Sunday, June 29, 2014




The chapter for this week is Colossians 1.

When we read the New Testament- for the most part we are reading ‘crisis letters’.


The apostle Paul wrote the majority of the letters that make up the New Testament- and his life was spent proclaiming the gospel of Jesus- and refuting the false teachings that the early church had to deal with.

In this letter to the church that lived at Colosse [a city in the days of Jesus] the error that the apostle combated was Asceticism.

Which simply means the idea that the way we gain favor with God is thru strict self denial- to the point of injuring your self.

Now- in the bible we do read that we should deny ourselves- practice habits of self denial [fasting] and ‘keep our bodies in subjection’.

But in the church at Colosse they took it too far.

So- in chapter one Paul presents the reality of God- that he created all things- visible and invisible- and he declares unto us a mystery- something that was hidden until the time of Christ.

What is it?

Paul says ‘Christ in you- the hope of glory’.

Often times you hear the phrase ‘Jesus is in my heart’- well- in a sense- that is true.

‘Christ in you’ simply means that the Holy Spirit [Christ not only denotes the person of Jesus- but it was his title- he was the anointed one who was to come- Christ means Anointed One].

So- Paul tells us the Spirit of God dwells in the heart of the believer- that Christianity is not simply obeying rules- or self denial [the problem Paul is refuting].

But it is a new way of life made possible because God’s Spirit lives inside of us.

Paul also refers to God as ‘Our father’.

Jesus shocked the religious world of his day when he referred to God- as not only his father- but ours too!

If you remember- the Jewish people at the time said ‘he is making himself equal with God- because he claims to be the Son of God’.

Now- was their accusation true?


Was Jesus claiming deity for himself?

Now- this is indeed where it gets tough for some.

I have lots of friends of other faiths.

And most of the time I try and take an open minded approach.

But- in this area- this is what makes Christianity unique among the other religions of the world.

Jesus did indeed claim deity- that he was the Son of God.

The critics say ‘see- he was crazy’.

The followers say ‘no- he was telling the truth’.

The apostle Paul refers to God as our father- and this ‘new’ way of seeing God- has remained with the followers of Christ ever since.

A short note;

Many approaches to God/religion are based upon the same belief that the Colossians were being influenced by.

That God is a mean judge- that if we try hard- to obey- we will escape his wrath.

But if we mess up- and stumble- he will judge us.

Okay- the basic reality of God as judge is true- to a degree.

When people are ‘outside of Christ’ [do not embrace him as the Messiah].

They are indeed under the judgment of God- the apostle Paul said ‘if your approach to God is based solely on law- then you are mandated to keep every point’.

The legalistic approach to God- which many good people embrace- sort of views God as someone who might have grown up in a harsh home- or maybe a home without a dad.

This view- though well meaning- still sees ‘dad’ as the mean guy who you better watch out for.

The view Jesus gave us was a different one.

That God is our father too- and because Jesus- as our ‘elder brother’- took the Cross for us- we now have the ability to approach God based on Grace- not based on our strict obedience to the law.

This ‘family’ view of God is indeed unique to Christianity- and of course I embrace this view myself [when I pray- I do indeed approach God as my father- like Jesus taught us in the model prayer- the Our father].

Okay- that’s just a brief overview of chapter 1.

Try and read that chapter before the week is out.

Meditate on the reality that God created all things- invisible- and visible.

He is the creator of it all.

Jesus is ‘the image of the invisible God’.

The way we know- see the character of God- is by seeing and learning from the life of Christ.

The disciple Philip asked Jesus ‘Show us the Father’ [in John’s gospel].

Jesus said ‘have I been all this time with you- and you still don’t know what the Father is like- if you have seen me- you have seen the father’.

Jesus was ‘God in the flesh’ [we call this the Incarnation- God become man].

If you want a view of God- a ‘lens’ to see him by- then look at Jesus.

Jesus said ‘take my yoke upon you- and learn of me- for I am meek and lowly- and you shall find rest for your souls’.

Christianity offers an approach to God that says ‘come unto me- all you who labor and are tired- you will find rest’.

NOTE- Christianity in the first century was not born in a vacuum.

Of course the major World View was Judaism- but the second- very strong influence/philosophy of the day was Greek wisdom [thus my quote in the last post ‘The Greeks seek wisdom’].

In the letter to the Colossians- the Apostle refutes Asceticism- which was indeed a belief of the Greek philosophers.

Greek wisdom taught that the material realm was evil.

Way back about 6 centuries before Christ- you had the famous Philosopher Socrates.

His most famous student was Plato.

And Plato’s most famous student was Aristotle.

When Socrates was put to death- because of his supposed bad influence on the youth of his time [he taught them to questions stuff!].

It is reported that he calmly drank the Cyanide- because he believed that when he would die- be released from his body [the so called evil realm of matter] that he would finally ‘be free’.

