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Old 04-26-2015, 07:20 PM   #436
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Sunday Dispatch.712

Sunday Dispatch.712

The Bible and the Coal Basket

The story is told of an old man who lived on a farm in the mountains of eastern Kentucky with his young grandson. Each morning, Grandpa was up early sitting at the kitchen table reading from his old worn-out Bible.
His grandson who wanted to be just like him tried to imitate him in any way he could. One day the grandson asked, "Papa, I try to read the Bible just like you but I don't understand it, and what I do understand I forget as soon as I close the book. What good does reading the Bible do?"

The Grandfather quietly turned from putting coal in the stove and said, "Take this coal basket down to the river and bring back a basket of water." The boy did as he was told, even though all the water leaked out before he could get back to the house.

The grandfather laughed and said, "You will have to move a little faster next time," and sent him back to the river with the basket to try again.

This time the boy ran faster, but again the basket was empty before he returned home. Out of breath, he told his grandfather that it was "impossible to carry water in a basket," and he went to get a bucket instead.

The old man said, "I don't want a bucket of water; I want a basket of water. You can do this. You're just not trying hard enough," and he went out the door to watch the boy try again.

At this point, the boy knew it was impossible, but he wanted to show his grandfather that even if he ran as fast as he could, the water would leak out before he got far at all.

The boy scooped the water and ran hard, but when he reached his grandfather the basket was again empty.

Out of breath, he said, "See Papa, it's useless!"

"So you think it is useless?" The old man said, "Look at the basket."

The boy looked at the basket and for the first time he realized that the basket looked different. Instead of a dirty old coal basket, it was clean.

"Son, that's what happens when you read the Bible. You might not understand or remember everything, but when you read it, it will change you from the inside out.

That is the work of God in our lives. To change us from the inside out and to slowly transform us into the image of His son.

~Unknown
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Old 05-03-2015, 10:47 AM   #437
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Sunday Dispatch.713

Sunday Dispatch.713

Excerpted from the book, Bono by Michka Assayas

Bono: My understanding of the Scriptures has been made simple by the person of Christ. Christ teaches that God is love. What does that mean? What it means for me: a study of the life of Christ. Love here describes itself as a child born in straw poverty, the most vulnerable situation of all, without honor. I don’t let my religious world get too complicated. I just kind of go: Well, I think I know what God is. God is love, and as much as I respond [sighs] in allowing myself to be transformed by that love and acting in that love, that’s my religion. Where things get complicated for me, is when I try to live this love. Now that’s not so easy.

Michka Assayas: What about the God of the Old Testament? He wasn’t so “peace and love”?

Bono: There’s nothing hippie about my picture of Christ. The Gospels paint a picture of a very demanding, sometimes divisive love, but love it is. I accept the Old Testament as more of an action movie: blood, car chases, evacuations, a lot of special effects, seas dividing, mass murder, adultery. The children of God are running amok, wayward. Maybe that’s why they’re so relatable. But the way we would see it, those of us who are trying to figure out our Christian conundrum, is that the God of the Old Testament is like the journey from stern father to friend. When you’re a child, you need clear directions and some strict rules. But with Christ, we have access in a one-to-one relationship, for, as in the Old Testament, it was more one of worship and awe, a vertical relationship. The New Testament, on the other hand, we look across at a Jesus who looks familiar, horizontal. The combination is what makes the Cross.

Bono: I really believe we’ve moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace.

Michka: Well, that doesn’t make it clearer for me.


Bono: You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics; in physical laws every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “as you reap, so you will sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.

Michka: I’d be interested to hear that.

Bono: That’s between me and God. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep s—. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

Michka: The Son of God who takes away the sins of the world. I wish I could believe in that.

Bono: But I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there’s a mortality as part of your very sinful nature, and, let’s face it, you’re not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions. The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humbled . It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven.


Michka: That’s a great idea, no denying it. Such great hope is wonderful, even though it’s close to lunacy, in my view. Christ has his rank among the world’s great thinkers. But Son of God, isn’t that farfetched?

Bono: No, it’s not farfetched to me. Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t let you off that hook. Christ says: No. I’m not saying I’m a teacher, don’t call me teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying: “I’m the Messiah.” I’m saying: “I am God incarnate.”

