Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Sermon on the Mount

Over the Mountains of the Moon,
Down the Valley of the Shadows.
Ride, boldly ride, the shade replied,
If you seek for Eldorado.

These verses by Poe sum up how I feel about the Sermon on the Mount. As in the much praised sermon, they are a lesson in futility. The big difference in the two sets of words is that Poe's poem reveals this futility, while the Sermon conceals it.

I grew up being taught that these word's of Jesus were to be our rule of life. Only one trouble, and it is a big one. No one has ever kept these words except Jesus Himself. As a rule of life they are a mockery. It would be like buying some sort of a puzzle so difficult that no one has ever solved it.

"But we must try," are the words you always hear. I am going to say something terrible, horrible, and shocking. What kind of rule of life is it that no one can keep?

There, I said it. "So you have something better, something practical?" one may ask. My answer would be, "Absolutely!"

I have a way of life that I keep, and millions also do. It is not a system of perfect living that no one can follow. It is to confess that I am a helpless sinner in total need of mercy. Since I need to be perfect to enter heaven, someone must confer this righteousness on me. This is what Jesus has done for all forgiven people. Amen.

How I despise the works-righteous that many proclaim. As if they can follow this path of good works and find redemption. There is no shed blood in the sermon. No way to be born without sin and to live without sin. Their is no "E for effort" in salvation.

Like the man trying to leap the chasm and screaming, "I almost made it." The old joke about the parachute that fails to open says, "Better luck next time."

So why was this "highest form of morality" given? To reveal what real goodness is and to show that through human effort it is as unattainable as Poe's Eldorado.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Infinity in Your Hands

A young photographer in Japan had an ambition. He would photograph the American West. So he set off on what he planned to be a series of little hops made by hitching rides until he had covered it all.

Shortly after he was let off in a vast desert region rimmed by distant mountains, it hit him. This place was vast beyond his imagining , beyond anything he had ever experienced in his home country.

His story ended well. He did take some very good pictures. But first he had to adjust his mind to how really big this place was. He soon transferred his travel plans to airplanes, and even then the distances to be traveled held him in awe.

Imagine you enter a well-equipped book store, and when the owner asks how he can help you, you say you would like a nice-sized book on everybody and everything. Also it should cover all time. You want a book not only about infinity, but that is itself infinite. The owner is not a bit perplexed. He knows just what you need and reaches to a shelf to get you a Bible.

There comes a time when ordinary life and ordinary subjects no longer satisfy. They bottom out. Your life itself seems to bottom out. But your tired mind need not despair. The strange nature of this living Word of God is, that what you need is there, no matter who you are or what your need.

This has been my story. Poor dumb me. I was in need of infinity. All along my unsatisfied life, a book was waiting for me, as it waits for you. This may be quite obvious to you. But to many it remains a mystery.

Let me be specific. I heard a radio drama where a very rich business man called his staff together. "I need some information," he told his gathered crew of experts. "What do you want?" one asked. "I want to know how to live forever," he said. It was a dramatic program, but not unique.

Roughly 4,000 years ago, Job asked, "If a man die, shall he live again?" To me, that was the ultimate question. It has been answered. No finite book could answer it, but an infinite book by an infinite Author can and did.

When I discovered this, I was never in doubt again. I never had to "bottom out" any more.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

3 Dashing Young Girls

I was visiting the home of a new friend. On the mantle was a kind of tryptich of three young ladies, his granddaughters. They looked like three up and coming young film stars.

The phone rang. Could they come over? Of course. And soon they came bursting through the door.

It was a chilly but sunny day. They were wearing colorful tops and modish "pre-stressed" jeans. Each wore a man's hat--two fedoras, and the youngest had on a tilted derby. Their knees were coming through their jeans. The look was "in", and so were they.

Why do I talk and write about them? Because instead of the sullen or embarrassed young people I have become used to, these young ladies were enjoying the company of us old folks. They had been out walking and decided to drop in.

They unconciously struck poses as they talked, as if they were in a high school play. Not vain, just having fun.

The youngest put her derby on me. "You look good in it," she said. She was right. I am at that stage of life when the more you cover me up the better I look. I said nothing, but I couldn't stop smiling.

They spent a little time with us then had to leave. They had so much life to live and I'm sure the days were not long enough to contain it.

Sure, I was happy over their visit, but I felt sad too. I realize that they are from an ancient race that is not exactly famous for producing old maids. Soon they will have a list of suitors to choose from. The oldest, at 16, already had a boy friend. Sooner than they know they will be wives and mothers--super ones. It was hard to see anything but happiness ahead for them.

Thank you ladies for your visit. Thank you for putting your hat on me and for your compliment. You will be this young for such a short time. Yes you are dashing, and dashing through life.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Your Vacation in Chittim

You and your mate walk into a travel agency. The nice person behind the desk asks how they can help you. "We'd like to spend two weeks in Chittim," you say. "Do you have any good deals there?"

The poor person would like to help you, but there are no package deals for Chittim, not even any brochures in the rack. In fact the person working there has no idea where you are talking about. They may know the latest on "Justin Bieber's new tattoo, but this one is too much for them.

I can't really blame them. Chittim is not a popular place to visit. Know anyone who was born there? You look in your NIV Bible. Not even a mention. Your trusty Strong's says Chittim is not a specific place at all, but a generic term for islands in the Mediterranean.

Now you are really lost. The NIV doesn't even list it, just going along with the generic "islands". Why would anyone care to study these "islands", much less even go there?

There is a good reason, not about your vacation, but about end time prophecy. For the Bible says these islands will figure in very important battles. Ever notice how seemingly unimportant places are mentioned in God's Word, while great power houses, like the USA are not mentioned at all?