Now- do Christians believe this?

Yes and no.

Because our bibles were written in Greek [which shows you how strong the Greek influence effected the early church- our first New Testaments were written in Greek- though the Roman Empire was the world Empire of the day.

But Alexander the Great- the famed Greek conqueror who came a few centuries before Christ- he instituted what we refer to as Helenization.

A form of conquering where you let the people you conquer keep their culture- but you also use parts of your culture [in this case the Greek language] to permeate the vanquished.

So- the Roman Empire of Jesus day [who at one time were under the rule of the Greek Empire] continued to write in Greek.

It wasn’t until around a few centuries after the time of Christ that the first Latin bible was written [by Saint Jerome].

But even his bible [the Latin Vulgate] used the Greek Old Testament [called the Septuagint] instead of the Hebrew- for his Latin translation.

Ok- the point being- the Greek world did indeed have a strong influence on the early church.

And the church had to refute the belief that all matter was evil.

The Christian doctrine of creation [developed under saint Augustine- the 4th-5th century bishop of Hippo- North Africa].

Was the teaching that matter was good- that God created the material realm- so it is not  inherently evil.

But- after the fall of man [Genesis 1-3] a curse did indeed come upon the earth [some times when the bible says ‘the world’ it is speaking of the earth- but other times it is speaking of the fallen order- the sinful realm of man. That’s why there is some confusion- till this day- among Christians. They might read verses like this- and think the bible is saying the earth itself- the planet- is wicked. Actually in those verses it is speaking about the fallen order of sinful men. See? ‘For all that is in THE WORLD- the lust of the flesh- the lust of the eyes and the pride of life- is not of the father- but is of the WORLD- and the WORLD is passing away’- this is one example from the epistle of John- here the World is not saying the planet- but the world of sinful man- a fallen ‘world’ order.]

So- in conclusion [if I ever get there!] we- as believers- reject the belief that all matter is evil.

No- man was created in the image of God- and God is the creator of all things- both visible [earth- man- etc] and invisible [mentioned in the above chapter].

The evil we see in the ‘world’ today is simply a result of mans sin- mans choice to live in rebellion against God.

We can’t escape ‘this world of sin’ by simply denying ourselves [though that is one aspect of the Christian life].

But God sent his Son into the world to redeem man- Christ died for all men- and this is the Divine act of Salvation.

When we as humans partake of this Salvation- we are then free- free to enjoy this life- that God gave us- and we don’t have to have the mindset of a Socrates- who saw this natural life as evil.

The apostle Paul says in his letter to the Romans;

‘Present your bodies as a living sacrifice- HOLY and acceptable to God’.


Our bodies- the actual flesh we live in- can be Holy- sanctified- when submitted to the will of 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. Don’t forget to scroll down on the timeline [FaceBook] - I have posted lots.



First a quick note-

As of right now I’m not able to regularly hook up to the internet- so I’m going to write these posts- and then post them when I get a chance.

If I don’t comment- or ‘like’ a note a friend may give- that’s because I can’t.

Sometimes I get a quick- week- wireless connection in my area- and you might see me post a note- and then I lose the connection when I try and ‘like’ something- or return a comment.

So- don’t feel bad [which happens quite often in social media venues!] if that happens to you.

Ok- this week I had a few people ask me about the resurrection- what does the bible teach about a person when they die.

I explained the ‘normal’ Christian belief- found in 1st Corinthians chapter 15.

I also left room for a few other Christian groups- that have different ideas about what happens between death and the resurrection [like those who believe in soul sleep- that the Christian is simply in a state of unaware ‘waiting’ until the Return of Christ].

And I told my friend that I don’t see these other Christian groups as really bad- or heretics- because they have a little different view.

Ok- my view [the classic view- for both Catholics and Protestants].

We believe that when a believer dies- their Spirit/Soul go right into the presence of God [To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord- Apostle Paul said this].

The body goes into the grave and at the Return of Christ- what we call the 2nd coming- the Body and soul of the believer who died- are re-united and they are raised from the dead.

The Christians who are still alive at this point- they don’t ‘see death’- but are also transformed and receive a Glorified body [a resurrection body] at this point.

The main bible chapters on this are 1st Corinthians chapter 15- and 1st Thessalonians 4.

My friend also asked about the present state of the dead believer- are they aware? Do they know what’s going on?

Yes- even though they do not yet have their resurrection body- they are in Gods presence [what we call the Beatific vision- ‘seeing God’] and they know what’s going on.

That’s the basic Christian teaching- for both Catholics and Protestants.

In Protestant circles- there are varying degrees on some aspects [some hold to a belief in the Rapture- a teaching that comes from a different reading of Paul’s letter- 1st Thessalonians 4. These believe that the second coming is in 2 stages- and this puts a little different spin on when the resurrection occurs- but for the most part these hold to the basic teaching about the actual resurrection body].

