June 25, 2017

Two Handed Handshake

From time to time we may see a person grasp the hand of another person with both hands. One hand is placed on top of the other person’s hand and one is placed underneath the other person’s hand.

The use of two hands in a handshake conveys positive emotion; communicates honesty and sincerity; and is a sign of warmth, sympathy and compassion. It is not unusual for members of the clergy and the medical professions to convey their feelings in this manner. They are going out of their way to say “I care.”

When you have feelings of sincere compassion for another person, I encourage you show your sympathy and empathy with a two handed handshake.  Keep it warm, and keep it brief.  And by the way:

My father was a minister.
He often used both hands in a handshake when consoling another person.

My father did it because he loved people.


Ron
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June 03, 2017

The Black Telephone

When I was a young boy, my father had one of the first telephones in our neighborhood. I remember the polished, old case fastened to the Wall. The shiny receiver hung on the side of the box. I was too little to reach the telephone, but used to listen with fascination when my mother talked to it.

Then I discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful device lived an amazing person. Her name was "Information Please" and there was nothing she did not know. Information Please could supply anyone's number and the correct time.

My personal experience with the genie-in-a-bottle came one day while my mother was visiting a neighbor. Amusing myself at the tool bench in the basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer, the pain was terrible, but there seemed no point in crying because there was no one home to give sympathy.

I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally arriving at the stairway. The telephone! Quickly, I ran for the footstool in the parlor and dragged it to the landing. Climbing up, I unhooked the receiver in the parlor and held it to my ear.

"Information, please" I said into the mouthpiece just above my head.
A click or two and a small clear voice spoke into my ear.
"Information."
"I hurt my finger..." I wailed into the phone, the tears came readily enough now that I had an audience.
"Isn't your mother home?" came the question.
"Nobody's home but me," I blubbered.
"Are you bleeding?" the voice asked.
"No," I replied. "I hit my finger with the hammer and it hurts."
"Can you open the icebox?" she asked.
I said I could.
"Then chip off a little bit of ice and hold it to your finger," said the voice.

After that, I called "Information Please" for everything. I asked her for help with my geography, and she told me where Philadelphia was. She helped me with my math.
She told me my pet chipmunk that I had caught in the park just the day before, would eat fruit and nuts.

Then, there was the time Peaty, our pet canary, died. I called,
Information Please," and told her the sad story. She listened, and then said things grown-ups say to soothe a child. But I was not consoled. I asked her, "Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring joy to all families, only to end up as a heap of feathers on the bottom of a cage?"
She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said quietly, "Wayne, always remember that there are other worlds to sing in."

Somehow I felt better.

Another day I was on the telephone, "Information Please."
"Information," said in the now familiar voice. "How do I spell fix?" I asked.

All this took place in a small town in the Pacific Northwest. When I was nine years old, we moved across the country to Boston. I missed my friend very much. "Information Please" belonged in that old wooden box back home and I somehow never thought of trying the shiny new phone that sat on the table in the hall. As I grew into my teens, the memories of those childhood conversations never really left me. Often, in moments of doubt and perplexity I would recall the serene sense of security I had then. I appreciated now how patient, understanding, and kind she was to have spent her time on a little boy.

A few years later, on my way west to college, my plane put down in Seattle. I had about a half-hour or so between planes. I spent 15 minutes on the phone with my sister, who lived there now. Then without thinking what I was doing, I dialed my hometown operator and said, "Information Please."

 Miraculously, I heard the small, clear voice I knew so well.
"Information."
I hadn't planned this, but I heard myself saying,
"Could you please tell me how to spell fix?"
There was a long pause. Then the soft spoken answer, "I guess your finger must have healed by now."
I laughed, "So it's really you," I said. "I wonder if you have any idea how much you meant to me during that time."
 "I wonder," she said, "if you know how much your call meant to me."
"I never had any children and I used to look forward to your calls."
I told her how often I had thought of her over the years and I asked if I could call her again when I came back to visit my sister.
 "Please do," she said. "Just ask for Sally."

Three months later I was back in Seattle.
A different voice answered,
"Information." I asked for Sally.
 "Are you a friend?" she said.
"Yes, a very old friend," I answered.
 "I'm sorry to have to tell you this," She said. "Sally had been working part time the last few years because she was sick. She died five weeks ago."
Before I could hang up, she said,
"Wait a minute; did you say your name was Wayne?" "
"Yes." I answered.
Well, Sally left a message for you.
She wrote it down in case you called.
"Let me read it to you."
The note said, "Tell him there are other worlds to sing in. He'll know what I mean."
I thanked her and hung up. I knew what Sally meant.

