Observations on life; particularly spiritual

Posts tagged “Jesus

Forgiveness – Easier said than done

Forgiveness – Easier said than doneForgiveness is hard. It is painful. It can be slow and gruelling. Yet there are no relationships in which forgiveness is not necessary.

The forgiveness the Bible speaks of is not turning a blind eye to the wrong committed against you, it is not pretending you are OK, it is not convincing yourself you deserved it or that the wrong doing wasn’t that big a deal. On the contrary, biblical forgiveness looks the offense in the eye, names it for what it is, acknowledges all its painful consequences, weeps over what has been done and lost, and in so doing says, “I love you still”. (more…)


Heroes and villains

World Watch List 2021: the 50 countries where it is most dangerous to be a Christian. The top 5 are North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya and Pakistan.

Christian martyrs

Graham Staines was an Australian Christian missionary in India. In 1999 he and his two sons were burnt to death by Hindu fundamentalists alleging “forced” conversions. A mob of about 50 people, armed with axes and other implements, attacked a jeep while Staines and his sons were asleep inside, and set it alight, trapping them inside and burning them to death. A few days later, Graham’s wife, Gladys, made a public statement forgiving the killers. But hate crimes against religious minorities continue in India. (more…)


The gospel in one Bible verse

Joe lives alone and has been socially isolated during the 3-month COVID pandemic lockdownJoe lives alone and has little contact with his family. He has no carer and needs help to look after his home, garden, health and safety. And he has been socially isolated during the 3-month lockdown in Sydney during the COVID pandemic. Like all of us, his days on earth are numbered. But being over 90 years of age, his number of days is less than most of us.

Joe is a nominal Roman Catholic who needs to hear the good news about Jesus – the Bible says that Jesus took our place before God by dying on the cross for us so that we can be forgiven and have a new relationship with God. Here’s an easy way to share the gospel with someone like Joe. (more…)


Is it time to start trusting God?

Is it time to start trusting God?He’s known you the longest!

Something bizarre was happening inside me. While I ate and slept and talked and went about life as usual, a tiny human was forming in my womb. A minuscule heart, tiny fingers, spec sized toenails, teeny lips were taking shape. I wasn’t directing what was happening. I didn’t make any conscious effort — “OK today we’re going to separate the left and right chambers of the heart … today we’re going to form eyelids.” The only way I knew what was happening inside me was by reading about it. I felt wonder at this most ordinary miracle taking place within my body. I felt humbled at how little control I had over this most significant life event. (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…)


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…)


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…)


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…)


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…)


Following Jesus: Our purposes

Queen Esther in Ahasuerus' palace at Susa - Edwin Long, 1878  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…)


Life saving blood

The work of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was to save the life and dignity of everyone, everywhereThroughout 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…)


Sooner or later?

Woman kneeling: "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth"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…)


King sized bed

King size bed - Manger with strawBeing 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…)


There is hope

The COVID-19 pandemic is an extreme situation facing the whole world at the same timeThe headline didn’t shout. It didn’t need to. This wasn’t a slow news day. It read, ‘In one week 10% of Australia’s workforce have lost their jobs’. In India, a nation of 1.3 billion people were given four hours notice to lock down inside their homes for 21 days. People found outside afterwards were subsequently beaten.

Always, in the world somewhere, there’s an extreme situation – a flood, a famine, a war. Less frequent, though, are situations involving the whole world. The COVID-19 pandemic is such a time. (more…)


How to respond to the coronavirus pandemic

COVID-19 response measures include: social distance, wash hands, & clean surfacesToday Frank told me, “It feels like I’m in jail”. He is elderly and lives alone. But because of Government regulations, he is unable to attend the men’s social group at his local community centre. So he is now socially isolated because he has few opportunities for contact with other people.

This post is based on a message by Dave Sheath of the Lakes Church at Tuggerah in NSW Australia. It looks at how we can respond to the world-wide coronavirus pandemic. (more…)


Unexpected good

Dear God, from all this pain, please bring unexpected goodIt seems cold and unfeeling to make lists of good things in the midst of all this pain – especially while things are fresh and even still happening. But part of making sense of what’s happened and finding meaning in despair is finding the good.

While the bushfires [wildfires] have burned in Australia the media have reported on all sorts of stories of hope and positivity. Which has been enormously encouraging. For example, bush regeneration that’s already begun, the heroism and selflessness of our amazing volunteer firefighters, the brilliant effort to save the rare Wollemi Pine, the fact that more people are now thinking about how to care for the environment and live with an unpredictable climate. (more…)


An attitude of gratitude

Let's thank God for transient blessings and for enduring blessingsCharles Swindoll said, “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life… Attitude is more important than success, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company, or a church, or a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past; we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude…I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you, we are in charge of our attitudes.” But how can we cultivate a lifestyle (or attitude) of thankfulness? (more…)


3 explanations of the origin of the date of Christmas

bruegel-bethlehem 900px 400pxWhy is the birth of Jesus Christ celebrated on 25th December? According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, December 25 was first identified as the date of Jesus’ birth by Sextus Julius Africanus (AD 160-240) in AD 221. Africanus wrote Chronographiai, a history of the world in five volumes.

