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Preview: Christians Crawling Out of Their Comfort Zones

Christians Crawling Out of Their Comfort Zones



Unashamedly sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with our neighbors--both next door and around the world...



Updated: 2016-09-21T12:24:15.351-05:00

 



A Meditation on Mom and I Corinthians 13

2012-09-03T20:12:24.102-05:00

It's been a long, long time since I posted at this blog, but I've been thinking about it. Yes, I know that thinking about it doesn't make it so. I'll try to post some thoughts here on a regular basis, but I'd love your input. Feel free to email your ideas for blogs or even a blog or short piece you've written yourself to me at cynthianna@hotmail.com with the subject line "Christians Crawling" or words to that effect. Thank you.This is a meditation I wrote and read aloud at my mother's funeral service, August 12, 2012.Mom , Christmas 2011If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, and have not love--I am nothing but a noisy gong or a clashing cymbal.I wanted to share a few paraphrased passages from I Corinthians 13, also known as "The Love Chapter", today because even though it is often read at weddings, this beautiful piece of scripture is also fitting for funerals--and particularly in regards to celebrating the legacy of my mom, Ann J. Cooper.Mom, as many of you know, was an excellent wordsmith. Without her expertise in grammar and spelling and her editorial input, I don't believe my father's publications would have been half as successful. Mom was even multilingual for a short period of her life as the young daughter of Presbyterian missionaries to Brazil during the 1930s. I can remember how she use to entertain us with a children's tune about a little birdy, all in fluent Portuguese. But I really feel Mom was the most fluent in the most important of all languages, the language of doing, of serving, the language of the heart, the language we call "love".As her dear friends, we all saw her demonstrate this language frequently. She volunteered her love and service at Chopin Hall, Lutheran Social Services; at various other charities over the years; through service as a younger woman with both the Boy and Girl Scouts of America; through serving in various capacities at St. John's and other churches she attended;through befriending students at University of Findlay while working in the library--especially the foreign students; by her support of educational opportunities through the American Association of University Women and by supporting her grandchildren in their college careers. Mom's grammar was the syntax of doing, of serving others selflessly, of encouragement and support without the need of words. Her actions were her words, and time and cancer could not rob her of the language of love.She loved continually and showered it frequently on both close confidants and on perfect strangers alike. In the few short months she live at Primrose Retirement Center, she made friends with staff and residents alike. They loved her funny stories and comments--she made them smile and lightened their workload. When they told us, "We love your mother!" I believe it was heartfelt and not mere words. To the end, she was fluent in the language of the heart, this tongue we call "love".Love is patient and kind; Love is not selfish, nor proud, not jealous or boastful. It doesn't rejoice in wrongs, but rejoices in the right. Perfect love casts out all fear.I will  never claim that Mom was "perfect"--she struggled with sin just like the rest of us--but I will admit to you that to me she was a "saint". Now comes the good part of the talk: I'll admit to a dirty little secret that only me and mom shared. Not even my family members are fully aware of this: I am brain damaged. Yes, I know what you are thinking, but here I'm using the English term accurately. I suffered a brain injury probably during birth. I was born about three weeks early, and Mom said that she lost almost all her water by the time she arrived at the hospital. I seemed a normal enough baby with good lungs, and I was sent home in time for Easter, but Mom realized when I became a toddler I was not speaking or understanding words like my older siblings.It was the early 1960s, and the testing we have today wasn't available. Mom told me she didn't know what to do but to love me as I was, and try and help me the best she could. Mom's treatment was through introducing me t[...]



Wherever you go...

2012-09-03T17:44:16.507-05:00

God will be with you wherever you go. --from the book of Numbers

Some people have great and intricate plans for their lives. They work through these plans step by step, goal by goal, year by year. They cross off things on their to-do lists and ocassionally reward themselves for a job well done by taking a trip, buying a new car, or simply going out to eat or to see a movie. At the end of the day, week, month, year or lifetime these intelligent and well-organized folks sit down, settle back, put their feet up, smile and say to themselves, "Well done!"

Then there are the rest of us.

I do believe the "rest of us" are in the majority. We may dabble with being organized from time to time, but we quickly revert to our inherently sloppy, live-by-the-seat-of-your-pants ways. We act spontaneously and rashly, then later chide ourselves over and over again for the mistakes we've made. We berate ourselves for choosing the wrong path in life. We curse and condemn ourselves for the sheer stupidity of our choices. We loathe our lack of decision-making abilities.

Frankly, we teach ourselves to hate ourselves.

"Why did I do that?" has been my mantra for most of my life. The apostle Paul in his letters to the early church repeatedly exclaimed, "I am the worst of all sinners!" If I had been there, I'd have chimed in with, "Me too!"

Beating myself up for my "crimes" against myself became a hobby.

It's not a pasttime I recommend. Unfortunately, it's an all too common one. Being human (as opposed to Vulcan, Galifreyan or your generic little green man from Mars) I fell prey to this epidemic of self-loathing early on, perhaps even earlier than I give myself credit. To be a citizen of Planet Earth means no one--no one can ever become fully immune from this "sin sickness".

What escape is there from this dreaded disease? None. A person can't simply walk away from their troubles. A person cannot time travel (as much as I'd like to) and go back and fix mistakes and poor decisions from years past. "Emotional baggage" will be packed along with your winter sweaters or heirloom china or even your bobble-head baseball figurine collection and taken to wherever you go... No matter how far or how long or how fast you run your problems tag along for the ride.

