For “Scripture Sunday”:
The Cyrus Cylinder and Egypt
“Egypt will not pull out of its constant crisis until there is a Bill of Rights for every faction of the nation.”
“The George Zimmerman / Trayvon Martin trial causes us to ask who knows what was in their heart? The Bible tells us that justice will ultimately be served.”
Should the Cross Symbolize Your Christianity?
“Is using a torture device that was designed to kill criminals with the maximum amount of pain really an appropriate symbol of our religion?
If Jesus had been killed with another instrument of death, would that be the symbol of Christianity? Have we considered the morbidity of using a device of capital punishment as the symbol of our religion?”
“Why is the cross revered as a Christian emblem? Many answer, “It’s a symbol of Christ’s suffering and death.” What does the Bible say about religious symbols?
Why is there so much reverence paid to the cross in traditional Christianity? Did the cross become a religious symbol in New Testament times? Was the cross ever used as a religious emblem before Christianity? Answers to these questions might be a surprise to many in the Christian world.
The revered cross
When I was younger, I remember a group of us children were given the “opportunity” to make a special visit to a local church and see a relic proclaimed to be a splinter of the very cross on which Christ was crucified. Apparently it was doing a tour of the churches at that time.
It was in liquid and within a small glass bubble. We were asked to kneel before it at the altar and kiss this bubble as it passed in front of us. We had to hold this tiny speck in the highest regard because it was supposedly a small part of the cross on which Jesus died.
The symbol of the cross is displayed in churches (both Protestant and Catholic) around the world and in the homes of millions of people. It is worn as jewelry around the necks of millions of believers.
But does this reverence to the cross have a basis in the Bible?
Revered graven images
The Bible is very specific about God’s view on physical images being used in worship. Notice what God commanded Israel before they entered the Promised Land: “And you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and burn their wooden images with fire; you shall cut down the carved images of their gods and destroy their names from that place. You shall not worship the LORD your God with such things” (Deuteronomy 12:3-4,).
This was based on the second of the 10 Commandments: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me” (Exodus 20:4-5).
With the above scriptures in mind, why would we think that God would change His mind and allow the use of images in worshipping Him now? Jesus Christ Himself said that “one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18). The book of Hebrews states that God is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). To learn more about how God’s law has not been abolished, read the article “The Law of God.”
The origins of the cross
There is an old question that people sometimes ask: “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” In a similar manner, let’s ask, “Which came first, the cross as a religious symbol or Christianity?”
History actually shows that the cross was in existence as a symbol long before the first century when Jesus Christ walked this earth. Notice this quote: “Centuries before the Christian era ancient crosses were in use as pagan emblems. They have been found carved in stone dating back to remote ages” (George Benson, The Cross: Its History and Symbolism, 2003, p. 16).
The cross was not used in Christianity until the reign of Emperor Constantine, three centuries after the New Testament was written. Notice this quote from the Encyclopaedia Britannica: “Under Constantine the cross became the acknowledged symbol of Christianity” (11th edition, vol. 7, p. 506).
We should also consider that Jesus Christ was killed using a very gruesome and painful method of execution: crucifixion. It was variously done on upright stakes, trees and crosses (of different shapes). We do not have historical proof that the method of crucifixion Christ suffered even used a traditional cross.
The Greek word in the Bible that is translated into the English word “cross” is stauros. This word simply means an upright stake or pole. Though it is possible this could have been a cross, if we take the word at face value, Jesus could have been crucified on an upright stake with His hands nailed to the pole above His head.
Is using a torture device that was designed to kill criminals with the maximum amount of pain really an appropriate symbol of our religion? If Jesus had been killed with another instrument of death, would that be the symbol of Christianity? Have we considered the morbidity of using a device of capital punishment as the symbol of our religion?
What should symbolize our Christianity?
Instead of using any image to symbolize your Christianity, consider that the greatest symbol of a true Christian, according to the Bible, is our conduct! The way we live our lives, how we treat others and how well we reflect the law of God in our lives on a daily basis should be the symbol of our beliefs. Jesus Christ taught His followers to “let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
To learn more about why wearing a cross is inappropriate for a Christian, read “Is It Okay to Wear a Cross? Why or Why Not?”
The Problem of Evil
“If God is good, how can we explain evil? From the Holocaust to the senseless slaughter of school children, evil permeates our world. Is God responsible?
The god of this world
As is the case in so many situations like this, men have assumed that the Bible says something it really doesn’t. For instance, how many realize that, according to the Bible, “Satan is the god of this world?” So states the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:4.
The kingdoms of this world reflect Satan
Consider also the temptation of Christ by Satan as he confronted Him in the wilderness (Matthew 4). In his final attempt to conquer Christ, Satan took Him to the top of a high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. Then he said to Him, “All these things will I give You if You will but bow down and worship me.”