What about it?

The resurrection body is the same type of body that Christ had after he rose from the dead.

What we refer to as a glorified body.

In the bible we read about others who were raised from the dead- but these people died later- and their bodies- though raised from the dead- were not resurrection bodies.

A common question is ‘what are these bodies going to be like- will we recognize each other’?

Yes- but at the same time the apostle Paul gives a response to this question in Corinthians 15.

He says that when you plant a seed- the seed dies- but the plant that comes out of the ground is not simply a bigger seed!

But it is a whole new type of thing.

He uses this analogy to describe the resurrection body- the body believers will get when they are raised from the dead.

So- that’s the basic Christian teaching.

Though there are various Christian groups who interpret some of these verses a little differently- as long as they still hold to the actual belief in the physical resurrection of the body- I think they are ‘safe’ [safe= still basically holding to sound truth].

There are some though- who deny the actual resurrection [that is they spiritualize it- and say the resurrection is simply the reality that we as believers have already experienced a sort of resurrection- which is true- but this does not negate the actual physical one to come].

Believers in this camp- are in danger- in my view [as well as the apostle Paul’s- that’s why he wrote the 15th chapter of 1st Corinthians].

There were some in the church at Corinth  who were denying the belief in the resurrection- Paul told them-

‘if you say there is no resurrection- then that means you also don’t believe that Christ was raised- and if you don’t believe that Christ was raised- then you are still in your sins and your faith is vain’

Strong words indeed.

So that’s the scoop- we- as believers- believe that our loved ones who have died in the faith are  now in Gods presence- conscious- and in pain and sorrow no more.

At the second coming of Christ- they will be re-united with their bodies- raised from the dead- to die no more.

This is a major Christian doctrine- the resurrection from the dead.

Once again- in chapter 15 of 1st Corinthians- the apostle Paul- speaking to the believers who were beginning to doubt the resurrection- said

‘If our belief in Christ is for this life only [meaning there is no after life] then we are of all men most miserable’.

The resurrection gives us hope- it also gives us hope for our loved ones who have died- they might be ‘gone’ right now- but we will indeed see them again some day.

NOTE- this is the first ‘official’ post from New Jersey.

Being I don’t have a good internet connection- I’ll try and add stuff at times at the bottom of the posts.

I’m able to catch a Wi-Fi hook up every now and then- but it’s very weak.

Of course the big ‘news story’ for the past few days is the Zimmerman thing.

To be honest- I have not followed this case much at all- the amount of news coverage was silly- we did [do] have lots of much bigger news stories to cover- but much time was wasted on this.

Okay- my opinion?

From the start- I tried not to take sides- many in the media saw this as a ‘right/left’ issue- that’s a mistake- in my mind.

I said I thought that Zimmerman was sort of a Wannabe cop- and that he did go much further then he should have as some neighborhood watch guy.

As I listened to the arguments- from both sides- there was some credence to the prosecutions closing arguments that showed that Zimmerman was following Trayvon- and they did a good job at showing that when he got out of the car- he more than likely already knew the street name/address- but said he was looking for it because he knew the person from the PD said not to follow him.

But- as I was discussing this with someone- I said even though I’m not a defender of Zimmerman-yet- there was enough reasonable doubt- that at the time he shot Trayvon- it just might have met the criteria of self defense.

And that’s indeed what the jury thought as well.

So- at the end of the day- I feel bad for the poor mom- she is a good Christian lady who did want justice for her son.

Even though Trayvon was demonized by some on the right- he was a human being- a kid from a home without a dad- and his mom loved him- very much.

His mom also chose to not make this a racial thing- they were the ones [his parents] that forced their side- the prosecution- to not go down that road.

I commend her for that.

As of today- there is much talk about doing the federal charges- the hate crimes thing.

Now the way this justice dept. is under Holder- they just might do it.

I don’t say that simply because Holder is Black- but because he has a record of using the justice dept as a sort of an arm of the civil rights agenda’s of people like Sharpton and Jackson.

So- he might just go for it- which I think would be a big mistake- and be an injustice to those who are really victims of true hate crimes.

Okay- that’s it for now- I’ll try and post this today if I get a connection.

God bless.

P.S.  I’m still settling ‘in the land’ but in time might try and do some home bible study type things.

If so- when I start some- I’ll simply see if any of you in the NY/NJ area are interested to host one [just open a living room for an hour- maybe make coffee- pretty simple].

Keep that in mind and pray about it if you want to host one.

Thanks- John.

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.


Let me first make a few comments about the recent death of my sister Laura.

It’s  especially sad- because for many years my sister looked forward to one day living with me and my family.

Over the years- she would make statements that when my mom passed away- she would like to move to Texas.

For those unfamiliar with our family situation- my sister had some devastating effects from years of drug addiction.