So, I can't get away from my dysfunctional hobby of beating myself up. I feel hopeless in my helplessness, a horrible feeling for a control freak like myself. I want to take charge of the situation and fix things all by myself, but the more I try to fix things, the worse things become. It's a vicious cycle. What can I do?

Then God enters the picture.

No matter how far I've gone (all the way to the wilds of West Texas) or how much I've tried to hide from the Creator of the Universe (pretending to be someone I'm not), God has been there. Like the passage from the book of Numbers says, there is no place I have visited or will visit that God isn't already there. Even more intriguing, God recognizes me in all my false disguises.

I can't elude him in the chase. He's after me--I sense his pursuit in the drive he has given me to share my story with others. It is my hope it will help you see how God has a plan for your life as well, even when you're living by the seat of your pants.

Prayer: You are with me wherever I go, God. Thanks for all the help and protection you have afforded me thus far. Continue to watch over me and guide my steps in this journey called life. Amen.



April Showers Bring May Flowers

2009-04-04T14:44:57.026-05:00

Another month has come and gone—and I didn’t get hardly anything I wanted to get done in March, done. For some reason, I just can’t give up sleeping, eating or taking daily showers. Those sorts of things really cut into your free time, you know—especially the sleeping.

I’m not getting any creative writing projects I’ve started finished. I’d had hoped to do so during my week off, but I just didn’t have the will to write more than a few pages on my work-in-progress. I’ll admit it, too—my heart simply isn’t into writing fiction lately. E-publishers are folding right and left it seems, taking some of my books along with them. I can’t afford to go to writing conferences and schmooze with the agents and editors from the big houses, so I can’t get a foot in the door by making a personal connection. And having a foot in the door seems to be the only way to gain the big guys’ attention these days.

Everyone with a computer seems to have written a book this past year. The submissions are flooding the slushpiles. You have to do something outrageous or illegal—or both—to get an editor’s attention. Just look at former governor Rod Blagojevich. He’s done both—and now he’s got his own radio talk show. You really wonder if becoming a criminal is where it’s at for becoming a best-selling author.

Oh, well. I can sit around and mope and groan, or I can crawl back into the saddle and get going again. Since I like horses, I’ll go the saddle route.

I think I’ll put the novel writing on hiatus until I’m unemployed at the end of May. Between trying to find another job and keeping the work I have currently, I don’t have energy to write creatively. I can write a short piece here or there (like my blogs), but the stamina to keep my concentration focused for 50,000 words or more isn’t there. I have to spend my free time sending out resumes and dealing with the rejection emails/snail mails. You think an editor’s rejection of your manuscript is bad? “Sorry, but we don’t want you to work for us,” is a lot worse, especially when your bills are due.

Lots of writers tell me this phase will pass, but I’m not so sure. It just feels like that if I give up writing fiction for a short while I’ll never return to it, and that’s tantamount to cutting out my heart. The good news is that my heart is in good hands. April may bring showers, but I’m hoping to have plenty of flowers by May when my fiancé arrives in the US. Then I’ll have another excuse for not writing—but it will be a much happier one!



LIfe goes on... God provides

2009-01-31T11:58:55.474-06:00

I'm sorry I've let this blog sit idle for so long. I hope to do better in 2009, God willing. I'll be in touch with y'all again soon.

In the meantime, you can read my other blog at http://momsday.blogspot.com to see what all I've been up to lately.

God's blessings to you and your loved ones during these difficult times.



The Sparrow

2008-01-18T23:29:09.624-06:00

I sing because I'm happy; I sing because I'm free--For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.--C. D. Martin, "His Eye is on the Sparrow"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one ofthem will fall to the ground apart from the will of yourFather. And even the very hairs of your head are allnumbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than manysparrows. --Matthew 10:29-31 (NIV)I don't consider myself much of a "bird person," but onoccasion I have tried to help a poor feathered friend or twoin trouble. Our former home in West Texas was surrounded byfour large trees, a rarity and a blessing in that dusty partof the world. Hundreds of birds made their nests in ourtrees, and we were lucky to observe many species over theyears--from the comical red-headed woodpecker and the flashymale cardinal on down to the lowly sparrow and the commonhouse wren. The birds were our pets in a way, and welooked after them the best we could. Several times webrought injured birds to others for mending, and it gave usa good feeling to know we had given them a new lease onlife.We found our share of dead birds, of course, particularlyafter wind and hail storms. One sunny day, however, I hearda loud whack at the front picture window. As Istepped out onto the porch, I immediately surmised what hadhappened: A large, strikingly beautiful yellow-breastedbird which hadn't seen the glass had attempted to swoopthrough what he thought was an open window into our house. Apart from his oddly twisted neck, there wasn't a scratch onthe magnificent creature. My daughters and I gently placedhis body in a shoe box and buried him in our side yardalongside some other birds we had interred previously. We said a short prayer and marked his grave with a plastic heart decoration that had once topped a Valentinecupcake.It is the baby birds, fallen out of the nest too soon tosurvive on their own, which have always given me the mostheartache. Whenever something like this happened,we would frantically call the headmistress of the local Episcopal school, the town's resident bird expert. She is a kind yet practical person who always seemed to give us the same advice: "Place the baby back up in the closest tree which it probably fell from. If the mother can find it and feed it, it will survive. If she can't, then it's going to be eaten by the cats. Either way, it's what God and nature intended." How many times our hearts were broken as we tried to rescuesome poor fallen chick who just wouldn't cooperate. I remember one day my daughters and I constantly placed one ornery fledgling, who was big enough to hop but not fly quite yet, back up in the crook of a tree only to see it leap to the ground moments later. "Look, you stupid bird, we're trying to save you from ourneighbors' cats! Trust me!" I yelled at it, but it was hopeless. Soon dusk fell and we were forced to give up our rescue attempt. The next morning, we could find neither hide nor feather of it. This morning on my walking route I found myself once againin a similar situation. Two newborn birds had fallen out of their nest. I found them in the middle of the sidewalk, and I could hear the mother bird singing frantically for them to come home. They must have been there all night, as they were both too weak to peep. I scooped up the first frail chick and placed it in the tree where I gathered their nest was located, then turned to rescue its sibling. This bird would have none of it. It had just enough strength to flutter off in the direction of a garbage can placed at the curb for trash collection, where it decided to hide itself underneath. The can was heavy and I tried to move it carefully, but I must have crushed the little sparrow underneath. I knew it was dead as I retrieved its still body and placed it at the foot of the tree. Breakfast for the cats. "What God and nature intended," I sighed.This morning the baby bird's death really struck home. I couldn't h[...]



