Monthly Archives: January 2015


The problem of predestiny

  My first thought was that proponents of predestination would be sending me comments.  My second thought was maybe not – because do they have a reason to even be looking for anything on the topic – and to what end if their destiny is already set.  My next thought was – I can’t believe I’m using a quote from Stephen Hawking.  But hey – it fits. This is a touchy subject.  Folks feel strongly on both sides. So let’s look at it.  See what the Bible has to say.  And, let’s since we believe that God is “Love” – lets see how loving this doctrine really is. Nothing like giving away the ending right from the start, is there?   Let’s start off with “foreknowledge”.  Dictionary.com defines it as knowledge of something before it exists or happens. What exactly does that mean to God – who exists outside of time?   All sorts of books exist on this subject.  There are arguments that God predetermined the people who would accept Jesus.  There are others that argue that God predetermined the rewards for those who accepted Jesus – but not who those people would be.  And I don’t intend to re-argue […]


A deeper look into the Jonah question

The “Jonah question” is turning out to be tougher than expected. There’s a difference between God hating what people do – and hating the people themselves. Let’s see if that could help with the “Jonah question”. This is part of a continuing series looking at God in the Qur’an, the Old Testament and the New Testament.  If you haven’t read it yet, part 1 is here. Review [68:48] You shall steadfastly persevere in carrying out the commands of your Lord. Do not be like (Jonah) who called from inside the fish. [68:49] If it were not for his Lord’s grace, he would have been ejected into the desert as a sinner. [68:50] But his Lord blessed him, and made him righteous. [68:51] Those who disbelieved show their ridicule in their eyes when they hear the message and say, “He is crazy!” [68:52] It is in fact a message to the world This is the closing for Sura 68 – telling Muhammad to not be like Jonah. Looking Deeper So far, we’ve seen that there was an expectation for Muhammad to have either already known about Jonah from the Old Testament – or else to have done the reading himself to […]


They’re watching you! (updated)

Right now – maybe the motive really is all about making more money. But later?  It’s 16 months since I wrote that line.   It’s now later. Let’s see what’s happening now. The original article was from September 28, 2013.  As usual, updates will be in rust colored italics.  They’re watching you! Hopefully, you’ve already asked yourself – who are they? Why are they watching? Why me? … and various other questions like that. The statement is actually from the deadline if a newsletter from Capitol Hill Daily. I need to let you know – I’m going to intentionally leave out some information at this point. I will, however, fill in the missing parts before the end of the article. It’s just that I think the point will be made better by leaving them out – for now. Here is the beginning of the newsletter – minus those few lines I mentioned – Through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), (name left out for now) across the United States filed nearly 600 requests for documents pertaining to a new technology… A technology that’s emerging as the standard in “crime fighting” solutions… … And it’s picking up serious traction in small towns […]


We can only help the broken world around us if …

  We can only help the broken world around us if … … we do something that we probably really don’t want to do. I read this post a couple weeks ago – I am … A Christian by smcburch523. You know it’s going to be “hard” to read – because it was hard to write.  It starts off with – I’ve really been debating about this post. What to write, when to write it, how in-depth I want to go. It’s one of the areas of my life I have struggled with the most, and trying to define it and put it in words is exceedingly difficult. But I’ll just start it and see what it turns into.  It’s hard to write about personal stuff.  Especially the first time. Writing about personal stuff reminds me of something I read back in college – about peeling an onion.  (I tried to find the reference, but couldn’t.  Maybe from Arthur Miller?)  Anyway – it was something about how painful peeling an onion can be, especially at first.  Removing that first layer really makes your eyes hurt.  And you cry a lot.  But as you get deeper into the onion – it’s not so […]


No one would ever agree to this would they? Maybe One?

  The story below is totally fictional.  Maybe.  Nothing even remotely like this could ever happen.  I think.  It’s based on a true story.  Although that last statement can’t be proven, I believe it’s true. It’s almost beyond belief.  And yet… This is the story of Frank – a father.  And Jimmy – Frank’s son.  And Scott.  Frank is the most powerful man in the world.  At one time, he ruled the world.  He had a bad reputation though.  He really was a nice guy – had everyone’s best interests at heart.  But the people were short sighted.  Wanted immediate gratification.  The people thought he was mean.   He wanted to know for sure whether the people liked him.  So he allowed a world-wide election.  And he lost.  Big time.  Scott won in a landslide.  So even though he was way more powerful than Scott – Frank let Scott rule the world.  But still – even though the people rejected him, Frank had a plan to show them the truth about both himself and Scott. It was a big risk.  It involved Jimmy.  His son.  And the real risk was to Jimmy.  Frank knew he could pull it off.  Knew […]