I know- and have worked with lots of ‘mainline’ drug addicts thru out my life.

And I can honestly say- Laura had some of the worst effects I have ever seen.

I’m not sure why- but it was obvious that she had some very bad effects early on.

As I young kid- in my early 20’s- when I went back home- from Texas- on various visits- I could see that something happened.

Sort of like when you might have a family relative who has some type of mental disability- the other family members are aware that something is not right.

Don’t get me wrong- you still love and care for that person- but you know something is dysfunctional.

So- this was our families experience with my sister Laura.

As I mentioned in the last post- she looked up to me- maybe more than in a normal sibling situation- because early on I did influence her with my faith in God.

When I really got involved in the ministry- I passed this type of Evangelical faith to my sister.

But- I was one of the few Evangelicals I knew- that was not anti Catholic- at all.

So- over the years- when I would see that Laura- like many Protestants- took a strong anti Catholic view- I tried my best to counter balance it.

She was a huge fan of the famous radio preacher Harold Camping.

Now- those of you who have read my blog will realize that I do not hold to the very popular End Times scenarios that you see on the American church scene.

Camping was a staunch End Times type of guy- who of course was famous for his false predictions of the End of the World.

But- because I realized Laura looked up to him- a lot- I was careful when I refuted his views about stuff like this.

For those not too familiar with Theology- Camping also held to what’s called Calvinism.

The jist of this is the belief in the doctrine of Predestination- that those who are saved are the Elect.

That God chose those from before time- and these are the ones who ‘in time’ get saved.

Now- ‘wars’ have been fought over this doctrine.

Suffice it to say that the original reformers [Luther included] did indeed hold to this ‘Augustinian’ view [Saint Augustine- the very influential 4th/5th century Catholic bishop from Hippo- North Africa- taught the doctrine of predestination. This has made him both a favorite among many Protestants- as well a Catholics].

So- I was able- over the years- to have good talks with Laura- because I was familiar with lots of the history- as well as what the bible teaches- on this stuff.

As a matter of fact- in a little while I will be going to church- at the Catholic Cathedral here in Corpus Christi.

I basically made it my Home Church as I spend my last week in Texas.

So- over the next few weeks- maybe I will share some of the talks I had with Laura over the years.

When I told my family a few months ago that I was moving back to the area- I know my sister was really looking forward to it.

That’s why it’s sad that she died a week before my return.

Okay- being I mentioned Africa [how’s this for a segway?] let’s talk a little about the Presidents recent trip to the continent.

This past week President Obama has been touring the continent.

His visit has been overshadowed by the poor health of the great civil rights leader- Nelson Mandela.

For a week or so he has been on what most think is his final leg of the journey- that he’s ready to die.

So the President has been aware of this- and met with the family and has handled it well.

But- he did indeed get rebuked publicly by the president of Senegal- Macky Sall.

As most of you know- the Supreme Court struck down the DOMA law last week [Defense of Marriage Act].

This law was enacted by President Clinton- it limited the Federal govt. from recognizing gay marriage.

It is interesting to note that both Clinton and Obama praised the decision to strike it down as a great day for civil rights in our country.

Whatever your view on this is- the point is the law was signed by Clinton- and only a year and a half ago- Obama himself was against gay marriage.

So- it is a little disingenuous to label those against gay marriage as bigots- unless you too believe that Obama was a bigot just a short time ago.

Any way when he was in Senegal he spoke about the SCOTUS ruling and hailed it as a great day.

Now- Africa is a continent that has a lot of states/countries that have laws against homosexuality.

Senegal is one of them [there are about 38 states who outlaw it on the continent].

So- when President Obama gave Senegal this rebuke.

Their president rebuked back!

He said they were not ‘Homophobic’.

But- as a majority Muslim nation [about 95%] they are not going to accept gay marriage- and that’s that.

Macky was praised by his people- and the media- who are very open about the subject.

A few headlines from some of the outspoken papers read; 

‘NO- WE CANT’ [as opposed to Obama’s famous Yes We Can].


And the most outspoken of all-


So- as you can see- Senegal has no intentions on changing its stance any time soon.

I find it interesting- because Obama has been rebuked recently by China [Hong Kong]- Russia- and now Senegal!

I don’t cheer when I see this- but I recognize that we are in trouble in the world.

It was surreal to see our plea to Hong Kong [and now Russia] that they should turn over the Whistle Blower Snowden- out of respect for the ‘Rule of Law’.

Then to hear Holder [attorney general] use the same language.

This last year we have seen- on actual news video- both Holder and other high ranking Obama folk- actually lying to congress- on national TV.

James Clapper- a top intelligence guy- when asked if the US govt. was collecting large amounts of data- any data- on US citizens.

He responded ‘no- not that I know of- not intentionally’.

