Monthly Archives: January 2013

Long Walk To Freedom (Book Review)

Separate toilets, separate buses, separate stores, separate everything! – Why? All because black skin meant inferior & white skin meant superior. Of course at times there has been more sophisticated explanations but ultimately, the white people wanted to control the black people. Much better to oppress than be oppressed. It was into this world that Nelson Mandela was born. His struggle to free his people, went from bad to worse, when the Nationalist party was elected in by a white only electorate on a platform of “keep the niger in his place, and keep the cooly’s out of Africa.” With a white mandate the government went to work “legally” dehumanizing black Africans. Mandela’s struggle against white government oppression, was rewarded with a life in prison sentence. For 27 years Mandela struggled for his people from behind bars. The sacrifice was tremendous, It was 20 years before Mandela was even able to touch his wife, only seeing her once for 30 minutes every year or two. His children grew up without him. Over time a combination of international pressure and internal turmoil, led the government to begin negotiations with the ANC. Mandela was the man to lead these conversations, even while still imprisoned. In the end, Mandela was the catalyst that led to free democratic elections for all the people of South Africa regardless of skin colour or ethnicity. Mandela himself became the president, capturing 62% of the vote in that historic election. Perhaps the most amazing part of this story, came when Mandela finally had power. Instead of a revenge filled backlash against his former persecutors, he pursued peace between the races, as aggressively as he had pursued freedom for his own race.

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Am I Better Than You?

Psalm 106… Save us O Lord our God!
The people of God had forgotten God, they had rebelled against him, they refused to listen to him, committed idolatry, they were envious and jealous, they committed murder they embraced evil practices and grumbled, they let their desires run wild. The result was their own misery and destruction. In many regards the people of God today — Christians — are just as broken. It’s the cry at the end of the Psalm that distinguishes the Christian from the non-Christian. The Christian cries out  “God help me” Under no circumstances does a Christian feel like he is better than someone else or somehow more worthy of blessing. A Christian is simply a broken person who is crying to God for help.

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Unbroken (Book Review)

Unbroken
Laura Hillenbrand

If ever there was a time for bitterness, hatred, revenge and linch mob justice this was it, but it didn’t end in violent retribution, it ended in forgiveness and love. How is this possible? It’s worth the read to find out. Unbroken follows the Life of Louis Zamperini: sick child — picked on immigrant — delinquent —  olympic athlete — bombing ace –shot down aviator — survivor lost at sea — prisoner of War — War hero — bitter drunk with collapsing marriage — redemption, transformation, forgiveness and peace. If you embark on this journey, be warned, it will be difficult to put the book down. You will be stunned, you will be horrified, you will be amazed, you will be challenged, and you might even be changed.

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The Iron Fist of Justice

You must show no pity for the guilty! Your rule should be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
Deut 19:21

The God of justice:  firm, strict, unmoving, unbending. If you break the law you must be punished to the fullest extent of the law. There is no wiggle room there is no escape. Justice is an iron unforgiving fist and so must it be. Justice and fairness for all means people cannot and should not get away from the consequences of evil. But yet somehow this is not a cause for celebration. All humans deep down know they are guilty. Is there a way to escape justice and still be “right”? Only if somebody takes justices punishment for you. God himself steps forward in the person of Jesus Christ and says I’ll take their guilt have no pity on me! Justice is served, the guilty are free, and a life-changing relationship between the human and the Divine is born.

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Where is God Today?

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Psalm 145:5-6
4 Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts;
let them proclaim your power.
5 I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor
and your wonderful miracles.

God is worth worshiping, obeying and praising because God has acted in time and space in human history. When the people of God were delivered from Egypt, they actually experienced the events of God’s miraculous intervention. Do the people of God today experience such things? Not so much. Interestingly, this Psalm was written about 1000 years after the events It speaks of.  We in modern times prefer current events over history. We want the God of today not yesterday. We want the God of the now not the God of the future. This is understandable. The cry of our time is ” live in the moment” but where is God in the every day? Sometimes I don’t know, except to say “to love another person is to see the face of God” True God faith will result in sacrificial love for other people which will make the world a better place. To believe in God is to walk away from self absorption. Though I can’t see God I can see his path and I like it very much.

God & Evil

There is nothing that enters into our world that escapes Gods notice. If God was not willing to allow something it would not happen. Both the good and the bad have God’s all seeing eye on them. Nothing is hidden from God. So how is it then that a good God can allow bad things to happen? We believe that God redeems even the bad things. So when we must walk through these dark valleys we trust that God will bring good out of it. The best example of this is the cross of Christ. Incredible evil allowed by the hand of God upon himself all for an incredibly redemptive wonderful purpose

Is 45:6-7 –     I am the LORD, and there is no other.
I create the light and make the darkness.
I send good times and bad times.
I, the LORD, am the one who does these things.Image

Are we talking about two different messages?

images-5Deut 6:25 — For we will be counted as righteous when we obey all the commands the Lord our God has given us

How does this statement fit with the theology of Grace? The Christian believes that it is impossible to achieve righteousness through obedience. We need a Saviour! This verse seems to contradict the gospel. Maybe faith was the presupposition? Of course you are trusting in God to save you, now about this matter of obedience. You must obey or you are not righteous. What you do matters! 
Maybe this is pointing to their need, you will be righteous when you obey ALL the laws, didn’t take long to figure out that this is not possible. Enter the sacrificial system.