Pope: Ridding stereotypes key to Christian-Muslim relations

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis says the most effective antidote to violence among Christians and Muslims is learning about each other and then accepting differences. Francis also told participants Saturday of a meeting promoted by the Pontifical Institute of Arab and Islamist Studies that only by carefully listening can interreligious dialogue make progress. He said “patience and humility” are essential for deepened Islamic-Christian dialogue while merely superficial dialogue will only yield “stereotypes and preconceptions.” I might add that a really good examination of Christianity, Islam and Judaism would reveal a surprising number of commonalities as well.  After all, The Holy Books of all three religions have a common starting point – God and Abraham. Rather than just accepting the differences, maybe we should look deeper into them to see if there isn’t more in common.  And when we’ve found that, if we really truly believe in the same God of Abraham, then see if we can’t – through prayer and careful study – see what is God’s plan for all of His children.  The same God made promises to Abraham about both Ishmael and Isaac.  Is it unreasonable to assume that He doesn’t have a common plan of salvation for all […]


The Jonah Question of Sura 68 – Part 6

In the previous article, we saw that Muhammad was told not to be like Jonah. This is a complex, but critical issue.  With God’s command to Jonah – it was an outreach from the Hebrew people to the Ninevites (which is in modern day Iraq).  It was unheard of.  Jonah at first rejected it!  But then, with some “encouragement” from God – Jonah went on his mission.  And he succeeded. So how does this relate to Muhammad? The only way to know is to look into the roots of Jonah’s experience, and how that fits in with both Christianity and Islam.  After all – both of them were prominent in Muhammad’s time.   It’s complicated.  It’s not easy.  But I believe it will be most enlightening. So I welcome you to come along on the journey. To really understand what’s happening here with The Jonah Question, I highly recommend at least reading the article that raised the issue. Review [68:48] You shall steadfastly persevere in carrying out the commands of your Lord. Do not be like (Jonah) who called from inside the fish. [68:49] If it were not for his Lord’s grace, he would have been ejected into the desert as […]


Are The Gates of Hell Locked From The Inside?

If someone from Hell was allowed a trip to visit Heaven, would they stay? If someone from earth was allowed to visit Heaven, would they want to go there when they die? You may think the answers would both be “Obviously, yes!” You may be shocked. You could be wrong. I originally wrote this back in October, 2012.  It involves a court case that was going on at the time.  I checked up on it this week.  It’s still going!  When you see what the case is about – you’ll see why the answer to the title question is absolutely yes.  And why some (maybe many?) would surely turn down the opportunity to stay in Heaven.  So – here’s the original, with updates in rust colored italics.  The gates of Hell are locked from the inside. This line is part of the description of C. S. Lewis’ book – The Great Divorce. The entire text is: What if anyone in Hell could take a bus trip to Heaven and stay there forever if they wanted to? In The Great Divorce C. S. Lewis again employs his formidable talent for fable and allegory. The writer finds himself in Hell boarding a bus bound […]


Don’t Be Like Jonah – Sura 68 Part 5

Do not be like (Jonah) who called from inside the fish. At the end of a very long and difficult revelation, Muhammad is told to not be like Jonah. What does this mean? Among other things, it obviously means that either Muhammad already knew the story of Jonah from the Jewish Bible – or he was expected to go get a Jewish Bible and learn about it from there! Let’s check this out further.  Sura 68 – The Pen Order of Revelation – 2 Traditional order in Qur’an – 68 Sura 68 addresses the following: 1.  The sense from the Prophet that his first revelation was actually from an evil spirit. This appears to be confirming what his wife told him – that Muhammad was not crazy / hallucinating / etc. 2.  Confirms that God can see what people are doing. 3.  Compares the revelations to the Prophet to what others are told by their idols (gods). 4.  Says that God can take care of Himself. 5.  Tells Muhammad not to be like Jonah. Part 1 was covered in concerning the first revelation. Part 2 was covered in God can see what people do Part 3 was covered in Compare […]


God Can Take Care Of Himself – In The Qur’an and The Bible – Sura 68 Part 4

  [68:44] Therefore, let Me deal with those who reject this Hadith; we will lead them on whence they never perceive. Ge 12:3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” John 3:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.  These are statements from the Qur’an, The Torah (1st 5 books of the Old Testament) and The Injil (The Gospels from the New Testament).  Each is representative of how God deals with unbelievers in each of these three books. Post Views: 9


shrimp with 12 retina – evolution or design?

