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snippets (12/28/11)

Scripture by Subtraction – an interesting look at the “bible” Thomas Jefferson cut and pasted from the real Bible. I found the Nativity story pretty neat… no angels, no shepherds, no wise men.  Those things didn’t “make sense” to Jefferson.  Before condemning him though, we should be sure to ask ourselves a few questinos:

1. Are there areas of scripture that I have knowingly neglected to study because they are difficult to understand?

2. Do I compare scripture to my own capacity for reason, or do I measure scripture with scripture?

3. Have I omitted anything from scripture? or is the bible I live by the Bible?

Well How Should We Punish Murder? – Regardless of your beliefs on parole, juvenile punishment, capital punishment, etc. the inequities rather than the severity are the issue here.  Have a thought? Leave a comment.

Best Art of 2011 – This is the time of year for everyone to make their “best ____ of 2011” lists.  When it comes to art there’s no place like New York, and the only thing more important there than art is business, so we’ll go to the people who know them both.

MARS – Not the candy company.  These are some pretty cool images though!

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2011 in Snippets

 

The Nativity

Philip Schaff, in his work “A Chronology of the Life of Christ” writes in his typically thorough and convincingly scientific fashion a few points to consider when we reflect on the date and credibility of the nativity story(ies) to which we’ve all grown acustomed.

His research examines whatever historical data was recorded at the time (in antiquity) and attempts to align those data sets and find a range of plausibility compatible with the accounts offered by the four gospels of holy scripture.

I. The death of Herod the Great (Matt. 2:1; Luke 1:2)

The Jewish historian, Josephus records the death of Herod occurred a.u. 750 (“Anno Urbis” meaning after the founding of Rome or 4 b.c.) three days after the lunar eclipse (march 13th a.u. 750). The astronomical event can be verified on that date independently.  Thus we can be sure that the birth of Christ was certainly earlier than 750 a.u. or 4 b.c.

II. The Star of the Magi (Matt 2:1-4, 9)

In the month of March of 1603 and again in 1604 Johannes Kepler observed a rare conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Saturn in the constellation of Pisces.  October 10th of 1604 Mars was added to their company and the union of the three planets’ gravitational effects on a certain more distant star made the star both visible to the naked eye and caused it to shine so brightly in the southern early morning sky that it appeared in Kepler’s own words “like the most beautiful and glorious torch ever seen when driven by a strong wind.”

By Kepler’s calculations (which have been verified by numerous modern astronomers) a nearly identical event would have occurred in the years of 747a.u. and 748.  In March of 747 the Magi would have first seen the confluence of Jupiter and Saturn, may have done research and found that Jewish astrologers attached a Messianic significance to the the two planet’s simultaneous presence in the constellation of Pisces. In March of  748 the way westward would have again been marked by the star, and finally from Jerusalem the October 10th phenomenon of the addition of Mars would have marked the was southwards to Bethlehem.

III. The Fifteenth Year of Tiberius (Luke 3:1, 23)

A.u.779 was the 15th year of Tiberius’ reign in Rome, as he took the throne in a.u. 764.  Tiberius’ 15th year was the year given that John the Baptist commenced his public ministry at the age of 30. knowing that the Christ was 6 months younger than John we can be fairly certain that the Nativity occurred either in 748 or 749 a.u.

IV. The Census of Quirinius

A very well documented event that took at minimum 4 years to complete and began in 5 b.c.

V. The Fourty Six Year Building of Herod’s Temple (John 2:20)

We learn from the above passage that it took “forty and six” years to build Herod’s temple.  If we couple this passage with Josephus’ record of Herod beginning construction of the temple in the 18th year of his reign (or a.u. 735), and add 46 years we come to 781. deducting 31 years (because Jesus was at least one year into his ministry at this point.) we come back to 750 a.u. as the year of the Nativity.

VI. The time of the Crucifixion

Based on Roman records Christ was crucified under the consulate of the two Gemini which lasted a.u. 782 to 783 (a.d. 28 to 29). Deducting 33 years brings us to 4 or 5 b.c.

Though there is still extensive guesswork to come to a day, or month, we can be fairly certain that both ancient records and current analysis agree that the scene of the Nativity unfolded at the earliest 747 a.u. and the latest 750 (or 7 – 4 b.c.).

I hope, at the very least this gives you something to think about.  At it’s best it should cause you to believe more faithfully that God, in His infinite wisdom and sovereignty, uses all facets of history and nature to bring about His will for mankind.

