Friday, May 31, 2013

Mangling John 3:16

Ever see the signs at a football game that say "John 3:16"? There are even John 3:16 churches. It seems so simple. Since God loves everybody, everybody is the "elect".

According to this He wishes to save every man, woman, and child, but He does not manage to do it. Santa Claus goes around the world in a single night and brings gifts to all children, but Almighty God, Creator of the Universe has not been able to get His message to any but a little flock.

Now, I do not believe God loves everyone. Is this shocking to you? I hope not.

As I studied the Bible I became a believer in limited atonement, to many, a horrible doctrine. So I was stopped by two ideas. First, why does God not get His message to everyone. And what about John 3:16? Let me say, good Bible study is not simple. You have to dig out the meaning many times.

I began to look. I found there are seven definitions of "world" in the Bible". Then I found there are three definitions of "love". To those who spend more time looking at the sports page than the Bible, this seems rather complicated. Could there really be more to John 3:16 than the "fast quoters" say?

Here goes again, but if one looks up every reference to the words "world" and "love"--and it is easy with our modern concordances--a different pattern emerges. Imagine the Jews, learning that God loves people of every race and nation. At the first church council, in Acts fifteen we learn that God is gathering His people from everywhere. Not all people, but from each nation. This is the "world of believers". Notice to Israel; God is bringing in people from all over!

A good friend of mine worked for IRS. An order came down to set up pictures that were ethically inclusive. The local office tried and came up with all kinds of people to pose for a big poster. He was amazed at the variety of people in his local office. I am not certain if there were any Australian Bush People, or Eskimos, but it was very diverse.

God has opened up His kingdom to an even more expansive group. No one is excluded because of origin. He has opened the doors to the world. This is the world of John 3:16. It does not include all people, but includes people from the whole world.

If you do not agree with this, I ask of you one question: "How much time have you spent studying this scripture?" If you gave it only a quick look, I will say, "Is this any way to treat the Word of God?"

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Sweet Savor Unto God

Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God's people. Revelation 5:8, NIV

It was nearing Christmas as I began to make my night time rounds of a huge food warehouse. I expected the pleasant aroma of fresh strawberries, and I even enjoyed the odors of a gigantic section of pet food. I thought of all the happy chompers, dogs and cats, that these boxes and bags would make happy.

I had to check fire systems, pump them up if necessary, and I was doing this as I came onto a deserted truck loading dock. At once I was struck by the aroma of masses of Christmas trees. They were all spiral cord wrapped and had been delivered just that day.

Now, understand, by this time of my life I had given up on Christmas years ago. But the scent of the trees brought back such powerful memories--my sister and I in the early dark morning, plugging in the tree lights and seeing our array of gifts--came to mind. I realized how deeply our lives are influenced by sweet aromas.

From Exodus to Revelation there are references to incense. There is a special incense reserved only to be offered by the priests, to God. Now, under the New Covenant, we are all priests, and through our prayers we continue to offer sweet incense to God. It is so comforting to know that the least of us can do this. The infirm, even the paralyzed, can please Him with the aroma of our prayers.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Before He is Born

But the Angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah ; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. Luke 1:13-15, NIV

You know how fanatical I am about things like "age of accountability" and infant baptism, things like that. I believe infants should be baptized, but not in the opposite practice of denying the responsibility of children below a certain age, usually twelve.

The story of Zechariah and Elizabeth is so remarkable, because of their old age and the miraculous nature of their son, John the Baptist. Not the least of the features of this story is the filling of John with the Holy Spirit prior to his birth.

I understand that it was the practice of the Chinese to count a child as one year old at birth. Even long ago they were aware of the period of gestation and considered you a person even before you were born.

Then came the story of John who leaped inside his mother when the birth to be of Jesus was announced. How about the rest of us? Can the Holy Spirit influence us while we are yet unborn?

At the very least can a child be dedicated to God so early? I think of Hannah praying to God for a son who was to be Samuel.

Could it be that the work of God is taking place apart from the knowledge and will of little children? I hope we will credit the work of God, apart from the will of man. Man's will has been raised above the will of God, and almost deified.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Necessity of Evil People

As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. So Jesus told him, "What you are about to do, do quickly." John 13:27

This is such a revealing scene! Jesus has just identified the one who was to betray him. Earlier we are told that Jesus knew all along who would betray him. He went so far as to say that this person was of the devil. Instead of condemning Judas, our Lord waits until this time to reveal him and sends him out to do his evil deed.

Why did he send Judas to betray him? Why did Jesus not expel Judas early on? More importantly, we would ask, why would Jesus choose Judas in the first place? He deliberately chose his betrayer that scripture should be fulfilled. For, in the big picture, Judas was necessary for the plan of God to be complete.

Without the betrayal, Jesus would not have been crucified. If Jesus had not died for us, we would bear our sin and condemnation. The plan of God requires evil people and their evil deeds to be accomplished.

But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: 'He who shared my bread has turned against me.' (John 13:18).

Monday, May 27, 2013

Escape to the Pork Festival

I had been studying the book of Daniel intensively for four years. It is all I talked about. I really don't know how my wife could stand it. After awhile I couldn't stand it.

I had a uniform jacket I wore as a night shift security guard. I kept a book on Daniel in it. I would even read by parking lot lights on my rounds. Not that I did not love the subject, but after four years I felt I could use a little diversion.

