Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Quote from Winston Churchill



“How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property – either as a child, a wife, or a concubine – must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the faith: all know how to die but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith.” 

--Winston Churchill

Pamela Geller

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The wood, the fire and the knife: between Isaac and Jesus


This is from the blog Daily Meditation:

Genesis 22:6:  And Abraham took the wood of the burnt-offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. And they went both of them together.

Abraham sacrificed his son in a prophetic act (which he may not be aware of) for what God would do with his own Son, Jesus.

While the two of them (Abraham and Isaac) were going along the way (Abraham going to sacrifice Isaacin obedience to God and Isaac with the wrong notion); they had three things with them:  wood, fire and knife (Genesis 22:1-19).

Wood

Abraham took the wood and laid it on Isaac. That was exactly what happened with Jesus. He had the wooden cross on which he was going to be crucified laid on him (Luke 22-23). (Isaac was also laid on the wood, but Abraham was prevented from going through with cutting up his throat by God.)

I imagine that Jesus going along the road to the place of the crucifixion with the wood of the cross is to construct the bridge that links heaven to earth.

I’ll explain.

While Jesus Christ was talking with Nathaniel the first chapter of the book of John, he told him that he would see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the son of man (John 1:44-51), referring to himself.

That was a direct reference to what Jacob saw in his dream, while on the run from his brother, Esau (Genesis 28). He stopped at a place, placed his head on a stone and dreamt of heaven opening and the angel of God ascending and descending on a ladder set up to heaven. And Jesus’ effort on the cross, reached heaven and linked it to earth.

From his words to Nathaniel, Jesus was communicating that he is the ladder that links heaven to earth. That wood of the cross, that Jesus carried to Golgotha stands for Jesus linking heaven to earth. The cross stands for his death and in his death, he bridged the gap between God and man, and reconciliation with God is now preached in his name (2 Corinthians 5:14-21) to all nations.

That wood/cross touched the earth and was the channel of his blood flowing to the earth. He is the one from heaven and His blood flowed from that wood and was released to the earth.

That wood also stands for a tree- Jesus is the tree of life. He is the source of life. That is his spiritual description (James 1:1-5, 1John 5:10-13). We read that the life of a person is represented by the blood (Deuteronomy 12:23), as the blood of Jesus flows, his life flows. As the tree of life, the blood that flows from him releases his life to us, as we embrace that reality by faith.

That is why when Paul said he does not want to know anything among the Corinthians except Christ and him crucified (2Corinthians 2:1-9, Galatians 6:14-18, 1Corinthians 1:18-31).

He also said that through the cross the world is crucified to him and he to the world i.e. he is dead to the world and the world is dead to him. That is a separation; the world is separated from him and him from the world. He becomes a man set apart. And the sacrifice of Jesus impacts us that deeply.

The cross sent Jesus out of the world, making him otherworldly; the same with us in our identification with the cross of Jesus.

Paul said that his preaching of the cross is the dividing line (separation point akin to death) because until you see your sin in the light of the sacrifice that Jesus Christ had to pay to redeemed you from its consequences and influence, it is then you will respond in full devotion and appreciation to him.

Not seeing the cross accurately is the making of lukewarm Christians, with mixed up identity, mixed with the world. They are not dead to the world, neither the world to them? We need the restoration of the preaching of the cross: the implication of it and its demand, which is that each one of us is called to carry her cross and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23).

Fire

Fire is a natural phenomenon and it is a necessity when the focus is a burnt offering.

Fire also stands as a symbol of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4), both for judgment and for empowerment. It is written that God makes his ministers flames of fire (Hebrews 1:7), empowers then with the fire from the presence of God.

We read that Jesus Christ offered himself to God by the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 9:14) to God. The offering of Jesus was through the Holy Spirit.

And it is the fire that same he releases to us, to bring us the reality of the truth that is in him: the presence of the Holy Spirit applies the work of Jesus on the cross into our life, saving us; as it is written that if any does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his (Romans 8:9).

The fire is a necessary part of the sacrificial system of the Old Testament, as a symbol of total commitment and devotion. When God gave Jericho into the hands of the children of Israel, he warned that the whole of it should be dedicated to him (Joshua 6:1-26); no one should keep any part of it (gold silver and bronze metal should be put in the treasury of the Lord). The whole place is to be burnt with fire, in total concentration to God.

