Saturday, June 30, 2012


This is a letter written by Paul, to the Romans. The purpose is probably to introduce himself to the Church in Rome as he has not yet visited Rome, but would, eventually, as a prisoner.  Being a Roman citizen himself, he probably had a soft spot for this group of new believers. The main thrust of his writings is righteousness, why it is needed, how it is provided, and how to practice it. There is great emphsis on the fact that Christ has saved us while were yet sinners, so we are not required to first straighten out  our lives before we can approach the Throne of Grace. There is details on grace over works, and what exactly being dead to sin, or freedom from sin means. There is great information here for anyone who wants to know how to come to Christ.

Impressions: One needs to concentrate a bit when reading Paul's writings. His style can be a bit aggravating as he uses run on sentences and takes rabbit trips within the thought he is presenting. So it takes concentration and study, but the rewards are worth it because we gain great insight into the depth and the riches of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Because Paul was such a strong opponent of Christianity, and now as a missionary has such a depth of knowledge and understanding, one cannot help but believe that, as he says, God's Holy Spirit gave him utterance.

Readability: 3 1/2 stars (but the content is rich and deep)

Friday, June 29, 2012


Stephen, the first Christian Martyr.

Jesus ascended into heaven and left instructions for his disciples to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth. He promised them a helper and the book of Acts is the story of the birth of the church, the arrival of the Holy Spirit, (the helper) and the acts of the apostles. It is an account of the fearless exploits of the once timid disciples who at times just didn't seem to 'get it' when Jesus was trying to show them who he was and what his kingdom was all about. We also have the dramatic conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus. He was transformed from the worst persecutor of Christians, to one of their greatest missionaries ever. The latter part of the book is dedicated to Paul's (Saul) missionary journeys and great number of converts under his preaching.

Impressions: If Christ's body had been stolen, rather than resurrected, like many claim, and Christianity is a hoax, it seems rather strange that these men would be so zealous and be willing to die for the cause. It would also be strange that they would be able to do miracles like Jesus promised them, were it all a hoax. There is no doubt that these Christians were upsetting the Jews, or at least the ones who did not accept the message. They were persecuted and imprisoned, beaten and reviled by the Jews, and the Roman governors were perplexed because there were no laws being broken. This whole idea of Christianity should have fizzled, unless there was something to it.

Readability: 4 1/2 stars  

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Gospel of John

It is quite clear. as one reads this Gospel, that John's intent is to show that Jesus is the Son of God. He is Deity itself. Jesus is first introduced not through his birth, but as the beginning, The Word, through whom all things were created. John is quite theological and in this gospel more so than in any other, the way of salvation is laid out very plainly. Jesus also claims in this gospel, the great "I am" statements. I am the living water, the bread of life, the way, the truth, and the life, the light of the world, the good shepherd, the door, the Resurrection and the life, etc. He makes it quite plain that in his humanity, Jesus is "of the Father" and "sent by the Father". There is no ambiguity.  

Impressions: It is no wonder that this gospel is used the most for evangelism, and for studies for new Christians. It is plain speaking with all the theology intact. There are so many familiar and comforting verses in John and after reading the book through, there is no excuse for "not knowing".

Readability: 5 stars


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Gospel of Luke

Luke, a companion of the Apostle Paul, was a physician and hence the detail in this gospel that we do not find in the others. The narrative starts with the birth of Jesus' cousin, John the Baptist, and gives a detailed version of the birth of Christ, the story that our own Christmas traditions are based on. There is a genealogy given, of Jesus, that goes right back to Adam!
The compassion and forgiveness of Jesus, as well as the many healings, are characterized in this gospel while the enemies of Jesus are relentless in their pursuit of entrapment. He is eventually crucified but the grave cannot hold him and he continues on, saving people, to this day.

Impressions: After looking it up, I realized that this is the only book of the Bible that is written by a Gentile. That is perhaps why he makes no reference to Old Testament passages, other than those directly quoted by Jesus, such as during His temptation in the wilderness. What comes through very clearly is the value of the 'downtrodden and outcastes' in a society that was very class conscious. Much like today. 