Things will reverse some day. Little guys will become big guys. Some students say one of the islands will be Cyprus. Heard anything about Cyprus recently? Oh how God's word is like tomorrow's newspaper!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Baby Talk in Church

I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed you are still not ready. I Corinthians 3:2

A lady with small children told me, "I have scaled my talk down to little childrens' talk every day. I'm afraid that when my husband comes home from work I won't remember how to talk like an adult." I feel the same way about preachers and churches.

My niece, in her fifties, recently bragged about studying the Bible with her husband. "We learned that we are saved by grace," she told me. This is one of the cornerstones of our faith, but long-time Bible students should have learned it after a few years.

Sermons are often aimed at new Christians being saved. Now the letter "A" is a very important letter. But I don't want to hear from a college student that he studied it today. My best friend and I discussed how sermons are presented for new Christians or even non-believers instead of mature people of faith.

I love the scene in "Rollerball" where a coach is talking about the playing style of Orientals who they are about to play. Moon Pie says, "Same old lecture every year."

I am all for evangelizing new or prospective Christians. But where is the teaching for mature Christians?

I know of the "Safety above all" strategy. I should, I have heard it all my life. Stick to the Sermon on the Mount. Stay in the Gospels, preferably Matthew. The rest of the Bible, including the Old Testament? Too controversial. Want to collect your pension? Play it safe.

Some of us do not need so-called inspirational talks, as much as we need to hear the whole Word.

As far as sermons fit for "old ladies", I have found that this much laughed at "target audience" is avid for Bible study. But they do not get it. Have instruction for the neophites, but can we older Christians also be included in the curriculum? Can we pleeze move on?

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Blessed Carriage Ride

I accompanied two blind ladies to the national convention of the Federation of the Blind in Colorado Springs. During a gap in the scheduled events, we decided to take a carriage ride from the hotel. The man who offered the tours talked to us. Turns out he had once been a computer programmer, but gave it up and bought this carriage.

To call it a buggy would not do it justice. Queen Elizabeth and Phillip have a fancier one, but this one was super. Of course it had rubber tires, so it rolled silently through the busy streets. Only the hooves of the horses could be heard.

We talked some more. He was a young man. Working with computers could easily have been his first job. His carriage business was really taking a chance. Some seasons were lean, but this is what he and his wife wanted to do. He seemed to have the air of a man, slightly unsure of himself. Had he made the right decision to give up such a good job? I thought of him as a hero, going back in time to work at such a slow pace.

As a young man, I liked speed. I had owned three motorcycles, and often drove them at dangerous speeds. But with the passage of time, I came to seek something more relaxing. I took a river trip in a rowboat. Talk about quiet.

Here was a young man who had sunk a lot of money into a beautiful, dark maroon conveyance. It was covered in leather. The seats were plush. His horses were well-groomed.

At the end of our ride he confessed to some doubts about his decision and his new job. I told him how I admired his daring. "You have chosen the better part," were my last words to him. "Thank you, brother," he said.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Second Sea of Glass

And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. Revelation 15:2

What a beautiful scene. But why is this the second sea of glass? The sea of glass is mentioned in Rev. 4:6 also. But this sea is mingled with fire. Not active, burning, fire, but fire embedded in the sea, as a memorial. The two mentions of the sea could be confusing.

I think of the picture of a boxer before and after his fight. He is the same man, but after the fight he is bloodied, but happy. He has won.

So this is a sea of victory. It is after the Great Tribulation.

There are those who believe the church will go through the Great Tribulation. I'll put it crudely to save time. Just as people threaten Americans with threats every day non-stop, so do unscrupulous preachers try to force this time upon the church. Here comes the crude part. There's money in threatening people!

Those waiting for the pre-tribulation rapture that the Bible promises in Rev. 3:10, are not good customers for great, earthly or worldly projects. They are wonderful missionaries and witnesses though. They offer rescue to those on a stormy sea, rather than the hardship of an over-crowded and under-supplied life boat.

I can't prove this, but could it be that those who teach that we will go through the tribulation do so to discourage further study of this wonderful book? How many churches that teach or believe we will be in the tribulation even teach the book at all? I believe their practice is to fend off further study.

Then there is the earth versus heaven angle. Some guys are much more comfortable with the here and now than with heaven, and their teaching shows it.

Nowhere in the Bible is the church warned about this great trial. It is "the time of Jacob's trouble". Jacob is Israel. We are the church. It's as simple as that.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Aramaic, the Language Jesus Spoke

After the fall of the temple, in 586 BC, Israel was taken captive and carried away to Babylon, about 900 miles away. When I hear the Country song "I'm 900 Miles From My Home", I think of them.

A whole new generation was born in captivity and came to speak Aramaic, the language of Empire. When their slavery was complete and they were to be released. Many had prospered and adapted the ways of Babylon. Many did not wish to return home to Israel.

Until about 600 AD there was still a Babylonian community there with a Talmud in that language. This is how the Jews came to speak Aramaic, especially in Galilee, the home of Jesus. Hebrew was reserved for liturgical purposes, much as Latin was used in the early churches. We know from the Gospels that people from Galilee had an accent that identified them as not being from Jerusalem (Mark 14:70).

My old church for a time had a preacher from Alabama, and he had a "good old boy" manner about him. Yet he was considered an expert in Aramaic and recognized as such by Hebrew Union in Cincinnati. How is that for a language about 3,000 years old?

The Book of Daniel is written in two languages, Hebrew concerning the Jews, and Aramaic pertaining to the Gentiles. We might be tempted to wonder how much truth has been scrambled in all these language changes. The finding of the Dead Sea scrolls showed us the truth of how our records remain intact.