Anon
................
Never underestimate the impression you may make on others.
Whose life have you touched today?
Ron
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May 14, 2017

Upon the Wings of a Dove

Armstrong Williams | Posted: May 14, 2017 | Townhall.com

Sometime in the womb, as we evolve over months from a single-celled organism into the complex mass of neurons and flesh that we recognize as ourselves, an awareness of our place in the world emerges. The world as we begin to know it is a warm, liquid soup, filled with nutrients and enveloped in a thin translucent film. The steady drum of a heartbeat just outside the womb begins to set the pace of your own fledgling heart. An umbilical cord connected directly to our tiny bellies pipes in nourishment to fuel our rapid growth.

And then bam! In a moment that ideal world comes crashing to an end. The pain and travail of our mother’s struggle seems like banishment from the land of milk and honey to a harsh, cold world. Our lungs struggle to take breath as our eyes adjust to the blinding light of the outside world. And in that moment, we must truly believe we have died, for the world we have known our entire lives up to that point has been torn from us never to return again. Like King Lear’s fool, ‘we wail and cry,’ striking out in blind fury at having been kicked out of paradise.

As infants, we cling closely to our mothers, suckling directly from our mother’s breast, literally drawing from her own life force like a battery charging from a wall socket. We learn the world through her eyes. Her smell, her smile, her very presence becomes the blanket we seek against a world we do not know and cannot survive on our own. This deep attachment does not end, no matter how old we get and how many conquests we achieve. 

And so, it is no wonder that we return to our mothers again and again during life. As young children, we hide behind her skirt when other kids are being mean to us, or when we find ourselves in the company of strangers. We run to her and cry the first time we fall down while playing and scuff our knee. And every time this happens, she is there to reassure us, to mend our fingers or soothe our bruised hearts. Even as we mature in life we find ourselves constantly returning to the feeling of security and warm and unconditional love that only a person born of her own flesh can offer.

Amid the gnawing doubts we suffer in our early adult lives, not knowing for sure whether we are equipped to confront a world in which there are rarely easy answers; amid the complexities of relationships, education, business and public life – we return again and again to the primal comfort of our mothers.

While it is often said that we inherit at least half of our genes from our fathers, the nurturing care of our mothers, her flesh and blood literally give us life. My father taught me the virtues of work and industry. Those instilled values have given rise over the years to my public persona. My mother, who was equally hard working, taught my siblings and I the importance of nurturing our physical and spiritual bodies. We inherited our Christian faith from her. And those values have given rise to an unshakeable inner strength that has undergirded my soul and given me confidence and comfort in times of turmoil.

The scriptures command us to honor our mothers and fathers. This age old wisdom seems only natural and a matter of common sense. It is right and proper that we honor those without whom we would not enjoy the blessing of life. I have striven my entire life to live up the values and ethics exemplified by my parents. They were and are to this day my most cherished role models.

But my mother was so much more than that. She was also one of my closest friends. We talked every morning by phone, before the sun rose, and often prayed together. This routine has become so deeply ingrained in my daily life – until she passed away on April 7 on the eve of her 91st birthday we never went a day without communicating several times daily by phone – that in a sense it has become the steady heartbeat that has constantly paced my own. I knew on a conscious level that when she passed it would be difficult for me to fathom life in her absence; but the feeling of loss, of separation, and banishment I must have felt at birth has now returned. Over the past month since her passing, the world has literally transformed into a strange place.

Many years ago, my very wise and now deceased mother pulled me aside and reminded me that material wealth, while it may seem important to me in my youth, were not nearly so important as the memories created for family and friends. That is one's greatest legacy. Such grief and sadness knowing my life and relationships have changed forever. Just a difficult time emotionally. Truly I have never felt so alone in this world!

