Sunday, March 10, 2013



I want to pick up a little from the last post- but I also got with the street guys yesterday and maybe will make a few comments.

Yesterday we talked about the first century context of the Jewish people- as it relates to the Messiah.

That is the Jewish nation was waiting for centuries for the promised one who would come and deliver them.

Jesus showed up on the scene and claimed to be the One.

The early followers of Jesus- all Jews- did not fully grasp the spiritual nature of Gods kingdom.

He would teach them principles about the kingdom that seemed to go against the flow of normal life.

‘The last shall be first’

‘He that dies shall live’

‘You have heard an eye for an eye- but I say love your enemies…’

All these principles were showing them that the Kingdom that Jesus was talking about was a spiritual kingdom- that would also affect the world as we know it- but at its heart it was not about material stuff.

Okay- now- the Jewish people at the time of Christ were wanting a national deliverance- they were pre-occupied with getting free from the rule of Rome- and their hopes- like many people today- were tied up in the advance of their nation- their people.

But you have the writings of the early apostles talking about this new kingdom- where Jesus died for all people [Jews and Gentiles] and he ‘reconciled both [groups] unto God in One Body on the Cross’. [Ephesians]

So- your getting a different picture here- Paul the Apostle is saying that we are all now part of this new community of God- he says ‘we are now partakers with the Jewish people- we are this new commonwealth’.

The actual teaching- from the bible- is very advanced for its time.

I mean if you think about it- these words were written 2 thousand years ago- and they speak about relations between groups that the modern church seems to miss.

When we- in our day- appeal to the Old Testament verses about God giving land to Israel- and we couch all of our ‘end times’ preaching in scenarios that have one side killing the other- or when Western Christians visit the ‘Holy Land’- talking about the staging of the final ‘assault’ [Armageddon] and how many Arabs [Muslims] will be slaughtered by a Jewish army- lead by Christ- I mean do we really realize what we are saying?

I just read Revelation chapter 4- and it had nothing to do with this post- but as a side note it said there was thing angel flying in heaven- preaching the ‘everlasting gospel’ to all nations that dwell on the earth.

The gospel means ‘good news’- we often read the book of Revelation- and use it to back up the scenarios I just spoke about.

But this verse says the intent of God is to tell the good news to ALL ETHNIC GROUPS.

No one is left out- do you hear this?

Arabs- Jews- everyone- the good news is Christ brought us all back to God by his death for us.

That’s good news.

Would it be good news if I said ‘hey Arab- guess what- Christ is coming back- oh- he will lead a war against you and your kids- if you get lucky you might be killed by Christ’.

Now- I know this sounds absurd- but that’s the majority teaching in the American Protestant church today.

Just last night I caught a little of the coverage of the Democrat convention.

They were reporting on a ‘big’ news event.

What was it?

That the Dem’s took the wording out of their platform that said they believed Jerusalem should be the undivided capitol of Israel.

Why would this big a big deal?

It dates back to the 19th century- and the rise of what we call Dispensational theology.

Basically the development of this whole teaching that I just covered.

Eventually the teaching would influence large swaths of American Protestantism.

And it would seep in to the political world.

Yes- the actual statement that Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel- found in the political parties of our day- stem straight from the influence of the Dispensationalists of the 19th century.

Okay- what am I saying?

Do I advocate for the Palestinians getting half of Jerusalem?

[See- now I’m getting into politics]

Practically speaking- I don’t see how that could ever be workable.

You have Hamas- a recognized terror group by the U.S. - holding elected positions in Palestine.

So- I don’t see how this same group can share Jerusalem- practically speaking.

But- when you begin basing your political agenda on your view of the bible which might very well be wrong- then that’s when we get into trouble.


The New Testament apostles saw Jesus as the Messiah that they were waiting for.

All Jewish people do not see it that way- that’s their right- they have the freedom to believe the way they want.

Arab people have the freedom to believe the way they want.

Christians have the freedom to believe the way they want.

We as believers should share the Good News with all people groups.

That’s our mandate.

I just fear that much of what we are preaching is not good news.


Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John. Don’t forget to scroll down on the timeline [Facebook] - I have posted lots.


I want to delve into a hard issue for the church.

The last few weeks I have been watching the documentaries from net flix.

I mentioned that most [if not all?] are done from the liberal perspective- which I’m okay with.

But it is important on all issues to see both sides.

One of the things they dealt with was the history of the church and anti Semitism.

Yes- the Christian church has had a long history of treating the Jewish people badly.


As a Protestant- those of you who have been reading my posts for a while- well you realize that I’m not in the ‘normal’ category of Protestantism.

Many of the subjects I hit on are going against the strain of what we normally view as American Evangelicalism.

I often reference the Pope- in a good way- or talk about our Catholic brothers and sisters- well- as brothers and sisters!

So- I realize I have rubbed many the wrong way.

So- this subject of the treatment of the Jewish people has seen extremes- and in the American Evangelical church- much too much of the ‘end times’ stuff- in my view- is missing the boat.

As we read the New Testament we see Jesus and the disciples [all Jewish by the way] living at a time when the Roman govt. ruled over the Jewish people- and the Jewish people were waiting for their ‘salvation’ by means of a Jewish Messiah who would come and deliver them from their oppressors.

Much of their understanding of salvation was tied in to a national deliverance.

When you read the prayers/praises of both John the Baptists dad- and also Mary’s praise [called the Magnificat] you see a strong sense of national deliverance.

They speak about God sending the Messiah to deliver the people form their oppressors.

Okay- in this milieu we have Jesus and his guys living and believing that the ‘salvation’ of God is near.

It was only natural for the disciples- especially those who we call Zealots [Simon- not Peter] to think that this whole salvation story was about God restoring natural Israel back to a place of prominence once again- no more Roman rule type of thing.

But we see an interesting thing with Jesus- he keeps making statements that seem to lead the disciples away from seeing things this way.

‘My kingdom is not of this world- or my men would fight’

‘Put up the sword- those who live by it will die by it’

And the verse I quoted the other day ‘see all these buildings- temple- there will not be one stone left upon another’.

He basically is rejecting the nationalistic idea of him being the Messiah who would redeem Israel in a nationalist way.

He’s showing them that his purpose is different- it’s salvific for sure- but not in the way they perceive.

Okay- I’m beginning to realize I won’t be able to cover the whole thing in this post.

Maybe I’ll do a few more like this in the next few days.

The point is- I want you to see that God’s purpose for our Jewish friends- our Muslim friends- for all races and ethnic groups.

His purpose is not to pit one side against the other.

It’s not about Jesus defending one side- at his second coming- and actually leading that side in a real war- where he shoots people- or kills them with a sword!

No- these scenarios- which prevail in the End Times books you see at Wal mart.

These ‘narratives’ if you will- go against the entire grain of the teachings of Jesus.

This is why you see me so negative at times- against the Evangelical church.

Many Protestants- well meaning people- have such a negative view of the historic church- that they reject the ancient church’s position on these things.

For the most part- the historic church took a position called A-Millennialism.

Basically it’s a kind of spiritual way of seeing all these things.

God’s kingdom is not seen thru the eyes of natural war- but thru the eyes of a heavenly kingdom.

I think that’s the correct position- for the most part.

But most American protestants believe that this position is just one of the many ‘doctrines of the Whore of Babylon’ see what I mean?

Okay- lets end there- think on some of this stuff- read the New Testament with this in your mind.

Why does the Apostle John refer to natural Jerusalem as ‘spiritual Sodom and Egypt’? [Revelation]

Was his intent to be anti Semitic?

No- he was showing us that God’s concern was for all people groups- no longer was it about a nationalistic thing- a type of salvation that the disciples at first were thinking of.

As I end this post- I want to make sure that all my friends- Jews- Muslims- all- understand that my position is that God loves us all- and he’s not in the business of backing any side- militarily.

I hope to show you this in the coming days.

Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John. Don’t forget to scroll down on the timeline [Facebook] - I have posted lots.


‘Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee- is burned up with fire’ Isaiah 64:11.

Yesterday I mentioned that I watched a couple of negative documentaries about Christianity- they were done from the extreme skeptic’s perspective.

In these types of shows they usually have a few Christians/preachers that they portray as idiots.

In some cases- we can’t help ourselves!

One of the scenes was this group of protestant Christians traveling to Israel on a holy land tour.

When they are at the site of the temple mount [a real big deal for certain protestants- called Dispensationalists].

The pastor is speaking- very loudly- and quoting Jesus from Matthew 24.

He says ‘Jesus said there would be no stone left upon another- he meant it- all these stones will come down’!

Now- I know he meant well- and it must have felt exhilarating for him to kind of be standing up for Jesus- but we all know that there is this huge gold mosque sitting right at the spot where the temple used to be.

And this is where- for some Protestants- the rubber meets the road.

The above verse comes from the Old Testament prophet- the people of God [Israel] were being judged- they lost their homeland and eventually their holy temple would be destroyed.

Over a period of time they would return to their land and the temple would be re built.

During the days of Jesus you had a 3rd temple- even though the 2nd rebuilt one was never destroyed- yet Herod [the father of king Herod whom we read about in the bible] would undergo this huge rebuilding project- and he turned the temple of Jesus day into this huge majestic place.

So- when the disciples were with Jesus one day [matt 24] they said ‘look at all these great buildings Jesus’.

And that’s when he gave the response ‘their will not be left one stone upon another that shall not be cast down’.

This event took place in the year AD 70- the Roman general Titus would sack Jerusalem and the temple was cast down- there was not ‘one stone left on another’ literally.

After the destruction- many went in and searched thru the rubble for the gold that melted and fell between the stones- they actually laid every stone bare during this process.

So- the actual words the minister quoted from Jesus- these words were not defending the glory of the temple- which in Christ’s day came to represent religion apart from God.

No- the words of Jesus were actually a rebuke to those who put too  much emphasis on the temple itself [which just happened to be the camp that the above minister was in- ouch!]

Christians do have a problem with stuff like this- lots.

I also caught a few preaching shows over the past week- and many of them had the same theme.

One man was ranting against Muslims- he was quoting verses in the Bible that talk about avoiding the evil person.

I actually just posted on this a few weeks ago.

These verses come from the Apostle Paul’s pen- in his letter to the church at Corinth.

He was not saying to have no contact with unbelievers [or people of other faiths]- he was talking about ‘church members’ who were living in open sin.

I got into it the other day- don’t want to rehash it again.

The point was- even though this minister meant well- he was giving the opinion that Christians should have no peaceful dealings with Muslims- or any other religion for that matter.

Is this right?


The bible says we should live peaceably with all men.

In the Old Testament we read the story of Joseph.

He became the second most powerful figure in the land of Egypt- only Pharaoh was over him.

Joseph was living- and functioning- in the midst of the Egyptian people- who did indeed have different religious beliefs than Joseph.

Yet we read how Joseph earned great respect from the Egyptians- and when Joseph’s dad died [Jacob- who was named Israel] they respected the wishes of Joseph and even mourned with him.

Now- this is a great example of believers having friends- functioning in society- without purposefully offending people.

I do not claim to have perfect understanding about the end times- but I do see some major flaws with what most people think about when they hear ‘end times’.

Many Christians see a future restoration of the temple in Jerusalem.

They see a huge problem that the mosque sits on the temple site- and they have various scenarios to see the thing removed.

These same believers- all good people mind you- also see Jesus restoring the sacrificial system- and him ruling over Jerusalem- with the sacrifices taking place once again.


In the book of Hebrews- in our bibles- the writer says ‘those who continue the sacrificial system- after the crucifixion of Christ- are doing disgrace to the Cross of Christ.’

Theologically- the above end time’s scenario does much harm to the basic message of the Cross.

Geopolitically- it spells disaster.

Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John. Don’t forget to scroll down on the timeline [Facebook] - I have posted lots.

1892- WHAT A DEAL!

Well I finally sold the Mustang last night [a car- not horse].

I put it on Craigslist for about a week- geez- too many calls.

People would ask for directions- I’d give them the address and directions- then they would call back ‘well- I don’t speak English too good [lots of Mexicans buy the cars from this area and sell them in Mexico] - I’m still in the parking lot ‘[Wal mart].

Okay- would could I do?

I told a few people ‘look- I gave you the address- directions- part of this project is you need to be able to get here- if you can’t complete this part of the ‘mission’ then I guess you won’t be buying the car brother’.

Yeah- they need that type of tough love.

So anyway it sold for 700.

That was a steal to be honest.

1998 mustang- runs good- does need a starter.

Another one was selling for 1500- with a blown motor!

Okay- let’s do another verse from the prophet.

‘In all their affliction he was afflicted- and the angel of his presence saved them’ Isaiah 63:9

If you read the entire chapter you get a scene of someone treading the Winepress.

I spoke about this a while back- the imagery of a Winepress- a place where you crush the grapes and make the wine- is used by the prophets in the bible.

Jesus himself uses the same imagery in the gospels.

Here you have God saying ‘I looked for a man- someone to do this mission- and I found no one- so my own arm brought salvation’.

It is important to note that in this chapter we see God [Jesus] stained with the blood of those who are being trampled at the Winepress.

In the book of Revelation we this same thing.

Many modern prophecy teachers [another pet peeve of mine by the way] have an end time scenario all figured out- they see these things thru the ‘lens’ of modern warfare- which nation should get which piece of land [Israel- Palestine- etc.]

But they fail to see how the New Testament focuses on all ethnic groups- Jews, Palestinians- etc-  as being One New Man in Christ [Ephesians].

So- this image of the winepress sometimes is associated with a final battle of Armageddon scenario- that makes me cringe when I hear it proclaimed- in an ethnic way- from the media pulpits.

‘John- how should we take it then’?

Look- I’m not saying ‘my way’ is the only way- or the right way.

But when we read the bible- we must also take into consideration the broader themes of the love and grace of God- yes- judgment too- I don’t deny that- but the mercy of God must be there as well.

So- in this imagery of Jesus being stained with the blood of sinners- at a Winepress- the ‘place of pressing’ [like the garden of Gethsemane where Jesus started to bleed- pouring out his blood].

We can also see this as a type of the Cross- the place where the judgment and wrath of God was poured out- on Christ himself.

Maybe the blood that the ‘treader’ is soaked in- maybe its redemptive- just maybe.


But the actual verse I wanted to hit on was that ‘in all our affliction- he is afflicted’ [which by the way fits in more with what I just said].

In 1st Peter 4 we read that we are partakers of Christ’s suffering.

The apostle Paul said ‘I fill up the sufferings of Christ’.

They saw their trials as being redemptive in nature- that is they felt like the things they were going thru in life were for a higher purpose.

They did not view the Christian experience thru a lens that was primarily seeking self benefit.

Many today see ‘church’ and Christianity as a means of self improvement- often times you hear the same thing from the pulpits as you hear on the weekend self help infomercials [or the ‘how to get rich’ guys].

Is this a right view?


We are on the earth to glorify God- and to finish the work he gave us to do.

If part of the cost is suffering- then so be it.

These verses I have quoted show us in no uncertain terms that we are called- at times- to suffer.

As a student of all types of scholars- I must confess that our Catholic brothers and sisters get this right- much more often than Protestants.

So- those of you who have been tracking this journey- you have seen some flat tires- some wrecked trucks- and yeah- some up’s and downs.

I’m not saying all of this is equal to the sufferings of the early apostles- but in a small way- we can identify- and gain comfort- to know that these are not ‘strange trials’ these are things we all go thru in life.

I just wish we could take turns!


Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John. Don’t forget to scroll down on the timeline [Facebook] - I have posted lots.


So the news for the last few days has focused on Romney’s ‘world tour’.

As most of you know- he embarked on this trip to boost his foreign policy credentials.

And of course- the ‘main stream media’ has made it sound like he has made the worst gaffs since the time Biden told one of his political ‘close friends’ to stand up at some rally.

Biden ‘go ahead- stand- don’t be shy’ of course the guy sat there- still- hoping Biden would move on.

Not Biden.

‘Go ahead stand man- stand damn it- enough of this false MODESTY- stand!!”

Finally- someone from the audience yelled ‘he’s crippled you ….’

Close friend- remember?

So- in London Romney’s asked about the Olympics- does he think there might be some security problems.

And as a former CEO who ran the Olympics in the past- he was honest- he said there might be some difficulties with the security people who were hired to do the job.

Oh my- the press in the U.K. and the U.S. made it sound like this was the worst thing in the world.

They spent days- top headlines- top world news- yes- ‘how can this be- Romney singlehandedly has destroyed the greatest coalition ever- NATO and the Brits will fall apart now!! Oh my!!!’

I mean it’s hilarious.

Most don’t realize that Romney simply expressed- in a nice way- what the British press has been saying for weeks.

As a matter of fact- the security company who was hired to do security were about 3,000 men short.

The British military filled the gap.

This is bad- very- very bad.

Though I’m sure the military are good guys- yet they are not trained for this type of job.

The London games is a major target for terrorism- and if the truth be told- Romney’s comments were mild.

But because they decided to portray them the way they did- now the media are stuck in a way- because the games have had a bad start.

Most of the seats are empty- they actually need people to attend the events.

Yet- you have people who can’t get tickets.


They don’t know for sure- but it might be that lots of companies bought tickets- and gave them to their people- and the people are not going.

I mean I’m sure it couldn’t be the fact that the media have been reporting for weeks that the security is in fact not good- no- it can’t be that.

Either way- Romney was right- and those who follow the news know it.

Then- Romney trotted off to Israel.

Of course the media have found their niche- they are waiting to stomp on him every time they get a chance.

So- he tells the Israelis ‘your culture obviously has contributed to your success as a nation’.

Okay- is this true or not?

Look- as a bald faced statement- it is true.

What did the media say?

Oh my- Romney has insulted the Arab world- he has defamed the Palestinians- how could he ever have made a statement like this!

Now- as an independent- I do not always side with U.S. policy in that part of the world.

And- I think the American Evangelical church has made some big mistakes when they read the bible- and try to fit current U.S. policy in with their interpretation of end time events.

So- I do not see the Palestinian problem as one side being the enemy [Palestinians] and the other as the ‘people of God inheriting the land’.

For the most part those are Old Testament mindsets that overlook the New Testament view- that we are all called to inherit the kingdom thru the Cross.

So- just wanted to make that clear.

But- the truth is Israel has one of strongest Democracies in that region of the world.

They are governed with a system of courts and laws- that have even ruled on the side of Arab people- against their own govt.!

That’s rare- very rare- you do not find that in Arab states- that a court in Iran would rule against their leaders- and side with a Jew.

You have certain Arab states- that to even be Jewish would get you killed on the spot.

And some Arab states [not all!] have no real rule of law- even though they have tried- many are living a lawless existence.

Okay- I know there’s more to the debate- but on its face- Romney simply told the truth.

Yet the media are reporting it as a huge blunder- the likes of which has never been seen before!!

So- they show a clip of Romney putting a folded prayer request in the Wailing Wall [Jerusalem].

They then do a quick story ‘I wonder what he said’.

You know- it’s a traditional thing- the wall is a place for the Jewish people to connect with God- and they pray daily at the wall.

So- Romney kinda says what he wrote in the note- he says he thanked God for the source of our salvation- a few other things.

Then they show the shot of Obama when he did his note- of course they had the scoop form Obama’s note.

He asked for ‘wisdom and knowledge to govern the people’.

Basically the same prayer that king Solomon prayed [convenient that this slipped out- in Jerusalem!]

Then they had the shot of good ole G.W. [Bush].

I braced myself.

They simply showed him putting his hands on the wall.

I was waiting for Brain Ross to break in [you know- Ross is the news guy who ‘outed’ Jim Holmes from the Colorado shooting- he said he was a Tea Partier from Aurora- of course he outed an innocent man].

Yeah- I was waiting for the ‘Ross Report’.

‘George- I have breaking news- I don’t know if this is the same GW from Texas- but a goat herder was walking by the wall- and he found this note had fallen- strangely- it was signed by a GW from Texas’.

Go on Brian- what does it say man?

‘Well- like I said- we don’t know if it’s Bush- but the note says- and I quote- “What’s it like to be a wall” unquote’.

Yeah- I was waiting for the scoop.

So- you get the idea- the media have the power- and the desire- to depict one side as total idiots- and the other as those who can do no wrong.

I’m not on either side- trust me- but the bias is hard not to see.

Okay- I actually do have more to say- maybe tomorrow.

Right after I post this- I’ll post some pics from the weekend- now that I got my smart phone- I’m taken pics.

In a little while I will be driving my daughter to San Antonio- she’s catching a flight back to Indiana- she’s staying there for now- her boyfriend has been working across the country- right now they are in Indiana.

So- I’m sure I’ll take some pics.

That’s it for now- enjoy the pics.

And don’t forget the lesson of the day.

If you’re in a political rally- and Biden says ‘go ahead- stand up man- for the love of Pete’.

Just leave- it will save you from a very awkward moment for sure.

Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John. Don’t forget to scroll down on the timeline [Facebook] - I have posted lots.


Wasn’t sure which way to go- but this morning I was walking in my yard [I get up real early!] and I thought about the story of the Unjust Judge.

It’s a parable that Christ told- I actually haven’t read it in a while- but remember it pretty well.

Jesus said in this city there was a widow who went to this judge- the judge did not ‘fear God—or care about men’.

She had a situation where she needed the judge to do justice on her behalf.

The judge at first put the woman off- but then he said ‘I better do something- because her continual nagging is driving me up the wall’ [my paraphrase].

Jesus then said ‘see what the judge did- how much more will my heavenly father do for those who come to him’- then he says ‘he will avenge THEM SPEEDILY’.

We often tell the story like this ‘see- God is like the judge- he will defend you’.

Actually Jesus is saying ‘God is not like the judge’.

This judge acted- not out of what was right- but out of pressure- you know- the lobbyist wins.

But God- he does what’s right.

I was thinking about my governor when this verse ‘speedily’ dropped into my head.

During one of the debates Rick Perry used an example- I forget what the whole thing was about- but he said ‘such and such will happen- at the speed of light- literally’.

I think he was talking about Iran coming into Iraq and having more dominance in the region [which by the way he was right about].

But- when you use an example that has ‘the speed of light’ in it- well- it’s usually Figuratively- which just happens to be the opposite of literally- you know- a minor detail.

Okay- I can hear my Jersey friends now ‘wow John- you got one heck of a governor in the Lone Star state’.

Yeah- what can I say?

Maybe this ‘didn’t I see Christie on the boardwalk the other day’?

Let’s let bygones be bygones- deal?

Our timing- what we think is speedily- is not the same time line of God.

There are many texts in the bible that talk about the ‘end of the world’ and ‘the coming of Christ’ and it says it will happen fast.

These verses were penned 2 thousand years ago.

[Actually this is a pretty in depth study- how the church has handled the verses that deal with the End Times.

We call this Eschatology.

There are different views on this- Futuristic- Historical- Preterist.

This entire teaching is worth doing- I have done some over the years.

In a nutshell- some of these verses say ‘at the end of the age’ not ‘world’.

In the Greek language- which the New Testament was written in- the word used is age.

So- they are not always saying ‘the world will end soon’.

But ‘the age’.

What age?

In context- the old age [dispensation] of law- the Old Covenant.

