Thursday, December 22, 2005

A Lesson For Me In Sufficiency

Well, here you are again checking my blog to see if I have anything interesting to say. I'm sorry to say that I'm off being a proud and enthusiastic single parent to my 6 1/2 yr. old daughter; or most likely working like mad at my piano playing and song writing, trying to make a joyful noise that points to the Lord; or maybe I just put shoes on a draft horse and I'm to tired right now to do anything but move my eyes; or hopefully studying scripture so that I can be a useful member for the body of Christ. Who knows? But thanks for being out there willing to talk about the things we find exciting about scripture together. I suppose that's one of the ways all the members of the Body stay connected. Until I can make enough money at studying the Word and writing and playing piano to that end, I guess I'll see you here and there from time to time. And that should be more than sufficient. I thank Christ for all of the sufficiency, and the excitment that someone who loves God's word has stopped by.


Monday, October 31, 2005

Witness Error, Mistaken Identity

After reading a periodic post by Josh on his Human Relations blog, I thought that I would get some of my experiences with the "jehovah witness" religion on the record as well. As a Christian, the differences you have with them begin as soon as they come in the door. They have their own translation of the Bible, which was created along the same line of agenda driven thinking as the original Bible study which propelled the early JW,s back in the early 1800's. And everything that emanates from that unique and distorted treatment of God's Word follows suit.

But when I let my JW friends in the house again yesterday, as always, I regard it as a chance to sharpen myself. Like the Proverb that says something like, "Like stone on stone, men sharpen each other". I have a hard time thinking on my feet and they give me an opportunity to practice the live discussion of God's Word. They seldom argue, and so it's a nice opportunity to share what the Bible says and converse with someone who does not get into a heated arguement. Frankly, it's hard anywhere to find people who enjoy talking about the things they find exciting about the Scripture. However, with these folks, once every few months is more than enough. The material they've been taught is so layered, and crafted in such a way, that they can't give you a straight answer about anything. Nothing, in itself, can they put forward as an answer to my curiosities about their beliefs, but, layer upon layer of disconnected "almost truths". "Almost truths" are not even "half truths", but "non-truths" that sound great as they are being hastily put in front of you...along side all their spectacular contorted artwork to look at. But their evasiveness and procrastination , always telling you that they will get to your question in a while, or next time, marks them as extremely well trained. They cannot sum up their beliefs in an intelligible and contrite way. Making them highly suspicious in their sincerety. I suppose they are afraid it will sound plain ludicrous.
But they don't hold a candle to the mormons. Those guys are out there propounding an amazing mental bellyflop which is based on a dangerous fairytale. And they're destined to overtake Christianity in esteem and popularity the way it seems to be going. They can be a useful teaching tool as an example of what people are capable of believing...however, I suppose, to a much greater degree, they represent a heart breakingly gullible lot.

All you need to get through these episodes is a good literal rendering of what God has told us so far. A version of the Bible that corresponds to what the Author actually said to the guys he picked to say it to. He could not have said all of the things He is alleged to have said in these various fashion marketing Bibles because they all say things that mean something different from each other. That can't be Truth. They come mostly from sincere people who are simply confused and so they changed their rendering of the Bible to mean something that wasn't as confusing to them. Thinking they were saying it better than God could say it. Instead of seeking out someone who could show them how to work through the Bible, and let the Bible itself, alleviate their confusion. That's what Paul said to Timothy. He said to study, and to study all Scripture. Because that's what Paul had been taught by God. Not a bad Teacher. Jesus said not bread alone but EVERY word that comes from the mouth of God was necessary for Life. Part of it, without the rest, may mess you up but the whole thing in completeness will make sense. Certainly seems to me like what, in part, He's saying.

And not a bad teacher as well is Rhinelander Bible Church with regards to questions on exactly where the jehovah's witness's part company with Scripture. Not something very high on the list of "things of interest", but we certainly wouldn't hesitate to assist anyone who finds themselves at a loss when confronted with the JW's. And I better make it clear that I speak for myself and not in any way for Rhinelander Bible Church. I'm simply looking for an excuse to get off of this subject and on to something more worthwhile, while holding the door open for anyone who might need some help seeing past the lack of sound doctrine of the JW's. It's hard as a Christian to tell someone who comes to your door and allegedly wants to talk about Christ, to get lost. Until, that is, you find out how offensive their ideas are to Scripture.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

What are your neighbors doing?

The other day I was traveling along in my car listening to a Christian radio station and a blurb which was named Parable (something or other) came on and a young fellow, and by that I mean somewhere between a boy and a man, said, "Today's parable is...'Don't think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing'. As it reads in the New Living Translation of the Holy Bible". "Thank you," he said, "this has been the Parable of the day", or parable something or other. Well, it was not a parable. But that is not what struck me. I sat there and I thought to myself, what... what in the world does that mean? This is Truth here, after all, that we are dealing with. What is the truth that is revealed in this verse, I asked myself? I couldn't get anything out of it. I thought of many things it may mean. Like, be interested in other people's business and what they are doing. Why? Where is the eternal value in that. Does that just open the door for nosy people. Or for people to involve themselves in affairs of another that they just have no place in. Affairs which they do not have sufficient information about or may not even be able to understand. In many situations it's not o.k. to stick your nose in other peoples business. Does that mean a believer is obliged to share his personal affairs with other believers upon their request? At best, it sounded like a poor representation of a bible verse.

