I believe that Easter is an important enough event that it bears mentioning in this blog. As I think of it, I think of how important the resurrection of Christ actually is. Many people believe that he didn't come back to life - that it was a hoax or a myth, but it isn't really important. They believe that what Jesus taught is the most important thing about the whole Jesus story. But it isn't.

You see, Jesus conquering death is the only reason we have to believe that we can too, if we follow Him. If He merely died and rotted away somewhere, where does that leave us? Sure we can love each other and feed the poor, but we have no real hope, do we, if the resurrection is a myth. It is a good thing that there is plenty of evidence to believe. Maybe this evidence will stir some faith in those who just aren't sure what to believe.

I think it has chilled some recently, but there was a movement in Christian circles to ban the traditional name for this holiday and call it Resurrection Sunday instead. I mock these types of movements usually, but I certainly understand why this particular one came about. To Christians, this holiday isn’t about a big bunny, eggs, and a ton of candy. No, it is about the hope and the delivery of all in the world to overcome death and escape the bounds that we are stuck in and conditioned to from birth. Still, “Easter”, in present name, means that to me. I guess I am fine with it.

I am reminded at this time of the year how miraculous the Christian faith really is. A fairly large group of individuals followed their spiritual leader only to watch him miserably and shamefully die. From all accounts, they and their new belief system took a large blow. This execution also killed the new religion of these men and women. They went back to their old lives with their tails between their legs.

Then, something happened. The new faith surged! There was talk of this man Jesus actually be seen – returning from the dead as He said He would and talking and teaching to His followers. Even though the tomb was empty and there was no sign of the body, that doesn’t mean he resurrected, does it? Many of the skeptics accused Jesus’ followers from bribing the soldiers guarding the tomb and stealing the body. There were all kinds of theories.

Yet, something happened that took these dejected followers from their hopeless lives and brought them back to preaching Jesus resurrected. They, by the hoards, were willingly dying for this new belief system. Non-believing historians such as the Roman Tacitis and the Jewish Josephus recorded the unlikely events of this new Christian group - that they grew from nothing and hopelessness, to zealots in the name of this Jesus who was rumored to have conquered death. The disturbing query was this: why would these people come back to this faith, preaching a resurrected Jesus if they merely stole and hid the body? Why would they willingly die for a cause they knew was a lie? They knew if they really saw Him. They knew if they really hid his body? What would they gain but death?

Today, as we watch the kiddies run and find their eggs – when we are gorging on ham and chocolate, remember the resurrection. It is more than a rumor about one teacher long ago coming back to life. It was that and more. Easter reminds us that life-changing hope was resurrected by a group of people who actually knew whether or not there was hope. The facts they really knew and their lives that had to respond to those facts gives hope to us all.

In sickness and in health

Robertson McQuilken was president of Columbia Bible College and Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina. His wife, Muriel, was not only a devoted wife and mother, but also a painter, speaker, hostess for the college, fabulous cook, and host of her own radio program. Then Muriel was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Initially, the college board arranged for care, but then McQuilken decided to take early retirement to care for his wife.

In spite of her deterioration, McQuilken stood by her and continued to love her deeply. Eventually she rarely did more than mumble "nonwords." He wondered if he would ever hear her sweet voice again. Then came February 14, 1995. McQuilken writes:
Valentine's Day was always special at our house because that was the day in 1948 that Muriel accepted my marriage proposal. On the eve of Valentine's Day in 1995…I bathed Muriel on her bed, kissed her good night…and whispered a prayer over her, "Dear Jesus, you love sweet Muriel more than I, so please keep my beloved through the night; may she hear the angel choirs…"

The next morning while Muriel slowly emerged from sleep, I dipped into memories of some the happy Lover's Days long gone. Finally she popped awake and, as she often did, smiled at me. Then, for the first time in months, she spoke, calling out to me in a voice clear as a crystal chime, "Love… love… love…" I ran to embrace her. "Honey, you really do love me, don't you?" Holding me with her eyes and patting my back, she responded with the only words she could find to express agreement. "I'm nice," she said.

adapted from The One Year® Book of Christian History by E. Michael and Sharon Rusten, Tyndale House Publishers (2003), pp 90-91

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The secret of dealing with anger is putting the things that cause your anger in perspective. Anger CAN be a good thing, but most often it is not. It is good if it motivates you to do something positive as a result of it. However, the other outcomes of anger are harmful. One can stew in their anger and put stress on their minds and bodies. Or, anger can motivate people to do something DEstructive. So, if you play the odds, the best thing to do is to let go of it.

