Observations on life; particularly spiritual

Spiritual

Questions and answers about Genesis

Questions and answers about GenesisThe Bible gives a selective history of the earth from its creation to its demise. Many question this. Did you know that there are answers to your questions? Here’s the answers to some questions that were asked recently.

This post is based on questions and answers after a presentation by Dr Mark Harwood of Creation Ministries International (CMI). (more…)


The dangers of theistic evolution

How the foundations of a building can be affected The foundations of a building can move and crack due to expansive soils such as clay, poor soil compaction, plumbing leaks, poor drainage, or tree roots. Did you know that the theory of biological evolution destroys the foundation of the Christian gospel?

This post is based on a presentation by Dr Mark Harwood of Creation Ministries International (CMI). (more…)


Crown of thorns

Swimmers striving for a gold medal in the men's 200-meter freestyleWho’s been watching the Olympic games in Tokyo where athletes are striving to win a gold medal? In the ancient games the winner received a laurel wreath to place on their head. The wreath was a symbol of victory. The Greek god Apollo wore such a wreath. And Julius Caesar wore a wreath to show his power. So, the laurel wreath was an ancient symbol of victory and success. (more…)


At life’s crossroads? Let Jesus give you directions

Life’s road is rarely straight. We often find ourselves in places we didn’t expect or want. How are you going with the uncertainty of life at the moment? Do you feel like you’re standing at a crossroads and not sure which direction to take? There are so many unknowns and what ifs. However, we don’t have to step into the uncertainty alone.

When Jesus was facing His violent crucifixion, He took the time to explain to His followers that although they couldn’t go with Him immediately they would one day be reunited with Him in His eternal kingdom. One candid follower verbalized his concern,

“Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life’” (John 14:5-6). (more…)


Limitations of atheistic creation stories

Approximately 15 million Indians have been made redundant in the economic slowdown during the coronavirus pandemic. The majority of these are women who were doing low-skilled work. In a similar way, is God unnecessary because science can now explain all we need to know about the universe?

The big-bang model and the theory of biological evolution are atheistic creation stories. They assume there is no divine influence by ruling out the supernatural. So it is often assumed that they do away with the need for a God. But we will see that these theories explain less than what most people think. They have not made God redundant.

Big bang model of the universeThe big bang model of the universe

According to the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), “The big bang is how astronomers explain the way the universe began. It is the idea that the universe began as just a single point, then expanded and stretched to grow as large as it is right now—and it is still stretching!” (see Appendix A). They also say, “It’s a theory of the origin and evolution of the universe”. (more…)


John Lennox against the tide

Salmon swimming upstreamSalmon swim upstream to mate and lay their eggs in small rivers and shallow waters that protect them from predators and strong currents. In this post we look at someone swimming upstream against the tides of atheism.

This post is based on the documentary movie “Against the tide” by Pensmore Films, in which the actor Kevin Sorbo interviews Professor John Lennox to test belief in God. It looks at the existence of God in the age of science. Does the Christian faith stand up in our age of science and reason? In the movie John Lennox defends Christianity against the tide of atheism in academia. His statements are in italics. (more…)


John Lennox against the tide in history

Christianity is geared into historyThis post is based on the documentary movie “Against the tide” by Pensmore Films, in which the actor Kevin Sorbo interviews Professor John Lennox to test belief in God. In the previous posts we looked at God and the cosmos, and God and biology, and God and consciousness and suffering. Now we look at God and history. In this post the tide of atheism in academia is represented by statements by Peter Atkins, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Michael Shermer and Peter Singer. (more…)


John Lennox against the tide in suffering

John Lennox on consciousnessThis post is based on the documentary movie “Against the tide” by Pensmore Films, in which the actor Kevin Sorbo interviews Professor John Lennox to test belief in God. In the previous post we looked at God and the cosmos, and God and biology. Now we look at the big questions of consciousness and suffering. In this post the tide of atheism in academia is represented by statements by Peter Atkins, Richard Dawkins, Michael Shermer and Peter Singer. (more…)


John Lennox against the tide in science

The documentary movie “Against the tide” by Pensmore Films, 2020It has been said that our culture no longer has a use for God. Professor Stephen Hawking, University of Cambridge, claimed that the universe invented itself without a creator: “The universe can and will create itself from nothing. It is not necessary to invoke God”. But Professor John Lennox, Oxford University, disagrees: “The universe is best explained by the existence of a purposeful creator. All competing claims lack explanatory power.” But does the Christian faith stand up in our age of science and reason?

This post is based on the documentary movie “Against the tide” by Pensmore Films, in which the actor Kevin Sorbo interviews Professor John Lennox to test belief in God. It looks at the existence of God in the age of science. In the movie the tide of atheism in academia is represented by statements by Peter Atkins, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, Stephen Hawking, Christopher Hitchens, Laurence Krauss, Michael Shermer, Peter Singer and Stephen Weinberg. (more…)


Extrabiblical evidence of 83 people in the Bible

Sennacherib - King of Assyria - 2 Kings 18:13Did you know that ancient history and archaeology have confirmed the existence of 83 people mentioned in the Bible? In articles in the Biblical Archaeology Review, Purdue University scholar Lawrence Mykytiuk presented documentary evidence of this (see References).