Thanksgiving while living on the streets

2007-11-25T21:52:42.289-06:00

The latest from the Extreme Faith Ministry, Saint Louis...

Wednesday night – November 21 11:30 PM. Homeless ministry notes

My feet are still frozen. Tonight was cold and windy with light sleet. My hands ached with the cold. I thought I dressed for the weather. I layered a long sleeve tee shirt, windbreaker, sweatshirt and a winter coat. I wore a pair of tights under my jeans; good socks and athletic shoes. A scarf, hat and knit gloves topped off the Alaska style ensemble. My body was warm enough, but the cold penetrated my feet and hands. I truly appreciate the warm air currently blowing from my furnace.



We served seventy-six meals at three stops. Some of the regulars obviously found a place to burrow. Even a hot Thanksgiving style meal did not entice them to brave the 34 degree night. Spirits for the most part, is surprisingly high. Laughter and prayer are the two most common sounds. We were even entertained with a little spontaneous street rap and dance. But the desperate need is revealed in the anxious request for socks, sweatshirts, coats and blankets. They clutch the blankets around their shoulders. No warm furnace will greet them tonight. The only heat they will have is their own body heat.



The menu was a very traditional Thanksgiving feast. Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, a roll, a slice of Pumpkin pie with a dollop of Cool Whip. Quite a feat considering it is served from the rear of a van. The food is kept hot in Styrofoam coolers (12" x 12" x 18" tall). The kind used to store fishing bait. These are lined with oven bags for better clean up. The only time my hands felt warmth was when I scooped food into a plate. Those we serve do not sit at a table to eat, but are grateful for what they have received and that someone came to see them on Thanksgiving Eve.

Joy and blessings,

Linda



Come Ye Thankful People Come...

2007-11-03T23:22:27.948-05:00

This is an open invitation. Y'all are invited to my cyber-establishment for Thanksgiving cyber-dinner. We're going to have cyber-turkey (both cyber-white and cyber-dark meat) and cyber-mashed potatoes (fresh--not out of a cyber-packet) and, of course, the traditional cyber-pumpkin pie. Yum, yum! The best thing about a cyber-banquet is the that cyber-calories do not go to your hips, midriff or thighs--in fact, they go nowhere at all. So feel free to pig out at my cyber-party. You can never feel guilty--even when taking that last slice of cyber-pie since your cyber-hostess can easily click on "edit" and hit "copy" at any time...Well, by now I'm sure you've guess I'm being plain silly here. What else is new? You haven't taken my dinner offer seriously I suspect, but I am serious--Why not throw a cyber-Thanksgiving celebration?All right let's start with who's bringing what... How about you in the Fort Worth/Dallas Metroplex bring the potatoes and the rolls, you guys up in the northern section of the country can bring the stuffing--make it cornbread for me if you can, but if you can't, we'll ask our neighbors from Dixie to do the honors. I figured my Southern guests could bring the sweet potato pie and that my Western guests could bring some rattlesnake meat for a little variety. Cranberries? Oh, sure--some of my Massachusetts readers can provides those--right, guys? Pumpkin pie... who's going to bring that? How about we give that particular honor to the Midwesterners. The St. Louisans can bring toasted raviolis and Ted Drewes' frozen custard so others can sample some of the regional cuisine.The best thing about a cyber-celebration is that there's simply no need for advance preparation. Can you tell that my home isn't completely spotless online? Of course not! Can you tell I'm passing out cheap paper plates and not the good china? Not really! Can I tell that you just spilled your iced tea and cranberry sauce onto the light beige carpeting? No way! Entertainment? Heck, the Internet is entertainment enough already, so who needs charades and sing-alongs? You don't even have to worry about us pulling out our family photo albums and boring you for hours with our girls' baby pictures. It's a totally stress-free party. I don't even have to worry about kicking you out before midnight--I'll simply "switch off" and let you wander the worldwide web by yourselves...Stop and think here a minute about how fortunate we are even to be considering throwing a party, cyber or otherwise. Think about how many individuals are eating a warmed-over turkey dinner courtesy of their local Salvation Army or other non-profit organization. We worry about getting our holiday shopping done--others worry about having a roof over their heads come winter. We worry over whether or not to buy a bigger, faster hard drive for our computer--others worry whether or not they should eat or pay on their mounting medical bills. We citizens of cyberspace have a great deal to be thankful for.Let's be honest: As Americans, the idea of giving thanks to our Heavenly Father for the blessings He has bestowed upon us this past year is usually the last thing on our "to-do list." Whenever we hear the phrase "Happy Thanksgiving" we drool thinking about the succulent turkey and spicy dressing we're about to consume. We crave the sheer joy of being able to sleep in on a weekday. We make big plans to head out to the mall to walk off those extra pounds we gained in our gluttony and start our Christmas shopping in earnest. Prayer and thankfulness are the furthermost things from our minds the last weekend in November. The modern manifestation of the holiday really wasn't what George Washington had in mind when he declared the first official Thanksgiving Day celebration in 1789. Neither was it for the Pilgrims. William Bradford and the survivors of the Plymouth Colony were just plain grateful to be standing after a harsh first[...]



