What erasing history might just lead to…

I got to thinking – if tearing down statues will end racism and erase history, I should put the theory to the test.  The scientific method consists of applying a basic principle to a variety of similar issues to determine consistent results. And I could think of a number of unpleasant things in my life that needed to end.

For one, there’s my credit card bill.  So I took a match and burned it up in an ashtray.  That should do it. No more debt.  Next week I will check my bank online to see if my balance is zero. I have a car loan that needs the same treatment.

Next there is the owner of my office building.  Not only does he charge too much for my lease, his ugly picture is on my building. Monday I will paint over his face.  I’ll be interested to see who the new owner is when I pay my next installment.

Then there is my weight.  This should be easy.  I dumped the scales into the trash.  No point in leading some other poor fat guy into deception by sending it to Goodwill. With those 40 pounds gone I can rest easier about my blood sugar levels.

And while I’m at it, I took a black marking pen and totally wiped out the calorie count on all the candy bars I have in the house.  I will really enjoy those three Snickers for lunch knowing they are sugar-free.

Then my daughter came to the office. “Dad,” she said, bending her genders a little, calling me ‘dad.’ “I’ve decided to be a man.”

I couldn’t have been happier with this new method on what to do. “Honey, if you disagree with the words on your birth certificate I have the ashtray right here – we will burn it up too.”

“Dad, they have my certificate in the hall of records!”

Well, I thought, that is a problem.  “That means we need to burn the building down,” I assured her, “and everyone will be happier to see it gone. We can do that next week.”

“But Dad, they have all that stuff in the cloud somewhere?”

Huumm, this method of changing reality may be harder than I thought.

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Self-publishing is booming…but not for authors

The rule in business is — “It’s not what you expect, but what you inspect.” The self-publishing business is a model of high expectations and ho-hum inspection. Tales of woe from deceived authors fill the internet complaint departments. Some people are victims because they didn’t read the paperwork, but I did, and still the fog of confusion hangs heavy over the industry.

No author comes to this melee thinking s/he will be another John Grisham. We know we must start somewhere, but the blinders are on the whole way. My e-book’s International Book Number has not yet been sent to the Library of Congress. If that’s the case — why don’t I just buy my numbers from Bowker? A publisher should at least have a checklist of what is not done by them. I was never told this.

Amazon has an arcane way of reporting book sales designed by some green-shaded computer whiz in the basement of a New York skyscraper. I know his name. It’s Al Gorithm, and he has not produced any information I can use. There is nothing to inspect.

I have 14 books in process. Book #1 was a short bellwether-book to make a path through the system from doc file to the bookstore, to the e-book store, to the royalties. Two years have gone by and I still have no clue. Amazon says I have sold books, and yes, it sells 47% of the books published in the English language, and yes, I know those guys are wildly busy, but a check for even $10.20 would let me know someone there was alive and interested in their business and mine as well. There is no way to inspect.

The Internet has literally dozens of companies whose ads promise everything, but what do they deliver? There are a few testimonials which might be doctored panegyrics penned by effusive Victorians, but no data — no Google analytics or anyone’s analysis outlining before-ad-placement and after-ad-placement sales figures. We don’t need or want proprietary information from vendors, just proof that their hype is substantiated. There is nothing to inspect.

Furthermore, we need to know their limitations as well. I learned that Smashwords does not have a way to market my e–book to the Baltic States. I downloaded and printed every document describing their system without learning this. Estonia is the most e-wired nation in Europe; they even vote by Internet, so there will be no print book. I’ve struggled to find a company to handle this.

My Book #2 is unique material start to finish; I’ve checked against published books, so I require — no, demand — a Non-Disclosure Agreement. I have one with my book cover artist. It is protection for both of us. If I had this option I could at least start the business on a basis of trust.

Book Baby outlined with care the price of each process; that was helpful. But nothing about stuff I needed to do on my own.

The Internet has opened up the gates for good writers — and bad ones too — so they don’t need to be cut down by lack of transparency, a problem for fiction writers as well. There is plenty of Cloud out there.

Every artistic system has its barricades. It used to be the Guild System in Europe, so creative people moved to the USA. Hollywood has the casting couch, possibly after so much scandal a thing of the past. Publishing needs to open its doors as well. The notion that starving writers can shiver in their hovels writing the Great American Whatever is no longer an option. Well, maybe for a Russian dissident, but it won’t fly in the USA.

