Monday, June 29, 2009

Unwanted vistor

A man, down on his luck, went into a church which catered to the "uppity". Spotting the man's dirty clothes a deacon, worried about the churches image, went to the man and asked him if he needed help. The man said, "I was praying and the Lord told me to come to this church."

The deacon suggested that the man go pray some more and possibly he might get a different answer. The next Sunday the man returned. The deacon asked, "Did you get a different answer?"

The man replied, "Yes I did. I told the Lord that they don't want me in that church and the Lord said, 'Don't worry about it son; I've been trying to get into that church for years and haven't made it yet."

Friday, June 26, 2009

1 John 1:9 cont.

John's epistles were written around 90 AD. At this point in history, the temple had already been destroyed and John was an old man.

The overall message of John's epistles is the humanity of Christ (1 Jn 4:2, 3; 2 Jn 7). It is commonly held that at the time John wrote these books, Gnosticism had begun to infiltrate the church assemblies. And one of the reasons these epistles were written was to counteract these heretical teachings.

Gnosticism (after the Greek word gnôsis, meaning "knowledge" or "insight") flourished in the first and second centuries AD. Among its teachings were that (1) the nonliteral interpretation of Scripture is correct and can be understood only by a select few, (2) transcendental or intuitional knowledge (roughly translated as meaning ‘to look inside’ or ‘to contemplate’) is superior to virtue, (3) God could not be the only creator because evil exists in the world, (4) all matter is evil, only spirit is good, (5) the incarnation is unbelievable because deity cannot unite itself with anything material such as a body, and (6) there is no resurrection of the flesh.

Today we find some of these same doctrines taught through such groups as the Christian Scientists and other metaphysical "churches."

Another reason for writing these epistles was to make clear the distinguishing features of those who are born of God in contrast to those which mark the children of the evil one.

So as we begin the book of 1 John we read:

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life--(v 1-2).

"What" is referring to the Word Himself, Jesus Christ. "From the beginning" means from eternity, being equivalent with "in the beginning" in John 1:1. Regarding "concerning the Word of Life", Jesus Christ is termed the "Word" (John 1:1) and the "Life" (John 1:4); because He is the living Word of God.

The Gnostics denied that an actual physical human body of the Lord Jesus ever existed. It was declared to have been visible but not real. Jesus' deity was also denied. It seems John starts his first letter seeking to dispel this Gnostic heresy by stating that Jesus Christ is the living Word of God and that he (John) was an eye-witness. John, with the other apostles, had walked and talked with Jesus when He was on the earth. Indeed, John had seen the risen Christ and with his own hands had touched His wounds (Jn 20:19-21:25). So, to the assembly he is saying, I was there! And I saw and touched Jesus Christ, and heard and believed what He said.

John goes on to say, "and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us--what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete" (v 3-4). Right from the beginning John seems to be appealing to unbelievers in the assembly, that they too might come into fellowship with the apostles and ultimately with the Father and the Son.

John expounds further on the message itself in verses 5-7. The contrast between light and darkness—between believer and unbeliever—characterizes this section.

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin (v 5-7).

Another prominent teaching of the Gnostics was that we don't have a sin nature, or even if we did, it doesn't matter. And when we look at the verses before and after verse 9, we see that John addresses that heresy, "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us (v 8)." and "If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us (v 10)." Second John 1 and 2 help to clarify that these verses are written about unbelievers:

The elder to the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in truth; and not only I, but also all who know the truth, for the sake of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever (2 John 1,2).

Compare these verses with 1 John 1:8, which says, "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us." If the truth abides in us as believers and will be with us forever, then can we ever say that the truth is not in us? How can these two verses both be referring to the believer? It only makes sense that those who claim to be without sin in 1 John 1:8 are lost.

Which of course brings us to 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Some say that verses 8 and 10 are merely contrasts to verse 9 and that verse 9 is indeed for the Christian. But that certainly is a stretch, especially considering the content of the verse itself. I believe it makes much more sense to interpret it as being for the unbeliever as well.

