Archive for May, 2009

Good Enough for Jesus

May 30, 2009

The Catholic Old Testament and the Protestant Old Testament do not contain the same number of books.   The Catholic version contains the Apocrypha, seven books that were written in the time period after the book of Malachi was written.  The early church adopted the Septuagint, a Greek version of the Hebrew scriptures that was widely used during the time of Christ, likely the version used by Jesus and the apostle’s.

In the second century Jewish leaders reviewed the collection of scriptures that they accepted as fully inspired by God and decided to cut off the official canon at Malachi.  After sixteen hundred years of use by the Christian church, Protestant reformers decided that they would go with the canon of scripture adopted by Jewish leaders in the second century.  At first, the Apocrypha was included in some printings, but it has slowly faded from most editions used by Protestants. 

I think that is a shame.  The scriptures of the Old Testament, including the Apocrypha, were good enough for Jesus, the apostle’s, and for sixteen hundred years of church history.  The next Bible that I buy will include the Apocrypha.  It was good enough for Jesus, that is good enough for me.

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The Supreme Judge

May 28, 2009

Currently in the news is President Obama’s appointment of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.  It is an important position and it would be good to pray for wisdom for our leadership as the confirmation process proceeds. 

There is a higher court.  One day we will all stand before the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer.  One day, we will face The Supreme Judge.  There has been an appeal for leniency, and it has been granted in Jesus Christ.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16   This verse is known world wide. 

John 3:18&19 are not as popular.  “He who believes in Him is not condemned: but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

Those who reject Christ will face the Supreme Judge.

There will be no further appeals.

Religion, Medicine and Children

May 26, 2009

Currently in the news is the case of the Minnesota teenager, Daniel Hauser.  Daniel has Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  He received one treatment of chemotherapy before deciding to try treatment by alternative means, claiming religious belief inspired the change of treatment.  The court has become involved in the case. 

Historically, our country has been divided over how far we are willing to allow religion to dictate treatment of children with curable conditions.  Jehovah Witnesses have often made the news with their refusal of receiving blood transfusions.  Recently, in the courts there have been cases where parents felt that prayer and faith were all that were needed for their children to be healed. 

At the core of this problem is that we are struggling over freedoms, rights and responsibility.  How far do we allow religious freedom to dictate action?  Does a child have a right to the statistically most successful treatment?  Do parents have final responsibility for the welfare of a child, or does the State?   To what extent are we willing to allow religious freedom to dictate the medical treatment of children?  Are we willing to undermine personal freedom, parental authority, and entire religious communities ways of life?  Does society have the right to demand compliance?  These are questions that are not easily answered.  We should think carefully before we take action as the decisions may have far reaching implications.

The Whole Bible

May 21, 2009

The Bible is a collection of writings that span over two thousand years.  There are many contributors to the writings,  but God inspired it all.  When we read the scriptures and seek to understand them, we need to realize that there is an underlying unity.  If there are items that appear to be contradictory, it is our lack of understanding that is the problem.  As we seek to interpret particular passages of scripture, it is good to remember what is written elsewhere in the Word, and seek to understand the harmony of the message.   It is not Paul’s theology versus John’s theology.  The Bible is God’s Word to us.  It is the revelation of God.  We should treat is as a whole, not as independent parts.

Extra Frosting

May 19, 2009

My students once gave me a can of frosting at the end of the semester.

There is a reason.  In the beginning of the semester I tell my students a little about my approach to teaching.  That approach includes the idea that I will teach the basic information that they will need to know to pass the course.  That is the core material that the school expects to be taught, and that they will be tested over.  Then there is the body,  that fleshes out the core material, additional information that is beneficial to understanding the topics.

Then there is the frosting.  The frosting is material that is relevant to the course, but not a part of the core, or the body.  It is fun information that helps maintain interest and brings a little life to the lectures.

I like a lot of frosting; on my cake, and in my class.