 

Judgment Delayed

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DNA

The local news reported that a man who had committed several rapes 30 years ago was discovered as a result of DNA tests.  His sentence – 240 years behind bars.  I’ll bet he was surprised.

Numbers 32:23 says “Be sure your sins will find you out.”  Our national forefathers called this “natural law” a term we don’t hear much today in a society bent on ignoring every form  of the law. They meant in that term that no matter what man did, either as individuals or as a group, certain behaviors and events would generate forgone conclusions,  that the murderer would suffer for his crime either at the hands of man, or nature or an angry God. Even the heathen understood this to be true although they were more likely to give spirits and demons in trees the authority to carry out justice.

These days the general public does not recognize consequences.  Life is supposed to be utopia, and they become enraged when they have even the slightest inconvenience.  For those of us who lived through wars and want it seems a rather Pollyanna-ish view of the world.  And we wonder when they’ll catch wise.

If the Millennials were in church they’d have a better chance of learning how there is a payday, and not just a negative one.  People who play by the rules anywhere on this planet will enjoy the fruit of their wise decisions, no matter their cultures.  Yes, it is hard to live under socialism/communism or oligarchies and dictators.  But confined moral and focused living always pays off in individual peace and personal joy. Some of the best movies recently have demonstrated this.  I think of The Book Thief and Life is Beautiful, both stories from World War II, terror and want and death.

You would expect me, a teacher to say this.  But to me the chief sin is unteachableness.  The Bible, Real Life, and the witness of people we know should be teaching us the message – that we should deal with sin in all its forms ASAP.

That man thought after 30 years he’d had completely escaped the consequences of his crime, his sin.  Not so. Be sure your sins will find you out.

 

Where is the Body of Christ?

Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ the religion of Christianity would be a waste of time. He promised that his physical body would be raised up. The authorities had merely to produce Jesus’ body and his followers would have immediately disbanded. But try as they might, no body could be located.

A writ of habeas corpus (literally to “produce the body”) is a court order to a person holding someone in custody to deliver the imprisoned, living or dead individual to the court issuing the order. Many state constitutions provide for writs of habeas corpus, as does the U.S. Constitution.

Of course, the body may be dead as well as alive. The Roman government could have asked the Jewish leaders to produce the body of Jesus. However, the Romans didn’t care. This was a local religious issue to them and of no concern. But the Jewish leaders needed that body to prove their rectitude in killing Jesus
in the first place. Both Romans and the Jews would have their justification – that Jesus of Nazareth was a fraud.

But without a body their case is lost, and this God-man was exactly who He said He was. It is the most startling fact of the whole gospel story; of anything ever done or said in Israel, the one fact remains that His corpse was never found, and that fact stands today.

Jesus claimed that if this temple, referring to his physical body, was destroyed it would be raised up in 3 days. (Matthew 27:40) The Bible believes the physical body is your temple, which is why it must serve only God and not be violated by sin. But people scoffed, and tried to insist he was referring to the Temple in Jerusalem.

This is not your local police here. The Roman government was an army of occupation and could do as it pleased in Israel. The soldiers had the authority to go from door to door whipping and interrogating the locals. The body, were it available, had to be in this area. No human power could have spirited it away. But the Romans did not care about this local matter, the Jewish authorities had little power to search and Pilate had turned the whole bloody mess over to the Jews in any event. They did have cash so they bribed some men to make up a story.

The seriousness of the claim of Jesus is demonstrated by the fact that they had two soldiers guarding the tomb. These men could have been hanged if the tomb and its contents had been violated. It was common enough for soldiers to lose their lives if their post had not been maintained as we see in the book of Acts 16:27. Even today in Japan public officials who fail in their job may offer to commit suicide.

This was not especially believable since the Jews had their own authority over the people. If a body were somewhere, even a fake corpse of some man recently crucified might have fulfilled their demand. The two men who were crucified with Jesus could not be substituted because they had not been shredded with thongs with metal tips; they had no crown of thorns and a bloody scalp. His body was a grisly sight; theirs was not.

But still – no body. It could not be found, reproduced, or faked. Whatever Jesus was, he was not dead.

The disciples knew this and were in hiding. Jesus meanwhile is walking around town greeting people and raising up old Jewish saints from their graves. This kind of stuff cannot be contained even by cash payments. A few of his disciples had seen him, plus another 500 or more. Of this group only 120 met in an upper room. That was the “new” born-again Body of Jesus, His disciples in our midst from that day until this one.