And the New age- the age of Grace- has come.

This debate does have some [lots?] of merit to it- and it ‘solves’ some of the complaints from the critics of Christianity who say ‘Jesus was wrong when he said the end of the world would happen soon’.

In the above context- it did happen soon- see?]

So- we all have requests- we are in a way like the woman going to the judge.

Ask- Knock- don’t quit.

Jesus said ‘men ought always to pray and not to faint’.

Pope John Paul said ‘prayer is strength for the weak’.

James said ‘the continual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much’.

Yeah- whatever the request is- the good judge will do what’s best- not because you’re bugging him nonstop- but because it’s right.

Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John. Don’t forget to scroll down on the timeline [Facebook] - I have posted lots.


I usually end the week with a ‘week in review [news]’ type thing- but being I posted 2 political things yesterday- let’s do something spiritual.

The other week I mentioned I just went thru a course [again] on early Christianity.

The teacher- a famous scholar of the day- came from a liberal background in scholarship.

I do like the man- though I come from a different view- I believe the bible is inspired by God- and is ‘the word of God’.

Now- that statement can be expanded on- and at times I have done that.

There are Fundamentalist positions on biblical inspiration that at times leave much to be desired.

The bible has various forms of literature within it.

Poetry- Apocalyptic [Revelation, Daniel] - Symbolic- etc.

So inspiration- or reading the bible ‘literally’ simply means when you read those portions- literally- you read them as you would any other form of literature in the same class.


In Psalms [poetry type category] you read that ‘all the hills clapped their hands and sang’.

Okay- did the writer ‘literally’ mean this?

No- he was using poetry to describe the majesty of God.

But some people do think these verses should be read ‘literally’ and that in some way nature ‘clapped hands’.

The same with the book of Revelation- when we read about the Dragon- or the number of the beast- we realize these are symbols- or riddles- that we need not take ‘literally’.

Will there be an actual number- or code- that some future govt. will stamp on people’s heads or hands?

Probably not.

Have there been teachers/preachers who have taught this kind of thing- who have said ‘we live in a day like never before- where you can actually mark someone in the head/hand thru computer chips’.

So you have people who refuse to get social security cards- or avoid using the computer marker at the grocery store.

But these ways of looking at the bible are too simplistic- and don’t fit the actual style of the writer.

Is this the only time in history when we have the ability to mark people on their bodies?

Of course not- we read in the bible itself that in the Old Testament they actually ‘branded’ slaves- had ways to bore a hole in a person’s ear to show he belonged to an owner.

But we never think of this- we simply accept what we hear and that’s that.

The other day I was talking to a very knowledgeable man in the bible- he has read it [like me] hundreds of times over the years.

One time I mentioned to him the debate [among scholars] over the days of creation we read about in Genesis chapter 1[and 2].

I gave him various ways people interpret the text.

I said ‘you know- Genesis one says God created the Sun on day 4- but he made light on day 1’.

Now- I mentioned this as someone who does take the bible ‘literally’ but who also leaves room that the earth is much older than 6 thousand years.

To my surprise- my friend never thought of this ‘problem’.

He asked ‘what day was the sun made?’

Now- I know he has read the text a lot- but it never dawned on him that the Genesis account has this ‘problem’.

How do we solve it?

Some say ‘God made another source of light for the first 3 days’.

Okay- I don’t go for that.

But I do ‘go for’ the possibility that God is not giving us a scientific account of the creation of the world- be he is giving us a way we can grasp it- being everyone who reads the text is not a scientist.

One interesting view is God was using the 6 day [7] ‘form’ to categorize the order of things.

Day 1- light. Day 3- luminaries [things that give light]

Day 2- sky, water.  Day 4- fish- fowl [things that fill the sky- water]

Day 3- land- vegetation.  Day 5- animals, humans [things that eat the stuff]

So it seems like the first ‘3 days’ correspond to the things created on the last ‘3days’.

Okay- is this the only way to see it?


But it shows you that sometimes there is more to the story than meets the eye.

You say ‘John- I will just take it like it says- the bible says it- that settles it’.

Actually I’m fine with that- but the ‘super’ literal way does force the reader to come up with another source of light for the first 3 days- so that interpretation has its problems as well.


Just because we have symbol- poetry- prophecy- and various forms/styles of literature in the bible- this does not mean the bible is wrong- or ‘full of holes’.

No- it means when we come across these various styles we leave enough room to interpret them in the style they were written.

Okay- there’s obviously much that can be said on this subject- maybe I’ll do more over the next week or so.

Like how we got our bible- the development of the Canon [how we know which books are in- and which are not ‘in’].

There were other writings that the early church debated over.

Some of these other writings were considered out and out lies.

But not all- some of the other books were considered okay- but for various reasons they did not make it into the bible.

And a few that made it in were disputed- for various reasons.

The church did not have a ‘complete’ canon until the 4th century.

It is true that the early Christians had a basic unanimity on what was in and what was out.

But not until the 4th century was it decided for sure.

So maybe I’ll do a few posts on that.

I do come from the ‘conservative’ view on this- I do believe the bible is ‘the word of God’.

But that does not always mean you take every verse ‘literally’ in the sense that the ‘hills clapped their hands’- Got it?

Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John. Don’t forget to ‘click’ the note App on my Facebook Profile- I have posted lots.


I want to try and teach a couple of things from the letter of 1st Peter [in the New Testament] - but 1st a few comments.

Today the big story is the Chinese dissident- Chen Guangcheng.

Chen is a blind lawyer who has been under house arrest for years by the govt.

His main fight against the repressive communist state is their 1 child policy.

In China- because of the population growth- if a woman gets pregnant more than once- they force the woman to have an abortion.

This practice has not only killed many innocent kids- but also causes the parents to voluntarily abort the first child if it’s a girl.

Many of the families prefer a boy if they can only have 1 child- so the moms often abort the first [or 2nd- or 3rd] if it’s a girl.

So anyway- Chen miraculously escaped house arrest and made it to ‘safety’ to the U.S. embassy in China.

Here’s where there is some contradiction.

After a couple of days hiding out in the embassy- he left of his own ‘free will’ and the U.S. escorted him to a hospital [he suffered some inures during his escape].

Then we left him there- and he came under further persecution by the govt.

He called for help- and begged the U.S. to take him and his wife and family to the U.S.

Now- Hillary Clinton just happens to be there for talks this week- and she played down the case at first- and Chen says the U.S. rep’s told him if he didn’t leave the embassy that the Chinese officials would harm his wife.

Now- both sides agree that the threat was made [Chen and the U.S.] but we are denying that we related the threat to Chen.

Either way- the man left the protection of the embassy because of fear for his family- and he is now in danger.

This incident has now overshadowed the original reason for Clinton’s visit- and all the hype this week over the Bin Laden death anniversary.

Actually- it did look bad- as I was flipping the news channels- I saw the re-run of the NBC ‘coverage’ [more like an hour long free campaign ad].

They just did a special on the lead up to the death of Bin Laden- and it showed play for play coverage of the president and his team- I mean I do give the president credit for the death of Bin Laden- but they do seem to be overplaying the hand a bit much.

Even some of the elite Special Forces guys are complaining about his politicizing of the event.

So as I’m seeing clips about ‘we made the call [to kill him] it was a risk- but that’s what the job of president is- taking risks’ on and on- talking about how much of a risk it was for Obama to make ‘the call’.

And then on the next channel- we seem to be throwing this heroic Chinese dissident under the bus- and it seems like ‘the risk’ of actually saving the guy and his family- against the will of China [our bank] who does not want the U.S. to interfere- might be too much.

It is sad- I don’t want to politicize the thing- but for the media campaign to be harping on how much of a risk it was for the president to ‘make the call’- and at the very same moment- we have a crisis that needs him to ‘make a call’ it’s a bit much.

Okay- this morning I read a little from the letter of Peter.

In chapter 2 Peter uses the imagery of Jesus- and of us- as being stones- spiritual stones in a ‘living temple’ who offer up spiritual sacrifices to God thru Christ.

I always liked this imagery- the apostle Paul also uses it in his writings [Ephesians].

Peter says Jesus was a tested corner stone- a tried stone- rejected of men- but approved by God.

We too- as living stones- will be tested and tried- and yes- rejected by men.

This is part of the process.

He will later say ‘don’t think it a strange thing- the fiery trial you are going thru- it is not only given to us to believe on Jesus- but to also suffer for him’.

This is one of the main themes you see run thru out the New Testament.

Peter even says ‘if any man suffers as a Christian [by the way- this term is only used 3 times in the New Testament] let him glorify God’

Yes- suffering and difficulty are part of the package- and the apostle tells us not to ‘think it strange’.


There are so many well meaning believers in our day who have been taught that suffering- hard times- lack of wealth- that all these things only happen to people who don’t have faith- who haven’t yet learned how to ‘claim their covenant rights’.

Now- while most of these teachers mean well- they leave out the other side of the coin.

And if you only hear the ‘happy’ side- then when the tough stuff hits- you ‘think it strange’ you say ‘geez- I guess I’m just not as good as so and so- after all- why would I be suffering’.

So Peter warns us to be aware that the trying of our faith is an important aspect of the Christian life- and there are times when believers are called upon to share in this Cross experience.

In chapter 2 Peter says that Jesus was a tested stone- one that went thru the process of being chipped and honed and shaped into the vessel that God wanted.

Part of the shaping was the rejection process.

God uses ‘tested’ stones in his temples.

In the Old Testament- when they were building the temple- the bible says they prepared the stones away from the building site- so there would be no noise of the hammers chipping away at the temple site itself.

But after the stone was ready- it would be brought to the site and placed into the building.

Often times God allows us to have ‘down time’ a place of being prepared- getting chipped away at- but when he thinks the stone is ready- it is then brought to the site and put into the building.

The apostle John- in the book of Revelation says ‘I John saw the holy city- the New Jerusalem- coming down from God out of heaven- and there was no temple in it’.

John was describing the new kingdom community [the church] that would be absent ‘the temple’ [the old system of law and temple] and would be a new people- a living temple- a kingdom of priests and kings.

These new people would offer up spiritual sacrifices to God- no longer the animal sacrifices of the law- and this would please God.

Yes- we are the people of God- kings and priests unto God.

John also says this in Revelation.

‘thou art worthy to open the book and to loose the seals thereof- for you were slain and have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every nation tribe and tongue- and have made us KINGS AND PRIESTS unto God- and we shall reign on the earth’.

Yes- kings and priests- a new community- a living spiritual temple.

All wonderful things- but the only stones that make it into this temple are tried stones- rejected stones- stones that got ‘chipped’ at for a long period of time.

Yeah- these are the precious stones.

Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John. Don’t forget to ‘click’ the note App on my Facebook Profile- I have posted lots.


Good morning to all my on line friends.

Today let’s cover the book of Ephesians and John 17.

I stumbled on them this past week- not realizing the similarity of themes.

In the past I have taught complete bible studies- both on radio and at the same time on the blog.

It took a little longer- because I would write on a chapter- then take 2 or 3 radio programs [15 minute shows] to cover it on air.

I’m not even sure- I think I might have already done a full Ephesians study on the blog?

Ephesians is written by the apostle Paul- though some scholars believe it was written by one of Paul’s disciples- they think it might be more of an elaboration on Paul’s other epistle to the Colossians.

There are various reasons that some scholars do stuff like this- won’t go into all the reasons- in my mind when a bible letter says within the text that Paul wrote it- then I go with that.

The short letter [6 chapters] starts off with a declaration that God chose the believers before he even made the world.

That God had a predestined purpose for them to have become children of God and for this new people of God to reveal the ‘manifold wisdom of God’ to everyone one [thing] else.

One of the verses says that even the angels and powers in heaven ‘learn’ the things of God thru the church.

This really is an amazing statement- that God uses the church to reveal Divine truths to the whole universe!

This theme of God choosing us [them] before the world- to fulfill a purpose that he planned before the world- is a major theme in the first 4 chapters of the book.

He wants them to see that this calling- this place where they are at at the present time- it is a sort of Divine appointment with destiny- that God had planned this before the creation of the world.

And it is now ‘in time’ that they are living out this Divine plan.

In John chapter 17 we read the prayer of Jesus.

Jesus says that he has 'finished’ the work that God gave him to do- which was to reveal God to these disciples that God has given to him.

He says ‘all mine are thine- and thine are mine- and I am glorified in them’.

Jesus also hits on the theme of this being a work of God that he pre-planned before the world was made.

He prays ‘don’t take them out of the world- but keep them from the evil’.

The same theme that we see in the ‘Our Father’.

I find it interesting that one of the more popular ‘end times’ teaching of our day is the Rapture.

Tim Lahaye has popularized this idea in his very successful series of books about the end times.

In the 1980’s- the number one best seller among Christian books [I think it was actually number 1 for all categories?] was Hal Lindsey’s ‘late great planet earth’.

He too took the same line as Lahaye and taught the idea that God was going to take all the Christians ‘from the earth’ and that the world would wonder where they all went.

I have covered this in the past- how the church came to teach this- how the historic church did not teach it- and why I believe the Rapture- as a separate event from the 2nd coming- has no real biblical basis.

The point for this post is part of the prayer of Jesus is ‘I pray not that you would take them out of the world’ which on its face seems to be the opposite of what the Rapture doctrine teaches.

Okay- Jesus revealed the Father to his men.

The apostle Paul told the church ‘God chose you for this before the world was made’.

Jesus believed that these disciples [and by extension the church] were ‘given to him’ by the pre ordained will of God.

What all this means- in a nutshell- is that where you are at right now- all the things you are going thru- God knew it before it ever happened.

And he still picked you for the job!

The Apostle tells them to be strong in the Lord- to pray always- and put on the whole armor of God.

Yes- just because they were chosen- did not mean they could sit around all day doing nothing- they were chosen for a purpose- and it was up to them [by grace] to walk in that purpose.

I would encourage you to try and read these chapters this week- Ephesians is short- but has a lot of good stuff in it.

As you read- look for the theme of God choosing the church before the ‘world was made’.

Notice how often this idea ‘pops up’ in the writing of Paul- and how it plays a major part in the life of the church.

Read- and apply- the instructional aspects of the letter [on family- husbands and wives- children- workers and bosses].

And practice- as much as possible- the ‘put on the armor of God’ teaching found in chapter 6- that section ends with ‘pray for everyone’.

That- in my mind- is the most important part of the instruction.

Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John


Let’s end the week with a look at the death of Christ.

Today- Good Friday- is the day we remember the Passion.

In Psalms 22 we see a Messianic prophecy- the words king David spoke thru the Holy Spirit.

These are the words- feelings- that Jesus had on the night before he was crucified- he went to the Garden of Gethsemane [literally- The Olive Press] and was in extreme anguish.

In this Psalm we read ‘I am a worm and no man’ ‘all that see me laugh at me- they think my cause is hopeless’ ‘I cried and prayed and you never heard me- I have no rest day or night’.

Read the psalm later today- see the pain he went through.

The garden of Gethsemane was an Olive garden at the base of the ‘The Mount of Olives’.

It was a place where olives were crushed- the process allowed the oil to come forth- which was a picture of what Jesus was going thru- he was ‘being crushed’ so the oil [Spirit] would come forth to the world [Acts 2].

In the prayer he says ‘Father- if it’s possible- remove this cup- never the less- not my will but yours be done’.

Many of us are familiar with this phrase ‘thy will be done’ but we miss the cup part.

What was the cup?

The cup stood for ‘the cup of the wrath of God’ it was a symbol of the judgment of God coming upon the sins of the world.

When Jesus said ‘take away the cup’ he wasn’t afraid of dying- but he ‘feared’ the separation that was going to take place from God.

As he ‘drank the cup’ [the sins of the world] he would become ‘the container’ of the wrath of God- he would be cursed from God as a ‘sinful’ thing.

The apostle Paul says ‘he- [Jesus] became sin for us- who knew no sin- that we might become the righteousness of God in him’ [Corinthians].

So Jesus struggled with the cup.

In the book of Revelation chapter 14 we see an image of the cup and wrath.

There are angels coming out from the throne- we see Jesus sitting on a cloud and angels all around.

The angel says ‘thrust in your sickle and reap- for the harvest of the earth is ripe’ and we see the ‘Winepress of wrath’.

The picture is this angel reaping the earth- gathering the ‘grapes of the earth' [Steinbeck- the Grapes of wrath] and casting them into a winepress [another type of pressing- like the olive imagery].

The Winepress is ‘outside the city’ [very significant image] and the blood from the press goes out for 184 miles.

This is a scene of judgment and wrath.

During the civil war the north used this verse as their theme song- The Battle Hymn of the Republic ‘mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord he is Trampling out the Vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored’.

Yes- the winepress was an image of where the grapes of wrath waited for the pressing- when the blood would come forth.

Now- this next part really deserves a full study- but let me do a brief overview.

The writer of Hebrews [probably Paul] speaks about an altar that sits ‘outside the city’ where the animal’s bodies were burned.

In Old Testament Jewish law- some of the animals bodies were not fully burned at the time of the offering- the blood that was used for the Day of Atonement was not a complete burnt offering- the animal blood was used.

So- the Jewish people had a spot- outside the gate of the court [outside the city] where the bodies were burned.

Now- the writer of Hebrews says this is a type- a picture- of the final sacrifice of Christ that took place ‘outside of the law’.

That is Jesus established a New Covenant in his own Blood- not part of the Old animal sacrificial system.

Okay- his death took place ‘outside the gate’- that’s important to see.

Now- as Jesus struggled with his impending death- he came to a point where he sweat drops of blood- he then said ‘if this cup cannot pass unless I drink it- then so be it’.

He drinks the cup ‘of the wrath of God’ and in a sense he becomes the place ‘where the grapes of wrath are stored’.

He himself becomes the final sin sacrifice for humanity- the place of pressing- where the ‘wine/blood comes out’.

As we finish this Holy Week- getting ready for the resurrection celebration this Sunday- let’s not forget that Jesus drank the cup- he became sin for us who knew no sin.

Yes- as the North sang ‘mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord he is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored’.

They weren’t seeing that the place where the grapes of wrath were stored were inside the Son of God- he drank the cup ‘to the dregs’ and was ‘trampled on’ by God’s wrath.

Yes- Jesus said ‘I am a worm and no man’ he was in anguish for you- and me.

Amen- and amen.

Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John


I have been reading the San Antonio paper the last few weeks- and they have been running some ad for dental implants [fake teeth].

They have the ‘before/after’ pictures- whenever I see the ad- I think ‘before what? A complete head transplant’!

Yes- the before shots remind me much of my homeless buddies- the after shots look like glamour pictures for the ‘most beautiful person in the world’ contest.

This last week I have reached a sort of milestone- a few years ago I began praying [more than usual] for all types of criminal cases that I read about- or see- on the news.

I actually painted their names all over my gazebo- the back fence- and yes- right on the back and sides of the house [along with lots of bible verses].

I have hundreds of pictures/articles cut from the paper- their pinned to my office walls.

You say ‘John- I know you mean well- but do you think this is normal’.

Actually no- neither does my wife.

I have been threatened ‘if you keep doing this- I will paint the whole house’.

My paints [and brushes] have been hidden [by others!]- and when Christmas comes around- I tell the kids ‘hey- just get me another 5 gallon bucket of paint- I’m running low’ [yes- this part is a joke].

Some of the more severe cases- the ones that stick in my mind- I paint their names- the others I just pin up the article.

Sometimes I see the cases more than once- at the time of the crime- and then when they get sentenced.

This week Jacob Gonzales was sentenced to life without parole.

He plead guilty to a triple homicide he committed last year- shot 3 girls in cold blood.

The worst homicide the city has ever seen.

So I had written the name of Jacob down- and saved the article.

As I looked for a spot to paint the name- I realized that I already wrote the name Jacob- in big letters- on a ladder on my gazebo [long story- bible verse about Jacobs Ladder].

So it kinda just fit.

I knew his case was significant- I do ‘forever’ pray for these guys [and women] and being it was a local case- and he will be in jail for life- he would benefit more from the prayers.

During my normal reading for the week- I was reading Jeremiah chapter 31.

I usually focus on one or 2 chapters a week- and if I remember I comment on them at the end of the week.

As I read chapter 31- it starts with a verse that should be added to the previous chapter.

Sometimes you run into a chapter like that- our bible chapters and verses are really ‘man made’ that is the chapters themselves are not inspired- just the content [chapter divisions].

So I thought ‘heck- let me go ahead and see if the Lord has something for me in chapter 30’.

Now- this is the week where I added Jacob to my prayer group- again.

And I felt there was some special significance to his case.

In Jeremiah chapter 30 the Lord says ‘this is the time of Jacobs’s trouble- and I will save him out of it’.

It would take too long to teach the actual doctrine of Jacobs Trouble- but it is a long- and sometimes controversial teaching that we find all through the bible.

I say controversial because many [most?] Protestants have an ‘end time’ teaching about this [called Dispensationalism] that I don’t agree with.

I hold more to the historic churches’ view on these passages [Catholic, Orthodox, etc.]

But Jacob- in the bible- is the son of Isaac- the son of Abraham.

God changes his name to Israel [he is the father of the 12 tribes of Israel].

And the name obviously holds a lot of significance in the bible.

The ‘trouble’ part refers to the passages we find in the bible that speak about a very troubling time for Israel as a nation- in many of the End Time books/movies- it’s called ‘The Great Tribulation’.

But the significance for me- this week- was God kinda spoke to me thru the connection of this kid Jacob- who I prayed for all week.

Yes- Jacobs’ time of trouble.

In chapter 31 [Jeremiah] God tells Israel ‘there is coming a time when I will make a new covenant with you- not like the one I made with you during the time of Moses’.

This fits in with what I taught last week- how the apostle Paul said we are not under the old law [Moses and the 10 commandments] but under a new covenant- the new and everlasting covenant of the Blood of Jesus.

In the chapter it says God will write his law on our minds and hearts- it won’t just be an outward law- written on tables of stone- but one written on the inside.

Yes- he says ‘all things will be new- I will never remember your sins any more’.

You know- I guess complete head [heart] transplants can happen- but it takes a miracle from God.

Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John


Caught an interesting show last night on the business/financial channel. It was the story of some private investor who was sort of a prodigy when it came to the market.

As a kid he took an unusual interest in investing and as he was studying to become a doctor he started his own independent blog and eventually he went into investing full time.

He became famous because he was one of the first investors to spot the upcoming housing bubble [the one we already had]. As he read the data- he hedged his bets and shorted the market.

All investing is a type of ‘gambling’ you make your bet- you put money on the table- and you hope for the best.

But ‘shorting’ the market the way this guy did- well it was more like gambling in the sense that you bet that a certain stock will fall- and someone else is betting it will go up.

Well in the end he did win- but he angered a lot of his customers and his investment company would fold.

Overall he got it right- but he was bad with social skills- he had a form of Autism called Aspergers syndrome- it makes you bad with social skills- but excel in other areas.

His area of excelling was the numbers thing- yet the part of the business where you work with people- that’s what doomed him in the end.

Anyway I mentioned this because some numbers have come out this week- and the economy might be getting better- so if those numbers hold- or go up- then this next year might be okay [crow doesn’t taste that bad!].