PEOPLE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

These include Israelite kings and Mesopotamian monarchs as well as lesser-known figures. Their names appear in inscriptions written during the period described by the Bible and in most instances during or quite close to the lifetime of the person identified. (more…)


Extrabiblical evidence of six Jews in the New Testament

Did you know that ancient history and archaeology has confirmed the existence of many people mentioned in the Bible? In an article in the Biblical Archaeology Review, Purdue University scholar Lawrence Mykytiuk presented documentary evidence of six New Testament religious figures1.

We have already documented the extrabiblical evidence for Jesus of Nazareth. Six other religious figures were mentioned in the writings of the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus.

To make a firm identification, one must interpret ancient writings outside the Bible by other such writings, not the Bible, and then make sure that: (1) sources are genuine, not forged or unreliable; (2) the time-and-place setting of the person in the ancient writing matches the setting of the person in the Bible; and (3) marks of an individual, such as name, father’s name, title, or work location, distinguish two different people from each other and avoid the impression they are one and the same.

This post has been sourced from the Biblical Archaeology Society.

Medieval depiction of GamalielGamaliel the Elder

We’ll begin with the grandson of the great Jewish leader Hillel the Elder: Gamaliel the Elder, who makes a dramatic New Testament appearance in Acts 5:33-40. At that point in time, around 30 (or possibly 33) C.E., Jesus had already been crucified and, according to his followers, resurrected and ascended. After the Festival of Firstfruits, or Weeks (also called Pentecost), Peter had preached in Jerusalem, and large numbers of Jews had believed in Jesus. This result had aroused the opposition of priests and Sadducees, groups with whom Jesus had earlier come into conflict. They made Peter and John appear before the whole Jerusalem Sanhedrin, the full assembly of the elders of Israel. There they ordered these two not to proclaim or teach their message, but Peter and the other apostles repeatedly disobeyed the high priest’s orders. (The apostles were Jewish followers of Jesus, normally 12 in number, chosen and sent to spread his message.) Even when put in jail, the apostles escaped and resumed teaching in the Temple. (more…)


More extra-biblical evidence of Jesus

Sixth-century AD mosaic of Jesus from the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, ItalyDid you know that ancient history and archaeology has confirmed the existence of many people mentioned in the Bible? In an article in the Biblical Archaeology Review, Purdue University scholar Lawrence Mykytiuk examined Roman and Jewish historical documents to answer the question; Did Jesus of Nazareth, who was called Christ, exist as a real human being, “the man Christ Jesus” according to 1 Timothy 2:5NIV3?

This post has been sourced from the Biblical Archaeology Society. In 2017 I posted a summary of this article.

Tacitus, a Roman historian

Tacitus—or more formally, Caius/Gaius (or Publius) Cornelius Tacitus (55/56–c. 118 C.E.)—was a Roman senator, orator and ethnographer, and arguably the best of Roman historians. His name is based on the Latin word tacitus, “silent,” from which we get the English word tacit. Interestingly, his compact prose uses silence and implications in a masterful way. One argument for the authenticity of the quotation below is that it is written in true Tacitean Latin.4 But first a short introduction. (more…)


What is the meaning of the seven Jewish festivals?

Diagram of the seven Jewish festivalsThe phrase “Hindsight is 20/20” refers to the fact that it is easier to analyze and evaluate events after they have already happened, rather than beforehand or when you’re in the middle of them. Hindsight refers to looking back or reflecting on things in the past, and 20/20 refers to perfect vision. So when we look back on situations in the past, we see things clearly that were not clear to us at the time. The phrase has been applied to the COVID-19 pandemic. And it is applied to the Jewish Festivals in this post. (more…)


What was the purpose of the Jewish pilgrimage festivals?

Three times a year Israelite families travelled to the temple in Jerusalem for a religious festival (Ex. 23:14-17; 34:23-24; Dt. 16:16).  The first of these was the Passover in spring, when they remembered how God delivered them from slavery in Egypt. The second was the Harvest Festival in summer (Ex. 23:16), when they thanked God for providing an abundant wheat harvest in Canaan. And the third was the Festival (or feast) of Shelters (or tabernacles) in autumn when they remembered God’s care and provision during the 40-year exodus journey. The purpose of these festivals was to remind them of the story of their deliverance and God’s abundant provision.