This is part of a continuing series to show the amazing things that God has created.  It also hopefully serves as an educational tool to show just how impossible random chance evolution really is. In the deep sea, where light is dim and blue, animals with bigger eyes see better—but bigger eyes are more conspicuous to predators. In response, the small (10 mm to 17 mm), transparent crustacean Paraphronima gracilis has evolved a unique eye structure. And there’s the question – evolved – or designed?     A summary of the article is available at sciencemag.org.  An account is required to read the entire article. To give an idea of the actual size of this shrimp, it’s length in inches would be from 0.39 to .67 inches.  Roughly between 1/2 and 2/3 of an inch.  That’s small. Here’s what the scientists did – Researchers collected the animals from 200- to 500-meter deep waters in California’s Monterrey Bay using a remote-operated vehicle. They then characterized the pair of compound eyes, discovering that each one was composed of a single row of 12 distinct red retinas. Reporting online on 15 January in Current Biology, the researchers hypothesize that each retina captures an image that is […]


Church denies funeral for lesbian

  A funeral denied. Because the person was a sinner. Proper decision? Biblical decision? Or was it a big mistake with wasted opportunities and possibly souls lost?    I know – this is about the LGBT community.  And it’s about Sodom & Gomorrah.  I get it.   And I do believe the lifestyle is against Biblical teaching.  There are plenty of places in the Bible where that’s made clear.  Including Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 18-19.  But – news flash – there are sinners in Heaven!  See my previous post on LGBT in Heaven?   To put this in perspective – look at when Jesus said – Mt 5:21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. From this statement being angry or calling someone a fool gets compared with murder.  There are plenty of angry people and people who […]


Idols in the Qur’an and the Bible – Sura 68 – Part 3

[68:41] Do they have idols? Let their idols help them, if they are truthful. 1Ki 18:24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire—he is God.” Both the Qur’an and the Bible warn about false gods and idols.  However – while the Bible places a heavy emphasis on miracles, the Qur’an does not.  Although – Muslims do consider the Qur’an itself to be a miracle. We’ll take a look at this, based on another section of Sura 68, compared with 1 Kings from the Old Testament and The Gospel of Mark from the New Testament.  Sura 68 – The Pen Order of Revelation – 2 Traditional order in Qur’an – 68 Sura 68 addresses the following: 1.  The sense from the Prophet that his first revelation was actually from an evil spirit. This appears to be confirming what his wife told him – that Muhammad was not crazy / hallucinating / etc. 2.  Confirms that God can see what people are doing. 3.  Compares the revelations to the Prophet to what others are told by their idols (gods). 4.  Says that God can […]


Are there dragons in Heaven?

Are there dragons in Heaven? Here’s a hint – “Everything we know about you guys is wrong.” Here’s another one – Eats its victims… burns its victims… buries its victims, chokes its victims, turns its victims inside- out… Extremely dangerous, extremely dangerous… kill on sight, kill on sight, kill on sight… The more complicated question – will you and I be there? And of course – the trick question – what’s a dragon? Probably not one of the burning questions of the day. (Pun not intended.) But maybe it should be? Are there dragons in Heaven? Of course!   Post Views: 112


Qur’an Sura 68 (part 2) – God sees everything

This part of Sura 68 speaks to God’s awareness of everything going on. He knows who follows Him – and who doesn’t. He also knows who encourages people to stray away from Him. And finally – He encourages believers to not follow those who want to transgress. Let’s compare the verses from this Sura (The Pen) with what we see in Psalms from the Bible. If you’re a Muslim, as you read this, I encourage you to take an open look at the God of the Bible.  Remember, He is the same God who made promises to Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael.  The Qur’an anticipates that you will examine the Bible, with the Book of Psalms as one of the points of emphasis.  That’s what we’re going to do in this session – see the similarities between both books. If you’re a Christian, as you read this, I encourage you to do the exact opposite.  Remember the same promises – know that the God of the Bible did make those promises to Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael.  Take a fresh and open look at what David says – and how it relates to not just the people of Israel – but all of […]


