Death – perspectives from Jesus and Lazarus, Part II

The best way to understand Christ’s conquest of death is to see the perspectives outlined in John 11.  First, Jesus delayed his return to Bethany.  Second, he arrived after Lazarus had been buried.  Third, he corrected Martha’s flawed view of him.

Fourth, in the nexus between Jesus and Lazarus, the Master demonstrated his power over death by precipitating the crisis that brought his ministry to his self-chosen goal.  This resurrection decided the Sanhedrin:  Jesus had to die.  Indeed, so immensely did the miracle impact Jerusalem and all Judea, the Sanhedrin determined that Lazarus also had to die, since his resurrection had convinced many people of Christ’s power.  The resurrected life is always an offense to unbelievers, who sometimes viciously attack it.

Fifth, in the nexus between Jesus and Lazarus, the Master demonstrated his power over death by making the resurrection a public event.  He ordered the stone removed, which frightened and offended Martha.  She certainly didn’t appropriate the meaning of Christ’s I AM THE RESURRECTION claim, but thought in Old Covenant terms or, at best, in the future state of God’s people.  Which is very true to life; what is too far beyond our comprehension is filtered through previous constructs.  Her reference to the body’s decomposition was certainly true to physical laws.  They buried bodies the day death occurred for just that reason.

By ordering the stone removed, Jesus guaranteed it would be an actual physical body rising from the grave.  It wouldn’t be a “spiritual” resurrection—anymore than Christ’s personal bodily resurrection was a “spiritual” experience in the hearts of his believers.  For Jesus, an actual bodily resurrection; for Lazarus, the same.  Only if Jesus could produce the body of Lazarus from the corpse inside the tomb would Jesus actually BE the RESURRECTION he claimed.

Then, to the amazement of all, Jesus called for LAZARUS—a real-life individual.  That’s the importance of using the name in the simplest, plainest, most direct appeal to his spirit.  He spoke it loudly so the spectators could hear his voice call it and see the body respond to it.  He spoke it personally because God considers us as individuals, while belonging to the whole, not residents of a Nirvana in which individuals are eclipsed by the whole.  His mighty verbal summons sounded beyond life in the spirit-world, where only One Voice reaches.  And there, among millions at rest, or in turmoil, one person heard, listened and instantly left…to re-appear in a tomb outside Bethany, Israel—where he stirred awake his corpse, who struggled his feet to the floor and…wrapped in grave windings, stalked his way outside, to hear Jesus Christ’s triumphant shout, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”   – Fini –

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Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1 

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New book:  The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741

 

 

 

 

 

 

Death – perspectives from Jesus and Lazarus, Part I

First, in the nexus between Jesus and Lazarus, the Master demonstrated his power over death, by delaying his return to Bethany until Lazarus died and was buried, instead of frantically returning to prevent his death.  The unspoken request in the sisters’ appeal was that Jesus would return once he knew of Lazarus’ condition.  Indeed, it embodied their sense that Christ’s love for the whole family would prompt his return.

Interestingly, when the centurion requested healing for his servant, Matthew 8:5-7, and Jairus brought news of his daughter’s imminent demise, Mark 5:22-24, Jesus immediately went to their homes.  Yet, with one of his dearest friends deathly-ill, he deliberately stayed away.

Jesus obviously retained absolute control of his ministry.  He had a plan, followed its self-imposed timetable and implemented its procedures as he determined—because he had absolute confidence in his death-defying sovereignty.

Second, in the nexus between Jesus and Lazarus, the Master demonstrated his power over death by arriving in Bethany four days after Lazarus was buried.  (Burials occurred the day of death.  According to Jewish legend, the spirit hovered over the corpse three days before departing for Sheol.  To everyone in Bethany, all hope of resurrecting Lazarus had vanished by the time Jesus arrived.  Lazarus had disappeared beyond recall.)

Which explains the Lord’s return only after all hope of recovering Lazarus was past.  Christ’s power over death couldn’t have been expressed as it was if he had been present even hours or a day after his friend’s departure.

Third, in the nexus between Jesus and Lazarus, the Master demonstrated his power over death by correcting Martha’s faulty perception of his nature.  Her faith in him as God’s Son remained true and unabated, but it lacked any immediacy of meaning.  At least Martha didn’t say, “if you had been here…but it’s too late now.”  She knew “even now God will give you what you ask.”  So far, so good.