The Resurrection of the Body of Jesus is the foundation of our faith as well as our personal promise of everlasting ife. Many religions have powerful charismatic leaders; only Christianity has a resurrected one.

The Man who made a Cake Mix using both Eggs and Shells

eggs-mixerIn China I found some locals would eat quail eggs, shells and all, but I never saw that in the USA.  Housewives will chuckle over a young bachelor making his cake with the shells and eggs, but we applaud him for following the directions.  The box did say to add two eggs to the mix, didn’t it?

We could certainly use the same attention to details for Christians.  Built into the Bible in addition to promises, history, poetry and prophecy is Process.  There are in most cases a right way to do something.  The Bible has been called the Manufacturer’s Handbook which we pull out only after we have a crack up of some sort.  Then we learn we did things backwards or ignored the correct process entirely.

Speaking to a group of Bible study women a few years ago I told them of a young man who was surprised to learn that now that he was saved he could not have sex with anyone except a legal wife.  The ladies were in shock – but so was I, that they didn’t know this.  It’s in the Bible and it is quite clear.

The moral law is in effect no matter who you are, or your age or background.  If you are ignorant of the law, you are not spared its results.  And wishy-washy ministers who say the Law is no more are quite wrong. In Romans 3 we read “The straight edge of the Law shows us how crooked we are.” (Phillips translation)  God keeps the law around to remind us of how much we need Him to change our hearts.

Laws continue no matter.  When the policeman stops you for running a stop sign and you say “I didn’t see it” do you get out of the ticket?  Probably not.  The law is applied regardless of your knowledge or ignorance.  The $200 fine should impress on your mind the value of knowing the rules.

No one is saved by being baptized, and no one is not saved if they failed to be baptized. But more often than not, the process is ignored.  This scripture says,

Acts 2:38 Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
I was dressed in my swimsuit and preparing to be baptized with 50 other people in a giant swimming pool in Georgia.  My friend said she had already been baptized.  Then I quoted this scripture. It says to repent first.  Did you repent as a baby?
Without a word she turned around and went to put on her bathing suit. That was fast.  She saw immediately that process is important. How many people have joined a church and never repented, or been baptized and say they are saved.  Baptism comes after salvation not before. Baptism is a verification of what God has already done in your heart.
The most famous person to not be baptized is the thief on the cross.  Jesus said “today you will be in the Kingdom with me.”  Of course the thief could not leave his cross to find water?
God looks on the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
People ask, how does God save people who never hear about Him? do they all go to hell?  That scripture is your answer.  God looks at the heart, and He alone is the judge of the whole earth.
You however are responsible for what you know. When you learn to follow the process you will be drawn into a greater level of holiness. and with that comes understanding.  You may need to eat a few nasty egg shells before you learn your lessons, but you can still learn.

 

Friday the 13th in France

WOW.  Nearly 100 people hit my blog after the attack on Paris in 2015.  I have an old prophecy about this nation here.  But more importantly you want to know about what God is planning right now.

Kim Clement prophesied that the resistance to ISIS would start in France and spread all over Europe.  Thank you France.  The rest of the world applauds you.  We Christians in America will stand behind you no matter what our President does and we expect President Trump will stand behind France in this matter.  And you can count on our prayers to back you all the way.

Go to KimClement.com and click on the prophecy link.  Type in France (or French) and find all his references.  You can print the results and start praying as God has promised. God has not abandoned you!!

The Tangled Underbrush of Life

When I taught in China in the early years of the 21st century, a fellow English teacher of considerable skill asked me about this poem by American Poet Laureate Robert Frost.
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Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
BY ROBERT FROST

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” from The Poetry of Robert Frost, edited by Edward Connery Lathem. Copyright 1923, © 1969 by Henry Holt and Company, Inc., renewed 1951, by Robert Frost.

I was not surprised when this Chinese man asked me what the poem meant. The Chinese are materialists. This life is all they have and they are told to live it not as an individual for themselves, but for the State, in this case, for China and for the communist government. That is why they have no compunctions about stealing intellectual property – it is for China and not one’s individual profit. Their worldview is exactly opposite from ours. Secular humanism is not about individuals; it has no afterlife; if you want to live, you do it all now.

This poem is evidence that Christianity, with the imprimatur of the Judeo-Christian God, informed America. Here we are uniquely individual, all with a plan from God for our lives. That is the woods. It is dark and deep. It must be personally searched out, appreciated and followed. You don’t find God’s plan for your life in or through a group.  It is not about an idea, or an ideal – it is only about you and God.  What does He want?  Where does He want you to go?  Or not.