Drive-by Feeding...

2007-09-10T10:33:15.999-05:00

You'd think it was the worst thing in the world--dishing out a hot meal for a homeless person living on the streets of downtown Saint Louis. But now that the downtown area is becoming "revitalized" with condo loft apartments, some listed at almost a half million dollars, it seems that the homeless aren't welcomed anymore. And neither are the ministries and groups that occasionally provide them with food, hygeine supplies and clothes.

The cops were out last Wednesday night when "Extreme Ministry" (sponsored by Faith Lutheran Church in the suburb of Oakville) did their usual bi-weekly rounds of the abandoned warehouses and downtown public areas. We had to make sure we were done by 10 PM, as they can slap fines on us for violating the curfew. The homeless were a bit scarce that evening, too, afraid to come out and accept a meal, as they'd already suffered from of their "new neighbors'" paranoia.

My friend Linda summed up her activities well:

I must apologize to all of my good friends and family for my illicit behavior. I do not apologize to God. I have officially been called a 'drive by feeder' by the St. Louis city police. Last night while providing food to a group of homeless people a police officer stopped his car and approached our group. He asked how long we intended to be there. He very definitely let us know that "drive by feeding" is being discouraged. We asked whether it is illegal. He had to say No, but that we would be watched. If we were still there after 10 PM we would be arrested for not obeying curfew laws. He followed us to all 4 of the locations we visited. It made the homeless nervous. We only fed 80, half of our normal numbers. Those that did partake advised us that the police patrols have been very heavy and harassing. Over half of the churches that provide this service have not shown up this week. The homeless are making themselves scarce for the time being. They are there and hungry. Just afraid and out of sight. By the way - we passed out our last plate of food at 9:50.


My next T-shirt will read:

Convict Me,

I'm a Drive By Feeder


Yeah, make me up a T-shirt like that as well--if you're going to be thrown in jail for Christian charity, you may as well dress the part...

UPDATE: Extreme Ministry has been given permission by the police to feed the homeless on the streets. We have demonstrated that we are an orderly operation, so we have their blessing (for now).



The Dog, the Cross, and the Grave

2007-04-03T12:29:29.291-05:00

In honor of the seventh anniversary of my dad being in heaven, I resurrected this essay on what Easter is really all about. Have you walked on any graves lately?I've been in a funk lately. In all honesty it's been a rather tough year for me on a personal level. One moment it's New Years Eve and the next it's Easter, the start of spring. Somewhere along the way I celebrated yet another birthday and another wedding anniversary. Somewhere along the way I sold another book and picked up some writing assignments which keep me busy from dawn to dusk. Somewhere along the way I think I lost sight of what is mankind's true reason for being here in the first place. And so I've been doing some reevaluating.Today I'd thought I'd share my take on the "Big Question" or the "Ultimate Question" with you. You know which one I'm talking about--the one satirist Douglas Adams of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy fame wrote extensively about in his book, Life, The Universe and Everything. The ultimate question the deserves an ultimate answer. It being such a large one, where can I begin but with something familiar to me and work my way out. . . As every good novelist knows (please, no comments here from my editors and critiquers) you have to intuitively know how your story is going to turn out before you begin it. Sure most people enjoy "character driven" stories--I know I do-- but the writer must have some idea where the characters are heading to before she or he sets them off on their fictional journey towards it. The romance genre is a perfect example. Somewhere along the line, in spite of all misunderstandings or terrible interventions by other usually well-meaning characters, the hero and the heroine have to discover their true love for each other. Despite what people unfamiliar with the genre think, this doesn't necessarily mean the hero and heroine will end up walking down the aisle together, living together, or even sharing a kiss. All the romance reader wants to know at story's end is whether or not these two people have come to terms with what is in their hearts. Therefore, the romance novel is not so much a "formula story" peopled with cookie-cutter characters and predictable plotting, but a window on an evolving relationship between two individuals. It's the process the protagonists must endure--and not the outcome of it--which is in doubt, and romance fans have come to find great satisfaction in the endless variations on that theme of relationship building.What's all this nonsense about novel writing have to do with the search for the answer to the "ultimate question to life, the universe and everything?" Well, let me tell you in one word--everything. In order for us to know how to live each day of our short existence on this planet it is essential we know where we are going. In other words, we need to focus on the outcome of our journey, and we need to work on our relationship with the One who ultimately will lead us there.To clarify further, I'm not talking about going down to the corner store to pick up some hamburger buns for dinner. I'm talking about where we're all going to wind up sooner or later. To be succinct, allow me to quote a line from a popular science fiction movie, spoken by a famous alien from the planet Vulcan: "How we face death is how we face life." Our life's journey ends in the grave, pure and simple. There's no way around it, so we all must come to grip with this fact. It's the how we deal with this distressing bit of information which separates the women from the girls, the men from the boys, and the humans from the aliens. This is where the relationship bit comes into play.Allow me to digress a moment and tell you a story in order to make my point. My sister Cathy e-mailed me a digital photo of our father's new headstone. It was put in place a little over a month after the funeral, and[...]