When Jesus promised Lazarus’ resurrection, however, she continued thinking in terms of Christ’s previous teaching—God will raise his people in the end.  Jesus immediately enlarged her understanding.  Eternal life was REAL NOW, not a FUTURE PROMISE.  Where Martha said God would give Jesus whatever he asked, Jesus countered that eternal life isn’t something he acquired for being obedient to God.  Eternal life is Christ’s nature and essence as God.  Therefore, since HE presently IS eternal life, not merely GIVES eternal life, belief in him brings eternal life.  The conjunction of verses 23 and 25 is very powerful.  Lazarus would rise whenever Jesus pleased to raise him, because Jesus, even as he stood before Martha, IS the resurrection.  The tense indicates a present fact with continuing implications.    – End part I –

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpr

Books at:  www.createspace.com.  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.)   

Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1 

Books also at www.amazon.com  (Virgil Hurley & Virg Hurley) 

New book:  The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God – knows where he is

The July-August, 2017, Smithsonian Magazine has an article on cartography.  It has pictures of what it calls “History’s Most Misleading Maps.”  They include the “Island” of California, the “Mountains” of Kong, the “Trap” Streets in London, Etc., Etc.  16ff

Cartography is ancient: in the Marshall Islands, native Americans, Babylonia, Egypt and China.  The first printed maps came from China.  The Mediterranean world had reasonably accurate dimensions from constant use through the millennia.  Every other land mass, especially in the New World, was subject to the wild surmises of guesses by ambitious map-makers drawing from hearsay or their own imaginations.  Columbia Encyclopedia, 1688

However, and the point of this blog:  only the explorers wondered what lay beyond the seashore.  The people who lived beyond knew where they were, what existed beyond them, who inhabited that land, etc.  In other words, only the uninformed had questions.  Those experiencing their land KNEW.

Which reminds me of GOD.  Many people don’t know who or where God is.  They’re strangers to him.  They’ve never experienced him.  He’s a mystery to them.  In the absence of facts, they conjure their own imaginations as evidence.  He’s what they would like God to be if he DID exist.  And some of those visions have a grain of truth hidden in harvests of chaff.  As C.S. Lewis wrote, God turned the Hebrews from paganism to monotheism because only he possessed the reality of what many thoughtful heathen considered their hopes.

Christians in our society don’t have to wonder who God is.  We know his Reality anytime we read from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21.  Since we live in the presence of God—in his Word and through the Holy Spirit in our minds—we don’t have to conjecture God.  We know who God is, where God is and what God demands of humanity.  If others want only to conjecture, not know, that’s the right God gives them.  But we won’t abandon our confidence because they prefer to live by their opinions.

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Books at:  www.createspace.com.  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.)   

Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1 

Books also at www.amazon.com  (Virgil Hurley & Virg Hurley) 

New book:  The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741

Life – never before, not again

Two very sad stories have lately been told of oriental couples crashing on a mountain road in California.  At the time of writing, 8/18/17, no added news had been reported of the accidents.

In July a red car broke through a guard rail into the Kings River.  The two Thai exchange students died.  When a deputy saw the footage of the crash site, his practiced eye spotted a license plate of another car.  He reported the find to the CHP—who didn’t know of any other crash at the time.

A few days later the discovery of car parts led deputies to a crash site 500 feet below and off a curve of Highway 180.  It seems the car broke apart on its plunge into the white-water rapids that partially covered the vehicle.

The fact that both vehicles left the road only 50 feet apart caused consternation at Cal Trans.  Always aware of mountain-road conditions, and of dangerous curves, they hadn’t sensed danger in that particular area.  They did note that strong winds regularly blow along that highway.  San Diego U-T, 8/15/17

Have authorities given consideration to the lack of familiarity in the four people driving the road?  Maybe Cal Trans should have posted windy-conditions-signs along the highway.  Maybe they had.  Perhaps both cars entered the curve when a blast of wind hit them.  Perhaps going too fast, their cars fishtailed and the drivers over-corrected, flipping them.  No one knows.

It does surface a spiritual point learned from the Ark of God across the Jordan from Jericho.  Joshua ordered Israel to remain a thousand yards—10 football fields—behind the Ark as they prepared to cross the River.  He also ordered them to follow it.  “Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before” Joshua 3:4.  That’s the same charge God issues us.  Since we’re all going through this life once; since we’ve never been here before and we’ll never come again, be sure to follow Jesus Christ while we’re here.  He knows the way we need to go because he went through life himself as one of us.  Through death as we all must.  From the dead as only he has.  And from earth ascended into Heaven where he now waits at God’s Right Hand until he returns.