That is where perspective comes in. I am having trouble with finances right now. That makes me upset and angry if I allow it to. The first thing we like to do is blame. I could blame my wife. She had a part in it, by quitting a job, being unemployed for months, and then taking only a part-time job when she did go back to work. On top of that, she spends too much, in my opinion.

I could blame God. He could arrange it so I would get a heavy winfall from someplace.

Or, the most painful, I could blame myself. Blaming the self is the least likely place people target in the blame game. We like to be victims, don't we? If someone else is doing something to us, we don't have near the hit on the ego and we can fantasize that if life was fair, we would be happy.

I would say blaming God is the most prevalent of the targets we have. There SEEMS to be no negative outcome. We don't have to deal with the friction blaming someone in our lives would cause; we wouldn't have to deal with self-worth and all the ugliness and pain that goes with that, either. No, we build a straw man (God) and blame Him. That way we get to blame, but do not suffer the physical consequence of it.

There are spiritual consequences, however. Oh, it isn't that God will punish us for blaming Him. He is bigger than that - and more loving. No, instead we separate ourselves further from the only One that can really help us with the problem, or the peace we need as a result of the problem. More importantly than that, we separate ourselves from a life of grace and communion with our Creator.

So, I let the anger go by putting it into perspective. I try to discover the actual source of the problem, not to blame, but to gain understanding. With understanding, comes peace. I, then, look at how things could be worse. I praise God that I have the blessings that I DO. I pray that I will see, understand, and learn from the trial - that I may be better as a result of it and that I will shine as a result of this "polishing".

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It is easy to get full of yourself. You look around and think, "I don't live like THAT guy," or "I would never do what SHE did." We look around to justify are own wretchedness.

God did not call us to be better than our neighbors; He called us to be perfect. Don't misunderstand; He doesn't expect us to be perfect. No, He just wants us to admit that we aren't and we cannot be in His presence without His grace - no matter how good we think we are.

What do we do instead? What have I caught MYSELF doing? I rest on my "good deed" laurels or my so-called pious living. My life is not THAT pious and my very best "righteous cloak" is a mere filthy rag to God.

Jesus told a story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people:

"Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: 'Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people--robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man over here. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.'

Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, 'God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.'"

Jesus commented, "The tax man, not the Pharisee, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you're going to end up flat on your face, but if you're willing to accept who you are AND God's grace, you will become more than you are."
(Edited from The Message [a Bible paraphrase])
I have known that story for years. I have believed that I understood it and lived it. I guess I will always struggle to grasp it because here I am in another fight with myself over it.

"Several years ago Dr. (Billy) Graham was interviewed on PrimeTime Live. He was sitting somberly in a chair when the last question came his way: "What do you want people to say about you when you're gone?" His response took many by surprise. "I don't want people to say anything about me. I want them to talk about my Savior. The only thing I want to hear is Jesus saying, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant.'" Then he bowed his head and said softly, "But I'm not sure I'm going to hear that." It was a rare but honest look into the true nature of Billy Graham's heart. In spite of all he's done for the work of the Kingdom, he still sees himself unworthy of God's commendation"
(from Embracing Eternity by Tim LaHaye, Jerry B. Jenkins and Frank M. Martin)

I should be so humble. So what are my sins? They are too many to list. One obvious one is having the impudence to think that anything I write here should be considered important enough to post to the public. Such audacity! I harbor a lot of things in my heart that I can't seem to purge. I have a friend that always talks about his son. I hate his son's name. It is too pansy for me. If I could just have an opinion and desert it, it would be okay. However, it is everything I can do to NOT say something about it. Why!?! Only by the grace of God have I not hurt my friend with this nonsense.

My wife was in a depressed mood today. Although I presented myself as sympathetic, my wretchedness was making a speech to my psyche, "How dare her be in this mood now!? She has used up all the rights for her depression by now. You deserve peace, not this wife-manufactured hardship!"

Oh, wretched self.

These are just examples. Thoughts like this permeate my day - every day. Oh, wretched self!

All I can do is confess it and hand it over to the One that can handle it. Yet, I struggle to do that sometimes. One thing that haunts me is hearing from someone, "That's not fair!" Of course whatever the matter is unfair. We live in an unfair world where we don't often get what we deserve.

Thank God we don't, though, and thank God that we have grace.

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I touched on this in my other blog, Psychosomatic Wit, but I am having a major concern about the walk that others see of me. I have generally been a happy person, full of hope. Lately, since my marriage, I am sure I don't come off that way. It is just the pressure is getting to me.

My wife has some problems that hopefully she is working out. In the meantime, she has no job and subjects me to the fallout over her problems. This fallout amounts to torture. My home should be a refuge, but it isn't and that is taking a toll.