My wife wanted to go to a fair she had heard about, a pork festival, a county away. Maybe she was thinking it could divert my mania. I love fairs, the junk food, the exhibits, the family crowds so innocent and polite. We happily drove there, far away from commerce and, for awhile, I thought, the study of Daniel.

We watched a parade, with a great band and marchers. This was the year's top event in the county and these folks were good! Behind the band there were drum majorets. Although a light rain had begun, a lady hurled her baton high in the air and caught it. She was that good.

When the parade had passed, racks of meat were brought into grills in the street. Soon they were cooking. Smoke filled the air. Hundreds of pounds of chops and sausages were prepared by men who knew what they were doing. We both tried them. They were perfect.

When we could eat no more, we walked onto the fairgrounds to look at the displays. A large collection of antique engines were on display and their owners had them running. Beautifully polished and painted, they looked like new. I was particularly interested in the old hit or miss single cylinder engines with their heavy flywheels.

We walked into a large tent for hobbyists and collectors. The first exhibit was of ancient coins. In prominent display was one of the first coins struck with a die, instead of being poured. It was silver, and showed a man wearing a ram's head helmet. It was of Alexander the Great, right out of Daniel, chapter 8, verse 3.

Oh, Jonah, did you think you could run away from your mission to Ninevah? And, oh, lowly security guard, did you think you could get away from the Book of Daniel?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Limited Atonement

And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. Acts 13:48

Do you want to make people upset--really mad? I don't, but the doctrine of limited atonement surely will. You can imagine how I know. First of all, the idea that God has not ordained everyone to salvation made me mad. How could anyone be so cruel as to say that only an elect few are meant to have eternal life? After all, "God is love", and that should settle it.

In my mind and the common mind, God loves everyone and offers them salvation. Most of the time his efforts fail. As an evangelist God has a poor record. It could be from lack of missionaries, or lack of funds, but He fails.

I mean you can buy a Coke anywhere on Earth, but not a Bible. It's that bad. The people who don't hear the Gospel will go to hell and suffer forever, though God wants them to be saved. This is a popular view, in fact, by far the most popular.

Now, another doctrine is that God has ordained a certain number of people to eternal life and has not failed to save any of them. This is the doctrine of Limited Atonement. Not that God's atonement is partial and some people are "kinda atoned" for, but that God never meant for everyone to be atoned for at all.

This idea shocks people. It can break up friendships. People who say they are filled and running over with the Holy Spirit, will turn on you when you talk about it. I don't mean if you try to force the idea upon them, but you are not even allowed to express your belief.

This is not surprising. Truth often does this. It is so contrary to our fallen human nature, it hurts to even hear it. "Ouch! you just stepped on my idea of God as a kindly grandfather figure." Paul expresses the nature of God when he says "Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God:" (Romans 11:22).

"But this limits the power of God!" people will say. Quite the opposite, it is those who maintain that God wants to save everyone, but fails, that would limit the power of God.

Imagine a person maintaining that God only has a few who He wants to save, and never fails to save any of them. It is a contrast between one man who sets out to woo every woman in town and gets rejected in his efforts, and another man who sets his heart on one woman and wins her as his bride.

My days of trying to convince people as to how they should believe are long past. Now, I just ask them to examine the Bible, and then I move on. I hope people believe the doctrine of limited atonement though. If they do it will bring them peace and joy.

All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. John 6:37

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Vulture in Chief

We know that in nature there are creatures that are scavengers.

A lady found a beautiful shell. She brought it home to place it on her mantle. It was then that she discovered that the creature that had inhabited the shell was yet in it and gave off a foul odor. She told her neighbor about her disappointment. The neighbor lady told her to place the shell near an ant hill.

She did, and soon the ants had cleaned her shell perfectly. Now, the shell could be placed on her mantle.

There is a hierarchy of creatures that do similar tasks. I submit that Satan the devil is the highest in the order. Even after the millennium, the earth will be teaming with evil people. It will be at this point that Satan leads them to their eventual end. This will be the final purification of the Earth, making it ready for New Jerusalem to descend on a New Earth, finally fit, and with all evil gone forever.

When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth-Gog and Magog-and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand of the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God's people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them.
Revelation 20:7-9, NIV

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Great Grace Riot

They finally got it settled down. It began at a church with "grace" in its name. Nothing wrong there of course. Everyone in the church, led by the pastor (people called him Reverend) fully approved of this doctrine, within limits. "Saved by grace" is foundational to our belief," said the pastor, "but within moderation, as in all things."

He was trying to talk to the believer--show him he would meet him half way on this issue. "You mean people are saved by partial grace?" the believer answered.

"Well, God's grace is not in question," the pastor replied. "It's just that you must cooperate with God. You must do your part."

The believer considered this statement. "Then you believe in the Partial Fall theory, that in Adam's fall all mankind fell, except for their free wills?"

The pastor was taken aback by that way of putting it. Others, like Catholics, might espouse the Partial Fall, but he was proud not to be one of them. His humility in this regard had long been his greatest source of pride. "Oh, no, no, don't get me wrong. I believe in the complete fall. It's in the Bible."

"But you believe man still has free will. So if he is completely fallen, where did he get this free will?"

The pastor would not back down. "Even the most wicked of us still has the ability to choose between right and wrong," he said. "That is what makes us human."

The believer laughed. "I m not laughing at you Pastor. I just thought of my cat, who used to get on our kitchen table when we were gone. When she heard one of us at the door she would jump off the table and slink away in guilt. I guess the cat had free will too?"

