Archive for May, 2008

Random Thoughts on Mothers Day

May 11, 2008

 

I’m so thankful for the great gift of getting to be a mother.  I always wanted children, and could imagine the grief I should feel if I couldn’t have them.  It’s a very strange time we live in, when so many women do not have children, and those that do are not particularly respected.  Incredibly, the privilege of staying home with small children is treated by this society as akin to being some kind of loafer—as though caring for children means spending one’s days on the couch watching television.  As a society, we are so removed from children and their needs, many people spend days and weeks and months without even having close contact with a child. 

 

In ancient times children were highly desired by women.  A mother’s love was unquestioned.  The Jewish prophet Isaiah asked “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?”  In his time the answer was obviously “no.”  In this culture we see mothers uncaring of their children’s needs, but that is a sign of a dying culture.  Normally, throughout the ages, a mother’s love has been known as the highest, most generous and most trustworthy love.  And so, the prophet goes on to say (speaking for God)  “though even if that should be possible, I won’t forget you.  I have tattooed your name on the palm of my hand.”

 

I am grateful for the insight that the mothering experience gives me into the heart of God.  I have experienced that feeling of  “lioness” protectiveness toward my children, of concern for their wellbeing, of never being able to forget them, of wanting to know they are safe and well.  I have also experienced the broken-heartedness of letting them go their own way—sometimes because they had to go, and sometimes because they were defiant, self-centered, and totally uncaring toward their mother’s feelings.  I think of the times  I’ve lived life “my way”, totally uncaring toward the God who made me.  Not until I came to be a mother was I able to understand how I could break the heart of God by my callousness towards Him.

 

Cultures come and cultures go.  Ours is a callous culture for the most part, but mother love will last, and it will come back into vogue.  Otherwise, the human race won’t survive.  One thing in favor of it—the women who really want children will be the ones who have them, and mother love will live on.

Accurate Accounts of Jesus Life

May 6, 2008

Some time ago I mentioned in a post that one could learn of Jesus through reading the original four accounts of his life, death and resurrection.  I had a sarcastic comment asking if I had read original papyri.  What I meant were the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  Recently a lot of attention has been paid to the “other gospels”, such as the gospel of Thomas, the gospel of Judas, etc.  These aren’t the original accounts.  The proponents of including these “other” gospels in one’s picture of Jesus, may or may not realize they paint a very different picture of Jesus than the accounts written by his friends and contemporaries.  Like any other religion, Christianity had unusual sects and splinter groups.  Groups who misunderstood the message were even more common in those early days because of the difficulty of travel and communication.  This makes the spread of the original writings all the more extraordinary.  Today we have more than 10,000 manuscripts or fragments of the original New Testament writings dated within a century or so of the time of Jesus.  This is more than we have for any other writings of the time, or even later!  The writings spread all over the Roman empire—all the places where churches were founded.  What else is amazing—the copies all essentially agree, and they agree with the gospels and epistles we have today, despite 1900 years and numerous translations.  In contrast, the “other” gospel accounts exist in one or two copies, and were found with Gnostic writings.  Gnostics developed their philosophy in the century following Jesus, and they tried to spiritualize everything—explain Jesus appearance and his miracles, including his resurrection as spiritual experiences.  They were in many ways like unbelievers today, they didn’t want to believe what the four original gospels said occurred.

 

The Gospel of Thomas was found in Egypt, written in Coptic.  What is interesting about that is Thomas is believed to have gone to India—indeed there are monuments to Thomas in India.  Orthodox Rabbis (who hardly have a dog in the fight where Christian scriptures are concerned) have stated the writers of the so-called “Gnostic” gospels have no understanding of first century Jewish thought, as the apostles would.

 

I would venture this, where the Christian canon of scripture is concerned.  Rather than “stifle truth”, the 4th century church leaders, solemnized a list of books that had been widely accepted as valid for many years.  Their other criteria  was the necessity of apostolic authorship or apostolic authority.  The book must have been widely disseminated and accepted by most of the churches.  There was, as there is today, much writing that has little to commend it.  If one were writing the history of the twentieth century, how much credibility should they give to the National Enquirer or the Weekly World News?  Indeed, how much credibility should they give to stories that circulated on the internet.  What if I, today, decided to write a fictional Civil War diary?  I might have some political or philosophical point to make, or I might just be interested in telling a good story, never mind the facts.  Should my “Civil War Diary” have the credibility of one written by someone who was there?  My own book would be found out by my lack of proper language use for the time, and my misunderstanding of the time.  Some of the Gnostic writings fall into this category, but all “other” gospels and epistles were written without any connection to the actual apostles and that inner circle.

 

So, the “original” accounts, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were written by people who were contemporaries of Jesus, who were in partnership with the apostles if not apostles themselves, and we have so many fragments, manuscripts and references to these writings in other manuscripts from the era, we can find them trustworthy as history, or else be skeptical of all history.

 

Nonni

How to Do Something You Never Thought Possible

May 5, 2008

I just ran another 5K yesterday.  This is my second, in my whole life.  To prepare, I have trained over time to run 4 or 5 miles at a time.  I’m not fast, but as someone on the track said, “You sure have endurance, for your age.”  I wasn’t a runner my whole adult life, but three years ago I learned of a marathon runner who began at age 70.  Now, I don’t anticipate being a marathon runner.  That is really too hard on the knees, hips and ankles.  I want to die with all my original joints, thank you!  But I figured 5K runs, and maybe even an occasional 10K run might be in the cards for me. 

