Hey hey. Blessed Sunday everyone. I know I haven’t posted in forever–I’ve been using my (limited) writing energy at my “work-related” site, phahpa.org (trying to catch up with regional and state history, preservation laws, doing projects, etc . . . ). But I’ve been wanting to do this for a while. That is, the graphic below . . . but as I’m not graphics-program savvy, I did it in Word, printed it, then scanned it (not the highest quality I wished) in order to put it on here. The quality actually came out pretty well, considering, and if you click on it you can view it in its large format. I hope you like this and share it with those who might seem to need it (the title is sarcastic, yet)–even atheists who cherry pick or only actually read other atheists who cherry pick. It’d just be nice if you cited the source and creator (this site).
Hello and happy Tuesday! I haven’t posted in a while (which isn’t terribly unusual, I know), and knowing full well that my mind has been elsewhere, I wanted to give a “why.” As I’ve posted about before, we moved from Southern California back to my home state of Michigan, and more specifically, to Port Huron. We decided on this location because of all the water (and we happily concur that the St. Clair area’s nick name of Blue Water is justified), because we could afford to buy a low-cost house, and because–on paper, at least–it looked like there were enough jobs to keep us going.
(We originally wanted to move to Grand Rapids, which is the only region in Michigan really recovered from the last “recession,” but couldn’t get help with buying a low-cost home at a distance . . . realtors have replaced the lowest place holder of the employed in my mind now, with lawyers bumped up one.)
While the job front turned out to be less rosy than we anticipated, I have enjoyed getting back into my older career choice involving historical resources. I used to work in cultural resources management–prehistory, then history–until consulting jobs became too far away from my family (as you might imagine, permanent employment in this field is rare and you have to be willing to move to wherever you can get it).
Now that we live in a place with obvious history and historic structures, my passion for investigating those things has been rekindled. And finding that the city is a very mixed bag of preservation and anit-preservation sentiment (the state is having an anti-preservation infection now, too), which is reflected in how much a regular person can find out about it here, I decided to make a web page about it, with the hope that others would like it and benefit from it and a group would form. I’ve spent a ton of my time getting up to speed on the history in Port Huron, catching up on preservation laws and such, and building the site: Port Huron Area History & Preservation Association.
The city, being one of the older and busier ones in historic Michigan, has quite a few grand old churches, too. And, I never ended up posting about something that we, as Christians, were excited to find here: nativity scenes out in public areas at Christmas time. How refreshing! There weren’t a huge number of them, but they did pop up, and one felt that you might hear a “Merry Christmas!” come your way and not just a “happy holidays.” I did run across an internet post somewhere by a lady who had lived here and moved to Tennessee, where there was even more openness and joy displayed over Christmas, not just “the holidays.” She was critical of Port Huron, but it is better here than where we used to live.
On a very different note, the US house of representatives voted 383-0 (!) in favor of calling what ISIS is doing to Christians in Iraq and Syria “genocide.” Other countries in the world that seem to be less sympathetic towards Christians have already declared that Christian genocide has been happening. Why is the US behind in doing so? Obama and his administration, that’s why. It’s strange how this administration can use the arguments of the persecutors to justify a “not genocide” stance when others know from either experience of research that the actions behind those arguments are covers for murderous intent, for the actual genocide going on. Read about it at House Votes to Declare ISIS’s Actions ‘Genocide’: What’s Next? , House Passes Resolution Calling ISIS’ Mass Slaughter of Christians a ‘Genocide’, and at other online news outlets.
“The facts are well documented in our nearly 300-page report on this matter, and we must remember that for the State Department to issue declaration of genocide, the standard required is merely probable cause, which any prosecutor could find on any of ISIS’s Facebook pages.” S. Smith, 03-15-16
The new X-Files season, a short one that renews the series after being off the air for 14 years, is a very mixed bag. A very very mixed bag. Episode 5 is practically one long platitude, while episode 3 is brilliant (literally, my favorite TV episode ever made, out of all I can remember, anyway).
X-Files Season 10
I’m going to make this section short. X-Menesque mutants debut in episode 2, after in episode 1 Mulder talks of having the newrevelation that men are using alien stuff to evolve humans and improve technology. While critics ate this stuff up as a critical reflection of modern American politics, I thought it disappointingly silly, since I was pretty sure Mulder had already thought this (that is, his new revelation) from watching the previous shows. It’s what I took away from the X-Files in the past, anyway, so it seemed cheap and confusing. Most of the new episodes are quite gory, too (that is, gorier than before).
