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Archive for April 1st, 2009

The foundations of holiness are counter-intuitive

 The Socinians contend that the doctrine of the satisfaction of Christ doth overthrow the necessity of a holy life; the Papists say the same concerning the imputation of the righteousness of Christ unto our justification; the same charge is laid by others against the doctrine of the gratuitous election of God, the almighty efficacy of his grace in the conversion of sinners, and his faithfulness in the preservation of true believers in their state of grace unto the end.

 

On the other hand, the Scripture doth so place the foundations of all true and real holiness in these things, that without the faith of them, and an influence on our minds from them, it will not allow any thing to be so called.

The Works of John Owen Vol. 3, p. 566-7 View article…

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Thy Will Be Done

 

Gethsemane, garden of remembrance, the point at which our

Salvation hung as a millstone around thy neck.

Brave defender, oh blessed redeemer,

In whose hands our fate rests as yet,

How may we understand that perfect love?

 

Golgotha, the place of the skull, looming in the foreground,

Oh mighty sorrow as pain of love,

When looking to the heavens above,

You spoke the words that change our fate,

Father, not my will, but thy will be done.

Read more … Thy Will Be Done by M.G. Ellison.

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 Beatification

 

Lat. beatus, blessed

In the Roman Catholic church, beatification is the fourth step in the canonization process of a saint. It amounts to a statement or a “blessing” which allows the church to believe that this person is indeed in heaven. Once the blessing has occurred, the beatified person may be called “Blessed” (abbr. BI).

 

Note from Keith  – saying “bless you” after a sneeze doesn’t count for anything in the long run apparently.

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About 7% of Chinas population is Christian today, but their distribution is not even. In this section are given some of the nationally significant but less evangelized sections of the population.

1 The nearly 60 million Communist Party members are, by definition, atheists, but ideology is a facade to cover self-seeking opportunism. Disillusionment and defection to Christianity has led to many resignations. Pray that the Holy Spirit may convict many more of their sin and need. Among them are also many secret believers.

 

2 The armed forces, who are the protectors of the Marxist state, and who jealously guard their privileged position and network of industries. There are 2.8m in uniform, but very few Christians among them.

 

3 The ‘lost generation’, the young people mobilized as the Cultural Revolution Red Guards. The millions involved were morally warped and exploited, losing their youth, education prospects and hopes of betterment in the madness of those years. Pray that they may find hope in Christ.

 

4 Those still bound by the idolatrous superstitions of Daoism, Buddhism and the legalism of Confucianism. These customs and philosophies are being revived, but young people are not so attracted to them. A new religion, Falun Gong, gained world publicity and shocked the authorities in 1999 with a quiet protest in Beijing — they claim 70m followers in China. Pray for the millions still bound and needing the freedom only the gospel can give.

 

5 Children and young people under 18 number over 500m. It is illegal to teach them religious ‘superstitions’. The TSPM churches are not allowed to run Sunday Schools or youth groups — most have forgotten how or are afraid to minister to children and young people, but some are quietly doing more to disciple them. One of the great needs of China today is for teaching materials and the know-how of Christian ministry to this group.

 

6 University students (3m) are the key for the future. The shock of the events of 1989 have brought many to Christ, but most students are still unreached. Pray for:

a) Christians among them to be built up in their faith and to be fervent witnesses.

b) The establishment of Bible study groups on every one of the 1,054 campuses.

c) Those who study abroad. About 100,000 go overseas annually for study, but only about 25% return. Most go to Japan, USA, Europe and Australia. Their numbers in 1996 globally were 600,000. Among them is an unprecedented openness and a good proportion have come to the Lord.

 

7 Muslims number 25m, and are almost entirely linked to specific ethnic groups — the indigenous Uygur, Kazak, Uzbek, Kyrgyz, Tajik, Tatar of Xinjiang, the Salar of Qinghai, Dongxiang of Gansu and the Chinese Hui of Ningxia and scattered all over China. (See under the provinces below.) Islam is a sensitive issue in China because of a past history of Hui revolts and unrest in Xinjiang. Few ministries are targeting the Muslim peoples, and few Chinese believers feel adequately prepared for such outreach. Pray for the evangelization of these peoples and for the calling of committed workers to them.

 

8 Ethnic Minorities comprise 8.7% of the population, 100m people in 464 distinct non-Han ethno-linguistic groups.

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bible-4

Deuteronomy 18:1 – 20:20

Notable Verse 18:2 “They shall have no inheritance among their brothers; the LORD is their inheritance, as he promised them.

 

The whole tribe of Levi got nothing, at least in the eyes of the people. Nothing physical at any rate. The tribe were to consider God Himself their inheritance. It struck me reading this how much families can feud over who gets what, why an individual got a certain item that another wanted. What would happen if every Christian said to their family “Don’t bother leaving me anything, God is my inheritance, it is enough.”  It would be a fantastic witness to the world, but I can’t help fearing the reality of this situation.