I expect to mourn and grieve as most of us do when a loved one passes. It is only natural. But I also know that my mother prepared me for this moment. Her constant prayers are ingrained in me, to call upon whenever I need them. While she is no longer with us in flesh, the gift of her soul is ever enduring. While mom was here on earth, she never wearied; she never wavered; until God said her work was done. But now, as King David fervently also wished, mom has been granted the wings of a dove; I imagine her fondly as she flies away to be at rest.
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May 12, 2017

Consciousness as a Creative Force

Mechanistic evolution is essentially accepted as an undisputed fact within the scientific community and academia. But secular evolutionists have chosen to force a theory of creation and evolution on us that is totally devoid of consciousness, awareness, or intelligence. We know, however, these attributes are fundamental characteristics of all animals that can think, including and especially humans. How can any discussion of evolution leave out these fundamental attributes? Do they exist? Of course they do, and any discussion of life must include a consideration of consciousness, awareness, and intelligence. Future scientific debate needs to consider both the physical and the nonphysical elements of evolution. Where possible, theories must be confirmed by the methods of science. Intelligence, in the form of consciousness, is no longer considered a myth. This change in the evolution debate has prompted a few scientists and theologians to suggest the ultimate answer will be the result of cooperation, rather than confrontation, between theology and science. This is a journey that demands intellectual honesty, an open mind, and the tools of thorough inquiry.

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April 21, 2017

Former Atheist Lee Strobel in His Own Words

Jerry Newcombe | Townhall.com | Posted: Apr 06, 2017

Atheist Lee Strobel served as the legal affairs editor for The Chicago Tribune, having graduated from Yale Law School. But his wife, Leslie, went to church.
To win his wife back to their blissful state of unbelief, Strobel went on a quest to use his investigative journalist skills to debunk Christianity once and for all: "No resurrection, no Christianity." But when he intensely studied the actual evidence, he reluctantly became convinced that the claims for the life, ministry, and resurrection of Jesus Christ are indeed true.
Strobel wrote a book about his spiritual quest, called The Case for Christ, which has sold millions of copies. Now, a new major movie by the same title is coming to theaters (4/7/17) and will tell his story.
As a Christian TV producer and radio host, I have had the privilege a few times to interview Lee Strobel, a leading Christian apologist of our time. What follows are some of his answers to my questions that he gave me in some of those interviews.

On His Becoming an Atheist
“I can go back to the exact place where I was sitting in a high school in Mt. Prospect, Illinois…. The scientific teaching I received, when I was a student that told me that God is irrelevant and that evolution explained the origin and the development of life, really set me down a path toward atheism.”
His Thoughts on Darwinism Now
“On the surface you can build a scientific case for Darwinism. In reality, though, the more you examine it, the more its pillars rot under scrutiny….I was told, for instance, that the fossil evidence supports Darwinism, and that you can reconstruct the progression of animal life through fossil discoveries and so forth. That’s simply not true. What the fossil record shows is the sudden appearance of fully formed creatures, with no precursor animals, and really no substantive change afterwards.”
On His Quest to Find the Truth
“I cross-examined experts to try to get them to articulate the evidence in a way that I could understand it and answer the tough questions that I had when I was a skeptic… and every time they would be able to provide cogent, solid arguments, and information and data and evidence that confirmed to me that Christianity is not a fairytale built on wishful thinking. But it is a belief system that is founded on a solid foundation of historical and scientific fact.”
On the Historical Reliability of the Four Biblical Gospels
“As a journalist, I’ve learned to investigate the reliability of documents. And when you look at the documents that make up the New Testament of the Bible, they meet the tests of reliability that historians use. For instance, the four Gospels in the Bible have ties to the apostles themselves. They’re either written by apostles or by people who were working with the apostles, like Mark, who worked with Peter, and Luke, who was a close associate of Paul, the eyewitness to the resurrected Jesus. So, we have eyewitness testimony that goes into the Gospels that are in the Bible. They also come very soon after the events themselves, so soon that we don’t have legend coming in and wiping out a solid core of historical truth.”
On Historical Evidence for Jesus Apart from the Bible
“There’s an historian by the name of Dr. Gary Habermas. He did a study of the references to Jesus in ancient history outside the Bible, and he found over 100 facts about the life, teachings, miracles, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ in ancient writings outside the Bible that corroborate what the Bible tells us about Jesus.”
On the Solid Foundation of the Christian Faith
“Our faith is built on a firm factual historical foundation. There’s not some document that’s going to surface, all of a sudden, that’s going to negate 2,000 years of the Church. I went into this as an atheist. I went in as a skeptic. I went in as someone who was motivated for this not to be true. What did I find? I found that I could trust the New Testament of the Bible, when it tells me about the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I found evidence that convinced me, as a skeptic, that Christianity is true.”
On the Medium of Film to Reach People for Christ
“Churches need to wake up and start seeing Christian filmmakers and Christian novelists as being missionaries to a new generation….Film is hugely influential among young people, and we need to see Christian filmmakers as missionaries. We need to pray for them, we need to get them trained. We need to finance them and support them.” [Note: Strobel said these prophetic words at the time the anti-Christian film, The DaVinci Code, was about to be released.]

