Wednesday, March 24, 2010

One Sick Puppy!

Every day they wrest my words: all their thoughts are against me for evil. Psalm 56:5

A new assistant had been hired by the Presbyterian church of which Glen was a member. A lady who had started to take his course on Isaiah, told Glen she was very upset over what she had been hearing in the first three nights she attended.

“I can’t figure out where he’s coming from” she said. “Sometimes I’m not even sure he is a Christian at all.”

At her request, Glen decided to sit in one of the classes and see for himself. He arrived early and took a seat in the back. “I’m just here as an observer” he said. Glen told me he never highjacked another teacher’s class, although at times he was tempted to question some of the things he heard.

He could find no one who knew the man. All anyone knew was that he was not from the church, and he had been hired fresh out of college.

So Glen was surprized to see a man in his late forties walk to the podium and arrange his books and notes. Mr. Winton had a masters degree, he had told people, and was a late comer to church work, his background was a mystery.

Glen’s first impression of Winton was the lack of life in the man. His body movements and his face gave the impression that he was being controlled from a distance by some unseen operator.
“There was no life in the man!” Glen recalled “A little lady from Texas told me about the advice her mother had given her and her sister.” “Darlins” she had said, “Never go out with a man who has dead eyes. Never even think about it!”

“Her words came to mind as I watched this man prepare to speak. His whole appearance was lifeless. He looked like you do when you just get to sleep after a restless night and then you have to get up and go to work.”

“This guy never made eye contact with his class. He went from his notes to a the blackboard, back and forth like he was carrying buckets of water."

“A good teacher has to hold himself back” Glen told me. “He can be too enthusiastic and distract people from the Word. But this guy sure didn’t have that problem”.

Without much of an introduction Winton began lecturing on Isaiah, chapter seven. Right away he set out to prove that what he called the “common assumption” that verse14 was a prophecy of the birth of Jesus was without basis.

“The passage addresses a local event only and the interpretation of the word translated “virgin” can mean any young unmarried girl. She could even be a prostitute as long as she was young and unmarried. That’s all the word means.”

At this, a man in the audience turned to his wife and whispered to her. They both took up their Bibles and notebooks and walked away.

Glen told me that Winton was passing on what was commonly taught in theological “cemeteries” as he called them. “They tell these idiots what to say and go out and say it. They never think about checking it out for themselves. I guess they figure it’s a way to get a degree and a nice job with no heavy lifting. Help them to make house payments and stuff.”

This night, Glen told me he was going to break his rule “Never contradict a fool.”
“There’s a time to be a gentleman and a time to do what’s right,” he told me. “And sometimes those are two different times.”

Glen stood up to ask a question. Winton looked at him in his distant way. “Yes?” he said.

“Sir, I’d just like to know how you can interpret the word “virgin” in Isaiah 7:14 to mean anything but what it says?”

Winton was obviously not impressed by Glen’s presence or manner. Most people were not, upon first meeting him. His clothing and appearance were those of a man who you might hire to do some work on your house.

A man told me one time that he had suggested to Glen that he wear more appropriate clothing to make a better impression.

“Like I give a damn” Glen told him. “If people want a suit they can get one at Good Will, that’s where I got mine!”

“Lucky you caught Glen on a good day” I had told the man.

Winton said his interpretation of the word virgin was based upon historical context. “Isaiah, after all, was written over seven hundred years before the New Testament period and could hardly apply to an event as far in the future as the supposed birth of Jesus.”

This was too much for Glen!

“Far in the future! I thought we were talking about prophecy! The future is what prophecy is all about. God told Eve that her offspring would bruise the serpent’s head. That was a prophecy of Jesus. How far in the future was that?”

Winton continued with an air of strained patience, “All I’m saying, ah mister....”

“Just call me Glen”

“All I am saying, Glen, is that there is no way that anyone of that time could have applied such a proclamation to some future messiah that wasn’t supposed to be born for over 700 years.”

Then Glen set out his mouse trap, or should we say, in this case, his rat trap?
“On this we agree, sir. There is no way people of that time could have understood this prophecy. On this we do agree.”

Winton relaxed, feeling he had scored his point. He turned to continue his lecture, but Glen remained standing.

He told me once, how in a fight sometimes he would pretend to stumble. Then, when his opponent moved in for the kill, Glen would instantly recover and take the guy out. "Let’em think they have you” he said, "then deck ‘em.”