Readability: 5 stars     

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Gospel of Mark

John Mark, an associate of Peter, wrote the Gospel of Mark. Matthew's account of the ministry and life of Jesus was written primarily to the Jews, but Mark was writing for the new Roman believers. It is a gospel relating more the actions of Jesus as opposed to Matthew's account of the teachings of Jesus. Mark gets right into it, starting with John the Baptist and then Jesus' baptism, followed immediately by his choice of the twelve disciples and then his ministry. The pace is fast and, of course, concludes with the death, burial and resurrection of God's only son.

Impressions: The story is written in a straightforward way and one gets a sense of the frenetic pace of Jesus and his disciples. They are travelling quickly and often and dealing with thousands of people at a time, often without some of the basic necessities of life. Indeed twice, Jesus fed thousands with only a few fish and loaves because they were in 'a desolate place'. There was a huge following and although there was no social networking in those days, word got around very quickly and Jesus' reputation preceded him everywhere he went. Everyone was amazed at both his teaching and his deeds, namely healing and casting out demons. Jesus is clearly portrayed as a compassionate, caring, loving, yet suffering saviour, for all.

Readability: 5 stars

Monday, June 25, 2012

Gospel of Matthew

Matthew, a tax collector by profession, wrote this book and it is the life and ministry of Jesus. It starts with a genealogy of Jesus, the fourteen generations from Abraham to David, and the fourteen generations from David to Joseph. The story then starts when Joseph and Mary had to flee to Egypt after the three wise men let the cat out of the bag and told Herod that there was a new king born.
The early life and then the ministry of Jesus is clearly laid out in a very easy to understand language. There is much to admire in the writing style as well as the teachings of Jesus which are foundational to the Christian faith. In the last chapters, Jesus' arrest, crucifixion, and Resurrection, after three days  are described.

Impressions: Matthew is telling this story to the Jews. There are numerous references to the old testament scriptures and how certain things happened in order to fulfill what was written hundreds of years before. The Jews knew the old writings and were expecting a Messiah, but on their terms. He was to be a military ruler who would strike a blow against the Romans who were ruling and taxing them. Even though Jesus was a complete fulfillment of the prophecies, he was not recognized. They seek their Messiah to this day. Reading the book of Matthew gives a clear indication of what God requires of us. It is not easy as some today would have us believe, but in some ways it is a hard gospel, almost demanding perfection. Then, realising we will never meet the standard, we find salvation in the work of the cross. Gospel = Good news. Amen!  

Readability: 5 stars 

Sunday, June 24, 2012


One more time, an oracle, Malachi, is sent to the people to warn them to turn back to God. They have heard this message time and time again, but what follows will be four hundred years of silence. When next a prophet will be heard it will be John the Baptist, proclaiming, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."

Malachi speaks especially to the priests who were offering flawed animals for sacrifices. The spotless and perfect sacrifices were to be a foreshadowing of the Lamb of God, Jesus, who would eventually be the last and ultimate sacrifice, so it is no wonder that God took issue with this foul practice. Malachi also tells the people that they are robbing God with their lack of tithing. In a call to return to honesty in giving, he asks the people to test God and see if he will not bless them when they give.

Impressions: The message of the prophets comes through loud and clear. Who can miss the warnings, and promises of blessings, if one but reads even a small portion of these writings?

Readability: 3 stars

This brings to a conclusion my reading of the Old Testament of the Holy Bible. I am looking forward to starting the Gospel of Matthew. It will be like entering a new world, the new covenant. The first two parts of the Gospel are now behind us, Creation, and The Fall. Now we enter into the story of the coming Messiah and the redemption that he brings to all mankind, the third part of the Gospel. At the end of the New Testament, and actually throughout the second part of the Bible, reference is made continually to the final part of the Gospel, restoration, the promise given throughout the books of the prophets.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Zechariah's vision in Chapter 1:8

Again, the message that sin brought punishment despite the warning, the teaching, and the correction that the prophets were delivering. But even prophecy could be corrupted as evidenced by the period of time between the testaments where there was no lasting prophetic voice to speak to God's people.
In the last chapter,  Zechariah teaches that salvation may be obtained by all, not through the mere act of seeking God or a god, but through repentance and acceptance of the coming saviour. God desires that all people come to salvation, not just a chosen few. He also teaches that God is sovereign and that he will be bringing all things to the conclusion that He chooses, and in His time.