Dr. John Best, a foremost Greek language professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, had for years accepted the common explanation that 1 John 1:9 is written to the Christian. However, when he investigated deeper, he is now certain that it is written to the unbeliever. He explains it like this:

First of all, it is addressed to the lost Gnostics who claim to be without sin. To them the Apostle John states, "If we [an editorial we] claim to be without sin, we are deceiving ourselves and God's truth is not in us." Now for the "if." In 1 John 1:9, the phrase, "if we confess our sins," is classified as a third-class conditional clause, which means that the condition stated by the "if" clause is in question. The Apostle John was not sure whether or not the Gnostics would agree with God concerning their sins and turn to Him for salvation. The Greek structure of this passage forces the following interpretation: "I don't know if you are ever going to come to your senses or not and agree with God concerning your sins. But, if at anytime—today, tomorrow, or whenever—you should decide to turn to Him, God can be depended upon to have forgiven your sins and to have cleansed you of all unrighteousness." (Note the past tense.)

So, 1 John in context appears to have been written to an assembly that included both believers and unbelieving Gnostics, and 1 John 1:9 was written to these unbelievers, not the believers. It is similar to when my pastor invites those in the congregation who have never placed their faith in Jesus Christ to do so. And although many believers are listening and being built up in their faith, his appeal is to the unbelievers.

This is the only interpretation that makes sense to me, and it does not violate the interpretation of other post-cross Scripture.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Conradin Kreutzer or Kreuzer (November 22, 1780 – December 14, 1849), not to be confused with French violinist Rodolphe Kreutzer, to whom Beethoven famously dedicated a sonata, was a German composer and conductor and well known in his day but neglected since his death.

He learned music theory and several instruments when he was young and briefly studied law at the end of the 1790s at the insistance of his father, but his death in 1800 freed Kreutzer to pursue a musical career. By 1804 he showed up in Vienna, where he met Haydn and probably studied with Albrechtsberger. It was during this period that Kreutzer composed several stage works, mostly in the singspiel style, but he had little success getting them performed. So he supported himself by giving lessons, and touring Germany demonstrating Franz Leppich's musical contraption, the panmelodicon.

The panmelodicon was rather like a harmonica with a keyboard, but not the kind of harmonica most people think of. Harmonica is also a generic term given to musical instruments where sound is produced by friction upon glass bells.

Glass-harmonicas originated in the fashionable 18th century instrument known as musical glasses (or verrillon). An Irishman, Richard Pockrich, came up with the idea of musical glasses and first played the instrument in public in Dublin in 1743 and the next year in England. E. H. Delaval is also credited with the invention.

The verrillon or Glassspiel consisted of 18 beer glasses arranged on a board covered with a cloth, with water being poured in when necessary to change the pitch. The glasses, covered over with silk or cloth, were gently struck on both sides with two long wooden sticks shaped like spoons. It is said that the instrument was used for church and other solemn music.

An orchestral concert was given at the little theatre in the Haymarket in London in April 1746 where a concerto was performed on musical glasses. When Benjamin Franklin visited London in 1757, he was so taken with the instrument's beautiful tone, that he decided to work on a mechanical application of it. He was successful and finished the glass harmonica in 1762.

In Franklin's instrument, the glass bowls were mounted on a rotating spindle, the largest to the left, and their under-edges passed during each revolution through a water-trough. By applying the fingers to the moistened edges, sound was produced that varied in intensity with the pressure, so that a good player could produce a certain amount of expression. It is said that "the timbre was extremely enervating, and, together with the vibration caused by the friction on the finger-tips, exercised a highly deleterious effect on the nervous system."

For many years the instrument was in great vogue, not only in England but on the Continent of Europe, and especially in Saxony, where it was given a place in the court orchestra. And Mozart, Beethoven, Naumann and Hasse all composed music for it.

As time went by, improvements were made; one of which was Franz Leppich's panmelodicon in 1810 that Kreutzer demonstrated all over Germany.