Because I had never run in adulthood, running even half a mile wasn’t possible for me in the beginning.  My first time out, I just wanted to see how far I could run, and I was surprised that I actually ran somewhere between 1/16 and 1/8 of a mile.  (Thats between 1/4 and 1/2 a loop on a standard track).  And I wasn’t even fast at that!  I figured my first guess was probably right–I wasn’t made for running.  But I persisted–probably because of the 70+ year old marathon runner.  Within a month, I was running a mile.  By the end of 6 months, I was running 2 miles, and by the end of a year, I could run 2 1/2 miles.  Finally in my second year of running, I ran my first 5K.  I did well just to finish, but considering I was the oldest female to enter it and actually run, I was pretty pleased.  Then yesterday I ran another 5K and won in my age category.  Yes, they did have to start a new category, but I was pleased because I came in ahead of all the ladies who were ten years younger, and most of the ladies who were 20 years younger than me.

What is the moral of the story?  Don’t give up too soon.  What you are able to do today may not be representative of what you can do in the future if you train for it.  That can apply to anything!  You may have the ability to do something you never imagined you could do, if you could just train for it or study for it.  You may be lacking the building blocks right now, but step by step, you can build your foundation, and then build on your foundation and surprise yourself and everyone else at what you can eventually achieve.

Forgiveness

May 5, 2008

No one is beyond God’s power to change their life.  Therefore, don’t freeze them where they are right now in your thoughts.  Forgive and never stop seeing them as God intends them to be.  And do the same for yourself.  Stop looking back and continue to hope that God will never stop His work in you until you are complete in all He intended for you.

Thoughts on “Expelled”

May 2, 2008

It seems from the blogs I’ve read, “Expelled” opponents go ballistic– as though accepting even the possibility of a designer means we’re letting a fundamentalist Christian theocracy take over all our institutions.  Funny, I saw the movie and didn’t get that idea at all.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  It seems they are simply asking for academic freedom in academia.  Ben Stein isn’t a Christian, after all, and neither were at least half of the people interviewed.  I wonder if the bloggers in question even saw the movie.  I doubt it.

National Day of Prayer: A Prayer for America

May 1, 2008

Father God, Lord of Heaven and Earth, on behalf of my country, I acknowledge your sovereignty over all things.  Even though a very vocal minority would like to remove Your Name and influence from everything American, we are still a nation who was founded upon reverence for You, our Creator.  The first settlers at Jamestown planted a cross to thank You for their safe arrival and to claim their discovery for the glory of God.  Just a few years later, long before we were a nation, the first Thanksgiving was celebrated at Berkeley Plantation to thank you for life and health and sustenance.  A few years later another Thanksgiving was celebrated in Massachusetts, again giving glory to You.  Our founding fathers based our Bill of Rights on the value and dignity of human life, stating this dignity was bestowed by You, our Creator.  And later, our currency was stamped “In God We Trust”.  Because of the heritage of our ancestors in honoring You, we approach your throne of grace and mercy today and ask You to hear our pleas for our nation.

Father, we have so many things for which to thank You.  You have blessed us beyond the wildest dreams of any nation in history.  You have given us a long period of peace within our borders.  You have given us wealth, learning, health and technology the world has never before seen.  We thank You, Father, for blessing us so much.  May we use Your blessings for the good of mankind and bring about praise to You for Your goodness.

Father, on behalf of my nation, I must confess our wrongs.  The greatest, by far, is ignoring You.  Not only are we ungrateful children, we misuse the gifts You’ve given us.  We’ve misused our wealth, our relationships and our bodies.  Awaken us to our wrongdoing and help us turn to what is good.  Father, I don’t even want to guess how many of us prayed to You today.  Most of us go about our business, failing to even acknowledge You, thinking instead that we are self-made people who got where we are by our own efforts.  Forgive us, Father, we really don’t know what we are doing.

Today, Father God, I lift America up to You.  I ask You for great spiritual blessings.  I ask You to grant us an awareness of who You are, and of how much You love us. Bring out the good in us Lord, as ONLY You can do.  Teach us to love You and to love each other.  Teach us to have wonder and respect for the mysteries of Your great creation.  Teach us to have child-like awe before You, and not to be arrogant, unteachable people.

Bless all those in public office.  Keep them honest and open.  Show them if they will only ask, You will give them the wisdom they need to make good decisions and the courage to follow through.  Bless all those in public service.  Help them to be people of integrity who serve with excellence, and keep them safe.

Bless husbands and wives.  Give them deep love for one another and devotion to their marriage.  Bless them with healthy children.  Give all parents wisdom and love for their children.  Help them understand their children’s needs and give those needs priority.  Help parents turn to You, the perfect Parent, for direction and strength.

Keep our nation safe.  Save us from wars and attacks.  Save us from succumbing to chaos and totalitarian government.  Save us from disaster, epidemics, civil disorder, economic collapse, political instability and all other pandemonia which have brought down nations in the past.  Save us from those who hate You.  Save us from those who serve false gods of any kind. Save us from our selfish, foolish selves.  Most of all, let us never forget what You said:  “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”  Psalm 33:12