It has been a long hard winter and many of us contemplated in the cold and dark the change in our lives and where we are going now.  The frenetic lifestyle of summer, the business of fall and the growth of spring do not fit in with a blanket of white snow on which to write one’s plan.  That clean sheet tells us the past is not to intrude into today or tomorrow.  As the song from Frozen says, we must let it go. God wants us to keep our eyes forward, in hope and anticipation.

2018 will be a revolutionary year for us all. There are forces of evil around us. We are looking into a tangled underbrush of good and bad, covered with snow so we have few clues as to our future.  The anarchy in our streets tells us we have a country to save. We also have the next generation to lead back to stability and hope. We have promises to keep, forgiveness to share, and also a chance to rest and watch God move to invigorate our lives and our nation.

Many miles stretch on ahead. There is no better future resolution than that – to keep those promises we made to ourselves, to God and to our country.

The Meaning of the Word “Perfect” – in the Bible

Without a little explanation the command Matthew 5:48 “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” seems an impossible idea.

Let’s explain what perfect means when God is using the term.  It does not mean that everything you do is flawless, unquestioned, or unimpeachable.  People like that get translated to heaven.  Poof – they have no reason to be here, and Enoch and Elisha  qualify, and possibly others that  we’ve never heard of.

Perfect means, in the Greek original, mature.  If you have ever eaten a green apple you know what immature is.  You will probably get a stomachache. Mature in this sense means growth is complete.  Use before that time is a mistake.apple-1181850__180

The perfect person is one who is trained by God and suited to his or her purpose in life.  It does not mean you, if you get to this state, are in agreement with everyone as life continues to go on around you with all the imperfections of government and culture.  It does not mean that you make no mistakes.  We’d all like that. It means that the call originally on your life can be fulfilled.

We believers have a problem with timing.  We can get married too soon, to the wrong person, or end up in the wrong place, doing something either too little or too late.  I have often told people that the time I was failure and I was fired I learned a whole lot more than when I was successful.

A perfect thing cannot be replaced.   I am no musician but I am told Sir James Galway  is the perfect musician on the flute, and that silver, gold and platinum are perfect materials for a flute. Galway owns all three kinds. Check this website for the complications and varieties of flutes.

http://ws.conn-elmer.com/archives/keynotesmagazine/article/?uid=260.  This master musician gained international fame and fortune when the two are put together. God wants to use us this way; He is the musician and you are the instrument of His plan.

Romans 6:13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

It may take some time to get you to that place; people give up, get tired, listen to the wrong voices, and become  lazy and distracted.  But for the mature believer there is a life goal of a perfection especially designed to fit you. Look for it.

God and the Black Cherries

The time was the late 70’s and my husband’s practice was suffering, I could not get a job because I was competing against so many unemployed males, the kids were in college and my old car was on its last piston.  Putting together meals was a challenge and my friend was bragging about the terrific sales she was finding in food.  I started grousing to God about how put upon I was. black cherries     It was summer and I wanted some black cherries which the grocery store had for about $3 or $4 a package.  Big, sweet, giant cherries from Washington State.  I figured I had enough money for maybe two packages, perhaps half a pie.

So I waited until Monday morning when I thought they’d be on sale at the store.  “Do you have any black cherries on sale,” said I.  The man said —- Sure, and he asked me to drive around back to the loading dock.

When I got there he poured a wheelbarrow load of cherries into my trunk, most of them in terrific condition.  It filled up the entire trunk.  As an experienced canner I put them up and we ate them the following winter.  I had so many in fact, I was not able to use them all.

God was making fun of me, and my lack of faith.  Did he not say, I provide for the sparrows and you are worth more than they? (Matt 10:29)

Did He say, I will never leave you or forsake you? (Hebrews 13:5)

Did he not say he would keep us alive in famine? (Psalm 33:19)

But did I believe it?  Do we really believe it.  Fuss, fuss, fuss.

Since then I’ve been in trouble a thousand times, then …….  I found a ten dollar bill on the sidewalk, or when I was deadly ill in 1989 and someone brought food to my place, totally without knowing how bad off I was, and the time I had severe dysentery and a woman I had not talked to for 10 years called with the name of a specialty doctor or the time in  2011 when I was out of coffee (and complaining) when a person I barely knew showed up with a bag of Kona Coffee, the highest price domestic coffee in America.

