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>Family responsibility

2008 July 28 1 comment

>My wife and I were discussing responsibility to family because she was having difficulty reconciling 2 passages of Scripture.

While travelling to Jerusalem, Jesus speaks to some of the crowd travelling with him.

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9)

Leaving aside a full explanation of these sayings, Jesus is saying that belonging to the kingdom of God supersedes belonging to family. This is also seen in other passages such as:

“Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Luke 18)

So if we are to leave family for the sake of the kingdom, how does that fit in with Paul’s statements about family responsibility?

Honor widows who are truly widows. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God…. But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5)

Looking at Jesus’ words it seems that leaving family members could theoretically be asked of us (not that it necessarily is). Note, however, that the comment about leaving houses etc. is in the context of the rich young ruler who does not want to give up wealth for the sake of the kingdom. So this is more a comment by Jesus on the importance of choosing the kingdom over anything else, even very important things such as houses and family. Jesus follows this with a promise that God will give us more than we give up. And this may be part of what Jesus is saying in the Luke 9 passage. Parents and family are having a hold on someone who Jesus wants to join the kingdom.

Compare with Paul’s comments which do not relate to a competing call for believers. Rather they are to discharge the call of the kingdom by caring for those to whom they have responsibility for.

My conclusion in our discussion was that we are to care for those whom God has given us responsibility for, but we do not necessarily need to respond to those who would put their own claim on our lives.

We are responsible to look after our children. God may also give us other children to be responsible for. God may call us to give our children to others to look after so that we may do a task for him—we are still caring for them appropriately as we are delegating our responsibility for that child to another at God’s request (one should be absolutely certain they are hearing correctly from God in such a situation!*).

But an adult does not need to acquiesce to a demand from family to live or act according to their agenda. A request to remain part of the family business, or not to leave until one’s parents have died may not be legitimate. If at some future time one’s parents become infirm, the child may now have the responsibility for them placed on him by God and he needs to discharge that responsibility appropriately.

*This comment needs its own post to explain more fully, I don’t mean to suggest that this is a common request from God.

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>Cold weather ahead?

2008 July 22 2 comments

>There is an ocean pattern in the Pacific called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. It has a warm mode and and cool mode and switches between these every 20–30 years or so. It has switched to the early stages of its cool mode this year. Cool modes seem to be predictive of cooler weather over their duration.

This combined with the current nadir of sunspots and no sign of the next sunspot cycle beginning, also a harbinger of cooler weather, means we could be in for a cold next few years.

Categories: climate change, science

>The divorce gene

2008 July 21 Leave a comment

>The Grand Theory of Evolution is clearly wrong as seen by comparing it to scientific findings that haven’t been sieved thru an evolutionary filter prior to interpretation. But further evidence of its falsity and its implicit attack of Christianity can be seen by assessing its fruit. A recent example of evil disguised as science via evolutionary theorising can be seen in Helen Fisher’s work.

But in country after country, and decade after decade, divorces tended to peak (the divorce mode) during and around the fourth year of marriage. There were variations, of course. Americans tended to divorce between the second and third year of marriage, for example. Interestingly, this corresponds with the normal duration of intense, early stage, romantic love — often about 18 months to 3 years. Indeed, in a 2007 Harris poll, 47% of American respondents said they would depart an unhappy marriage when the romance wore off, unless they had conceived a child.

Nevertheless, there was no denying it: Among these hundreds of millions of people from vastly different cultures, three patterns kept emerging. Divorces regularly peaked during and around the fourth year after wedding. Divorces peaked among couples in their late twenties. And the more children a couple had, the less likely they were to divorce: some 39% of worldwide divorces occurred among couples with no dependent children; 26% occurred among those with one child; 19% occurred among couples with two children; and 7% of divorces occurred among couples with three young.

She starts with some basic data gathering, all very reasonable. I do note that there are variations and there is no indication that data has been assessed over a long time period, say 2000–3000 years.

Then suddenly I got that “ah-ha” moment: Women in hunting and gathering societies breastfeed around the clock, eat a low-fat diet and get a lot of exercise — habits that tend to inhibit ovulation. As a result, they regularly space their children about four years apart. Thus, the modern duration of many marriages—about four years—conforms to the traditional period of human birth spacing, four years.

Perhaps human parental bonds originally evolved to last only long enough to raise a single child through infancy, about four years, unless a second infant was conceived.

Aside from mere assertion, lack of any rigour, or any actual scientific explanation—i.e. another evolutionary just-so story—this is justifying sin. Apparently we don’t divorce because we are fallen, sin-choosing creatures. No, we evolved this way. It is in our genetic make-up. Our desire to divorce has no moral implications, it is the expected response to our physiology.

By age five, a youngster could be reared by mother and a host of relatives. Equally important, both parents could choose a new partner and bear more varied young.

And thus a conceived child-rearing methodology will be promoted as a valid alternative to the father and mother ideal.

My new theory fit nicely with data on other species.

Despite the fact that we are distinct from the animals which do not bear the imago dei.

Scientifically, evolution is a fraud. There is enough reason to reject it based on its falsity alone. But I think many Christians fail to realise how much of an attack on Christianity evolution is, and how intrinsically evil is this extremely prevalent lie.

>Random quote

2008 July 20 Leave a comment

>Let’s put it this way. Human lives are so short from God’s perspective that He seldom has any desire to artificially shorten them.