Impressions: There is always hope for all, no matter the depth of depravity and sin. God is in the business of saving and redeeming. God always holds out the chance for everyone to make a responsible choice that will lead to life, and not death.

Readability: 2 1/2 stars

Friday, June 22, 2012

Kung Fu (Not another minor prophet)

I took a few days out of my Bible reading project to read a book that was recommended to me. It is the autobiography of Tony Anthony, a three time world Champion Kung Fu martial arts fighter. I was hooked from the first page. When he was only four, his Chinese grandfather took him from his parents in London, England, to China, to learn the martial arts, a family tradition. His training and traditional upbringing is both fascinating and frightening. He was unbeatable and never lost a fight or competition, and eventually he used his skills for nefarious purposes. How his life eventually takes a turn for the worse, and then is redeemed, is the thrust of this book.
If you ever thought your life was mundane, dull, ordinary, lacklustre, boring or unexciting, you will feel tens time that after reading of this young man's life. Put all the action together, of all the violent movies you have seen in the last few years, into one package and that is Tony's life.  What makes the book so absolutely fascinating is that it is true. How he survived and what he is doing today is a miracle, plain and simple. I highly recommend this book, and suggest you read it before it becomes a movie in the next year or two.  

Rating: 5 star

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Judah was sent into Babylonian captivity as punishment, but eventually God directed Cyrus, the Persian King, to allow the Jews in exile to return to Jerusalem. A group of them returned with joy and enthusiasm, put God in first place in their lives, worshipped Him, and began to rebuild the Temple. They got no help from the local people living in Palestine. Their faith and efforts in the building project was met with opposition from both the locals and the Persian Government.

Impressions: Coming back to your home town after years away, the natural inclination is to establish your own home and put down roots. These people put God's work first. It is a testament to their faith and the assurance that living for God was now the way to go.

Readability: 3 stars

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


One must come to the conclusion that the reason there are major prophets and minor prophets is that some were quite vocal and long winded, and others had an economy of words. In the end, they are all saying the same thing, only at different times and to different nations.
In this book, Zephaniah pronounces the Lord's judgement on the whole earth, on Judah, on the surrounding nations, on Jerusalem, and on all nations. This is followed by proclamation of the Lord's blessing on all nations and especially the one for the faithful remnant of His people in Judah.

Impressions: Punishment is painful, but its purpose may be redemptive rather than punitive. We see, in our world today, unbridled evil and wrong doing, but we can be assured that it does not go unpunished, just as we can be assured that God does not forget the faithful few.

Readability: 2 1/2 stars 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Habakkuk is crying out to God for an answer to why God's chosen people are allowed to suffer in their captivity. God is quite blunt and says,"You would not believe it even I told it to you!" But Habakkuk, not satisfied, asks God for more details. God then gives him more details and then tells the earth to be silent before Him.  Habakkuk then writes a prayer expressing his strong faith in God, even in these trials.  

Impressions: It is OK to question God. He is fine with it, and we should be more trusting, that he is on his throne, orchestrating events that will ultimately be for our own good. This takes faith, and when our faith is weak, and when we are suffering, we can question God, but ultimately rest in the fact that he is sovereign. 

Readability: 3 stars  

Monday, June 18, 2012


150 years earlier, Jonah had gone to Nineveh to preach repentance and it happened. But now, the Ninevites have turned back to their old ways and are living in sin and idolatry. This time it is Nahum who is sent to preach repentance. It does not work this time and Nineveh is judged by the Lord, and brought under the dominion of Babylon. It would be so hard on them that they would have no descendants to bear their names. Nahum is also telling the people of Judah to not despair as the Assyrians would soon be getting what they deserved for their brutality.

Impressions:  How many nations today have been founded under God's principles, yet have strayed from his precepts? Is it just a matter of time before judgement comes upon them?

Readability:  2 stars

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Again, we have prophecies announcing judgement upon Israel for social ills and idolatry. The book also proclaims restoration and exaltation of Israel and Jerusalem. This restoration is to take place only after judgement. Written about 700 years before Christ's birth, there is a Messianic prophecy about where the King of Kings will be born, Bethlehem. The Magi, who sought the new born King, referred to this prophecy in their search for Jesus.
A key verse in this book is Micah 6:8, "And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."

Impressions: God's judgement and correction are there to make us whole. It is done out of love, and not hatred and vengeance. We can escape judgement by obeying God and living for him.

