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St. John Records the 5th Miracle - Part I

     The fifth miracle, Jesus walking on the water, is a spectacular miracle, a definite wow miracle.  Imagine straining at the oars and the sea is very rough and you are not getting any where.  When you row, you have your back to the destination and you look at where you came from.  Now as you row, you see a man approaching.  You may have had your doubts, but there are twelve of you - and you all see the same thing.  Here is something walking.  It has to be a ghost, because a body would sink into the water.  Worse, the ghost is walking faster than you are rowing!  In Mark 6:48 we read that "he was about to pass them by."  The disciples call out to the ghost and the ghost is not a ghost but is Jesus walking on the water, who then climbs in the boat.  Wow!

Praise God the Father that Your Son is greater than nature.

St. John Records the 4th Miracle - Part II

    In the last blog we established that 5,000 people had seen the signs, the miracles of healing, and had followed Jesus.  Jesus then took the five small barley loaves (about the size of a roll) and two fish and then distributed to the people and the people ate "as much as they wanted.  When they all had enough to eat" (John 6:11-12), they gathered up 12 baskets. 
     Some non-believers, doubters of God the Son's divinity, state that when the Jesus distributed the boy's food, the people, who had hidden their food, were ashamed, and brought out their hidden food and shared it.
      This ignores several aspects: 
1.  Bible says that the people were hungry.
2.  In a subsistence country, they ate as much as they wanted.  If they ate just what they had brought, they would not have had enough.
3.  There was so much left over that 12 baskets of left overs were picked up.
4.  The people thought it was real because they wanted to make him king.  This is a real miracle that you can touch and feel and taste.

Praise God the Father that His Son was and is divine.

St. John Records the 4th Miracle - Part I

     St. John recorded the 4th miracle, and this one is the Feeding of the Five Thousand.  But before he records the miracle, the people followed Jesus "because they saw the miraculous signs He had performed on the sick" (John 6:2). 
Three things to note: 
    First, the people "saw the miraculous signs."  It is easier to fool one or two people with a magic trick, but the crowds had seen the miraculous signs in their own towns.  Many of the sick must have been known to them as the communities were small.  For example, when the official's son was healed (miracle # 3), the whole village would have known about it as only 1,500 people are estimated to have lived at Capernaum in Jesus' time. 
      Second, the people thought that Jesus had performed miracles.  If they thought that He was a fraud, they would never have have followed Jesus.  The Jewish economy of the 1st century was a subsistence economy.  So to take off for a day or two to follow Jesus must have been based on hard evidence because they needed to work every day for food.
      Third, the number of people was 5,000 men.  These men are not given to whims of fancy, but they saw the miracles, the signs (plural) that Jesus had performed on the sick. 
  
Conclusion:  Jesus healed the sick several times in Galilee before the feeding of the 5,000.

The Inquisition: How many died?

   How many people died in the Inquisition in 500 years?  30,000?  300,000?  3,000,000?  Most historians now concede that far fewer died than most people think.  Most say that between 3,000 and 5,000 Christians were killed in the Inquisitions by Christians in 500 years (Medieval + the Spanish inquisitions).  While 5,000 is too many people, it is not the 30,000 or 300,000 are bandied about on the internet and common conversation.  Only one percent of the 125,000 tried for heresy in Spain died (see
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/ju/16/artsandhumanities.internationaleducation news).
     As a means of comparison, the Red Terror killed over 6,800 priests and clergy in the Spanish Civil War and the Boko Haran has killed over 5,000 in the last five years.

Lord, life is sacred.  May we respect humans, as they have been created in Your image.

Christians under Attack in Libya

     On 15 February in Libya, the ISIS beheaded 21 Egyptian Copts (Christians).  The White House released the following statement:  "The United States condemns the despicable and cowardly murder of twenty-one Egyptian citizens in Libya by ISIL-affiliated terrorists."  Unfortunately, what the White House did not say was that the 21 who were beheaded were beheaded because they were Christians.  ISIS said it killed those "people of the cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian church."  ISIS boasts that it is killing Christians.  But our president does not acknowledge that is the reason.
     On 09 January In Paris a Muslim terrorist shot and killed four Jews in a kosher deli.       President Obama refused to acknowledge that the Muslims killed Jews.  He stated that the gunman “randomly shoots a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.”  He did not mention that it was because of their faith.  His press secretary said: "The individuals who were killed in that terrible tragic incident were killed not because of who they were, but because of where they randomly happened to be."
     No, Mr. President.  Those folks were killed because of their faith.

     Let us pray that ISIS and the Islamic terrorist will stop killing.  And that the President will call a spade a spade.  ISIS is an Islamist terrorist organization which targets Christians and Jews for their faith.

Snow: God is Greater than Man

     We humans sometimes are full of pride and think we can do everything.  Rarely do we say "If God wills it."  But last night in Norfolk it began to snow and now it is sleeting - and nothing is moving.  There is no traffic.  Think of Boston with its 58" of snow (4 feet 10 inches), ten times what they normally get for the entire month of February.
     When God sends storms, He proclaims that His is in charge.  Unfortunately, few bend their knee.  Does He need to send something bigger, bolder, more dramatic to convict us?