I am reminded of an American family living in a foreign country. One day, while their baby slept, a ruckus developed outside their window. They asked the baby's nurse, who was a local, to please ask people to be quiet. She leaned out and said "Shss." Must be the universal language.

God is able to preserve His people, and His truth also.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Threat Fatigue

church supper invitation:

The Hell-fire, Ball of Fire, Vindictive Church of Reverend Smurch
Come to Dinner, Sinner!
Parents of young children will please see that their young ones repent before eating.

* * * * *

A fast food restaurant manager was heard complaining to an older waitress that young people would not respond to his threats. "I warn them, threaten to fire them, and they shrug it off." She tried to explain that kids today are different.

I agree, but I wonder why? Could it be that they have heard it so many times that they can no longer respond?

To those who like to catalog things, I would ask that someone total up the things that are often used to frighten us. Is there an end to warnings? I have recently tried to make such a listing.

There is the polluted planet we live on--air, earth, and water--three of the classic elements. May I add the fourth--fire--nuclear fire.

Does anyone believe the economy will recover? You have a choice between: "If you don't go to college, you will never get a good job." to the increasingly, "I went to college and now I can't pay off the student loan."

Then there is the real biggie, ever-present terrorism. Soon the world may be entirely composed of terrorists and the recording of a voice warning us of them. Since world war three, we have been threatened by the scare tactics of communism, weapons of mass destruction, and so on. It works.

The comedian Milt Caymin would pluck at his clothes and say, "See this suit, it covers fear. I'm afraid to go for a walk in the woods because I'm afraid a tree might drop a limb on me, and later claim in court that it was just an accident." Leave it to a man of comedy to see through this ridiculousity.

See what I mean? A point has been reached where threats are so commonplace that they have lost their shock value.

"But surely there is solace in religion?" you may say. It is true that threat-based religion is on the decline and "feel good" is taking its place.

But I propose another course--one that has worked for thousands of years. Tell young people, and others, of just how horrible sin is. Then tell them the terrible price involved that has been paid for by a God that loves them.

I add--and this is dear to my heart--shut up and listen to people. Don't preach all the time, but listen to them. Young and old need this so much.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Three Life Saving Plants

Not some obscure, hard to identify, rare plants, but plants that are quite common and with their vitamins and just plain nutrition could save many lives. I tried to tell about them and others to a dear friend. She would have none of it!

"I prefer meat and potatoes," she told me. Love 'em myself, but famine is when you can't get meat and potatoes.

Why do I mention the terrible word "famine"? Because Jesus tells us that it will be a feature of the times nearing the end. When I see pictures of people living on the streets and underfed, in our own country, I do not laugh at famine as if it was some remote possibility.

Not only a shortage of food, but of non-genetically modified foods. Genetically modified foods are a terrible threat to us. Wheat, corn, and rice are some of the major crops that have been made unfit for humans or animals to eat. This, supposedly to make them resistant to the horrible poisons sold to kill weeds. In much of the world, chemicals are offered as the solution to every farm problem.

These poisons, besides contaminating our food, enter into the ground water so that we drink them. My belief is that it is a major part of a population reduction program.

For pure and very nutritious food I offer the following plants. Even very busy people can learn three plants. Many more can be added to them. Please sample the videos hyper linked in this post. All kinds of people are catching on.

While many face food shortages, even through high prices, or because food is unfit to eat, others have a chance to eat and live. God made these plants too.

Purslane: Another Edible Common Weed in the Yard for SHTF

My First Amaranth Harvest

Palmer Amaranth (Pigweed) Threat To Georgia Crops

Harvesting 25 Pounds of Jerusalem Artichokes from 2 Plants

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I The Jury

This is the title of a Mickey Spillane, Mike Hammer, story. I read it as a youth because its name intrigued me. Imagine a man so sure of himself that he would decide who was guilty and who was to die. Mike Hammer was tough. He was, dare I say it, "autonomous". But that was the 50's.

Now almost everyone is a Mike Hammer, even high school girls. Only today, the subject is not domination over a criminal, but whether or not the Bible is really true. I speak of believer's now. Believers should know better. I should have sympathy. I was once one of their crowd.

The script goes like this. "I don't think election is true. I just don't understand it." We notice that most do not say,"It's not in the Bible," but "I don't understand it." As if that were the criterion for truth.

My mother was a good, safe driver, but she had no idea what made a car run. She had trouble with manual transmissions though, until someone told her to visualize an "H" pattern for shifting. She got it right away. Like many of us she did not know about planetary gears or differentials, but that did not keep her from driving.

There is a big monster walking in the land, far bigger than Godzilla. It is the human intellect. Or should we say, the ego? It roars, "Until I understand something, it is not true." Simple as that.

I heard a minister--a man who I knew and admired in many ways--say words to this effect. He told our Bible class that though he was a Presbyterian, he just could not reconcile the doctrine of Predestination with man's free will.

Oh me, oh my, another guy caught in the Devil's leg trap! After all, never believe anything merely because it is in the Bible! Rather submit it to your understanding. If, perchance, you like it, you may want to believe it. It helps if it makes you better than other people. Like you used your free will in the right way. Too bad others have not.

Oh, foolish man, if it is plainly in the word of God, you better believe it. Some day we must appear before the judgement seat of Christ and have our works evaluated. Then your jury will go before the Judge.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Waiting to Live

Some poor misguided soul keeps waiting for "the big one"--the "breakthrough". Some day they will really join the human race and live like others do. They will get the good job, have the nice home, and give their wives some of the things she deserves.

Years go by. Decades go by. The deluded one keeps looking to the future when it all comes together. Then the body tells them they have passed its expiration date. The insurance company actuarial table hits them.

You have had it. Cancel the big plans. They just never happened. Have you picked out a burial plot? Those who live in the clouds must some day return to earth.