"I hope you are not taking this doctrine so lightly as to apply it to a cat," he said. "Guilt is just an acknowledgement of wrong doing, as in the case of Cain, who knew it was wrong to kill his brother."

This argument was going nowhere. The pastor was trying to help the believer see the error in his extremist view. Finally he played is ace. "You haven't been reading that man Calvin, have you?" he said accusingly.

"Well now Pastor," the believer said, "Calvin didn't invent the idea that some of us are predestined to salvation. God did. That's why the Apostle wrote of it in Ephesians, for instance."

The pastor tried one more time. "Have you heard the term, 'God is my co-pilot?'" he asked the believer. "That is all I am trying to tell you. God, as great as he is, must have our permission, The use our free will, in order to save us. Otherwise, He is helpless to act."

The believer seemed to agree. "I am beginning to see your point. That explains why John the Baptist, still unborn, leaped in his mother's womb, when Mary told Elizabeth that she would bear the Savior. Baby John was already using his free will!"

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Tuna Know the Net is Closing

The tuna know, and the other fish too. Someone has come into their homeland of the sea, and attracted them with lights so powerful that they can be seen from space. Their vast ranges encircled with nets are being enclosed around them. Soon they will be hauled onto decks where the slaughter begins.

Proud, sleek, swordfish will have their swords hacked off with hatchets rendering them helpless as they lie upon the decks, dying. Porpoises caught in the nets will suffocate. Blood of the trapped will cover the decks. Those not yet caught are free, but the very water they live in becomes more radioactive and polluted every day.

But they are only the creatures of the sea. All their deaths can do is to show us our fate in a terrible bloody play.

Observe. Our turn will come. For we are the fish, and our killers attract us with the lights of hundreds of millions of television sets and of malls and sports stadiums. Those who would disarm us are like the men with hatchets, waiting to render us helpless. The nets are closing in and many of us are as powerless as the trapped fish.

There is so much more I would like to say, but my show is coming on.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Talking Her Way Out of Rape

This will be a tribute to George Washington Crane. Along with being a Psychiatrist, he was a Sunday school teacher in a little old church built atop the roof of a skyscraper in Chicago. He was a Freudian doctor who analyzed dreams along those lines.

As a little boy I would sit on the front steps waiting for the afternoon newspaper. I loved to read the comics. I still do. But in those days I was happy to read Dr. Crane's daily column. His specialty was practical advice. Talk about teaching! This man did it all the time. He had a blackboard in his kitchen to instruct his children with.

He operated the first computerized dating service. Computers in those days used punch cards, but they worked. His rules were: you need to send a photo and some background data. Your first date must be going to church together.

A young man sent his information, and the good doctor found a match and forwarded his picture to a young lady. Trouble is, her sister was curious and opened the letter. She and the young man went to church together. Imagine stealing a potential husband from your own sister.

Doctor Crane originated The Compliment Club. Find something positive about people and tell them. "Everybody wants to feel important" was his advice, so "toot the other person's horn."

A teacher wrote to say she had a problem student. She could think of no virtues that she had to praise. One day while she was talking to this girl, another teacher came in and stood by. Quickly, the teacher brushed the little girl's hair back and said, "Doesn't she have a beautiful forehead?"

The child was amazed to hear a compliment. Apparently she had been starved for attention, which she had tried to get through her misbehavior. The teacher lavished more praise on her once unruly student and watched her behavior change.

But a greater test of The Compliment Club came. A lady told the doctor that she had been driving with a man she knew, when he pulled into an isolated place and said he was going to rape her. Amazingly she thought of using the compliment club principal to defend herself!

Her defense was this. "You are so strong I could not resist you. But I trusted you to be a gentleman. You don't have to force yourself on a woman. You are good looking and have nice manners. I wouldn't go with you if I didn't like you. Please take me home. We can still be friends and I'll forget this." He intended to penetrate her body, but she penetrated his mind.

Dr. Crane, you were a down to earth genius, and a great Christian man. I wish to "toot the horn" for one who helped so many people.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Angels, You Make Me Laugh!

And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear me may laugh with me. Gen. 21:6

Such a solemn story in a way. After all it describes our forefather in the faith, from whom we are all descended. Haven't we seen portraits of Abraham visited by the angels? It was a wonderful moment. The angels told Abraham he would have descendants beyond numbering.

But I don't think of organ music and solemn assemblies in churches as I read this wonderful story. Our forefather Isaac was child to parents who were certain they would never have children. After all Abraham was ninety nine, and Sarah in her nineties. Yet, three angels visited them and told them they would, indeed, have a son. We are all familiar with the story and that Isaac's name means laughter.

Abraham is said to laugh in the Bible, over his son. Sarah, inside the tent laughed too, though she fearfully denied it. How human they seem, as you read this. Let's remember how it all began. Our progenitors could laugh, and did. Though there is so much sorrow associated with our faith, let us remember it began with laughter by the people whom God blessed.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Please Call Me Larry

In all the books I have read and the movies I have I've watched I have never seen myself portrayed, except one time. That would be Larry, in "The Razor's Edge".

I never looked like Tyrone Power (I was more the Robert Redford type--kidding), but I was once in love with a woman who looked like Gene Tierney. We grew up together and when she moved away, she wrote me a letter saying she had cried herself to sleep--she loved me.

I loved her too. We could connect with just a look, like no one I have ever known. She begged me to go to college, get a good job, so we could marry. I had other ideas. I did not realize it at the time, but I would not be happy with any career on earth, until I found the truth.