Readability: 2 stars

Saturday, June 16, 2012


With a new plan and a firm resolve, Jonah sets off for Nineveh.

Now here is a very famous, but curious story of a reluctant prophet. Not everyone had the jam to be a spokesman of God, being ridiculed and persecuted, chased out of town and thrown in prison. So, when Jonah was called, he simply ran away to board a ship going in the opposite direction of where he was sent, and when a storm at sea was perceived to be his fault, his ship mates threw him overboard where he is promptly swallowed by a rather large fish.  Then when the waves suddenly became quiet, the sailors repented, greatly fearing God and offered him sacrifices. This was Jonah's first big success.
After being belched and beached, he travels to Nineveh, his appointed mission field. As he walks through the city, he calls out for repentance, and amazingly, everyone within earshot repents. News travels to the king and he too repents. Jonah, instead of being ecstatic, goes into a depression and parks himself on a hill overlooking the city and awaits the Lord's judgement, which does not come.
Impressions: When God calls us to do a task, we should not be reluctant. His plan will be worked out despite our fear or reluctance. Jesus refers to this story in Matt.12: 40-41 where he says he will be buried for three days as Jonah was. (In the whale's belly) He also makes reference to the fact that he came to preach repentance, like Jonah did, to the people of Nineveh, but to all people. This is a great story of a very successful missions trip with a bit of a mysterious ending and a lot of foreshadowing.

Readability: 5 stars

Considering his predicament, why did it take Jonah so long to apologise for running from God?

Friday, June 15, 2012


This is the shortest book of the Old Testament with only 21 verses. Obadiah, a prophet, has a message for Edom, the land of the descendants of Esau, Jacob's brother. The quarrel between these brothers has lasted for 1000 years or more and this dispute has caused the Edomites to forbid Israel to cross their land during the Israelites Exodus from Egypt. Edom is seen as arrogant and proud, gloating over Israel's misfortunes and refusing them help when Israel is attacked by their enemies. In fact the Edomites chose to fight against their cousins instead of for them. For this, the kingdom of Edom will be destroyed forever.
The book ends in a promise of restoration to God's people as he rules over them.

Impressions: Long standing feuds and grudges do not have any place in a person's life as it will always come back to bite. Again, God is seen as being just, righting past wrongs. Do not, I repeat, do not, curse Israel or it will come back to bite. As a father,"Nobody treats my kids like that without suffering the consequences." 

Readability: 2 1/2 stars 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Book of Amos

Just to be clear, this is not the recipe book of Amos, the guy who makes those fantastic chocolate chip cookies.

This Amos was a fruit picker and a shepherd with no education and no cookie recipes. His mission, should he decide to accept it, it to give a message to the northern kingdom of Israel, a message of impending doom and captivity because of sins. This message largely fell on deaf ears because ever since the days of Solomon, things were pretty good in the land.
Amos can see that beneath the prosperity, there is sin to the core. He lists the sins: neglect of God's word, idolatry, pagan worship, greed, corrupted leadership, and oppression of the poor.
He not only condemns Israel, but also Judah and then the surrounding nations.
But, as with the other prophets, his message ends with  God's promise of a future restoration to the remnant.

Impressions: He was an ordinary guy, but followed God's prompting to deliver a hard message. He says that God never sends punishment but that he does not first send a prophet to warn the people. He is just doing the job God sent  him to do.

Readability: 2 1/2 stars

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Joel, the author, a minor prophet, uses the metaphor of a swarming cloud of locusts to describe the coming devastation upon the land of Judah. But in typical prophetic fashion, he speaks at length of repentance and restoration if only the Israelites would turn back to keeping God's commandments.

Impressions: At some point in the prophetic message, there is usually a reference to the coming Messiah. It is a message of hope and salvation, a protection from the coming devastation of the end of days. We but have to take refuge in the love and protection of the Lord. It is becoming clear what is required.

Readability: 2 1/2 stars

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Hosea is more of the same, (promising doom and gloom to the children of Israel) and the 'whore' metaphor is carried one step further in this book. God asks Hosea to marry a prostitute. He is then faithful to her, and her to him, but only for a while. She eventually returns to her old lifestyle. This is an accurate picture of how God sees his people, who have prostituted themselves by worshipping other gods. This common theme in the books of the prophets is repeated over and over.
But, as with the other prophets, Hosea gives a message of hope also, in that there is restoration when the people repent and turn back to the God of their fathers and obey his commandments.