Why You Think The Way You Do — Glen Sunshine

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Idealism is the belief that truth is uncovered through ideas more so than observation. In ancient times it was all about Idealism, and there were some crazy ideas! which led to some crazy “truth” for example: Aristotle: all women were the product of birth defects. Their was not enough heat in the womb therefore they came out half-baked with their genitals inside out, thus making them physically, mentally, morally, and spiritually inferior to men.

Christianity arrives on the scene, and a new idea comes forward. All humans are image bearers of God and thus intrinsically valuable, sin has ruined everything, which explains all of the bad things in this world, but Jesus has come to rescue a people, to release them into the world as agents of love, care, compassion, and righteousness, no matter the cost. This worldview turned Europe into Christendom. Image bearers of God made to work, to repent of sin, to try to do good, to follow God’s ways as part of a larger community of faith.

For 1200 years, the world of Medieval Europe had grown steadily upon the foundation of Christianity. But now that foundation was ripe for the cracking. The Renaissance called into question the method for finding truth (idealism, truth through ideas, shifted to realism, truth through observation) The goal of intellectual life began to shift as well. (From understanding God to understanding God’s World) The Reformation, which started because of corruption broke the unity of the church, the anchor that had held the medieval world together. Latin Christendom fragmented into many competing churches which resulted in horrific centuries long wars of Religion. The unceasing flow of blood led many to question whether religion should be as central to society as had once been believed. The New World raised questions about biblical history and reliability, as well as about the justice and morality of God. (where did those indigenous animals come from, and millions of unaccounted for people who had never been converted, why would God allow such a thing?) Finally, Pyrrhonism, (the re-discovery of ancient skepticism) called into question the very possibility of knowing anything. Pyrrho’s resurgence was huge on the Richter scale of cultural change. With it’s quaking effects still being felt today.
The gradual rejection of certainty, led humans to be comfortable working with probabilities. Less and less humans looked back for knowledge, more and more they looked forward, “truth” was more probable in the future than the past.

Auguste Comte, summarizes well what came to be viewed as societal evolution — Theological: primitive cultures explain through supernatural means. advancing cultures explain through philosophical abstractions, and fully advanced cultures explain through scientific means.

By the 1800’s many in Europe where looking for more naturalistic explanations for life. Darwin’s theory was the missing link they needed to make sense of everything without God having to be at the bottom of it all. It was embraced enthusiastically, and quickly became a core presupposition, for the naturalist. Darwin’s worldview created some very concerning conclusions. “At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world” — these and other thoughts that flow from a fully naturalistic worldview led to things like “utilitarian ethics” —  which essentially says right is whatever the greatest good for the greatest number is. The problem is who defines what is good? In the end, the standard becomes arbitrary, which is troubling, especially if for whatever reason one is not considered part of the greater good for the greatest number. (Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc exploited these abritrary definitions of good at expense of millions of lives)

Materialism which believes only in matter and energy ultimately leads to Nihilism — which says there is no meaning to life. Existentialism, puts a positive spin on meaninglessness, by affirming that we are radically free to determine what we do and who we are.

Freud successfully merges the topic of sex into these philosophical discussions. His solution is to pursue freedom from the constraints society places on our sexual behavior. Radical sexual freedom as the pursuit of ultimate happiness was born. The problem is, it doesn’t work. Sex if free to burn is a fire that consumes more people than it warms.

Modernism, which embraced “science” as the savior, and indicator of fully advanced cultures began to suffer under the weight of a century of bloodshed, and abuse that has come in large part to the sociological conclusions derived from naturalistic philosophy. Phyrro reasserts himself and Postmodernism is born.

Postmodernism has one epistemological and moral principle — freedom, sovereignty and autonomy of the individual. — the greatest postmodern virtue — tolerance. — which means the positive affirmation and celebration of all ideas that happen to be different then owns own “it’s all good” is the mantra. The difficulty is whatever is perceived as “intolerant” by the powers that be ends up not being tolerated at all.

The counter balance to the depressing reality of materialism, is the new/ancient spirituality — it’s the subjective, self directed tapping into the subtle energy that runs through everything in the universe. This belief which see’s ones own life force as the ultimate reality fits nicely into the postmodern world.

And this is the world in which we live.