It may sound noble, but it's just that nothing in the world called to me. I could not concentrate on anything except my search, even for the sake of love.

We used to ride on my motorcycle on beautiful summer nights. We shared a hammock under a big shade tree. We had our own private jokes. You know what it's like when you are in love.

I got a job as a laborer. She went to college. Her ambition was to marry a Phd, she told people. The next time I saw her she was as cold as ice. I was no longer in the picture.

I found she was an atheist and a materialist. Many years later she still is, though her brother, who became a Christian, pleaded with her. She told someone she now has "fond memories" of me. Way too late.

I just watched "The Razor's Edge"--pretty close to my biography, except Larry went to India and became a searcher for the truth, though never finding it. I stayed near where I had been born, and the Truth found me.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Devil's Periscope

If I were asked what has been the number one greatest factor that I have seen that has changed America, I would say, unhesitatingly, "television." I was 17 years old before my family got a set. I was the last one in my high school class to get one.

We were given a test at school which asked us to identify people by their photos. I did quite well, identifying the Duke of Edinburough, for instance, which almost no one got. But I did not know a popular tv newscaster. I had been separated out by the lack of a tv set.

There was an experiment on subliminal influence conducted many years ago which I was the subject of. A quick message, below the threshold of conciousness was broadcast. It said, "Your doorbell is ringing." I remember jumping up and opening the front door and finding no one there.

Shortly after this I received a phone call by a survey company that asked, "Did you just answer your door bell to find no one there?" Someone was canvasing the public to see how effective their technique was.

Then I watched a tv show that had a man hiding in a barn under loose hay. The bad guy looking for him began to use a scythe to probe the hay. There was a crude outline of the angel of death, a skeleton with a scythe, superimposed on the searcher. It was a white outline. I supposed it was supposed to heighten the fright of the scene. They were trying!

A British comedy was shown, about this time, showing the invention of tv by the devil. He was observing the effect of his new invention through a periscope thrust up from hell. I remember his joy at seeing the results tv was having on people, causing all kinds of strife and other bad effects. "It's working!" he said.

Let me say that this portrayal was almost the opposite of what the movie showed, though it was funny and getting near the truth. Aldous Huxley was interviewed about the best way to use electronic media to influence people. "It is most effective," he said, "when a preexisting belief is superimposed over the image you want to project."

An example is a politician who wanted to convey his honesty by flashing the image of "honest Abe" Lincoln when the politician was being shown. Imagine how long ago that was. Yet "It's working!"

By putting us into an alpha state, we become susceptible to subconcious messages. The scanning frequency of tv sets was chosen to do this very thing. It puts us into a receiving mode.

We must not trust the motives of those who contrived this hypnosis machine. When I hear people say, "But there are some good programs," I know they have missed the point. It's like sending your young daughter out on a date and saying, "But there are some good boys."

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Oh No, Manna Again!

We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick. Numbers 11:5

God delivered the Israelites from the oppressive bondage of Egypt. He defeated the horses and chariots of the greatest army on Earth for them, and gave them miraculous food. He was present in the day as a cloud and a pillar of fire by night. Their response was to complain about the menu! Can anyone remember when Israel in the wilderness was not complaining about something?

No wonder that although over a million left Egypt, only two made it into the Holy Land. Even Moses did not make it.

Apparently manna was too bland. When God gave them quail, they ate so much that they got sick. I guess that if their tents had had TV sets, they would have complained that they didn't have enough channels. I mean, who wants to watch reruns of "Egyptian Idol?"

Enough of my getting on Israel. Those people have long ago turned to dust. Soon it may be our turn to complain.

I once saw a cartoon of a monk in the checkout aisle. His baskart was filled with boxes marked "manna". At least someone was happy with what God had provided.

I believe the days of the great food markets may soon be over. I read a terrible story of starvation in America. It was during the years of the great depression.A woman's children were literally starving. Someone brought her some food. In the kitchen they found a dog's head. She had cooked the rest of it to save her children.

To control America, the easy route will be to shut off the food supply. It may happen. God may once again give his people food. I hope we will be grateful.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Be a Pessimist, It's Such a Joy!

The worldly hope men set their hearts upon
Turns ashes-or it prospers; and anon,
Like snow upon the desert's dusty face,
Lighting a little hour or two-was gone.
- Quatrain XVII Omar Khayyam

Now I'm not telling you what to be. I hate that, don't you? But I can't help but recommend a way of life--a philosophy that works for me. Maybe you already are a pessimist, so you know how it can set your feet on the right path of life and never let you down.

Am I being sarcastic? Not for a minute. It's just that optimism is not in order. Not for the long term. I hope, if you are mature that you are set for the long term. Short range optimism can be such a deadly trap. Ask anyone who has married the wrong person, believing that they can change.

I think of people simply not equipped to fulfill their ambitions. I had a friend who loved to play the piano. It came naturally to her. She had high hopes until a teacher told her, "Don't ever consider becoming a professional." Musical people know. They have an ear for real talent, and can be brutally frank.

The Hollywood version of this story is that this lady ignored the negative advice and went on to become a great pianist. But this is real life. The lady continued to play. I like to hear her play. But she became a realist-pessimist and abandoned her career hopes.

End of story? Not at all. What she did was to counsel people over the phone as part of a rape crisis ministry, and she is very skilled at it. Instead of her fingers making beautiful music, she uses her voice--which really is a pleasure to hear--to give sound counsel to people who are in deep trouble. Pessimism triumphs again!