The Screwtape Letters comes to the Big Screen

2007-03-23T16:25:24.953-05:00

This is encouraging news--C.S. Lewis's classic tale of a "minor demon" attempting to pull a young Christian off the straight-and-narrow, The Screwtape Letters, is coming to the big screen next year... Thanks to Walden Media once again (the company that produced the lavish Chronicles of Narnia story The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.)

And of course, this news comes right after the critically acclaimed film about abolitionist William Wilberforce, Amazing Grace, opened in theaters.

Let's continue to encourage filmmakers to produce movies on Christian and family-friendly topics and stories. Attend these films with your loved ones and let the box office give Hollyweird a big hint.



The Lost Tomb of Christ?

2007-03-23T16:18:40.770-05:00

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070226/ap_on_sc/jesus_s_burial;_ylt=AiaqqkVronuLyXqI29hQQGpbbBAFComing to the Discovery Channel, The Lost Tomb of Christ, a documentary by Oscar-winner James Cameron that proposes bone boxes found in 1980 contain the remains of Jesus of Nazareth. The film's claims have been universally panned by academicians and theologians alike.Any bet that this thing is blown up in the press as big as The Da Vinci Code was this past year?What is it with some folks? Why do they try to "destroy" the Gospel. What are they afraid of? That God would send a Savior to the world to save sinful man from hell because man is too weak to save himself?Or do they just follow the bucks and think since The Da Vinci Code flopped this documentary is sure to be a success?Some news on this "new find" comes from respected historian Dr. Paul Maier:Paul L. Maier, Ph.D., Litt.DDepartment of HistoryWestern MichiganUniversityKalamazoo, MIFebruary 25, 2007DearFriends and Readers,Thanks for the profusion of e-mails I've received over the last two days regarding the Talpiot tombs discovery in Jerusalem, a.k.a., "the Jesus Family Tomb" story. Some of you also suggested that "life seemed to be following art" so far as my A Skeleton in God's Closet was concerned. Believe me, this is not the way I wanted my novel to hit the visual media!Alas, this whole affair is just the latest in the long-running media attack on the historical Jesus, which I call "More Junk on Jesus." We all thought it had culminated in that book of falsehoods, The Da Vinci Code. But no: thecaricatures of Christ continue. Please, lose no sleep over the Talpiot"discoveries" for the following reasons, and here are the facts:1) Nothing is new here: scholars have known about the ossuaries ever since March of 1980, so this is old news recycled. The general public learned when the BBC filmed a documentary on them in 1996, and the "findings" tanked again.. James Tabor's book, The Jesus Dynasty, also made a big fuss over the Talpiot tombs more recently, and now James Cameron (The Titanic) and Simcha Jacobovici have climbed aboard the sensationalist bandwagon as well. Another book comes out today, equally as worthless as the previous.2) All the names - Yeshua (Joshua, Jesus), Joseph, Maria, Mariamene, Matia, Judah, and Jose -- are extremely common Jewish names for that time and place, and thus nearly all scholars consider that these names are merely coincidental, as they did from the start. Some scholars dispute that "Yeshua" is even one of the names. One out of four Jewish women atthat time, for example, were named Maria. There are 21 Yeshuas cited byJosephus, the first-century Jewish historian, who were important enough to be recorded by him, with many thousands of others that never made history. The wondrous mathematical odds hyped by Jacobovici that these names must refer to Jesus and his family are simply playing by numbers and lying by statistics.3) There is no reason whatever to equate "Mary Magdalene" with"Mariamene," as Jacobovici claims. And so what if her DNA is different from that of "Yeshua" ? That particular "Mariamme" (as it is usually spelled today) could indeed have been the wife of that particular "Yeshua," who was certainly not Jesus.4) Why in the world would the "Jesus Family" have a burial site inJerusalem, of all places, the very city that crucified Jesus? Galilee was theirhome. In Galilee they could have had such a family plot, not Judea. Besides all of which, church tradition and the earliest Christian historian, Eusebius of Caesarea, are unanimous in reporting that Mary, the mother of Jesus, died in Ephesus, where the apostle John, faithful to his commission from Jesus on the cross, had accompanied her.5) The "Jesus Family" simply could not have afforded the large crypt uncovered at Ta[...]



Polygamy and Islam

2006-12-07T12:42:38.013-06:00

http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=oddlyEnoughNews&storyID=2006-12-07T161451Z_01_JAK17807_RTRUKOC_0_US-INDONESIA-POLYGAMY.xml&pageNumber=0&imageid=&cap=&sz=13&WTModLoc=NewsArt-C1-ArticlePage2

Yet another reason why God never intended for Adam and Eve to be Adam and Eve and Jill and Betty and Suzy and Debbie...

I think Jesus says it pretty clearly in Matthew--God didn't intend for divorce or polygamous relationships. Our poor relationships in this life reflect the poor relationship we have with our Creator.

When we try to do it "our way" it almost always winds up a shambles. Perhaps this outcry against polygamy will be the undoing of Fundamentalist Islam?



You can't have Christmas without Christ...

2006-11-28T15:13:28.576-06:00

The latest incident in a long series over the years that proves the ridiculousness of celebrating Christmas without Christ:


http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061128/ap_on_re_us/christmas_movie_snub

All I want to know is, what would you think a crafts market called "Christkindl Market" would be about? The city of Chicago definitely has some problems.