I am not speaking of others. I speak of myself. It's too late now. You have only one hope. It is that God will forgive you. Maybe you will do better in the life to come?

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Visit from a Dead Friend

Walt had a girl friend. Both his and the girl's family assumed they would be married. He visited her at her school in a rural setting. "She would wave good bye to me until I disappeared from sight," he told me.

She returned from her school on a visit. He was overjoyed to be spending time with her. As they talked, he noticed a little bandage on her arm.

"What's that?" he asked. "That's from my blood test. You know how they require one for you to get a marriage license." She had neglected to tell him she was marrying. He was no more important in her life.

He drove to my house one evening on the verge of tears. We walked as he poured out his heart's feelings. I was touched that he came to me when he got the bad news. I could only listen. He needed to talk. Our friendship grew from this time on, until he died young, as men in his family often did.

Just recently he appeared to me in a vivid dream. I was in a room of milling people, all of them talking in a babble of gibberish. I stood alone, feeling trapped. Suddenly Walt appeared making his way through the mob. In my dream I did not think that he had died, only that he had been away for a while.

"You're saving me," I said, referring to the oppressive boredom. He extended his hand to me. "Let's get out of here," he said. I began to tell him of my hopeless situation in life.

He said, "Forget about that. Wait until you see what I have for you. It will make you forget all these things." He surged ahead keeping his revelation a secret, yet eager to show me.

Then the sidewalk faded away, and so did my friend. As i awoke, Walt was gone, and so was my hope.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Wot Ye Not the Voice of the Turtle?

Imagine you are witnessing to someone who has not had the joy of reading the King James Bible. You may have read it from childhood. The language is that of Shakespeare--powerful, brief, and beautiful beyond compare. You revel in it. So do I.

But the person you are addressing is, let us say, 16 years old. They have a laptop and a touch screen smart phone, but not an "ap" for the Word of God. Should you hit them with this language? In short, is this the best way to talk to him or her?

I picked out "wot" as an example. A perfectly good word if you understand the vocabulary of 1611. Not surprisingly, many do not. They Tweet and Text, which I know nothing about. But you could talk to them in language they understand. From Germany or Holland to Great Britain, they understand modern English, fast becoming the world's most used mode of speech.

Jack Chick publications has a nifty little booklet explaining the terms of the KJV. I have one. Do I recommend you tell your 16 year old, who you may never meet again, to study this booklet so that he or she will later know what you are about to say?

Of course this will not happen. You want to reach them now. Instead, you read to them from a modern translation. I like NIV as a backup Bible. It is the world's most widely read version.

I know exactly how people feel about any version other than their old favorite. I have been immersed in this culture. I sympathize.

But I have heard a dedicated Christian say that Luke got it wrong when he translated the word in Acts 12:4 as passover. Luke should have said Easter! Luke was wrong, but the KJV translators got it right. Now we are entering the land of idolatry.

I know the defenses used to support their view--that Jews celebrated a pagan festival, not a Jewish feast day. If so, why didn't Luke say so?

When you speak words of endearment to your loved one, have you ever said, "You are my sweet little turtle?" Twice the words "turtle dove" are used in the Bible. Moderns know it means the sweet little bird and so render it.

I heard a translator defend The New International Version. He said "We too love the Bible, and we too have prayed for guidance in transmitting it." For those who do not believe him, I suggest they only read Christian literature from 1611--as if nothing from beyond that time was written in the Spirit of God.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Where Are the Tongues of Fire?

I really need to ask for your forgiveness and forbearance as I return to a theme I just wrote about. It is the practice, dear to many churches, of trying to repeat the Jewish feast of Pentecost. I doubt that you are in any way directly involved, but it could still be important to you. It is an indication of the present state of the church.

I watched more videos online of people supposedly drunk in the Spirit, laughing, collapsing, and twitching. Some do not recover for hours according to one narrator. So, lamentable as this is, what has it to do with you?

First of all, you may know someone who is involved in such practices and wish to correct them in this. I recently heard one of their preachers threaten any who would attempt to correct them. He said he would not listen to anyone who tried to give scriptures contrary to this practice. I can see why. The Bible is fatal to their Satanic doctrine.

Among the ideas they promote is that Jesus and the disciples were wealthy! Paul, they say, had a large house. This is the allied idea of the "prosperity gospel". This latter afflicts some of the most staid and dignified churches.

I remember opening the trunk of my car to retrieve a book to give to such a church member. He stared at my poor spare tire. It was inflated .but treadless. I was later told that such people check out your shoes. Crummy shoes indicate those out of the will of God. I have experienced this too. I thought I was back at Ft.Knox. "Soldier, look at those boots!"

I am still talking about a very dignified church. Someone said that I was guilty of "unconfessed sin". They would not say it to my face, but I must have coughed or something.

So, all kinds of churches are in trouble. My experiences were years ago. It could be worse by now.

To those, both out of control and super dignified who would try to claim a superior gift of the Holy Spirit, I would say re-read Acts chapter two. Where are your tongues of fire, and what about the mighty wind? Don't try to fake it with an electric fan.

You can see Kenneth Hagin on being filled with the Spirit here.

Friday, August 16, 2013

When Did the Wolves Leave?

I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Acts. 20:29

Since Paul said so I am sure that this happened. Not animals but wolf-like men. After the disciples and Paul died, the church was attacked, and from within. There is kind of an aura about the early church, as if they were all-wise and pure. Not so.

So why did the wolves not come in while Paul was yet with them? Because Paul could refute those who would attack and pollute the church. But when he was gone then the wolves began to attack.

Since I believe what Paul said did happen, I have a question. When did the wolves leave? Or did they leave? Paul and others said nothing about the wolves leaving. Could they be with us yet today?