“But,” Glen said, “when Jesus made the prediction “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. John 2:19, even his disciples didn’t understand it. It wasn’t until he resurrected that they knew what it meant. Jesus did not tell them, or anyone else, what it really meant, he showed them. Same thing with this prophecy, same thing. God didn’t explain at that time, clear as the statement was, when it would be fulfilled. But when it was time for it to be fulfilled He showed it was true. Anyone can predict a virgin will conceive, but only God can make it happen.”

Winton was growing impatient, “I would love to continue this discussion at some other time, but we need to...”

“Let him finish!” said an earnest faced older woman, “This is important.”

Winton’s shoulders sagged as he granted Glen time to proceed.

“As for your historical interpretation, I just told you how that is flawed. It is based on man’s view of time. God takes a long view, thousands of years pass as he waits to bring his will to bear.”Glen smacked his fist into the palm of his other hand,”Then, bam! He fulfills it!

Winton wearily started to turn away, but Glen continued.”I also wish to vehemently disagree with your contention that the word virgin can mean any young, unmarried girl. The Hebrew word “alma” translated “virgin" in chapter seven, verse fourteen, corresponds to the English word “maiden” or the German “madchen”, same thing, pure and simple! Pure and simple. Just like Mary herself. Even for those who will not accept that the word in this passage refers to a woman who has never had sex, the context demands it. You have not faced the implication of these words: Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; behold a virgin shall conceive...

“Could anyone tell me how, in your words, ‘any young, unmarried girl conceiving would be a sign? Must have been young, unmarried girls that conceived in those days. But did that constitute a sign? There is only one definition of “alma” that could be a sign, and that is a young unmarried virgin, conceiving.

Even if we concede that Isaiah 7:14 does not refer to the virgin birth of Jesus, and I do not in any way concede this, why don’t we ask Mary? She is the one that had the baby! Guess she knew if she was a virgin! Let’s listen to her own words in the Gospel of Luke;

Gabriel told Mary that she was to have a child and she said,
How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? Luke 1:34
And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

There, Mr. Winton, is the virgin birth, and there is Isaiah 7:14 fulfilled! So it took over seven hundred years? What is seven hundred years to God? It’s the results that count, not how much time passed before He did it.”

Glen had been so disgusted with Winton that night.

He said to me, “What a sorry excuse for a Bible teacher that man is! If he had been born a dog, his owner would have told the vet to put him down!”

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Value of Pi, No. 1 in the Series: Approaches to Science

As your moderator, let me say I am really looking forward to hearing what you have to offer concerning what the value of pi means to you. I am sure you know this concept is a very old one and was once thought of as an absolute value incapable of alteration. But thankfully with the changes taking place in our modern world we are becoming free from such rigid concepts imposed upon us by an elite who were not open to new ideas. And ideas are what this forum is all about.

So, let’s get rolling and please feel free to speak out with any ideas that you have relating to this wonderful subject. Who would like to start us off with their contribution?

Mrs. Henderson, I see your hand is up, what do you have for us?

Well, maybe because it’s that time of year, you know the holidays, I just want to say that I don’t think anyone has yet found a better dessert than pies. I know my family never get tired of pies, and there are so many different kinds of pies too, I mean it’s endless.

Miss Ferguson?

Our family has a tradition of deep dish apple pie I think is wonderful. Christmas just wouldn’t seem the same without it.

And Mrs. Hawkins?

I’m from the South and we have a sweet potato pie that is so wonderful. I always make it because it reminds me of the good times we had in Birmingham.

Good, good, let’s keep it going! Mrs. Larson?

I’m ashamed to say this, but as much as I love pie, I just can’t make a good crust, you know those light, fluffy crusts? My mother makes them and she tried to teach me, but no matter how hard I try they just never come out like hers.

Anyone? Can we help this lady out?

(From the back row) I believe the secret is not to mix the ingredients together to much. There needs to be little layers of shortening that don’t mix with the flour, that’s where the flakiness comes from.

Good, good, anyone else?

We always use lard. I think it makes the best crusts of anything I’ve tried.

I see nods of agreement. Another point anyone?

You know those ready made crusts are getting better all the time. They’re really nice if you just don’t have the time to roll out your own.

