Humble Dogs

That they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts. Matthew 13:15b

Archive for the month “December, 2012”

So it’s New Years Eve

I am not one for gala partying. I would rather spend celebrations with a few close friends than in a larger crowd. This New Years eve will be very quiet for me, for one, I am beginning to find that staying up past eleven o’clock is hard on my system. I am a 6 AM wake-up person. I can’t help it, it is my internal alarm clock (I also need to pee). If I stay up late, I will lose sleep.

As for New Years; are we celebrating a successful past year or are we looking forward to greater opportunity in the new. For some it may be, “Thank God, that year is over.” Either way, it’s another year of our lives – gone! Perhaps I should be making the most of a new year knowing that there is not all that many left now that I have reached three score and ten. But then, I am nearer to being with Christ, Hallelujah!

Celebrations are often contradictions. How much time, effort and money do people spend in an effort to feeling and looking younger, only to spend more dollars to celebrate their birthdays each year and the fact that they are getting older. Or is the celebration in saying, “I may be a year older, but I still look and feel young”.

Happy New Year. May your new year be one of peace.

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Best after Christmas

I enjoy the week following Christmas Day for several reasons.

The radio and malls have stopped playing all that seasonal Xmas music. Most have nothing to do with Christ.
Everyone is generally in a pleasant mood. The hype of Christmas day and Boxing day is over.
This is sales week. Everything you bought before Christmas is now reduced in price even further.

Since Christmas Day is not the actual day of Christ’s birth, only chosen by the church in opposing the cult celebrations of the equinox. Jesus really don’t mind which day we mass in memory of his birth. Chistians should allow the secular hype of Xmas subside and celebrate Christ’s birth on January 5. Many Orthodox Churches already have January 6th as Christmas Day. Perhaps this could allow the true meaning of the season to shine through. Christians could also take better advantage of the lower price sales for buying their gifts.

Christmas is a season that starts on December 25th eve and lasts for 12 days ending on the 5th of January. Traditionally, one would give a small gift on the first day and a gift each day up to the 12th day which would be the Grand Gift. Hence, the song “the Twelve Days of Christmas”. This is the Yuletide as mentioned in “Deck the Halls”.

The actual Liturgical Christmas season starts with the Feast of the Nativity celebrating God’s precious gift of the Savior and continues until the Feast of the Baptism of Christ, which in the present form of the Rites is celebrated on the Sunday after the 6th of January.

Just a quick note on music for the season. My wish is that singers would quit producing Christmas Albums which the radio stations are forced to play. For most singers, carols are completely apart from their genre and they only make a hash of them. As for songs like “Dreaming of a White Christmas”, “Winter Wonderland” and others, the originals were much better. So please give us a break, especially all you country artists, cease and desist with the Christmas Albums.

It’s Sunday, off to sing some carols.

Back to Beginning – Christiane Amanpour

Last night I watched the ABC News special “Back to the Beginning with Christiane Amanpour
“takes viewers on the ultimate road trip traveling to the lands of the Bible to explore the fundamental roots of three religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and the powerful stories that inspire billions.” It is touted as “Friday’s #1 Show”

I have always appreciated Ms Amanpour as a reporter and journalist as she usually brings a new perspective to current events. On this documentary though, I feel she totally missed out. Nothing original, nothing new. To me it was just the home movie of a families vacation through Egypt and Israel with a few stops along the way. I turned it off before the end.

Her primary message seemed to be how historical evidence did not match with many of the Biblical accounts. Most Christians, possibly Jews and Muslims as well, know this already and their faith is not based on the absolute accuracy but, the message the Bible expounds. What most researchers find and are amazed at is how often the historical and archaeological evidence proves how accurate the Biblical accounts actually are.

How many non-believers and skeptics will be turned off religion by her documentary?
Was that her reason for making this report, disprove the Bible or make it repugnant?

Sensuality – Part of Us All

A large part of sin as described biblically is a matter of works of the flesh. Paul in his epistles is very thorough in listing them all. Many translations include sensuality in this list. Most bible commentaries and sermons posted on the internet interpret scriptural use of the term sensuality as sexual deviance in one form or another.

I turned to the dictionary:
sensuality:
1. The quality or state of being sensual or lascivious.
2. Excessive devotion to sensual pleasure.
Noun 1. sensuality – desire for sensual pleasures
sensualism, sensualness
concupiscence, A strong desire, especially sexual desire; lust.
physical attraction, sexual desire, eros – a desire for sexual intimacy

These definitions describe sexual desire as mankind’s dominant sense?

“Colossians 3:5 NIV “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”

Ephesians 4:19 NIV
“Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.”