 

Is doing this putting God to the test, something like playing with poisonous snakes? Would God be pleased with this action or would he say “A different time, a different place, a different reason”?

 

Rabbit  Trail Warning: In reading the Bible it seems that the priests always got the short end of the stick. No land, no inheritance, there were more stringent rules on their conduct and actions. It seems that most Christians live that way. 70+ countries have made Christianity illegal, evangelism forbidden. Most of the world lives in a post-Christian, never been Christian or Christians driven out land. We are constantly being asked to trust God as a father who may or may not provide for our needs, at least material ones. If that seems harsh, what can we tell the North Korean Christian living in a concentration camp, a Sudanese believer living in slavery, a starving Christian mother praying for milk for one more day and being denied? I don’t know what to do with this. Christians are constantly being judged to a different standard. Imagine a Christian who has an affair. The world screams “hypocrite” but has no problem with serial monogamy or sleeping around. If they have no problem with it for themselves, why should they be bothered by people who strive for an ideal they can’t meet. If it is a problem, why do they do the activity themselves. What do Christians really inherit of value? Nothing and everything.

 

Yet, despite my doubts, I would love to tell my family. You don’t need to leave me anything. I have God, what more could I need?

 

Luke 9:28 – 50

Notable Verse v. 45 “But they did not understand what this meant [Jesus just said he was going to be betrayed]. It was hidden from them, so they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.

 

Here is a very interesting interplay between God and man. God (Jesus reveals truth), yet it was hidden from them (Holy Spirit?) and the Apostles decide not to ask what he means. Who is responsible for their ignorance.?

 

Beyond the issue of God and/or man, there is the issue of the desire for ignorance itself. How many times have we, have I, asked God to show me something only to be terrified that He actually would. “Show me my sins.” “Show me how I can share the gospel more effectively.” “Teach me to trust and walk in greater obedience.” or the most terrifying prayer for Christians “Lord, teach me patience.”

 

Why would God hide the whole truth from them? Probably for the same reason God doesn’t show me all of my sin at once. I don’t think I could really handle it.  I’d like to think I was brave enough to survive, but I don’t know if I could. The Apostles must have felt the same way.  The man they have trusted in, left everything to follow, they had seen many miracles, had put their hopes on just told them He was going to die. I don’t know if I would be ready to learn more or stay in denial and hope that the idea goes away

 

Psalm 73:1 -28

Notable Verse v.13 “Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure; in vain I have washed my hands in innocence.”

 

I would like to think it is only children who say things like “It’s not fair!!!!” but let’s face it, we all do it. I imagine this comment is especially for true for Christians. We are constantly fighting an uphill stream against a world that at best thinks we are a bit backwards and crazy if not purposefully trying to shut down our voices.

 

It does seem that purity has little value. Imagine a gathering of co-workers on a Monday morning. One man is sharing in far too much detail about his weekend sexual adventures. Another is talking about a great party where alcohol flowed like water and everyone got wasted. Another is dishing out the new weeks gossip, another on how using “creative accounting” she was able to avoid paying taxes from her income. Finally it is your turn – “um…. Saturday I went to a prayer breakfast and met a friend for lunch… Sunday, I went to church….The pastor said something really interesting.” I can feel the embarrassment and shame leaping off the page. 

 

Luckily there is more to the story. Like the passage from Deuteronomy, God is our inheritance and our portion. We don’t have to compete, we shouldn’t even try. The ungodly, will have their day, either in this world or the world to come. There are quiet benefits in obedience, even if we can’t always see them and when we can’t feel them

 

Proverbs 12:10

“A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal; but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.

 

I remember when I was a teenager coming to the odd realization, or at least was able to put into words, very few people do evil for the sake of evil. Almost everyone had what seemed to them a perfectly logical reason for doing what they did. I remember being and I guess I still am intrigued by this.

 

The first idea that popped into my head as I read this passage today was the idea of abortion. Ask someone who supports abortion rights why and you will hear many reasons like being concerned about overpopulation, the rise in poverty, not able to care for a child, the child will have massive birth defects etc… and the list can go on. But in the end, what do you have? A dead baby and a woman dealing with the aftermath of killing her own child.

 

I would love to keep this verse as an “out there in the world problem” but how often do we do the same thing. How much do we justify our sins, just as evil, on a daily basis.

 

 Even the “best” of things can be done for the wrong intentions and is an act of cruelty. Let’s say I volunteer to do something at church like teach Sunday school. I really don’t care about the people, but I want to move up in the church hierarchy and know this is a good place to start. In the end, the people get a teacher that doesn’t care about them. I see them as something to be stepped over or on to achieve something I believe is for the greater good, me having power.