The news? I was surprised to see the state of things go bad so fast in Iraq. Just the other day [yesterday?] the capital city had 16 bombs go off- many killed.

It was one of the worst bombings in a long time- right in the capital.

Then you had the P.M. of Iraq- AlMalaki- put out a warrant on the V.P.  The Prime Minister is Shia- the V.P. is Sunni.

Iraq- like all these ‘Arab Spring’ nations are divided along these religious lines- and Iraq also has a 3rd division- the Kurds in the north.

So the Vice President has fled north to the Kurdish area- and Malaki is demanding his return to face charges of terrorism.

Can you imagine a U.S. President charging the V.P. with terrorism charges? Yeah- I fear the worst is taking place in Iraq- and there is plenty of blame to go around- but these wars were doomed from the get go.

Okay- as we end the week- who read the chapters I mentioned in the last post? They deal with the promise of God to King David- that God would bless David’s house [dynasty] for ages to come.

That David’s ‘Son’ would sit on the throne for ever. I have taught this before- the New Testament shows us that this promised has been fulfilled thru Christ.

Jesus- who comes from the lineage of King David- has been raised from the dead and he sits at the right hand of God- forever.

An interesting note on the chapters- God says to David ‘even if the future children sin- and mess up- I will punish them- but will not totally forsake them’.

I think this promise is in both the Samuel chapters and Psalms 89.

It refers to the teaching in the bible that says when believers sin- make mistakes- mess up. God will ‘chastise’ them- but not completely leave them [Read Hebrews 12- the first few verses].

Hebrews says that this is proof that we are God’s kids- because he will discipline those he loves- like a parent does with a child.

The bible also says that humans discipline at times with other motives ‘Johnny- you made me look bad in the store today- you threw a fit because you couldn’t get the candy’ so at times parents punish because of wrong motives- but the bible says Gods discipline is perfect- it leads to restoration.

In the above mentioned Psalm- David says ‘Lord- why did you let the hedge [protections] fall down around me- will your anger go on forever?’

Even though King David had all these great promises from God- yet we know the whole story- David made some drastic mistakes- he even had an illegitimate kid with the wife of one of his top soldiers.

When his scheme to cover up the crime didn’t work- he had the husband killed [Uriah] and he married the wife.

Her name was Bathsheba. She had a son- he got sick. David knew he was being punished for what he did.

So he goes into his room and fast and prays for days- then the kid dies.

His servants are afraid to tell him that the kid died. David picks up on it and says ‘he’s dead’? Yeah.

Then he washes his face and gets on with life. The servants thought ‘wow- we thought he would really go downhill once he heard the kid died’.

But David said ‘when the boy was alive- I prayed and did what I could to change the situation- but after the boy died- there's no more I can do. I will go to him some day- but he can’t come back now’.

David took the punishment- and moved on.

Bathsheba will bear him another child- a son by the name of Solomon. This is also the same son that God makes the promise to David in the above chapters- that he will build a temple for God.

So God forgave David- even used the second son from the ‘crime scene’ to do great things- but first David suffered.

Today’s word- wherever you are today on the journey- at the point of fasting and praying- or the mistakes- and the results have already played out- wherever you are- don’t let what has happened be the final word.

Hebrews also says to the person who was disciplined ‘lift up the hands that hang down- get back up- don’t let the discipline have the wrong effect- it was meant to restore you in the end’.

Yea- God allowed the hedge to come down around David- like our investor- he had talent- even special gifts- he ‘hedged’ his bets- but in the end he reaped some stuff.

Whatever has happened- its over- you can’t change it. Let’s get up and move on- there just might be a Solomon on the way.

Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John

y'>ThiB��]o i �� �u� it leads to another problem called the Infinite Regress.

 If there is no First cause- then logically you can never arrive at ‘Now’

There had to have been a starting point somewhere [Einstein has since proved this] and the starting point [Big Bang] could not have come from nothing.

This too is a very common belief among many well meaning people- that somehow science has taught us that all things came from nothing.

This could not be further from the truth- this is referred to as Creation Ex Nihilo- which too is scientifically false.

The only other option- beside the Infinite Regress- and the creation out of nothing- is there had to have been some type of first cause- who is not limited to the material realm.

By nature this being would have to be Metaphysical [outside the physical realm] and would have to be self existent- having no beginning.

To have a First cause- who himself is infinite- is indeed consistent with the principals of logic- and at the end of the day is the only reasonable explanation for the existence of all other things.

Okay- as we end our posts on philosophy for now- why did I cover this?

Thru out the history of the church Christians have grappled and challenged the other world views- and have done a good job at it.

The Christian perspective is not some silly religious way of life that has no real proof.

To the contrary- the church has had the upper hand in all these debates down thru the centuries.

But in today’s ‘media market’ Christianity- the proliferation of self help books [everyday day a Friday?]

The nonstop talk about becoming rich- or sending your money to ‘my ministry’ as a ‘seed faith’ to become rich.

In this environment- many outsiders see the church as an irrelevant- never ending drum beat that they can’t wait to switch to another channel.

This is not the history of the church- and the church has historically won the debate on the reality of God.

It’s just the average person does not know it.

So- for the Christian to be learned in these fields- to have a working knowledge of the opposing world views- is a good thing.

Why do so many believers avoid a field like philosophy?

The apostle Paul warned the Colossians ‘beware of the philosophies of men’.

He also wrote to his protégé Timothy ‘beware of the oppositions of science- falsely so called’.

The word for science in this text is Gnosis- the Greek work for knowledge.

In the early days of the church there was a Christian cult that rose up- called Gnosticism.

More than likely- Paul was not saying that all science- as we use the term today- is bad- but he was warning against a particular from of science- called Gnosticism.

The same with the warning on philosophy- while you could apply it to all philosophy- that is to say that we should be careful when people try to give us opposing ways of thought- yet in context it seems like the apostle is dealing with the philosophies that oppose Christian thought.

For the first 1500 years of the Christian church the study of Theology and Philosophy went hand and hand.

After the Protestant Reformation [15th century] many Protestants avoided the field- which I think was a mistake.

So- as we close up this subject for now- maybe review a few of the posts on the blog that I did these last few months- become more familiar with the apologetic arguments for the existence of God.

Christians do not have to argue- or oppose atheists- or other religions that hold a different view than we do.

But we should be able to give a defense for the faith- to explain to society around us why we believe the things we do.

At the end of the day- we really do have the winning argument.

Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John

1823- BUDDY

Last night I had my wife search for some old friends on Facebook [she’s better than me] and I had one old firefighter buddy that kept coming to mind- Buddy Renninger.

I met Buddy about 10 years ago- he attended one of the fire/ems schools that my Dept. was putting on. 

Every so often when a neighboring city puts on a class- the other depts. might attend.

Buddy was a ‘rookie’ from the city of Alice- about 20 minutes from Kingsville- where I retired from.

Buddy was my age- though I had already put in about 20 years- he was a new comer to the job.

We got along good- went out for a few drinks a couple of times- shot some pool.

And yes- Buddy ‘picked my brain’ on Christianity- he was eager to learn.

I lost touch with Buddy after I retired- actually before that.

So when my wife looked up the name- to my surprise she told me ‘John- Buddy died’.

I was shocked- I mean he was 48 years old.

The on line article just said he died at home- no other info.

They actually have a little tribute to him on line- look it up if you want- just Google his name and the city of Alice- he was a Lieutenant.

He died a couple of year’s back- sad to see him go.

By the way- for those of you who just got ‘friended’ by me this week- as I was searching for some old friends- I found the search where it says ‘you might know this person’ and I went down the list and sent out about 50 requests.

Some names I thought sounded familiar- others I knew- others just had that good old Italian last name- so if you’re a new friend- that’s the story.

Alright- I still need to do one last post on this never ending Philosophy study I have been on.

But in the last post when I mentioned the book of Ephesians- I came across a verse in chapter 6- it says for workers to ‘obey’ their employers in all things- with FEAR AND TREMBLING.

That short phrase reminded me of something that I did not cover in the philosophy posts.

In a few posts we covered 19th century thinking- and we hit on Soren Kierkegaard- the 19th century father of Existentialism [will not repeat it all- you can find it somewhere on the blog].

Soren wrote a few books- one was called FEAR AND TREMBLING- he looked at the story of Abraham in Genesis chapter 22- where he takes Isaac to be offered as a sacrifice to God.

Soren [it’s easier then repeatedly spelling the last name!] examined the process of God telling Abraham to do something that by all accounts seemed contrary to God- and to what Abraham believed to be right.

Yet- at that point of the journey- faith became more than just an intellectual exercise- it became a man [or woman] who passionately embraced God- even beyond the point of his own understanding.

Yes- Abraham did this with much Fear and Trembling- and he never had to sacrifice Isaac- it was a test- a test that the patriarch passed with flying colors.

Next week I will try and finish that last post on philosophy- and try and review the short letter of James [in the New Testament].

This letter is the only ‘wisdom’ literature we find in the New Testament [wisdom literature refers to a specific genre of writing- in the Old Testament we have about 5 books in this category- Proverbs, Psalms, Job- etc.]

So if you get a chance- try and read the letter- it’s a short read.

Okay- that’s it for now- to all my new Facebook friends- glad to see you.

And to Buddy- sad to see you go my friend- may God bless your soul.

Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John


Good morning to all my on line friends.

Today let’s cover the book of Ephesians and John 17.

I stumbled on them this past week- not realizing the similarity of themes.

In the past I have taught complete bible studies- both on radio and at the same time on the blog.

It took a little longer- because I would write on a chapter- then take 2 or 3 radio programs [15 minute shows] to cover it on air.

I’m not even sure- I think I might have already done a full Ephesians study on the blog?

Ephesians is written by the apostle Paul- though some scholars believe it was written by one of Paul’s disciples- they think it might be more of an elaboration on Paul’s other epistle to the Colossians.

There are various reasons that some scholars do stuff like this- won’t go into all the reasons- in my mind when a bible letter says within the text that Paul wrote it- then I go with that.

The short letter [6 chapters] starts off with a declaration that God chose the believers before he even made the world.

That God had a predestined purpose for them to have become children of God and for this new people of God to reveal the ‘manifold wisdom of God’ to everyone one [thing] else.

One of the verses says that even the angels and powers in heaven ‘learn’ the things of God thru the church.

This really is an amazing statement- that God uses the church to reveal Divine truths to the whole universe!

This theme of God choosing us [them] before the world- to fulfill a purpose that he planned before the world- is a major theme in the first 4 chapters of the book.

He wants them to see that this calling- this place where they are at at the present time- it is a sort of Divine appointment with destiny- that God had planned this before the creation of the world.

And it is now ‘in time’ that they are living out this Divine plan.

In John chapter 17 we read the prayer of Jesus.

Jesus says that he has 'finished’ the work that God gave him to do- which was to reveal God to these disciples that God has given to him.

He says ‘all mine are thine- and thine are mine- and I am glorified in them’.

Jesus also hits on the theme of this being a work of God that he pre-planned before the world was made.

He prays ‘don’t take them out of the world- but keep them from the evil’.

The same theme that we see in the ‘Our Father’.

I find it interesting that one of the more popular ‘end times’ teaching of our day is the Rapture.

Tim Lahaye has popularized this idea in his very successful series of books about the end times.

In the 1980’s- the number one best seller among Christian books [I think it was actually number 1 for all categories?] was Hal Lindsey’s ‘late great planet earth’.

He too took the same line as Lahaye and taught the idea that God was going to take all the Christians ‘from the earth’ and that the world would wonder where they all went.

I have covered this in the past- how the church came to teach this- how the historic church did not teach it- and why I believe the Rapture- as a separate event from the 2nd coming- has no real biblical basis.

The point for this post is part of the prayer of Jesus is ‘I pray not that you would take them out of the world’ which on its face seems to be the opposite of what the Rapture doctrine teaches.

Okay- Jesus revealed the Father to his men.

The apostle Paul told the church ‘God chose you for this before the world was made’.

Jesus believed that these disciples [and by extension the church] were ‘given to him’ by the pre ordained will of God.

What all this means- in a nutshell- is that where you are at right now- all the things you are going thru- God knew it before it ever happened.

And he still picked you for the job!

The Apostle tells them to be strong in the Lord- to pray always- and put on the whole armor of God.

Yes- just because they were chosen- did not mean they could sit around all day doing nothing- they were chosen for a purpose- and it was up to them [by grace] to walk in that purpose.

I would encourage you to try and read these chapters this week- Ephesians is short- but has a lot of good stuff in it.

As you read- look for the theme of God choosing the church before the ‘world was made’.

Notice how often this idea ‘pops up’ in the writing of Paul- and how it plays a major part in the life of the church.

Read- and apply- the instructional aspects of the letter [on family- husbands and wives- children- workers and bosses].

And practice- as much as possible- the ‘put on the armor of God’ teaching found in chapter 6- that section ends with ‘pray for everyone’.

That- in my mind- is the most important part of the instruction.

Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John


This is the latest Will Ferrell flick to hit the big screen.

It’s in Spanish [no joke] and Ferrell speaks all his lines in Spanish.

I caught his interview on Jon Stewart- plugging the movie- and it looks funny.

I do like Ferrell- I clipped an article [so I would remember to mention it] and just about 5 minutes ago as I re-read the thing- I couldn’t stop laughing.

It shows a picture of Ferrell- all made up to look like a Mexican drug lord [I think he plays a brother of one in the movie] and he’s holding this rifle- in a real awkward way- and he looks like an idiot.

That’s what makes me laugh about the guy- he’s just funny.

The movie is a spoof of the Spanish Telenovela movies- he’s basically making fun of the genre- and at the same time trying to appeal to both Spanish and English speaking audiences.

As the week ends- there have been some surprises in the news world.

Most observers think the Health Care law has more of a chance of being struck down by the court than less of a chance.

It was not so last week- so this is a major story.

Also about 2 weeks ago I wrote some posts on the Syrian situation- if you remember both Russia and China rejected the U.S. lead effort [in the U.N.] to condemn Assad [the Syrian president] and call for his ouster.

At the time I said the U.S. needs to realize that we can’t keep calling for the ouster of leaders- even bad ones- every time a rebellion rises up.


Because the radical Islamist groups see this- and that’s why you started having various protestors calling for ‘NO FLY ZONES’.

They were reading us- and at times trying to simply manipulate us to do their bidding.

Now- after our U.N. resolution failed [because of China and Russia voting it down] Susan Rice- the U.S. ambassador to the U.N.- made a public statement- calling it ‘unconscionable’ and using language that you normally don’t see by ‘fellow negotiators’ from the U.N.

As I watched the fallout- I saw that experts at how the U.N. process works- they said Rice was incompetent- and her reaction showed her inability to handle the job.

These criticisms came from both sides- Russian and U.S.

I also said at the time that the U.S. needs to basically listen to what Russia’s objections are- and we need to move in their direction on this- and not the other way around.

Russia basically was fed up with the West coming in and backing rebel groups- unseating the leaders of the countries- and then leaving the place a mess [Libya- Egypt].

Russia [and China] saw the writing on the wall- and they called for a ceasefire on all sides- and for everyone to sit down at the table.

I thought this was the best way to go as well.

But Rice [U.S.] called for Assad to step down [which means he will get tried and executed- as various Al Qaeda groups take the country over].

So just the other day- the news headlines read ‘Russia capitulates to U.S. position’.

As I read the article- the opposite happened.

We agreed to the Russian position- not the other way around.

But every article on it- bar none- made it look like ‘we prevailed’.

That Obama and his team were the real experts- standing up for liberty- and the other side lost.

How many people knew enough to see that the articles were wrong- how many just read the headlines and thought ‘wow- what a bang up job that Susan Rice is doing at the U.N.’

This is how media bias works- sometimes I think they even believe their own stuff- even when it’s obviously wrong.

In the next week or so I’m going to try and wrap up a few more posts on Philosophy.

We started around 6 months ago- with the pre Socratic Philosophers [7-800 years B.C.] and made it all the way up to the Existentialists of the 19th century.

I hate to stop there- because we were right at the time of the rise of the Atheistic existentialists- the Nihilists- who saw no hope in existence.

These guys ‘stole’ existentialism from its founder- a Christian- Soren Kierkegaard- and developed a purposeless philosophy- a ‘man without hope’ future world.

Guys like John Paul Sartre and Camus [20th century] were writing/saying things like ‘the only question now left is the viability of suicide’.

Books with the simple title ‘Nausea’ or ‘no exit’ [a play]- describing the fate of man.

As I watch/read the current trends- it is tempting to see our future in this way.

I mean society is struggling for meaning- Arab nations are going thru tremendous times of questioning- and some observers are grasping at the solutions that the 19th century Atheists already espoused- and failed.

Men like Sam Harris [the End of Faith] blame all society’s ills on religion itself- pointing to Islamic terrorism- and making statements like ‘almost all wars are religion based’.

I mean his argument sounds good- he’s just wrong.

Out of all recorded major wars- around 1700- under 10 % are considered religious in nature.

But who really has time for facts like this?

So- over the next few weeks- as I watch the scene- maybe catch the Ferrell flick- I will keep in mind another famous line of Ferrell’s.

He was talking to Christina Applegate- in his classic film ‘Anchorman- the Legend of Ron Burgundy’.

And there sitting at some lookout- viewing the city of L.A.

And Ferrell waxes eloquent about the city- he says ‘L.A. - the city named after..’

Well- it’s kinda crass- he basically says it was named after the female part of a whale.

Christina looks at him- puzzled- and says ‘I think its name means City of Angels’.

Ferrell disagrees- he tells her ‘well- we will just have to agree to disagree’.

She says ‘no- I’m pretty sure I’m right’.

I’m glad the country is having a debate about what’s right and wrong- the Trayvon Martin case- the ethical responsibility that society has to the poor [Health care arguments].

Our role as a lead nation ‘among nations’- how to side with the protestors- in a responsible way that doesn’t leave the nations in a mess when where done.

All of these debates are ethical in nature- the questions we are asking is ‘is this right or wrong’.

And contrary to some modern thinkers- there is a right and a wrong on these issues- yes- sometimes we compromise- sometimes we ‘agree to disagree’ and sometimes it takes one side to tell the other ‘no- I think you are wrong on this’.

Do it in love- do it with boldness- ‘speaking truth to power’ but when you see the need- then do it.

Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John


I have been reading the San Antonio paper the last few weeks- and they have been running some ad for dental implants [fake teeth].

They have the ‘before/after’ pictures- whenever I see the ad- I think ‘before what? A complete head transplant’!

Yes- the before shots remind me much of my homeless buddies- the after shots look like glamour pictures for the ‘most beautiful person in the world’ contest.

This last week I have reached a sort of milestone- a few years ago I began praying [more than usual] for all types of criminal cases that I read about- or see- on the news.

I actually painted their names all over my gazebo- the back fence- and yes- right on the back and sides of the house [along with lots of bible verses].

I have hundreds of pictures/articles cut from the paper- their pinned to my office walls.

You say ‘John- I know you mean well- but do you think this is normal’.

Actually no- neither does my wife.

I have been threatened ‘if you keep doing this- I will paint the whole house’.

My paints [and brushes] have been hidden [by others!]- and when Christmas comes around- I tell the kids ‘hey- just get me another 5 gallon bucket of paint- I’m running low’ [yes- this part is a joke].

Some of the more severe cases- the ones that stick in my mind- I paint their names- the others I just pin up the article.

Sometimes I see the cases more than once- at the time of the crime- and then when they get sentenced.

This week Jacob Gonzales was sentenced to life without parole.

He plead guilty to a triple homicide he committed last year- shot 3 girls in cold blood.

The worst homicide the city has ever seen.

So I had written the name of Jacob down- and saved the article.

As I looked for a spot to paint the name- I realized that I already wrote the name Jacob- in big letters- on a ladder on my gazebo [long story- bible verse about Jacobs Ladder].

So it kinda just fit.

I knew his case was significant- I do ‘forever’ pray for these guys [and women] and being it was a local case- and he will be in jail for life- he would benefit more from the prayers.

During my normal reading for the week- I was reading Jeremiah chapter 31.

I usually focus on one or 2 chapters a week- and if I remember I comment on them at the end of the week.

As I read chapter 31- it starts with a verse that should be added to the previous chapter.

Sometimes you run into a chapter like that- our bible chapters and verses are really ‘man made’ that is the chapters themselves are not inspired- just the content [chapter divisions].

So I thought ‘heck- let me go ahead and see if the Lord has something for me in chapter 30’.

Now- this is the week where I added Jacob to my prayer group- again.

And I felt there was some special significance to his case.

In Jeremiah chapter 30 the Lord says ‘this is the time of Jacobs’s trouble- and I will save him out of it’.

It would take too long to teach the actual doctrine of Jacobs Trouble- but it is a long- and sometimes controversial teaching that we find all through the bible.

I say controversial because many [most?] Protestants have an ‘end time’ teaching about this [called Dispensationalism] that I don’t agree with.

I hold more to the historic churches’ view on these passages [Catholic, Orthodox, etc.]

But Jacob- in the bible- is the son of Isaac- the son of Abraham.

God changes his name to Israel [he is the father of the 12 tribes of Israel].

And the name obviously holds a lot of significance in the bible.

The ‘trouble’ part refers to the passages we find in the bible that speak about a very troubling time for Israel as a nation- in many of the End Time books/movies- it’s called ‘The Great Tribulation’.

But the significance for me- this week- was God kinda spoke to me thru the connection of this kid Jacob- who I prayed for all week.

Yes- Jacobs’ time of trouble.

In chapter 31 [Jeremiah] God tells Israel ‘there is coming a time when I will make a new covenant with you- not like the one I made with you during the time of Moses’.

This fits in with what I taught last week- how the apostle Paul said we are not under the old law [Moses and the 10 commandments] but under a new covenant- the new and everlasting covenant of the Blood of Jesus.

In the chapter it says God will write his law on our minds and hearts- it won’t just be an outward law- written on tables of stone- but one written on the inside.

Yes- he says ‘all things will be new- I will never remember your sins any more’.

You know- I guess complete head [heart] transplants can happen- but it takes a miracle from God.

Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John

1812- John 3- Ephesians 2 [and the chicken!]

I want to cover the 2 bible chapters that I mentioned the other day- John chapter 3 and Ephesians chapter 2.

But first- some business.

I wrote a post the other day about ‘confiscating’ the little plastic bags at my local grocery store [HEB].

And some of you might be thinking ‘see- crime does pay’.

For your information- the bags were probably worth about 25 cents.

The other day I went to take out the chicken thighs for dinner- I couldn’t find them!

Then I thought ‘gee- my truck has been smelling like dead bodies lately’.

Yes- the chicken was left under the back seat for 2 days- cost- about 6 dollars.

Lesson? Don’t steal the bags anymore- cost? Priceless.

Okay- John chapter 3 is the famous chapter where Jesus tells Nicodemus ‘a man cannot see the kingdom of God unless he is born again’ [or born from above].

We also have the famous John 3:16 verse ‘for God so loved the world…’

If you read the chapter- both Jesus- and John the Baptist speak about those who believe- they are not condemned- and those who do not believe are judged.

Yet Jesus says he came into the world- not to condemn it- but to save it.