That question, “Do Muslims worship the same God as Christians?” is not a new one, but has been in the Christian news (at least) recently over the controversial suspension of a black female professor at Wheaton College. I haven’t written specifically on this topic, though I touched upon it in Does DA: Inquisition’s Imshael have anything to do with Ishmael and Islam? In that article I point out how Islam rejects God’s plan for humanity, as provided by God in the Old Testament through Isaac, and openly celebrates this rejection through their holiday of Eid Al-Adha. How can it be claimed that Muslims worship the same God when they reject biblical scriptures and even God’s plan for humanity? As any bible student knows, God’s plan is interspersed throughout all of the Old and New Testaments, so to reject it and then claim you worship the same God makes no sense. Yet the Wheaton professor, besides showing solidarity with the repression of women (which is not biblical), claims that Muslims worship the same God as Christians.
“Amnesty International reports that Sweden has the highest number of rapes in Europe and the lowest conviction rate. According to Swedish Public Radio, in Stockholm alone, over 1,000 Swedish women reported that a Muslim immigrant raped them; 300 were under age 15.” “What the EU fails to acknowledge and each country is realizing is that Muslim immigrants have no intention of integrating. Eighty percent are on welfare, following Islamic teaching to take money from the non-Muslim “Kuffar.” Both Sharia4Belgium and Sharia4Holland advocate complete extinction of Jews.” As Christianity Exits Europe, ‘Criminal Muslims’ Fill Void with Rabid Violence (Dec 2014).
A chronology of the violence (including honor killings – or are those just “misunderstandings”?) and non-integration Muslim immigrant issues, via linked news articles.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 41,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 15 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
I’m not a feminist, but it doesn’t take a feminist to see the mysogeny in some Judeo-Christian circles when King David is so glorified while persons like Michal, David’s first wife, are vilified. If Michal can be so maligned, then any woman can. David treated Michal (and his other wives) like his property in more ways than one, and many “believing” men still see David’s actions in a righteous light.
King David, Israel’s most revered king , who was chosen by God for that role and for his part in God’s redeeming plan, was a poet and a bit of a prophet, but he did things that God did not approve of and which are utterly un-Christlike/un-Christianlike  (read about Judah and others that God used and you’ll see that He didn’t forcefully make them “saints”). As always, we should recognize and praise the good, but we need to also recognize the bad and not repeat it. We are also called to recognize and help the oppressed.
What got “me going” on this subject at this time was a biography of David. In the introduction the author claimed that the only thing David did wrong was have Uriah the Hittite murdered because he wanted the man’s wife (Bathsheba). Though the author didn’t provide the reference for his claim, it comes from 1 Kings 15:5: For David had done what was right in the eyes of the Lord and had not failed to keep any of the Lord’s commands all the days of his life—except in the case of Uriah the Hittite. Since there are other things written in the Old Testament that David did that displeased God, this statement can be taken as a generalized commendation, just as other kings received generalized condemnations; and “in the case of Uriah the Hittite” David committed many deep sins, not just one. (Note, however, that this particular verse seems to have been added to scripture later since it is not in the oldest versions of the Greek Old Testament).
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of Jesus’ harsh sayings being explained away, especially in light of the Christian church falling into disrepute. We should not be trying to placate everyone, and this is obvious by Jesus’ (and Paul’s) own words (verses are from the New International Version [NIV] unless otherwise stated):
Jesus was hated, so His true followers will be hated. “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. . . If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. . . “ (John 15:18-20).
People will be offended by him, and therefore us. “And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me“ (Matthew 11:6, New King James Version; Luke 7:23).
What Paul said about our smell. “To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?“ (2 Corinthians 2:16).
Christians are not to attack back when we’re personally offended, but we are to convey God’s word and will. This is simply going to be offensive to some and we shouldn’t be made to feel guilty over it. Many “Christians” just seem to roll with the cultural flow, but Jesus’ example was . . . what? He ended up dying on the cross for the truth.
One example of Jesus’ harsh words that I’ve always found difficult is from Matthew 15:21-27 (see also Mark 7:24-30). Can you imagine Jesus ignoring you, then calling you a dog and making you feel like you have to beg like a dog? Here is the passage:
Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”
Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.
I’ve heard sermons admonishing us to think of the “dogs” here as “puppies,” and in Mark’s version of the conversation the woman indeed uses the term “little dogs.” But, if we wanted to think of the word as “puppy,” there’s the issue of what puppies grow up into: dogs. Whether a puppy or a dog, the creature is something less than its owner. In the passage, Jesus is saying that the gentile is asking something of God that only the privileged should have, the implication being that not all humans are equal in God’s eyes.