A theologian once said, "The church is like Noah's ark. You couldn't stand the smell inside, if it wasn't for the storm outside." The church reeks with corruption and error. Solve one false practice or doctrine and another appears.

It is obvious that the Devil has not retired. Neither have his men. You could almost define church history as a succession of errors through the ages.

Yet good people strive. To many, the church struggle is the only game in town.

In the Book of Revelation, first three chapters, Jesus speaks to seven churches. Many see these not only as seven churches in Asia at the time, but seven church ages, ending in Laodicea. The seven messages, except in a few cases, are not just praise for a job well done. Rather, these messages are filled with rebukes and warnings.

So what is a poor Christian to do? Are there any churches that have got it right? I know that there are individuals that have had and do follow sound doctrine. Many are not at all famous.

A short cut is this. As fascinating and instructive as reading the words of men can be, shouldn't we follow the Maker's manual?

There are good mechanics and bad mechanics, so we had best check the manual. The same is true for whatever church we are in. This is not so great a task as it would seem. I could suggest the last letters Paul wrote. I and II Timothy as a great place to begin.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Unholy Laughter

Let all things be done decently and in order. I Cor. 14:40

There is a movement afoot, especially in large gatherings, to induce what is called "holy laughter". I hear it happens in China too. Some try to justify it on the basis that those who celebrated Pentecost, after the death of Christ, exhibited gifts of the Spirit that some mistook for drunkenness.

Pentecost was a Jewish feast day and was fulfilled. Have you ever heard of a second occurance of Pentecost? The unusual events of Pentecost included the sound of a mighty wind and tongues of fire above the heads of believers. Are these in evidence at such meetings today?

The attempted manefestation of the Holy Spirit represents a counterfeiting of the one member of the Godhead that can be faked. Who can mimic the Father? Who can do the tangible acts of Jesus? But a gathering of people can be induced to laugh, faint, dance, and roll on the floor in a vain attempt to recreate the great miracle of Pentecost.

Are people so suggestable?

I remember as a boy hearing a talk on nose bleeds. To me, as I listened to the details, it was pretty gruesome. As the lesson was about to end, I felt a drop of blood fall from my nose. It hit my note book. I was amazed that just hearing a lesson could make this happen.

I have been in tongues meetings, seen hundreds of people "slain in the Spirit". I am not inexperienced in such things. I have seen and talked to someone who fell into a faint at such a gathering.

Some are immune to such things. We are often said to be "lacking the Holy Spirit". I am so grateful that God, not men, will be my judge in this.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Then the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." Genesis 3:13, NIV

It may be tempting to think that Satan's war against God began in Eden with the temptation of Eve. It is more accurate to say his war against mankind began there. When we first see Satan he has already fallen and his rebellion is underway.

Of the many weapons which he could employ in this war, which did he choose to employ? A classic Chinese text, taught in every War College gives us the answer: "All warfare is based on deception." (The Art of War, by Sun Tzu).

Now what is the defense against this great deceiver? How can man possibly fight against the mighty angel called Satan?

Actually, the confrontation in Eden was a pushover for Satan. No contest.

In case I suddenly keel over I will quickly make my point. Let us look at a very different battle, one in which Satan, great as he is,. was defeated, at least in this instance. What could be a greater match than Satan and Lord Jesus?

We learn so much when we see the weapon chosen by Our Lord to stop Satan. This is given to us in Luke chapter 4:1-13. It is the Word of God, the Bible. Now the One who walked on water, calmed the storm, and raised the dead chose as his weapon one available to us also.

Now I will pretend I am a teacher giving a test:

Which primary weapon do you choose in your battle against the Devil?

  1. Living a good life, as in the Sermon on the Mount
  2. Doing the best you can
  3. The golden Rule
  4. An ecstatic experience, such as tongues
  5. Sound doctrine from the Bible

You may object that I have left out prayer. I believe it is the preparation for our battle with Satan. But not even prayer, which we are warned not to mis-apply, can be the greatest weapon in combat. Proof: the example of Jesus.

The above is subject to disagreement by thinking people. Disagreement can be a wonderful thing.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Freaks in Bottles

Victor Hugo wrote about the practice years ago of creating distorted children to later sell as court jesters and other freaks. This is described in The Man Who Laughed, and the term for these evil people is Comprachicos or child sellers. I understand that part of their technique was growing children in bottles and then breaking the bottle when the desired distortion was complete.

I don't know about this because I did not read his book. Who would want to?

Why am I writing about this horrible idea? Because I believe the practice, much modified, is still in effect. I believe that people raise their children and submit themselves to become freakish as to denominations. While in my recent hospital stay, my favorite therapist said of herself, "I am a recovering Catholic."

At the beginning of our country such ideas were taken very seriously. That is, people formed whole colonies on the basis of their favorite doctrine. The Trinity in Pennsylvania, comes to mind. I hope that all Christians would learn of this truth, but not under the threat of law, even death.

So how did Paul and others form the church in a time of great religious diversity? I believe they stressed a core of essential truth and left the details of various believers' ideas alone.

Today our differences are emphasized in some churches to the separation of even individual church members. I visited a church composed of three families, and even they had a split!

The old Today show did a quick survey in a crowd of various diets prescribed by different religions. One said, "No pork." Another said, "No meat at all." Finally a man said of his faith, "We eat anything." Suddenly this once somber crowd saw the humor in the situation and began to laugh.

Wouldn't it be great if the really essential doctrines were taught and any differences could be argued or discussed after this was accomplished? I am not asking for a universal church with watered down doctrine. Just the opposite--stress the essentials and talk about less major things later.