Movie Review: Old Fashioned

     The movie Old Fashioned just came out and it is a movie that is a must see.  I stumbled upon the film and it is excellent.  The story line is that the guy in the movie had a a wild past and now is very respectful of women since Jesus found him.  He is a jerk however and does not know how to treat women.  A free spirited woman comes by and they figure out a way to get along.
      According to rotten tomatoes, only 4 out of 17 liked it.  But the common folk liked it a lot.  Out of 1276 reviews, the average score was 4.75 out of 5, with 96% liking it.  This shows the difference between the elitist media and the common folk.
   
Caution:  seeing this film may change your life. 

How did the inquisition work?

    An inquisition judge would arrive at a city that would be troubled with heresies.  There was a grace period of 30 days when the people could confess their sins and return to the church.  Then there were the trials.  The trials would be conducted and the requirement would be to have at least two witnesses against them.
     The problem was that the inquisition sometimes used torture against the people to get to the truth.  When being tortured, people generally say what they think that their torturers want to hear.  Another problem was that the accused did not see who their accuser was.  And witnesses for the defendant were often few and far between.  If you defended one accused of heresy, then you could be accused immediately thereafter.
      So while the principle of weeding out heretics is good (it saves souls), the execution (poor use of word), the carrying out of the trials were often not done to safe guard the accused from abuse.
     Next:  how many died.

What was the purpose of the Inquisition?

 The purpose of the inquisition was to root out the heretics, and if necessary kill them.  Before we gasp with horror, we in the United States have laws to protect us from our own stupidity.  For example, the wearing of seat belts and the wearing of motorcycle helmets are mandatory.  Why do we have such laws?  Because the government wants to prevent our deaths.  So they mandate that we do certain things to prevent our death.
     If you believe that after you die, you will be judged before God for your beliefs, and if you believe that your beliefs here on earth will affect you forever, then trying to bring the lost sheep back into the fold makes sense. 
      More on the inquisition next time.

Birthdays

     This month I turned 60 and on such occasions one begins to think of where are you going, what are you going to do with your life.  To quote Job, life is passing swifter than the weaver's shuttle (Job 7:6).  Life which always seemed to stretch forever, now is going by so quickly that I am now thinking of death - as we will all die.  So what are you doing with your life?  What are your plans?  What impact will you have on the world? 
      Are you living in accordance with God's commandments?

Christian Liberty III

     In our church on Sunday we have Sunday School, morning and evening services.  But where in the Bible are three meetings commanded?  Since there is no proof text, therefore, we cannot command the people to go to all three meetings.  We hope they would, but no where does the Bible say you have to attend three meetings on Sunday. 
     The entire idea of Sunday School was born out of the Industrial Revolution when children worked 12 hours a day, six days a week.  Thus, the only day they had off was Sunday, and that was the day they came to church to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic.  This movement started in the 1780s and everyone went to Sunday School.  Remember the Sunday School picnic with Huck Finn.  Everybody attended Sunday School as it was the only school for many up to the 1870s. 
     Now Sunday School is considered a little extra, in addition to the worship services. 
I think you should go to Sunday School.  [Full disclosure - I am a Sunday School teacher.]  But the Bible does not command it. 
      Christian liberty is a beautiful thing.

Christian Liberty II

     Another area where Christians have liberty is the Sabbath observance.  What is permitted to be done on the 7th Day that is the holy day to God?
     Jesus performed more miracles on the Sabbath than on any other day.  He performed seven of his thirty five miracles (twenty percent) of all his miracles on the Sabbath.  As discussed in an earlier post, after Jesus healed the paralytic man on the Sabbath, the strict Jews accused the healed man because he was taking his mat home with him.  (John 5)  On the other hand, Jesus was obedient to the law.  If He did not follow the law exactly, then He could not be our Savior.
       So Christ demands much and allows much.  The joy of Christian liberty.

Christian Liberty I

     With Christianity, there is liberty that is often not found in other religions, for example, alcohol.  The Bible does not prohibit the use of alcohol and Jesus Christ's first miracle was the making of water into wine.  And it was excellent wine.  The master of the banquet says that the wine was the best wine.  (John 2:10)  Paul commands Timothy "Stop drinking only water and use a little wine because of your stomach and  your frequent illnesses." (I Timothy 5:23). 
    Growing up, my father told us not to to drink any alcohol, not on religious grounds but because his father had told him not to drink wine.
     So my wife and I do not drink any alcohol.  One of my son who lives in our home does drink alcohol.
     Christian liberty.  A beautiful thing.

How Mores Have Changed

Our family just watched It Happened One Night, a 1934 film with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert.  Claudette Colbert was running away to New York City to get married.  En route from Miami, she met Clark Gable and they traveled together to New York.  When they spend several nights in motel rooms, she slept in her single bed, he slept in his single bed, and he tied up a line between the two beds and hung a blanket between them.  He calls it the walls of Jericho and he proves to her that he has no trumpet.  After they get married, he has the owner get a trumpet and then you see the blanket fall down.  End of the movie.
     Some comments:  in today's movies, it would not be uncommon for them to sleep together the first night.  In other words, sex is not meaningful, but just something you do. The idea of waiting to after marriage for sex is mocked at in today's culture.  Further, you never saw nudity.  Also, there was no blasphemy or dirty words.  Finally, the constant references to Joshua and the walls of Jericho would be unknown to many people today because many people are Biblically illiterate.
      The definition of mores is "the essential or characteristic customs and conventions of a community."  The mores have certainly changed for the worse in the last 70 years. 
     It Happened One Night is an excellent movie and highly recommended.