In Ephesians chapter 2 the apostle Paul says we are ‘saved by grace- not of works- lest any man should boast’.

Both chapters emphasize the role faith plays in salvation.

Okay- where did I come up with these chapters for the reading of the week?

They were both quoted from during the mass on Sunday [as a Protestant- I always try and watch the mass on Sunday- as well as doing our own home church meeting].

‘John- do Catholics believe in being born again’?

Yes- very much so.

Being born again is actually a vital doctrine within Catholicism.

For a brief review of Catholic/Protestant teaching- on my blog- on the front page to the left- you will see a bunch of studies that I have highlighted- click the ‘Protestant Reformation- Luther’ and you will get a more in depth discussion on some of the differences- and points of agreement.

But for this brief post- Catholics [and Orthodox] believe the new birth takes place at baptism- for the most part Protestants/Evangelicals believe it takes place at the point of faith [added to a long list of ‘altar calls’ or ‘5 steps of conversion’ etc.- in short- Protestants have their own sacramental system- they just don’t know it!]

I say- mostly- because there are many various groups within the Protestant movement that also would agree that water baptism is the point of being saved [church of Christ- various Pentecostal groups- etc.].

Now- I hold more to the historic Reformation view [faith] but I do not see a ‘grave’ departure from scripture with those who put more of the emphasis on baptism.

There are verses in John 3- Jesus says ‘a man must be born of water and the spirit’.

Plus- the last half of the chapter starts with a discussion over ‘purifying’.

There was a debate- going on at the time- between Jesus and John’s followers- about baptism- the chapter says the debate was about ‘purifying’.

Overall- it’s not unreasonable- in my mind- to hold to the more traditional emphasis on the importance of the role of baptism.

Yet- Christians fight- vehemently- over this.

In this part of the country it’s common for a Baptist- Assembly of God- or Church of Christ believer to view the ‘other team’ as a cult over this- this to me is very sad.

The main point?

Regardless of how much of a role water baptism plays in your particular denomination- the main point is we are saved by faith- thru the death and resurrection of Christ.

In the Ephesians chapter- Paul actually hits on some pretty deep themes- that the death of Christ removed the ‘wall of separation’ between Jew and Gentile- and we both are made into ‘one new man’.

This shows us the role that the Cross should play in society- it should bring various groups and cultures together- not divide them.

It would take a little too much time for me to go into what the ‘wall of separation’ was in Paul’s day.

But he wasn’t speaking about our sins separating us from God [though this of course is true].

But he was speaking about the role the law [10 commandments] played at the time.

Paul- a zealous teacher of the Jewish law [Pharisee] held the law in high esteem- and often it became a barrier between the Jew and Gentile.

Some of the more fame seeking Pharisees [the ones we see Jesus interacting with in the gospels] used the fact that they were the nation that received the law under Moses- as an ‘I’m better than you’ mentality.

Paul says ‘the law of commandments that was against us- Jesus nailed them to his Cross’ [Colossians].

He also says in his letter to the Galatians ‘if righteousness comes by the law- then Christ died in vain’ strong words indeed!

The point he is making is we- believers- are no longer under the condemnation of the law- no longer under the continual threat of God striking us down at any moment because of our sin.

We have been saved by grace and those who ‘walk in the Spirit’ are no longer under condemnation [Romans 8].

So- Jesus nailed the law to the Cross- and the barrier that separated Jew from gentile- as well as sinful man from a Holy God- has been ‘taken away’ by Christ.

I must note that the apostle Paul himself- who is famous for this teaching- always added the caveat ‘do we now sin because we are not under the law? God forbid!’

He was accused- by the strict sect of the Pharisees [known as Judaizers] of teaching a ‘lawless gospel’.

No- he- as well as most Christian denominations today- teach that the 10 commandments are still very important- and as believers in Christ we will naturally- by our new birth- fulfill the law.

But it is no longer this sword of Damocles hanging over our head.

Okay- for those who haven’t had time to read the chapters yet- try and read them over the weekend- they are short chapters- think about what I said in this post- look for the emphasis on faith- the role that faith plays in our salvation.

I’ll be back in a few days- but I need to go now- need to get another pack of chicken thighs before the store gets crowded.

Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John


The top story of the day- the big- no- huge- breaking news.

What was it?

You aint gonna believe me.

Yes- the Etch a Sketch controversy!

 During the day yesterday some campaign aid for Romney said when they get to the general election- they will move to the center and do like the Etch a Sketch- shake the game and clear the slate.

Okay- was this the smartest thing to say? No.

Sure- it played into the charge that Romney is a ‘change agent’ [he changes his position to suit the day].

But top news? Please.

What should be top news?

I have covered a bunch of important overlooked stories these last few weeks- there are so many I could write one a day- but let’s hit a couple for now.

The top government leader in Libya has just said- quote ‘the central govt. is incapable of protecting or governing the nation’s vital institutions since the capture and killing of Gadhaffi’.

Yes- we over through that govt. by force- and we left the country in a mess.

Egypt- this week they just acquitted 9 terrorists who belonged to Al Qaeda and were part of the Islamic Jihad movement.

They had charges against them from trying to overthrow the former regime- Mubarak- who we forced to step down.

Yes- the people we enabled to be in charge- they acquitted our so called number one enemy in the world- Al Qaeda.

So why do these important stories- stories that demand headline news coverage- why do they get put on the back burner- and instead we have room for the Etch a Sketch.

It’s because the media do not want to report stories that would have a negative effect on Obama.

John- do you really believe this?


Hillary Clinton believed it to.

During her run against Obama for the nomination- her insider political people knew that the media were purposefully covering for Obama.

It has been reported- credibly- that her people actually contacted Hannity from Fox news- and told him that they were grateful that Fox was the only network willing to cover Obama.

A book just came out by David Corn- a liberal supporter of Obama- works for Mother Jones.

In the book Corn says how Obama has told his supporters that his poll numbers are down because Fox news accuses him of being a Muslim 24/7.

I watch Fox- as well as all the news channels- I have never heard a hard news report that claimed Obama was a Muslim.

Now- the president himself has indeed made so many statements in the past- calling Islam ‘my Muslim faith’.

He has said that he studied the Koran- he has prayed the Muslim prayer at sunset- and it was- quote ‘a beautiful thing’.

He has made statements like this over and over again- nonstop- over the years.

So- you would have thought that during the campaign some media people would have simply asked ‘why did you say this- a lot’.

Not one question- instead the media began a campaign to get people to think ‘geez- why are they always accusing Obama of being Muslim’.

The news reporters would ask the opposing candidates ‘do you think he’s Muslim’.

They would ask ‘should you make so and so apologize because he thinks Obama is Muslim’.

Yet not one story on his own statements associating himself with Islam.

Many of you probably never heard the few I just quoted in this post.

Okay- am I on this anti Muslim rant- trying to associate Obama with Islam?


But the book just came out- and this is a charge he makes- that the other side are ‘24/7’ calling him a Muslim- that’s just not true- and any other candidate who made the statements he has in the past- they would have not gotten ‘a pass’.

I talked about the atheist Nietzsche in the last post.

One of the famous comments he made was- man- like the Superman- should ‘will to power’ he should live for what he deems best- and strive for the top- even if you have no real reason for your own existence. He said man should ‘build his house on Vesuvius’ [an active volcano].

As the year progresses- as the top stories of the day become a stupid Etch a Sketch comment- or how one side is so right- while the other so wrong- we need to read between the lines.

There are many serious- important stories to cover.

Innocent people being killed- leaders oppressing their people.

Children starving around the world in vast numbers.

These are all very serious issues that we need to know about- pray about- and if we can- do something about.

But no- we want the Etch a Sketch- we want the stories that have no real value- no true meaning.

Yes- we are building our house on Vesuvius- and we don’t even know it.

Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John


Yesterday I shopped at the local grocery store- and as my habit is- I started at the vegetable/fruit section.

When I grab the little bags to put the stuff in- I usually grab a few extra- and if I don’t use them I’ll take them home and stick them in the cabinet.

So, as I’m checking out- the lady asks me ‘oh- do you want me to throw these out’. I think she knew I was gonna confiscate them for personal use.

So- as a joke- I say ‘no- that’s fine- I sell them to the homeless guys out front’ [The store is a couple of hundred yards from the homeless mission where I hang out- everyone in the area knows about the ‘homeless guys’].

As I tell her the joke- both she and the bagger- they don’t seem to think it’s funny.

They look pretty mad- to be honest.

I tell them ‘no- I’m kidding- I take them home and use them for the onions and stuff’.

Their look didn’t change one bit- they did not want me to get those damn bags!

Right now in Texas we have an ongoing war with the Obama administration. In all my years as a political observer- I have never seen someone as petty as this current president.

I have written about him denying us federal aid when we applied because of wild fires we had a few years back.

Then the recent accusation that Texas is racist because of the voter I.D. laws.

Plus- the E.P.A. rules that are shutting down parts of our power grid- this coming year Texas is going to face some blackout problems because of this.

So- this week the president cut the federal funds for the WHP program.

This program gives care to poor women.

There are over 2400 hundred providers in Texas that will lose the majority of their funding because of this.

Why would the president do this?

Texas- like a few other states- passed a law that prevents tax payer money going to clinics that provide abortions.

The federal money supplies about 90 % of the funding- the federal govt. said if you deny any funding for the Planned Parenthood clinics- then we will cut all the funding to all of the 2400 clinics.

Now- did they have to do this?


How many Planned Parenthood clinics are in this group of over 2400 providers?

If you simply listen to the media- you would think that just about all of them are- or maybe half.

Out of the over 2400 providers- Planned Parenthood makes up 44.

Yeah- 44.

The president cut off funding for 2400 clinics- that do breast screenings and mammograms.

That actually treat cancer and other diseases.

He cut them all off- because Planned Parenthood would not be in the group any more.

Planned Parenthood does not treat for breast cancer- does not offer pre natal care- and does not even have mammogram machines.

Many of the 2400 clinics that the president cut off do all of these services.

So why would you cut off over 90 % of the clinics that actually do these real- needed services?

Because of the political ideology of being pro abortion.

Obama has positioned himself as being on the side of abortion and his supports want that.

So- to appease his base- he cut off 2400 poor women’s clinics in Texas- this was a choice he made- not Perry.

A poll was done the other day- they asked women ‘would you like free birth control- or have to pay for it yourself’?

Now- if you ask just about anybody ‘would you like free dental- or health insurance- or beer’ what do you think the majority of people would say?

So after they did the poll- they said ‘see- most people support the position the president takes on abortion and birth control’.

See how the media shapes the conversation? You can ask a question in a way that gets a certain answer- and Walla- they achieved the goal.

Society has a decision to make- can we as a people live without any ethical requirements.

Should ethics- making a distinction between right and wrong- should this be part of the conversation?

In our Philosophy study- as scattered as it has been- we ended right around the 18-19th centuries.

We were coming up to the Existentialists.

Existentialism is a difficult philosophy to pin down [as most are].

But the easiest short definition I have found is it’s the philosophy of Existence.

That is real life- It’s not just a matter of intellectual data- it’s what we learn and experience as passionate people- people who have real problems and issues- yet they strive for meaning.

The father of Existentialism was the 19th century thinker- Soren Kierkegaard.

Kierkegaard was a Christian- he challenged the dead church of Denmark- the state church- and he called for a more adventurous approach to the faith.

Some notable followers of this philosophy took a different approach- they were the atheistic existentialists.

One of the most famous being Frederick Nietzsche.

Nietzsche taught that men should abandon all hope of a future afterlife- that the whole field of ethics was futile ‘do what you need to do to excel- step on the other people on the way up the ladder- and that’s what life is all about’.

He called this the Superman- man coming into this new age of science and reason- and rejecting the old forms of religion and ethics- which keep man down.

Nietzsche spent the last years of his life in an insane asylum.

His sister sold tickets to the ‘audience’ who wanted to see the madman.

She exercised her ‘superwoman’ and did what would benefit her- financially- without any worry about whether it was right or wrong.

The last couple of years of his life- Nietzsche signed his letters ‘the crucified one’.

In his rejection of God- he lost his mind and took the identity of Jesus Christ- the ethical one.

As we grapple with what’s right and wrong- as states pass laws that say 'we don’t want our tax payer money supporting abortions’.

Then we are going to have to deal with the backlash- those who at the time have the power [money] to cut the states off who see ethics as a priority.

Yes- the Superman [Feds] can deny that ethics play a role in women’s health- they can say ‘no money for any of your 2400 clinics’ just because you won’t fund 44 Planned Parenthood clinics.

People can get mad- and even take polls that say ‘we want free things’ [don’t we all? My grocery bags!]

At the end of the day- right and wrong do make a difference.

Trying to live a life- a worldview [philosophy] in a passionate way- that’s a good thing- we are all real people who deal with real issues.

But when you leave God/ethics out of the picture- then you are on a crash course- you might wake up one day- having lost your mind- and signing you letters as The Crucified One.

Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John


As we end the week it’s been 22 days since Obama has held possession of the 1 million dollars that Bill Maher gave him.

I’m not sure how much longer he will keep it- all the clips of Maher calling women bad stuff- well they have been going viral on the net.

I even heard Ed Rendell- a big Democrat insider- say that he has Democrat women telling him that Obama needs to give the money back.

Maher just did a sold out show here in Texas [San Antonio] - he talked about giving up the ‘cu-t’ line about Palin [he also speaks of her as a ‘twat’ and makes fun of her Down syndrome child].

He said he gave up the ‘cu-t’ line [left the n out] even though it was the funniest line in his routine- that everyone loved it.

If that’s the funniest line on your show- then you have one dull show.

Sinbad [the Black comedian] is funny- you laugh when he does stand up- and you never hear any stuff like this out of him- if you need to degrade women and Down syndrome children to get laughs- then you have a problem.

The sad thing is- Obama and his guys are still 100% behind Maher- defending him on TV [Axelrod].

I heard Axelrod give a defense of Maher just the other day- while at the same time accusing the Repubs of waging a ‘war on women’.

Too much- that’s funnier than all the Maher skits combined.

Okay- let’s ‘keep em honest’ [as Cooper says].

As the debate heats up- Obama has been denying- vehemently- that he wants higher gas prices.

He told one reporter at a news presser- ‘do you really think that a president- in an election year- wants gas to go up’?

Actually- I don’t.

Then why ask this?

One of the political positions that some have taken over the years [Gore] believe that in order to wean the nation off of fossil fuels- that you have to get the gas prices high enough that it would then make the alternative clean fuels more economically feasible.

At the same time- this view believes that the Govt. should invest in clean fuel companies [thus Solyndra] and help them get off the ground.

Okay- has Obama and his Energy secretary ever espoused views like this?

Yes- many times- in public- on camera- on utube- even in the last couple of years.

Okay- do we have the right to be suspicious?

Obama- and Chu [energy secretary] have both said there goal was to get fuel prices higher- Chu said 8 dollars would be about right [a gallon].

This administration has touted clean fuel companies and has even been caught [emails] telling one company that was about to go under [Solyndra] ‘wait until after the midterm elections before you go bust’.

They have held this anti fossil fuel position for a long time.

Then why is it so unreasonable to simply ask ‘do you still hold to your past position- one you are on record as having- that you want gas prices to go up’.

Yet- the MSNBC crowd- and the other supporters of Obama in the media- they cant believe that anyone would ever believe that Obama and Chu would want gas to go higher.

Chu was confronted this week at a congressional hearing- the congressman asked him if he still held to the words he spoke a few years ago when he said he wanted gas to go up in price.

Chu said- ‘no- I don’t hold to that view anymore’.

Geez- this was your life long mission- something you advocated for- for many years- you’re were on that side- the Gore idea- and now you say ‘I don’t hold the view’.

Who do we believe man?

As MSNBC continues their ‘war on women’ accusation- we now have clips of Sharpton making the rounds [UTUBE] where he calls the Greek Philosophers [the ones I have been teaching on this least year] ‘a bunch of Homo’s’.

How wonderful- Sharpton- a guy- flim flam man- who holds a regular show on msnbc- he degrades Jews- calls Greeks ‘Homo’s’ speaks of Whites in terrible ways- yet he is lauded as some great civil rights guy- and he is a major supporter of Obama.


This week- the justice dept just overturned a Texas voter I.D. law.

Some states have been passing laws that say you need picture I.D. to vote.

Holder [attorney general- who has said that the civil rights laws are only meant to protect Blacks- not Whites- he did say this by the way].

He overturned Texas’ law because he said it was racist- because more minorities don’t have I.D.’s.

A few years ago- there was a video making the rounds- a Democrat woman [I think Ca.?] she was onstage talking to an Hispanic audience- she said ‘go tell your friends and neighbors to vote- even if they don’t have documentation- because they are not allowed to check at the polls’.

So some states have passed laws- trying to make sure that only citizens are voting.

In 2008- Georgia’s first vote after they passed voter I.D. laws- they had MORE Blacks show up to vote.

In 2008- the Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s voter I.D. law- Justice John Paul Stevens- a liberal- wrote the majority decision.

He simply said that states have a real interest- not racist- to make sure only eligible voters are voting.

He said there was absolutely no evidence to suggest that requiring people to have picture I.D.’s to vote is racist.

Yet Holder says that states that are trying to pass voter I.D. laws are trying to ‘undo’ the civil rights gains that men like John Lewis fought for in the 60’s.

This guy is unbelievable.

So we have an administration- whose public defenders- who’s attorney general- whose energy secretary- and all the other people around him- hold to paranoid views on race and energy and all types of things.

They call women the nastiest manes in the book- they speak about Jews and Whites as groups that conspired against Blacks and who need to be ‘eliminated as a social class’ [Bell].

Yet- at the same time they are also running a media campaign that says 'look at all the Repubs- they are anti woman- they are racist- they call women sluts’.

And then when 2 polls come out [this week- Washington Post and N.Y. Times] they cant believe that Obama’s approval actually fell- even among women.

Yes- after the Super Tuesday results- when Santorum won a large amount of women voters- you had the pundits on MSNBC shocked- even mad ‘I guess these southern women are too stupid- that they would vote for a guy who wants to take away their birth control’.

Now- Southern women- Northern Women- women from all regions and colors- they have daughters and sons who need jobs- who have a very bleak future ahead of them- if the economy does not start really producing jobs.

These women are paying 75 dollars to fill up their cars/vehicles.

These women- they have real concerns about real issues.

And for the media to have really thought that their contrived War on Woman campaign- to have thought that women would go out in huge numbers to vote for their ‘right to have birth control- paid for by everyone else’ for them to have thought this was demeaning- condescending.

Yes- women are concerned about health care issues- and the CBO said this week that Obama care will cost twice as much than what he said [1.7 trillion instead of 900 billion].

And that private employers would drop around 20 million people from their rolls [not 1 million as Obama said].

Yes- these health care issues matter to women- it matters to women that your major supporters degrade women on a regular basis- accuse Jews and Whites of conspiracies.

These things matter too.

But no- the media can’t understand how Obama’s approval actually went down among women- not up.

I guess they don’t realize that Jews and Whites and Hispanics and all other races- well they are women too.

And even though Eric Holder does not believe that these ‘other races’ are covered under the civil rights laws- and that states that simply want citizens to vote- whether they be Mexican or White or Black- they want to make sure only eligible voters vote.

Well Holder says that those states are trying to turn back the civil rights gains made over the past 60 years.

It’s no wonder why the numbers are going down- women see these things- women of all races- and its condescending to have thought that women were going to abandon the other side in huge numbers and support Obama- all because a Georgetown university student- who pays 40 thousand a year tuition- can’t afford 9 dollars a month at wal mart for birth control.

It’s a surprise for me to think that any woman- Black- White- North- South- would have swallowed a line like that.

Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John

1806- THE 2% LIE

I want to talk a little bit about how we perceive things- the way the media and politicians use propaganda to sway the way people think.

This weekend I spoke with my liberal friend from N.J. - by the way- when I use examples from our talks- these are real discussions that I have had with this friend for the last 30 years.

This is not a ‘made up person’.

Okay- one of the first things they said was ‘can you believe these Repub candidates- all they want to talk about is birth control’.

Now- I told my friend that this was a perfect example of how the propaganda machine works.

If you remember back to the first time birth control came up during this election- it was a question by George Stephanopoulos.

He asked Romney if states have the right to ban Birth control.

Everyone on the stage- and in the audience were shocked- surprised. Why in the heck would you ask a question like this- no one on the trail is talking about it [until then] and it simply was not part of the ‘conversation’.

A few days later- Stephen Colbert had Stephanopoulos on his show [Colbert Report] and he asked him ‘why would you ask a question like that’?

He responded ‘I had a bet with Dianne Sawyer that I could get Romney to admit that birth control was a good thing’.

He lied.

What really happened was the Dem strategists had a plan- they knew that it would be difficult for the President to run on the economy [even though now the numbers are looking better- to his credit].

So they had a strategy to turn the conversation into one on birth control and ‘the war on women’.

The president was just about to announce his new rule on birth control- that the Catholic church would no longer be able to not provide it thru their plans- and this whole conversation was orchestrated to get the average person to wake up one day and say ‘geez- look at all these stupid stone age Republicans- all they want to talk about is birth control’.

And Walla- my friend swallowed the bait- hook line and sinker.

Now- do both sides do this?

Sure- I’m just showing you how.

Now- the present problem [in my mind] is that Obama has been unable to distinguish between speaking honestly as a president- and speaking ‘politically’ as a campaigner.

What do I mean?

The last 2 weeks the president has been going around making public speeches and saying ‘when these Repubs say “drill baby drill” they are lying to you about the problem- even if we drill- we use 20% of the world’s oil- and only have 2% of the oil reserves here in the U.S.’.

Now- he has said this more than once- and sometimes he qualifies the statement by saying ‘proven oil reserves’.

But as you hear the words- you- the average Joe [Mary] think ‘geez- if we only posses 2 % of the world’s oil- and we use 20%- then just doing more drilling is not the answer’.

Okay- do we only have 2% of the world’s Oil here in the U.S.?

No- if you opened up ALL the oil rich regions- both offshore and on land- we would have 100% of our oil needs met- for 250 years.

Yes- you heard me- we would have so much oil- that we would not have to import any- nada.

So John- how can Obama say we only have 2%?

Well- put aside the ability to lie for a moment- and realize [like the birth control] that the political insiders for Obama realized that the gas/oil issue does have the potential to derail the presidents bid to get re-elected.

So they devised a strategy to respond to the Repubs argument that gas is going up- and blame Obama.

Now- here’s the tricky part.

When Obama uses language like this- he is using a little known definition of ‘proven oil reserves’ that the OMB [office of management and budget] uses.

This definition of proven oil reserves actually means- all the oil reserves that we are currently tapping into- and the ones that the govt. /pres has already approved down the road.

In essence- Obama is saying ‘out of all the oil reserves THAT I AM GOING TO APPROVE- we can only get 2%’.

And when the ‘drill baby drill’ folk say ‘let’s drill’ they are talking about all the reserves that we are not drilling from.

So- in essence- Obama simply lied.

Now- did he lie- like under the legal definition of Bill Clinton ‘were you ever alone with Lewinsky’?

Answer ‘No’.

  Reason ‘there were other people in the building at the time’.