Am I being idealistic? Not at all. That is how the church was formed. What literature would you use? Let's hear a great big DUH. The church epistles in the Bible. So simple.

Release children from the freak making bottles. Some day there may be no bottles at all.

Monday, August 12, 2013


And as Paul was to be led into the castle, he said unto the chief captain, May I speak unto thee? Who said, Canst thou speak Greek? Acts. 21:17

Insiders like to refer to this classic Greek translation of the Old Testament as the Septuagint. This means the 70 (scholars) who made this amazing book. What it did was take the Hebrew texts, which can be hard for us to understand, and put them into Greek, which many consider the most precise language on Earth.

I mean, there are about 7 tenses to express things in. You can nail things down with Greek.

Now I am going to make a big jump here. But I recently watched one of my favorite movies again. It is "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". What possible connection can there be between this wonderful movie and the LXX?

Well, in the movie the father insists that every word can be traced back to a Greek origin. One of the kids tests him out with "kimono" and he even pulls that one off.

But we do owe a lot in our culture to this very precise language. Now I am not trying to be an expert, because I am not one. What I wish is that more Christians would avail themselves to classic language sources to find out what the Bible really says.

Am I urging anyone to buy some exotic book that only scholars have access to? Hardly. Try Amazon for around $30. Not to learn Greek, but to read in English one of the great sources of the Word. I bought an Interlinear, in paperback yet.

How I wish that the so-called "laity" would invade the elitest pretenders in churches and seize the high ground from them. "Look Ma, I can read!"

I heard a Baptist friend really railing over the translation of a word meaning "white of an egg" into "slime of the purslane". Hardly a big difference when translating the meaning of "bland or tasteless". No doctrinal conflicts there.

I can't imagine a church splitting up into an egg white group and a purslane group. But these--and truly great differences--can be resolved by looking at a good basic source like the LXX.

We should not be dominated and often mislead by those who claim superior knowledge. Were they born in Israel or Greece thousands of years ago. No? Then they got their information from books. We all can.

A young seminarian to be was advised by his old mentor, "Get a Septuagint." Good advice.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

My Exciting, Thrilling, File Cabinet (Not)

For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. John 1:17

I am, by nature, a messy person. I lose things all the time. But I have something that bails me out. I have my file cabinet. Now everything won't fit in there, but it really helps me find the important things.

If someone were to say, "I'll bet your cabinet is full of things you've invented," I would have to tell them, "Not one thing in there is something that I have invented. But I have a lot of things that someone else has invented in there."

This is what the Dispensational system is--a filing system. Not very exciting is it? But it keeps things straight. So when someone talks about the evil dispensations that someone has invented, I say. "He made them. We just file them to keep them straight." I challenge anyone to find a doctrine that we have invented.

The above scripture is a dispensation illustrated. It shows the change from Moses to Christ--from the Old Testament to the New. It is when we fail to make these distinctions that we can get into trouble.

Some tell us we are under the Law. To them I will say, "Do you eat bacon?". Maybe I'll say it to a vegetarian some day. Then I'll be in trouble.

Some say we are Israel, or that Israel was in the church. I have heard both. To these people I say, "You really need to work on your filing system."

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Venn Diagrams and the Israel of God

They which are the children of the flesh, these [are] not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. Romans 9:8

I was not good at math. Understatement--I flunked algebra two years in a row. I think I balanced an equation once, but soon the figures became meaningless to me. Like a bunch of ants marching on a text book page. Of course I find ants interesting.

Later, in college, I was introduced to the diagrams of John Venn which he introduced about 1830. (I just looked them up.) Now I began to understand a little. They helped a lot.

Some time ago I told of Charles the cleaning man. He was wrestling with the quotation which says "all Israel shall be saved" (Romans 11:26). It was a mystery to us both, for we knew there were lost Israelites, like Judas.

Now I will try to use Venn to illustrate this idea. On a blank sheet of paper I draw a square. I will label the square "All People". Inside the square I make a circle and call it "Israel". Finally I draw a circle and call it "Children of Promise". Only this circle overlaps the Israel circle a bit.

Where the two circles intersect, we have "Israel of God". These are God's people, who he fore ordained, believing Israelites, or "all Israel".

Does this work? I hope this illustration is correct. I flunked math, but I want to get this one right.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Dick and Jane

Those of us who are old enough, remember learning to read using the repetative stories of Dick, Jane, Baby Sally, Puff the dog and Fluff the Cat. Try to get one of these readers in a rare book store.

Moderns totally laugh at them and that method of learning. "Why, it was not even phonics!" Trouble is, I loved them and I still do. I learned to read on them and I will always be grateful.

You may hear the whirring of a time machine as it takes me back to the first grade. Yes, after all these years I remember the stories.

Sample: Baby Sally is watching a giant crane at a construction site with her family. She leans forward to see better and drops her doll. It tumbles down into the giant hole the digging machine is making. "Oh, no, no ," says Baby Sally,"I have lost my dolly." The crane operator saw it fall, and very delicately picks the doll up in the huge jaws of his machine. He carefully drops it at her feet. The family waves a friendly hello to the friendly operator. End of story.

As I told this story I was learning to read and build up the confidence of a six year old boy. "How pathetic," say people today. Dick and Jane are used as examples of a long past, simplistic time. People laugh.

In contrast, my sister began to read a new library book to her children. It was about a haunted ghetto apartment. Weird moans could be heard coming from the basement. What could they be? The family got up the nerve to investigate.

They discovered the moans were not from ghosts, but were the sounds made by agonized drug addicts. Mystery solved! Go to sleep kids. The basement is not haunted after all, it is just the sounds of a crack house.

I remember my sister's anger over this story. Of course she did not finish reading it.

Back to Dick and Jane.