Though nothing now remains of this instrument, there are numerous specimens of Franklin's type in Europe's museums for musical instruments. One specimen by Emanuel Pohl, a Bohemian maker, can be found in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Anyway, back to Kreutzer. He did end up finding some success when he settled in Stuttgart — at least three of his operas were staged there in 1811-1812. He was also awarded the post of Hofkapellmeister. And when political tensions drove Kreutzer from Stuttgart in 1816, he toured repeatedly and took a series of Kapellmeister posts. He ultimately hooked up with theaters in Vienna and was finally able to successfully produce his operas.

A few of Kreutzer's songs are still performed and recorded from time to time, but today he is known (if at all) mainly for his Septet for winds and strings, Op. 62 (which is beautiful, IMHO).

However, if you care to look into some of his other works, you may want to try one of his operas, Das Nachtlager in Granada, or Der Verschwender, both produced in 1834. In fact, Kreutzer owes his fame almost exclusively to Das Nachtlager in Granada because it kept the stage for half a century even though people's musical tastes had changed. It is described as having a beautiful melody with great depth of feeling.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

Over the years
As we grow old,
We remember our father
So brave and bold.

In the garden,
Leaning on the plow,
He would listen to me;
I see him now.

He would give advice
And understand;
He was always there
To lend a hand.

God made fathers
Strong and firm,
For he knew our lives
Would have great concerns.

So he gave us fathers
To teach us to pray,
And guide our lives,
And show us the way.

So on his day
Let's take the time
To say "Thanks, dad.
I'm glad you're mine."

poem by Mary Frances Bogle

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Human government

Today has been a beautiful, sunny day. Compared to what we had yesterday — severe thunderstorms — today was gorgeous, if a bit muggy. Yesterday's storms had gotten so violent at one point that my daughter and I had to huddle in the basement for about 1/2 hour because the tornado warning siren had sounded. All in all, very exciting. But I know I wouldn't have felt the same way if we had experienced damage of any sort...or worse.

So yesterday, while it poured outside, I spent most of my time inside reading the final proofs of my husband's latest handbook for adults. This particular one is a survey of the first half of the OT. He's an excellent writer, by the way, and I'm not a bit partial...much.

One thing he wrote that particularly interested me was that there was a period of time after the fall when animals were not afraid of humans. I had always assumed that animals' fear of man started immediately after the fall. But there it was in Genesis 9:2-4.

The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given. "Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant. "Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.

So before the flood, harmony between man and animals still existed. It was after the flood that fear and terror replaced that harmony.

It was also at that time that God established the death penalty (Gen 9:5-6), which implies some form of government. And if governments were authorized to administer capital punishment, they were certainly authorized to give out lesser penalties as well.

God has never rescinded the rule of human government. Paul makes this very clear in Rom 13:1-7:

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

But even though we're still to be subject to human government, God did have to make additional changes later on because man failed to live righteously under governments, just as he failed to live righteously when ruled by his own conscience before the flood. Oh the very sad story of man.


I walk the streets of London
And notice in the faces passing by
Something that makes me stop and listen
My heart grows heavy with the cry
Where is the hope for London?
You whisper and my heart begins to soar
As I'm reminded
That every street in London in Yours

I walk the dirt roads of Uganda
I see the scars that war has left behind
Hope like the sun is fading
They're waiting for a cure no one can find
And I hear children's voices singing
Of a God who heals and rescues and restores
And I'm reminded
That every child in Africa is Yours


And its all Yours, God, Yours, God
Everything is Yours
From the stars in the sky
To the depths of the ocean floor
And its all Yours, God, Yours, God
Everything is Yours
You're the Maker and Keeper, Father and Ruler of everything
It's all Yours

And I walk the sidewalks of Nashville
Like Singapore, Manila and Shanghai
I rush by the beggar's hand and the wealthy man
And everywhere I look I realize
That just like the streets of London
For every man and woman, boy and girl
All of creation
This is our Father's world

I’ve walked the valley of death’s shadow
So deep and dark that I could barely breathe
I’ve had to let go of more than I could bear
And questioned everything that I believe
But still even here in this great darkness
A comfort and hope come breaking through
As I can say in life or death
God we belong to you


It's all Yours, God
The glory is Yours, God
All the honor is Yours, God
The power is Yours, God
The glory is Yours, God
You're the King of Kings
And Lord of Lords

by Steven Curtis Chapman

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

by Robert Frost

Two ways, two choices — which way will you choose?