Okay- he was alone with her in the Oval Office- but in his mind- if there were other people in the building- or lets say in D.C.- or lets say ‘in the world’ well yes- you can technically say that none of us ‘are ever alone’.

But to the average mind- well- you were ‘alone’.

So- when you hear the president- saying over and over again [he has now stopped- I think- he got caught] ‘we only have 2% of the world’s oil reserves’ well- he’s using Clinton language.


When you campaign- and do stuff like this- okay- they all do it- it’s not right- or good- but they do it.

When you are actually holding the office- and people hear you say this- you are purposefully deceiving folk- you know they think something other than what you are saying.

I mean who thinks ‘Ah- he’s using the OMB definition for oil reserves- not true human speak’.

Who remembers where we left off on our Philosophy posts?

We were in the 18th century and were discussing Empiricism- the idea that we obtain true knowledge about things thru the things themselves- the empirical evidence.

One of the famous philosophers that falls into this category was a Bishop named Berkeley.

Even though he is called an Empiricist- he kind of had some ideas that were also Idealist- those that saw ideas and the Metaphysical world as the main source of knowledge.

You might not have ever heard of Berkeley- but most of you are familiar with his famous statement ‘If a tree falls in the forest- and no one’s there- does it still make a sound’.

Or the modern version ‘if a man speaks in a room- and no woman is there- is he still wrong’.

Berkeley grappled with the debate of what role does the observer play in the actual existence of things.

Does reality depend upon an observer- if something is not being perceived- does it really exist?

His conclusion was- things do depend upon an observer to exist [I don’t hold to this view by the way] and that God is the ultimate observer- he is observing all things at all times- therefore all things really do exist.

As you can see- Philosophy does get fuzzy at times.

When people use language- ‘2% of the world’s oil reserves’ they expect you to be using language that most humans agree upon.

When you say ‘I did not have sex with that woman- Miss Lewinsky’.

They don’t realize that your definition of sex does not include oral sex- or any other sex- outside of standard missionary position intercourse.

So as we progress over the next few months- yes- both sides are going to be using propaganda- the media- to make their point.

And some things are true- others are not.

Reality/truth is not something that changes- or depends upon an observer- if the tree falls- yeah it makes a noise- whether you are there or not.

When you say ‘2%’ of the world’s oil- yes- it makes a difference that you are using a definition that MOST HUMANS ARE NOT OPERATING BY- and whether an ‘observer’ catches you or not- it’s still wrong.

Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John


So a few days have gone by- and the number one media story- the story that topped the deaths in Syria- the U.N. report that says we and NATO backed a group that committed ‘war crimes’- yes- the top story- that Rush Limbaugh referred to Sandra Fluke as ‘a slut’ and that he finally apologized- yes this was the headline of the week.

What U.N. story John?

Glad you asked.

If you remember during our ‘kinetic action’ in Libya- I wrote a bunch of critical posts about our involvement.

I kept saying that we were using the wording of the U.N. resolution- that said we had the authority to go in and use DEFENSIVE means to protect civilians- well that wording became twisted [by us] to mean we can chase down Gadhaffi and his family [and his friends] and simply kill them.

When some observers began questioning this act- we said we were using ‘defensive’ means to knock out the ‘command and control’ of Gadhaffi- and that’s how we justified it.

Now- this whole thing was a farce- there never was any ‘command and control’ in the buildings we bombed- we simply thought Gadhaffi might have been there.

So we bombed his sons house in a private neighborhood- killed his grandkids- but missed him.

Okay- the U.N. did a yearlong study to see if we did indeed violate human rights by lying like this.

The report came out- and it said we tried to reduce the civilian causalities- but did kill around 60 innocent people under the guise of ‘taking out command and control’.

They found that there was no evidence at all that these buildings we targeted were command and control centers.

War crimes?

Yes- the report also states that the rebel group we backed did commit war crimes- now- the report says Gadhaffi’s side committed ‘crimes against humanity’ [far worse] but that our side did commit war crimes- and till this day the new ‘govt.’ will not investigate the possible crimes committed when they killed innocent people.

So- this story was a small article in the back of the paper- it should have been headline news- not ‘the slut’ comment.

Okay- in the last post I commented on Jeremiah chapter 33.

This was the promise God made to Israel that he would fulfill his promise and they would be restored into a strong nation.

I referenced the earlier story we find in Genesis [chapters 12-15] where God makes this promise to Abraham.

If you read these 2 chapters- plus 17 and 22- you will get the main promise.

God called Abraham to leave his homeland and go on a journey. In this new land God would bless Abraham and he would have tons of kids and grandkids and eventually become a nation [the nation of Israel].

So over a period of time- thru many dangers and trials- he finally has a son- named Isaac- and this son is the promised child thru whom all the others will come from.

In chapter 22 of Genesis- when Abraham was an old man- Gods tests him and says ‘Abraham- go and take Isaac- your only beloved son- and offer him up to me on Mount Moriah’.

Abraham went thru many years of doubt and struggle before he finally received the promised son [read chapters 17-18 of Genesis].

And when Sarah finally had the child- it was a miracle.

So when God says ‘offer this boy up’- to Abraham it was putting at risk the whole purpose of his life- the very reason he left his friends and family and moved to a strange land.

But the bible says he took the child- and when they got near the range of mountains where mount Moriah was- he told the servants ‘you guys wait here- me and the boy will go to worship- and we will BOTH BE BACK’.

This phrase is picked up in Hebrews chapter 11- the writer says Abraham simply believed that God would raise the boy from the dead- that’s how he justified in his mind the order to offer his son- and this same son being the child thru whom the others would come.

So as Abraham approaches the mountain- he takes the wood for the offering- the ‘fire’- and no animal.

He puts the wood on Isaac’s back- to carry up the hill.

Isaac asks his dad ‘dad- we have the wood and all- but where is the animal for the offering’

Abraham simply tells his boy ‘God will provide himself a lamb for the offering’.

As they get to the top of the hill- Abraham ties Isaac with the rope- and puts him on the altar and takes out a knife to slay him.  At that moment- an angel calls out to him and says ‘STOP!’

The whole thing was a test- to see if Abraham would do what God said- even if it seemed contrary to Gods promise and purpose for his life.

It should be noted that the Rabbi’s tell us that Isaac was not a young boy at the time- he was probably an older teen- strong enough to carry the wood up the hill.

This signifies that Isaac could have probably put up a fight- and won!

But he heard all the stories about God’s miracles- his dad recounted all the great signs and things that God did in their lives- and when Abraham got to the point of offering up his son- maybe Isaac simply accepted that God was in control and he would do whatever needed to be done.

Over a thousand years later- Jesus would walk the dusty streets of Jerusalem- he too was a promised son.

He preached and healed and was a true miracle worker.

He often used ‘Father Abraham’ as an example to prove his teachings- one time he said ‘before Abraham was- I AM’.

This incensed the hearers and they took up stones to kill him- the words I AM- are the words that refer to God [during Moses time he told Moses he was the I AM].

So the day comes for Jesus to ‘take the wood’ of the sacrifice- and go up the hill- called Calvary.

History tells us that Calvary is in the same range of mountains that Moriah sits on.

Jesus- the ‘second Isaac’ took the wood of the Cross- just like Isaac- and carried it to the top.

In the story of Abraham- when the angel said STOP- they looked around and found a ram in the brush- they used the ram as a sacrifice.

But this day- the day of Jesus- no ram was to be found- he looked up to his God- and he said ‘why do you forsake ME LIKE THIS’.

Yes- Jesus was the lamb that Abraham prophesied of- he was the ultimate sacrifice.

Sometimes we go thru things that seem contrary to the true purpose- things that we see as course changers.

When Jesus died- all of his followers thought the goal was gone- they thought he was going to lead a present day rebellion against Rome and become the new Messiah ruling out of Jerusalem.

When he died on the Cross- they could not harmonize what they thought was the whole purpose- and this gruesome death.

Yet 3 days after they saw the true purpose- the ultimate reality.

Are you at Mount Moriah?

 The place that seems like all is lost.

Trust God- after 3 days everything will look totally different.

Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John


Caught an interesting show the other night- a Harvard economist [liberal] gave a lecture on economics.

Now- when I say ‘liberal’ I do not use the term in a derogatory way- no- he was the type of economist that would fit into the category of a Paul Krugman.

Krugman writes for the N.Y. Times and often [always?] gives you the Keynesian view.

So anyway this Harvard prof. made some good points.

But he blundered somewhat in his defense of Socialism/communism.

He talked about Karl Marx [the ‘founder’ of the system] and said that what happened in the Silicon Valley boom [the businesses] was a type of Marxism.

The internet boom companies had a different view of the business structure- instead of the ‘bosses’ being over the working class stiff- you would have the actual employees run the show.

Yeah- when you watch the documentaries on Facebook [and other Companies like it] you do see an environment where all these young ‘hipsters’ are calling the shots- and they do have a sense of freedom that you don’t see in the standard business model.

But the Harvard Prof. went a step too far when he compared this to Marx.

Marx was raised in Germany- he was a Jew.

His father had to re-locate his business and join the Lutheran church in order to fit in with the people he needed to do business with.

Marx would eventually go to ‘university’ in England- and he developed his ideas in an environment where the industrial revolution took off.

He witnessed the plight of the working class man [proletariat] and how he became a victim of the factory system.

In England you did see many hopeless workers fall prey to a lifestyle that had you going to work at the factory all day- often in a dark and dingy environment.

You would come home to a gloomy existence and often drink yourself to sleep.

Marx saw the working class as victims of the Ownership class [the original 99 versus the 1%].

Marx saw that those who ran the system- and ‘owned the tools’ had the true influence in society- and according to Marx- they used two primary means of controlling the masses.

Law and Religion.

So Marx advocated for a violent overthrow of the system- thru Revolutionary means- in order to free the working class slave from the power of the few.

Now- where the Harvard Prof missed it is he compared Marx’s idea to the Dotcom business model.

Facebook and other internet businesses- they tried to empower the worker by making him part owner.

When Facebook went public this last month [Initial public offering] it was said to have made many millionaires overnight.


Because those who got in at the start [even the kid who painted the Graffiti on the walls of the building] were offered the option of cash or stock.

Those who took the stock became rich when the company went public [it actually will go into effect if a couple of more months].

So- this model empowers the working class person by making him part owner.

Okay- Marx wanted to ‘level the field’ by putting the State in charge.

He felt like if you took the power away from the private owner [capitalism] then you could even out the scales by making the state decide how much pay was fair- and the state would literally own ‘the tools’ of the system.
 Most of us know by now that his system failed pretty badly [Soviet Union].

Though he meant well- trying to defend the hopeless worker- yet he created a Monster State- and the state would become the new oppressor of the people- and take away the incentive that the private ownership model gave.

So all in all- the Harvard prof had some truth to what he said- but he went a step too far.

In today’s political climate- we all have a tendency to hear one side- and if we lineup with that side- we very rarely question those who advocate the way we believe.

It’s important to hear both sides- to give credit to the ideas that are good- and then reject the ideas that are bad.

Marx had some very legitimate concerns- the founder of the Salvation Army- William Booth- began his ministry to the same class of people that Marx saw.

Marx rejected religion because he believed the ownership class used it to keep the masses under.

Any truth to this?


Many of the Black slaves were encouraged to attend church and keep singing their Black spiritual songs.


Many of the themes of these great songs did indeed encourage the suffering servant to just hold on until he/she gets to the Promised Land.

As a matter of fact- many of the themes taught that if you rebelled against the slave owner then you would forfeit your reward in the hereafter.

Marx experienced the power of religion- and the role it played in his own family in Germany- his father had to join the Lutheran church- even though he was Jewish- just so he could be in contact with the people of influence in his town.

So yes- it’s good to hear both sides- give credit when you can- and also reject what you must.

Yeah- the Harvard Prof seemed to be a good guy- he knew his stuff- just not well enough.

Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John


Well it’s been a sad couple of days- yes- we lost the beautiful angel Whitney Houston.

I never was really a fan of Whitney- I mean she had a great voice and all- I just never bought any of her music.

As I watched the media cover her death- I began to realize how interesting her journey was- even with all the failures.

She was from Newark N.J. - I never knew that [right around the area I grew up].

She started her singing ‘career’ in a church choir.

As I saw all the clips the past few days- I saw her singing some Christian songs [I didn’t know that either].

And the last clip of her being recorded- a few days before her death- she sang a note from the famous kids bible song ‘Yes Jesus loves me’.

I know many in the media- and ‘church world’ have a tendency to judge people when they die- many seem to know ‘for sure’ who made it to heaven- and who did not.

I have learned a long time ago- I’m not the judge on stuff like that.

I saw Bill O'Reilly do his shtick. He tried to do the ‘real guy’ stuff- you know- like when he had on Bernie Goldberg- a Jewish friend- who was trying to outdo Bill on the ‘I am a friend of the Black man’.

Goldberg brought out a photo of him with a Black rapper- Ice Cube.

As Bernie shows the photo- to say ‘look- I even hug Black men’.

He refers to Cube as ‘Ice T’.

Bill- as a true brother- corrects Bernie and tells him ‘it’s not T but Cube’.

Bernie gets mad- you can see the look on his face ‘how dare you correct me’. 

Then someone from off camera must have yelled ‘listen- Bills right- its Cube- not T’.

And Bernie quickly back tracks.

I guess Bernie got the picture from his file ‘pictures of me with Black people’.

So anyway- O'Rielly does the section on Whitney and he kind of goes hard on her.

He talks about her choice to do drugs- and basically says she was looking to die- she made the choice.

I realize what he was saying- but I found it to be the wrong time to say it.

A few years ago I heard a radio preacher talking about the funeral of a gang member that he preached at.

He said the mother and family and all the gang bangers were there- and he ‘told it like it was’.

He went on and said how he preached ‘this kid is in hell right now- screaming his brains out- he has no rest- he’s burning- forever!!’

He said how the mom ran out crying- his family was distraught- I thought he was lucky that he didn’t get gunned down right in the pulpit.

 Yes- we need to have grace in these situations.

So- after seeing all the clips of Whitney- I believe she very well might be with God right now- and sure- I know she messed up lots- but I am certainly not in the position to judge the angel.

Okay- Angels?

The other day I was reading Psalms 147.

I read how God counts the stars and gives them names.

It reminded me of the book of Revelation- where there is this vision of Jesus [chapter 1].

John the disciple sees Jesus- he has  hair like wool- these eyes of fire- and feet like brass- burned in a furnace.

As Jesus is standing there- he is surrounded by 7 golden lamp stands- and he has 7 stars in his hand.

The vision is revealed to John- the lamp stands are the churches [of Asia Minor] and the stars are the ‘angels of the 7 churches’.

Now- as a theology buff- I know many bible folk say these angels are Pastors- because the Greek word simply means messenger.

But as I have read this over the years- I have come to believe these are actually angels.

What does the bible say about angels?

In the book of Hebrews we read that they are ‘ministering spirits- sent forth to minister to those who are inheriting salvation’.

We often hear that angels in the bible look like men- they are not things with wings!

Actually- this is another ‘fable’.

While it is true that many appearances of angels in the bible do look like men- and Hebrews also says that we should entertain [show hospitality] to strangers- because some have helped angels and they didn’t even know it.

Yet- there are also angels ‘with wings’.

We call these creatures Cherubim and Seraphim.

In the book of Exodus we read the story of the 10 commandments [chapter 20].

We read the first commandment as not having other gods before God- and not to make graven images of anything.

Over the centuries the church has had some debates over Christian art- is it right or wrong?

After all- much of it is statues and pictures depicting people and creatures and angels and God.

So during the Protestant Reformation [and the rise of Islam] you had occasions where people went out and destroyed the statues and paintings of other groups.

A few things should be noted here.

The commandment- however you take it- does not say ‘go and smash the statues of other religions’ [a few years ago the famous statues of Buddha were destroyed- I think in India- but radical Muslims did this because they felt the statues violated the commandment on angels]

Also- after Moses gets the 10 commandments from God- he puts them inside a box called ‘The Ark of the Covenant’.

This box has a lid on it [called the Mercy Seat] and on the lid you had 2 statues of Angels [Cherubim].

So- the actual box that held the commandment not to make idols- had religious art on it!

So we need to be careful before we start going around smashing statues [by the way- this smashing of the statues was called Iconoclastic].

So- we see that angels are spirits- created by God- and they are here to help us.

In Revelation 1 we read about a war in heaven- Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon and his angels.

We read that Michael prevails and the devil loses.

It says ‘the accuser of the brothers is cast down- the devil- who accused them before God day and night’.

There are only 2 named angels in the bible [3- if you include the Catholic apocrypha].

They are Michael- Gabriel- and Raphael.

Yes- angels are real- they war on our behalf- and they fight in a specific way- they cast down the dragon [satan] who accuses the believers.

This day I am happy in a way for Whitney- she struggled a long time- she was such a beautiful ‘angel’.

 I would like to think she is with God right now- getting ready for ‘church’ this Sunday- yes- I know she is not ‘an angel’ in the biblical way.

But let’s stretch some- yes- she will be singing in the angelic choir once again.

Let’s not accuse her this day.

Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John

�M@��l �� �u� and telling people ‘if you don’t give- your testing- robbing God’ geez- we better make sure were using that verse in context [Malachi] because in most of these scenarios we are not- and then to falsely charge people with ‘robbing God’ that’s pretty darn bad.

I don’t blame my friends for not realizing that at times- me helping them out- well- it did put me in a bind. And sometimes- they don’t realize that because I don’t have health care benefits- that if you actually added everything up- many of these friends are actually making the same [or more] than me.

I just feel like we all need to do our best to help others- don’t assume that people have money- or that they are in it for the money. Many times people are just doing what they feel they are required to do.

And of course- you’ll always have the friend/relative who wants you to do a dance for them- to justify- for them- why you do what you do- never mind that they are worth a hundred times more than you-  and they are in much better shape to help the relative- no- that’s none of my business. But when they Pipe [make music] they just want you to dance- geez- I never was a good dancer- why start now?


These past few days I have been reading scriptures on the influence of the church in the nations- that is God’s original purpose for the church- to have a people/nation that he could reveal his glory though. This morning I read Zechariah chapter 8- it talks about God restoring Jerusalem and that there will be old men and women dwelling in it- little boys and girls playing in the streets once again.

The impression you get is a sort of ‘block party’ atmosphere- all types of people enjoying life once gain- after a season of captivity. As I read the verse on the old men and women- I thought of Aunt Bee.

Bee was the aunt of one of our original church members. Emmet [Senior- I have also talked about his son on the site- Jr.] became a church member early on. I don’t remember if I met him while preaching at the county jail- or through Elias- another friend who struggled with addiction. Both of them were long time drug addicts.

I would pick up Emmet at his Aunt’s house every week for church- and just visit him every so often. The ‘church’ was a little home group I started from scratch. I fixed up my 2 car garage- and the guys I met from the streets- or at the jail- would become the core group.

Over time Aunt Bee- who raised Emmet- started coming to our meetings- and as an older lady- in her 70’s- she would tell me she was learning the bible for the first time- she really liked it.

I was basically filling the slot that she missed out on- the bible study aspect of Christianity. Bee was a good Catholic lady- and she told me her friends said ‘why do you go to brother Johns’ church- your Catholic’ she would tell them ‘because I learn things’.

I never tried to ‘convert’ Bee- she stayed Catholic- and that was fine with me. Many Protestant bible churches do fill a need that some of the historic churches lack- simple bible study. Yet many of the Protestant ‘bible’ churches lack what the historic churches offer- a historic connection to traditional Christianity.

During the Reformation of the 16th century- the Protestant reformers [who were all initially Catholic] fought with the Roman church over doctrinal issues- and during this fight the reformers stated a few main principles- one of which is called Sola Scriptura- which means ‘the bible alone’.

What they meant by this was on issues where the church could not come to agreement with the dissenters- that at the end of the day- the bible would have the final say.

Now- the common mistake many Protestants fall into- is thinking that this principle means ‘Solo Scriptura’  is a belief that all Christianity is simply a process of reading/organizing your life around the bible. That is the view that the bible is all there is.

This is not the historic Protestant position- the reformers themselves [Calvin. Luther, etc.] referred often to the early writings of the church fathers [Augustine] in trying to prove their points.

I have found it helpful over the years to spend time reading/hearing the voice of the historic church- as well as being up on the bible. The other day I moved a few books from my office into a shelf in the living room- I read an article on how people are selling books ‘by the inch’ just to decorate their homes. What types of books- that didn’t matter- they were just for show [ouch!]

So I figured I’ll move the real McCoy- classics that I have read and re-read over the years.

I was glad to see that I still had the Confessions of Saint Augustine- a classic from the 4th century. Augustine was a Catholic bishop from Hippo- North Africa. He is often associated with the doctrine of Predestination [which he did believe in] and is loved by many Catholics and Protestants alike.

The major reformer who launched the reformation was Martin Luther- a German Augustinian monk- Luther was also a strong believer in the doctrine of predestination- though its common to associate the doctrine with John Calvin, Luther too was a strong believer in it.

One day Aunt Bee shared a story with me- she used to visit her daughter who lived in Alaska- her daughter sort of felt like her cousin Emmet was taking advantage of her mom. I was familiar with the environment- my older sister- who has also been a drug addict for many years- has lived with my mom her whole life.

When addicted people live with their parents [aunts] as they age- they fall into an environment where they manipulate the guardian to get what they want [money- borrow the car, etc..]

So Aunt Bee’s daughter felt like Emmet took advantage of her mom. Aunt Bee told me about an Indian she saw one time while visiting Alaska- he was panning for gold in one of the freezing streams- and was wearing an Indian loin cloth and was in the ice cold water. She said how interesting it was to see how other cultures learn to adapt to their environment.

Bee was an educator- she taught at A&I university [Kingsville- Tx.] for many years [now called A&M] and her students were some of the most famous people in Texas- Senators and congress people. I found it interesting how an influential person like Bee- would wind up learning the bible from some Jersey boy- preaching in a garage [I was around 25 at the time].

Bee was a good person- she died many years ago- as has Emmet. Emmet eventually broke the drug habit and married another church member- Janie. She was s single mom with lots of kids- they made a very nice couple. Emmet died at around the age of 50- his liver went out- too many years of drugs eventually got to him. As a matter of fact- Elias- who I think first introduced me to Emmet- he eventually became a preacher and pastored his own church. He started with me- was the song leader and filled in on the days I had to work- and eventually took a position with a church called Victory Outreach- a ministry to addicts.

One day while working at the fire house- I was riding on the ambulance that day and we got a call. As I got to the house- I realized it was Elias’s house- he had a brain aneurism that day- he went into a coma and died a few days later.

I met Elias around 8 years earlier- preaching to him at the jail. Gave him his first bible- which he would always remind me about- and walked with him for a few years. He was ex-air force. He did at least 4 years before he got out and got hooked on hard drugs- mainline addict.

We had lots of good times together- I see his boys every so many years when I venture into Bishop [a small city around 40 miles from where I live]. I think his wife- Janie- still lives there.

The bible says Gods city [a symbol of the church] has old people having fun in the streets [the aunt Bee types] and little boys and girls playing in the streets [too many names to mention in this one- Elias & Janie alone had around 6 kids- Janie & Emmet too- different Janies!].