Let's apply this to a much wider scale, let's say to even the whole world. Those who have never read the book of Revelation, for example, picture their efforts to reform" the world (and maybe you) as the answer to the great evils of the present system. Have you ever seen a disillusioned optimist? The dashing of such vain hopes can be a sad thing to behold.

When I finally caught on, this world is not it, I started to have real hope. In the best of situations, say a happy marriage, it will end in death. I want more, a lot more. Only eternity and seeing the face of God will satisfy me. It is promised to us all.

Pessimism is a world view, and limited to this present earth. When it comes to what lies beyond I am a complete optimist.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Hiawatha With a Saucepan

When I was a kid I wanted to live like an Indian. It seemed the ideal life to me. There you are in a woods bordering on a lake. Your territory has more raccoons than people. No schools of course, no traffic, only the silence of a big forest. I would have a birch bark canoe and learn to be pretty good with my bow and arrows.

Now that I am old I am reverting to that dream. It really never left me. This way of life has always been there. Talk about minimalist! The thing is, I really want a modern convenience to make life a whole lot easier, something that no Indian ever had. In my dream world I would eat Indian food, but I would cook it in a stainless steel sauce pan with a strainer lid. Imagine the old guy (probably delusional) dreaming of such a thing.

Not long ago I visited a local park about five minutes out of town. I drove along a back road and there by a little dead end drive I saw a young man and a little boy about five. They were roasting a whole deer on a spit over a huge fire. Never seen anything like it. The Hiawatha spirit was still alive.

Now here is where I would depart from Hiawatha. I would leave the deer alone. I would go on a John the Baptist diet. That's where the sauce pan would come in. A big item on the menu might be grass seed with Amaranth, cooked in my dream sauce pan.

Can you imagine an old guy, dreaming by the fire, but not of times past. He dreams of a vegetable diet, cooked in his copper clad stainless steel sauce pan with strainer lid. He will never be a Brave, but he might make it as an an Apprentice Squaw.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Time of Harvest

Surely Jesus would return soon. People used different indicators to bolster their hopes. The Apostasy of the church was what many looked for. But until that blessed return time we had to live by being as close to nature as we could. Some stockpiled food, including their own canned food, hoping to stay in place and wait it out.

Others, more pessimistic, decided to flee to the wildernesses all around the country. More people deserted farms and moved to cities, leaving farm land behind. Floods left much land deserted. These areas had been relegated to flood plains, not fit to live in or even farm. These expanses of abandoned land provided an opportunity for those fleeing.

They were following the advice of a famous preacher, "Don't put your tent stakes in too deep." Like the patriarchs, they were always ready to move. They lived on the edge, literally, siting their camps near forests, to provide wood and triple foliage air cover if needed. They took little food with them, just cooking pots, for the food they intended to live on.

Almost all considered their expectations as unrealistic. Those fleeing looked upon the ones who intended to stay put as the unrealistic ones. They envisioned not just food seizures, but people seizures and likely burials in mass graves filled with plastic coffins.

The gathering of weed seeds was to be their main crop. Many of those who had rehearsed this practice found their favorite tools were Japanese sickles. Seed heads were cut off and beaten against the insides of a pail. There were those who preferred the pillowcase method of gathering seeds. Those who had bought older Japanese tools owned some that were not even radioactive. They looked forward to the gathering in of the seeds.

Soon it would be time for Jesus to return in the clouds and gather them in.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Taking Up Cards

Never cared for cards. I told the therapy lady in the hospital, who loved to play, that I would rather die than play cards. Rather than being offended, she thought it was funny and said she would tell her friends.

A man said the police broke up his bridge game, they shined a spotlight under the bridge.

But here I am eagerly awaiting the delivery of a card game deck. It says, "for all ages, edible wild foods." It's that kind of deck. The only spades in this deck will be the kind you use for digging up plant roots.

My edible plant mania has gotten out of hand. I was watching a rerun of the English crime drama "Midsummer Murders". I felt that a little escape would be good for me. But as soon as I saw an outdoor scene I fixed on the plants. "Get the lovely woman and the fancy car out of the way so I can see the weeds!" Can that be Queen Anne's lace, the wild carrot?" Some escape.

It doesn't help that the star of the show is John Nettles. I had just printed out a file on the herb wild nettles. Mr. Nettles does a good job, but he can't replace my hero, Inspector Morse. I used to watch him way back when I was sane.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Man on the Little Blue Tractor

"...After spending a long time watching my sheep and reading through the scientific literature, I finally found some clues, the kind that so often leads me to wonder if farmers shouldn't take a deep breath, step back, and consider the possibility that they are going in the wrong direction."
The Irony of Giant Ragweed / The Contrary Farmer, by Gene Logsdon, par. 3

Years ago I was reading through a small tractor projects booklet. It showed a man using a miniature tractor. He was planting crops for a roadside market. He had been mowing down a stand of wild Jerusalem artichokes. Suddenly he realized that the plants he was mowing down had more value than the ones he intended to plant.

I have been studying wild plants--really studying--Drawers of file folders and a growing number of books. I love it. I hope to learn about a lot of useful crops, growing for free, waiting for us to harvest them.

First, I learned that pigweed is really interfering with farming. It grows so thickly in fields that it overshadows traditional crops. It has become immune to Roundup. It grows so thickly that a harvester of 200 horsepower stalls when trying to mow it down. Nothing, besides hand weeding can eliminate it, and sometimes this is done. But it is costly.