Reasoning Together

  Isa 1:18 “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. I always thought this was an awesome verse. I mean – what an invitation!  Who could possibly not like it?  How could anyone turn it down? Apparently – lots of people.  I found this hard to understand.   Until I came across this …  “People cannot reason together, by means of intelligent discussion, if absolutes are not permitted to affect their thought processes. Absolutes allow man to detect contradictions. In fact, absolutes reveal contradictions. Consequently, we will use the absolutes of God’s Word to examine some of the more prevalent schools of thought of our day. If, of course, you do not view the Scriptures as containing valid instruction for proper living, we have no common ground on which to have a reasonable discussion. I understand this mindset better than you might imagine. I lived my first twenty-seven years perceiving God and His Word not only as incapable of being understood, but also lacking the authority to properly direct one’s life.” Yeah – that would do it.  It’s a quote from Bob Warren’s God’s Heart Commentary. It’s a four part series, and I’m just starting the first book in […]


Faith and Doubt

  The deepest, the only theme of human history, compared to which all others are of subordinate importance, is the conflict of skepticism with faith. WOLFGANG VON GOETHE If you have doubts about your faith – don’t feel that you’re alone. It’s also not a new thing. The quote above is taken from Know Doubt, by John Ortberg.  It was originally published under the title Faith and Doubt. One review of the book is – In this refreshingly candid look at what it takes to live a life of faith, John Ortberg takes an honest look at the misgivings and uncertainties that often shake our beliefs as we navigate through the highs and lows of life. Reflecting on his own bouts with doubt and uncertainty, Ortberg shares with readers his discovery that, rather than being a contradiction in terms, doubt and faith may be very much a part of each other. He challenges readers to consider how doubt can motivate us to study and learn, how questioning expands our understanding, and how uncertainty can lead to trust. These challenges point us toward the relief of being totally honest. The right kind of doubt can be a gift—an action-generating truth that actually allows […]


Why God Must Exist

  Someone asked me why I believe God must exist.  I’ll say right off, this won’t be for everyone.  The request came from a comment I made that having been a math major in college and spending 35 years in the computer industry, it’s safe to say that I think logically.  And, that even though I didn’t want to, I came to the conclusion that God must exist.  So if you’re not into math, this may not get your interest.  On the other hand – I’ve been told that it’s possible to skim through the math parts and still get the concepts.  (If you’re reading this, Hi again! to ServingJesusHere) For the background on why I didn’t want to believe in God for a while – you can check out the about me page.  I’m not going to get into that here, since it’s not relevant.  I’m also going to assume the reader has enough of a background that fine details won’t be explained.  Otherwise it’s going to be way too long.  Infinity One concept that I had a really hard time with, and still do actually, is infinity.  You have this thing called a number line.  You can pick any […]


Does God Cry?

Does God cry? Jesus did. You may remember when that happened. But do you know why Jesus cried? Do you know why God cries? Do you know why Allah cries? Do you know why YHWH cries?   This one’s an update from something I did in October 2011.  With all that’s going on in the world right now, it seems like a good time to update it.  As usual, updates are in rust colored italics. Do you think God cries when He looks at what we’re doing to His name?   Do you think God cries when He looks at what we’re going to each other? How about when He looks at what we’re doing to each other in His name? Don’t jump to conclusions here.  I’m not singling out any one person or group.  I think we all are guilty of using God’s name to do things to each other that He would not approve of.  Being a Christian myself, I’m starting with an example from Jesus.  But there’s something here for everyone. Does God cry? Jesus did. Many will remember the verse from John 11:35 – Jesus wept. For the trivia fan – it’s the shortest verse in […]


Making Planets or Discovering Them?

Are we pretending to be like God? If you can imagine a planet, and then discover one that could maybe be a little like the one you imagined, that’s the same as making one, right? Apparently so.  At least one could get that impression, based on two different articles – one from sciencemag.org and the other from arstechnica.com. Awesome stuff.  Sounds incredible. But how real is it? Have we become like God – able to make planets?   The sciencemag.org article is titled How to make a planet just like Earth.   I enjoy cooking and baking, so I’m expecting to see a recipe, step by step, hopefully with pictures, ’cause I like to verify that what I’m making looks like it’s supposed to.  And for baking, it’s got to be really exact, otherwise the right chemical reactions won’t happen, and I’ve got a mess. I also enjoy doing woodworking, so a really nice blueprint with exact dimensions would be anticipated.  I’d really like to see some well laid out cut sheets too. Makes the whole thing so much easier. The article from arstechnica.com is titled Earth-sized planets discovered by Kepler may really be Earth-like.  This seems to lower the bar for […]


Life’s not fair!