So I finally looked at the verse and what it said, at home one day, with the aid of a few other resources. Along with a Greek dictionary, I looked at the verse in the KJV, NIV, and my NASV. And of course, read the whole first, second, and third chapter of Philippians, to gain the perspective of what was being talked about. I came to the crux of the problem I was having when I saw the verse in my interlineary Bible translation of Greek and English.

A rendering of the verse in the New American Standard Bible reads,
Phil. 2:3-4, "Do nothing from selfishness or vain conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves, do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others".

...which seems to include and summarize all of the Greek words that were written in the original text of verse 4 as well as verse 3, of which it was a part. The original text which we can trace back to being in circulation at the time of the lives of the apostles. A letter which Paul wrote to the church of Philippi in which he left nothing to interpretation. He never did. There was one truth, and Christ had chosen him and the other apostles to deliver that truth.

The verse that I heard on the radio, that made no sense to me, seemed to even contradict a valuable principle contained in the rest of the New Testament, which was to worry about only yourself, and not others. Something a parent is constantly trying to teach their child.

And then I saw in the Greek that there was nothing provided for the NLT's use of the word "what". The interpreters who had written that verse in the New Living Translation added a word that you just can't get out of the Greek text. And they wrote it at the expense of what Christ really meant in Paul's letter, which had a larger meaning of not just "what" but also "how" these other people are doing. If He even meant "what" at all. The interpreters of the NLT also wrote verse four as a complete sentence, whereas in the Greek text, verse four is the second half of a larger sentence. To make verse 4 a complete sentence, standing alone, is changing it from what Christ told Paul. In the interpreters (translators) attempts to somehow make it easier to understand, they made it mean something different in their NLT. They took all of the Truth out of it. It's a beautiful verse which, among other things, offers us some ways and means by which we can regard others as more important than ourselves, and truly show our humility. Which is very hard to do. But it's even harder without a true representation of what God is telling us. Be careful out there with all of those "message" bibles. If one allows someone to get between them and the Word as it was delivered to Paul and the other apostles, and recorded in their letters to us, exactly as it was Breathed to them, then, it just might not be the Truth anymore.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Exorcise or be exorcised???

Well here's a little exercise. This is an excerpt from a Reuters news article dated 10-13-05 on a Vatican sponsored class on exorcism:

One is Father Gabriele Nanni, who attended Thursday's opening class and spoke to Reuters during a break."First thing is the priest has to know if the devil is at work in a person or if the problem is somewhere else," he said.Nanni said there are four sure signs that pointed to demonic possession rather than psychological problems.He listed them as:"When someone speaks or understands languages they normally do not; when their physical strength is disproportionate to their body size or age; when they are suddenly knowledgeable about occult practices; when they have a physical aversion to sacred things, such as the communion host or prayers".

After attending several catholic weddings, I could envision this:
There was a time when very few of the catholic priests understood or could speak Latin; that wasn't a requirement for priesthood. Many priests came from poor uneducated backgrounds and were simply taught to pronounce the words to give mass, speaking a language they normally do not. Regarding strength in proportion to body size, I've seen catholic priests who were very big and whose lack of strength was very disproportionate to their body size. Occult practices are manmade, satan doesn't have an instruction book, all one needs to do is consult his fleshly mind and no doubt could conjure up any number of things satan would approve of. And then, finally, at these catholic weddings, I've seen a priest who had a terrible aversion to other members of the body of Christ who happend not to belong to the catholic church, but who God still considers sanctified in Christ, and would not allow them to take part in the Christian fellowship of communion or prayers. Showing an aversion to sacred things himself. Is this priest then, a person with psychological problems, or is satan in him (he seems to share the four sure signs of demonic possession as described by the Vatican), or is he just a victim of himself? Or maybe a victim of bad bible teaching?

But getting back to the class on exorcism. "Speaks or understands languages they normally do not."??? Could this be a Vatican sponsored plan to systematically rid the world of present day "speakers of tongues"? Or will the so-called tongues speakers be saved by the fact that they don't actually speak the intelligable tongues of other nations, as the tongues speakers of the early forming Christian Church were gifted with to prepare them to go out to other lands?

It certainly is hard to remain serious in the face of all of this.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

For Instance...

"Almighty God," wrote Comenius in one of his books, "what is happening? Must the whole world perish?" And, with many thanks to God, the answer is, in due time, yes. My flesh does not want the world to perish. But my flesh is dead with no hope except to grow old, and useless, and die, leaving a world, which is visibly decaying year by year ever since its creation, a better place? Really? Maybe the flesh that follows for a brief while until it too realizes that your satisfied fleshly lusts finally leave you empty. Luckily God has shown me how to keep my mind set on the Spirit.

I'm constantly being plagued by the dilemma of how to raise my 6 year old daughter, with the help as well as the hindrance of public school, within a model of a world view that allows her to live "in the world" physically, but "apart" from the world spiritually.

The title that Comenius gave his allegory "The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart" seems to have the components that help describe the world we are told we live in by the New Testament. I think I'm going to familiarize myself with Comenius' works and see how he might help me put into practice the knowledge and wisdom of the gospel of God and pass it along to my daughter. The credit for putting Comenius in front of me would go first to Christianity Today and then to The credit for Comenius, to Jesus Christ. Next time!