New American Standard Bible
“and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.”

International Standard Version (©2012)
“Since they have lost all sense of shame, they have abandoned themselves to sensuality and practice every kind of sexual perversion without restraint.”

English Standard Version (©2001)
“They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.”

Galatians 5:19-21 English Standard Version

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Let us leave out sexual drive in describing what it means to be sensual.

What man, or woman, doesn’t find the feel of English leather appealing? Is that not sensual?

My wife enjoys a tub soak and uses aromatic oils in her bath. That is sensual.

I enjoy listening to jazz or classical music, it effects my senses and more than just my hearing. Most people find music of one genre or another appeals to their senses, – hips start swaying, toes start tapping.

The freshness of the air after a summer rain, even the feel of rain on the skin is sensual.

The aroma of fried onions at the fair. The taste and satisfaction of chocolate. Ice cream on the palate. Hand cream on dry skin. The feel of soft fur on boots and gloves. Stroking the cat, even having the dog or cat on your lap. The changing glow of a sunset. The delight of increasing warmth of sunrise when camping. The play of a fighting fish on light tackle. The warmth and glow of a campfire or fireplace. The emotions of having your lover close, the caress of a lover’s hands. These are all sensual. Surely God gave us these senses for our pleasure, and if so, then they are not sinful.

I find the feel of a well crafted tool, a hammer for instance, the balance, the form to the hand, that is appealing to me. Is that not sensual?

There is something suspicious in an item that is termed ‘Decanted’. I received an email today with an ad for ‘5 Decadently-Scented Body Products’. Obviously appealing to ones sensuality. Then again, ‘Decadent Chocolate Cookies’ are just plain and simple yummy.

Manufacturers employ design teams which will conduct surveys to incorporate sensuality into their product knowing that looks and feel are often more important to a customer than function. They call it ergonomics. They also realize that sex sells. Are we now bordering on the sinful side of sensuality?

Your cell phone has been designed to appeal to you. It’s shape, color and handling is meant for a specific grouping of users. Whether you are young, older, male or female, there is a cell phone tailored directly for you. The sensuality inherent in people translates to money for the savvy entrepreneur.

Fashion is the biggest manipulator of sensuality/sexuality. Why do women wear high heeled shoes? Certainly not for the comfort or practicality. It is for the way it makes a woman look and feel. Raising the heel adds shape to the calves and tightens the buttocks increasing the sensual appeal. Taller women are far more sexier, not that shorter women can’t be sexy, but it comes down to overall sensual appeal. Feeling sexier is more sensual, even if it is only to the ego.

Fashion is tailored for sex appeal for both women and men. Accentuate the bust and hips on women and narrow the waist or have the garment flow to the walk. For men, pants should slim the hip line and jackets give breadth to the shoulders. Clothes define a person, that defining can be attractive, sensual or sexy. To dress to be flirtatious or appeal to the sexual senses of the opposite sex can very well be sinful. Does this mean that the Christian must always be prudish, reserved?

What is the difference between fashion and style? I offer this from Divine Magazine for Women:

“Style requires self-awareness, self-knowledge, confidence, personality, inventiveness, and the courage to express one’s true self in an increasingly fast-paced world that renders individuality almost obsolete. ….. matters of style carry certain social implications. For one, as Psychology Today Editor-at-Large Hara Estroff Marano put it best, “Style presumes that you are a person of interest; that the world is a place of interest, that life is worth making the effort for.” The author also incisively points out that style implies a degree of moral responsibility. Once we limit ourselves to pieces reflective of our personal style, consumption no longer becomes something we blindly partake in to excess, or at the behest of marketers. And in that verve, we do our part, however small, to reduce the waste that currently engulfs our planet.”

Perhaps Ephesians 4:19 explains it best “Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.” I believe Paul is inferring that we make sure we remain sensitive and restrained, not only to our own sensual pleasures but, the sensual drive of others that we may not cause them to lose themselves to lust.

Question on Gambling

This is Christmas, day 3 in the Church calendar. Yesterday my topic was Of Jesus Birth, where I was attempting to explain by scripture of Christ Jesus being the first and last, The Alpha and Omega, of creation, Revelation 1:8:
“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, says the Lord, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

We know by the prologue that this is Christ speaking Rev: 1 v1, “The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place.” There can be no confusion over Christ and God Himself being one and the same.

Aramaic Bible, translated says:
“I am The Alap and The Tau, says THE LORD JEHOVAH God, he who is and has been and is coming, The Almighty”.

We are told that Christ came into the world to save sinners, 1 Timothy 1:15. I alluded to that perhaps the reason that the last act of creation was to create a new world because mankind has failed God, to be blunt – un-repentantly sinned against God. I read an excellent analogy of sin and our attitudes toward sin posted by a reader called; Playing With Killer Whales.

