Category Archives: definitions

Easter and the Bible

Today is Good Friday. It’s a big day for Christians using the Western calendar (Orthodox Easter is next week) and as it happens it’s also Passover (not always, just sometimes) and the Stock Market is closed (the New York Times commented that the only reason seemed to be a tradition that dates back to the mid-19th century). Much has and is being said in the blog and Twittersphere about the events surrounding the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. People are rightly called to make a decision about Jesus. His followers will attend services today through Sunday morning in right celebration of the Jesus’ work that made salvation possible for those who believe. May Jesus be exalted today and every day!

But I want to in a different direction for a moment. How do we know about this greatest of all news? Is it through church, a preacher, or the person who showed this news to us? Is it through the radio, movie or the myriad television programs that will air this weekend? Wanna bet you can find “The 10 Commandments” on TV this weekend? On Easter and Christmas the TV networks suddenly become quite open to religious programming. No, none of these sources are where the real source of the Great News of Jesus is kept clear and available. The real source is the Bible. 

Recently I’ve been reading a lot about the world’s religions for the program I’m in. Two things stand out: first, that there is such a myriad of choices out there for people to believe in and follow and second, the more I read about the other religions and their texts the more thankful I am for the Bible. I am thankful that God inspired the very words of Scripture and then, for two millennia has preserved that word which has stood the test of time and the rigors of textual criticism. I am thankful for it because by reading and understanding His word, I don’t have to rely on the changing whims and methods of men. How great it is to sit each morning and soak in the word of God and read words like “it is finished” and “he has risen” which could be 6 of the most important words ever uttered and then written, 3 on Good Friday, 3 on Easter. 

Read more of these amazing words here.

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Loving the Bible

This was reportedly said by Charles Spurgeon: “By this the elect of God are known—that they love the Word of God”

I have been a student of the Bible for 35 years now. I try to read it every day and to one degree or another I am successful. It is my source of certainty about the knowledge of God. Yes, I said certainty.

When I was in seminary a while back I was struck to discover that textual criticism had failed as a tool to disprove the Bible, but rather, thanks to the work of textual critics, I can have more trust in the Bible.

Recently I’ve been studying about Islam for a program I’m in. I’m not studying Islam, I’m studying about Islam. As I have read about its early history, I have been struck by the apparent weakness of its core document. It is a document that, according to what I am learning, can not stand the test of textual criticism as the Bible has.

If you are a disciple of Jesus, you are a learner (that’s what the word means), you should cultivate a love of the Bible, what Spurgeon called the Word of God.

Tragically, studies show many Christians, and, sadly even their pastors, do not share this love of the Word of God. Too bad more Christians aren’t disciples.

Don’t study about God, study God. Be a learner. Be disciplined. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you cultivate a love of the Word He breathed into existence.

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Obama, Merkel and Putin seen through a lens from 20 years ago

In a discussion of civilization 20* years ago, Samuel Huntington said the following:

… Russia,…, has been a torn country for several centuries…

Russia’s relations with Western civilization have evolved through four phases. In the first phase, which lasted down to the reign of Peter the great, Kievan Rus and Muscovy existed separately from the West and had little contact with Western European societies. Russian civilization developed as an offspring of Byzantine civilization and then for two hundred years, from the mid thirteenth to the mid-fifteenth centuries, Russia was under Mongol suzerainty. Russia had no or little exposure to the defining historical phenomena off of Western civilization: Roman Catholicism, feudalism, the Renaissance, the Reformation, overseas expansion and colonization, the enlightenment, and the emergence of the nation state. Seven of the eight previously identified distinctive features of Western civilization-religion, languages, separation of church and state, rule of law, social pluralism, representative bodies, individualism-were almost totally absent from the Russian experience. The only possible exception is the Classical legacy, which, however, came to Russia via Byzantium and hence was quite different from that which came to the west directly from Rome. Russian civilization was a product of its indigenous roots in Kievan Rus and Muscovy, substantial Byzantine impact, and prolonged Mongol rule. These influences shaped a society and a culture which had little resemblance to those developed in Western Europe under the influence of a very different forces. (p. 139-140)

As of 1995 the future of liberal democracy in Russia and other Orthodox republics was uncertain. In addition, as the Russians stop behaving like Marxists and began behaving like Russians, the gap between Russia and the West broadened. … A Western democrat could carry on an intellectual debate with a Soviet Marxist. It would be impossible for him to do that with a Russian orthodox nationalist. (p. 142)

Think on these when you hear Obama and Merkel talk about “negotiations” with Putin.

From: The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order by Samuel P. Huntington, 1996, Simon and Schuster.)

* When I first posted this I had indicated 30 years and then realized my math was off. I am operating on the assumption that Huntington did his writing in 1995 and published and 1996.

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Filed under culture, definitions, Eastern Europe, Ukraine

Looking back to Sarajevo

On this trip I was on my own a lot and was able to explore beautiful Sarajevo on my own terms.

Here are a series of pix I took in a neighborhood up the hill from Old Town. They are of a kind of neighborhood mosque with many graves from 1992-1995 and the main mosque in the Old Town.

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My assumption is that these died in the siege during the war when Serbs bombarded the city from the surrounding mountain tops.

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Down the hill, I went to the main mosque, it’s minaret was visible down this alley…

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And upon entering you are given the rules…

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On Fridays this mosque is filled with Muslims…

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Walking by the side I noted the extra prayer rugs stacked in the window…

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Martin Luther said that Muslims (among many others including Jews and many “Christians”) worship the same God, but they worship him incorrectly. As I study Islam (for my Cross Cultural Studies program) and read from many sides of this discussion, it seems Luther makes a sound argument. The enemy of God wishes to keep people away from him and the best way is a way that looks right while being wrong. A one degree error send KAL 007 into Soviet airspace and hundreds died when the Soviets shot it down. Worshipping the right God the wrong way, through works, may look good, but is not His way.

We depend on grace alone, trusting in the final and complete work of Jesus: death, burial and resurrection. In Christ alone.

Allow not a desire for pluralism to water down the way and the truth.

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Filed under being a disciple, culture, culture > disciple making, definitions, disciple making, Eastern Europe, experience, from the Balkans, photos along the way, seeking understanding, spiritual questions/musings/wonderings, travel notes

someone will have to tell me I died

What?

I was having coffee with a guy the other day and we were talking about an author that both of us appreciate. This writer has had a great impact on the both of us. He told me that it was said near his death that this writer said that “someone will have to tell me I died.”

The idea is that the Christian life is one of growing so close to God in our prayer, in our reading of Scripture, in our relationships, in our day to day life that we have gotten to the point where we have disciplined ourselves into the joy of living in the very presence of God here on earth.

This, I think was what Jesus meant in the high priestly prayer of John, this, is I think what Paul was urging us toward in his letters.

Being a Christian is not just about getting to heaven. Being a Christian is the kingdom of heaven now.

This I think may very well be one of the better understandings of Immanuel, God with us.

Now.

That’s what.

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tech distracts us

Technology can really help us and be a great tool for our spiritual development. It can also be a huge stumbling block to it.

Tim Keller is an astute cultural analyst and knows how to apply ancient practices of Bible reading and prayer today.

Last week I posted a conversation with Tim Keller on prayer. This week there is a longer interview in which 10 questions are answered about prayer, READ HERE.

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Keller on prayer

READ: A vibrant prayer life is often grueling and rarely convenient. It’s hard-won. And it’s absolutely worth it.

THINK: How is my prayer life?

The above words are from the introduction to a post by Matt Smethurst regarding a conversation with Tim Keller on prayer. Please read here.

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