However much more we’d like to know about life, death, resurrection or the after-life, we have all we need to know in what Jesus reveals.  How ridiculous if we follow anyone but Jesus.  For every other leader leaves us wanting somewhere….

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com           

 Books at:  www.createspace.com.  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.)   

Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1

 Books also at www.amazon.com  (Virgil Hurley & Virg Hurley)

 New book:  The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741

Emotion – suddenly overcoming

As a young man, Francis Parkman loved to wander over his beloved New England; over Europe; over the American West when travelling the Oregon Trail. In his Journal, July 23, 1846, he made a reference to Indian women—squaws to most whites. One reference got my attention.
He wrote that crying was the “commonest thing” in humanity. Then referred to a common sight that impressed him. He had often seen the women crying as they moved from camp to camp. Part II, Journals, 461

Reading that in 2017, 171 years removed from the historian’s trailside observation, still stirred my interest. Why would Indian women be so often in tears? Was it the hardship of everyday life? We know they worked like slaves while their husbands loitered, smoked and exchanged boasts and plans. The women worked like slaves turning freshly-killed buffalo hides into soft robes and teepee coverings. And worked like slaves feeding their families. It wasn’t for nothing that every Indian woman wanted a white man as a husband.

Maybe that brought all their tears.

Or was it the constant movement of villages to greener grass and better water? Any time a chief had his squaw level his lodge, every other woman in camp followed.

The rootlessness of Indian life could have brought the tears.

Or was it the result of Indian tradition that women mourn the loss of husbands, sons and village warriors in battle? Or even for favorite horses who died?

The habit of mourning for other losses could have made tears for one’s own life easy to shed.

Or was it the verbal, mental and physical abuse they experienced. True, as Parkman noted, when among themselves the women joked, laughed, and exchanged good-natured quips with each other. And when in the presence of the warriors they heard their salacious sexual talk—even the American trappers were shocked by the unblushing vulgarity of sexual references by Indian men. Whenever the women heard them, they never failed to laugh. But I wonder: women of any culture being natural objects of gentleness, could their laughter have been a self-mechanism? Knowing they could do nothing to raise their status? Laughing to keep from crying?

That could have surfaced tears.

Whatever may be said about that, tears are as natural in women as foreign to men. I’ve always said my wife Judy is a tear waiting to cry. Nevertheless I wouldn’t want her to be any less the gentle, gracious, amiable lady I’ve loved since 1956.

Check out my E-books and website at: www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.com

Books at: www.createspace.com. (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.)

Apologetics book: Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1

Books also at www.amazon.com (Virgil Hurley & Virg Hurley)

New book: The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741

Self – how to achieve peace with

Genesis 3:1-9, 21-24 has a perspective we need to accept.  It says that Eve thought the forbidden fruit was “desirable for gaining wisdom.”  In other words, she thought she’d be wise if she knew evil as well as good.  But she and Adam gained only knowledge, for no wisdom exists by disobeying God, however much we learn about sin.  There’s only guilt, fear and punishment.  The very first result of sinning was the guilt of nakedness that forced both to hide from each other.   Unfortunately for them, the same guilt caused them to hide from God, a guilt that only an animal’s blood could eliminate.

Having unsuccessfully warned them not to eat from the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, God banished them from Eden to keep them from eating from the Tree of Life.  That prevented them and us from living forever in sin.

The Bible account rings a tocsin at our culture.  For we’re still trying to find peace with ourselves by education, science and technology.  When we don’t find it from the above, we resort to personal creativity.  One lady began a Kindness Rocks Project:  rocks with short, nice, kind messages.  Another lady makes a living as a landscape designer turning back yards into showplaces of personal self-worth:  “I’m pretty inside and out.”  San Diego U-T, 8/12/17

Part of this reflects the narcissism of Americans.  We consider ourselves “beautiful” and want our surroundings to reflect it.  Part of it is the expansion of educational classes in many careers never before available.

Understand the spiritual implications.  Like Eve, many consider that what they want, desire and crave is what proves their self-worth.  Any effort at creating something soft, quiet and helpful are subliminal messages to ourselves:  we really are worth something.  We’re really trying to convince ourselves:  we’re O.K.  Give us time and we’ll get life right.  Let our creative urges flow long enough and we’ll correct the wrongs that our alienation from God have caused.  (This isn’t how the unsaved talk or think; it’s the Biblical message they need to hear.)

