Tag Archives: Jesus

REFLECTIONS

gift-return

USA Today disclosed last week that the average family home in the US has 71 toys.   71?!?    I can only remember having two when I was a child — a farm set and a train set.   Admittedly, both had multiple pieces.   But 71?

Actually, I can believe it.   I always seem to be stepping on toys when I walk through our home.   Even at our daughter’s in Indianapolis, the living room floor is the favored spot for dumping toys.  My wife always said that toys were things to drag from the bedroom and dump on the living room carpet, and then the kids go out and play with a stick.

It wasn’t like this in Africa.   Most children there had no toys, unless a family member had made one from a used car tire or an old cardboard box.

When we first moved to the US, I was fascinated by how different American children are from African children; not for the better, I might add.  Too many American kids say bad things back to their parents and are more materialistic when it comes to getting things (toys and candy, mostly).

Part of the problem is television programs and commercials.   Children put incredible pressure on parents to buy them everything they’ve seen on TV and advertisers know this.   Credit cards enable parents to buy – few in Africa have CC’s.   One other factor I think all parents should think about – how many buy toys out of guilt?  With very little time to devote to children, parents over-compensate by buying lots of things.

I think their offspring would prefer time with Mom and Dad.  We didn’t have lots of things growing up, but our mother was always there, thankfully.

One other thing we should be concerned about is not to encourage materialism or greed in our children and grandchildren.  “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “ (Matthew 6:19-21).

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It’s no surprise that Jimmy Fallon and Meryl Streep criticized President-elect Donald Trump Sunday night at the Golden Globes.

Fallon even commented that the Globes are now the only place in America where the “popular vote” counts.  Really?   I wasn’t asked to vote on the best movies of 2016.

The theater was full, as usual.  Many of those seated threatened to leave the United States if Trump won the election.   Canada seemed the preferred destination.  But they were there at the Globes.  Presumably they flew back for the evening!!!   Or, perhaps, upon reflection, when they saw how much they would have to pay in taxes in Canada, they decided to stay in the United States.

These people are unreal.  (Well, they are actors, after all.)  They rake in the millions or hundreds of millions and spend more money on face-lifts and breast enhancements than Donald Trump will ever spend on the military.  Their gowns alone cost more than the GNP’s of many countries.

Meryl Streep is a good actress.  So are some of the others in the audience.  They should stick to acting and stay out of politics, before millions of their fans turn away from them in disgust.

There was also an element of hypocrisy when Meryl Streep, commenting on Donald Trump, warned that violence begets more violence.  Hollywood has arguably done more to promote violence than Donald Trump or any other president could possibly do.

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alixs-kids

Diane and I have just been down to Indianapolis to see our eldest daughter, Alix, her husband, Mike, and their four children.  It was an enjoyable and relaxing few days.

I was able to take our two granddaughters, Alyssa and Elena, to tour President Benjamin Harrison’s home in downtown Indianapolis.   It was well worth the time and money to tour the historic house.   I am pleased to say that both girls asked intelligent and perceptive questions.

President Harrison was the 23rd President of the United States, in office from 1889 to 1893.   He replaced Grover Cleveland and was succeeded by the same man, a Democrat.   Harrison was a prime example of Churchill’s later dictum:  “If you’re not a socialist (liberal) at 20 you’ve got no heart; if you’re still a socialist at 30, you’ve got no head.”  He started out as a Whig but later became a Republican.

Historians do not rate his presidency very highly, but it’s interesting to note that he was facing the same issues that confront President-elect Trump today.   He raised tariffs on imports to help reduce the federal deficit and built up the navy which had been neglected since the Civil War.  (Interestingly, the day we toured the home, a website revealed that, for the first time in decades, there were no US naval vessels on patrol anywhere in the world.)

President Harrison is remembered as the grandson of President William Henry Harrison, who was president for exactly one month. He gave a very long speech at his Inaugural in 1841, caught a cold which developed into pneumonia, and died.   The two Harrisons are the only grandfather-grandson presidents in US history.

The second president also saw six states enter the Union during his four-year term, a record number under any chief executive.

It was sobering to note that the three-story home had no indoor plumbing!

It was an interesting visit and I recommend it if you are ever in Indianapolis.

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On a different day I took the twins to McDonald’s for an ice cream sundae, followed by a visit to Meijer, a huge grocery store that also sells toys.  (The twins would probably describe it as a toy store that also sells groceries!)

When ordering ice cream for them, I asked for a hot tea for myself.   The man taking the order responded with “Excuse me?”  I repeated my request.  He said he had never heard of it!  (seriously!)   So I asked for the manager and, again, repeated my request for a hot tea.   He had at least heard of it.   I added a request that the bag be put in the cup before the water as it tastes so much better that way.   My order came five minutes later – a styrofoam cup with luke-warm water and a separate tea bag!

I’m pleased to say that Tim Horton’s is moving south – they have now reached Ft Wayne.  I think I will stay away from Indianapolis until they move the extra 120 miles!  At least the Canadian franchise makes decent tea – just stay away from the donuts.

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There was an interesting paragraph Monday morning from an Israeli paper:

“Religious Jews are more excited about Messiah’s return than Christians are,” Markell told WND.   “Muslims are more anticipatory about their Mahdi’s return than are Christians about Jesus’s return. This shows the deplorable state of the church today that is ‘majoring in minors.’   They have their finance seminars and marriage conferences but have shoved the idea of the Lord’s imminent return not just to the back burner, perhaps to the back yard.”   (WND)

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AIRPORT ATTACK

The latest terrorist attack at Fort Lauderdale’s airport is disturbing.  It highlights the danger that ISIS is spreading beyond Islam to non-Muslims.  The perpetrator of Friday’s attack was an American born Hispanic.   If ISIS spreads its influence to hispanics and other minorities in America, attacks like this will only become more common.

A Palestinian drove a truck into a group of soldiers in Jerusalem on Sunday, killing four and injuring dozens.   These truck (or lorry) attacks in France, Germany and Israel are also spreading.

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NEW YEAR, 1917

We were with Alix and Mike over the New Year’s weekend.   Mike came across a quote, supposedly from Russia’s last Czar, Nicholas II, who wrote on the last day of 1916, in the middle of World War I:   “1916 was cursed. The new year will surely be better.”   Those who know Russian history will be aware that the Czar abdicated in February of 1917, the country was plunged into civil war before the year ended and the royal family were all slaughtered.   The “quote” was tweeted by Gary Kasparov, the famous Russian chess player who now lives in the United States.   Whether it’s true or not, it should make us think!

JESUS, JAMES AND JOSEPH: Book Review

Prepare to change your thinking!

Many Christians understand that the Church of Rome was very different from the apostolic church.   The early church was headquartered at Jerusalem, described by ancient sources as the most beautiful city in the world, far surpassing Rome.   The most beautiful building in that city was the Temple.   This was all to change when the Jewish Revolt led to the Roman destruction of the city and temple in 70 A.D.

Popular history has it that the Apostle Peter was the first pope and that he lived in Rome.   The Bible shows this to be untrue. Even the title of pope is unbiblical.

Most people are aware that the Roman Emperor Constantine played a pivotal role in giving the Roman church the pre-eminence in Christendom in 325 A.D.   However, this did not end the controversies and divisions, which continued. In the late fourth century, Pope Damasus commissioned Jerome, considered at the time the greatest scholar in the “Christian” world to produce an authoritative Latin translation of the scriptures, which would put an end to the various Latin manuscripts that were circulating.   Jerome’s Latin Vulgate was finished in 405 A.D.

Note the following:

“The corrupt Roman church first re-arranged the entire NT to emphasize a gentile or pagan message. In his Latin Vulgate Jerome removed the epistle of James the Just from its prominent position after the book of Acts – where it appears in nearly all the Greek manuscripts. He placed it near the end of the NT, after the epistles of Paul.

“This move was designed to belittle James. It also gave higher ratings to the epistle to the Romans, and other scriptures written to the gentiles. The first book after Acts would now be Romans.   For the ignorant, Rome became the focus, not Jerusalem. Gentile myth substituted the Davidic, Jerusalem and Temple tradition.   James was out.”

“If Rome upheld James as the bishop of bishops, Jerusalem would retain religious power above Constantinople or Rome. They would lose money and prestige.   Hence the Peter fable. The Temple was expunged.”

The three paragraphs I have quoted can be found in the book “Jesus, James, Joseph and the past and future Temple” (pages 320 & 659).   The book is available through Amazon and a number of other, sometimes cheaper, online retailers.   Shop around.

The book is written and compiled by the Nazarene Project (editor David Price) and published by Bron Communications.   The project derives its name from the early disciples, who were known as the Nazarenes, before they were first called Christians in Acts 11:26. The book covers a very wide spectrum of early church history, showing how the early church was hijacked and transformed into what today is the biggest church on the planet.

Jerome was just one figure who was instrumental in this transformation.   Even down to the smallest detail.   Jerome, for example, “invented a complex and flawed theory that James and the other children were not children of Mary but rather the nephews of Jesus, a theory that had no historical or patristic basis” (p. 321).   Yet this seemingly minor change led to profound doctrinal changes, including the much later doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, under Pope Pius IX, in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

The central focus of the book is, as the title suggests, the roles that Jesus, James and Joseph held in the Temple at Jerusalem.   All three played important roles in the most important building on earth.   The Temple was described by the secular Roman historian Tacitus as “the most beautiful structure ever built by the hands of man.”

After the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the church was headquartered at Jerusalem, under the leadership of James, Christ’s brother.   Early historical documents show that James had a throne in the Temple.   His epistle shows that he was both a servant of his brother, Jesus, and leader of the twelve tribes scattered abroad.   A contemporary record says that James “prayed inside the Holy Place every day for the repentance of Israel,” and that “Peter and the others called him Lord.”   Clearly, he was a powerful and influential man, at a time when most people believe that Peter was pope.   But Jerusalem, not Rome, was then the focus of peoples’ loyalties.

At almost 700 pages of text, the book is a really good read and will be a useful tool to your daily Bible Study.   It will also inspire many sermons for those of you who have the opportunity to speak.

 

CHRISTIAN OR PHARISEE – WHICH ARE YOU?

Pharisee_Crucify_Him

The Barna Group surveyed thousands of professing Christians to try to answer the question:  “Are Christians more like Jesus or more like the Pharisees?” (Barna Group. April 30th).  A series of twenty questions were asked in order to make the assessment.  The questions were to see how the actions and attitudes of Christians towards others reflect Jesus or the Pharisees.

‘One of the common critiques leveled at present-day Christianity is that it’s a religion full of hypocritical people” is the opening line of their published study.

Most people will not be surprised to note that whereas only 14% of Christians reflect the attitudes and actions of Jesus Christ, 51% reflect those of the Pharisees.  It would appear that not much has changed since Jesus’ day.

Self-righteousness persists, especially in attitudes toward the sins of others.  Looking down on others for their sins naturally makes people feel better about their own shortcomings.

Hopefully, the survey will give believers something to think about, but it’s doubtful people will move away from their comfort spot.  After all, these attitudes existed amongst the Pharisees two thousand years ago.  Only a small minority tried to be different and truly follow Christ.