If only we could be a bit more like Him, the world would be transformed. When I look at the Cross of Christ, what I see up there is all my s— and everybody else’s. So I ask myself a question a lot of people have asked: Who is this man? And was He who He said He was, or was He just a religious nut? And there it is, and that’s the question.
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Old 05-10-2015, 12:25 PM   #438
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Sunday Dispatch.714

Sunday Dispatch.714

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
~Psalm 46:1

When oppression
cruelty and fear
are all that is known
and suffering the daily experience
When famine
hunger and thirst
greet every morning
denying basic sustenance
How easy to say
there is no God
to turn aside
and label you an irrelevance
You who are
living water
bread of life
the one who offers deliverance
Who suffered
died and rose
bringing hope
that there is more to life than this
Bless all those
who in despair
and dark places
look to you for assurance
Bring comfort
peace and where
there is neither
bring to them abundance

~ John Birch
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Old 05-17-2015, 08:59 PM   #439
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Sunday Dispatch.715

Sunday Dispatch.715


A Cowboy's Advice

* Keep your fences horse-high, pig-tight & bull-strong.
* Keep skunks & bankers & lawyers at a distance.
* Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.


* A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.
* Words that soak into your ears are whispered...not yelled.
* Meanness don't jes' happen overnight.

* Forgive your enemies. It messes up their heads.
* Don't corner something that would normally run from you.
* It doesn't take a very big person to carry a grudge.

* You cannot unsay a cruel word.
* Every path has a few puddles.
* When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.

* The best sermons are lived, not preached.
* Most of the stuff people worry about is never gonna happen anyway.
* Don't judge folks by their relatives.

* Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
* Don't interfere with somethin' that ain't botherin' you none.
* Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.

* Sometimes you get, & sometimes you get got.
* Don't fix it if it ain't broke.
* Always drink upstream from the herd.

* Good judgment comes from experience, & a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
* If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around.
* Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.
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Old 05-24-2015, 11:12 AM   #440
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Sunday Dispatch.716

Sunday Dispatch.716


“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

~Mark Twain
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Old 05-26-2015, 03:23 PM   #441
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"Maybe in order to understand mankind, we have to look at that word itself, 'mankind'. Basically, it's made up of two separate words - 'mank' and 'ind'. What do these words mean? It's a mystery, and that's why so is mankind."
- Jack Handey
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Old 05-31-2015, 03:11 PM   #442
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Sunday Dispatch.717

Sunday Dispatch.717

If we stand by our convictions only when it is convenient, we are not standing at all.
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Old 06-07-2015, 10:17 AM   #443
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Sunday Dispatch.718

Sunday Dispatch.718

Jesus once again addressed them: “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.”

The Pharisees objected, “All we have is your word on this. We need more than this to go on.”

Jesus replied, “You’re right that you only have my word. But you can depend on it being true. I know where I’ve come from and where I go next. You don’t know where I’m from or where I’m headed. You decide according to what you can see and touch. I don’t make judgments like that. But even if I did, my judgment would be true because I wouldn’t make it out of the narrowness of my experience but in the largeness of the One who sent me, the Father. That fulfills the conditions set down in God’s Law: that you can count on the testimony of two witnesses. And that is what you have: You have my word and you have the word of the Father who sent me.”

They said, “Where is this so-called Father of yours?”

Jesus said, “You’re looking right at me and you don’t see me. How do you expect to see the Father? If you knew me, you would at the same time know the Father.”

He gave this speech in the Treasury while teaching in the Temple. No one arrested him because his time wasn’t yet up.

~ John 8:12-20 (The Message)
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Old 06-14-2015, 01:53 PM   #444
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Sunday Dispatch.719

Sunday Dispatch.719

‘Heaven’: Biblical Imaginations of New Earth

~ Book review by E. Stephen Burnett

Since reading Randy Alcorn’s nonfiction hardback 'Heaven' in summer 2006, I will not only admit but proclaim this: I have become a Heaven geek. And I don’t mean just the book.

My own renewed afterlife “fandom” began in summer 2001. I was reading the late Henry Morris’s speculations about the after-world and what we might do, in his commentary The Revelation Record. He actually wrote about the point of Revelation, and with just a bit of speculation:

“We shall have an eternity of time to explore and discover the secrets of an infinitely varied and limitless cosmos. Perhaps each of us will be assigned an entire galaxy to explore and develop for the glory of God. Then each will share with the others what he has found and what he has accomplished and all will rejoice together.”

To me this idea seemed less like clear Scripture and more like science fiction.

Years later for me, Alcorn’s work built on that golden foundation.
In Heaven, Alcorn, a pastor and author of both nonfiction and fiction, writes not only based on solid Scriptural truths about the future world for which God’s people are meant, but with Bible-based imagination. As he clearly affirms, imagination is God’s gift, yet it must be based on Biblical truth revealed by the only One Who can imagine anything into reality.

This book, along with Desiring God by John Piper, really did “change my life” in the way people hear about sometimes, even back in 2006 when I read it for the first time. Now, since re-reading Heaven multiple times, I can eagerly agree with Alcorn’s back-cover quote:

The next time you hear someone say, “We can’t begin to imagine what Heaven will be like,” you’ll be able to tell them, “I can.”