Life’s not fair!   But who told you it would be? Maybe it’s better this way? Life’s not fair! Not exactly a news flash, is it?   Everyone knows that. And we can all go on and on about why it isn’t fair.  Especially why it isn’t fair to us. And, we probably throw in something about God not being fair to us.  Maybe even that He abandoned us.  Or that He doesn’t really exist.   But first, this one’s a bit special.   I was responding to someone’s post last night who was questioning God.  Very much along the lines of Him not being fair.  Actually – more like being cruel.  I’ll post a link, if it’s OK with the author.  (I really hope you, the author, do come over and read this.) Anyway – after exchanging a couple replies, I included this – I’m working on a post to that effect now – probably will be ready tomorrow. Maybe He prompted me to write it today – just for you? How would that make you feel? I am quite sure He’s put people I my life when I needed them. What if your post was prompted by Him to get […]


Site of Jesus’ trial found? 1

 Archaeologists make stunning find: Could this be the site of Jesus’s trial? This is an amazing story on many levels,  It was well presented in the article. It should be good thing. Unfortunately, one of those amazing levels can be found is in the “Leave your comment” section at the end of the article.   First, here’s a link to the story from MSN.  Here’s an excerpt from that story – The debate over the site of the trial continues among Christian spiritual leaders, historians and archaeologists. Questions about the location stem from various interpretations of the Gospels, which describe how Jesus of Nazareth was brought before Pilate in the “praetorium,” a Latin term for a general’s tent within a Roman encampment. Some say Pilate’s praetorium would have been in the military barracks, others say the Roman general would probably have been a guest in the palace built by Herod. Today, historians and archaeologists are certain that Herod’s palace was on the city’s western side, where the Tower of David Museum and the Ottoman-era prison stand. For Shimon Gibson, an archaeology professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, there is little doubt that the trial occurred somewhere within […]


Was there really enough water to flood the earth?

You’ve probably heard the claims.  There wasn’t enough water to flood the entire earth.  And even if there was, it couldn’t have rained fast enough.   And even if it could, it wouldn’t have drained fast enough.  So it couldn’t have happened.  It’s scientifically impossible. Not so fast. One of the top stories from Science Magazine last year may say otherwise.   You won’t find it listed under the title of “Noah’s Flood Could Be True”, or “Noah’s Ark Really Was Needed”, or even “Noah Was Right”.  Certainly not under “God Really Did Flood The Earth – And We Can Prove It”. No. It’s under the title “Cycling water through the transition zone”.   The prevailing theories were that it just wan’t possible for rain to have accumulated enough water to actually flood the earth.  And – as I said at the top – even if that somehow could have happened – it certainly would not have drained as quickly as the Bible claims. But now, the article, from June 13, 2014 says – The water cycle involves more than just the water that circulates between the atmosphere, oceans, and surface waters. It extends deep into Earth’s interior as the […]


Intro to Sura 68 – The Pen. God’s promises to Abraham, revisited.

Among other things, Sura 68 is a response to Muhammad’s sense / fear that his first revelation was from a Jinn (an evil spirit).  It confirms to him that he is not crazy or hallucinating. This second Sura, in order of revelation, is quite long.   Other topics in Sura 68 will be covered in later posts.  But I think this one will be quite revealing for non-Muslims. If you’re not a Muslim – I encourage you to read on, and probably notice some things you hadn’t considered before. If you are a Muslim – I also encourage you to read on, and maybe see a different perspective towards you as a person – from a Christian. If you’re neither one, it will still be a different take on an important world issue.  Nothing like what you’ll find in the news reports – where seemingly neither the Bible or the Qur’an are actually being read or understood.  Already, this has been a fascinating journey for me.  Something I just need to share. Post Views: 114


The problem of caring

  Caring can be depressing.   That seems odd.  Maybe even wrong.  But it’s true. Ecc 1:1 The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem: Ecc 1:2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” Even caring.   It doesn’t matter whether we even know the people we care about.  If we really care about them – it’s still depressing when they don’t care.  And not because we can’t do anything about their lack of caring – because we can’t, and we know that.  It’s their lack of caring about themselves that is the problem. But that’s exactly what we’re called to do as Christians – Mt 22:34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Mt 22:37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang […]