June 21, 2017

Bible Literacy FAIL

I noticed this mistake in the latest issue of TIME Magazine. Do you see it?

I will give you a hint: The mistake I'm talking about has nothing to do with chronology or the speculation that the fiery furnace was a burning oil field.



According to the book of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into the fiery furnace because they refused to worship Nebuchadnezzar's idol. That is exactly the opposite of what is written here. 

Someone should have caught that even if all of their Bible knowledge was gained from watching Veggie Tales videos--although in that case it was a giant chocolate bunny.

Everyone makes mistakes. Maybe this was a simple slip. However, what gets me is to think about many editors at TIME Magazine who read this without catching the mistake in the story. 

This goes to show the sad state of Bible literacy among the cultural elite. 

There used to be a time that even if people didn't believe the Biblical stories, they at least knew them. Not this TIME.

February 28, 2017

The Authority Filter

The Bible teaches a relationship of headship between husbands and their own wives (Ephesians 5:22-24). Headship certainly carries the idea of authority, but it might not be the idea of authority that many people have in their minds. For this reason many people reject it and others abuse it.

For too many people, “authority” always means “authoritarian” or “domineering.” They have a hard time imagining any type of God-honoring, loving, sacrificing, humble, Christ-like leadership. Their concept of authority is polluted. But like polluted water, the answer is not to reject all water, but to filter it of impurities. We can do this by running our concept of authority through the “authority filters” of Ephesians 5:25-33 and 1 Peter 3:7:   
Ephesians 5:25-33, "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband."
THE AUTHORITY FILTER: From your concept of authority, filter out anything that is not:              

  • Christ-like. (Eph. 5:25-33)
  • Loving.  Love as Christ loved the Church. (Eph. 5:25, 33)  Think about how high a calling this is!
  • Sacrificing.  “And gave Himself up for her.”  (Eph. 5:25) 
  • Serving. (Eph. 5:25-29)
  • Sanctifying.  To make her pure and holy; to help her in her walk with God.  (vs. 26-27)
  • Providing.  “Feeds and cares for it.” (Eph. 5:29)
  • Nurturing.  “Feeds and cares for it.” (Eph. 5:29)
  • Caring.  “Feeds and cares for it.” (Eph. 5:28-29)
1 Peter 3:7, “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”
  • Considerate.  “be considerate” (1 Pt. 3:7)
  • Respectful.  “treat them with respect” (1 Pt. 3:7)
  • Non-Diminishing.  “heirs with you of the gracious gift of life” (1 Pt. 3:7)
What remains after the filter is closer to the biblical understanding of Christ-like headship & authority. This is the type of leadership that husbands should provide for their wives and their families.

February 27, 2017

More New Earths?

"Scientists say life may have already evolved on at least three of the planets."

Every time they announce that new "Earth-like" planets have been discovered, it is the same thing over and over again.

The headlines claim that three of the planets orbiting TRAPPIST-1 "could support alien life." But looking closer, the only reason they say that is because these planets might have temperatures that would keep water in liquid form--if they have water. Then the assumption is that since Earth isn't anything special (assumption), life must spring up fairly easily when there is liquid water (assumption).

The vast majority of planets that have been discovered elsewhere are "Hot Jupiters" i.e., enormous gas giants orbiting extremely close to their star, with no solid surface and temperatures that would make life impossible. So when the articles say that these planets are "just like earth" it is only by comparison to these Hot Jupiters.

The planets around TRAPPIST-1 are similar to Earth in mass, but still very different from Earth. Here are a few of the differences: 
  1. They orbit a very small "ultra cool dwarf star" about 11% the radius of our yellow Sun. 
  2. These planets are tidally locked to the star, meaning that one side of the planet always faces the star and the other side always faces away. This means that one side would be extremely hot and the other extremely cold. The only place liquid water might exists would be on the thin strip between the two halves. 
  3. The three planets that could maintain liquid water (e, f, and g) are extremely close to their star. The closest is only 2.8% of the distance from its star that Earth is from the Sun. The furthers of the three is 4.5% the distance of the Earth from the Sun. This means they would be much more susceptible to solar flares and radiation. 
  4. These planets orbit their star every 6-12 days. That is a very short year!
Also remember that any pictures you see of these planets are artist interpretations. We do not have actual photographs of these planets. The planets are detected by noticing the dimming of the star as the planets block some of the light when they orbit in front of it. The pictures--like the NASA illustration above--may show oceans, but those are from the artist rather than evidence.