April 10, 2017

John and Jesus: Historical Dates for Their Birth, Ministry and Death

John the Baptist and Jesus the Christ were instrumental in launching the movement we know as Christianity. There has been, and continues to be, extensive controversy over the key dates in the lives of these two men. More as a matter of curiosity than substance, we would like to know when they were born, when did they start their ministry, and when did they die?

I spent a considerable amount of time researching this topic for my novel. While it is impossible, based on current knowledge, to exactly pinpoint these dates, we can place them within a rather narrow window of history.

 

Birth.

It is generally agreed among most scholars that Jesus was born between 6 and 4 BC. According to the biblical record, John was born before Jesus. It would appear they were born a few months apart based on the timing of Mary’s pregnancy versus the gestation of Elizabeth’s baby. They were both born before the death of Herod the Great, the Roman client king of Judea, calculated by most scholars as being in March or April of 4 BC (also a controversial date).

Since it would appear both John and Jesus were born in the same year, this suggests both were born in 6 or 5 BC. Jesus is supposed to have started his ministry when he was between 29 and 31 years old. This gives more credibility to 5 BC.

Was Jesus born on December 25, 5 BC? Unlikely. The selection of this date was made long after the death of both men by early church fathers, allegedly to replace (or displace) a pagan holiday. Given the relationship of the two pregnancies, astronomical and environmental data (including the timing of the harvest), it would appear John was born in March and Jesus was born in late September or early October, 5 BC.

And that is as close as we can get until archeologists find something new to adjust our calculations.

 

Ministry.

In order for Jesus to be baptized by John (as recorded in the gospels), his ministry must have started before Jesus was baptized. Given the lag time it takes for information to travel in the first century AD, and the time it would take for John to establish his reputation, it is likely Jesus heard about John’s ministry several months after John actually started baptizing in the Jordan River. That puts a constraint on the start date of ~ 27 AD. He had to be active and well known before Herod Antipas had his steamy affair and then married Herodias (who divorced his half-brother to marry Herod). That romp apparently happened about 27 or 28 AD, which fits nicely with a start date for John’s ministry in 27 AD. Given the time it would take to establish himself as a prophet, we can guess -with some conviction - that John likely started his ministry between July and October of 27 AD. For the sake of historical sanity, I picked July of 27 AD.

John was apparently jailed for his opposition to the marriage of Herod and Herodias in February of 29 AD, and beheaded in August of 29 AD. We can also reach this conclusion because we know John was beheaded before Jesus died, and if Jesus died in April of 30 AD then John would have died the prior August.

If we have an approximation for John the Baptist, we also have to fit the ministry of Jesus within the same date constraints. If John was active from July of 27 AD through February of 29 AD, then Jesus must have been baptized before February 29 AD. According to the gospels, Jesus was about 30 when he established his ministry. That puts a constraint of between 26 and 28 AD. If we match John’s ministry with the baptism of Jesus, it would appear he was baptized in 28 AD. He would have been 31 at the time of his meeting with John.

Neither John nor Jesus had a long ministry. John’s demise came when he criticized Herod for marrying Herodias.

The priests, the Sadducees, and the Philistines regarded Jesus as an unwelcome outsider. Indeed, the Gospels are full of challenges directed at him. Jesus made them look incompetent. They were very annoyed when Jesus overturned the money changer tables because he was intruding on their money making scheme. While the Romans do not appear to have been overly concerned about Jesus, the priests did not have to work very hard to convince Pilate that Jesus was guilty of sedition. In addition, if we review the activity described in Luke (which is probably our best reference for elapsed time), and consider the impossibility of travel in the rainy season, Luke describes a ministry that would last 18 - 24 months.

