In September 2010, 33 miners were rescued after being trapped in a copper mine in Copiapó, Chile for 68 days. In October 1987, an 18-month-old baby girl was rescued after being trapped at the bottom of a well for 58 hours. In 1956, 1,663 crew members and passengers were rescued from the Andrea Doria ocean liner when it capsized and sank after colliding with another ship. In January 1945, 510 prisoners of war were released in a daring raid on the Japanese Cabanatuan prison camp in the Philippines. And in November 1907, Jesús García drove a train away from Nacozari in Mexico because it had caught fire and contained dynamite. He died when the train exploded but he saved the Mexican village. (more…)
How clean do you keep your hands? Hand hygiene has certainly gotten a lot of attention lately. It reminds me of one of my favorite Shakespearean scenes — Lady Macbeth is sleepwalking after she has orchestrated the murder of her king. In her sleep she sees spots of blood on her hands and no amount of washing can remove them. She smells blood on her hands and “all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten” them. Of course it is her conscience and not her hands that is really unclean. (more…)
Do you know you’re not the only one? We all have parts of ourselves we’d rather no one else knew about. Parts we may try to hide from even ourselves, to distract ourselves from with busyness or entertainment, to overcompensate for with gifts or acts of service. But they are there. Whether it’s memories of what we’ve done or what has been done to us, ugly thoughts and feelings we can’t bear to look in the face, the way we treat our family when no one else is around, secret addictions we believe render us unlovable… Oh they are there and they want to remain hidden in the dark where no one can see and judge them. (more…)
Foundation of the church
Recently there have been marches and rallies against violence against women, abuse of power and injustice. The ongoing nature of these issues shows that human relationships are flawed, and we can’t repair them. This is a symptom of our rebellion against God. But in Jesus the justice we long for can be found. By having a right relationship with God through Jesus, a new life can be ours. And churches are where we can learn to live with others. Where we can develop healthy human relationships. (more…)
In antiquity, Damascus (in Syria) was a great center for trade. The city’s location along a river at the crossroads of two major international highways (the Via Maris and the King’s Highway) ensured its prosperity and importance.
Although Damascus is close to the desert, ample supplies of water from two rivers allow the region to support vineyards and abundant crops of fruits, grains, nuts, cotton, wool, silk, and olives. The Abana River (known today as the Barada) is the primary water source for Damascus. It flows from the northwest mountains through a deep ravine into the city. The Pharpar River (now el-A waj) runs on the outskirts of Damascus, supplying the gardens and orchards. Together these rivers irrigate about 1040 square km (400 square miles) of land. (more…)
Previously we looked at, “Following Jesus: Our purposes”. We found that God wants us to become more like Jesus. He wants us to have purposes that reflect His purposes (above) and our strengths (below). We serve others when we apply our purposes to people’s needs. Then like Esther, we will have a meaningful and significant life that brings fulfilment.
We introduced the diagram to show the relationship between these aspects of our life. We looked at our resources, which are comprised of our genetic makeup, our life experience and our spiritual gifts. These are the tools that God has given to us that enable us to do the tasks to achieve our purposes by meeting people’s needs. (more…)
The previous post was about “Following Jesus: Our purposes”. We found that God wants us to become more like Jesus. He wants us to have purposes that reflect His general purposes for believers (above) and our individual strengths (below). We serve others when we apply our purposes to people’s needs. Then like Esther, we will have a meaningful and significant life that brings fulfilment. (more…)
Esther was a Jewish girl in the palace of the king of Persia in about 460 BC. When the lives of all the Jews in Persia were threatened, her cousin Mordecai told her that she alone could save all their lives if she spoke to the king. He said, “perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” (Est. 4:14NLT). What would she do? Bravely she spoke to the king and the Jews lives were saved. This is a great example of how God can give us a purpose in life. God used Esther to fulfill His purposes. She was in the right place at the right time. That’s an example of God’s providence (His wise and purposeful sovereignty); it wasn’t an accident. And she made the right decision. That’s an example of human responsibility.
As human beings we want our lives to be meaningful and significant. How can we make our life count? The Bible implies that God made us for a purpose. And as we live for that purpose, we will find fulfilment. (more…)
The overall theme of the book of Acts in the Bible is the growth of the early church. And the key verse is “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (1:8NIV). That’s the mission of the church. Believers are to be God’s witnesses.
The book of Acts in the Bible describes the first 30 years of the church. It’s an historical narrative that was written by Luke who was a companion of Paul (Col. 4:10-14; 2 Tim. 4:11; Phile. 24). He wrote it to educate Christians about the early church.
The main point of Acts is that God’s witnesses spread the gospel message and established churches.
A time line of major events in Acts (concentrating on Acts 1-12) is given below. And it is followed by a summary of the book (also concentrating on Acts 1-12).
Throughout history, there has been a growing understanding of the remarkable properties of blood. In 1628, a physician named William Harvey published his theory on the circulation of blood – it was amazingly accurate. Soon after, the first blood transfusion was attempted. It was discovered that blood could save lives!