‘New Earth’ means New Earth, not New ‘Twilight Zone’

Unlike other Christian authors who may assume unbelieving readers already know the basics, Alcorn begins with a carefully written chapter to inform some readers that they are actually headed by default for heck. Alcorn knows his audience, and the fact that some among them will be non-Christians who assume that a pleasant afterlife is theirFrom there he heads into more assumption-challenging that continues throughout the book.1 In the first several chapters he hits hard against popular Churchian legends about the afterlife.

Heaven is not only the present-day “intermediate” Heaven where the redeemed go upon death, Alcorn writes, but will in the future become the New Heavens and New Earth (Rev. 21).

Many people don’t seem to get that, and I don’t mean only non-Christians. Wrong notions of Heaven are just as common in the Church. Some Christians, if they think about it, assume Heaven is a nonmaterial world of spiritoid2 weirdness. They may even suspect that life there will be dull and boring, and that we may even lose individuality.

In other words, this eternal “Heaven” is more like another dimension — a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. But those who go to this “Heaven” have not crossed over into Scripture’s promised resurrected life, but into the Twilight Zone! Yet for comfort, or to assure ourselves that this view is spiritual, we may believe that this is not at all creepy, no, it’s all a good sort of nonphysical spiritoid-ness, and we’ll love it anyway.

Related ideas float around in Christendom more often than Scriptural support for them: Well, we have no way to know much about heaven. Or, We’re not sure what kind of bodies we’ll have in heaven. Or this one: In heaven, time (or work) will be no more.

Sprinkled in Alcorn’s chapters are similar quotes and testimonies from theologians who flat-out stated, apart from Biblical support or with out-of-context verses, certain “facts” about the eternal state. He also includes quotes from friends and Christians who secretly admitted they wished Heaven were more like Earth. The (supposed) fact that it won’t be like Earth frightened them. But in reply, Alcorn shows how Scripture endorses this desire, contending that this longing is not sinful or unspiritual, but an example of God reflecting resurrection truth and setting eternity in our hearts. He points readers to the truth that God will resurrect not only His people from death, but the rest of His material creations by default. By calling the New Earth Earth, God emphatically tells us that it will be earthly, and thus familiar. Otherwise, why call it Earth?

When Scripture speaks of a “new song,” do we imagine it’s wordless, silent, or without rhythm? Of course not. Why? Because then it wouldn’t be a song. If I promised you a new car, would you say, “If it’s new, it probably won’t have an engine, transmission, doors, wheels, stereo, or upholstery”? If a new car didn’t have these things, it wouldn’t be a car. If we buy a new car, we know it will be a better version of what we already have, our old car. Likewise, the New Earth will be a far better version of the old Earth.

The word new is an adjective describing a noun. The noun is the main thing. A new car is first and foremost a car. A new body is mainly a body. A New Earth is mainly an Earth.

The New Earth will not be a non-Earth but a real Earth. The Earth spoken of in Scripture is the Earth we know — with dirt, water, rocks, trees, flowers, animals, people, and a variety of natural wonders. An Earth without these would not be an Earth.
~Heaven, page 158

Too much imagination?

Some may be distracted or bemused by Alcorn’s quotes from The Chronicles of Narnia books, or the Lord of the Rings novel or even films, and even Star Trek. But as a fan of epic stories that remind me of God, His people and His world, such references speak to me.

Yet any fantasy quotes only serve as reflections of or contrasts to Biblical exposition.

Joy, feasting, art, science, exploration, endless wonder …

Whether they believe in a “spiritoid” “body” in a Twilight-Zone-esque “heaven,” still many Christians wonder about questions like this: Will we feast and have fun? Will there be pizza in Heaven? What about art and science? When I wondered these, I tried not to think beyond those questions. Rather, I thought this was somehow no big spiritual deal, and moved on.

Alcorn believes many such Christians mean to be humble and not presumptuous. Of course we don’t know everything there is to know about what God will have for us in Heaven. But God has revealed plenty for us in Scripture, he writes. Putting this in perspective, we begin to sort through the lingering wrong ideas about Heaven that have come not from the Bible, but from “Christoplatonism.” Heaven’s appendix A about those often-subtle notions is alone worth the book’s price — in short, it’s Alcorn’s term for a series of beliefs derived from Greek philosophy and old denials of the doctrine of Resurrection, which imply or claim only the unseen “spiritual” is spiritual, and created matter does not matter to God.

Thus, after setting up a more-Biblical foundation for understanding New Earth, Alcorn tackles many of these very questions — including the coffee, pets, and pizza. Once wrong preconceptions are cleared away, it’s indeed astonishing what we do know, not necessarily about the real yet intermediate Heaven, but about the promised New Earth.