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2011 in Snippets

 

Big, Manly, Tenderheartedness

When I was about 15 years old I went on a project with my dad and brothers and some men from my church. The project was to clear some trees to build a house for a local family to whom our church was reaching out. One of the guys on the team stood out to me because of his shear size (he was huge) we’ll call him Walt. In the course of the project we fell a large tree, about 3 ft. in diameter and while one of the men was using a chainsaw the saw bound and his hand became entrapped under the massive tree trunk. Walt was a big guy (the kind of guy who you didn’t really shake hands with. He shook hands, you just shook.).  He was the first to reach the man with the entrapped hand and immediately saw that the only way to free it was to lift the tree. So he did. The same tree we’d tried to move earlier with a back-hoe, but couldn’t. He just picked it up and moved it. Call it adrenaline, call it what you will. That’s one big guy.

A few years later Walt’s daughter got married and I can still remember being shocked at the emotion and tears in the speech he gave.  A few years after that I remember seeing him pick up his grand-daughter from the nursery after church when she was only a few months old.  That baby’s whole body fit into one of Walt’s big, steely hands, but he hunched over her with such tenderness and responded to her cooing with affection that would have put a blush on many a man’s face.

The most impressive display I can remember of his deep running heart for the gospel was at the Haven of Rest homeless shelter when Walt gave his testimony at the chapel one evening.  They like to keep Walt around because there seem to be fewer fights among the tenants when there’s a guy like him serving dinner.  This particular evening Walt stood up to speak and his normally deep booming voice shook like a Jr. High boy’s as he described how Jesus Christ saved him from a meaningless life of drunkenness, abusiveness, pornography, bar-fights, and drugs.  He went on to a plead with those attending that each of them was in just as bad a shape as he had been, that they too were headed for a fate worse than death and without parole, that they were sinners in the hands of an angry God.  And that there was no hope for them if they did not place their faith in Jesus.  Then he talked about his own relationship with Jesus, called him his best friend, is only companion when he is tempted to despair, and the only one who saved him from a the slippery slope toward suicide.  When he finished the session with tears streaming down his face the room had fallen silent, and he stepped down to resume serving dinner to the line of hungry men and women attending the chapel.

The memory of that scene always reminds me of the beautiful pageantry with which God can weave together the pinnacle of manliness in men with their love of the Gospel and others.  The apostle Paul tells us in I Corinthians 16:13

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.”

We can do this guys.

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2011 in Snippets

 

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Snippets (12/20/11)

Questioning Your Pastor – You should try it!

Climate Change – A stroke of genius… kinda wish it were true (and that we were following suit in the US)

Holiday Shopping – Time looks at what I believe is the epitome of consumerism.  Side Note: It’s little wonder that our government practices the deficit spending to the tune of trillions while so many of the individuals that make up the general populous practice the same thing in comparable percentages with their household budgets.  One definition of democracy is “government for the people by the people”.  If the people can’t control their own spending and they technically control the government it follows that the government ought to fail in the same areas as the people.

The Universe – In case you’re feeling small, here’s an interesting article from WIRED on the size of the universe. Turns out we are all pretty small….

2011 – In photographs.

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2011 in Snippets

 

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Not to the powerful…

… but to the poor He came,
And those who bow down low,
He’ll lift up to His side.

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2011 in Snippets

 

Snippets (12/15/2011)

GOLD – hit a 5 week low yesterday. Good time to buy if you’re into that sort of thing.

SEX – Kevin DeYoung looks at the “statistics” reported in a recent Relevant Magazine article on the sexual state of the evangelical church.  After a cursory review, the data plainly shows the dramatized overstatement.  But, as usual, bad news is more interesting than good news.

IDIOTS – (no explanation needed)

COOL – kinda “star-trek-y” but it sounds pretty neat, and when you’re the 10th richest person in the world, you’ve gotta keep yourself entertained I guess.

YOUNG – What if they didn’t want it? Now they pay for it anyway?

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2011 in Snippets

 

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Snippets (12/14/2011)

Photos – I’m such an amateur!

How to Shrink Your Church – I think by and large he’s got a point.  I like my small church.

Edwards’ Telescope – First hand knowledge is always better than secondhand. Here are two of my favorites…

Religious Affections – Paperback $12, Kindle $0.95

Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God – Kindle $0.99

“The Scotch catechism says that man’s chief end is ‘to glorify God and enjoy Him forever’. But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy him.” ~ C.S. Lewis

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2011 in Snippets