I wonder, what is the church’s attitudes toward sin? How many pastors are willing to preach frankly on sin?

Let’s look at Gambling. While there is no passage that states directly, “Thou shalt not gamble”, is not gambling covetousness? The Tenth Commandment admonishes us not to covet. Coveting, greed, and selfishness are the base emotions that entice people, including many Christians, to gamble. Does not gambling distract us from the lesson in Jesus preaching to trust in the Father for all our needs? If gambling were a sin, how many pastors would refuse a gift of monies obtained from the proceeds of gambling?

The question becomes: Is gambling sin? Can a Christian gamble and not sin/covet? Why then is he gambling? Is casino gambling different from playing the lottery?

Let us say then, hypothetically, that a church condemns gambling and its members refrain from doing so. Knowing that the proceeds from gambling support many institutions within the community, do the members of the church continue to avail themselves of those services supported by gambling; children’s hospitals, sports for kids, cancer research, art foundations, etc.?

Knowing that the proceeds from gambling go to support many worthwhile institutions that otherwise would not receive funding and in knowledge that an individuals chances of winning a lottery is infinitesimally small, is not playing the lottery then in reality just a voluntary tax?

Should we be thankful for those who do play the lottery because by doing so they support the many institutions within the community that otherwise would receive less funding?

Of Jesus Birth

Of Jesus Birth – A Christmas Story

Traditionally the Christmas Story begins with the angel Gabriel’s Announcement to Mary: Luke 1:26-38. that she will bear a son.

Perhaps the earlier prophesy:

Isaiah 9:5-6;
6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
or

Isaiah 11:1-5, 10; and Jeremiah 23:5-6

“5 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. 6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness.”

In the tradition of Advent, these passages are included to show the events that are coming. In scripture the presence of Christ was in the beginning. God’s very first act when he said, “Let there be Light”. Genesis 1: 3 God was saying, “Let my whole being and nature be revealed”.

Genesis 1: 1-5

“1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

Perhaps I am taking a little latitude here in my interpretation of the Genesis accounts of creation.

Verse 1 is meant to stand alone. It is and was God who is solely responsible for all of creation both heavenly and earthly, the seen and the unseen, the spiritual and the physical. God made it and apart from God nothing is made that was made. That is the first and final word on the subject. In reporting terms, this is the subject or headline of the creation story.

Scripture then goes on to explain the why, who, how, where and when of creation.

Why?
In verse 2 we read that the earth was not formed as yet, there was nothing there. Outside of God was only darkness, a deep, a separation from God as waters. We learn in later scripture that the jews had a fear of the ‘waters’, this separation from life as in the story of Jonah. This is the place of death. God was in consideration or dilliberation of His actions in doing away with any sense of evil, or what could be considered as being outside of His presence. His decision was to “Bring all things unto himself” – even death.

God intends to bring His entire creation into perfect harmony with Himself. God intends to restore all things to Himself. Every enemy will be defeated, the final enemy being death, and Jesus will sit at the right hand, be the active authority of the Father until every enemy is defeated.

Psalms 8:6-9 KJV
“Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:”
Acts 3:19-21 KJV
“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”
Colossians 1:20 KJV
“And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”
Philippians 3:21 KJV
“Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”
Ephesians 1:10 KJV
“That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:”

Who?
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
This Light, this Life, Truth, Way. this is who will bring all things unto Himself. This Immanuel, God with us.
John 8:12 KJV
12 “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
John 14:6 KJV
6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
This can be none other than Christ Jesus.
Colossians 1:15
“Who (Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation,”

4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.
That those things which God brings unto Himself shall have no sign of death or evil within. And that is surely good.
Mark 10:17-18 KJV
“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”. And this is Jesus’ answer: “Why do you call me good? No one is good-except God alone”
1 John 1:5 KJV
5 “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”

This then is the start of the Christmas story, The first act of creation.

5″ God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.”

To signify that this is a unique part in the creation story the writer defines it as a day, or a single and separate event. Not a day as we have come to understand a 24 hour period for the sun which defines our day is not yet created. That won’t happen until the fourth day in the creation story. In the second chapter of Genesis the writer calls the events of creation – generations. 4 “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created,”

Genesis 1:14-19
“14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.”

Mankind is the second to last act in this creation story.

Genesis 1: 26-28 KJV
“26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth”.