This is all great stuff ladies, see how far we can go just starting out with the concept of one little word? But let’s hear from some of you guys, what do you have to add? Mr ah, Hendrix, is it? You’ve had your hand up for some time?

Well this may sound kind of silly, but my father told the story about little Johnny in school. The teacher says Pi r square. Little Johnny says No, teacher, everybody knows Pies are round.

That’s a good one, Mr. Hendrix, that little Johnny sure is a card, isn’t he, and from his point of view, he’s right! and Mr. Stevens?

This is kind of off the subject, but our geometry teacher had a way to remember what he called the value of pi. It was "How I wish I could recollect of circle round, the exact relation Archimedes found." You see you count the letters in each word, except you need to drop one of the ells in recollect.

Ooh kay, Mr. Stevens, anyone else? Mr. Lawson?

Archimedes reminds me, does anyone remember that movie, Raiders of the Lost Arch? That was really a good one!

Mr. Epstein?

That was the lost ark, I think. Our rabbi talked about it one time, he said it was once pretty important. I believe it’s somewhere in Turkey?

Turkey, huh? Now we’re back in the holidays. Isn’t it amazing how everything connects up?We haven’t heard anything from you Mrs. Clyde, you look like you have something you want to say.

Oh, it’s just that when we were dating, my husband called me his little sweetie pie. I feel foolish even bringing it up. It’s not that important to anyone else, I suppose.

Oh, but it is important, Mrs. Clyde, because it’s something that involves you! And that’s what these meetings are all about, you, all of us have something unique to offer. Put them all together and we have new truths and that is how we move ahead, that is progress!

Mr. Moderator, what do you say is the value of pi?

To me, it is a launching point for new ideas. Who knows what it will lead to? But the Leader’s Guide says this, and it is only a starting point, remember. The value of pi is 3.141592. Well...we’re out of time. Can’t wait until next week, we’ll be discussing the molecular weight of sodium chloride. Let's see what we can come up with for that one. See ya.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Run for your Life!

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.”
Matthew 2:13

“One thing people have got to learn” said the woman, “is you can’t run away from your problems. If you try, they’ll just follow you. You have to stay and face them, that’s what I do.” These were the words of a severe and cheerless woman, searching the row of “self-help” books on a shelf at the Oak Street Bible Shop.

Glen paid no attention, but edged away as she stepped towards his prophecy corner. He was trying to keep out of her way. She was clearly agitated, because, as she had been telling Joy, her son in law was moving and taking her daughter to the state of Wyoming to get a job on the railroad, hauling coal.

“It’s awful,” she said, “I’ll never see my grandchildren any more. Just because his job was given to someone in Indonesia. He says ‘ They can’t outsource coal, or the railroads. I told him he should stay and face his problems, running away won’t do him a bit of good, it never does!”

It was at times like these that Joy showed patience, born of long experience. “Never argue with a customer”, she had learned. "Besides, that's what Glen was for." Gary, said nothing, following Joy’s example.

“I don’t see anything that I can use” said the woman. “I want something I can give my daughter to read. Maybe she can talk some sense into him. He won’t listen to me! Just run, run, run, seems like that’s all anybody does anymore.”

“We don’t carry a many books in that category” explained Joy, patiently. We mostly have Bible-related books.”

“Well, the Bible sure doesn’t tell people to run, does it? Think where we’d all be if Moses had tried run away from his problems.”

Sue was in the back room, filling the coffee urn. She tried to smother a laugh at this last remark, pretending to cough.

The woman turned to look at her, then. And put back a book entitled Handling Emotional Problems. “I see I’m not going to do any good here, guess I’ll go down town and see what they have in one of the regular book stores.” With that, she closed the door behind her.

“Whatcha doin’ Sue?” asked Joy, in a relaxed tone of voice.

“Well, for one thing” she replied “I was trying not to laugh out loud at that goofy woman! Can you believe it! ‘Good thing Moses didn’t try to run away”, hasn’t she ever heard of the exodus?”

“She was a good one, all right, said Joy,” Maybe she’ll have better luck in a downtown store.

“Like the Best of Ladies Home Journal” said Gary, “They‘re good with mottoes and stuff like that”.

Joy looked over at Glen, still silent, and seemingly preoccupied. “You’re awfully quiet this morning, Glen. I can’t believe you didn’t say something to that woman.”

“I was just thinking of all the Bible examples of people running away. Good examples, I mean. Goes from Genesis to Revelation. Jesus ran away. Can’t think of a better example than that.”