God’s church/family is a great one- it consists of the great church fathers [men like Augustine] and it extends to the little kids playing in the streets of some small town in South Texas- it even includes those who society has rejected- those who have failed many times in life- and they know it- more than anyone else.

I read a verse the other day- in Psalms ‘sins prevail against us- yet you will save us from our transgressions’ I thank God that he helps people- people who have things that ‘prevail’ against them- he often uses these people to help others- Gods ways are sometimes very hard to understand- his ways are not ours.


The other day I mentioned how believers have a habit of getting caught up in certain ‘religious’ views [tithing was the example I gave] and over time these views develop to a point where they take precedence over the things Jesus actually placed real value on.

In the 1st century when Jesus showed up on the scene- the religious practices of Gods people were centered around religious meetings [holy days] prayer, fasting and tithing- mainly to be seen of men- that is religion digressed to a point where what seemed to be the most important thing- was actually not important.

So how did Jesus respond? He spends the 3 very public years of ministry- healing the sick, telling the poor they are the blessed ones who will inherit Gods kingdom- and blasting the rich- and those in power- by telling them that their day was coming too.

In essence Jesus was the ultimate prophet- he followed the long line of Jewish prophets who took these same positions. The prophet Isaiah told the people ‘God is tired of all your religious activities- your church meetings- your special ‘sacrificial’ offerings- these things are a stench in his nose!’ then he would go on and say that God wanted justice for the poor and widow.

Amos also rebuked the rich and defended the poor- Ezekiel said the shepherds [religious leaders] were fleecing the sheep- they were leaders who were making a financial killing off of the people.

All of these things- in today’s world of ‘ministry’ are making a comeback- it’s just we don’t see it because they are dressed in a different way. But at the end of the day- for the most part- American style Christianity is usually measured by how much money you give [or take in] how faithful your are to attend religious meetings- and how famous your ministry is- are you a really gifted speaker? Or do you give a great ‘stage’ performance.

And in the mind of the average Christian- if you ask them ‘when was the last time you gave of your goods to your neighbor- reached out to the poor- showed your Christianity thru charity’? Often times they will answer that that is not ‘their ministry’ or that their giving to some Christian organization/church is their role- and it’s up to ‘the church’ to actually help the poor.

But these responses miss the main point- Jesus [and the prophets] were saying that’s the mistake- thinking that ‘religion’ consists in these outward religious acts- which are really for show- while the true acts of mercy and love are all too often neglected. People today have made the same mistake as the religious observers of Jesus day.

The letter of James- written by the brother [half] of Jesus- tells us that Pure religion- is to keep yourself unspotted form the world- and to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction. That’s it. No mention of religious holy days? No. No mention of special tithes/offerings? No. But what does he have to say about the modern religious view of the accumulation of wealth? Let’s not even go there [believe me- it’s pretty bad- go read the letter- its short].

This week in Somalia the estimates are 11 million people are on the verge of starvation- 2 to 3 million are kids. The world at large has had a hard time getting the food/resources in- because the country [like many other African nations] is in a sort of civil war.

The militant Islamic group fighting the govt. [Al Shabbab- I think that’s the name?] are made up of children. Yes- the kids have taken up an armed resistance against the leaders- and they are killing each other. I saw a news report on Mosaic world news- and the kids were in the streets- sort of like any kids on a block- but they had guns.

One young kid [10?] was pulling on the rifle of an older boy [15?] and the older boy got mad- like some school yard thing. The older boy just pulled away- and pointed the gun at the ‘opposing kids’- at the same time- they were playing in the street- throwing rocks and waving sticks- and pointing loaded guns at each other- it was like it was a game- they were used to shooting each other if they had to.

There are many things happening in our world today- things that matter to God. Many Christians- though they mean well- seem to leave these other things up to others. They feel that if they can just make it through another week- attend religious meeting on Sunday- put in the tithe- that if they live up to these outward religious standards- that they have done well.

Jesus taught a different way- the apostles tried to follow in his way. The apostle John said ‘if you see your fellow man in need- and don’t actually help him- do what needs to be done to defend them- then how can you say Gods love is in you’ [my paraphrase].

The apostle Paul wrote the Colossians- he said ‘I’m worried about you- you are observing days and times and other outward religious rites- I’m afraid you are falling away from the true faith’.

There was always a danger that Christians would fall into this rut- this thing where they unconsciously make the least important things- the most important. When the religious leaders of Jesus day were conspiring to kill Jesus- they had a problem- if they killed him on the wrong day- it would mess up their religious festival going on at the time. If they had to deal with the dead body- on the wrong day- they would be technically unclean according to Jewish law- and it would throw off their game.

So they worked it out where they would kill Jesus- and leave the body alone on the Sabbath- and they had it all worked out. One problem- they were violating the most important commandment of all- given to them by their most important law giver [Moses] that said ‘thou shalt not kill’ but somehow- over a period of time- they saw these things as the most important- their special observances of holy days- keeping themselves ceremonially clean- not ‘unspotted from the world’ as James said- but religiously clean- so they could put on a good public show.

I just finished praying for a bunch of stuff- of course I prayed for the kids in Somalia- those dying and those killing. Yes- I also send money every month to the starving kids- but these things are not enough. I [we] need to also engage those around us- those hurting and dying and struggling in real ways. We need to make the most important things- important again.


This year we ‘celebrate’ the end of an era- Harry Potter. I caught an interview last night with the publisher who put out her books. He explained that he was the only one willing to take the risk- because kid’s books- at a time when computer games and high tech stuff are all the craze- that trying to get kids into books again, well that seemed like a tough sell.

Yet J.K. Rowling went after it- and the rest is history. Some [most] preachers/Christians have been against Rowling’s fables- why? Of course she is introducing ‘soft witchcraft’ into her themes. The church has traditionally been against all forms of fortune telling. Horoscopes, astrology and the like.

And I have been surprised about how many friends over the years have asked me about whether or not doing the Palm Reading thing is okay for a Christian. The fact is the bible condemns- in no uncertain terms- all of these practices. But the bible does speak about spiritual gifts- prophecy, dreams- etc. These types of gifts are different from all these other forms of sorcery and witchcraft- these gifts originate from God- and they are acceptable.

Okay- having said all this- is there any good that come from Potter? Actually- there is. Even though Rowling has used these other forbidden themes- yet you also need to look at the overall theme of the books. For instance- do they have ideas about good versus evil? Yes. Do they introduce kids back to the lost art of reading? Yes.

So overall I think its okay for kids to read her stuff- with the parental warning of ‘
Little Johnny/Suzie- you know there is really no such thing as White Magic- all good comes from God- and evil from satan [and mans sinful nature]’.

I have sitting here a bunch of new teaching series from various scholars. I’m going thru one on the origins of the church- taught by an ex Benedictine Monk [Luke Timothy Johnson] who is an accredited scholar. Has lots of degrees and teaches at Harvard. The other series is an entire overview of the bible- with all the historical and theological data mixed in.

This series is also taught by a scholar- R.C. Sproul. Why mention this? One of my homeless buddies was over a few days ago- he loves learning- he walks thru my study [we usually hang out in the yard] and he says ‘who needs a university- you have everything right here’. Well- I have lots of great stuff- but a university I’m not.

The point is- we should try and do our best to learn from people who know stuff- people who are educated. Way too much of what is produced today from the ‘church’ is really at a low level. Now- I know I have been hard on ‘preachers’ in the past- and have criticized the abundance of TV/radio stuff that is simply ‘God is the answer’ which of course is true- but must we spend billions of dollars every year- for the simple exercise of having ‘our pastor’ say the same thing- that everyone else is saying- at a charge of millions of dollars?

We need to re think this stuff.

I had a talk with a friend the other day- I was discussing some of this with him. I told him how we [Christians] have taught people ‘if you don’t give 10 % of your money into the basket on Sunday- you are cursed- you are robbing God’. This teaching comes from the Old Testament Tithe- primarily taken from a proof text in the book of Malachi.

I said ‘now- when we use this verse- this way- we are usually telling the people that this teaching is mandated by God- to support his work’. Okay- I have been taught this over the years- but the part we usually leave out- is the actual teaching- from the bible- on the Tithe.

In the Old Testament the Jewish people were required to Tithe- it was more like an income tax than an offering [like the way we think of offering]. This tax was used for 3 things. A third was used to support the Levitical priests, a third was used for banquets and feasts [and wine!] and a third was used to meet the needs of the poor [a welfare system].

Now- the part that went to the priests- none of it could be used for personal wealth growth. The priests were not permitted to have personal wealth. They were taken from the tribe of Levi [one of the 12 tribes of Israel] and they were forbidden to own their own land/inheritance.

So if we taught the ‘biblical’ tithe- it would be using a third for the poor- a third for parties, and the rest went to ‘the preachers’ who were forbidden to own real estate [have personal wealth].

Now- after all the years of people teaching the Tithe- all the many hours of telling believers ‘you are robbing God if you don’t Tithe’ how hard can it be to simply do one teaching on the actual Tithe?

I mean I just taught the whole thing- and it took a few minutes.

But the contemporary church is consumed with practical stuff- and to many- it’s not practical to say ‘oh- and by the way- the preachers/pastors- according to the Tithe system- are not permitted to own stuff’ that lifestyle just doesn’t fit the modern picture.

Okay- my point today is not to condemn giving money to churches- but it’s to nudge us towards a more ‘enlightened’ Christianity- a church that asks- and seeks for truth.

A literate people- who read!

So today I think we can commend Rowling for re introducing a lost art- the art of learning. Though we as Christians do have difficulty with ‘sorcerer’s stones’ yet the fact that kids are reading again- well that’s a good thing in my book.

[1691] GREAT EXPECTATIONS? Warning- this post is graphic

The other week we celebrated Fathers day. I was getting ready to buy a new computer and figured- wait- let me just tell my daughters [4] that instead of getting me different stuff I don’t need, just by me the PC.

They kinda scoffed at the idea- my wife said ‘John- computers are expensive’ I said ‘Okay- I’ll pay the balance- whatever they want- they can put down- I’ll cover the rest’. I really wasn’t expecting a free computer- I just thought it was a good idea. I even told them ‘hey- my birthdays coming up- just count this as a combination present’ look- I tried my best.

So as the week wore on- I would drop hints- you know- trying to see if they made the purchase. I am notorious at this kind of stuff. Every year around Christmas time I would always trick my girls into confessing what my wife bought me. I mean I would do what needed to be done- as crass as ‘hey Debbie- want to make 10 bucks’ yes- I go low.

Of course my wife would get mad ‘I’m gonna bring the presents back if you keep doing this!’ I swore my scheming days were over. Then one year they asked what I wanted- I said ‘I know- get me a BB gun’ what? Yeah- I want the classic kids toy- that toy that kids from all cultures and races covet- the toy little Ralphie shot his eye out with- yeah- that’s the one.

So the weeks went by- I tried my best to get the girls to confess- their older now [around 10 years ago] they know how to spot my tricks. So after weeks of doing my best bargaining- I gave up.

Then my wife comes home from work- and as soon as she walks in the door- I say ‘They told me you got me the BB gun’ boy was she mad- she looked at them [and me] and said ‘I told you not to tell him!’ They replied- ‘we didn’t’ ah yes- I still had the skill.

So as Fathers day approached- they wouldn’t budge- the day arrived and I even gave them directions on where I wanted to set it up in the study- I spent a couple of days running the cord and all.

As the day wore on- I realized that this time it was no game- they simply decided to not get me a gift. I kidded them about it [one of the girls did by me a nice plant] and we really never do stuff for Father’s day to be honest- I don’t like doing birthdays [for me] or stuff like that. Sure- maybe order out for dinner- nothing big.

My girls were kind of feeling a little guilty- far be it for me to put a guilt trip on them. Becky asks ‘hey dad- what do you want for your birthday’. I said ‘I know- do they sell any type of medication at the store- maybe some natural home health remedy- something that can help a person overcome a feeling of depression- the type you feel when you get nothing for Father’s day’.

Yes- the schemer still lives.

Okay- let me try and cover a few things. Last week I was talking to my homeless buddy Henry- we got into a discussion about the buzz on Perry possibly running for Pres. I told him I really wasn’t too excited about it- I can see it now- the media portraying him as a whacky evangelical- and Obama of course is the candidate that you should never question about his church beliefs.

Sure enough the talk has started. The MSNBC crowd has already said they think Perry is a Marjoe [the story of the fake boy evangelist] and of course Bachman’s ‘pray the gay away’ clinic has made it to prime time news.

These stupid arguments usually leave carnage on the floor. Stephen Tyler’s [Aerosmith] bio has been on the best seller list for a few weeks now. He tells the story of going to an abortion clinic with his 5 month pregnant girl friend. As they go in for the procedure- he thinks it’s a simple procedure that makes the pregnancy just go away. You know- this is a woman’s right!

As she lies on the table- the doctor sticks a needle into her. She begins going into forced labor- and the baby comes out- alive and screaming. Tyler stands in shock as he sees this tiny human- this person that he thought was just a blob of cells- crying for help- love- life.

They all stand there- seeing this beautiful 5 month old preemie struggling for life. Eventually the baby goes silent- the damage done. Tyler’s friends will later say that he became a different person after that- much more violent and angry. The story is simply the true telling of the life of a rocker- and Tyler has no behind the scenes agenda- he just told the truth- the shock and feeling of disgust over what happened.

The reason I’m leery about possibility of the ‘Texas Evangelical’ versus the ‘enlightened liberal’ is because these real life tragedies get lost in the debate. One time former senator Rick Santorum showed a picture of an unborn child- around the same age as Tyler’s kid. He was on the floor of congress and had it up there. I mean there is no way you could deny that what was on the screen was human. He asked Senator Barbara Boxer if what she saw was a baby or not. Boxer replied that it was beyond her pay grade to make that decision- that she did not see it as her responsibility to judge whether or not her consent to the killing of these babies was humane.

Yet this same congress can judge ‘crimes against humanity’ when a leader on the other side of the globe threatens to go after those who have raised up an armed insurgency against him- a civil war.

Sometimes our expectations are too high- we expect more from others than what we get. As these debates move forward this coming year- we need the integrity to do what’s right- not what’s politically expedient- but what’s right. I have never- ever- been able to justify the deaths of these preemies- after seeing the actual pictures of the babies- real little babies- being mutilated- this act is atrocious- it is equal to the slaughter of the innocents under Hitler’s regime- yes- it’s that bad.

I don’t expect too much out of our leaders- but I at least would hope that when they see the body of a beautiful little baby- perfectly formed- lying on a table- screaming for its life while the mother and father and doctor watch- that we can at least say that this is no surgical procedure- no ‘right to privacy’ being carried out- this my friends is murder- pure and simple.


Henry’s been coming around a lot these last few days. I didn’t realize that he probably was feeling a little guilty/worried. A few weeks ago I gave Henry some money- wrote him a check for around 25 dollars.

I was supposed to do a few things with Henry- and I would always miss him. Last week I hit the grocery store and bought a bunch of good BBQ- we were going to head to Bishop for a fellowship- I went to pick up Henry at the boat dock where he works, and he wasn’t there.

I asked one of the kids if he knew where Henry was- he told me he had jury duty. What! Yeah, the week before he did get a notice to show up- it was legit. The homeless guys use various ministry addresses for their home address. I guess they found Henry because he votes.

They use the voting info for our local juries. I will admit I got a laugh out of it- I thought there was no way they would pick him. So anyway he comes by a few days later and he tells me the scoop. He made it through the first round and went back a few times as they trimmed the field.

He was telling me that it was a local corruption case against the cops. Now- I will admit, I have had my run in’s with the local cops. Over the years they really have harassed a lot of my homeless buddies. Lots of the guys live in various camps around this area.

I live in a sort of beach area- and there are lots of transients that set up temporary tents as their spots. One time I bought a nice tent for some friends- a big tent. A husband and wife couple used it. They were so grateful to get the thing. It only cost me around 100 bucks- well worth the sacrifice.

The next time I saw them they told me the cops came through and cut the tent. Our local cops do this because they get lots of complaints about the ‘bums’. Then one time I’m helping a homeless guy move from a camp. As were driving away some ‘cop’ walks up to my truck [he had a shirt on that said Corpus Christi Police] and starts questioning me- why I was in the area and all.

I had 2 of my buddies with me [Henry was one of them] and they are used to getting harassed. But as the ‘cop’ is talking to me I realize he’s an auxiliary cop [rent a cop type guy]. Now- I have worked with volunteer firefighters for years- and they are good guys- but sometimes we had a problem with them walking around town wearing our Fire Dept. shirts.

They were allowed to have them- but they were not supposed to be acting like they were the ‘real deal’. It would get the real guys [like me] in trouble. So I discerned that this cop was like that- plus he’s practically interrogating me.

I had it- I told him ‘I’m pulling over right here and getting out’. I did- he made sure he was back on his property- fast.

It’s just a long term thing- dealing with the cops harassing the guys. So Henry’s telling me his court ordeal- and when he tells me it’s a cop case- it was funny. He says they asked him ‘do you have any relationships with the local force’ [being it’s a corruption case]. I kid Henry and say- ‘did you tell them- well kind of- I hold a special affinity for the local police chief- I see him as a surrogate Father figure’ Henry just started cracking up.

He was finally kicked off the jury- I think they realized Henry might have  been a loose cannon.

Okay- Back to the top- when Henry came by he wanted me to know that he ‘lost’ the check I gave him- and he said he signed it. I kind of picked up the feeling that Henry might have bought a bottle of wine- and he might have thought I found out and was mad at him.

Now- Henry is not a drunk- I have never seen him drink. But I do know that he likes to drink a glass of wine every so often. Even though I’m not a tee totaler- yet I have told the guys not to buy alcohol with any money I give them.

It’s just the principle of the thing- too many guys are alcoholics and I didn’t want to contribute to that it any way. So I think Henry might have used some of the money for a bottle. Okay- if so I would not be mad- water under the bridge.

But lots of people do get mad- they will cut guys off for stuff like this- and I think that was playing on Henrys mind. So he asks me if I could check on ‘the check’ to see if maybe someone cashed it- with his name on it of course.

So at about this time I’m beginning to catch on- and I tell Henry ‘you know Henry- my bank called and told me that someone did cash it- they asked me to come down and check the video’ okay- Henry’s kinda sweating at this point- I go on ‘and I went down to the bank and sure enough- I see a church van leaving the parking lot- it was brother Rey!’

Rey is a local street preacher who Henry works with- he’s had some tuff times recently so I fibbed a bit. Henry realized I was letting him off the hook- that it wasn’t a big deal to me- even if he had a glass of wine on the house.

I have noticed- many times- that people who do help the guys- if they feel the guys might have swindled them- or if the guys are not as grateful as they should be- some people leave- for good. I think true friendships should be able to ride this stuff out- Plus- I need to stay on good terms with the homeless guys- you never know- they might be my jury one day?


Let’s talk some about the role of the church in society. Many years ago I had a friend who was a preacher/pastor- at the time some people kindly told him ‘brother- I know Jesus is the answer- but you need to also teach- you can’t just say ‘Jesus is the way’ all the time’.

Were they right? In a way- yes. Let me explain. In the book of Isaiah we read about the purpose of Jesus [chapter 11]. Jesus came to preach the gospel [good news] to the poor- set captives free- to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

The book of Amos [a prophet in the Old Testament] shows Amos railing against the rich- the powerful- as he defends the poor in society. Part of ‘the gospel’ is speaking out against injustices in society- telling those in power ‘your day is coming- you have trampled down the innocent- abused the immigrant- and God hears their cry’.

Yes- a part of the ministry of the church is to address these abuses in society. Now- what happens when the church casts off this job? It gets picked up by any/all others who are willing to run with it. So you have ‘the media’ or even a comic like Jon Stewart- anyone else who is willing to speak out against injustices- uneven scales- these will fill the void if Gods people won’t.

If you read the ministry of Jesus- the things he did and said- he often came up against religious forms of holiness. Those in society who thought their purpose was to- well be ‘religious’. That is they made a special class out of religion. They often engaged in public displays of it [prayer- fasting to be seen of men].

They valued their own religious experience as the primary thing- when they perceived man getting in the way of their expression of religion- they were willing to ‘sacrifice him’ [literally] in order for their own religious cause to gain influence [they said of Jesus- if he keeps doing this we will lose our position of power and influence].

At the end of the day- these religious folk saw their own view of religion as the primary thing- it took precedence over all other things- even people themselves.

Now- when the church reduces her mission to ‘religious speech’ that is when they refuse to engage in society- to do what the prophets did in the bible- defend the poor- rail against injustice- when Gods people leave this part of ‘preaching the gospel’ out- then they unknowingly have given in to the temptation to see their practice of religion- as simply a ‘religious thing’.

In a way- they have become like the religious folk of Jesus day- so busy carrying out their religious tasks- that the voiceless of society have no one to advocate for them.

We are living in a day where many major upheavals are taking place- I think the ‘average person’ does not fully understand the seriousness of what’s going on in the world today. It is quite possible that the U.S. will default on her debt. And that we will face a credit crisis equal to that of Greece- where the politicians have pandered to the people to a point where the people are rising up in the streets because they refuse to see the reality of the situation.

There are threads of this taking place right now in this country- at the current rate we are going- our debt will equal our GDP in 10 years- that’s really bad.

As we have these debates- we must remember that the poor and impoverished of the world count to God- the cause of the illegal alien means a lot to God- these issues are not just nationalistic- they are of concern to God.

As we move down this treacherous road over these next few years- lets not forsake that part of the gospel that calls us to speak up for the poor- to speak truth to power- and to expose injustice wherever we see it- not just on the opposing team.


Took a ride to the city of Bishop the other day- on the way I had a tire blowout on the highway [no spare] and managed to drive it [still had air in it- the radial tread ripped off] to a shop to get a new tire. I had one of my homeless friends with me and we were gonna have a fellowship day with Eliseo at his ranch- instead we will do one this Wednesday.

Those of you in the area who know where Eli lives- we will be there at around noon. Bring some food and meet us there, everyone is invited. As a side note- Eli, I got your message last night. I think little Rudy called too- I will try and get back with him, if he wants I’ll pick him up Wednesday for the ride.

Okay- after the blowout I did a fish fry/b.b.q. at the house with Henry and Chris [homeless bro’s] and we had a great time. My only mistake was I put the fish out first- about 10 pieces- and I thank the Lord I at least got 1!

Let me try and hit a few things today. Last week I had a good visit with a J.W. [Jehovah’s Witness]. He rang the bell and I told him I was a Christian and that I love having discussions and I did about a 20 minute historical overview of Christianity and the development of the doctrine of the Trinity [which is a major sticking point] and I tried to come down in a nice way- being honest about the historic problems many believers/various groups have had with the doctrine- and at the end of the talk I of course emphasized the bible verses that do indeed speak about the Deity of Christ and left it at that.

He was nice enough to come back by around an hour later and he dropped off a pamphlet put out by their group that discusses the Trinity. He asked me to read it and I did.