Then- when it came out that indeed the govt. was [thru the now infamous Prism program].

Clapper said ‘well- I gave the best- least truthful answer I could’.

Actually it is a crime to lie to congress- so the ‘least truthful’ is still a crime.

As you can see- when these same guys publicly appeal to the rule of law- in rebuking Hong Kong and others- it seems laughable.

And when the president of a small state in Sub Saharan Africa publicly rebukes the leader of the free world.

Then yes- we know there’s trouble on the horizon.

NOTE-  The Supreme Court also struck down parts of the voting rights act of 1965. Under this law the Federal govt. had strict oversight of any changes that some of the Southern states made to their election process. Of course the purpose of this law- which was noble when enacted- was to protect the rights of minorities in the South. Over time [according to the majority- and a belief Chief justice Roberts has voiced in the past] as the landscape changed- some viewed this act as not being necessary any more- that is for the federal govt to basically take the ‘right’ from the state to govern its own affairs.

Some think the court- in a way- was acting schizophrenic- saying in the Gay Marriage case- it acted Liberal.

But in the Voting case- Conservative.

I don’t see that.

The court- in a way- acted ‘conservative’ [I really don’t like these distinctions- but it’s hard to explain this without them] in both cases.

Judicial ‘conservatism’ simply means the court should be wary in overturning existing law- the will of congress and the President.

Now-  most pundits will say Chief Justice John Roberts flinched on this when he ruled with the majority liberal opinion- and allowed Obama Care to stand.

Either way- in these recent rulings- at least in the two I mentioned above- you could argue that the court still ruled conservative.


Because both of the above rulings said ‘let the states decide- have more control over the destiny of the people in their states’.

So- in a way- you could view both of the decisions as conservative in a way.

It should be noted that justice Anthony Kennedy- the ‘swing vote’ for the 9 who sit on the bench- played that role again.

He sided with the 4 liberals on the DOMA ruling- and went the other way on the Voting Rights Act.

Let me note- even though these debates rile up the ‘religious’ electorate.

I try and keep a balance between my religious convictions- and the actual effect of the rulings.

For instance- though I am not a proponent of Gay Marriage- yet- as voiced in Kennedys opinion- there is a form of discrimination that same sex couples experience by not having the same ‘right’ to marry- as heterosexual couples have.

This extends to all types of benefits and stuff.

So- even though I don’t side with some- even in the church- who are pro ‘Gay Marriage’.

Yet- I think these concerns- about equality in general- need to also be looked at.

NOTE 2- being I’m kinda doing a weekly news update- let me mention the drop of the Dow last week.

Why did it happen?

I find it interesting that basically nothing has changed- like I have been commenting for 2 years now- the European debt crisis is still there- even worse.

The outlook for the U.S. has also been ‘re-adjusted’ downward- growth for the year was originally estimated to be about 2.4 %.

Now- they are saying about 1.5.

Globally- Chinas economy is also worse than previously expected.

Why is that a big deal?

China was considered to be the hope for the rest of the ailing world economies.

They were a power house a few years ago- not so any more.

The drop?

Our markets fell- for one day- because Ben Bernanke ‘hinted’ that the Fed might stop ‘digitizing’ money next year.


The Federal Reserve has been buying US debt- to the tune of 80 Billion a month- for the past year or 2.

Now- what the Fed actually does is simply ADDS NUMBERS to the accounts.

Like if you simply looked at your bank account on-line- and added multiple zeros to it.

That’s it- that’s how the Fed has been ‘adding’ money into the system.

How does that help- why do they do this?

The hope [which has worked somewhat] was that by doing this- it reduces the ‘cost’ of borrowing money [keeps the % rate low] and in the end it would make it easier for the economy to recover.

Is that the only effect this has?


It also ‘inflates’- in my view- falsely- the market.


This extra 80 billion a month- finds its way into the market- it boosts the DOW.

Understand- the market is up- because this money is doing that- not because the global market is doing good.


So- the Fed hinted they might stop doing this next year- and the same day the markets went down.

Then how do you explain the recovery?

Simple- the Fed gave in [to this pressure] and said ‘no wait- we didn’t mean it- okay- we will keep printing fake money’.

And the ‘children crying in the market place’ were happy again [this reference is from Jesus- he said this generation- the one of his day- were like kids crying- they just wanted their way all the time].

So- in my view- the world markets- not even adding in the tremendous unrest in the Arab/Muslim world [the problem- as I write, that Egypt might go thru another overthrow if things get out of hand in the ongoing protests- The Syrian war- spreading beyond it’s borders. The unrest in Turkey- geez- we are even seeing unrest in Brazil!].

These are all bad signs- I am not an alarmist- I am not predicting the End of the World here- but I see a real denial among some of the financial advisors- they just don’t want to see the writing on the wall.

NOTE 3-  Augustine.