“You mean, when Joseph and Mary took him to Egypt?” said Sue. She replaced the cover on the coffee urn.

“Oh, sure” said Glen, “But I was thinking of when they tried to push him off the cliff in the Gospel of Luke.”

Gary leafed through Luke and read:

And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, And they rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong."

"When they couldn’t stand up to what he was saying, they tried to kill him” Joy said.

"But he passing through the midst of them went his way. Luke 4:28-30."

“You don’t see this listed as one of the miracles of Jesus” said Joy, “But it had to be. Jesus didn’t run away from them, he passed through them.”

“He escaped” said Glen, “the Bible has so many examples of people escaping, it’s hard to think of them all, isn’t it?”

“What’s that interesting aroma, Sue?" asked Joy, turning to look into the back room.

“It’s my treat” Sue said, “It’s French coffee. I hope you like it. It has chicory in it.”

“French?” said Joy. “Since when? Getting kind of fancy aren’t we? You’re not French are you, Sue?”

“On my mother’s side” said Sue. “She was a descendant of the Huguenots who came over here. A lot of them settled in New York. Her family was from Virginia.”

“Well, I’ll be” said Joy, “the things we don’t know about you, Sue.”

“Speaking of running away” said Gary, “from what I know about the Huguenots they did a lot of running didn’t they?”

“Had to” said Sue, “It’s part of my family history.”

Glen had been listening with great interest. “A lot of them were murdered” said Glen. “In the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of 1572, thousands were killed by the Catholics. The killing went on until over 100,000 died. So many corpses were in the rivers that people wouldn’t eat fish for a long time. All because the Huguenots rebelled against Catholic teaching. Bells were rung and it was a signal for the slaughter to begin. These people later merged with Presbyterians and some became Reform Baptists. They fled to Holland, South Africa, and, early on, to America. They have never forgotten their heritage. Fleeing to avoid death and persecution is as old as the Bible” said Glen. Think of the examples in the Word of God.”

“Lot and his family running from Sodom”, said Gary.

“Abram was told to leave his father’s house and country” said Joy.

“Elijah ran from Jezebel” said Gary.

“And God fed him in the wilderness” said Sue. “He must have approved because he took care of him out there.”

“Jesus warned there would be a time when His people must run for their lives” said Joy. “In the Olivet prophecy.”

“Matthew 24" said Gary,
When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth let him understand:)
Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains:
Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:
Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.
Matthew 24:15-18."

“Did you ever hear such urgency?” said Sue. “Jesus is telling them how quickly things will happen. Don’t even go back to take your clothes! But will people have to run? I mean, what is the abomination of desolation that Jesus is talking about?”

Glen put on his reading glasses and removed his pocket Bible. He turned to 2 Thessalonians 2:4. “Here it is, Sue. Paul explains that this is the beginning of the great tribulation, when Antichrist enters the temple and declares that he is God.

Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped: so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 2 Thess. 2:4."

“Paul, himself had to flee” said Glen. “This is another example where those who can’t stand up to the truth try to kill the truth teller. I believe it is Acts chapter nine, Gary.”

But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is the very Christ. And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him.
But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down the wall in a basket. Acts 9:22-25.

“One day Paul was chasing Christians, then he was escaping from the Jews” said Gary.

“Will the church have to run, I mean all of us?” asked Sue.

Glen smiled as he said, “We have the wonderful promise that we will be delivered from the time, not just the events, that is coming upon everyone on the earth. In Revelation 3:10, Jesus says:

Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.”

The French coffee was ready and Sue brought everyone a little cup. “You know”, she said, “Sometimes I have these awful dreams where everyone is running, trying to escape. I wonder if part of me remembers about the Huguenots and what happened to them?”

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Is Prophecy Practical?

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 2 Peter 3:11,12

Not many women come to the Oak Street Bible Shop to buy books on prophecy. In fact, the staff could not remember when a woman had last even browsed Glen’s beloved prophecy corner. But today they had directed a lady there to search for books on Revelation.

“It’s for my husband” she said. “He is going to take a course starting next Wednesday night, and wants to read ahead. He’s already studied Daniel and feels he is ready to move ahead to Revelation.” She had a list in her hand made up from “suggested readings” posted on the Revelation sign up sheet. She seemed perplexed, so Gary was helping her.