Categories: quotes

>How Paul closes his letters

2008 July 18 Leave a comment

>Previously I documented the endings of the New Testament letters. It is interesting to see common themes with Paul’s letters. Paul writes 13 letters. 9 to churches, Romans thru 2 Thessalonians; and 4 to individuals, 1 Timothy thru Philemon. Of the letters, 8 contain a greeting from the companions of Paul (exceptions are Galatians, Ephesians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians and 1 Timothy) and all contain the comment for grace to be with the recipients.

Of the 9 non-Pauline letters, the only ones to include a greeting from the companions are Hebrews, 1 Peter, 3 John. The only ones asking for grace to be upon the recipients are Hebrews and Revelation.

I am not too certain how much can be read into the greetings. It may have been a common farewell in ancient letters. The fellow greetings are absence from the earlier letters of Paul and the recipients may not have known the people Paul was staying with.

But the grace comments are intriguing. Here is the list in biblical order.

  • The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
  • The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.
  • The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
  • The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers.
  • Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.
  • The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
  • Grace be with you.
  • The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
  • The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
  • Grace be with you.
  • Grace be with you.
  • Grace be with you all.
  • The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

This is a consistent feature with Paul. It suggests that grace was central to his concern for fellow Christians. It may also have implications on the authorship of Hebrews.

The letter to the Hebrews is anonymous. It is authored by a man (Heb. 11:32) who was acquainted with Timothy (Heb. 13:23) and the letter was written from (or to) Italy (Heb 13:24). The letter ends with:

Grace be with all of you.

This is similar to the other letters of Paul and unlike all the other letters in the New Testament save Revelation. While there are several arguments as to who authored Hebrews, this is one in the camp of Pauline authorship.

Another interesting issue is that Paul personally wrote on his letters so his handwriting would be seen as a mark of authenticity. Paul’s letters were written by an amanuensis (secretary). Paul specifically mentions his own handwriting in 1 Corinthians, Galatians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon. It would be interesting to see if this comment were useful in dating Paul’s letters, the presumption that it would more likely occur in the earlier letters. Philemon being an exception because here Paul is offering financial security.

Categories: authorship, epistles

>Epistle endings

2008 July 17 Leave a comment

>I was interested in the way the New Testament letters were ended by their authors. There are 27 books in the New Testament and 21 of these are letters, 5 are historical books and 1 is apocalyptic, though it also contains letters. Following is a list of the letters (Revelation included), author and last few verses.

Romans

Paul the apostle

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Timothy, my fellow worker, greets you; so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen.

I Tertius, who wrote this letter, greet you in the Lord.

Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus, greet you.

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

1 Corinthians

Paul the apostle

The churches of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house, send you hearty greetings in the Lord. All the brothers send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.

2 Corinthians

Paul the apostle

Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Galatians

Paul the apostle

See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.

Ephesians

Paul the apostle

So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts.

Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.

Philippians

Paul the apostle

To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Colossians

Paul the apostle

Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him), and Jesus who is called Justus. These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me. Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis. Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas. Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea. And say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.”

I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.

1 Thessalonians

Paul the apostle

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

Brothers, pray for us.

Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss.

I put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

2 Thessalonians

Paul the apostle

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.

I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. This is the sign of genuineness in every letter of mine; it is the way I write. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

1 Timothy

Paul the apostle

O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.

Grace be with you.

2 Timothy

Paul the apostle

The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. Erastus remained at Corinth, and I left Trophimus, who was ill, at Miletus. Do your best to come before winter. Eubulus sends greetings to you, as do Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brothers.

The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.

Titus

Paul the apostle

All who are with me send greetings to you. Greet those who love us in the faith.

Grace be with you all.

Philemon

Paul the apostle

Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Hebrews

unknown

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

I appeal to you, brothers, bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly. You should know that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom I shall see you if he comes soon. Gr
eet all your leaders and all the saints. Those who come from Italy send you greetings. Grace be with all of you.

James

James the brother of Jesus

My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

1 Peter

Peter the apostle

By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son. Greet one another with the kiss of love.

Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

2 Peter

Peter the apostle

You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

1 John

John the apostle

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

2 John

John the apostle

Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.

The children of your elect sister greet you.

3 John

John the apostle

I had much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink. I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.

Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends, every one of them.

Jude

Jude the brother of Jesus and James

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Revelation

John the apostle

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Categories: epistles

>Are we about to enter a cycle of global cooling?

2008 July 14 2 comments

>

Late last month, some leading climatologists and meteorologists met in New York at the Energy Business Watch Climate and Hurricane Forum. The theme of the forum strongly suggested that a period of global cooling is about emerge, though possible concerns for a political backlash kept it from being spelled out.

However, the message was loud and clear, a cyclical global warming trend may be coming to an end for a variety of reasons, and a new cooling cycle could impact the energy markets in a big way.

Interesting ideas. I for one would like a warmer earth, but a delay long enough to disprove the global warming alarmists, fear-mongers and propagandists will be a good thing. I am not even certain the earth is getting particularly warmer even though I perceive the benefits. But sun watchers have noted that we are nearing the end of a sunspot cycle and the next one seems to be delayed. This would cause a cooler climate.

Speakers mentioned the sun’s impact, the lack of impact of CO2 on global climate and the fact that man-made CO2 is pitiful compared to natural production.

Categories: climate change