2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

These are the posts that got the most views in 2014. You can see all of the year’s most-viewed posts in your Site Stats.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

On Earth Peace . . .

PeacedoveGlory to God

in the highest,

and on earth peace

to men on whom

his favor rests.

Luke 2:14 (NIV)

We may pause amid this season’s bustle and reflect on familiar words–yet a bit unfamiliar in recent versions which bring out the Christmas message.  Peace is rooted in God’s favor, in his grace.  Peace comes through God’s act of sending the Christ for the purpose of bringing salvation to many.  Peace dwells in the household of faith.  For all this we with the angels may truly utter praise, “Glory to God . . .”

The clear note of the gospel is muffled by the phrase “‘men of goodwill’ [which] ought to disappear entirely from Bible translations and Christmas meditations!” (NIDNT).  And we ought not to muffle the message.  For multitudes, there is no peace, only dread.  Many long to hear tidings of comfort and joy, and to partake of that peace that passes understanding, singing with the redeemed, “peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!”

The Faithful (O Come, All Ye . . .) will declare these tidings to their neighbor.  God’s gift of peace is intimately joined with obedience to all that our Lord Jesus Christ commands (Isaiah 48:18), including his call to us to be his witnesses.  At Christmas, opportunities abound for sharing with those in darkness tidings of the Prince of Peace.

For those in darkness, George Fox was clear about the first step to peace:

I directed them to the Divine Light of Christ . . . by which Light they might see their sin and also their Saviour Christ Jesus to save them from their sins.  This I told them was their first step to peace . . .

We, too, must be clear about this.  Where “the whole world is in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19), and where peddlers abound selling panaceas for peace, we must declare:

Peace is not bought but brought;

not gotten but given;

not  “hyped” but hidden.

And for them that have faith,

faith in the only Son begotten of

the Father,

the promise is fulfilled–

Salvation comes.

“May grace and peace be multiplied to you” (1 Peter 1:2), and through you this Christmas.

–First published in Quaker Life, December, 1985.  Here is one way to share the Christmas story with others.

nativity_lightened

Devotion for Advent: The Word Became Flesh

word became flesh“. . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1

An excellent devotion for Advent, is Athanasius On The Incarnation.

C. S. Lewis wrote the Preface for this edition, advising us to not read another new book until we have read an old one. And if we have not time for both, to read the old.

Thanksgiving Day: God Was the Focus

first_thanksgiving-1123x702

Psalm 50–“Offer to God thanksgiving,…”

Psalm 92–It is good to give thanks to the Lord, And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;…”

1 Thessalonians 5–Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Thanksgiving Day has lost its biblical context in American society. That word “to” has been censored from our lexicon. This week, for millions of Americans, there will be little or no mention of God. Most people will talk of this Thanksgiving holy day with little knowledge of its meaning.

Thanksgiving is “the act of giving thanks” and Thanksgiving Day is “a day appointed for giving thanks for divine goodness” (Webster). Giving thanks is an action which has an object. In this case, it is giving thanks to God for his gracious goodness to us.

For millions, this will be reduced to “for what are you thankful?” The key point of to Whom we give thanks will be squelched by illiterate educators and others.

In the beginning, the scene focused on God. For the Pilgrim’s first thanksgiving feast in 1621, “Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and prayer to God.”

Again in 1623, Governor Bradford proclaimed, “Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn… on Thursday, November ye 29th…listen to ye Pastor and render Thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all his blessings.”

George Washington’s proclamation for a day of thanksgiving in 1789 began, “Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor…”

In 1863, Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation marked the beginning of Thanksgiving Day as an annual, federal holiday. It begins: The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God….”

May our insensible hearts be revived. Psalm 50 concludes:

“Now consider this, you who forget God, Lest I tear you in pieces,
And there be none to deliver:Whoever offers praise glorifies Me;
And to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God.”

thanksgiving

Context Is King

3 Ways Not to Use Greek in Bible Study

From the Gospel Coalition blog:

‘The path is littered with what D. A. Carson has called “exegetical fallacies” (a book I was assigned three times in school). This brief article is my effort to condense a couple of Carson’s lessons, in order to help us learn how not to use Greek in Bible study. …’

Continued here

reading-the-scripturesAlso, see Scribblepreach

Dispensationalism & the rapture

Michael Snow:

Dr. Ben Witherington is professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary. This is an excellent synopsis of where “Left Behind” came from, and it is NOT the Bible. For the exegesis of the supposed ‘Rapture’ passage in 1 Thessalonians see: https://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2013/05/11/second-coming-rapture-vs-scripture-christian/

Originally posted on Coffee with the King:

See this excellent 7-minute video discussing the origins of Dispensationalism and the idea of a secret rapture, from NT Professor Ben Witherington III.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/bibleandculture/2014/10/08/the-rapture-uncaged/

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I want to be LEFT BEHIND

Michael Snow:

I want to be Left Behind, by James Michael Jones–reblogged below this text and my comments.

36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven,[e] but My Father only. 37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour[f] your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.  Matthew 24

[Text highlighted to show the parallel: …took…taken…]

Yes, some scholars see the “taken” as being “to judgment.”  Robert H. Mounce (New International Biblical Commentary), sees this as parallel with the ‘”taken away” by the flood’ (v. 39). Others think it is ‘left for judgment (e.g. NICNT). But the two differing views do not detract from the key point–“The coming of Jesus marks a complete and permanent division” (Leon Morris) “. . . the decisive moment.” “The sayings emphasize the completely unexpected nature of the Man’s coming” (AB).
THIS is the Parousia, the Second Advent, the final judgment, (vv. 27, 29-31, 44), not some secret “beam me up Scotty!” fiction. This context leaves “Left Behind” out in the cold. [The enigmatic saying about the vultures receives a variety of educated guesses.] And the context of the primary passage which is distorted to fit the modern “Rapture” doctrine also leaves the fiction behind. https://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2013/05/11/second-coming-rapture-vs-scripture-christian/

Originally posted on Forgiveness Factor:

left

Left Behind will be released in theaters soon. One of the verses used to describe the Rapture is Matthew 24:40. It states: “Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left.” According to supporters of the Left Behind series of books and films, no one wants to be ‘left behind’.

If you read Tim LaHaye’s book “Left behind” and watch the first “Left Behind” film, you do NOT want to be left behind. However, did Jesus believe the ones left behind had it bad? Read Jesus’ remarks in Luke 17:34-37 and you tell me. “‘I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.’ And they said to Him, ‘Where, Lord?’ He said to them, ‘Where the corpse…

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