“Mc Gee has a very easy to understand outline, that many people find helpful,” he said.

“Isn’t it pretty hard to understand?” the lady said with evident misgivings.
“McGee has made an outline of every book in the Bible. He said that the easiest of all was Revelation.” She still looked as if she was unconvinced.

“All I hear is how difficult it is to understand,” she said. “How could it be the easiest?.”

“Well”, continued Gary, “McGee said, its great events are numbered in order, from one to seven. He just follows the numbers.”

“But what about all those symbols? Who can say for sure, what they stand for? It just sounds like speculation to me. Everyone has their own opinion, so who knows for sure if there even is a definite meaning?”

“There’s the man you should be talking to” said Gary, pointing to the figure of Glen seated in the back room at the coffee urn table. Glen was reading a book on the Song of Solomon.

“Glen, would you like to help this lady”, he inquired. Glen rose to his feet and slipped into his jacket, zipping it up halfway in a gesture of respect.

“Actually, ma’am,” Gary is being too humble. I thought he was doing a fine job explaining Revelation. But, McGee says the symbols in Revelation are explained in the book itself.” The expression on her face indicated she did not believe him, but was too polite to say so.

“Let me give you an example” Glen said with disarming patience. He spoke from memory. “In Revelation chapter twelve there is a great dragon pictured. Depending on who you believe, it is false religion or maybe, the communist nations, whatever someone wants to rail against. But the dragon’s identity is stated right there in verse nine. “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. No mystery there, although many want to make it a mystery.”

For the first time, the woman’s scepticism began to melt. “You mean it’s that easy?” she asked.

“Well, I wouldn’t say easy. You need to have patience. Some of the meanings in Revelation are explained in the earlier books of the Bible, going all the way back to Genesis.”

She looked at Glen with respect. He did have a kindly manner. “You know what really bothers me?” she said in a confidential way. “I mean, what if, as you say, we can know what prophecy is all about? What I want to know is what difference does it really make? It’s all going to happen anyway, whether we understand it or not. There’s nothing we can do to stop it, so why torture yourself by learning about what you can’t change?”

Glen could have made her little speech for her. He had heard it so many times before, starting with his own family. He smiled before he began his answer. "Ma’am, do you listen to weather reports?”

“ Well, yes I do, but I don’t see what that has to do with anything. I like to know what the weather will be in case there will be a big storm, or if it’s going to frost, so I can bring my plants inside”.

Glen looked into her face, so naive and innocent, before he spoke. “Ma’am, “Can you change the weather? Don’t you agree that it is the things we can’t change that we most need to know about? When we know what is coming, in weather or in prophecy, then we can make intelligent plans. That is why God tells us about the future before it hits us. Also, it proves that He has written the Bible. Our holy Bible is the only book that tells us the future, and it is never wrong. The Book of Mormon and the Koran don’t even contain prophecy. Anyway ma’am, Gary has a good selection for you, and I’ll be giving out the books I use in my course, next Wednesday.”

“Your course!” She exclaimed. “Then you must be that Glen? My husband says you are very thorough.”

“I try to be” said Glen, “I sure do try to be”.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Mental Set

He who would bring back the riches of India must take the riches of India with him. Proverb

No one knew where Glen received his education, it was not of the formal sort though he had studied in two universities. He described his knowledge as coming from many sources, “I’m a scrounger” he said. But we were treated to his approach to studying the Holy Bible in his first night of the class on the book of Revelation. After I helped him by passing out a selection of his books, all free, he began with this introductory address.

“Folks, when we approach the study of this book, it is important that we examine ourselves as to the mental attitude we bring to this study. My experience has been that our ideas about what we study can be even more important than the actual content of the material. Our ideas, our attitudes, are called “mental set”. We all have a way of thinking that affects how we learn and how we interpret what we learn.

An example I read about is an experiment where two sets of teachers were told about classes of pupils they were to instruct. These classes were composed of children who were tested for aptitude and were composed of students of average ability. All the classes were composed of students of the same range of abilities. But some teachers were told that their students were of inferior intelligence and abilities, while the other teachers were told theirs were of superior, even genius level ability. After the passage of time it was found that the teachers who were told their students were inferior, gave their students low grades, while the other teachers gave their classes high marks. There was no difference in performance, but very different grades were given, based on the pre-conceived ideas in the teachers’ minds.