Most Believe in God--But not in Forgiveness

2006-09-19T14:28:06.306-05:00

Is it surprising? Most Americans believe in God according to this survey:

http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/cwn/091506survey.aspx

But why do so many think God is "authoratarian" but not "forgiving"? Obviously there are more out there who believe in the God of the Old Testament who sets down Law, yet do not believe God's promise of sending a Messiah (Jesus) to free us from the heavy burden of keeping the Law perfectly (Gospel--New Testament).

We can't have one without the other... Without the Gospel, all you have is an authoratarian God you fear about crossing the wrong way. That's essentially Islamic philosophy for you. You'd better watch your step or do something really spectacular (crash a plane into a building and take out lots of "infidels") or else you don't have certainty that you'll get into heaven.

But without the Law, you find yourself mixed up in all kinds of things that aren't good for you--stealing, lying, cheating, killing. God forgives, but He loves us too much to simply "walk away from His Creation" (which a good percentage of Americans believe he did) and leave us to rot in our own sorry sinful condition.

God loves us enough to give us the Law for guidance, and He loves us enough to give the Gospel of Jesus declaring His forgiveness when we can't quite keep the Law as we should. It's a win-win situation all around!



The Pope can't quote others on the topic of Islam?

2006-09-15T11:22:08.756-05:00

Muslims express fury over Pope's remarks:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060915/ap_on_re_mi_ea/pope_muslims

Freedom of speech is obviously not a guarantee in the Muslim world. Pope Benedict simply quoted a Byzantine emperor who held a discussion with a Persian scholar during the 14th century over the differences between Christianity and Islam.

The quote essentially says that Islam spread primarily through the use of the sword more than anything else. And who can really argue with that? Show me that the same isn't true today--in predominately Muslim countries if you convert to Christianity (or any other religion or no religion at all) you are threatened with severe ostracism and even death. Why should 21st century Muslims get all bent over shape that these same actions were observed in the 14th century as well?

Perhaps Pope Benedict should have erred on the side of caution and simply said, "By their fruit ye shall know them..."



Stem Cell Research doesn't have to Destroy Embryos

2006-08-23T20:19:18.756-05:00

http://health.msn.com/healthnews/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100143549>1=8404

I've heard about this line of research before... Between this method of harvesting only one cell from the frozen embryo without harming it and the stem cells scientists can harvest from umbilical cords and placentas, why have so many pushed to destroy IVF embryos in order to harvest stem cells?

It just doesn't make sense. Stem cells can be obtained from other sources, yet the current political culture seems convinced that it's not possible. Those who are "pro-stem cell research" try to paint those who are not as being "unreasonable" because they wish to preserve an unborn child in the embryonic stage.

But here you go--genetically viable stem cells can be obtained without destroying the frozen child. Who's being unreasonable now?

It does make one wonder whether these "pro-stem cell research" politicians aren't just your run-of-the-mill abortion rights activists in sheep's clothing. You can almost hear their thought processes:

Hey, if we can kill a baby that's eighth months old in his/her mother's womb, why don't we slaughter thousands of frozen kids in a laboratory?

It's a puzzle to me. We'll see which politicians applaud this newly released research and which ones will continue to sing the same ol' tune... that babies must die in order to raise the quality of life for those rich enough to afford stem cell research treatments.



A Chocolate Virgin Mary?

2006-08-18T13:21:54.533-05:00

Workers discover chocolate Virgin Mary

http://msnbc.msn.com/id/14400252/?GT1=8404

Would a lump of chocolate in the shape of Mary strengthen your faith? What does this say about the "shape" of the church today when people find comfort in confection over the cross?



A witness to the faith

2006-08-07T16:42:39.356-05:00

Be sure to read this excellent article about Billy Graham. Truly he is a strong witness to the faith Christians profess in Christ.

"Pilgrim's Progress"
http://msnbc.msn.com/id/14204483/from/ET/



When will the bombing stop?

2006-07-26T17:08:42.836-05:00

http://www.thetimes-tribune.com/site/index.cfm?newsid=16954495&BRD=2185&PAG=

When a news story is about a family member of a writing friend, it really hits home. Bombs falling on Lebanon--again.

Twenty years since its civil war and some semblance of tourism and prosperity had returned to Lebanon and now this happens. Innocents are hurt and scared because a bunch of terrorists have taken up camp in parts of the countryside.

My question is why do people tolerate these thugs? In the end, terrorist groups only bring death and destruction to all who have contact with them. Even if you agree with their political objectives, do you want to be associated with their campaign of senseless bloodshed?

Only one person's blood needed to be shed for the forgiveness of all. If only more people in the Middle East would call upon His name and confess their sins of aggression against their neighbors and ask and accept forgiveness. Only then will they be able to live in peace with each other.

But without Jesus on either side? There's no "winner" in sight for this centuries old conflict. The bombs will continue to fall.



When the Holy Spirit Says Act—Act!