I wrote an article on this several years ago about another planet they claimed was "just like Earth." Most of what I wrote applies to these new planets as well. The one big difference is that at the time they had only discovered about 500 planets outside our solar system. Now, the number is about 3,500. However, of the 3,500 they only think that maybe 22 do not already have the possibility of supporting life ruled out. That about half of 1%. For the other 99.4% they know there isn't the slightest chance.

I love these scientific discoveries, but what they tell me is that Earth is much more special than we assume.


December 2, 2016

Fear God



#1 The Fear You Need
The fear of the Lord is the good fear you need.


#2 God is Unsafe
God is more like a table saw than a cotton ball.


#3 When People Are Big and God Is Small
The fear of God and the fear of man: whichever is heavier to you will control your heart.


#4 Learning to Tremble
Why don't we fear God like we should and how to change that


#5 Don't Be Afraid 
The fear of the Lord is the good fear that cast out all other fears.


December 1, 2016

Chronological Christmas

 
Luke and Matthew don't contradict each other but they may contradict the way you remember the Christmas story.

How well do you really know the Christmas story? Not that I want to wreck your nativity scene or your children's Christmas pageant, but the angels, the shepherds, and the wise men were never in one place at the same time. When we try to remember the Christmas story we usually have ideas jumbled together from songs and shows rather than from a careful study of Scripture. And, even when we try to study Scripture it can be difficult to figure out how Luke and Matthew fit together. 

The narratives of Christ's birth in Luke and Matthew are complementary to each other. They don't contradict each other but they each provide unique elements of the whole story. If you want the full picture, you need to read both accounts together. This is my attempt to put all of the passages together for you in chronological order. 

A Harmony of Jesus' Birth Narratives:

  • Luke 1:5-25 – The angel Gabriel promises the birth of John the Baptist to Zechariah and Elizabeth, despite their old age. Zechariah is stuck mute.
  • Luke 1:26-38 - “The Annunciation” – At least six months later, Gabriel appears to Mary in Nazareth and announces to her that she will conceive a son as a virgin by the Holy Spirit. He will be called Son of the Most High and will reign on David’s throne forever.
  • Luke 1:39-56 - Mary visits Elizabeth in Judea. “The Magnificat” is Mary’s song in Luke 1:46-55. Mary stays with Elizabeth about three months and then returns home. Although Mary may have stayed until John was born, I think that it makes more sense that she left shortly before the birth and the onslaught of visitors.
  • Matthew 1:18-25 - Joseph learns that Mary, who is betrothed to him, is with child. She would have returned from Elizabeth's home three-months pregnant. An angel tells Joseph in a dream that Mary’s child was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Joseph takes Mary as his wife.
  • Luke 1:57-80 - John the Baptist’s is born and Zechariah gives a prophecy sometimes called “The Benedictus.” (John's birth may have happened before Mary arrived back in Nazareth and the events of Matthew 1:18-25.)
  • Luke 2:1-7 - Mary and Joseph travel from Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem in Judea for the census. Mary gives birth to Jesus in Bethlehem.
  • Luke 2:8-20 - Angels visit the shepherds and then the shepherds visit Mary and Joseph and the baby.
  • Luke 2:21-24 - At the end of eight days Jesus is circumcised and named.
  • Luke 2:22-24 – After forty days from birth, Mary and Joseph take the baby Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem to present and dedicate him to the Lord.
  • Luke 2:25-38 - At the temple, the family is visited by the prophets Simeon and Anna. Simeon’s words are sometimes called “The Nunc Dimittis.”
  • Matthew 2:1-8 - Wise men from the East come to Jerusalem searching for the newly born king. Jealous, King Herod secretly asks the wise men to tell him exactly where they find this child.
  • Matthew 2:9-12 – The wise men visit Jesus at a house in Bethlehem. The wise men are warned about Herod in a dream and depart another way. This may have taken place several months after Jesus was born. We assume Mary and Joseph were staying in Bethlehem with relatives.
  • Mathew 2:13-18 - Enraged, Herod orders the slaughter of all boys two-years and younger in the Bethlehem area. Joseph is warned in a dream to flee to Egypt, which they do. 
  • Matthew 2:19-21 - After Herod’s death (4 BC) the family returns to Israel, possibly to Bethlehem briefly.
  • Matthew 2:22-23 & Luke 2:39-40 – The family moves back to Nazareth in Galilee where Jesus is raised.


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