Light in the Darkness

May 16, 2009

Jesus said that he was the light of the world.  Christians have the spirit of Christ within them.  To the degree that we allow the light of Christ to shine through our lives, we become the light in the world.  As the world grows more dark with sin, it is more important than ever to let our light shine.  Do not focus on the darkness, but,be drawn out of the darkness, and into the light.  Once in the light of Christ, let his light shine through your lives by your attitude, words and actions. 

Love God, love one another, offer the love of God to all.

Let the light shine.

Can I hit delete?

May 14, 2009

Time moves forward.  The choices that we make, and the actions that we take cannot be undone.  There is no delete button for life.  Sometimes I wish that there were such a thing.  There are some things that I would like to take back, erase, or do over, but that is not an option. 

What we do have, is  a choice over is what we do now.  At any given moment we can start making the right decisions.  I regularly pray for my family that we will make right choices and decisions. 

I pray the same for you.

Freedom and Responsibility

May 12, 2009

I am a firm believer in the freedom of the human will.  That does not mean that we are free from influence, nor from the impact of our inherited human nature.  Yet at our core, I believe that we are able to make choices.  With that freedom comes responsibility.  The choices that we make can turn out for better or for worse.  Those consequences are something that we have to live with for the rest of our lives.  I appreciate the advice that President Bush gave to the incoming President Obama when he told him to ‘Do what he thought was right, because at the end of the day you have to live with yourself. ”  It is good advice for all of us.  Get as much information as we can, and make the best decision that we are able to make, and then be willing to accept the responsibility for our decisions.

Anger

May 9, 2009

In Colossians 3:8 we are told “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.”  In Galation 5:19-21 we are told that “outbursts of wrath” are among the sins that can keep us out of the kingdom of God.  We are further  told that “the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God” (James 1:20)  With these verses in mind we are right to be concerned about anger.  Anger is not listed among the fruits of the Spirit, but among the works of the flesh.  (Galatians 5:19-23)

However, if you have read the Old Testament, you will have read about God’s anger.  God was angry with Moses, (Deut 1:37) Solomon, ( I Kings 11:9) the nation of Israel, (IIKings 17:18)  and others.  Since we believe that God does not sin, anger in itself must not be a sin.  

I believe that there are two aspects with which we should concern ourselves regarding anger.  The source of our anger, and the action inspired by our anger. 

I strongly suspect that most of our anger is rooted in our flesh.  That anger is wrong.  Only if our anger is inspired by a reaction of the Spirit would that anger be justified.  I am reluctant to even mention that possibility, because I can imagine all kinds of people justifying their anger as “godly rage” or “righteous indignation”.  I suspect that far more often our anger is rooted in the flesh and is a sinful response to people or events.

Anger of either source is a real part of our lives.  We may not be able to help our feelings, but we still have control of our actions.  Ephesians 4:26 tells us “Be angry but do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your wrath.”  I believe that this means two things.  We are to not let anger control us.  We still choose the things that we do and say.  We should think about our actions and our words and ask ourselves if the way that we responding is in “the flesh” or “the spirit”.   I also believe that this means that we should not just stifle our anger.  If we are angry we need to find an appropriate outlet for that anger.  We should choose an outlet that will not be hurtful to ourselves or others.  Actually, if we respond correctly, anger can provide motivation for helpful, corrective action.  Unfortunately, far too often, that is not the case.

May God help us to be the people he wants us to be.  May we learn to deal appropriately with anger.

A Little Respect

May 7, 2009

James Corbett, a high school history teacher at a Southern California public high school, was found to be guilty of violating the First Amendment when he called creationism “superstitious nonsense” during a lecture.  Chad Farnan, his student at the time, took offense and filed a complaint.  U.S. District judge James Seina made the ruling, citing the establishment clause.  That clause has been interpreted to mean that government employees are prohibited from displaying religious hostility.

Although Christianity is the primary religion in the United States, (also world wide) it has sometimes seemed as though teachers could get away with almost any negative, critical, comments without reprimand.  I am very glad to hear that, at least in public schools, religious beliefs, including Christianity, should be treated with a little respect.