But brushing aside the offense, the desperate mother cleverly and humbly responds. We don’t know if Jesus’ expression and inflection betrayed a different intent than His literal words, which were said in the presence of Israelites. In any case, I think the passage’s primary meaning can be understood in the light of Jesus’ other examples of people other than the house of Israel having true faith (and large doses of humility). Many in Israel thought that, in God’s eyes, outsiders were less than they were, and here Jesus seems to be confirming that belief. In another harsh passage, Jesus says not to throw your pearls to swine (Matthew 7:6). Ouch. These passages seem to fly in the face of God’s love and concern for everyone, that Christ died for all, and that all are equal in His sight.
But there are common misconceptions based on these ideas which indeed are found in scripture. Misunderstandings seem to come from thinking that certain verses refer to universal salvation. God’s saving grace may be universal, but it requires individual acceptance (it’s a gift that one accepts, or leaves unopened), and God knows that not everyone is going to accept it. He also knows (and has passed this knowledge on to us) that He has active enemies, not just people who don’t really want to accept Him. We don’t know who all these enemies are, but God does.
Therefore, neither “human” or “person” are synonyms for “child of God.” People can become children of God through faith, and individual Israelites were not necessarily God’s children. Once Israel rejected Jesus as Christ, all who did (and do) accept Him as such were (and are) adopted into God’s family. The Canaanite mother seems to be an example of this forthcoming church age.
While many Israelites did take Jesus’ messages to heart and come to faith, the nation as a whole did not. What were the problems? Following man-made traditions like many in Israel were doing was actually leading people away from God, and as alluded to above, many also had the attitude that being born an Israelite (a child of Abraham) automatically saved you (see John chapter 8, for example).
Again and again, Jesus dispelled these notions. In Matthew 15 here, a gentile Canaanite woman has saving faith. She believed that what Jesus was doing was real (of God) and sought Him out, while the religious leaders amongst God’s “own people” did not. Other examples are the centurion who knew that Jesus could heal even from a distance (Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10); the (parable of the) good Samaritan who helped a man left to die when Israelite holy men would not (Luke 10:30-37); the Samaritan woman who became His witness to other Samaritans (John 4:1-30); and, the thankful Samaritan leper who was healed along with nine other Israelite lepers, who did not glorify God like the Samaritan did (Luke 17:11-19).
Jesus also brought up other related examples from the past, like Jonah the Israelite not wanting to give God’s warning to the Ninevites, God having the prophet Elijah stay with a non-Israelite lady during a severe, long term drought, and God healing a Syrian–but not any Israelites–of leprosy during Elisha’s time (Luke 4:24-27). Of course, He also reminded the Israelites here and there about God’s prophets they had killed in times past. These examples, of course, angered many. Those unwilling to accept His messages sought His life, just as they sought the past prophets’ lives he reminded them of.
We can see, perhaps shockingly, that the Canaanite woman was not really offended; apparently, she understood something that was more important than the apparent offense. Her faith led to the healing of her daughter and a compliment from the Son of God. In another example that many of His own disciples found offensive, Jesus taught that He was the bread of life, and that His blood was for salvation. He said that a person needed to eat his flesh and blood. Of course, he was speaking in spiritual terms of the coming Last Supper and future sacrament of communion. He wasn’t all-of-a-sudden advocating cannibalism. But many disciples failed to trust His words, were offended, and left Him (John 6:47- 71). But those who believed in Him stayed even though they didn’t fully understand His words at the time. Faith is trust, and blessed are those not offended by Christ.
I was reading Matthew today and came across the below group of verses. It made me think about my own salvation and if I’m on the right track. I have these times where I wonder if God expects more of me, if I’m letting Him down, and if He’s really paying attention to me anymore. I think all believers go through times with thoughts like that. I do believe I’m saved, as Paul wrote: “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:16). But I also think Paul wrote his passages about persevering for a reason, that people can indeed fall away from the faith (become apostate). One example from Hebrews (12:1-3):
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
The following passages from the end of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, consisting of three paragraphs and concepts, is a good reminder to consider: where we’re at in our faith; if our faith is matched by our actions; and, if our righteous-looking actions are hiding unrighteous motives. It is that last bit that is the scariest. Those persons who do NOT enter God’s Kingdom, even though they seemed like they were powerfully working for God, seem to be surprised. Perhaps it is yet just another deception they are trying to pull off, or, they are so deluded they can’t even tell the difference.