As a result of her unemployment and my inability to sell my other house, finances are getting to me also. I have cut out all recreational spending and all purchases that rise above absolute necessity. That is too much pressure, also, because I was subjected to this kind of poverty - wondering if I will have electricity today type stuff when I was a kid after my father died.

I am also checking on my mother at least three times daily. She is disabled after having 34 hours of brain surgery. My time and stress plate is full. Quite ironically, the times I check on my mother are the most peaceful times of my day.

I mentioned all these things just to say this: People who see me and observe my "walk" are probably not seeing in me the God of peace that we all long for. I am not representing well. I know that we all go through valleys and this is normal, but that doesn't excuse those strangers and acquaintenances that do not know my story. I don't feel compelled to tell it anyway.

My faith sustains me. I don't know where I would be without it - or maybe I do and it isn't pretty. Yet, it sure doesn't look that great from the outside observer. I just wish I was stronger.

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The whole Evolution vs Intelligent Design issue has got me on edge. The non-intelligent design folks are in the "if you don't see it my way, you MUST take the radical opposite of my view" camp. They accuse the other side of wanting to teach the Bible in science classes at public schools. It is the classic straw man argument and it grows weary.

Here is the debate: The Evolutionists believe that man evolved from lower animals over millions of years. Ultimately, we are the ancestors of wet rocks. The extremists on this side think that it should be taught as fact in our schools - period.

The intelligent design folks say that the world and life is too complex for it to unfold by chance, so logic demands that there is/was an intelligent designer. The extremists want the Genesis account being taught in school.

If one cuts off the extremists on both ends, the mainstream view is still pretty extreme in the pro-evolution camp. Here is why:

Conventional thinking believes that there is no place in the "science" classroom for intelligent design. As a matter of fact, there is no room for bringing up the problems in science that Evolution has. They don't want the students to be confused into thinking that Evolution is anything but fact, despite some evidence to the contrary.

Basically, the mainstream intelligent design people want is the leeway to talk about the problems in Evolution and "mention" that there is an alternate theory of "Intelligent Design" in which some people adhere. They are not interested in advancing a particular religious ideology, just a small portion of the class to state this view. How is that destructive?

My view:

Science should be about discovering the truth. However, the scientific method procludes the possibility of certain truths even before the investigation gets started.

This method looks only for naturalistic reasons and causes which makes sense to a degree. After all, one can't follow scientific rules or laws to explain the system of things if one can merely chalk it all up to magic or God. However, scientists go as far as to discount anything that is not naturalistic, they run incredibly dangerous to doing the thing they claim to despise - creating myth.

For instance, no one as of yet can scientifically prove the existance of God. However, no one can prove that God does not exist, either. It follows then, that if God does exist and is responsible for ANYTHING, then science missed it from jump. Each day that passes with science chasing the white rabbit farther down the path, is one more day farther from the truth. If science is truly interested in the truth, they should leave this door open. Science could get so far away from truth that even intelligent people could believe that we came from wet rocks and those rocks came from nothing.

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Previously, I explored the reliability of Scripture in regard as Truth. I came at it from a secular, legal angle. Would there be enough evidence in court for a jury to deem it true? My answer was yes and outlined why. It can be read or reviewed with my post "Jesus the Key."

I came across a story today that gives the other side of how convincing the the New Testament, particularly the Gospel Accounts, ring as true. This account illustrates how the Gospels stand by themselves. I found it interesting:


Dr. E. V. Rieu was a classical scholar and translator for many years. He rendered Homer into very modern English for the Penguin Classics. Rieu was 60 years old and a lifelong agnostic when the same firm invited him to translate the Gospels. His son remarked: "It will be interesting to see what Father makes of the four Gospels. It will be even more interesting to see what the four Gospels make of Father."

The answer was soon forthcoming. A year later, Rieu, convinced and converted, joined the Church of England. In an interview with J. B. Phillips, Rieu confessed that he had undertaken the task of translation because of an "intense desire to satisfy himself as to the authenticity and spiritual content of the Gospels."

He was determined to approach the documents as if they were newly discovered Greek manuscripts. "Did you not get the feeling," asked Canon Phillips, "that the whole material was extraordinarily alive?" The classical scholar agreed. "I got the deepest feeling," he replied. "My work changed me. I came to the conclusion that these words bear the seal of the Son of Man and God." (from a daily devotion, originally from J. B. Phillips, The Ring of Truth. quoted by R. Kent Hughes in 1001Great Stories and Quotes.)

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About Me

The purpose of this blog is for me to keep track of my own spiritual journey. Anyone is welcome to agree, disagree, debate, whatever they want to do, but my goal is for this to be a learning experience for myself. Hopefully, others will help me learn and perhaps learn something themselves. In it, I will not tell others what or how to believe, but will only share my beliefs and experiences.