There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death (Prov 14:12).

As for God, His way is blameless; the word of the LORD is tried; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him (Ps 18:30).

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (Jn 3:16).

Monday, June 15, 2009

1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 Jn 1:9).

What does 1 John 1:9 mean? I know the traditional interpretation is that John is addressing Christians when he wrote it, but I wonder if that's right. And here are my reasons:

First of all, we are told that all our sins—past, present and future—have already been forgiven.

Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins (Acts 10:43).
...rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me (Acts 26:17-18).

God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Cor 1:9).

Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:18-19).

I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name's sake (1 Jn 2:12).

When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross (Col 2:13-14).

...bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you (Col 3:13).

So is there still more forgiveness for us to receive? I don't believe there is.

Don't get me wrong. I do believe confession (which means "to admit or agree with") has a definite place in a believer's life, but not for forgiveness. Whenever we humbly acknowledge our sin, whenever we remember that God's way is far better than our way, whenever we put on the new man, we are confessing. Confession agrees with God, not only about sin, but also with the truth that we are forgiven.

True confession focuses our mind, not on our failures, but back to the finished work of Christ on the cross, which then leads us to a thankful heart. And confession should be a continual, dependent attitude throughout our life, not just a once-in-a-while response. When we learn to agree with God about His total forgiveness toward us, our minds begin to see the completeness of grace that God has for us in Jesus Christ. He did it all, because we were incapable of doing any of it.

So then, what about 1 John 1:9? In light of what I've just mentioned about forgiveness and confession, it seems incongruous to me.

Most of the commentaries I've read concerning 1 John 1:9 say that confessing our sins means that we as believers should frankly admit our known sins, realizing they come from our old sin natures which are still with us. And, we should also realize that we when we sin, we break fellowship with God and that confession accompanied by repentance (which they say means a turning from our sins to the sacrifice of Christ as the means of cleansing from our defilement) restores our fellowship with God. So apparently, the "He will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" means that God promises to remove our sins which are a barrier to our fellowship with Him.

But that happened at our conversion! Now, there is no longer any condemnation for us. Now, we are in Christ, and now God sees Christ's righteousness when He looks at us.

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1).

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor 5:21).

It is interesting to note that right after Romans 7 where Paul tells us he does the things he does not want to do and doesn't do the things he does want to do, that he breaks forth in Romans 8:1, "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Notice He did not say, "Therefore we must confess our sins so that our fellowship with God will be restored." Paul never speaks about asking forgiveness in any of his letters. In fact, no where in the NT, after the cross, is there any verse or passage that speaks of asking for God's forgiveness. We are either forgiven and in fellowship and saved, OR not forgiven and out of fellowship and lost.

So what remedy is given in Scripture when we do something wrong? In Ephesians there were some among them who apparently were stealing. And Paul's counsel to those who were guilty was to steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need (Eph 4:28). In other words, "Stop it! That's not who you are anymore." (Rather reminds me of that old Bob Newhart skit. ha!) He didn't tell those who stole to confess their sins to God, because their sins had already been wiped away—and not only forgiven but forgotten.

To me, it creates such unnecessary anxiety and confusion when we're taught our sins are forgiven past, present and future, AND that every time we sin we're out of fellowship with God until we confess and clear our account with Him. It seems we are preoccupied with sin and how to get rid of it, when our main focus should be on what Christ has accomplished for us on the cross — because the more we think about sin, the more "we sow to the sinful flesh." Understanding God's grace is what changes how we live by enabling us to see people, circumstances, and things from His perspective.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age (2 Titus 2:11-12).