If Jesus was crucified when he went to Jerusalem for Passover, there are two possible dates. Passover started on Monday, April 18, 29 AD and Friday, April 7, 30 AD. By tradition, Jesus was crucified immediately after Passover on Friday. That suggests April 7, 30 AD is the best fit because Passover would have ended Thursday night after sundown, allowing the Priests to pursue the trial without violating Jewish law (yes they could ignore the fact that Friday was preparation day). They also knew they had to act Thursday night because Jesus would likely leave Jerusalem after the close of Passover on Friday.

 

Conclusions

Both John and Jesus were born in 5 BC. It would appear the ministries of both John and Jesus lasted no more than 20 months. John ~ July 27 AD to February 29 AD. Jesus ~ August 28 AD. to April 30 AD. John was beheaded in August of 29 AD. Jesus was crucified in April of 30 AD.

That’s the best I can do unless we discover additional definitive and reliable information that gives us a better handle on these dates.


Ron
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February 22, 2017

The Catholic Church Must Not Go Backward.

I admire Pope Francis, 266th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. When Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina was elected as Pope, he brought to the position a persona of recognizable humility and empathy. Although I may not agree with him on some issues, his thoughts on spiritual renewal, marriage and resurrection bring a breath of fresh air to the stuffy halls of parochial tradition.

The Catholic Church must not go backward. Those who serve are not privileged, should not view themselves as members of a special caste of clerics, and must not forget their attention to humble service. Instead, we look to the Catholic Church for leadership that understands the intellectual and spiritual needs of a 21st century population, and is able to deal with the organizational, social, and political realities of the 21st century. This includes a larger role for women within the Church, and a renaissance of Christian theology.

To those who oppose change I suggest the following thought: Church doctrine was largely created by early Church fathers long after the death of Jesus Christ. Based on 1,800 year old knowledge and social beliefs, much of it is obsolete and does not even reflect the spirit of his message. If we wish to carry on the work of Jesus Christ, we must bring about constructive change based on a thoughtful evaluation of the role of Christian theology in the 21st century.

Focus on two words: renaissance and reformation. We look to the Catholic Church to bring about a renaissance of Christian theology, and a reformation of how the Church approaches its mission.


Ron
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February 08, 2017

God’s Help Comes in Many Ways

Sometimes a little humor helps brighten the day.
 

She hurried to the pharmacy to get medication, got back to her car and found that she had locked her keys inside. The woman found an old rusty coat hanger left on the ground. She looked at it and said, "I don't know how to use this."

She bowed her head and asked God to send her some help. Within 5 minutes a beat-up old motorcycle pulled up, driven by a bearded man who was wearing an old biker skull rag.

He got off of his cycle and asked if he could help.

She said: "Yes, my daughter is sick. I've locked my keys in my car. I must get home. Please, can you use this hanger to unlock my car?"

He said, "Sure." He walked over to the car, and in less than a minute, the car door was open. She hugged the man and softly said, "Thank you, God, for sending me such a very nice man."

The man heard her little prayer and replied, "lady, I just got out of prison yesterday; I was in prison for car theft."

The woman hugged the man again, "Oh, thank you, God! You even sent me a professional." 

Is God great or what!?!

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January 30, 2017

Our Quest for God

Our Search for Understanding

We humans have searched for God since the beginning of human intelligence. We have been very creative in our interpretation of what or who is a God. Our explanations have typically been drawn from current experience, our fears, and our desires.  God is a woman.  God is a man.  God is an animal.  God is a star, the sun, or the moon.  God is an invisible being.  God exists in the earth.  God lives in the sky.  God reigns over our universe from a place outside our Cosmos. Human literature and traditions claim God is compassionate, God demands obedience, God is fickle, and God is steadfast. Our search for what is, or who is, God has produced a plethora of contradictory beliefs that have frequently been the source of bloody human conflict.

Gradually, however, most Christians have come to perceive God as a supernatural being, creator of all that exists in the Cosmos, the source of Christian values, and the essence of moral perfection. God provides us with a message of love, and teaches us how to become one with the transcendent principles of the Cosmos. In the final analysis, God is both a teacher of values and judge of individual conduct. For many, faith in the word and character of God provides life with its intrinsic meaning.

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January 24, 2017

Hatred Has No Moral Value

Political chaos can be found in many nations.
Zealots are consumed by the bile of hatred.
However let us remember a fundamental truth.

No matter what we may think is justified.

If a theology, ideology, or philosophy
fails to bring people together,

it has no moral value.