God is saying, See, I can do this.  And since He can and does this for me, so He can for you.

Many people buy expensive treadmills and incline trainers which sit in the corner because they are too unmotivated to exercise.  Our faith is like that.  The promises of God are there – we just need to step out on His promises for a faith exercise and watch Him do His job.

Why We Know Jesus Died on Thursday

It may seem like splitting hairs, and perhaps no one cares or needs to care, but picky scholars want everything to fit together like parts in a machine.  We are told that Jesus was in the tomb 3 full days and 3 full nights to fulfill the prophecy of Jonah.

Jonah 1:17 Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

If Jesus died on Friday He spent only 2 ½ days in the grave. We need to account for the additional one-half day.

Jesus Himself made a point of citing the Jonah relevance in this passage. Think of this line s being in red letters in your Bible.

 Matthew 12:40 for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

If Jesus was crucified on Thursday and died at 3 p.m. on that day we can account for a complete 72 hours.

First, modern readers must realize that the official day for Jews did not begin at midnight but at sunset.  This came from Genesis where God said the day began at evening and ended at 6 p.m.  The entire world clock system is based on day first and then night so one must adjust this thinking.

Genesis 1:5 God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

Second, Roman Law specifically said that Jewish citizens could not be prosecuted on their high holy days or on the “day of preparation” which is always a Friday. This preparation day was an opportunity for the Jew to cleanse his home and person so that individuals were clean enough to celebrate Passover.

Jewish law also stated that one would not be clean enough to celebrate a Sabbath (Saturday worship) or the Passover if an individual had been near a dead body. Nor could someone go near a tomb without becoming unclean.

If Jesus was tried by both Jewish and Roman law, crucified and died on Friday this would have been a violation of the law of Caesar Augustus as well.  Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews Book 16, Chapter 6 gives the passage of the Roman law which applies here.

“{Jews} be not obliged to go before any judge on the sabbath day, (Saturday) nor on the day of the preparation (Friday) to it, after the ninth hour.”

If local Jewish believers had been required to conduct the crucifixion and move Jesus to his grave on Friday that would have given the workers only a few minutes to prepare for the Sabbath, not a full day of preparation.

Meanwhile Roman soldiers were an army of occupation. Soldiers would not be charged with handling any dead bodies; they would delegate that to local citizens.  And after all there were three bodies to dispose of not just Jesus.

Romans were able to conquer and dominate many nations because they did not change local custom or break local religious rules.  They were not popular conquerors but they were tolerated because they were sensitive to indigenous people’s way of daily life and custom. In addition the Romans thought the whole Jewish religious thing was nonsense so they were not anticipating anything to come of either the Jewish laws or the prophecies of Jesus.

Because the Hebrew laws were so specific, Roman managers knew that the Jews would do things by the book so they did not need to post a guard at the tomb until Sunday morning.  If, as was predicted, Jesus’ disciples would move his body, they would not do it until the holy days were past.

The Bible says he was raised on the 3rd day. He went about His Father’s business, first to preach to the dead in Hades, (1 Peter 3:19) and finally the women show up at the tomb when it was still a little dark, so dark she thought Jesus was the gardener.  The last time they saw Him His body was so bloody and disfigured this man could not have been Jesus.  He said He had yet to see the Father.  Preaching in hell then counts as part of the crucifixion story and activity.  By going to heaven at this point He can say His work is officially done.

Modern church dramas often show the tomb guarded for the entire three days but this is not correct.  If that were so then when the Mary came to the tomb and found the stone rolled away the guards would have stopped her.

The body of Jesus was cremated. Old Testament Law demanded that the sacrifice was a “whole burnt offering” and  none of it should remain until morning. If any remained, indicating God had not consumed it from the altar, that would mean His sacrifice for the whole human race was not accepted by God.

One of the major proofs that Jesus was raised from the dead is the fact that for over 2,000 years no one has been able to produce a body of Jesus.  That Sunday morning an entire cohort of Roman soldiers could find only two badly damaged corpses in all of Jerusalem.

Inconsistencies in our celebration of Easter may cause some doubters to reject the whole gospel message.  It probably makes no difference otherwise in our lives; yes, it would be nice to have a 4 day weekend not 3, but as usual we find the Biblical record is right.  It makes no real difference when we celebrate Good Friday, only that indeed we do celebrate it and all that He did for us on that day.