This experiment was even tried on random samples of laboratory rats. They were run through mazes and scored on time and how many times they made wrong turns, et cetera. The rats were of the same ability, but the scorers gave them scores based on what they believed their intelligence was. This is mental set, what we tend to bring to our studies. We are all victims of predisposed ideas, but when we come to this great book, we must try to leave them behind and study with fresh minds. It is very difficult to do. Some of the great teachers of all time fail to do it at times as I hope to show you as we study together. The enemy of learning is called What Everybody Knows. Let me illustrate this syndrome by asking you a question. What kind of a man was Ebeneezer Scrooge?”

The class, anticipating a study of Revelation, was quiet. They were a little disturbed by Glen’s approach. He knew they would be, but felt they needed a little shakeup to free their minds.

“Anyone?” Glen asked again.

A lady in the back spoke timidly, sensing it was a trick question, “Well, he was a selfish man, he never thought of anyone else but himself “. Glen walked to the blackboard and wrote “SELFISH, SELF-CENTERED”.

“Thank you, anyone else?”

A man in the front row volunteered “He was a miser, all he thought about was money”. Glen, still at the blackboard, wrote “STINGY, MONEY GRUBBER”.

“Good," he said, "we’re getting the picture." Without further prompting another person spoke, “Scrooge was cheerless, grumpy, rude”. Glen then wrote these words on the blackboard. Then he thanked them for speaking up and added his own description. “Scrooge hated Christmas, wouldn’t you all agree? Does everyone agree that these characteristics accurately portray the character of Ebeneezer Scrooge?”

There were murmured assents and nodded heads. Glen hesitated before he sprang his trap.

“There is someone who disagrees with our description though, a famous writer, Charles Dickens, the author of the story A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Let me quote him:

“A merry Christmas, Bob,” said Scrooge, with an earnestness that could not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the back. “A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you for many a year. I’ll raise your salary, and endeavour to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob. Make up the fires, and buy another coal-scuttle before you dot another i, Bob Cratchit!” Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became a good friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, ...

The Revelation class was concentrating on Glen’s words, some frowning, no one very happy with what he was saying. He continued, referring to his own comments on Scrooge and Christmas, - "and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge."

“I have the feeling that you feel you have been tricked, even betrayed, by having your conceptions drawn out and then contradicted by the text of the story. That is why I included my own ideas about Scrooge on the black board.”

A woman asked, “Your quotations were from the very end of the story. That’s not what Scrooge was like most of the time.”

“Yes” said Glen, “But the moral of this story is the transformation of a man’s character and personality .Yet no matter how many times my question is asked, answers almost identical to ours will be given. You may feel I betrayed you, set you up. But I want to show that what we are all told is true, what we see portrayed, concerning a story, often contradicts what the author himself has written. And this applies to the Bible, perhaps most of all.

We are conditioned to believe something, and even if it is the opposite of the text, we believe as we are conditioned to believe.” People shifted in their seats. A lady whispered to her husband “I came for a class on Revelation and I’m being lectured on psychology.”

Glen continued, “You may be saying “I came to study Revelation, but instead I am getting a class on mind control.” The lady who had made the whispered comment sat upright, blushing. Had he heard what she said? she wondered.

“Before we get into Revelation, I have one more question to pose. This time you are alerted to my methods and intentions, so you should not be caught in any trap. Here is my question:

Who am I? I was born in rural Kentucky in 1808. For a time I lived in a log cabin. I rose from my humble origins and served as president during the Civil War.”

No one spoke for a time, sensing that Glen was trying to trap them. Finally an older man spoke.”You have made an error in one of your facts, Lincoln was not born in 1808. He was born February 12, 1809!” The man settled back in satisfaction, waiting for Glen’s reply.

“Yes, sir”, said Glen, “You are absolutely correct concerning the date of Lincoln’s birth. But the man I am referring to is Jefferson Davis, not Lincoln.”

Again the man spoke up. “But you said he was president during the Civil War!”

Glen made his point with patience, “And so he was, he was president of the Confederate States of America during the War Between the States. I never said he was president of the United States.”

Glen changed his stance and spoke quietly, “Folks, there are two points I want to make and then we will begin our study of Revelation:”

He walked to the board and erased the descriptions he had written there.In their place he wrote:

As you begin your Bible study, leave your pre-conceived ideas behind you..


Similarities do not prove identities.