Then I studied about the Giant Ragweed. Same thing.

These are two weeds, impossible to eliminate, loved by animals both domestic and wild. Awhile back indigenous people harvested the prolific seeds of these and similar plants. They used them for their grain.

These two plants have some qualities in common. They do not need to be planted, cultivated, or sprayed. The seed heads produce thousands of seeds per plant that can be made into flour or eaten as cereal.

Can we learn from sheep and wild birds? Can we lower ourselves to hand harvest or let poor people work for us or glean so they do not grow hungry? Someone could design a harvester with a narrow swath that could handle such plants.

I know a young couple with a small farm. They complained that their equipment broke down just when they were harvesting. Then they discovered corn knives. They fed themselves and their animals with this simple implement. Not hundreds of acres, but they fed themselves. Are there brave souls who will live this way--no chemicals, no gasoline?

The nutritional value of Giant Ragweed seed is greater than any domesticated grain. Animals that eat it flourish. Seeds for ragweed are sold for those who wish to feed wild animals like quail. Maybe it could feed us some day?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

How Unsearchable Are His Judgments unsearchable are his judgements, and his ways past finding out! Romans 11:33

My wife and I used to take our Irish Setter Emmy for rides, she loved to ride. Once after about a five hundred mile return from vacation, we returned to our car for the rest of our luggage. She thought we were going for another ride and eagerly jumped back into the car.

But one of our rides was to the vet for her annual shots. When we arrived she jumped out of the car eager for a walk. Then her sensitive nose caught the scent of the doctor's office. She lunged so hard that she pulled the leash from my hand and trailed it behind her as she ran from car to car and jumped up on them as if to say, "Can I get into your car? These people want to torture me!"

Am I any wiser towards God? I used to struggle when I wanted a refuge from Him--"Can you hide me?" So many times I hear supposedly wise people, little Solomons, who would question their Maker. It is common for them to ask, "Why does he do this? What are his reasons?"

Worst of all, perhaps, are those who attempt to give the answers to these questions. Please, preachers and would-be wise men, do not even try.

Like a wild horse, I needed to be tamed. I had to learn to trust my Master. A little Psalm says it for me. I would like to share it with you.

Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine: eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.
Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child.
Psalm 131:1, 2

I am so glad that God is infinite and beyond all understanding.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Bathsheba and Her Son

Wherefore Nathan spake unto Bathsheba the mother of Solomon, saying, Hast thou not heard that Adonijah the son of Haggith doth reign, and David our lord knoweth it not? 1 Kings 1:11

Is it not a pity that Bathsheba is assigned such a passive place to many? Cliche Power only gives her one role, again and again, as the object of David's lust and his motive for the murder of her husband. Yet her name is mentioned eleven times in Scripture and her statements in many cases are pivotal.

King David did not have long to live, and in his weakness, Adonijah shouldered his way into the line of succession to his throne. Solomon was to have been given the throne of his father, but another took his place. Nathan, the prophet, interceded. David had sworn that Solomon would reign after him. Yet another had taken his place. Nathan wanted to know why.

It is so easy to imagine Nathan confronting David in person. Yet instead, he went to Bathsheba to remind her of this state of affairs. He told her to go to the king and plead her case and then he would back her up. How dramatic a scene when Bathsheba goes before David with the very kingdom at stake.

The Bible tells us that she bowed to the king in submission. So much had transpired between them by this time. It started with sex, but now both had matured in their reverence towards one another. Bathsheba implores David to keep his promise and put her son on the throne. Her life and that of Solomon were in danger from this usurper.

David kept his word. He gave his throne to Solomon. Bathsheba bowed before him with her face to the ground. Why did Nathan not precede Bathsheba, but had her to plead with David first? What is more powerful and heartfelt than a mother pleading for her son?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mrs. Dog Dung

Jezebel's body will be like dung on the ground in the plot of Jezreel , so that no one will be able to say, "This is Jezebel." 2 Kings 9:37

Shortly after she put on her eye makeup and fixed her hair, Jezebel, wife of King Ahab, was thrown from a window to be eaten by dogs. She was married into the royal family, but instead of being buried in a tomb, the yard man picked her up with a Pooper Scooper.

A short list of the sins of this Phoenician princess, who married into the royal family of Israel, would show why even her name is hated. She caused her husband to worship Baal. She killed many of the prophets of God, she contrived to have Naboth killed so her husband could have Naboth's vineyard. So her manner of death is appropriate.

As far as I can see, her wickedness is the most outstanding of any woman. In Revelation 2:20 Jesus invokes her name in condemning the sins of the church of Thyatira. The whore of Babylon may dress up to try to appeal to the faithful, but to the believer she is still dog dung.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Og's Bed

(Og king of Bashan was the last of the Rephaites. His bed was decorated with iron and was more than nine cubits long and four cubits wide. It is still in Rabbah of the Ammonites.) Deuteronomy 3:11

Why write about a man's bed that was about twelve feet long? Moderns will say this is just the size of his bed. Don't believe in this "giants" business. But the Bible has quite a bit to say about giants, besides the famous passage in Genesis 6:4.

For example, giant men were obstacles to Israel's conquest of the Holy Land--obstacles that were overcome. It is a mystery to many that the giants in Genesis 6 were pre-flood and must have perished in the water. So why do they show up after the flood? Scientists would say that these progeny of fallen angels and earthly women left in the remnants recessive genes, which emerged much later.

I saw an illustration of Goliath recently where he was portrayed with five fingers on his hands, whereas Goliath had six. Just a drawing, of course.