Paul has as his aim in ministry that he would offer to God the offering of the gentiles sanctified by the Holy Spirit (he wrote that to the Roman Christian). What he meant, at least partly, was that the impact of his ministry among the gentiles should result in those under his ministry to have absolute devotion to God (Romans 15:15-16).

Earlier, he had written to the same group of Christians, pleading with them to present their bodies, living sacrifices (perpetually on fire), holy and acceptable to God being their reasonable service (Romans 12:1-2). Being a living sacrifice means a total devotion of the will, mind and body to God, totally committed to his will. They would not be conformed to this world but be transformed through the fire of devotion to always be sensitive to the will of God.

Because of the total commitment that being hung on the tree was for Jesus, the same is demanded in those who come to God through him, enjoying the benefit of his sacrifice having their sins forgiven. As it is written, he that is forgiven much loves much, i.e. she is devoted more (Luke 7:44-50).

The bible admonished that we should share the mind that Christ has (Philippians 2: 4-11), in total commitment to the will for God. He is our examples and we are meant to follow in his steps.

Knife

Before the fire is applied, there has to be the knife applied to the neck of the sacrificial lamb?

The knife to the neck is the act of men through whom the pain of death comes.

For Jesus, it starts with Judas. Jesus Christ has said that though he is going to die, woe to the person through whom it would happen (Matthew 26:24). Also, there is the religious hierarchy who actually seized him and handed him over to the Roman authority; and lastly Pilate.

The wife of Pilate had a dream on the night before the sentencing of Jesus from which she told her husband not to have anything to do with Jesus.

The innocence of Jesus had been confirmed over and over. But eventually the people said they wanted the criminal Barabbas freed and Jesus to be crucified. He was crucified by popular demand of the crowd whipped into a state of frenzy by the Pharisees.

While Jesus hung on the cross, he said that God should release forgiveness, as his last wish before his death, to everyone responsible for his death. He holds no grudge against those who put the knife to his neck, figuratively.

Also in our lives many people would do things to us, we would go through the fiery furnace of affliction an as a direct effect of people’s action to us (or inaction).

That happened to the apostles. When two of them were flogged, they rejoiced that they are counted worthy to suffer for Christ (Acts 5:40-42). James says that we should count it all joy when we fall into various trials (James 1:1-7).

Virtually all trials are like the knives put on the flesh of our neck through the hand of men. It is therefore an opportunity to die to the flesh. Paul says I die daily (1Corinthians 15:30-34). That is not a tea party at all. He said he fought with beasts in Ephesus and his life is constantly in danger.

Conclusion

In my analysis of the components of the sacrifice of Jesus (taking a cue from Abraham’s intended sacrifice of Isaac), I have sought to relate it to our individual lives.

In the wood, we receive the lesson of carrying our cross daily, in the fire we are to offer ourselves to God in total devotion and in the knife we are to face difficulties from the hand of men with equanimity declaring your faith even in God who raise Jesus from the dead (Colossians 2:11-12). This is so that we might experience in our life his resurrection just like Paul wanted: to attain to the resurrection from the death.

Sometimes we are to apply the knife to our own neck, in self denial and discipline. In the book of Proverbs we are told that when we are before a ruler we should put the knife to one’s own throat in a symbolic sense, representing self-restraint.

Self-restrain and denial is the gate to experiencing the resurrection life of God.

The fire also has something to do with you as a symbol of the consecrated life; our life must be run on the dictate and agenda of God, down to the minutest details: everything on fire.

And the cross is another symbol of devotion but the focus is on what you deny yourself of, devolve yourself from, while the fire is also a symbol of devotion, it is however focused on  what you commit yourself in to as in God, in devotion, the thing you are doing, where you are going.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Humility and the Hitchhiker


Humility and the Hitchhiker
By Shayne Sprague

So I never pick up hitch-hikers as a rule. I don't know what moved me to do so today. I was heading from North Platte to Brady and he was just outside of North Platte. He jumped in and said "thanks for stopping".  I said no problem, I'm going to Brady about 23 miles up the road, and I’ll take you that far.

      As we were conversing, I noticed he reeked of booze.  I also noticed his wrinkled, sun darkened face, his shoddy hair and clothes, unshaven face, and only the clothes on his back.

      But what I noticed most was his piercing, large blue eyes. They say the eyes are the window to the soul, and I believe it, if you look closely, you can pretty much tell the kind of soul a person has through their eyes. His eyes were almost indescribable. They were so mesmerizing, not an ounce of hate in them. Looking at his very rough exterior, I could tell he'd been down a very hard road. Somehow, despite the road he had been down, there was no hate in his eyes...only love.