I personally am a fan of Saint Augustine. He is one of the famous church fathers of the early centuries.

In my view he holds a distinct place- he is admired by both staunch Protestants [Reformed Theologians]- and Catholics.


The original Protestant Reformation of the 16th century had 3 key figures.

Martin Luther [Germany]- Ulrich Zwingli [Swiss] and John Calvin [studied for the priesthood in Paris- later took a key role in Geneva Switzerland].

One of the key beliefs- of at least 2 of these 3- was the doctrine mentioned above- Predestination.

It is a common mistake in our day to see historical documentaries [I have seen some] that refer to Calvin as someone who believed in Predestination [true] and that Luther disagreed with him.

That’s wrong [but you have to study theology to find this out- a brief reading of church history does not show you this- that’s why some of the well meaning documentaries you might see on the History channel get this wrong].

Okay- Martin Luther was a Catholic Monk- under an order called the Augustinian order- named after St. Augustine.


Even though he would break away from the church- and the Lutheran church would form- yet he held to the original belief that the founder/namesake of his order taught.

Now- you do indeed find many verses in the bible that speak about God choosing us- and not us ‘choosing him’.

Or chapters [Romans 9] that say Gods choice of us has nothing to do with our own goodness- but he chose us because he loved us.

So- this teaching does indeed have scriptural backing.

But- you also have scripture to back up the opposing view- which is referred to as Arminianism.

Named after another church leader- Jacob Arminius.

He held to the Calvinist view at first- but as he began studying- to defend this view- he came to the belief that this view [at least among its more radical adherents] was wrong.

These 2 groups- Calvinists- Armenians- became enemies as the Protestant Reformation grew.

The followers of men like John Wesley [founder of the Methodist church] disagreed strongly with those who held to the Calvinist view.

In our day- you still have adherents of both views- seeing the ‘other side’ as non Christian.

It’s sad- but this is just one- of thousands of teachings- that have had this effect.

The Catholic leaders warned of this at the time of the breakaway- which took place in the 16th century.

They feared that once you made a clean break from the historic church- that the ‘breaking’ would never stop.

As you look at the scene over the past 500 years- it’s hard to say they were wrong.

One last note- many modern Protestants do not hold Augustine- or any of the men mentioned above- in high regard at all.

Some hold to a belief [another popular one in groups that are Restorationist- as opposed to Reformist] that all of the early Christian expressions got off course [apostatized] and that the only ‘true’ church- just happens to be the group they are in.

Once again- this type of belief simply increases the division in the church- in my view.

Many reject men like Augustine- because of his influence by the Greek philosophers- they charge that some of the early church leaders were too much into philosophy.

For instance- one of the first Christian schools ever founded was in Alexandria- Egypt.

In the 2nd/3rd century Origen- an early church father- would take over the school and teach Christian theology.

But- the school was basically a school that first taught Greek philosophy.

Origen is respected by many [like me] but officially the church does not recognize him as a legitimate Church farther.


Because he did indeed hold to some views that were not Christian based- like the pre- existence of the soul.

This belief comes straight from Greek philosophy- not Christianity.

He also believed in what we refer to as Universalism- that at the end- everyone gets saved- even the Devil!

So- this debate has gone on for centuries- the debate over how ‘Platonic’ so and so is- or did men like Thomas Aquinas [ 13th century- another favorite of mine] simply mix Aristotelian thought [Aristotle] in with Christian teaching- and thus water down the true faith.

This is also the reason many [most] Protestants do not teach Philosophy- as a basic plank- in their seminaries.

I think this is a big mistake.

Philosophy- as a field- deals with the basic issues of life.

Why are we hear- what’s the purpose of mans existence- etc.

For the Protestant church to have basically abandoned this field- this left the secular world to shape it as they wish.

But- the Catholic Church has indeed engaged in this field- and in my view- has presented a better world view- than the secular philosophers.

Okay- now this post is becoming an entire study!

That’s it for now- I have lots of posts like this on the blog- if you want- just look them up there.

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.



Today I begin the 2nd quarterly journal of 2013.

When I did the first- I had no idea that this might be a new format from now on.

As of today- I’m not dead set on it- but I think the format  is beneficial.

Okay- I went to Easter service yesterday- I visited a Catholic church in the area that I never went to before [I attend both Catholic and Protestant churches on and off- but I have been making the Mass pretty regularly the last few weeks].

I also watched a few of the services from Rome- being its Holy Week.

It would be too much to try and cover each chapter that was referenced- but maybe I can hit a few high points.

About a month ago I read Zechariah chapter 12.

It’s what we call a Messianic prophecy- which speaks of Christ.

A famous line ‘they shall look upon him whom they have pierced’.

The apostle Paul alludes to this in his letter to the Romans- chapters 11-12.