I once received a braille letter from a young man in India. He mentioned that he had six fingers on each hand and was shunned because of this. A not-uncommon surgery in some parts of the world is to remove extra fingers, and for just this reason.

I recently watched videos on skeletons of giants that have been discovered all over the world, as in the state of Kentucky and the western states. One video mentioned that although many complete skeletons of giants have been unearthed, they have mostly disappeared and only photographs remain.

What could be the motive for remaining silent over these discoveries? After all, a human legbone as long as a modern man is newsworthy. There is a great lack of objectivity in anthropology. Evolution must be maintained and the Bible discredited as a collection of myths. But a field of knowledge called crypto-anthropology is emerging. The devil and his children are losing out to the truth of God.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but you seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.
John 8:37

I just read an article that says that the deepest truths cannot be put into words. And all along I thought they could! I thought that the deepest truths were in the Bible in the form of words, and that the Son of God is called The Word. I still do.

I see around us a movement away from words.

I heard of a lady in a church I recently attended who objected to the music of her church, and to the meaningless hymns. You might think she was older, but she was not.

When I heard of her plight I bought two books on church music from the point of view of those who really understand its structure. I had someone give them to her. I hope they helped by defining the effects of modern words and music in the church.

It is said that modern trends in all-music nights and vague sounding, repetative hymns are to reach out to the young. Rather, I would love to see the young reach out to God.

I used to work for a large food company and read some of their literature on the music used in stores. They figured that every distraction of a shopper yielded more purchases and therefore more profit. Store music was designed to un-focus the mind and leave it open to suggestion--"Don't you need this?" They even quantified the value of distractions in dollars and cents.

I was looking for parts, nuts and bolts, in a large hardware store. While I looked, music was blaring out with words chanting on a meaningless theme. It hit me that this was my experience in the church I had been attending. Unlike traditional hymns, the melodies I heard there, were never resolved. That is the best way this non-musicologist can describe them.

The books I gave to the lady said similar things. When God gave us His great revelations, they were in the form of words. In so many minds these great truths, in the form of words, have given place to music and vague words. His words find no place in many people.

I am sure that David's harp was beautiful, but there is nothing to compare to his words. Jesus spoke them on the cross.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Rhoda, Open the Door!

Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. Acts 12:13, NIV

This charming story about a servant named Rhoda deserves more attention. We have a miracle, and then an understandable disbelief.

In theater I suppose Rhoda's part would be considered so minor as to go unrecorded. But God has chosen to include Rhoda in the narrative and even given us her name. So much can be made of this that one can be tempted to draw a number of lessons from it. But first, let's catch up with the bigger picture.

Peter is to go before Herod the next day, no doubt to be tried and executed. A group is praying for him. But Peter is being guarded by a series of guards and is chained between two of them. Suddenly an angel wakes him and miraculously the chains fall away.

The angel leads him past the first and second guards and out onto a street. When they have traversed the street, the angel disappears. Peter is on his own.

He comes to the house where they are praying for him and knocks on the door. He has been released by an angel from prison, but now he needs to knock and ask for someone to let him in. Rhoda hears his voice and recognizes it. She runs to tell the others that Peter is at the door. In her excitement she does not open it and leaves Peter to continue knocking.

Those praying do not believe Peter is there. They think perhaps it is his angel. Rhoda returns to open the door and Peter tells of his miraculous delivery from prison.

This would make an excellent play, with both drama and comedy. How human it all is. As for credits, the part of Rhoda was played by Rhoda. I am so glad God shows us that sometimes we need a miracle, and sometimes we need a human to open the door.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Queen of Heaven

The children gather wood, the fathers light the fire, and the women knead the dough and make cakes to offer to the Queen of Heaven. They pour out drink offerings to other gods to arouse my anger.
Jeremiah 7:18, NIV

A lady I knew well went to Japan to study art. She was very good at what she did. She treated paper to make bird quills and totally realistic-looking tree bark. She was there for two years and was given an honorary Japanese name. She immersed herself in the local culture.

She confessed that she spied on her neighbors. She had gauzy white curtains that she would look through to observe them. One evening she saw a family on the rooftop of their home, perform a ceremony similar to that referred to in Jeremiah 7 and Jeremiah chapter 44. She thinks it had something to do with the planet Venus.

In Jeremiah 44 we have an exchange between God and his people concerning offering cakes imprinted with the image of the Queen of Heaven. The people claimed that such practices granted them prosperity. When they ceased, hard times overtook them.

The Bible mentions the Queen of Heaven five times. This cult, originating in very ancient times, is still with us.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Cult of the Virgin

Then Jesus' mother and brothers arrived.
Mark 3:31

I was in the auditorium listening to the teacher of world history. She was an unbeliever, but fairly objective and quite knowledgeable. She casually mentioned the family of Jesus--His mother and brothers. Immediately there was an uproar from those who felt she had blasphemed Mary.

The teacher looked at me as she and I had had exchanges, in a friendly fashion over some issues of how women were treated in the Bible. I smiled at her. She was facing hostile reactions, but not from me.

How did this lady teacher dare speak of the physical family of Jesus? I had been down this road before, so I was not shocked. In fact all she needed to do was to read some passages in the Bible to confirm her statement.

I know there are those who maintain that the word "brother" in this case must refer to "cousins". To illustrate the fallacy of this view let us read on in Mark 3:33 through 35:

A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, "Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you." "Who are my mother and brothers?" he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said. "Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother. "

If we say the word translated as brother in this passage, we have Jesus saying that if you do God's will, you are his cousin.

