women, like the people in the headlines, were not brain dead. People in a vegetative state usually have extensive brain damage, but may blink their eyes and look around, breathe on their own, yawn, chew, and even withdraw their arms or legs to painful stimulation. They are not brain dead, and no one is going to take their organs.
What, exactly, is brain death?
What is the difference between someone in a coma, who may or may not improve, and someone who is truly brain dead and may be a candidate to donate their organs? Brain death is the irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the all-important brain stem that houses the RAS and the mechanism that controls our breathing. Dead is dead. Brain death isn’t a different type of death, and patients who meet the criteria of brain death are legally dead.
There are strict criteria for brain death and these criteria (PDF) are carefully followed before a patient becomes an organ donor or their ventilator is unplugged. They must be in a coma with no brain stem or pupillary reflexes. They do not breathe on their own when taken off their ventilator, and an electroencephalogram (EEG) records a complete absence of brain activity. Although most states only require the diagnosis of one physician, the patient’s family can always ask for a second opinion.
I verified the above information with another medical doctor in the Austin, TX area—a “second opinion,” if you please.
Having said all that, I have heard of patients who had been given up by doctors but were healed by God. In one case, the doctor covered the lady with a sheet and walked out. The pastor asked if he could pray. When he did, she revived and was completely cogent for two or three days, long enough to witness effectively to her family who had gathered for her last moments. I read of one case reported in the media in New Orleans years ago where a man was revived after being placed in the morgue. These are unique and infrequent events and not necessarily to be used as likely in every case. History proves that. But I just wanted to say that God can and will have the last word when it fits His purpose.
More soldiers are dying from suicide than from combat
• in 2012 alone, more U.S. active duty service men and women committed suicide than died in combat.
• officially, one in six American service members is on at least one psychiatric drug.
• over the last ten years, the U.S. government has spent more than 4.5 billion dollars just medicating soldiers and veterans, according to the Dept. of Veterans Affairs.
When will this genocide cease? Only when the outcry about psychiatric drugs becomes loud enough to reach the voters who will elect someone that will appoint a Surgeon General with guts enough to say “enough is enough.”
Read the rest of the article here:
Is your church protected?
If your church is not open to be used in same sex marriage unions, you should write into your “Church Policies,” or by-laws, what your position is on the matter. You might want to reference an article by David Bernard on this matter in the July-September issue of the Forward, a magazine for UPCI ministers. Don’t get the Forward? Email me and I will send you a copy of the article.
As regular readers of “the news”—whatever the source—you will no doubt already know that sometimes you just can’t make this stuff up.
Case in point: A ship full of “global warmists” heads off on an expedition to Antarctica to prove that the ice shelf there is melting so fast that every beachfront house in the world will soon be swept away by a massive tsunami.
But instead of finding a sad polar bear stuck on a tiny ice sheet, the adventurers found their ship stuck—in ice. So much ice that they couldn’t get free.
Wait, it gets better: The ship sent to free the stuck ship also got trapped in ice. The U.S. announced that it would send a heavy icebreaker to free the ships—so, of course, as usual, you taxpayers will foot the bill.
But still more: media reports about the Russian-owned research ship carrying the global warmists failed to note the passengers’ mission. Instead, news organizations like Reuters say they left New Zealand on Nov. 28 “to commemorate the 100th anniversary of an Antarctic journey led by Australian explorer Douglas Mawson.” The AP peddled the same line, too.
Yet the real mission of the passengers came out anyway. The expedition’s leader is Chris Turney, a “climate scientist” who has set up a carbon refining company called Carbonscape, according to website wattsupwiththat.com, self-touted as “the world’s most viewed site on global warming and climate change.”
Source: Washington Times, 1/7/14
Words of wisdom for preachers
In all the world, there are only three Christians who love change; none of them are in your church.
It’s not all about you. Some people will join the church and it will flourish, some will leave and your church may struggle. Some will love you and some will hate you. Very little of it has to do with you. People have their own reasons for what they do. Get over yourself.
Laugh a lot. Spend time around children and teens. Don’t act like a dignified preacher around them; get down on the floor and play with the little ones. Change into your jeans and sneakers and play volleyball with the teens. Don’t grow old before your time.
You are the Pastor. As the pastor, you are the mood-setter for the congregation. Whatever you radiate on Sundays and in private conversation with members, they will pick up, too
Be humble. This is something that constantly has to be worked at. Calling yourself “Doctor,” even if you have an earned doctorate, can be a little presumptuous. Titles can often smack of pride. Pastor is an honorable designation. If others choose to call you by these or other names, that’s fine. Letting people discover by accident that you have an advanced degree is a compliment to you; wearing it on your sleeve isn’t.
It consists of eight letters carved on the remains of a large clay jar. When I read the headline, I was hoping for a serious revelation that would confirm some misunderstood Bible verse. Instead it had to do with cheap wine! I was disappointed. If you care to see it, here is the link: http://www.timesofisrael.com/decoded-king-solomon-era-jug-engraving/
I am just glad that the inscription wasn’t translated as “bottoms up!”