Impressions: Faithfulness and staying true are of utmost importance in God's list of priorities. The prophets were asked to do some strange things, but all in the hope that the people they were preaching to would catch on. These object lessons were often difficult for the prophet, but they (the prophets) were so in tune with God and obviously were convinced that God was speaking to them, that they did not hesitate to carry out orders. On occasion, they asked for a sign, that this was indeed what God wanted them to do, and God always provided one for them.

Readability: 2 1/2 stars

Monday, June 11, 2012


During the Babylonian captivity, there were several young men who caught the attention of King Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel being one of them. These men were singled out to become learned advisers to the king and indeed, Daniel was the only one able to not only know what the king's dream was, but able to give an interpretation. In spite of the favours granted the young men, they refused to bow down to the king and his idols and three of them were thrown into the fiery furnace and later Daniel was thrown to the lions. They were all protected by an angel and went on to greater things. Daniel, later in the book, has vision of his own, prophesies for the immediate future as will as for the end of times.

Impressions: Daniel was "loved of God" and it was very apparent in the way he was taken care of. He was also loyal, true, and faithful as evidenced by his stand in the face of death, to bow down to no other. Being a captive, an exile, and still rising to such heights in the king's service gives testament to his character and wisdom.

Readability: 4 stars

Sunday, June 10, 2012


I have been reading "The Prophets" for days on end now and I have this irresistible urge to stand on the street corner, point my finger, and deliver some kind of ominous message ending in "thus saith the Lord". My head is full of this stuff.
If you think Jeremiah is harsh in his pronouncements, Ezekiel is even tougher. Ezekiel had visions that were outlandish, yet described in great detail. The purpose of his life was to again, warn Israel and Judah of the coming judgement, but also to give hope for the coming restoration. He uses many types of metaphors for describing Israel, but none more so than that of a prostitute. The tribe of Jacob was loved and set apart by God, but they went over to other gods and what they did was similar to committing adultery, or "whoring" as he so often calls it.
Ezekiel also calls out other nations who have come against Israel, and announces their doom also. Then, toward the end, he makes reference to the coming Messiah, and the Restoration of the temple and the Nation of Israel in the end of times.

Impressions: God has a tolerance level. Being a prophet was a tough job. Ezekiel's own wife was taken from him as an object lesson for the Israelites. God is long suffering, yet he is just and sin has its consequences.
Readability: 2 1/2 stars 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Friday, June 8, 2012


This book of 5 poems was written by Jeremiah at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Babylonian captivity. It is a lament for the young men cut down by the sword, the young women victimized by the conquerors, the mothers and their young who are starving, and the once great city of David which now lies in ruins. It is all the result of  Israel's sin, and Babylon is the instrument of God's wrath.
But in the midst of the grief and loss, there is the hope in God as expressed in the above photo verses, the prayer that God in his love and mercy, will restore his remnant.

Impressions: Jeremiah is in effect saying "I told you so". What he prophesied all came to pass and now there is hell to pay. The Israelites lost so very much, but they were warned. Like us, they did not know what they had until they lost it. Complacency and apathy, leaning on their own devices, and worshipping other God's got them into the mess they are in, and only a turning around will get them back on track, at least the ones that are left standing.

Readability: 3 stars   

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Little Late

I sometimes forget what photos I have lurking on my SD card. I finally got around to taking a peek and found this photo, which reminded me that I had not done a report on the annual fund raiser garage sale we had on the May long weekend. (At least not on this blog) This is our carport with $1200.00 worth of 'stuff' for sale. The photo was taken at 7:30 am, just as the first customer was arriving. By day's end, together with donations we raised around $3000.00. We were an inspiration to a group in Kelowna who also raise funds for the Mwanza Orphanage, and they had a sale a few weeks later, raising an additional $1200.00. Two of our 60 orphans are now able to move on to secondary education which gives them a huge advantage in their life's journey.