About 200 years later, the ‘International Committee of the Red Cross’ was founded by Henri Dunant in Switzerland. Henri had witnessed wounded and dying soldiers left to suffer without medical care on a battlefield in Italy. He started a campaign to reduce the suffering and casualties of war regardless of which side they belonged to. (more…)
Weather change is not climate change
“Climate change” is mentioned often today in a context that means “weather change”. There is a difference between weather and climate. Climate is the long-term weather pattern. Weather influences what clothes you wear on a given day, while the climate influences the contents of your entire wardrobe. (more…)
Heavy snow has disrupted normal life in Athens. And more than 245 million Americans are expected to face temperatures below freezing in the continental U.S. over the next seven days. The Arctic air from a polar vortex has already set temperature records in numerous states. Record low temperatures are making life miserable in the U.S. The severe winter weather has sparked emergency declarations in at least seven states, including Alabama, Oregon, Oklahoma, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi and Texas. Air traffic was halted at a number of airports. Across the country, at least 36 people have died since the punishing winter weather began last week. It must be global cooling! That’s like what we hear when high temperatures are attributed to global warming. But of course this is weather not climate (which is the weather averaged over 30 years). (more…)
Esther and Mordecai
A former Crown Resorts employee exposed the company’s conduct in China and helped spark a year-long inquiry in New South Wales. The inquiry found that Crown Resorts had breached the state’s gaming regulations by engaging in international money laundering and is no longer suitable to hold the licence for its new Sydney casino. The whistle-blower lost her job and her mental health has also been affected, as well as her job prospects because she now has a criminal record in China. (more…)
Procrastination is delaying or postponing something. It’s saying, “I’ve got too much else to do right now”; “Something came up”; “It’s not really that important”; “It’s not the right time”; “I’m not ready yet”; “I’ll do it after…”. This is a post about something we all need to do, sooner or later.
Philippians 2 is about the humility and exaltation of Jesus Christ. It says that He went from the highest place (equality with God the Father), to the lowest place (death as a criminal) and back to the highest place (the right hand of God the Father). After describing Christ’s incarnation and death, Paul writes, (more…)
The universe had a beginning
The pagan Greek philosophers thought the physical universe had no beginning. To Plato (428-348 BC), the universe was perfect and unchanging. And Aristotle (384–322 BC) argued that the world (matter) must have existed from eternity. If the universe could never have gone from nothingness to somethingness, it must always have existed. For this and other reasons, time must stretch eternally into the past and future. Aristotle taught that the world was eternal.
Medieval philosophers also wondered whether the universe is eternal or had a beginning. And medieval authors debated that point in light of the Christian creation story. (more…)
Creation of the cosmos according to the Bible
There are two main worldviews concerning the creation of the universe: the big-bang theory and the Bible. According to the laws of nature, both explanations have a light time travel problem (Appendixes C and D).
This post gives a summary of the biblical worldview of the creation of the universe. It begins with seven inferences from the Bible.
Over six days at the beginning of time, God created a functionally mature universe (Gen. 1:1-2:1) (Appendix A). This is not deceitful because God communicated to mankind what happened. According to the genealogical and historical information in the Bible it occurred about 6k years ago. After the six days: (more…)
There are two types of explanation for the origin of the universe. These are either natural or supernatural. The natural explanation says that the universe is a product of the laws of physics and chemistry operating on energy and matter in space and time. It may also assume that the universe is part of a larger ‘multiverse’ that creates new universes (Appendix A).
The supernatural explanation says that the universe was created by something/someone beyond the laws of nature or something miraculous. It is not defined by space-time, matter and energy nor the laws of physics. Which type of worldview offers the best explanation? (more…)
In everyday life, some people are rewarded for what they have done, and others are punished for what they have done. But the idea of eternal punishment that God might inflict on some of us by sending us to hell is hard to accept. It seems offensive. How could God be loving, yet allow anyone to go to hell? How do we reconcile what we think is the love of God with a punishment as severe as hell? A loving God wouldn’t do that would He? Does that make sense?
This post is based on a video by J Warner Wallace. (more…)
Jesus often referred to Himself in the third person. And the title He used most often was the “Son of Man”. But what does this title mean and why did He use it?
Sometimes authors use pen names (or a pseudonym, or nom de plume) instead of their real name. For example, Samuel Clemens wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn under the name of Mark Twain. Eric Blair wrote Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four under the name George Orwell. Charles Dodgson wrote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass under the name Lewis Carroll. And Agatha Christie wrote Murder on the Orient Express and Then There Were None under the name Mary Westmacott. Many women authors have used a nom de plume to get their work published due to bias against women writers. For example, Emily Brontë wrote Wuthering Heights under the name Ellis Bell. And Mary Evans wrote Middlemarch under the name George Eliot. Was the “Son of Man” Jesus’ pen name? (more…)
Being a celebrity definitely comes with its perks, one of which is the capacity to make outrageous demands. If Jennifer Lopez travels, she reportedly asks for her hotel rooms to be completely white; everything from the walls, to the furniture, to the white candles. In order to ensure she’s properly rested, the sheets must be of minimum two hundred and fifty ‘thread count’ Egyptian cotton and the room temperature a precise and constant 25.5 Degrees C. (more…)
Building a robust Christian worldview
Children and young people are the next generation. They live in an ungodly skeptical world that will challenge their faith in Jesus. We want them to have a robust and resilient faith that can withstand enemy attacks. But how is this possible when many young people stop attending church on a regular basis after they turn 18? And the pandemic may cause more to abandon Christianity or churchgoing. Many of these young people are leaving because the culture around them has impacted them deeply and caused them to question the truth claims of Christianity. What can we do about it?
Many homes were destroyed by wildfires (bushfires) last summer in Australia. Bushfires can attack buildings. Locations in bushfire prone areas are classified according to the Bushfire Attack Level (BAL: Low, 12.5, 19, 29, 40, Flame Zone). Close to vegetation the BAL is “Flame Zone” and the attack level decreases with distance away from the vegetation. A building in the flame zone without flame-proof protection has a high risk of being destroyed by a wildfire (bushfire). (more…)
Halloween was last month, and tomorrow is Black Friday, but what is today? Thanksgiving Day! It’s one American thing that we have not adopted in Australia.
Drought. Bushfires. Floods. COVID 19 pandemic. Job losses. Lockdowns. Restrictions. Financial crises. It’s been a difficult year for us. In such situations people ask, “Where’s God in this?” The prophet Habakkuk also questioned God. (more…)