The teaching was fairly honest about the various historic disputes that Christians have had over the Trinity. It did cover the reality that there were Bishops and early church leaders who did indeed argue against the doctrine. It did a good job at showing how some early Christian leaders were indeed influenced by Greek philosophy and that some think that that’s where the doctrine developed from.

The pamphlet made the case that ‘the bible’ does not teach the Deity of Christ- and that these doctrines were later introduced by Catholic church leaders who paganized Christianity primarily thru Constantine’s ‘baptism’ of Christendom with the Roman state.

I’m very familiar with all these debates- many Christian scholars have made this exact same argument. Muslims and Jews also reject the doctrine of the Deity of Christ [and the Trinity] and often times you hear these same arguments made.

During the 4th century of the Common Era Constantine became the Roman Emperor and the church hotly debated these issues. The Bishop Arius [who denied the deity of Christ- that Christ is God] fought against the opposing view [that Christ is indeed God] and the bishop Athanasius was the warrior who defended the deity of Christ.

After Athanasius died his tombstone would read ‘Athanasius against the world’ he was the driving force in the 4th century who swayed the tide back to orthodoxy.

Now- the church would have a few 4th [and 5th] century church councils that would settle the matter concerning the nature of Christ and his deity- and the final decision was that the Trinity was indeed true and the Jesus is indeed God.

The other side stayed with the idea that Jesus was a created being- a god- but not thee God. Some of these churches exist till this day. They are primarily oriental churches. If you visit them they seem just like any other ancient type church- the Mass, Saints, Mother Mary- yes- the whole 9 yards. But they stuck with the Arian view [Bishop Arius] and deny the deity of Christ [and thus the Trinity].

How should I respond? Let me just say that I am a Trinitarian who believes in the deity of Christ- Christ is fully God and fully man. The J.W. pamphlet made a good defense for their view- and they were not totally ‘deceptive’ in their argument. But they did quote lots of bible verses that kind of backed up their side- and they quoted some from Isaiah. But they left out chapter 9.

The famous passage that says Jesus is the ‘Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’ very strong language indeed.

What about the argument that the early Catholic bishops polluted the true teachings of Jesus by introducing Greek thought into Jesus true teachings? It is true that Greek philosophy had a belief that there was a pre existing principle of wisdom- a ‘divine logos’ if you will.

The only problem with the argument that the Catholic bishops were the culprits who introduced Logos Christology into the doctrines of the church is that the New Testament itself has ‘Logos Christology’ in it. What is Logos Christology?

Logos is the Greek word for ‘Word’. Christology is the study of Christ. Logos Christology is the description of Jesus found in the writings of the apostle John that describe Jesus as the Eternal Word of God.

John wrote the gospel of John, the 3 letters- 1st, 2nd and 3rd John- and the book of Revelation [some scholar’s dispute that John authored the last one]. In these writings Jesus is called the Word of God- he is described as the Word that was ‘with God, and was God’ [John 1].

So the bible itself has Greek influences- because it was written in Greek! And even though the pre Christian philosophers had a concept of a personified wisdom [the Jews also- read Proverbs 8] yet the New Testament also speaks of Jesus as this Eternal Word of God who was indeed ‘true God from true God’.

So I think the talk I had was good- I understand that many groups of people have had difficulty with the doctrine of the Trinity and the accusation that Constantine and the Catholics ‘hijacked’ the true religion of Jesus has been made by many groups over the years. Yet at the end of the day the doctrine of Jesus being God is clearly found in the bible [and yes, even in the Old Testament] and we as Orthodox Christians confess Jesus as God-  not because of the Greeks- or the Catholics- or because of any other influence that ‘snuck in’ we confess him as God because ‘the bible tells me so’ Amen and Amen.


 There are a lot of things I want to hit on today- let me start with an article I read in the paper yesterday. It was a study that compared students who studied physics using 2 different methods. The traditional lecture room environment- taught by veteran teachers. Versus an interactive classroom environment taught by inexperienced students [no teacher] who simply shared the things they were learning with each other.

To the shock of the traditional advocates- the kids who were taught without a teacher scored twice as high on the tests as those who sat in the classroom. The study was headed up by a top rated scientist who works for the president.

This reminded me of all the teaching I did over the years on the nature of the church [the study on the blog is called ‘what in the world is the church’]. After years of studying and doing many of the ‘interactive’ principles found in the study- I do see how important it is for believers to interact with each other- not just during ‘fellowship’ times- but as a main part of worship.

It is no accident that the churches in the New Testament were structured along these lines. In the bible you simply did not have churches structured around a single figure who ‘lectured’ week after week to the people. Now- this debate has been raging for a while amongst those who debate stuff like this. And a few years back some scholars from the more traditional view really went after the more ‘organic’ type church brothers.

But overall I believe the interactive ‘church meeting’ is really the most biblical way to go. I still think there is room for the more traditional style of ‘lecture hall’ but that is a small part of being in Christian community- yet for many that seems to actually be what they refer to as ‘the local church’ very limited perspective indeed [you can also read my short book on the left of the blog site- Further Talks on Church and Ministry].

Okay- maybe I’ll hit a few more thoughts in keeping with this idea. After the fellowship lunch the other day I invited Henry [my homeless friend] back to the house for the day. These guys are on the streets most of the day and they appreciate being able to rest and catch some news on the tube.

Once again as Henry left he told me ‘John- this was one of the best days I have had in a long time’. He told me this the last time I had him over. Why? What I do with Henry is I try not to act the ‘preacher/pastor’ role. That is I share and interact with Henry as an equal. Henry just so happens to be real knowledgeable when it comes to the bible and theology.

Part of the discussion was Henry sharing how the letter to the Romans [written by the apostle Paul] was the only letter written to a church that Paul did not found himself. Now- I knew this before- and most bible students know this- but yet it started a conversation that both of us could engage in. Henry had read somewhere that the church at Rome might have been started by the Diaspora [the scattered] Jews/Christians who dispersed after the Martyrdom of Stephen in Acts chapter 7.

I told Henry that I actually taught on this before- but I referenced the dispersion that took place in Acts chapter 2. At the day of Pentecost there were Jewish worshippers who came from all parts of the known world at the time- they were gathered at Jerusalem for the big holiday.

After the Spirit came on the early church- these believers went back to their homes and some of them did indeed go back to Rome.

Either way- the point is that Paul did not start the church at Rome- and there are no records [in the bible] of who was the first founder [yes Peter also went to Rome- but he too was not the initial 'church planter’].

Okay- why even mention this? I think Henry has these ‘best days of my life’ days because the fellowships we have are based on the organic church style- that is I’m not always ‘preaching’ to him in the conventional sense.

I hope to get with the guys again this week- same place [Sirloin Stockade off of SPID in Corpus] I will let everyone know a day ahead- so if you guys want to make it a weekly thing you can join the group. But I have been meeting with these friends for 20 years now- just sharing the interactive way.

The above study was said to have been a real wake up call to the actual veteran lecturers- they couldn’t believe that the students on their own- without the ‘pro’ lecturing them- would do twice as well as the students who sat ‘in church’ [the lecture room] simply listening to the able speaker- speak.

The apostle Paul knew this trick 2 millennia ago- he wrote the church at Corinth ‘and when you meet together- let everyone of you share what you have learned- do it in order- but let everyone speak’ I like Paul’s method a lot.


We had a good fellowship the other day- I and 2 homeless bro’s got with 2 Kingsville originals and we  all ate at the Sirloin Stockade. I want to try and meet once a week for lunch in Corpus- everybody is welcome by the way. I’ll try and mention it on the sites [Blog, Facebook] a day ahead of time, and you are all invited.

I will only cover the cost of the homeless guys though- everyone else it’s Dutch. Okay- this week I have been reading revelation chapter 5. We see this image of John the apostle standing in the throne room of God and God has this book in his hand. John is upset because no one is able to open the book and loose the seals. As John is upset, one of the elders comes up to him and tells him not to worry- Jesus- the Lion of the tribe of Judah, he has prevailed to open the book and to break the seals.

The vision is you have these elders and beasts and John and a multitude of angels and people from all nations- it’s a great gathering of saints of the most high- a true picture of the people of God.

I applied the vision to our little fellowship- made up of people from all over- different ethnic backgrounds and cultures. And John the apostle is struggling with this mandate to get the message out. Remember- the book of Revelation begins with Jesus telling John ‘write these letters to the 7 churches’ so John has this task to communicate this message from God. Yet he runs up against the classic roadblock ‘Who is worthy’ in so many words ‘why did you pick me for the job- I’m not able to do it’. You hear the words of Isaiah here- Isaiah said ‘I am a man of unclean lips- in the middle of a bunch of unclean people!’ Geez Isaiah- you’re not only too hard on yourself, but everyone else!

In the Isaiah vision God takes a coal and uses it to cleanse the lips of the prophet. So John is distraught over the fact that this book is sealed- and no matter how hard he tries- he cant open the thing. Jesus steps up to the plate and takes it and opens it. The whole community rejoices- they sing this song- a new song ‘Worthy is the lamb to open the book and to loose the seals thereof, for thou wast slain and hast redeemed us unto God by thy Blood out of every kindred and tribe and tongue and nation- and hast made us priests and kings unto God our father’. Yes, I put this verse to memory this week and sang it all thru out the week.

Sure- my wife said ‘who are you talking to’. I just blew it off- I have been talking to myself for years. So I’m identifying somewhat with John- also struggling to ‘open the book and loose the seals’. These last few weeks I dropped our radio program and was in a mad rush to get the shows on line [there on now]. But I dropped on a Friday and wanted to have them up by that Sunday.

So after ordering some equipment on line [stuff to convert tape to computer drive] and having my daughter teach me a few computer things [I am computer illiterate- really. Just looking at HTML/JavaScript is like reading a foreign language!]. But even though I was ‘unworthy to open the book and loose the seals’ somehow by Gods grace we were up and running by Sunday.

So as I’m praying/singing the ‘new song’- kind of an intercessory thing- believing God to help us get the word out. Sure enough I sing the thing and the bell rings. That was my buddy Emit [last post] and from that surprise visit a few doors opened to get together more often with the brothers.

Of course I’m just applying these things- obviously revelation is not about eating at the big cow! But God does use stuff like this to speak to us- the principle of Jesus alone being the one who is worthy to ‘open the book’ well that’s a truism that will always be there.

Down the road I hope to teach a little more on the book of Revelation. It’s really not as hard as it might look. Basically you have the command of Jesus to John to write the 7 letters. John sees Jesus as the one who will assist him in getting the message out. The book had 7 seals. The opening of the last seal releases 7 trumpets. And the last trumpet leads to 7 bowls [vials]. Then you have the last few chapters that speak about the wrapping up of the kingdom and the resurrection and the final judgment. You end with a new heaven and a new earth and whoever wants ‘let him come and drink of the water of life’. That’s really it- sure you do have a lot of numbers and images and stuff- but overall this is the basic outline of the book.

In the book of Daniel he sees a lot of the same things that John sees in the book of Revelation- but Daniel is told to seal up the vision- for the time was not ready. John is told to ‘un seal’ it- the time is at hand. For many of the new friends that came in this last year- the time was ready for you guys to ‘read the book’ so to speak. Just remember the key- only Jesus has the ability to show you what’s in the book- to make it clear. Read and pray and ask God to help you understand- he alone can do it.


I had a surprise visit last night- one of my original ‘church members’ stopped by to see me. Emit was the 2nd generation family, a son of one of the guys who was hooked on Heroin in the early days. Emit’s dad [Emit senior] was also part of the first group of members.

I would hold bible studies for the guys in the county jail- some were waiting for their court dates- they would do lots of time in Texas’ famous prison system- others were just doing time for minor offenses- things related to their drug addictions.

So anyway Emit Jr. was in that first group. I would pick up his dad for our church meetings [first held at an old abandoned hospital- later moved to my garage]. We had around 30 or so people who made up our little group. Mostly families of the guys I met thru the jail meetings. But every so often we had someone hear about us and they would join our group.

I remember Roy and Kathy- they were in this group of ‘normal people’. Roy was a liberal news reporter for the local paper- and Kathy was a bible college graduate. I don’t know how they found us- but they liked the bible studies I would do and they became good friends. The same with Hubert and his wife Katy.

Hubert actually taught at a regional bible school [Pan Am school/church] sponsored by the Presbyterian Church. It was their Latin American outreach school- located in Kingsville. So we had some up-standing folk as well. As I was fellowshipping with Emit we had some good laughs. I told him now that I’m posting the radio shows on the blog that in the future I’m going to post some of the old recordings from the early days. You can hear Emits dad on these tapes.

It was funny- the guys acted like we were just hanging out at my house- even during the church meetings! Emit [Sr.] had a habit of raiding my fridge right before the meetings would start- I mean I couldn’t keep Pecan Pies away from the brother. I eventually hid the good stuff before Emit got there. Hey I loved the bro. but the Pecan Pies were not part of the deal!

Emit told me he still has a few of these tapes and he hears his dads voice on some of them- His dad has been dead for many years now. He was clean at the time- but he ruined his liver with the Heroin and it finally caught up with him.  His dad met his wife- Janie- at our little church. Janie was a single mom who had a bunch of boys- I worked with her sons and she would attend the church- Emit met Janie and sure enough they got married. They were a nice couple.

So last night Emit calls some of the other original group [geez- he had all their numbers in his phone]. So in a few hours I will be taking Emit, David [Buentello] and Henry [one of the homeless guys] to lunch in Corpus. David and Emit both work in Corpus now- they still live in Kingsville.

David too was a ‘founding member’ I met his dad while preaching at the jail- Leonard was a long time addict. Once again I met the sons thru my friendship with the dad. David has a bunch of brothers and I met Leonard [Jr.] and Ben and a few others. David spent lots of year strung out on drugs. I must have written Dave a few hundred times over the years when he was in prison- I saw this as a ministry- keeping in touch with the brothers as they did time- lots of time- in prison.  David got his degree [he started while in prison and finished after he got out. It’s a program that helps the guys get a degree with aid from the state. Texas just ended the program this year; they said ‘why should we be paying for ex con’s education for free’. As someone who has seen the good results- it really was worth it].

David has been clean for many years and he is a professional counselor working in Corpus Christi. One time I asked David to pick up the guys for our meetings the next day. Many times I was working the night before at the fire house and it helped if someone could pick the people up in the morning- it gave me a little more time to prepare for the meeting. So I gave Dave the Suburban and he had it for the night. I knew it was a risk- not that he would steal the darn thing- but be tempted to score drugs and all.

Sure enough Dave came by the fire station early in the morning- he was fessing up- telling me he blew it and he was gonna leave the truck. I told him just because he had a bad night- I still needed him to finish the task and pull through. He did- he picked everyone up and attended the service.

Lots of times the guys in these situations have never had any home structure- I mean their parents love them and all- but when the dad struggles with addiction- they’re not there to support the sons. So this was training in a way for Dave.

So hopefully they will all find the restaurant [it’s right off the main drag- but I’m not sure they know the spot I was telling them]. It was funny- as Emit was leaving I walked him out to the car. He was wearing these coveralls from the auto dealer that he works for- he has this lawnmower sticking halfway out of the trunk [he was cutting yards for money after work]. And I asked him about his new girlfriend and all [Emit was married years ago to another person whose family were church members of our group. His wife, Veronica, had a few boys and one girl with Emit. They eventually divorced. One time at work we had a call for a stabbing- the person who was stabbed- Junior Perez- was another family member who I met from the jails. Junior’s younger brother- Tony- was a faithful church member. His older brother- Daniel- was the one I met thru the jail. Junior was dating Veronica at the time- it was an abusive relationship- she stabbed Junior while he was trying to get into her house. She lived there with her mom- Yolanda- yes another one of our church members. She killed Junior that night- no charges against her- but she would eventfully move out of town]

So as Emits leaving I ask him about his latest girl- he says she a nice person- but its one of those situations where the family doesn’t know she’s dating him [I don’t know why- just some family thing]. Then I asked him what happened with his other girl friend- the one he dated for years ‘Oh her, they took her away from me’ [now- I know what Emit meant- her family didn’t get along with Emit and they eventually convinced her to leave Emit]. Now, even though I knew what Emit meant- I was like ‘Hey bro. you show up with these work coveralls- the type you usually see on these serial killer types- you know the video of some guy kidnapping someone at the local store- and you have this ‘after hours lawnmower job’ [classic cover up for stuffing things in the trunk] and you tell me the current girl friend’s family- well they don’t know about your ‘relationship’ and the last one- well ‘they took her away’ [I mean who is they- the cops! LOL]. I said if I didn’t know any better it looks like you might have spent the last 10 years as a serial killer’!

He got a kick out of that. Okay enough for now- maybe I’ll let you know how the fellowship went tomorrow. Emit told me his youngest boy- Justin- is a full blow Heroin addict in Robstown. Geez- I just took a ride thru there the other week- felt like God wanted me to simply do a prayer drive. And now we are going to visit Justin in a few days- maybe it was a sign. Okay- please  pray for my buddies and their families.

I’m glad they’re still hanging in there- but I need to try and get with them more often- hopefully today we can schedule a few more fellowship meetings- it’s been too long.

 [NOTE- Dave- if you read this- just leave a quick comment on Facebook- so my friends from Jersey can see who you are- I have lots of old friends on the site- thanks]

 P.S.- As Emit was giving me all the updated phone numbers of the brothers- I was writing them down in my address book/organizer- geez- as I turned to the ‘E’ page and the ‘D’ page and all- I still had the original names and numbers of their dads and all. One entry said 'Emit/Janie’ it brought back lots of memories.


The other day I mentioned how over the years I have come to ‘see’ the community of people that I speak into- those friends I have worked with on the streets and all the readers/hearers of the ministry- I have come to see them as one community. I even began to see the friends who died as still being part of the community- just because they are not physically present- they are still ‘there’.

In the letter to the Hebrews the bible says Jesus stands in the middle of the congregation and sings praises unto God. On the Mount of Transfiguration Jesus met with Moses and Elijah [2 dead saints] and Peter, James and John. The community was made up of both earthly and heavenly saints.

Okay- said all that to say this. When I first came to Texas I drove down with a good buddy I grew up with. His name was Miguel and we hung out as kids. Eventually Miguel would give his life to God [after me working with him for a few months] and I saw him as one of my 1st converts to the Lord.

I gave Miguel my first bible and got another one. Over a few years me and Mike tried to establish ourselves and our young families on this strange Texas frontier. Eventually Mike went back to Jersey. The night before he left [I drove him to the airport in San Antonio the next day- and his family]. We took a drive to Corpus Christi [where I now live- we both lived in Kingsville at the time- about 40 miles from Corpus] and spent the last night as buddies just hanging out on Padre Island- eating Whataburger’s [a great burger restaurant in Tx.] and just talking about what God had in store for the future. Actually, as I sit here and type I’m about 100 yards from the main road going straight to the Island- the same road we drove on 25 years ago.

As the years passed I would get a call from my old buddy every so often. One time Mike called to give me the news ‘John- I wanted to let you know I tested positive for Aids’- What! How’d that happen? [Probably a bad response now that I think about it]. Mike wasn’t ‘gay’ or bisexual- but he had lots of girlfriends- all the time. Back then safe sex was more of an option- and obviously Mike wasn’t too careful. Mike told me his wife- Lu Ann- also tested positive. What a tragedy- they had 4 boys.

So of course the whole family became a regular prayer request- till this day- every morning [every!] I pray for Mikes boys. One time I came home from work and my wife said ‘John- Lu Ann called’ I said ‘Mike died’ she said yes. Mike was 32. One day I received a letter from Lu Ann- she told me how her oldest boy was a preacher now in N.J. and he was on fire for God. She wrote a nice long letter. It must have been something God wanted her to do- I will forever remember that letter.

When Mike left Texas- I got that old bible I gave him back. It was just a sentimental thing of keeping your 1st bible. Then one year I started reading from it again and found that Mike had sprinkled notes all thru out it- things like ‘ask John this’ and stuff like that. So it was cool to catch these short notes every so often. I could almost hear Mikes voice as I read the notes.

So anyway as I pray in the mornings I have a conscious sense of my old buddies who have died- lots of homeless friends- a few ex- con/addict friends- and of course Mike and Lou Ann- [I guess she’s dead by now?] So last week as I’m just asking the Lord what chapter to read. I turn to Exodus 16- and Mike had a bunch of notes on this page- stuff like ‘NOTICE THIS’ and things that were weird- like he was writing notes to me. It did freak me out- I ‘fellowship’ with Mike when I pray for the Bro’s- and sometimes it’s like Mike is saying ‘John- thanks for praying for the boys’. And then to read notes later that say ‘Notice this’ or ‘ask John this’ it’s freaky.

Okay- that chapter dealt with God giving his people Manna- bread from heaven. It was the same week I dropped the radio program- I felt bad about doing it- but it was time. I told the Lord ‘If I messed up- sorry’. That is if I dropped it cause I was mad they kept losing the ‘darn’ tapes- then I repent. So anyway one of the verses in the chapter says ‘some people went out on the 7th day- to get their daily bread- and they found none’.

I knew there were going to be lots of long time listeners- who have written- who loved the show. These would ‘go out’ on the 7th day [Actually Sunday is the 1st day- but you get the idea] and would find ‘no bread’ for the first time in 15  years of broadcasting over KCTA. Actually over these last few days I have had lots of confirmation that this was the way to go- I began putting the shows on my blog- you can now listen and download the stuff 24/7- as opposed to only being able to hear it once a week. At the broadcast rate- geez it took 5 years just to recycle some of the older messages.

So for today- we learned that those who have gone on- our spiritual brothers and sisters- they are ‘still alive’. Now the bible forbids communication with the dead, and there are lots of religious superstitions that cross the line in these areas- but at the same time we do believe in eternal life- and if God speaks to me thru the words of one of my old buddies- stuff like ‘notice this’ then who am I to not notice?


 The other night I had a weird dream- 2 young guys showed up at my door. They rang the bell and as I opened the door one of the boys said ‘John, do you remember me’. Now- to be honest this has happened lots thru out my life. At the Fire House I would often show up for shift in the morning and the off going shift would say ‘John- one of your convict buddies stopped by yesterday’ [they eventually caught on that lots of the guys I worked with at the jail/prisons knew where they could find me when they got out- and they figured they would catch me at the Fire House].

So stuff like this has happened lots- and there are times when I simply don’t remember who the guy’s are- if you give a bible study 5 years previously- they might remember you- but you might not remember them. So in my dream I told the kid [around 19 years old] ‘to be honest I don’t really remember you- just a little’ [Yes- I admit at times I have said ‘yeah- I think’ just so I wouldn’t offend the brothers].

The boy tells me that I did indeed help him and he won’t forget it. So I fellowshipped a little while. Then the boy asks a strange request ‘John- will you draw me a picture’. Sure- it seemed like something a young boy would ask- but why not. So I drew a picture of the beach and us just sitting there- like Father and son- and he asked me to sign it for him. I gave him the simple request and he seemed like a little boy getting a present from his dad. He talked a little more and as he began to leave he told me his name. He said ‘I’m Texas Ruiz’. And he left.