He speaks about the Jewish nation- and how at the return of Christ they will mourn for Jesus- they will recognize that he was the Messiah they were waiting for.

Now- as I also read the book of Luke this past month- I focused in on the Passion chapters during Holy Week.

Out of the 4 gospels the church has- 3 are fairly similar- but the gospel of John stands alone.

The majority of John’s gospel focuses in on the last week of Christ’s earthly life- the others cover a broader time period.

In the crucifixion accounts we see Jesus realizing that what’s happening is the fore ordained hand of God.

It’s sort of like he’s  ‘in charge’ [well- he is!] but in a way that even confounds the authorities.

Pilate says ‘don’t you know I have the power to take your life’?

Jesus  ‘you have no power- except what God gave you’.

You see this ‘in between the lines’ sense of Jesus saying ‘do what you have to do- lets get this thing over with’.

He knew it had to happen.

In one of the Masses from Rome- the English interpreter used a word I though was strange.

I’m not sure if she was using the right word- even though it ‘fit’.

The new Pope- Francis- was speaking Latin.

And the interpreter was saying ‘immolation’.

Talking about Christ’s passion.

Now- the word immolation means burning- if you remember my political posts of a couple years back.

When I covered the Arab Spring- the first nation to rebel was Tunisia.

In the streets of Tunis a merchant ‘self immolated’- burned himself to death- as a sign of protest against oppressive govt.

This sparked the Arab Spring.

So- how cold this fit in with the Passion of Christ?

In the Old Testament we have a system of sacrifices- animals being sacrificed- as a sign of the future sacrifice of Christ.

One of the notable ones is the Burnt Offering.

Jesus- according to the book of Hebrews- fulfilled the sacrificial system by his death on the Cross.

During his earthly ministry he spoke about fire- baptism.

He says to the disciples one time ‘can you be baptized with my baptism’?

They answer yes.

Jesus says they will indeed be baptized with it- but not in the way they think.

He was talking about the ‘baptism of fire’.

The suffering they would have to face in the coming days.

He in essence was saying ‘you too must pass thru the fire- like me’.

Jesus said at one time ‘I have come to set fire on the earth- and how I wish it were already started’.



Self immolation- what’s your point.

Jesus was talking about himself- he was going to be the ‘brunt offering’ the ‘self immolation’ that would spark the ‘Kingdom spring’- see?

In Zechariah 12 it speaks about those who fight- war against Jerusalem- Gods people.

One of the images is those who set themselves against it will get burned.

That the governors of Judah [the elders]- they are like ‘sheaf’s of fire’ In the midst of the wood- all who lay hold of it get burned.

Yes- Jesus was the ultimate sheaf- they lit he torch- so to speak- at Calvary.

They did not realize what they were doing.

They started a fire that they could not put out.

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 [Face- book] - I have posted lots.



Today is 3-26-13- we are in the middle of Holy Week.

The reading from the Mass this week was from Luke 23.

It suprised me how much manipulation of the system took place around the Crucifixion of Jesus.

I mean I read it before- many times- but because of my present circumstances I see more [I do not equate myself at all with the real wrong that occurred at Christ’s trial- it’s just because of my situation I see more right now].

As the people accuse Christ- he just realizes there’s really nothing he can do about it.

I have had people- people I never met- just friends I made on Face Book over the years.

I would log on and get cursed out in a message- bad.

Then of course they block you- so they leave the accusation- from what they read on-line- and go.

Or people seeing you on the street- actually following you- or yelling at you.

I mean I do live among the ‘least of these’ and have been in dangerous spots- lots.

But you realize you really can’t defend yourself- not even to relatives who read the stuff on line and give you dirty looks at family events.

I mean you don’t realize how bad it gets- until you’re in the middle of the thing.

And if you start going down the road of ‘no- wait- this is what happened’- forget it- it makes you feel worse.

So- in Christ’s trial and crucifixion he just commits it all to God.

It’s like they want him to defend himself ‘don’t you know I have the power to kill you’?

‘You have no power- only what God gives’.

Yeah- Jesus knew the score.

The last week or so I have run into a few friends/street people who have had problems with the mind.

Over the years I have had a small percentage of homeless friends who have suffered from this.

Lots of the homeless do get disability from what we call MHMR [mental health thing in Texas].

But a lot of it is a scam- they go for a check-up- and get the check.

Some refer to it as ‘did you get your nut check yet’.

Yeah- a scam for many- but not all.

I had a funny feeling the other day.

As I’m reading thru the Dylan book- I can see what a genius he was.

But I can tell that he did not realize- in every event- that he was losing it.

Losing what?

His skills [which he admits] but also his hold on reality [which I don’t think he realizes- even now].

He talks bout touring with Tom Petty- or another popular group- and how he realizes that the crowds are showing up for them- not him.

I too remember seeing a performance or 2- on TV- about this time.

Dylan did look- sound bad.