I found that the reading method I learned was quite realistic. Instead of puffing out phonic sounds, like "buh, buh, buh," Dick and Jane repeated whole words. "Oh, look, look, look." It sure worked for me.

But what about the unrealistic pictures? Once again, I was startled to find that the pictures were made from actual photographs of people living then. I saw some of the pictures and the photos on which they were based. People did live and look like these drawings!

Warning, my point is coming up.

There are some of us who accept the Bible just as it is. We are laughed at--not that I care--because we believe in the Old Testament stories of real people and events, and the New Testament lessons drawn from them. It turns out that we are scientifically correct after all. People are catching on to false teachings. It is one of the few modern trends I really like.

To the so-called liberals, I only have this to say, "Buh, buh, buh."

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Oh, Daddy, You're Scaring Me!

When I was a little boy, I had just learned to use a hatchet. I was chopping green twigs into smaller pieces on a tree stump we used as a chopping block. Twigs were flying around. I was having fun.

My father noticed my careless abandon and said to me, "Son, those twigs could be your fingers if you're not more careful." I was horrified as I thought of cutting off my fingers. "Oh, Daddy, you're scaring me!" I complained.

He looked at me seriously as he said, "I'm just trying to make you be more careful." You can bet I was cautious as to how I held the branches and swung my hatchet after that.

There are some very earnest, hard-working people warning our country about the dangers ahead, from a collapsing economy, loss of freedoms, and nuclear radiation. Our instinct is to complain that they frighten us. Of course they frighten us. That's their job.

Where do they get these terrible truths that they assail us with? The best use only publicly available material. That is, available if you look for it. I applaud them, except when they wander into a theology they have inherited and have not studied. I won't applaud them in that case, but I will forgive them.

It is as if you were staying in a hotel and someone pounded on your door to wake you up. They go down the hall yelling, "Fire, fire!" In your dazed and sleepy mind you realize they are right. You begin to smell smoke.

Are you about to ask this person how they voted in the last election? They have warned you, to waked you up. You are grateful to them.

That is how I feel about these people called "alarmists" by so many. When the fire is coming your way isn't an alarm what you need to hear?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Thank You Time

Overdue thanks to Jane of Virginia. I am grateful to your many supportive and insightful comments. They are deeply appreciated.

Thank you to Kymber for designing my little blog and entering my first entries.

Thank you to my best friend, John Wesley Smith, for entering, correcting and paragraphing my efforts. John, of Destiny Survival, has created a video on geodesic domes, that has over 240,000 hits on You Tube.

To those who read The Last Robin, you make my life worth living.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

I Can't Go to Hell

Saw a site on the Internet that warned of 10 DVD's that will send you to hell. I guess watching them will do it, not just having them on the shelf. I should have printed out the list. I might even like to watch some of them.

Maybe they are terrible, but one thing I know is that they can't send me to hell. Nothing can.

Sounds like I am boasting about my great virtue or some special immunity I have. I'm not. It's just that nothing can send me, or you to hell. Main reason of course is that there is no hell. Actually, that should do it.

As a firm believer in the Security of the Believer, I could claim Romans chapter eight as my defense. But that blessed chapter is not about the saving from hell, but the certainty of our going to heaven. What a difference.

You may remember me mentioning the chart someone made showing the true meanings of each mention Jesus and others made of hell. Each mention in the original language is grave or pit or place where the dead are burned. No suffering there, not even by implication.

Now this emphasis on a total lack of hell in the Bible does not come from any religious affiliation on my part. Neither does it spring from the idea that God wouldn't make anyone suffer. If someone could prove from the Bible that God has been or is going to roast people forever it would not change my idea or love of God.

So what is my objection to the doctrine of hell? It is textual, really. If you have been kind and patient enough to read my ramblings you know I do not mind if people believe in hell. They can believe in a god or gods that burn people up and I am tolerant of such beliefs. Nice of me, isn't it?

It is only when people maintain that the Bible is their source of belief. Only then do I object. Not that anyone cares about my objections.

Have I ever been sloppy in my writings? That is am I an earnest workman? Please say yes, because it is all I can do and I take it very seriously.

Once again, hell is a pagan doctrine and does not appear in any original text. We have about three thousand of these, more than any other ancient book. Hell has been inserted. Also Easter (Acts 12:4) by those who carried pagan ideas and those who thought it was good to threaten people into behaving.

Hell was a great money maker also. St. Peter's in Rome was paid for by the sale of indulgences, to get people out of hell by the payment of money. Luther said "If the Pope has the power to release people from hell, why doesn't he let everyone out?"

Indeed, you and I can't go to hell. There is only heaven waiting for us.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Your Isosceles Truck

Truck, moving van, or taxi, we can make a simple bug out aid that will go places that AAA doesn't have on their maps. I just watched a nifty video showing a gentleman making a primitive frame to help you lug heavy loads through unpaved territory.

Of course the simple device is the travois, long used by Indians to haul shelters, food, and people. They have been pulled by horses and dogs, but this one was for use by people. It consists of four sticks lashed together with para cord.

The demonstration used "found" poles and crossbars. The man who made the video said he didn't want to "hurt a tree" in making one. So he found some fallen branches. How about this for a nice attitude? "You want to make an isosceles triangle," he said, which was a vee with two crossbars. One for your hands to hold, and one to help carry your load.

I think of Tarzan's shopping cart. This really fits into my idea of bugging out, not loading your SUV to hit the highway. All you need in the construction is some cord. Skilled people could use vines, and maybe a knife to smooth the pole ends so they drag more easily. The whole woods is your parts department.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Super Piety

Be not righteous over much; Ecclesiastes 7:16

I went from a quiet job making flavor extracts and wrestling barrels and drums, to a 13-1/2 acre, 329 room motel and night club complex.