2006-05-11T12:38:59.946-05:00

I was recently asked if I would be willing to serve on a church “action team” to help chart our church’s path for the future. After mulling it over a while, I decided it wasn’t for me.Is it because I’ve never served on a church board or committee before? No, it isn’t. I’ve served on several and have even held an office. Is it because I have something against accepting a “paper pusher” type of position? The answer to that is an unequivocal “yes”. Is it because I’m not an “office-type” with no experience in paper pushing? No, unfortunately I have worked in an office or two in my time. Actually I worked in the epitome of paper pushing quagmires, a state government agency which handled federal funds and human services programs. If you have ever wanted to know what it’s like to drown in paperwork and constantly wonder what, if anything, you have accomplished to help your fellow man during the course of a stressful day, then may I suggest you obtain a government job in the human services field? You won’t be disappointed.But the main reason I’m not all that excited about jumping onto another church board, committee or “action team” (the latest term that means pretty much the same thing) is that I don’t feel the Holy Spirit is telling me to park my hips in a chair at church for several times a month discussing for hours what “actions” the congregation should take.Am I against our church growing and planning and taking action? No, not at all. But I’ve got this gut feeling that when the Holy Spirit says “Act,” he means “Act!” The Holy Spirit doesn’t mean we have to sit down and write up long, detailed business plans with timelines and quantifiable outcomes. Call me insane, but I don’t believe God wrote out an “action plan” when he created the world. He skipped the paperwork, took action and created it. And it was good.Here’s a true story to further explain my viewpoint on this subject:I sat for several years on a church board/committee where we discussed how our small but growing church needed a new sign proclaiming to the community that we were here and that we wanted to share the Good News. The reason we were considering a new sign was that over the years the state highway going through our small town had expanded. Our church’s back parking lot now faced this very busy road. People could access our church via the back parking lot instead of driving around the block to an off street to enter it from the front. The amount of traffic that daily passed by our back parking lot on this active thoroughfare was enormous... What a great way to witness to these folks!But the back of our church didn’t look much like a “church”. The backside contained no stained glass windows or a steeple. It simply was a flat brick wall—perfect for a lighted cross or other sign announcing that this parking lot and building was a church and that we welcomed visitors.So I sat down with my fellow church board members and discussed and researched and telephoned and wrote up “action plans” about how great it would be to have a new sign… We discussed its cost, where the money would come from, how much electricity would be needed to light it, etcetera. We received estimates from local sign makers and discussed what if any city regulations we might need to clear before erecting the sign on our property. We put this issue before the elders, the church council and the voters assembly and got their approval. We wrote up new detailed “action plans” when the old ones had beco[...]



United 93: A Film that Defines Our Generation

2006-04-25T22:43:01.120-05:00

I just got back from a sneak preview of the film “United 93”. It opens in the US this Friday, April 28.

You need to see this film. Take your family members, friends and co-workers to see it with you. Take your high school age and older children to see it with you. Take your neighbors along if they can’t get a ride to the movie theatre. Just go and see it.

There are very few films that I would say define a generation. This one is it. If you only see one film this year, see “United 93”. If you attend only one film per decade, attend “United 93”. You won’t be sorry.

I don’t know when the film opens overseas, but as soon as it hits your shores go and see it. You don’t have to understand “American” to understand it. In fact, you don’t have understand any of the dialogue to read the surprise, shock, fear, horror and awe on the faces of the actors­-and some of the actual people who manned the air traffic control centers on that fateful day. If they gave an Academy Award for ensemble casts, this one would win big time.

This is a movie that everyone will be discussing around the water cooler. Forget “The DaVinci Code”. It’s Mickey Mouse stuff. If you read the book, who needs to see the movie? “United 93” ranks miles above such a silly thriller. "United 93" is based on a real-life drama. It will provoke real-life and real, meaningful discussions. Perhaps positive, life-altering discussions.

I won’t get into it here. You have to see the film­--then we can talk about it. Yeah, people will definitely be discussing “United 93” for a long time after they’ve forgotten the brouhaha over Dan Brown’s infantile piece.

And skip the popcorn. You’ll be riveted to your seat. It’ll be cold and you won’t want to eat it by the time you leave the theatre anyway.



Christians Can Persecute Christians, Too

2006-04-12T11:33:59.746-05:00

A Serbian Orthodox priest jailed for practicing his faith:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/opriest;_ylt=AqeDNvylr.
W6Grr0_fCEzwNbbBAF;_ylu=X3oDMTA3b3JuZGZhBHNlYwM3MjE-


It's stories like these that give all Christians a bad name. The bad blood between the Serbian and Macedonian Orthodox Churches is nothing more than nationalism thinly disguised as religion. Macedonians simply do not have it in their hearts in the 21st Century to forgive Serbians for past persecutions.

Let's pray these two churches can come together in the Spirit of Christ and forgive their ancient hurts. Let's pray that all denominations can agree that the most important thing is to share the Good News, not to address old political and culturual scores. Let's pray that 1 John is taken to heart: "God is love." That leaves no room for hatred of our fellow man--including fellow Christians.

P.S. My Easter blog is posted at my Every Day *Is* Mother's Day blog site: http://momsday.blogspot.com or http://www.cynthianna.com/momsday_index.html

A Blessed Easter to you and yours. He has risen! :)



"Abdul Rahman must be killed. Islam demands it."