  But he says he found little break throughs- certain techniques- that made it work.

As you read what he thinks was a breakthrough- and you can tell he knows his stuff- yet you realize that he’s saying at the start of a song- he was lost- and in the middle he ‘found himself’.

Your thinking- geez- I’m sure the crowd has no idea he really is this gone.

Then it hit me- am I nuts too?

Yes- I realize as you get sober- I’m sober now for 3 months- and after 25 years of constant drinking- you do indeed go thru withdrawals.

So- people have kinda hinted that I’m a little nuts- but in a nice way.

And it rattles me some- I see them looking at me- like I too have looked at some of my friends who are a little on the edge [or your good buddy texts you ‘are you ok’?]

[Note- remember the movie Charley? I was gonna watch it last night but couldn’t find it].

And that’s what I saw in the Dylan book- he did not know he was losing it.

After one performance he says he wanted to go on tour- solo- right away.

But his promoter wanted him to take 2 years off.

Dylan explains how no- he was ready- he had this ‘new technique’ that he stumbled on.

As you read- you see what a genius he is- but you can read between the lines- and yeah- his promoter was being nice.

Like he- and I’m sure the other groups he was touring with- sort of behind the scenes realized that the guy was losing it.

Yeah- it’s sad to begin identifying with this- to see your friends/family kind of dropping hints.

As I read the Crucifixion- you know at one time in the gospels it says his family thought he was losing his mind?

It’s in there- go look it up.

In the end- Jesus realized that it was a bigger hand at work in all this.

He commits the whole thing to God.

The people are really accusing him- cursing at him- they stirred up the courts and law to get him.

I mean he’s fighting a losing battle.

He says ‘father- forgive them- they don’t know what they are doing’.

As I read this statement this week- I saw a new angle on it.

It’s not like he was saying ‘they just don’t realize it’.

He was saying ‘this whole thing needed to happen- for the benefit of others- for me to do Gods will- the whole thing had to happen- even the false accusations’.

Yeah- he saw the accusers- the law- those who were manipulated to do this- he saw the whole thing as Gods will.

Yeah- Gods will was indeed done.


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 [Face- book] - I have posted lots.





As I continue my transition from a Texan back to a Yankee- I have been reading the gospel of Luke.

Its funny- but the very things I have been struggling with- like leaving your family- are the things I come across next in the reading.

Jesus gives a parable- some man has this big wedding dinner- and he sends out his servant to get guests.

And he says ‘come on- hurry- all things are ready’.

There is a sense of urgency about the thing.

And the guests make one excuse after another.

‘I can’t come- I just bought some land’

‘I have married a wife and that takes precedence’

Jesus then says the master gets mad when he hears how ungrateful the guests are.

He then sends the servant out and he gathers the low life’s of society- these accept the invitation [the kingdom goes to the poor].

Jesus then goes on and says if you want to follow him- you have to be willing to give up everything- even your comfort zone- and he does say even your wife and kids- and then follow him.

Now- I want to be real careful here.

My teaching- the stuff I teach about Christianity and the bible- I try real hard to base it not just on some private interpretation of scripture [a mistake among many Protestants].

But I try to ground my teaching both in scripture and tradition [yeah- sounds Catholic doesn’t it?]

So- I’m very aware of the various Christian groups who practice a strong ‘anti- family’ mindset.

Some seperate from loved ones because they leave the group- I don’t hold to that kind of stuff at all.

Okay- now- why mention this verse then?

Because I stumbled across it as I was struggling with going north- without my family- leaving them behind.

And then I felt the Lord was showing me how this very thing is one of the hindrances to the kingdom.

What thing- your wife and kids?

Not really- not in a way you might think.

But the thing about entrusting your family to God.

In the excuses that the guests made- they are all centered around self survival.

One wants to take care of his land [he actually says he has to go SEE IT- man- didn’t you look at it already?]

It’s the whole mindset of finding comfort and security in things- or in our so called ability to control stuff.

In today’s Christian environment- where you can walk into a Wal Mart and in the best seller section you have Christian books on how God wants you to have everything now- we have developed a mindset that hardly ever gives any serious thought to surrendering our lives over to God.

The excuse’s the guests gave are centered around self survival- worried about having to ‘have enough’ for the future.

Sure the bible speaks about a ‘good man leaves an inheritance to his kids’ but the Kingdom ideal of Jesus seems to blow that out of the water.

I want to make sure you guys don’t mis-read this.

I’m not saying we should all leave our wives and kids because of this verse.

But Jesus is saying nothing should take precedence over our mandate to follow him- to take up our Cross daily.

And it’s often these very things- the things we try to control- or try to handle ourselves- it’s these issues that often hold us back.

One excuse was ‘I need to go home and bury my father’.

Jesus says ‘let the dead bury the dead- just come and follow me’.

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.