As I woke up [around 3 a.m.] I didn’t think too much about it. As I started the coffee, getting ready to go in the yard to pray. I remembered who Texas Ruiz was. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I pray for the cases I see in the paper- or on the news- the severe cases of crimes that have been committed. I have a wall of names [around 30 or so] that I paint the names of these people on. They will forever be on my prayer list- so I try and pick cases where the criminal [or victim] has a long lasting result/penalty- so as I pray for them over the years they can benefit from it.

One of the cases was a local one- here in Corpus Christi. The stepdad called 911 and his stepson [around 1 year old] had died. At 1st they thought it was from some natural cause- then they found out the step dad abused the boy and he died from this abuse. I saw the boy on T.V. a lot- being it was local. As Protestants we usually don’t pray for the people who have died- but I actually have felt the Lord challenge me about this over these last few years- and I do pray for the victims sometimes, even though they are dead. When I saw the boy on TV I would just raise my hand towards him and pray that God would be with his soul- I felt real bad for the kid. I did this a few times over about a week. I felt like a ‘dad’ to the kid- just praying for him. The boys name was Texas Ruiz.

There is a verse in Ezekiel 37- God says ‘in the day I raise you up and bring you back from the dead- in that day you will know that I am God’. I wrote this verse down on an ongoing journal type thing- every week I add whatever verse/book I’m studying from- whatever I feel might be significant. So I stuck this verse on the top of the page. A few days went by and I wrote the dream on the same page- I felt it was significant so I wrote it down.

After a few days- while reviewing the page- I saw that on the top it said ‘in the day I bring you back from the grave’ and in the dream- yes one of ‘our people’ did come back- it freaked me out.

In John’s gospel, chapter 11, we read of the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus and his sisters- Martha and Mary- are good friends of Jesus. They lived in a little town named Bethany [the name of my oldest daughter] and for the Jewish people to openly embrace Jesus at the time- it was a sacrifice. Many of the religious leaders already had turned against Jesus.

So one day Lazarus gets real sick and the sisters send word to Jesus ‘Lazarus- your friend- is sick’. Now- Jesus is going all over the place- healing sick people- opening blind eyes- multiplying bread and fish. I mean the sisters must have thought ‘well- at least all the flack we’ve taken over openly befriending Jesus will finally pay off’. But when Jesus hears about Lazarus the bible says he purposefully waited 2 extra days before heading towards Bethany.

Now- after a few days Lazarus did indeed die. The sisters are mad- ‘wow- he healed all these others- strangers- yet no time for us’. When he gets to the outskirts of town Martha goes out to see him ‘Jesus- why didn’t you come? You could have prevented this from happening’. Eventually Mary says the same thing to him. Jesus tells them ‘I am the resurrection and the life’.

The sisters only saw Jesus thru the lens of ‘why didn't you fix the problem when it was still possible’ Jesus was saying ‘it’s still possible’. He was telling them ‘Just because the thing you thought I would do- in life- didn’t happen yet- I can still overcome the devastation that it has caused you’. Jesus of course will raise their brother- it becomes a huge miracle to the point where the religious leaders conspire to kill Lazarus too- because so many Jewish people begin believing in Jesus because of this miracle.

In Ezekiel 37 God told Ezekiel [and the nation of Israel] ‘in the day I bring you back from the dead- in that day you will know I am God’. Today we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. A real event that took place in time and has stood the test of historical examination [too much to cover right now- but take my word for it- the evidence is overwhelming].

Sometimes we are like the sisters of Lazarus- we expected God to prevent the disaster from happening ‘Lord- if you were here this would not have happened’. The test of faith is to continue to believe- even on the other side of the disaster. The problem with Mary and Martha was they felt like Jesus simply did not come thru in time- they heard all these great stories about how Jesus helped all these others- yet they sat at home- with a dead brother and a funeral to attend.

Today I want to challenge you- are you like the sisters? Did God not prevent the disaster from happening? Did he not do for you what he did for the others? You might not see the ultimate ‘healing’ until the resurrection- the ‘last day’- but be assured- in the day he raises you from the dead- you will know that he is God.


Got an email the other day from one of my old buddies who I haven’t heard from in a few years. He must have googled my name and found the blog site- it’s not hard to find me being my name is on a lot of the posts that I publish.

He was surprised to have heard that I retired; he used to call me up a lot over the years when I was at the fire house. We grew up together in N.J. and he was one of the friends I always kept in touch with. He told me that a mutual friend was still in prison [Rahway, N.J.] I told him ‘yeah- I know’ I have been writing him in prison ever since he first told me about it a few years back.

He finally sent me the ‘rap sheet’ I knew our friend was doing time for a serious offense, just never knew the whole story. As I read the link I pictured in my mind the whole scene. They pulled up to some house on 70 something street- late at night. The owner was a 73 year old salvage yard owner. My friend had done business with him being he too owned a trucking business. As my friend waited in the Getaway car- his cousin [who I also knew] and another guy go upstairs and knock on the door- he answers ‘who is it’ they reply ‘PSG & E’ [I guess the name of the utility co. in Jersey- I grew up in Jersey but never paid a utility bill]. The guy says ‘one minute’ and as ‘he’ unlocks the door they rush in- to find the cops waiting in the apt. They were set up.

The case showed how they had plastic restraints and duct tape and all the stuff you would need to kidnap someone. They basically were there to rob the guy- he supposedly had a safe with lots of money in it- instead they got busted. As I read the case- the wife’s testimony [I knew her since I was a kid too- they were together since ‘way back then’] I could hear her voice- reading my friends testimony- the story he came up with- I knew I was hearing my friend. It was sad- yet I felt like I was there.

One time this friend stopped by my house in Jersey ‘hey John- let’s take a ride to the shore’. Sure- where did you get the car? [Nice new Nova] ‘I found it- it was just sitting there with the keys in it’ sure enough I went. We had a few incidents take place where he owed me some money- one night I was at the carnival with another friend and I said ‘if I see so and so tonight- its over!’

Sure enough my friend spots him a little while later and I got into a severe fight with him. The next day I found out he had to go to the hospital and his family pressed charges against me- and his ‘biker friends’ [from Fort Lee- young guys- all our age] were gonna get me. I joined the Navy a few days later.

Over the years I always tried to ‘convert’ my buddies- the first time back after this incident [maybe a couple of years later?] I hooked up with these old friends- my one friend [geez- I don’t want to use their names] the friend that I didn’t get in the fight with- he said ‘John- so and so still holds a grudge, maybe you better not get in touch with him’ I just blew it off- we got together and nothing happened. I felt bad- he did have some scars from the incident a few years earlier.

I have always tried to stay in touch with these old friends- I have made lots of friends thru the years- guys who have gone to prison- involved in bad stuff- yet lots of them do actually get into the bible- seek God- and many of them do come around.

I have always had sincere friends say ‘John- maybe your taking too many risks by being around these guys’. I have had a few good friends tell me this recently about my friends contact with these Muslim groups on facebook ‘John- you never know if these guys are terrorists or what’ I hear them- yet the ‘risk’ of possibly having a ‘secret’ terrorist friend on the net- well that’s really not something I worry about- plus- these guys do read my posts, what more could I ask for?

I haven’t heard from my friend in prison for around 8 months now- he was real happy to write- he asked for some radio tapes from my programs- I sent him a bunch- he was grateful- shared them with the brothers in jail [the way my buddy was- always scamming someone- I wouldn’t put it past him to have sold the tapes!]. The charges against him were attempted kidnapping and robbery. They caught him because the plan was hatched with a biker gang out of the South Bronx [N.Y.] and they had an undercover informant in the gang. The gang are called the Chingalings, I saw an A&E special on them years ago- never knew my friend [or his cousin] were in the gang.

So anyway hopefully I’ll hear from him again- I saved the address [I used to never save the addresses of my friends who I wrote to in prison- I have been writing the brothers for years- teaching them stuff- one on one, like the blog- but I would simply get the address from the next letter- this time I thought I should save one of the envelopes- so sure enough I have his Rahway address- his prison number and all].

One time I got an email from a friend- a girl I grew up with- she read the blog and said something like ‘gee- I like the blog John- and I know you are always challenging us to go out and help people like you do- but I’m not like you- I can’t get with all these convicts’. I emailed her back ‘PLEASE- DON’T GET WITH CONVICTS!’ I had to explain to her that she shouldn’t take my blog challenges the wrong way- I never meant for the average homemaker to go out and meet with the Chingalings!

Yet I do try and challenge my old buddies- guys who have done time in prison- ex drug addicts and all- I do often tell them ‘hey guys- don’t forget where you came from- there are still others like you that need someone to go and take a chance on them- like I did with you’. All in all I’m sure God’s will will get done. Anyway it was good to hear from one of my old buddies- he’s not on Facebook- I searched for him when I first got on- I told him that would be the best place to keep in touch. Either way it’s important to make an effort- even if its small- to try and help out your friends- you might have to take some risks- but in the end it will be worth it.


I read a story in my local paper yesterday- there was an ecumenical dinner held this week between Christians, Jews and Muslims. The Christian staff writer who attended shared how it helped her to overcome previous prejudices that she had. She told what the various speakers discussed and I was particularly impressed with what the Muslim speaker said- she talked about how true religion is not performance, putting on a show- but is expressed in reaching out to those in need- the poor and hurting.

In fact she was basically quoting the New Testament book of James- James says ‘pure religion is to visit the fatherless and widows and to stay clean from the world’. A few weeks back one of my homeless buddies stopped by- he’s basically a genius when it comes to the bible- I mean it’s sort of an autistic thing to be honest- he knows- by memory- much more than the average preacher. As I visited with Henry I gave him the latest bible studies that were sent to me over the last few months. Years ago I heard a N.J. Jewish preacher- who pastors a Messianic congregation in Lodi, N.J.- he had a short radio show on the same station I’m on- and as a courtesy I sent him some of my books and told him hi and all- being I’m a former Jersey brother and all. Ever since he has sent me these really great bible studies every month.

The studies are really in depth- and he usually only sends them to partners [those who support his ministry with money]. But I guess he appreciated my sending him a nice note and he forever put me on the list. Now- I’m an avid reader- I’ve read just about everything you can get your hands on- but these past few years I’m trying to stick with scholarly stuff- not that I’m ‘too good’ for the basic stuff- It’s just I really don’t have the time to just read tons of stuff that’s in the category of ‘devotional’ material- stuff that just kind of talks about Christian things.

So I hate to throw the stuff out- I mean they’re great bible studies. I don’t want to write Jonathan [the pastor] and say ‘take me off your list’- so I save them up and give them to Henry- he devours them and even quotes them back to me the next time I see him. So anyway we had a good talk. Somehow we got into discussing the book of James [the verse I quoted above] and I told Henry how it’s funny that James [we believe this letter in the New Testament- called James- was written by the James who was Jesus’ brother- mentioned about in the bible. He was the same James mentioned as one of the leaders in the church at Jerusalem in the book of Acts, chapter 15. To my Catholic friends- it might sound strange ‘Jesus had a brother?’ these words are found in the New Testament. Catholic teachers don’t deny this- they just interpret it to mean ‘cousin’ or near relative- some say its speaking of ‘Christian brother’. Don’t want to debate it- just thought I should mention it].

Anyway- I told Henry how it’s strange that one of the key leaders in the early church- who was closer to Jesus than all the other disciples [he lived in the same house] that he would write such a scathing indictment against the rich- and he would defend the poor so strongly. James’ letter is one of the strongest rebukes against the rich that you will find in the bible. Anyway Henry agreed with me- of course Henry’s poor- homeless- but he knows his stuff. He said ‘you know John- as true as you are- you never hear this from the famous pulpits in America’. He was agreeing with what the Muslim lady said at the dinner- that true religion is not fame and glory- but serving those in need.

I liked the spirit of the article I read- It does not mean I will not continue to advocate for the exclusivity of the gospel of Jesus- that Jesus is truly the only way to God. Pope Benedict has also come under some heat for saying the Catholic Church teaches that Jesus is the only way of salvation- to which I agree.

Yet at the same time- as we make our case to our Muslim and Jewish friends- we can also sit down with them- live as citizens of the same community with them- and even learn something from them every now and then.

NOTE- To any of my friends who might be ‘rich’. The early church did have certain individuals who were rich- and it was oaky. The person who gave his grave spot to Jesus- Joseph of Arimathea- was rich. Also in the books of Acts there were believers who sold their real estate and dedicated the money to the church. So the bible doesn’t just outright condemn those who are rich- but there are many warnings against being rich in ‘this world’ while forgetting to build riches in the kingdom [works of love and charity]. That’s the main theme of James’ letter.

[1576] CHRIS MATTHEWS, ED SHULTZ AND THE HOMELESS- Spent the day yesterday on the streets with my homeless buddies- it was cold! I was on foot. Ran into Henry, one of the brothers who really knows his stuff. Henry is originally from Massachusetts and he always has great discussions about the bible- he’s sort of one of those undiscovered genius types- a ‘rain man’ type guy when it comes to the bible. We came back to the house for the afternoon- made a little lunch/dinner type thing. A few months back another one of my buddies, John David [I wrote about John a while back- he was strung out on cocaine for years- has been clean for a while] came by- he started a drug rehab- told me the location and showed me the story they ran on him in the news [it made it to CNN!] I was excited- the next day I wrote a 50 dollar check- stuck it in my wallet and figured the next time I run into him I’ll give it to him as a gift. Never ran into him since- so I gave the check to Henry- he will get with brother Ray- a street preacher who is also struggling with finances right now- and they will split it. Henry would never be able to cash it by himself- or else I would have just given him the 50. I Heard Roger might have died in jail- about a year ago he threatened to kill a cop [he’s all talk- never would have done it] and they charged him with a terroristic threat- sent him away for a year. Roger was a good friend- hope he didn’t die. Around 4 o’clock Henry was heading out to go down the road to brother Rays place [lives a mile or 2 away] I gave Henry a bunch of bible studies that some ministry sends me every month- I don’t have time to read them- hate to throw them away- so I save them for Henry, he loves them. The preacher is from New Jersey- a Messianic Jew- I sent him some stuff once and just said hi- he has been sending me the studies ever since. As Henry was walking out- he had the check- a little doggie bag I whipped up for him with some stuff- the studies and all- he told me ‘John- this has been the best day I have had in a long time’ I knew it wasn’t the check- or food- Henry sees me as one of his best friends- and he really gets into the fellowship time- I usually share some ‘scholarly’ stuff  I’ve been reading- the trends going on in theology and all- he eats that stuff up- loves learning- but doesn’t always have up to date info on the recent developments in the field of theology- so he just likes learning.

Okay- though I hate to do this- let me make a few more political/news comments. After Henry left I caught the news for a few hours- Chris Matthews has chosen to use the deaths of the innocent victims in Arizona for political gain. He went on a rampage of saying because of this Sarah Palin needs to come out and apologize for using political targets to target Democratic districts- he said she will forever be associated with the deaths- that you will be able to Google Palin and crosshairs and she will be marked for life with the deaths of these people- and he said she will be ‘ERASED’ [no lie] if she doesn’t apologize. This man is more dangerous than Glenn Beck- most people see Beck for what he is- Matthews is not seen as a ‘nut job’ it is very possible to take his words to mean he is calling for the assassination of Sarah Palin- so very sad. Then Ed Shultz [another guy I do like] did his show defending his segment ‘psycho talk’ I missed the beginning of the show- but you got the drift that some on the conservative side have shot back at the liberals and said ‘look- you lib’s use radical talk too’ so Ed was defending his segment- than- to my shock- he transitions to a segment called RAPI- FIRE [God- please help us all] and as he asks the 2 democratic guests their views on the irresponsibility of Palin and the right using images of guns and crosshairs and targets- the 2 guests seem embarrassed that the name of this segment is called RAPID- FIRE with the words ‘rapid fire’ blazed in red and blinking on the bottom of the screen- I mean Shultz comes on MSNBC right after Matthews- who just called for Palin to be ‘ERASED’. I couldn’t believe the stupidity of these men- to put it bluntly. At this point it looks like the shooter was just a mentally disturbed young man who had no consistent political views- yes- in the beginning it seemed like he might have been a right wing nut job- a Tim McVeigh type personality- but the evidence just does not show that. Of course what he did is still horrendous- it just doesn’t seem to have been instigated by right wing ideology. It just seems hypocritical- of course the right wingers are going to show you all the examples of the left doing the same things that they are outraged over- so another ‘target’ was revealed- it was made by the Democrats- and it had exactly the same rifle/scope targets over the districts of Republicans- then they of course showed you the clips of Obama saying ‘when they bring a knife [political opponents] we bring a gun’ and I even caught this one my self- when the president made the end of the year deal with the republicans- the lame duck congress- he had to defend himself against the liberals who were mad- so he innocently says ‘You know- I didn’t agree with everything in the deal- but when HOSTAGE TAKERS are threatening to hurt the hostages- than you make the deal’ now- we all know the president did not mean to send a message to the real hostage takers of the world- telling them ‘yes- I will deal with you if you start killing off the hostages’ and I heard no conservative voice accuse him of this [someone might have- I did not hear anyone so far] - it would be irresponsible to take the political speech of the president [we’ll bring a gun- hostage takers- etc.] and use that as a political tool to shame the man- yet that’s exactly what some on the left are doing- I agree with those on the right and the left who are calling for a step down on the rhetoric- from both sides- but those who are publicly saying that the rhetoric from one side is what caused these peoples deaths- that’s being irresponsible to the max.

[1565]  HITCHENS- BLOOMBERG AND ADAM- Okay- being I’m finishing up my last book, I made the mistake of going to half price books yesterday- mistake? Yes- I’m going thru some courses right now on philosophy and really shouldn’t be starting any new books right now- but heck, I couldn’t help myself. So as my custom goes- my wife dropped me off [they know better than to wait at the store- I usually take a few hours] and I begin the obsession. First I go thru all the shelves of the targeted category [theology, philosophy, etc.] and pluck out the books I think are relevant. Then when the process is complete I usually purchase 3-5 books from the collection [yes- I leave the rest on the shelf for the poor book worker to put back into the proper section]. So anyway as I was walking outside after the purchase I sat at one of the outside coffee areas where lots of people usually hang out [you know- the professors- one time there was a guitar playing hippie singing about the war in Vietnam- in 2009!]. But this day it was surprisingly empty- only one homeless guy. As I sat to start Christopher Hitchens best seller ‘god is not great- how religion poisons everything’ I realized that the reason the spot was empty was because the homeless kid was sitting there at one of the tables- playing with one of those kids toys- you shake it back and forth and it claps- and he seemed to be talking to himself. To be honest- some of these guys are my best friends- I’ve spent thousands of man hours just hanging out with these brothers over the years. I really didn’t talk too much- trying to dissect Hitchens- then my wife drove up and beeped the horn. As I got up to leave- I saw the brother kinda look my way- seemed to be waiting to  see the scared- or violent type response they usually see- you know ‘stay the hell away from me’ type thing. I caught his eye and just gave him a friendly ‘hey brother- how you doing’ he was so glad to be seen as a human being. I walked over and figured I’d talk for a minute or 2. I didn’t realize it at first, but he was wearing headphones and listening to music- he wasn’t talking to himself after all. He told me he was listening to Floyd- I told him I too am a big classic rock fan- that while living in Jersey I missed their concert in 1979-80 ‘The Wall’. He knew the year- it was 1980. I just spent a few minutes having a friendly talk with him- maybe the first real communication he’s had all day- most of these brothers are nice guys- yet they often struggle with mental issues- he looked to be in his late 20’s, originally from some northern state- probably headed south for the winter. As my wife was waiting in the car- beeping the horn- probably thinking ‘Oh know- another one of his homeless friends’ [yes- I’ve met hundreds over the years- and they’ve all been to the house many times] I told my buddy I got to go- he asks ‘what’s your name’? John. Hi John- my name is Adam. Strange- the man who was made in God’s image- Jesus said ‘in as much as you helped one of the least- the down and out- you have helped me’.

Okay- once again I really needed to do a post or 2 on philosophy- before I get too ahead of  myself in the study; but let me make a few comments on Hitchens book [see- I told you I shouldn’t have hit the book store!] Okay- I’m gonna try and be nice to Hitchens- he is one of the famous atheist writers of the past few years- these guys are referred to as ‘the new atheists’ the group consists of some notable names- Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris- a few others. These guys kind of became popular in reviving some of the old arguments against religion and God- most modern readers are not aware that they are simply re-hashing the same old arguments that have been refuted in the past- and to be honest this bunch make a whole lotta errors in their thinking/arguments. Most well trained Christian apologists have thoroughly refuted them. But being Hitchens is dying [or died? I haven’t checked recently] of cancer- I’ll try and be nice [try!]. Okay- like some of the book reviews I read- Hitchens is crude and mean- and yes- at times ignorant of his glaring mistakes. He describes a nice old teacher he had as a youth- as a young boy growing up in England- she taught the schoolboys about nature and science- and yes- God. I thought he was being nice telling the story. Then he calls her ‘a pious old trout’. He refers to the sex abuse scandal that’s rocked the Catholic church- he calls it the ‘no child’s behind left’ scandal [a takeoff on the no child left behind policy]. So yes, this book- while containing some real good history- also sounds overly crude. Hitchens also appeals to mans great intellect and sophistication as being all we need for true morality- he says man does not need God, religion or the bible to be moral- after all we have the great works of literature! Sounds good- right? He then goes on and mentions the names of the great authors- he mentions Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy among others- and makes the argument ‘see- we have morality and truth contained within these books without needing religious truth’- geez- every well read person will tell you that these authors are known for their books being inundated with religious morality- it’s no secret that these 2 authors are considered some of the greatest Christian/religious writers of their time. How Hitchens could appeal to the ethics contained in their writings and say ‘see- we don’t need religious ethics- we have these guys’. I mean these types of obvious flaws jump right out at you- to be honest I have only read the reviews from these famous atheists in the past- but most of the reviews have pointed stuff like this out- I just didn’t think these guys would be this ‘amateurish’ [geez- don’t want to call the guy an idiot- or an old trout- that wouldn’t be the Christian thing to do].  So anyway I guess I’ll hit a few high points of the book the next week or so.

Last- but not least. Have we had our own Greek crisis? Those of you who follow the news are aware that this last year the European Union has suffered from a severe debt crisis- many states that make up the union have struggled to try and cut costs and sure up their economies- Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ireland are still very much in trouble. So the other healthier economies in the union [Germany] have put pressure on the weaker ones to get their houses in order- they refer to this as ‘austerity’ taking measures to reign in the financial crisis. As a response to these cutbacks- like raising the retirement age and hiking college tuition- many citizens have taken to the streets in protest-  govt. workers going on strike and all. People have wondered if stuff like this could happen in the good old U.S. of A- it looks like it might just have! In sort of sneaky way. The blizzard that has wreaked havoc on the north east these last few days has caused problems for N.Y. and N.J. [my old home turf]. The mayor of N.Y. - Michael Bloomberg- has come under fire for not getting the streets cleared in time. Word has gotten out that some of the street workers were told by their bosses ‘go slow in the clean up’ so to put pressure on the mayor to not eliminate their jobs- sort of like an under the cover strike. If this is true [we don’t know for sure] then it would be our own workers rebellion against our austerity measures- while it’s not as bad as what Europe has gone thru- never the less it’s still bad.

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