2006-03-29T10:40:24.456-06:00

From the Associated Press:http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060328/ap_on_re_as/afghan_christian_convertRahman, 41, was released from the high-security Policharki prison on the outskirts of Kabul late Monday, Afghan Justice Minister Mohammed Sarwar Danish told The Associated Press."We released him last night because the prosecutors told us to," he said. "His family was there when he was freed, but I don't know where he was taken."Deputy Attorney-General Mohammed Eshak Aloko said prosecutors had issued a letter calling for Rahman's release because "he was mentally unfit to stand trial." He also said he did not know where Rahman had gone after being released.He said Rahman may be sent overseas for medical treatment.On Monday, hundreds of clerics, students and others chanting "Death to Christians!" marched through the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif to protest the court decision Sunday to dismiss the case. Several Muslim clerics threatened to incite Afghans to kill Rahman if he is freed, saying that he is clearly guilty of apostasy and deserves to die."Abdul Rahman must be killed. Islam demands it," said senior Cleric Faiez Mohammed, from the nearby northern city of Kunduz. "The Christian foreigners occupying Afghanistan are attacking our religion."Rahman was arrested last month after police discovered him with a Bible during a custody dispute over his two daughters. He was put on trial last week for converting 16 years ago while he was a medical aid worker for an international Christian group helping Afghan refugees in Pakistan. He faced the death penalty under Afghanistan's Islamic laws.I don't know. I used to be open-minded when it came to Islam being described as a "religion of peace". But then you hear its leaders crying:"Abdul Rahman must be killed. Islam demands it." Islam demands those who don't agree with its basic beliefs to be killed? I'm really confused. If these Afghani clerics are mistaken in what Islam really stands for, why doesn't anyone else in a position of leadership in the Islamic tradition step up and quickly correct these bloodthirsty clerics or simply tell them to hush up?I'm afraid the real reason no one ever steps up to deny these claims is because these outraged Afghani clerics are speaking the truth about Islam... That it does demand death for anyone who doesn't stay within its folds.Many modern day Muslims bring up the past by saying the Christian Crusaders were just as bloodthirsty. Probably. But most in the church didn't agree with the Crusaders' tactics of "convert or die" and Christianity has moved on from those disgraceful practices. After all, Jesus said, "Love your enemy--do good to those who persecute you." Christians have asked for forgiveness from those they've wronged and from God. And they have moved on, confident that they have received it because of Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross.If Islam is such a "peaceful" religion, then why hasn't it moved on from utilizing these medieval or "Dark Ages" tactics? It seems to be a religion that is evolving backward...becoming darker rather than enlightened. It's transforming out of a "peaceful" religion into a violent, hate-filled, xenophobic religion. So why doesn't anyone in the Islamic world point out this paradox and stop this madness? Could it be because, deep down, this is reality of the Koran? Kill all non-believers, scare your own believers into toeing the line or else...The more these clerics yell for an innocent's man blood, the more I'm r[...]



Ready to die--freed on a technicality

2006-03-26T18:37:54.310-06:00

Abdul is free--for now. But for how long? And will his fellow countrymen kill him for leaving Islam?

From the latest news on Abdul Rahman:

In an interview published Sunday by an Italian newspaper, Rahman said his family, including his former wife and two teenage daughters, reported him to authorities.

He stressed that he was fully aware of his choice to convert.

"If I must die, I will die," Rahman told the Rome daily La Repubblica, which did not interview him directly but channeled questions through a human rights worker who visited him in prison.

Rahman said he chose to become a Christian "in small steps" after leaving Afghanistan around 1990. He moved to Peshawar, Pakistan, then Germany and tried to get a visa in Belgium.

"In Peshawar, I worked for a humanitarian organization. They were Catholics," Rahman said. "I started talking to them about religion, I read the Bible, it opened my heart and my mind."

After saying he was ready to die, he told La Repubblica: "Somebody, a long time ago, did it for all of us," in a clear reference to Jesus Christ.

___

Associated Press correspondent Rahim Faiez in Kabul contributed to this report.


How many Americans Christians would be strong enough to say the same thing? God bless and keep Abdul safe. His battle to believe as his conscience tells him is far from over.



Facing the Lions in Afghanistan...

2006-03-21T13:57:24.956-06:00

From WorldNetDaily.com
http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=49345

Man faces death penalty for becoming Christian
Despite ouster of Taliban by U.S., court still prosecutes ex-Muslim

© 2006 WorldNetDaily.com


Despite the fact the hardline Taliban regime is no longer in power, an Afghan man faces possible execution for allegedly abandoning his Islamic roots and becoming a Christian.

"Yes that's true, a man has converted to Christianity. He's being tried in one of our courts," Supreme Court judge Ansarullah Mawlavizada told the Middle East Times.


The case centers on Abdul Rahman, believed to be 41, who converted from Islam to Christianity some 16 years ago. His relatives reportedly notified authorities about the conversion.

The constitution in Afghanistan is based on Shariah law, which states any Muslim who rejects his or her religion should be sentenced to death.

"We are not against any particular religion in the world. But in Afghanistan, this sort of thing is against the law," the judge told the Associated Press. "It is an attack on Islam. ... The prosecutor is asking for the death penalty."

If he indeed is sentenced, Rahman would be the first person punished for leaving Islam since the Taliban was ousted by American-led forces in late 2001, in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the U.S.

Prosecutor Abdul Wasi says he offered to drop the charges if Rahman made the switch back to Islam, but the defendant is maintaining his Christian beliefs. The judge is expected to rule within two months.


You hate to admit it but the death penalty is one very effective means of preventing your population from switching religions.

This story is yet another illustration how "Allah" is not the God of the Bible, no matter what the universalists believe. The apostle John tells us "God is love," and "We love because God first loved us." How can Allah be God if he decrees death sentences on those who refuse to worship him?

But isn't it awe-inspiring to know that Abdul Rahman is willing to die for his belief in Christ as the Son of the one and only true living God? Pray that Abdul will receive justice and be set free. Pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who face death and other punishments for their belief. Pray that they will remain firm in their faith in a loving God who cares enough about sinful mankind that he sent his son Jesus into the world for the forgiveness of our sins.

Pray that more people's eyes will be opened to the true horrors that non-belief in Christ wreaks upon the world...