Does this impugn the virginity of Mary? In no way. The virgin birth is plainly revealed in the Old Testament and the New. We have the words of Mary herself as she speaks to the angel Gabriel. When Gabriel tells Mary she will conceive, she answers him, "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" (Luke 1:34).

What is at issue here is not Mary's virginity at the time of the birth of Jesus, but her perpetual virginity. Many have, as part of their religion, the worship of a virgin.

I am not speaking of Roman Catholics, but people of a much older religion. Egypt for one had it for thousands of years before the Bible was written. This is my concern--that people worship Mary as an eternal virgin, and her family as consisting of cousins.

To be very blunt, I think protestants pretty much ignore Mary, and Roman Catholics make her into a creature like a pagan goddess. The Bible quotes her own words.

"From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me- holy is his name." (Luke 1:48,49).

Many believe that Mary confers great favors. The Bible says she was the recipient of great things. All who know of her call her blessed.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Hasidic Jews on Zionism

I have been going to Private School. That's what I call it. Imagine, at my age too! I hope to keep my knowlege as wide-based as "I can. Maybe it will keep my old brain functioning? I print off the most amazing things and read them in my chair by a window. That is my school. Zionism has been one of my major topics. It is very much of interest to those in the so-called alternative media, which I love.

I just read a great statement by some Orthodox Jewish writer, who among things, lists 12 reasons why his people are against Zionism. He says that in all its history it has caused nothing but misery for Jews. He further claims great persecutions, as during World War Two were deliberately incited to gain a homeland.

Jews causing great trouble for Jews? He goes into this subject at length. After all, says the author, the original Zionists were all atheists.

Any criticism of these people on my part? Yes, get some new clothes, get a PR man, let your wives choose your clothing--do something. But these faithful remnant are determined to remain in their countries, to be led by Messiah, to the Holy Land. They don't realize it yet, but they are waiting for Jesus. So am I.

Friday, May 3, 2013

No Primitive Man

So God created mankind in his own image,
In the image of God he created them.

Genesis 1:27, NIV

I have been reading the ideas of a geneticist who offers genetic proof that people are less intelligent than they were, say, 3,000 years ago. He is very convincing. He also says we are more emotionally unstable, too.

His name is Gerald Crabtree, and he offers a lot of reasons in technical jargon that may be hard to follow, but which I find fascinating. One of his conclusions is that if a citizen of Athens of long ago were brought into our midst he or she would function very well. In fact it has been downhill since then. Gee, that sounds like the writers of the New Testament lived in a time of great intellect.

Now Crabtree is at a lost to explain how we got such a high intellect to begin with. He dates human origins at from 50,000 to 500,000 years ago. Quite a range is it not? Unintellectual reasoners, such as Fundamentalists, know the answer, of course. The peak of man's powers were at Creation, and we have declined since that event.

But what about our great technology? When I hear a cell phone conversation such as, "I'm in the parking lot at Wal Mart, waiting for my wife." I am inclined to believe Crabtree.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Very Simple Test

Imagine a one-question test with multiple choice answers. I would have loved this format in High School. Here is the test;

What part of an unredeemed person goes to hell when they die?

A) The soul
B) The body
C) Both body and soul

Answer: "If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell." Matthew 5:29, NIV

Congratulations if you got it right.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Because I Said So!

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord.
Isaiah 55:8, NIV

I am not in a position to scold anyone, and I wouldn't want to even if I was. Rather, I want to tell you about this neat system I have of studying the Bible. It's not a memory system, it is a one-time thing.

I used to live in a really old home. It had sagged until its walls and ceiling looked like trapezoids. It was so irregular! This did not bother me at all, until my wife told me we really should do something about the ceiling in the dining room. We were having guests over for our first Thanksgiving in our new-old home.

Now I am not a home fixup guy at all, but I went to a big hardware store to look at suspended ceiling supplies. I bought aluminum supports, wire, and a bunch of ceiling panels. Thankfully, instructions came with this kit. I forgot to tell you that this project had to be completed in one night, the night before the big dinner!

So, as my wife slept soundly, I opened my kit and read the detailed instructions. I found, to my horror, I should remove the old ceiling. It was plaster with horse hair, the way they used to make them. It was strong. I used a baby sledge hammer to break it all up, and finally had it done.

The real work was yet to begin. I had to put a perfectly square grid system on a very warped ceiling. I had no clue how to do this. I wasn't even sure it could be done. It was then I made the decision to just trust the instructions that came with the kit. I used a level, tape measure and hack saw. I tuned the radio in and got an all-night session of Pink Floyd. I knew this would keep me awake as well as listening to a wildcat scream.

I measured the crazy ceiling first. Then I used a carpenter's level. I fastened the first pieces to the wall and slowly created a level grid, just as the instructions said. It was late when I tried the panels. They fit perfectly! I took the chandelier apart and threaded it through the center panel. I had plaster dust in my hair, I was bone tired from working overhead, but I was through.

Now why would anyone convey this tedious story? It is just to tell you my mind was once warped and distorted. I knew I had to shape it up, regarding the Word. So I made the decision, You'll never get it right on your own. FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS. I decided to cling to the Bible, no matter what it said. I became a naive literalist, a Fundamentalist.

Whoever designed that ceiling kit knew exactly how to guide an amateur to make a perfect ceiling. And God knows how to write a book.