For the longest time I've avoided any expression that includes the word "fate" because I thought the concept of fate was tied to the pagan idea of “the fates”: the three robed women called "moirai" (apportioners) who wove the destiny of everyone.
Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for March 8th was a related word, fatidic:
: of or relating to prophecy
My only daughter (and youngest child) recently went off to college. Before she left, her mother and I gave her a mountain of advice and a metric ton of encouragement before she took that giant next step in her life. Being the kind soul that she is, she also gave me a bit of advice in return: "Dad, you should get a Fitbit. It can help you monitor your health."
So… I bought a Fitbit Flex. It’s a little band you strap on your wrist that, paired with an app on your phone, provides a simple reminder that I needed to watch what I eat, get outside and do some walking, and get enough rest.
In part 1 of this series, we noted that Ernst Haeckel's inaccurate sketches of embryos in various stages of development from 1847 were still being used in public school textbooks as late as the early 2000's. In a similar fashion, certain ideas within Christianity that have been debunked by archaeologists, historians, and modern Biblical scholars also continue to be presented as truth to an unsuspecting audience.
The first error we addressed was an inaccurate view of first-century Judaism's teaching on salvation that was presented in a small booklet mentioned previously. A second error also had me shaking my head in disbelief.
In 1847, Ernst Haeckel created sketches of embryos in various states of development and used them in his biology textbook entitled Anthropogenie. Modern science has proven these images to be inaccurate at best and outright fraud at worst.
Although the images were debunked in the early 1900s, they were still being used in school textbooks as late as 2004 .
Christians who believe in the Biblical account of Creation point to continued use of Haeckel's images as proof that lies are being presented as evidence of evolution to unsuspecting public school students. They are demanding that it stop and their common chant is "Truth above all!"
Unfortunately, certain ideas within Christianity that have been debunked by archaeologists, historians, and modern Biblical scholars also continue to be presented as truth to an unsuspecting audience. We should follow the exhortation of Paul from 1 Thessalonians 5:21, "Put everything to the test. Hold on to what is good."
My precious daughter (a senior attending a local high school) came home one day with tears in her eyes.
"Sweetheart, what’s wrong?", I asked and gave her a hug.
"Nothing," she sniffled.
"Do you want to talk about it?"
"Okay. I love you and I want to help in any way I can. Just let me know," I said with another brief hug.
I began to turn away but was immediately engulfed in a 30-minute, non-stop, emotionally-charged account of a heated conversation between three of her close friends that resulted in all three of them being mad at her and each other. It all stemmed from a single question one of the girls had asked about someone completely unrelated to their group.
The Atlantic ran an incredible 28-photo presentation of the 2013 Powerhouse Fire in California's Angeles National Forest. The article, entitled The Terrible Beauty of California's Powerhouse Fire, included this image:
Without these powerful reminders from the creation, we can really lose sight of the significance and weight of the words of Scripture that describe the Creator:
Jerry sat staring at his laptop screen in unbelief.
"Fourteen hundred dollars?!? Where am I going to get fourteen hundred dollars? This stupid software was supposed to make sure you got a big fat refund on your taxes not a giant bill!"
"What if I just... fudged some of the numbers a bit?", he thought out loud. Jerry glanced around to see if his wife or kids had heard him. No? Good. They usually avoided him while he was doing taxes or paying the bills because he got so irritable.
Hmmm... lower the income levels or raise the taxes paid? No, too obvious. The numbers wouldn't match the W-2. How about his deductions? Hmmm. Maybe the wife had dropped some extra money in the collection tray at church when he wasn't looking. Yeah... that would shift things in his favor a bit.
With a few clicks Jerry adjusted various numbers in his return until he was receiving a small refund. A few more clicks and he was on the "transmit to the IRS" page.
Jerry sat staring at his laptop screen. He was about to lie on his taxes. "It's only a few hundred dollars." he thought to himself. "The Feds will never notice it. It's not like I'm Bernie Madoff ripping off people for millions."
Jerry sat thinking for another few moments and then reached for the mouse...
Jeff let out a shrill whistle and Sarge charged the first obstacle, leaping over it. He low-crawled under the next barricade and then sprinted on to the next challenge. Running, jumping, crawling, and balancing his way through the course, the three year old German Shepherd constantly watched his trainer’s hand signals and listened to his voice. The bond of love between master and dog was plain to see.
George knocked on his neighbor’s door then rang the bell after nobody answered. Eventually, a disheveled, tired looking man opened the door and grumbled, “Whadda ya want? I was watching the game.” George handed the man a rope and replied, “I believe this belongs to you.” At the end of the rope was a dirty, scruffy looking mutt. “He got out again?” “Yes, and this time he tore up two more pillows on our back porch chairs.” The man jerked the rope, yanking the whimpering dog inside the house. “This stupid pooch is more trouble than he’s worth.”
Have you ever had a day where frustrations were mounting and you said a little prayer along the lines of "oh, Lord, give me patience"? You may have noticed that G-d often seems to answer those prayers by bringing something (or someone?) into your life that will test your patience... a lot.
Being the sensible guy that I am, I have learned to curb my tongue when it comes to uttering that particular prayer. I'm like a child at the dinner table when the spinach is being passed around: "Patience? No, thank you, Lord. I'm full."
On the other hand, I usually seem to have an appetite for more wisdom. As it is with desert, my response to wisdom has usually been "May I have more, please?"
Given the state of the economy and the pressures and stresses that often surround the end of the year there is almost certainly someone near you that could use encouragement.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:9)
Paul tells the believers in Thessalonica to encourage one another and gives them several ways to do that. Here are his 15 recommendations.
Earlier this year FoxNews.com delivered this headline:
"That's terrible!", I thought to myself. "What's happening to everyone?"
As I read the article, though, I found cause for hope:
A dear brother in the Lord shared this with me the other day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAWgWZ9lEuI
This amusing and yet disturbing video depicts the all-too-common pattern of a Sunday morning service at a non-denominational church. It was created by the media group of North Point Community Church as a lampoon of the cookie cutter nature of contemporary Christian services in America (including their own!).
"The Program on Public Values" at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn recently published a study that indicated an increasing number of Americans are claiming no religion. A recent Foxnews.com article about the study revealed some interesting points:
1990- 8.2% of Americans claim they have no religion 2001- 14.2% of Americans claim they have no religion 2008- 15.0% of Americans claim they have no religion
Based upon this information we can see that Americans are becoming increasing secular.
Consider our society (not science, medicine, technology... but our culture, our society) in 1990 as compared to today.
Which is better in your estimation?
During a men's study today an interesting analogy I have been using was further fleshed out by a friend of mine, Jon Coll. The analogy is one involving football and faith.
By coming to faith in Yeshua we have "joined His team" so to speak. We are each called to "play in the game" we are assigned. We are also called to play by the rules: to act honorably (Hebrew 13:18) and to stop sinning (1 Corinthians 15:34) . The basic rules that apply to every player are the "rules" found in Torah: the traditionally counted 613 commandments. Everyone has the same "out of bounds", the same rules regarding fouls, etc. Even though every person plays by the same rules the "Coach" gives each person individual assignments and tasks to carry out.