At the Passover Festival, Jews remembered their delivery from slaveryThe Passover Festival

At the Passover they were to kill and eat a lamb together with unleaven bread (without yeast) and bitter herbs (Num. 9:1-14; Dt. 16:1-8). The symbols were taken from the exodus. In the final plague on the Egyptians, to be protected from the death of the firstborn son, the Israelites had to kill a lamb and put its blood around their front doorframe. The lamb died so they could escape death of the firstborn and escape from Egypt. And because they had to leave in haste, they didn’t have time to add yeast to cause their bread to rise. And yeast is also a symbol of sin. The bitter herbs symbolized their bitter slavery in Egypt (Ex. 1:14). Straight after the death of the Egyptian firstborn, Pharaoh told the Israelites to leave Egypt and they escaped (Ex. 12:31-33). One of the greatest Passover celebrations was when king Hezekiah repaired the temple and resumed re-established sacrifices (2 Chr. 30:26). There was also a great celebration when king Josiah reformed Judah (2 Chr. 35:18-19). Ezekiel taught that the Passover Festival will be celebrated in the Millennial reign of Christ (Ezek. 45:21-24). And “Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover” (Lk. 2:41NIV). (more…)


Backyard camping

Shelter prepared for the Festival of SheltersDuring the COVID-19 lockdown my grandchildren did some indoor camping. They’ve also tried backyard camping. Did you know that the Jews have a festival where they live outdoors as much as possible during a week?

Three times a year Israelite families travelled to the temple in Jerusalem for a religious festival (Ex. 23:14-17; 34:23-24; Dt. 16:16). The first of these was the Passover in spring, when they remembered how God delivered them from slavery in Egypt. The second was the Harvest Festival in summer (Ex. 23:16), when they thanked God for providing an abundant wheat harvest in Canaan. And the third was the Festival (or feast) of Shelters (or tabernacles) in autumn when they remembered God’s care and provision during the 40-year exodus journey. (more…)


Jesus: a 4-letter word or the name above all names?

Jesus: a 4-letter word or the name above all names?What do you do in that flash of anger, shock or pain? When you’re driving and another car dangerously pulls out in front of you; when you kick your toe; when you hear bad news; it seems universally human to call out in exasperation. Jesus Christ is commonly used as an expletive in these times. However the Bible tells us, Jesus Christ, an empty swear word to so many, is actually the most honorable, worthy and precious name. Why? (more…)


The Warrenton Declaration on Medical Mandates, Biblical Ethics, & Authority

Face masks during COVID-19 pandemicThe Warrenton Declaration on Medical Mandates, Biblical Ethics, & Authority was created in order to provide doctrinal clarity and coherence on issues of biblical authority and ethics related to medical mandates. The declaration seeks to equip local churches and their officers in providing transparency on where they stand and to assist individuals who are being mistreated in their churches with a well-ordered summary of belief in this regard. (more…)


Record harvests

Horse-powered wheat harvestAfter a three-year drought, Australian farmers harvested a record amount of wheat (33.34 million tonnes) last year. The bumper crops came after a La Nina weather system brought heavy rains across the country. Last year China (142.81 million tonnes) and India (108.75 million tonnes) also had record wheat harvests. Did you know that Israel was promised record harvest in Canaan?

Three times a year Israelite families travelled to the temple in Jerusalem for a religious festival (Ex. 23:14-17; 34:23-24; Dt. 16:16). The first of these was the Passover, when they remembered how God delivered them from slavery in Egypt. The second was the Harvest Festival (Ex. 23:16), which was near the end of the wheat harvest in Canaan. It was also called the “Festival of weeks” (Ex. 34:22; Dt. 16:10), because it was seven weeks (or 50 days) after the Festival of Firstfruits (which was when they dedicated the barley harvest to the Lord on the Sunday after the Passover). Later it became known as Pentecost, which is the Greek word for 50th. It was also called “the day of firstfruits” (Num. 28:26) because farmers offered the firstfruits (the beginning) of their wheat harvest to God (Ex. 34:22). And they gave other offerings to God as well. At this festival they dedicated the wheat harvest to the Lord and gave back to God some of what He had provided for them. The offering of firstfruits was an acknowledgment that the harvest was from the Lord and belonged to Him. (more…)


Dramatic rescues

In 1945 510 prisoners were rescued at Cabanatuan, PhilippinesIn 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. But there are greater rescues than these.

(more…)


Sanitize more than hands

Sanitize more than handsHow 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…)


Imagine someone knowing everything about you!

Imagine someone knowing everything about you, and still loving you (God does)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…)


Building the church – Acts 1-12

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…)


Outsiders became insiders at Damascus

Damascus in SyriaIn 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…)


Still social distancing from God?

Still social distancing from God? Get close today.It’s something you took for granted isn’t it? To hug someone hello. To shake a congratulatory hand. To hold that fresh new baby at that birthday barbecue or slap a mate on the back. It feels wrong to sidestep strangers, least of all a relative.

Since COVID-19, there are people who have left this earth in solitude and babies who have been born into the arms of parents, yet haven’t seen another face. They left the doors of the hospital and have never been passed around their village of friends and family. (more…)