Now begins the year long task of saving up items and promoting the sale to others so we can have another fund raiser next year.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


As a very young man, Jeremiah was called by God to deliver a message to the nation of Judah. In other words, he was called to be a prophet and when God's chosen people needed a prophet, it was usually to deliver an unsavoury message.
The message in this case is that Judah is being called to judgement, not even repentance. The people are beyond repentance. God's mercy has run out and there would be no need to call on God in prayer for deliverance, this thing was going to happen and it was going to involve famine, sword and pestilence.  Time and again Jeremiah likens the nation of Israel to an adulteress. She has prostituted herself by dabbling in other religions and taking on the practice of worshipping idols, carvings of wood, metal, and stone, lifeless, useless objects, and God is more than ticked off. Jeremiah has to deal with false prophets and is threatened more than once, being thrown into prison and into a large muddy cistern, left to die.

But, he also gives a message of hope, one of renewal, after 70 years of Babylonian captivity. And then he really lets Babylon have it. He predicts a harsh and bitter end to the empire. It will be wiped off the face of the earth. These were harsh words that were delivered, but they all came to pass.

Impressions: Jeremiah finds a hundred ways to say the same thing, but they all mean disease, sword, and pestilence, symbols of God's judgement. It is made abundantly clear that Israel's downfall is the worship of other gods. This is the one thing that makes God more angry than anything else. Jeremiah must have been very unpopular. I think of the guy on the street corner not far from my house that has a large billboard that says, "Repent, for the end is near". Is he a modern day Jeremiah? I see him through different eyes after reading the prophetic scriptures for the last number of days.

Readability: 2 1/2 stars  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A New Law?!

One would think that the UK would be concentrating on getting their economy and unemployment in order, but apparently not. A report has just come out by the All Party Group on Body Image and the Central YMCA stating that it should be a crime to discriminate against or make derogatory remarks to overweight people. This is not surprising at all, but before I go any further, let me make myself clear that I do not condone derogatory comments made to anyone (except white cats) for any reason. It is rude and ill mannered, and is very often quite hurtful. But, make a law?
Who or what will be next? No comments about men who are follically challenged? No side ways glances at red headed, freckled people? No more staring at excessively 'inked' folks?

We do not need laws for this kid of thing. We have, as a society, lost our civility. We have become self-centered and uncaring about anyone other than ourselves and our best friends and closest family. We all need to grow and learn our manners, and especially teach them to the young kids. But we do not need a law.  

It used to be said that you cannot legislate morality. Well, of course you can. And yes, you can legislate good manners. But for heaven's sake, we do not need laws for this. We are losing our freedom of choice in so many areas of life simply because the laws and regulations are being instituted and enforced because of the lowest common denominator. If 1% of people are stupid, do we all need a law to  prevent a particular kind of stupidity?

Our socialistic society is rampaging itself into every area of our lives. Big government wants to control everything and everybody, simply because they believe that government, run by the so called elites of the nation, know better than the average man what is good for him and good for society.

I want no part of it.   

Monday, June 4, 2012


I have passed the halfway mark in my conquest. Reading through the Bible chronologically is a bit of a daunting task, but so far it has been a very valuable exercise and one that I would recommend.

Reading Isaiah is a bit of a puzzle. It is a book of prophecy, but I have a difficult time understanding what and to who is being prophesied. It is a word to the nation of Judah who is going through a time of revival and also rebellion. Judah was threatened with destruction by Assyria and Egypt, but was spared because of God's mercy. Isaiah proclaimed a message of repentance from sin and hopeful expectation of God's deliverance in the future.

Probably more than any other book in the Old Testament, Isaiah focuses on salvation through the coming Messiah. Chapter 53 contains that beautiful prophecy of the suffering Saviour which was indeed fulfilled in every detail through the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Amazing for being written 700 years before Christ was born!  

National Geographic did a feature story, a few months ago, on the amazing and eloquent language of the Bible, especially in the King James Version. Isaiah is one such book that contains some of the most beautiful writing. Some of the best loved, most familiar, and most memorized verses of scripture come from this book.

Impressions: God does not let sin go unpunished, but he is slow to anger and abounding in grace and mercy, and has provided a way for all to avoid death, which is the consequence of turning one's back on Him. To do a thorough study on this book would be helpful. It seems to be disjointed, but that is from a layman's point of view, whose ignorance about such things is abysmal. 

Readability: 3 stars     

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sad Anniversary

Erv's bench on the Sumas River. Photo taken from the opposite bank.