Here are the top ten archaeological finds in 2013:
Updating the Manuscript Evidence for the New Testament (9/13)
by Norman L. Geisler
Number of New Testament Manuscripts
New copies of ancient manuscripts, both biblical and non-biblical, continue to be found. This necessitates an update of the figures and charts used in various books on the topic. For example, in the original version of Norman L. Geisler and William E. Nix, General Introduction to the Bible (Moody Press, 1968), we noted that there were about 5,000 Greek NT manuscripts (p. 285). This followed acknowledged manuscript authority Bruce Metzger in his book The Text of the New Testament, 1964 edition (pp. 31-33).
By 1986 when we revised General Introduction to the Bible (GIB rev, 1986), there were 5,366 NT manuscripts (p. 387). This followed Metzger’s updating “Appendix III: Statistics Relating to the Manuscripts of the Greek NT” in his 1981 Manuscripts of the Greek Bible (pp. 54-56). By 1999 when we helped revise Josh McDowell’s More Evidence that Demands a Verdict, we contacted the manuscript institute founded by expert Kurt Aland that gave us the latest number as 5,656 as of August 1998 (see McDowell, NEDV, 36). To date (2013) there are nearly 5,800 NT manuscripts. For this general figure we can thank both Kurt Aland and Dan Wallace of Dallas Theological Seminary. Most of the discrepancies reported as to the number of NT manuscripts can be traced to the different times to which they refer.
The difference between the NT manuscripts and others from the ancient world is…..[to continue reading, Google the title of this article]
Are you as tired of Jesus portraits as I am?
In the testimony of a converted leftist, anti-Christian college professor, in which she stated why she had viciously attacked Christianity, she made this statement: “That’s what I thought of Christians and their god (sic) Jesus, who in paintings looked as powerful as a Breck Shampoo commercial model.”
She is not alone in her assessment. So, away with the paintings of long-haired Christs! Surely there are contemporary painters and artists who realize that Jesus did not have shoulder-length hair. There must be an artist, or a photographer or film maker somewhere who can find a masculine-looking man to portray Christ. What bugs me most is to see paintings of Jesus with His disciples—Him with long hair and all of them with cuts that could have been done by an ultra-conservative at SportClips, as though His style was totally different from theirs. I doubt that He ever would have been called “Master” or “Rabbi” if He had stepped out in hair as He is depicted by medieval artists and modern filmmakers. History books, encyclopedias, and sculptures reveal the hair styles of Jesus’ time and they don’t match what we see on the canvases and screens today.
Jesus was a practicing Jew. He doubtless followed the rabbinic custom of cutting His hair at least every 30 days, according to the Jewish Talmud. The hairstyle was to be “Julian,” or what would be called “a Caesar cut” (Sanhedrin 22b). Old Testament priests were instructed thusly: “Neither shall they shave their heads, not suffer their locks to grow long” (Ezekiel 44:20). Priests were to example this practice for the larger community (Malachi 2:7).
Jesus would never have earned the respect of His disciples with long hair. Paul was a contemporary with Christ and he noted, “Does not even nature [the inborn quality of a man as contrasted to that of a woman] itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him” (I Corinthians 11:14). Wasn’t that verse inspired by Jesus Himself (II Timothy 3:16)? Jesus never would have appeared as a long-haired, effeminate man.
Thanks to the delicate artists of the Middle Ages, we have become accustomed to seeing Christ depicted as 1970’s hippie type, or sporting a shampooed, brushed and feminine-like coiffure. Perhaps they were taking their cue from the depiction of the Greek god Dionysus, the god of wine, merry making, theater, and ecstasy. He was really cute with his long, androgynous hair hanging down in ringlets onto his chest (according to Greco-Roman statuary).
Let’s express a positive example and practical approach for Christian men: trim our hair short (close to the head, unlike feminine styles), and encourage our laymen to follow that pattern. That seems closest to the biblical admonitions and one least likely to be earn criticism or foster misunderstanding.
Maxine: “Let me get this straight….”
…Which purportedly covers at least ten million more people, without adding a single new doctor, but provides for 16,000 new IRS agents…
…written by a committee whose chairman says he doesn’t understand it…
…passed by a Congress that didn’t read it but exempted themselves from it, and signed by a President who smoked and sees no big problem with marijuana…
…with funding administered by a treasury chief who didn’t pay his taxes…
…for which we’re taxed for four years before any benefits take effect, by a government which has already bankrupted Social Security and Medicare, all to be overseen by a surgeon general who is obese…
…and financed by a country that’s broke?!?!
What could possibly go wrong?
[You know we are in trouble when the plan calls for no new doctors but mandates 16,000 new IRS agents!]
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Time to smile (or grimace)
Feminist blogger Amy Glass describes herself on the Thought Catalog as “Powerhouse. Lover of start-ups, big ideas and the future.”
One of her big ideas is pointedly reflected in one of her blog posts titled “I Look Down On Young Women With Husbands and Kids and I’m Not Sorry.” Not surprisingly, it’s has been generating some attention of late. Her premise is summed up in this question: “Do people really think that a stay at home mom is really on equal footing with a woman who works and takes care of herself?” This kind of claptrap is being force-fed to our little girls in the public schools.
Never forget the principle: The farther one gets from God’s ideal, the more problems he invites to himself.