 

(btw, this is not the reason I teach Sunday school.  🙂 )

 

The second thing that hit me in this verse was the saying of Jesus regarding the care of “the least of these” The proof of goodness is not in how we treat our superiors, or our equals. The proof is in how we care for the weakest and frailest among us.

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Persecuted ChurchTurkey: ‘Insulting Turkishness’ Case Proceeds Under Revised Law

 

ISTANBUL, March 20 (Compass Direct News) – Turkey’s decision last month to try two Christians under a revised version of a controversial law for “insulting Turkishness” because they spoke about their faith came as a blow to the country’s record of freedom of speech and religion. A Silivri court on Feb. 24 received the go-ahead from the Ministry of Justice to try Christians Turan Topal and Hakan Tastan under the revised Article 301 – a law that has sparked outrage among proponents of free speech as journalists, writers, activists and lawyers have been tried under it. The court had sent the case to the Ministry of Justice after the government on May 8, 2008 put into effect a series of changes – which critics have called “cosmetic” – to the law. The justice ministry decision came as a surprise to Topal and Tastan and their lawyer, as missionary activities are not illegal in Turkey. Defense lawyer Haydar Polat said no concrete evidence of insulting Turkey or Islam has emerged since the case first opened two years ago. “The trial will continue from where it left off – to be honest, we thought they wouldn’t give permission [for the case to continue],” said Polat, “because there was no persuasive evidence of ‘degrading Turkishness and Islam’ in the case file.”

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Caring for the Animals on the Ark II

by John Woodmorappe

How Were the Animals Cared For?

We must distinguish between the long-term care required for animals kept in zoos and the temporary, emergency care required on the Ark. The animals’ comfort and healthy appearance were not essential for emergency survival during one stressful year, where survival was the primary goal.

Studies of nonmechanized animal care indicate that eight people could have fed and watered 16,000 creatures. The key is to avoid unnecessary walking around. As the old adage says, “Don’t work harder, work smarter.”

Therefore, Noah probably stored the food and water near each animal. Even better, drinking water could have been piped into troughs, just as the Chinese have used bamboo pipes for this purpose for thousands of years. The use of some sort of self-feeders, as is commonly done for birds, would have been relatively easy and probably essential. Animals that required special care or diets were uncommon and should not have needed an inordinate amount of time from the handlers. Even animals with the most specialized diets in nature could have been switched to readily sustainable substitute diets. Of course, this assumes that animals with specialized diets today were likewise specialized at the time of the Flood.

 

How Did the Animals Breathe?

Based on my two decades of research, I do not believe that anything more was needed than a basic, non-mechanical ventilation system. The density of animals on the Ark, compared to the volume of enclosed space, was much less than we find in some modern, mass animal housing used to keep stock raised for food (such as chicken farms), which requires no special mechanical ventilation.

It is reasonable to believe that one relatively small window would have adequately ventilated the Ark. Of course if there were a window along the top center section, which the Bible allows, all occupants would be even more comfortable. It is also interesting to note that the convective movement of air, driven by temperature differences between the warm-blooded animals and the cold interior surfaces, would have been significant enough to drive the flow of air. Plus, wind blowing into the window would have enhanced the ventilation further. However, if supplementary ventilation was necessary, it could have been provided by wave motion, fire thermal, or even a small number of animals harnessed to slow-moving rotary fans.

What Did Noah and His Family Do with the Animal Waste?

As much as 12 U.S. tons (11 m. tons) of animal waste may have been produced daily. The key to keeping the enclosures clean was to avoid the need for Noah and his family to do the work. The right systems could also prevent the need to change animal bedding. Noah could have accomplished this in several ways. One possibility would be to allow the waste to accumulate below the animals, much as we see in modern pet shops. In this regard, there could have been slatted floors, and animals could have trampled their waste into the pits below. Small animals, such as birds, could have multiple levels in their enclosures, and waste could have simply accumulated at the bottom of each.

The danger of toxic or explosive manure gases, such as methane, would be alleviated by the constant movement of the Ark, which would have allowed manure gases to be constantly released. Secondly, methane, which is half the density of air, would quickly find its way out of a small opening such as a window. There is no reason to believe that the levels of these gases within the Ark would have approached hazardous levels.

Alternatively, sloped floors would have allowed the waste to flow into large central gutters. Noah’s family could have then dumped this overboard without an excessive expenditure of manpower.

The problem of manure odor may, at first thought, seem insurmountable. But we must remember that, throughout most of human history, humans lived together with their farm animals. Barns, separate from human living quarters, are a relatively recent development.

While the voyage of the Ark may not have been comfortable or easy, it was certainly doable, even under such unprecedented circumstances.

 

<http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v2/n2/caring-for-the-animals>

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