I awoke at 5 am and immediately my mind became active, dredging up the memories. It was the second anniversary of Erv's untimely passing and a few of us guys, friends of Erv, had planned to walk out to Erv's bench. It was a cool, cloudy day, not unlike the day, one year ago, when the bench was placed and dedicated. The night before, I had been reading in Isaiah, and a passage struck me as being appropriate for the occasion.

Isaiah 55: 8-13
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
We are still struggling with the "why". Understanding that God is all-knowing and sees the big picture is still the only comfort we can find. His ways and thoughts are so above ours, so, of course we do not understand.  
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
I first met Erv when he was teaching an adult Sunday School class. He immediately caught my attention as someone who was intelligent and articulate, someone interesting to listen to because not only did he think outside the box, he had an unconventional use of language and imagery, enhanced by a wonderful vocabulary. Since then, he and his wife, Deloris, led several Care groups, including the one we were in together for many years. He taught and challenged with God's word so this passage struck me as being a good reason for Erv's time here on Earth, among many other reasons.
12 You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
When I first went to the crash site a few days after the fatal accident, I stood on the road a few yards from where Erv would have taken his last breath. I looked around me and saw the incredible cliffs and rock faces of the Fraser Canyon, with its dusty rose covered rock and rubble. It was a steep drop to the river, and the view as he was going around bend was an incredible vista. It happened in the early morning when the light was warm and the shadows were long, and what he saw, at the last moment, before he knew what hit him, was "the mountains and the hills and the trees, bursting forth in song", declaring the creativity of God.   
13 Instead of the thorn bush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
that will endure forever.”
This verse speaks of hope and renewal. We know that Erv is "renewed" and our continued prayer is that his family will also experience renewal where right now, even three years later, there is still "thorn bush and briers". May the sweet, warm rains of God's love and mercy fall into your lives and bring renewal to the dry ground.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Song of Songs

As I understand it, this book has had a variety of interpretations throughout the years since it was written by Solomon. It may be an allegory depicting the love of God for his church, but I do not read that into the words here at all. Things are a little too literal for things allegorical and calling it an allegory may have been an attempt by the early church to justify sex portrayed in the Bible.
Let's just take it at face value and see it as a beautiful piece of literature depicting love in all its spontaneity, beauty, power, and joy. It is experienced in varied moments of separation and intimacy, anguish and ecstasy, tension and contentment. It draws heavily on suggestive imagery from nature, some of it beyond my comprehension as a 21st century reader of ancient literature.

Impressions: The writings are beautiful and sensual, but it is difficult to get a handle on just who is who and what is what. I try not to research while making my comments here as I want the impressions to flow from my reading and my imagination. As provocative as the similes are, I will not be telling busylizzy any time soon that her nose is like a tower of Lebanon or that her hair is like a flock of goats.

Readability: 4 stars 

Friday, June 1, 2012


This book was likely written by Solomon. My guess is that he wrote it later in his life because he comments on the fact that he has experienced everything. He writes that there is a time for everything, but all is in vain because the same thing happens to good people that happens to bad people, they die. So, what is the point? The outlook is grim throughout the book, and it seems that only one who has achieved all there is to achieve, accumulated vast wealth, attained great wisdom, experienced all the pleasures that life has to offer, can say that all is in vain. This kind of sentiment comes from someone who has nothing left to look forward to in life. But there is also some very practical wisdom and advice, and all is redeemed in the last 2 verses of Chapter 12, the closing remarks to the book, "the conclusion to the matter."

Impressions: I am feeling a little guilty because of the way I identified with what was written in these pages. I am reminded of the reason many people listen to country music ... it reinforces the victim status. In a like manner, I too have at times felt like life was a rat race and all was vanity and meaningless. 'Life is hard and then you die' kind of a thing. This book of scripture is 'out of the box' in that it is negative, and contradicts what the rest of the scriptures teach. It is only in the last few verses that the conundrum is somewhat solved. I wondered why it is even in the Bible. Perhaps Solomon was given so much, and there was nothing left to be desired, so he could be an example of what little meaning there is to life when we only seek earthly pleasures and treasures. Without God, without living to keep his commandments, without every deed brought to judgement, without this connection to God, everything really is meaningless.  

Readability: 4 stars