It is interesting that the very first order or commandment given to mankind is to be God’s agent on earth and to tend, use and look after all He has created. That is the meaning of dominion, a regency of the kingdom. Mankind are regents of God’s Kingdom on earth. God has asked us to be conservationists, environmentalists, ecologists and take care of this earth. Perhaps it is our failure to look after this earth that the final act of the creation story is to create a new earth, one fit for His Holy Kingdom.

“31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.”

Genesis 2: 1-4
“1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.
4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,”

We are told that God created the whole of creation in six days and then rested. Is God resting? No. He still is involved; He still heals, He still comforts, He is still performing miracles, He still blesses, He still forgives. Is it not obvious then that we are living in the sixth day, generation, of creation?

I will close with a traditional Christmas benediction:

“May you be filled with the wonder of Mary, the obedience of Joseph, the joy of the angels, the eagerness of the shepherds, the determination of the magi, and the peace of the Christ child. Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit bless you now and forever. Amen.”

As Chief Spence Starves

An excerpt from:
As Chief Spence Starves, Canadians Awaken from Idleness and Remember Their Roots

This message is a potent gift. So is the Idle No More movement – its name at once a firm commitment to the future, while at the same time a gentle self-criticism of the past. We did sit idly by, but no more.

The greatest blessing of all, however, is indigenous sovereignty itself. It is the huge stretches of this country that have never been ceded by war or treaty. It is the treaties signed and still recognized by our courts. If Canadians have a chance of stopping Mr. Harper’s planet-trashing plans, it will be because these legally binding rights – backed up by mass movements, court challenges, and direct action will stand in his way. All Canadians should offer our deepest thanks that our indigenous brothers and sisters have protected their land rights for all these generations, refusing to turn them into one-off payments, no matter how badly they were needed. These are the rights Mr. Harper is trying to extinguish now.

9:00 AM Christmas Morning

It is 9:00 AM Christmas morning, been up for 2 hours, fed the dog and let him out for a run, made a pot of coffee, have a short prayer time, not that much different than any other morning. Other than exchange gifts with the wife (a new pair of slippers). I suppose that is what Christmas day comes to when your retired and the children and grandchildren live an hour or so away.

We have always been a boxing day get-to-gether family ever since our children were very young. It always seemed easier to let the kids have Christmas at home and ware off some of the new toy excitement before venturing out for an hours drive to visit Granny, whos house was always full with the children of my brother and sister and their spouses. Some traditions stick. Tomorrow the house will see some activity.

I feel compelled to write something witty or thought provoking but, alas, this Christmas morning in our house is just another day. I am wondering what Christmas day is for other people. I recall the busyness of this day. After attending midnight mass and losing two hours of sleep because the kids woke up early. The excitement of children as they discovered new treasure. The constant pickup of strewn wrappings and ribbons. The phone calls to relatives, each child in turn telling granny their Christmas story. The preparation of continuous snacks and then the preparation of the feast. It definitely was a full day, punctuated with happiness, excitement and at the end, a feeling of relief it was over. Oh, no, we have to do it all over again at grannies house tomorrow.

Was it all worth the effort? An absolute and positive – YES!! Now its time to make breakfast.

Christmas Wind

Psalm 104:4 – Hebrews 1:7
To Him who makes His angels winds
and His servants flames of fire.
Refines His gold the earth His kiln,
in flames ever reaching higher.
His servants consumed to do His will,
His Word as fire their commandment still.
To all who hear He calls His bride,
in His kingdom He yearns to be by her side.
Repentence turns one’s heart Lord to thee
fuels the flame that drives back the dark.
Oh Lord revive that fire within me.
Faith the tinder and love the spark.

Merry Christmas – May you allow Christ to be your celebration this joyous season.

Stand for Social Justice

Jeff Denis, Assistant Professor of Sociology at McMaster University analyzed the First Nations demonstrations well when he said;

“For non-native people, Idle No More is a matter of social and environmental justice. When corporate profit is privileged over the health of our lands and waters, we all suffer. When government stifles debate, democracy is diminished. Bill C-45 is just the latest in a slew of legislation that undermines Canadians’ rights. In standing against it, the First Nations are standing for us too. If our government , PM Harper in particular, does not respect Indigenous and treaty rights, then the very legitimacy of the Canadian state — and thus of all our citizenship rights — is in doubt also. That’s what Idle No More is about.”

Mr. Harper has absolutely not a moral fiber in his body. He knows that a meeting with the Chiefs can only lead to repealing the government’s 2 omnibus bills passed earlier this year. They knew before passing the legislation that they had a constitutional obligation to meet with First Nations, they didn’t. The senate also knew the same before approving the two omnibus bills, they approved them both regardless. The Governor General knew the legislation needed First Nations consultation first, he gave both Royal Assent dispite the constitutional law. Does the matter now need to be settled in court?

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