As “there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night” (Lk. 2:8NIV) when Christ was born, it’s usually assumed that it wasn’t winter because it would be too cold to be living in the fields overnight. So people often assume that the date of Christmas is not connected to the date of Christ’s birth. (more…)


Worshipping God and idols at Bethel

Good start, but bad finish

John Akhwari had a good start in the 1968 Olympic marathon race, but he also had a bad finish. He fell during the race and dislocated his knee but kept on going to finish last over one hour behind the winner. Likewise, the town of Bethel in Israel had a good start but a bad finish.

Geography

Bethel was 20 km (12 miles) north of Jerusalem; west of Ai (Gen. 12:8) and south of Shiloh (Jud. 21:19). It has been identified with modern Beitin (or Benin) or with el-Bireh. Bethel was on the ancient north-south ridge road that has been referred to as the Road of the Patriarchs. This road went through Shechem, Shiloh, Bethel, Jerusalem, Hebron and Beersheba.

Bethel was on the northern border of the land allocated to the tribe of Benjamin and Jerusalem was on the southern border. Bethel was assigned to the Benjamites, but they did not possess it, as the Ephraimites captured it from the Canaanites  (Josh. 18:21-22; Jud. 1:22-26). So Bethel was an Ephraimite town (1 Chron. 7:28). (more…)


Start life again

So keen was Nicodemus to meet Jesus that he was willing to risk being seen. But he had reason to be afraid. The religious sect known as Pharisees that he belonged to were committed to killing Jesus. Such was their intense jealousy over Jesus’s popularity. It was almost certainly for this reason that Nicodemus came at night (John 3:1-16).

He began by addressing Jesus with respect.

“Master” he said, “We know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him”.

His statement – or was it a question – seemed to be something like, “I think you’re from God … but who are you?” But, instead of credentials, Jesus offered Nicodemus a challenge. He said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God”. Clearly Nicodemus wanted to move closer to God. But how does one get ‘Born again’? (more…)


Until Jesus returns

The attacks that took place in New York on September 11, 2001 were rated by most Americans as being the most important historical event in their lifetime. And according to TheRichest.com, the most important historical events that changed the modern world forever are the French Revolution, World War I, the Soviet socialist revolution, World War II, and European colonialism.

Christians believe that the most important event in the world’s history is the death of Jesus Christ. At the Lord’s supper they remember why Christ did what He did.

In 1 Corinthians Paul describes what happened at the last supper where Jesus told His disciples to eat the bread and drink from the cup in remembrance of Him (1 Cor. 11:23-25). Then Paul says,

“For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Cor. 11:26NIV). (more…)


Endless weeding

Onion weeds are the bane of many gardeners. They are very tough to get rid of. The reason they are so hard to get rid of lies in their bulbs. If you attempt to remove the weed by digging it up and shaking off the excess dirt, you have just shaken the numerous bulbletts attached to the larger bulbs at the root of the weed and you have just multiplied your weed problem instead of eradicating it.

On Monday mornings I do gardening with Easy Care Gardening. Sometimes this involves controlling onion weed in garden beds by weeding or mulching.  If you try to pull onion weed out of the ground, the stalk will break off and leave the bulbs in the ground. This means that before too long, the weeds will return. To eliminate the weed, you have to take a small trowel and dig the whole plant out of the ground, bulb, soil and all. If the parent bulbs release tiny bulbs (bulbils) from the base of the main bulb, these grow into mature plants, and all the digging has achieved is multiplication of the problem. (more…)


What I like about Christianity

Here’s what I like about Christianity. It deals with the most important issues and questions of life. The past, the present and the future. Origins and destinies. How to live and how to die. Our most important problem. Our purpose. Love, freedom, security, hope, joy and peace. Eternity with God. It’s good news that changes everything. And it’s based on the most important person who ever lived. The best hero.

One of the beautiful things about Christianity is that Jesus has done everything for us. This means we don’t have to strive to do anything to please God. Salvation depends on acknowledging and confessing one’s sin. It’s a gift from God (Eph. 2:8). And it’s not difficult to understand or accept.

Christians are part of a world-wide spiritual family with whom they share a spiritual life, union and inheritance that never ends. It’s a relationship that surpasses all other human relationships. It crosses racial, cultural, social, age, and gender distinctions (Gal. 3:28). As Christians are all children of God, they are all equal before God. Every believer has the same spiritual status before God. And they have spiritual fathers and mothers to encourage and help them. Spiritual brothers and sisters to share life with. And spiritual children to nurture. So Christians shouldn’t be lonely. They have a ready-made spiritual family. (more…)