Any good theologian will tell us that it's intellectual suicide to build an entire doctrine around one verse of Scripture, but isn't that what we've done with 1 John 1:9? Or am I not seeing something right?

(To be continued.)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Word plays - Authors

by Anna Poloji

Big White Bird
by Albert Ross

That's Life
by Cilla Vee

The Building
by Eddy Fiss

Prehistoric Reptiles
by Dinah Soar and Terry Dactyl

Where's My Hat?
by Sonia Head

Continental Breakfast
by Roland Coffy

Frankenstein Meets Dracula
by Horace Tory

King Kong
by Hugh Jape

The Man On The Ledge
by Willy Jump

The Open Window
by Eileen Doubt

Arithmetic Simplified
by Lois Carmen DeNominata

by Norman D. Landing

How To Apologize
by Thayer Thorry

What's Up Doc?
by Howie Dewin

Don't Give Up
by Percy Vere

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


We went out and saw the new Star Trek movie tonight and I loved it! Okay, I'll admit I was an avid Star Trek watcher in the 60's and 70's. And I must say, this new movie does a great job of capturing and updating that series.

I was very impressed with the character development, the acting, and the storyline of the movie. But beyond that, it had my absolutely favorite element in it—time travel! The special effects were fantastic, too. J.J. Abrams did away with the traditional Star Trek view of Enterprise as a lumbering naval ship and used a more Star Wars-like dogfight approach. And from the moment the movie starts, so does the action and it just never stops.

I think a high standard has been set for a new era of Star Trek which I hope will produce at least a couple more movies. A truly wonderful movie. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Chocolate Chip Pie

If you like rich desserts, where a little bit goes a long way, then this is the recipe for you. This recipe has the added advantage of being very easy as well. And of course it tastes that much better if you use the crust recipe I blogged about earlier.

I came by this recipe from my mother via a cookbook put out by Don J. Bingham. Don is a Certified Executive Chef with the American Culinary Federation and an active member of the American Academy of Chefs. He is also a television chef and Food Stylist and does food demonstrations and cooking classes. However, not only is Don gifted in the culinary arts, he is also very gifted musically, too.

In fact, I briefly knew Don over 30 years ago when he was the music pastor at First Baptist Church in Conway, Arkansas. It was not too long after I left Conway to go off to college that Don left his ministry position there to open a small tea room/restaurant in downtown Conway. Because of his great culinary talent, he was soon in great demand, not only in Conway, but in Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas, as well. And as the old saying goes, "the rest is history." You can read more about him here. (It's a bit dated because I believe he stopped working at the Governor's mansion when Mike Huckabee left office.)

This pie is my oldest daughter's favorite dessert, and she often asks me to make it when she visits home.

2 eggs
1 stick butter, melted
1/2 c flour
1 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
6 oz chocolate chips
1 c walnut pieces

Mix all ingredients and place in unbaked pie shell. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Do not over bake! Cool and serve each slice with a dollop of whipped cream on top.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Your Grace Is Enough

Great is Your faithfulness oh God
You wrestle with the sinner's heart
You lead us by still waters and to mercy
And nothing can keep us apart

So remember Your people
Remember Your children
Remember Your promise
Oh God

Your grace is enough
Your grace is enough
Your grace is enough for me

Great is Your love and justice God
You use the weak to lead the strong
You lead us in the song of Your salvation
And all Your people sing along

So remember Your people
Remember Your children
Remember Your promise
Oh God

Your grace is enough
Your grace is enough
Your grace is enough for me

So remember Your people
Remember Your children
Remember Your promise
Oh God

Your grace is enough
Your grace is enough
Your grace is enough for me
Your grace is enough

Heaven reaching down to us
Your grace is enough for me
God I see your grace is enough
I'm covered in your love
Your grace is enough for me
For me

Lyrics by Chris Tomlin