Of course, Christ did not succumb to that temptation, but the point is this: All the kingdoms of the world were Satan’s to give! He’s the god of this world, the author of confusion, the father of liars, a thief and a murderer, and so this world reflects the nature of its god or ruler, Satan the devil. He is “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2).
It was Satan who stirred up the religious leaders of Christ’s day to say and do whatever was necessary to have Him crucified. As was prophesied in Genesis 3:15, “He [speaking of Christ] shall bruise your [Satan the serpent’s] head, and you [Satan] shall bruise His heel.”
Complete article at: http://lifehopeandtruth.com/life/evil-and-suffering/the-problem-of-evil/
Widows and Orphans
“God has a special place in His heart for those who are in great need.
He observes us to see how we react to one who we can clearly see is in need. Can we be the good Samaritan? Do we take the time to help the truly needy? James wrote that pure and undefiled religion before God is to reach out and help the needy when we see the need and when we are in the position to help (James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
See All...). Along with that comment, we also read that we are to keep ourselves unspotted from the world.
God is interested in knowing whether or not we love people. He loves people, and He wants us to be like Him. He does not expect us to go about seeking those who may need help so that we can fulfill this scripture. God does expect us to act when we clearly see a need and if we are in a position to fill that need. Widows and orphans are a good place to start. Children need a father. Maybe you can help by being a role model of manhood if you are a man or a kind and understanding heart if you are a woman. Walking by and ignoring a need is what we cannot do.”
On WGN TV this morning: I Believe, Help My Unbelief
“Although you believe in God, why is it hard to trust Him when facing life's stresses? How can you have living faith?”
Watch Beyond Today on WGN America on Sundays at 8:30 AM EST. (Find a station in your area - http://www.beyondtoday.tv/stations )
GROANER'S CORNER. “Adam was walking around the Garden of Eden feeling very lonely, so God asked Adam, "What is wrong with you?"
Adam said, "Lord, I don't have anyone to talk to."
God said, "Then I will give you a companion, and she will be called a 'woman'. This person will cook for you and wash your clothes, she will always agree with every decision you make. She will bear your children and never ask you to get up in the middle of the night to take care of them. She will not nag you, and will always be the first to admit she was wrong when you've had a disagreement. She will never have a headache, and will freely give 'love' and compassion whenever needed. She will never question your behaviour or the company you keep. She will support you and understand that you have important decisions to make throughout your life and don't have time for nonsense..."
Adam asked God, "What will this woman cost?"
God said, "An arm and a leg..."
Adam said, "What can I get for just a rib?"”
On This Day:
Tsunami hits Alexandria, Egypt, Jul 21, 365:
“On this day in the year 365, a powerful earthquake off the coast of Greece causes a tsunami that devastates the city of Alexandria, Egypt. Although there were no measuring tools at the time, scientists now estimate that the quake was actually two tremors in succession, the largest of which is thought to have had a magnitude of 8.0.
The quake was centered near the plate boundary called the Hellenic Arc and quickly sent a wall of water across the Mediterranean Sea toward the Egyptian coast. Ships in the harbor at Alexandria were overturned as the water near the coast receded suddenly. Reports indicate that many people rushed out to loot the hapless ships. The tsunami wave then rushed in and carried the ships over the sea walls, landing many on top of buildings. In Alexandria, approximately 5,000 people lost their lives and 50,000 homes were destroyed.
The surrounding villages and towns suffered even greater destruction. Many were virtually wiped off the map. Outside the city, 45,000 people were killed. In addition, the inundation of saltwater rendered farmland useless for years to come. Evidence indicates that the area's shoreline was permanently changed by the disaster. Slowly, but steadily, the buildings of Alexandria's Royal Quarter were overtaken by the sea following the tsunami. It was not until 1995 that archaeologists discovered the ruins of the old city off the coast of present-day Alexandria.
Today, the anniversary of the tsunami is celebrated annually with the residents saying prayers and marking the evening by illuminating the city.”
Aswan High Dam completed, Jul 21, 1970:
“After 11 years of construction, the Aswan High Dam across the Nile River in Egypt is completed on July 21, 1970. More than two miles long at its crest, the massive $1 billion dam ended the cycle of flood and drought in the Nile River region, and exploited a tremendous source of renewable energy, but had a controversial environmental impact.
