Sunday, December 31, 2006

Could You Forgive Like The Amish?

A pacifist religious community in rural Lancaster County Pennsylvania who practice a simple farming life without modern conveniences much the same as their 17th century Swiss-German forbears—suffered a shocking intrusion into their world when a local milkman, Charles Roberts, invaded a one-room schoolhouse, shooting 10 young girls, leaving five of them dead in October 2006. During the ordeal, one of the girls, 13-year-old Marian Fisher, offered to be killed first in hopes that the others would be spared.

Within hours of the shooting, the families of the children not only expressed their forgiveness of the killer but reached out to his family, giving food and raising money for his wife and children. Some even attended his funeral.

If the Amish can forgive the man who killed their children, how much more should the rest of us be able to forgive the petty hurts and perceived insults we receive each day? Could you forgive like the Amish?

Killer Forgiveness

Beliefnet.com's most inspiring person of 2006 is the Amish. Click here to watch the video. Do you agree?

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Upper Room

The Christmas story of Luke 2:7 says Joseph and Mary found no room in the inn. The word for "inn" in Greek is kataluma. It is a rare word used in only 2 other places in the New Testament [Luke 22:11 and its parallel passge in Mark 14:14] and is translated as "guest room" or "upper room."

So Jesus' life literally begins and ends at the upper room. One in Bethlehem that was not ready for Him. One in Jerusalem that was.

But the coolest thing is this word kataluma not only links the Christmas story with the Last Supper and Communion, the beginning and end of Jesus' life on earth, it also reconciles why Matthew 2:11 says the Magi came to a house not a barn or stable.

Why? Because archaeologists confirm that both caravansary inns and houses such as those in Luke 2 and Luke 22 had upper rooms where people stayed. But they also had stables and mangers underneath but still inside the house where animals stayed.

So Luke 2:7 could be describing how there was no room for them in the upper room, but there was downstairs in the stables. And Matthew 2:11 "On coming to the house..." could be describing how the Magi arrived months later [maybe even up to 2 years later cf. Matthew 2:16] at the inn or house with an upper room because by that time, the census was over, many people had left Bethlehem, and there was now room upstairs. Above the animals and the manger. In the upper room.

Monday, December 11, 2006

30 Second Book Reviews

Title: Epic by John Eldredge
Main Point: There's a larger story being told and you have a crucial role to play
Key Word: Story, "I had always felt life first as a story--and if there is a story, there is a story teller."--G.K. Chesteron
Pros: Knowing the "rest of the story" changes one's response to it
Cons: In a few months, many of the illustrations except the ones from the classic films cited will be perceived irrelevant
Why You Should Read It: This is the most riveting 104 page recap of the The Great Controversy in modern day language using modern day movies as the illustrations of the Scriptures that I've ever read

Title: a.k.a. Lost by Jim Henderson
Main Point: Evangelism can mean just being yourself
Key Word: Lost, a controversial word Christians use of everyone else that more accurately describes too many Christians futile attempts to connect with anyone not already Christian
Pros: You don't have to become someone you aren't
Cons: You do have to pay more attention to the people Jesus misses most
Why You Should Read It: This isn't another program or pitch. It's a handbook on how to make real connections with the people formerly known as "lost"

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Why Aren't These Quoted Too?

Ellen White wanted church services to be attractive to unbelievers. "It is the duty of those connected with the church to feel an individual responsibility to... make the meetings so interesting that outsiders or unbelievers will be attracted to your meetings" (EGW Manuscript 13, 1885 – Manuscript Releases vol 3 page 1).

Ellen White said there should more energy in our services. "I saw there was great necessity of more energy being manifested by the commandment keepers in their meetings" (EGW Manuscript 3, 1853 – Manuscript Releases vol 5 page 424).

Before she was married, Ellen attended one meeting where the volume was so great that the local sheriff arrived to arrest the meeting leader for disturbing the peace (Spiritual Gifts vol 2 pages 40-41). Yet Ellen Harmon, who was present, speaks favorably of what happened at that meeting and says "the power of God" was there (Spiritual Gifts vol 2 page 40)!

While participating in public worship, Ellen White often knelt in prayer (Gospel Workers, p.178). But other times she asked the congregation to stand for prayer (Selected Messages, vol. 3, pp. 268, 269). Or to remain seated (ibid., pp. 267-268). In her private life she even prayed sitting in bed (Review & Herald, December 13, 1906).

Psalm 47:1 says "Clap your hands, all you peoples," indicating a role for clapping in meetings and a understanding of "reverence" not limited to silence in the sanctuary.

Psalm 81:2 says "Start the music, strike the drum, play the melodious harp and lyre." Mention of a drum in this passage shows that percussion was an approved part of ancient worship music. The word here translated "drum" is the Hebrew word "toph." The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary says, "The toph was a hand drum, made of a wooden hoop and very probably had two skins. It was beaten by the hands, and must have made a kind of tom-tom sound."

Psalm 150:3-5 reads "Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with drum and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with clanging cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals."

In the book Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions, Ellen White writes favorably about using guitars in church (page 195). She even requested guitar playing before one of her meetings.

Ellen White even suggests that shouting could be part of worship! "I saw," she said, that "singing to the glory of God often drove away the enemy, and shouting would beat him back and give us the victory" (Letter 8a, 1850).