These many subtopics take up the rest of the book: not with only opinions or speculations about the New Heavens and New Earth, but Biblical foundations for those ideas. So far I have not found any false doctrine. Alcorn invites readers to hold his words up to those of Scripture and even contact him if they’ve spotted a wrong or unsupported statement.

Alcorn mines Scriptures from Revelation, prophets minor and major, and other books for descriptions of not only the intermediate Heaven, but the New Heavens and New Earth. For example, from Revelation 6, specifically verses 9 through 11:

•These people were individuals who had been persecuted and killed on Old Earth.

•They remembered their former lives on Old Earth, though they had been persecuted and killed! Not exactly pleasant memories, those. Yet there in Heaven, they remember. Why is this? Well, we know that God is glorified in suffering.

•Even while in Heaven, the people are waiting for God to bring things to completion.

•And by the way, time certainly exists even in the existing Heaven (not yet the New Earth) — after all the martyrs were “told to rest a little longer.”

Further chapters take on related topics. Will we eat meat, or anything? What about coffee? What kinds of abilities may our bodies have? Will we explore, discover new creatures, perhaps go on journeys in space or even time?

And what about pets who have died? Alcorn does not skip past these issues with “Scripture is silent here.” Rather, he points out God’s axiom of glorifying Himself as His chief end (with plenty of John Piper quotes) and asks why God would not allow something. Given God’s original post-creation mandate in Genesis, commanding Adam and Eve to manage and explore planet Earth — it would make no sense for Him to halt a space program, the practice of science, or the drinking of coffee.

And as for pets, Alcorn asks: if God were to bring back specific beloved pets who died on Old Earth, would He not be glorified more in the happiness and praise of His people?

I cannot highly enough recommend Heaven. Alcorn’s work has helped me re-realize not only how big God is — to save His universe, not just His people — but refocus on Biblical exegeses and discerning false ideas. Scripture is clear: God will not just nuke His whole creation from orbit and start over with some “spiritual” world. Rather, He will redeem His physical universe and make it more incredible than ever before.
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Old 06-21-2015, 10:55 AM   #445
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Sunday Dispatch.720

Sunday Dispatch.720

Father of Mine" is a rock song by the band Everclear. The song is autobiographical, as lead singer Art Alexakis's father left his family when he was a young boy and how it affected his life. A great song, I think, that expresses how important a father can be to a young child.

Father of mine
Tell me where have you been?
You know I just closed by eyes
My whole world disappeared
Father of mine
Take me back to the day
Yeah, when I was still your golden boy
Back before you went away


I remember blue skies walking the block
I loved it when you held me high
I loved to hear you talk
You would take me to the movie
You would take me to the beach
You would take me to a place inside
That's so hard to reach

Oh!
Father of mine
Tell me where did you go?
Yeah, you had the world inside your hand
But you did not seem to know

Father of mine
Tell me what do you see?
When you look back at your wasted life
And you don't see me
I was ten years old
Doin' all that I could
It wasn't easy for me to be a scared white boy
In a black neighborhood
Sometimes you would send me a birthday card
With a five dollar bill
I never understood you then
And I guess I never will

Daddy gave me a name
My daddy gave me a name
(Then he walked away)
Daddy gave me a name
(Then he walked away)
My daddy gave me a name
Oh yeah

Yeah
Daddy gave me a name
Daddy gave me a name
(Then he walked away)
Daddy gave me a name
(Then he walked away)
My daddy gave me a name
Yeah
Yeah
Oh yeah

Father of mine
Tell me where have you been?
Yeah, I just closed by eyes
And the world disappeared
Father of mine
Tell me how do you sleep?
With the children you abandoned
And the wife I saw you beat

I will never be safe
I will never be sane
I will always be weird inside
I will always be lame
Now I'm a grown man
With a child of my own
And I swear, I'll never let her know
All the pain I have known

Daddy gave me a name
(Then he walked away)
My daddy gave me a name
(Then he walked away)
My daddy gave me a name
(Then he walked away)
My daddy gave me a name

Yeah
(Then he walked away)
Yeah
(Then he walked away)
Oh yeah

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Old 06-28-2015, 10:21 AM   #446
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Sunday Dispatch.721

Sunday Dispatch.721

“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.”

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

~ Matthew 6:30-34 (The Message)
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Old 06-28-2015, 10:41 AM   #447
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mmm , good
one thAnks
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Old 07-05-2015, 10:48 AM   #448
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Sunday Dispatch.722

Sunday Dispatch.722


For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

~ Matthew 7:8
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Old 07-06-2015, 03:56 PM   #449
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That would be a great slogan for a brothel.
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Old 07-12-2015, 10:42 AM   #450
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Sunday Dispatch.723

Sunday Dispatch.723


Don't pray when it rains if you don't pray when the sun shines.

~Satchel Paige

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