A dam was completed at Aswan, 500 miles south of Cairo, in 1902. The first Aswan dam provided valuable irrigation during droughts but could not hold back the annual flood of the mighty Nile River. In the 1950s, Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser envisioned building a new dam across the Nile, one large enough to end flooding and bring electric power to every corner of Egypt. He won United States and British financial backing, but in July 1956 both nations canceled the offer after learning of a secret Egyptian arms agreement with the USSR. In response, Nasser nationalized the British and French-owned Suez Canal, intending to use tolls to pay for his High Dam project. This act precipitated the Suez Canal Crisis, in which Israel, Britain, and France attacked Egypt in a joint military operation. The Suez Canal was occupied, but Soviet, U.S., and U.N. forced Israel, Britain, and France to withdraw, and the Suez Canal was left in Egyptian hands in 1957.
Soviet loans and proceeds from Suez Canal tolls allowed Nasser to begin work on the Aswan High Dam in 1960. Some 57 million cubic yards of earth and rock were used to build the dam, which has a mass 16 times that of the Great Pyramid at Giza. On July 21, 1970, the ambitious project was completed. President Nasser died of a heart attack in September 1970, before the dam was formally dedicated in 1971.
The giant reservoir created by the dam--300 miles long and 10 miles wide--was named Lake Nasser in his honor. The formation of Lake Nasser required the resettlement of 90,000 Egyptian peasants and Sudanese Nubian nomads, as well as the costly relocation of the ancient Egyptian temple complex of Abu Simbel, built in the 13th century B.C.
The Aswan High Dam brought the Nile's devastating floods to an end, reclaimed more than 100,000 acres of desert land for cultivation, and made additional crops possible on some 800,000 other acres. The dam's 12 giant Soviet-built turbines produce as much as 10 billion kilowatt-hours annually, providing a tremendous boost to the Egyptian economy and introducing 20th-century life into many villages. The water stored in Lake Nasser, several trillion cubic feet, is shared by Egypt and the Sudan and was crucial during the African drought years of 1984 to 1988.
Despite its successes, the Aswan High Dam has produced several negative side effects. Most costly is the gradual decrease in the fertility of agricultural lands in the Nile delta, which used to benefit from the millions of tons of silt deposited annually by the Nile floods. Another detriment to humans has been the spread of the disease schistosomiasis by snails that live in the irrigation system created by the dam. The reduction of waterborne nutrients flowing into the Mediterranean is suspected to be the cause of a decline in anchovy populations in the eastern Mediterranean. The end of flooding has sharply reduced the number of fish in the Nile, many of which were migratory. Lake Nasser, however, has been stocked with fish, and many species, including perch, thrive there.”
Wendy and I had our usual Saturday mother-daughter phone call, and then I fed my animals and got dressed. Mindi and her husband were taking a trip out of town, so they brought five of their dogs for me to keep over the weekend. It has been a long time since I took care of them, and her three remaining poodles have really aged. She used to have eight, which I boarded for three days each week while she worked as a flight attendant! Two of the poodles are a bit younger than my old Misty, and one is the same age, but they don’t look as good as she does. The Yorkie and Dachshund are younger dogs and they look good.
After I had the dogs settled, I got ready in my goin’-to-church-clothes. Chris, the foster mom who lives near me, picked Nala up for her afternoon at Adoption Day at Petco. Misty and I went to get Jay, as he was going too. He had the times mixed up, and wasn’t ready, so we missed the first couple of songs of praise.
The sermon was given by our pastor titled “Quo Vadis Domine” = “Where are you going Lord” It was about when Peter was leaving Rome, because Nero was persecuting the Christians, when Peter came upon Jesus on the Appian Way, and how Jesus sent him back to Rome.
(Chiesa del Domine Quo Vadis?
“This pint-sized church marks the spot where St Peter, fleeing Rome, met a vision of Jesus going the other way. When Peter asked: ‘Domine, quo vadis?’ (‘Lord, where are you going?’), Jesus replied, ‘Venio Roman iterum crucifigi’ (‘I am coming to Rome to be crucified again’). Reluctantly deciding to join him, Peter tramped back into town where he was arrested and executed. In the aisle are copies of Christ’s footprints; the originals are in the Basilica di San Sebastiano.” Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/italy/rome/sights/church/chiesa-domine-quo#ixzz2ZPESP6eR )
He also explained that there is a difference between ‘good’ or ‘goodness’, and ‘nice’ and ‘niceness’. According to some dictionaries, “Good” means virtuous and also knowledgeable, which is mentioned many times in the Bible. Whereas “Nice” original meaning was simple, foolish, ignorant, and never used in the Bible. (From the Latin word "necius" meaning ignorant.) Jay really likes it when our pastor talks, and he said he really enjoyed it. We didn’t stay for the pot-luck, as I hadn’t had time to take anything, and I had to get home to let Mindi’s dogs out.
The sky was very dark, and it looked like we were in for some storms, but we didn’t get much rain, it just drizzled, yesterday.