My first night on the job I was called to a situation where two bellboys were holding some would be thieves at gunpoint with their own owls head revolvers. When I went to pick up my belt radio the boss had left a note. "You may shoot the following people." Names were attached. He had added, "Please don't shoot them in front of the curved glass by the reception desk, it was very expensive." This kind of set the tone of what was to follow.

In the three years I was to work there I held people at gun point, wrote my first arrest warrant and gave oxygen to a man already dead. The life squad came quickly and sized him up. As they drove away they did not use sirens or lights. They knew he was dead.

My partner and I drove a waitress to her car. A few nights later she had a fatal wreck. She was either drunk or went to sleep. A section of guard rail came through the windshield and cut her in two. My partner said school kids taunted her children, "Your mother got cut in two."

I worked with all kinds, including born again Christians. There were two orchestras and a Mexican trio. There were three liquor licenses. Some nights the place pulsed with sound and activity.

A young receptionist had been offered $30 and a bottle of booze to have sex with a patron. He gave his room number to her. Her friends said she was pondering the offer. I felt I should intervene. I told her, "You know I never say things like this, but you really look stunning tonight, with your black dress and pearls. Any man would be proud to have you on his arm."

This was out of character for me, but she glowed and said, "If you came in here to make me feel good, you succeeded." She did not go to the guy's room. A little after this, she met a young policeman, a real gentleman. To see them together was to know they loved one another.

So why all this biographical material? I want to contrast this immersion into a little, oft times, corrupt world with my experiences with super pious people. They may have their place, but they are not for me. I can appreciate honest sinners and broken hearted people a lot more.

J. Vernon McGee said, "If you visit a church where the people use a different sounding voice and act super pious, for God's sake get out of there!" I know what he meant. I feel the same way.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Paul's Tribe

Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil. Genesis 49: 27

A lady in a church I once belonged to spoke of King Saul on the road to Damascus. Someone she knew gently told her that she had it wrong by about a thousand years and had two people confused. Maybe more study was needed?

But let me say in her defense, that she had something right. Both King Saul and the Apostle Paul, formerly known as Saul, were from the tribe of Benjamin. This tribe, described by Jacob as wolf-like, would not be be one you would choose as a source of diplomats. I'd hate to cross such people.

And yet God called Paul from this tribe noted for its ferocity. For a time Paul lived up to the characteristics of these people. He tells us in a number of places, with what zeal he persecuted Christians. He held the garments of those who stoned Steven, approving of those who killed him. He further tells us that he sought permission to go beyond his bounds and persecute Christians in distant cities.

After Paul's dramatic conversion he himself was persecuted by the very people he once worked for. How many times God reverses our natures. The fierce become gentle and the fearful become bold.

Yet Paul never abandoned his tribal identity. He affirms it in more than one place, as in Romans 11:1.

I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid, For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, [of] the tribe of Benjamin. Romans 11:1

But what of the tribe itself? The book of Revelation tells of their fate.

Of the tribe of Benjamin [were] sealed twelve thousand. Rev. 7:8

Paul was redeemed and so will be his tribe.

Friday, August 2, 2013

In Over My Head

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...
Psalms 131:1

As a kid I thought a lot. I spent a lot of time alone so I had lots of time to think. My mother had told me about God. I tried to see him in the clouds. What did He look like? Could He see me?

I was thinking on God one day when I asked myself, if God had no beginning, how could this be? The idea of eternity hit me. This was when I realized I would never figure it out. There were things beyond our ability to understand.

It is very common to hear people talk about the mysteries of the universe. For instance, what is the origin of man? Did he come from a distant galaxy? Wow! A little college chum of mine used to say, when a professor was talking, "I don't know what he's saying, but it's deep." He caught on to overly deep things, pretentious meanderings.

As to the origin of man, try Eden, think on Eve, the mother of all living. Then their is Adam, the first man. How can you be earlier than First? I remember a comedian debunking the saying, "The early bird gets the worm." "But what if some other bird gets there before him?" He was on to something. Maybe it was the pretensions of some of us--the making of mysteries out of things that have been revealed. It is as if simple answers are looked down on.

Back in the 60's it was popular for young people to carry a little red book of the sayings of Chairman Mao. Mao had a saying, "If we all furrow our brows, the answer will be found." Of course, false reasoning is a job for some people, literally. Without giant questions that can never be solved, they would be unemployed.

I love Psalm 131. David as calm as a weaned child. I believe in knowledge, as much as you can get. Moses had "all the knowledge of the Egyptians", according to Stephen. But God put him in the desert to further his knowledge.

Furrow away, but there are some things too deep for us all.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Her Jewelry Box

; you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace. Song of Songs 4:9, NIV

My memories of my wife's jewelry box are how poor it is. I still have it. It is one of the few things I took with me when I moved into my apartment. Not that this box and its contents have any quality or value. The box is plastic and the jewelry is cheap.

She did not care for such things, or of fancy clothes. She had one long gown, which she was buried in. No make up, no hair dos. A couple of bobby pins did it for her. Yet she could sparkle without them.

Once I was eating with her aunt and uncle when she came through the door in a wine colored corduroy coat. Her aunt commented on her new coat. She plucked at in an off handed manner. "It's cheap, but it'll get me through the winter," was all she said. She had a determined and cheerful manner. At that moment I thought, "I want to marry you!"

Her cheerful toughness never left her. She kept it through the thirty five years of our marriage until she died, knowing her time was limited to hours. She told me during our last talk, "Knowing you has been a trip."

"Really?", I asked. She looked at me in mock rebuke.

What will our robes be like in heaven, and what will our crowns be like? I long to see her finally decked out as she deserves.