      I asked him if he wanted a smoke, and he said yes, so I gave him one, then I let him keep the whole pack, for which he seemed genuinely grateful for. I started asking him where he was from, where he was headed, does he have family, etc. He proceeded to tell me he had been on the road for 6 days, coming from Arizona where he had recently had a heart attack and heart surgery. He was pretty much healed up but couldn't find work. He had his bed roll and backpack stolen in Colorado. He was heading back to his birthplace of Kansas City, Mo., which is where I was born as well.  He said he lost his wife to a brain tumor 10 years ago, and she is buried in Norman, Oklahoma. He said he never had kids because his wife couldn't have any. He had no family aside from cousins, whom he'd lost, touch with over the years. We talked the rest of the way about politics, and other superficial stuff, all the while, my gut was telling me there was something about this guy that I couldn't put my finger on, but it was something special.

      The whole time I was kind of reflecting on some of my own hard times and struggles, some of which were self induced. I mean, here is a homeless man that just had heart surgery, but was smoking and drinking. I too, have had my battles with alcohol and drugs, so I understand. I found myself thinking "but for the Grace of God, there go I."  And that’s the truth. I'm lucky to have what I have after what I've been through, let alone lucky to be alive.

      So we get to Brady and I say "well, this is the end of my line."  He says, "I really appreciate the ride and the cigarettes."  To which I replied, “no problem, when we stop, I'm going to give you some money too."  (A decision I had subconsciously made miles back down the road.)  He said thank you, I can get a cup of coffee or something.

      I would like to clarify at this point, my whole reason for telling this story.  It's not that I want a pat on the back...could care a less about that.  It's not that I felt sorry for the guy, although I definitely empathized with him. I have over the years, on many occasions given food and/or money to homeless people. Again, no pat on back wanted or needed. On many of those occasions, it was quite obvious that said homeless person was going to drink the money right up. The Bible says something to the effect of   "give with your right hand, and don't tell your left hand."  To me, that means don't gloat. It means do the right things for the right reasons without expecting anything in return. That is something my parents deserve credit for.

      Lately, as I look around at the world, I find it a very ugly place.  As I've stated, I've been through some pretty hard times in my life. There were many kind people that helped me along the way. There were also many that turned away. I've always felt that even when I had nothing tangible to offer that a kind word, a gesture, or a smile was the least I could do, and to try to refrain from doing any harm.

      Some of you may be thinking, or like me, have thought, I just got duped by that dude. One time at a gas station in Colorado, a guy walked up to me and asked me for some cash for gas so he could get back home. His van was at the gas pumps. I said sorry dude, I'm all tapped out. I sat in my car feeling guilty and walked over, gave him $20 bucks, and returned to my car. As I watched him, he jumped in his van without getting gas and hit the interstate!  Duped indeed!  But that's cool. The guy I picked up today asked for nothing, other than sticking his thumb out for a ride. I never felt duped at any point.

      The reason for sharing this story is because of the look in his eyes when we parted ways. As I mentioned, I told him I was going to give him some money. I was thinking maybe $20 bucks. When I reached in my wallet, something compelled me to pull out a $50 dollar bill. I handed him the 50, and he looked at me with those piercing blue eyes surrounded by that weathered face with a look of astonishment that I can't describe, but I found myself fighting back tears. He was obviously both surprised and genuinely grateful. He struggled to say thank you, and he shook my hand. I said you’re welcome brother, best of luck to you. He got out of the vehicle and before he shut the door he looked at me with those eyes again, as if he was looking into MY soul, and said,  " thanks again, you really don't know what this means to me."  I said, “you have no idea what it means to me!"

      As I drove off I was in tears because I was so touched. You see, I felt as though I just handed myself $50. I always pray that I can be of use to my fellow man, and I believe that God puts people in our lives for a reason. The Bible also says give and you shall receive. What I received today was a small miracle from a homeless man with blue eyes that reminded me there is still some good in this world, that I have a lot to be grateful for. Honestly, I don't think the money or the cigarettes meant nearly as much to him as receiving a smile, and a display of genuine kindness in what can be such a cold, cruel world.  As for the $50 bucks, and can I afford it? Who cares? For my $50, I too, received a smile, and a genuine display of kindness that was worth every penny. I am truly touched, I almost feel like I was looking into the eyes of my higher power. In a sense, I was, because he is out there, all I have to do is look.