The Genesis text warns us:  we’re sinners needing God’s forgiveness in Christ to recover what Adam and Eve’s sin lost.  We’re never going back to Eden on our own.  God set cherubim and a flaming sword to keep people from Eden.  And the way back only re-opened through Jesus Christ at his death.

Without God we’ll always create outside stuff to seek inner peace.  While God warns us we must seek peace with him that cleanses our sins before we have personal self-worth.  Then we won’t need the fluff we now rely on to give us meaning.  For we’ll be the testimony, not of our goodness, but of God’s grace; not of our value but of the Master’s all-embracing perfection.

Consider this also:  whenever we take it on ourselves to prove our worth, we seldom find anything we do is sufficient proof.  Where confessing our sins and being baptized into Christ automatically provide proof of worth—by grace alone we’re saved—we can never on our own be sure if we DO enough, create enough, think highly enough to earn acceptance. 

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.co

 Books at:  www.createspace.com.  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.) 

 Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1

 Books also at www.amazon.com  (Virgil Hurley & Virg Hurley)

 New book:  The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741

 

 

 

 

 

Thought—just a

European royalty and nobility have historically considered manual labor beneath them.  Maria von Trapp, heir of Europe, discovered her need to abandon that tradition once in America.  At first, if working in her garden when guests unexpectedly arrived, she kept them waiting while she hurriedly changed from work to dress clothes.  She soon learned to accept herself, whatever clothes she wore, because Americans accepted her, whatever clothes she wore.  An embarrassing accident proved the egalitarian American spirit.  An icy reception first met her family’s singing.  Then, as she sang, a fly of unerring accuracy flew into her open mouth.  After ruefully choking down the offender and laughing, she found the ice broken and the audience warmly applauding.

In the 18th century Spain, royalty and nobility didn’t believe in work.  As Durant wrote, millions made a virtue of indolence.  Indeed, they saw begging as a virtue.  Story of Civilization, X, 287

America must have numerous descendants of European royalty and nobility.  Many families here live on perpetual, generations-long welfare.  They consider it their privilege to beg from the public dole and the responsibility of workers to continue funding them.

. . . . . . . . . . .

I read the story of a 55 year old managing partner of an accounting firm.  She’s 21 years from her self-chosen retirement age.  But worries now about who will succeed her when she retires.  San Diego U-T, 8/14/17

Since Jesus said it was sinful to worry about tomorrow, Matthew 6:34, worrying about 21 years from now is outrageously sinful.  It’s like the TV ad for AARP.  A lady of some 60 years assures us she has a “long life ahead.”  Who says?  True, statistics are in her favor.  But who’s to say she won’t be the exception defying the stats and dying before her “dotage?”

Why do we assure ourselves of life until retirement and show no interest in life beyond death?  Why do we so assiduously store up for eventual retirement but pile up nothing for final retirement?  Jesus called a fool, Luke 12:20, the man who stored up for a comfortable leisure.  Will he call us Solomonic if we accumulate all we treasure and own while we’re paupers before God?

Think.

Tomorrow:  Trying to find with God everywhere but where it exists.

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.c

 Books at:  www.createspace.com.  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.) 

 Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1

 Books also at www.amazon.com  (Virgil Hurley & Virg Hurley)

 New book:  The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God – clearly teaches what he wants kept

In 1905 Andrew Carnegie established a Foundation to be the depository of his surplus millions and his benefactor to cities, colleges and educational agencies.  Many public libraries in the nation had their origins in his bequests.

He wrote a “letter of gift” to his original trustees with information followed by every succeeding group.  He noted that since conditions on earth “inevitably change,” he wouldn’t bind trustees to hard and fast rules.  Indeed, he gave them “full authority” to change both policy and benefactions as they thought necessary.  They would conform to his “wishes by using their own judgement.”  That has led the Foundation to make changes in its bequests while remaining true to education and “international peace”—whatever that misnomer means.  If it means supporting the United Nations, it’s a waste of money.  Internet, 8/10/17

The point of this blog:  Carnegie gave succeeding generations of trustees the right to change the beneficiaries and bequests—and they have.  Since his word is eternal, God has given no one any right to change anything in his word.  But churches and individual have nevertheless taken the liberty to add to, subtract from, God’s word.  When we’re told we CAN change things, we do.  When God tells us not to change his WORD, we still do!  We never stop being arrogant!

The Bible isn’t a Foundation whose owner considers its benefactions liable to change.  The Bible is God’s Eternal Mind recorded so we can know eternal principles and truths by which to direct our daily lives and hope for eternal life with him.  No one, no group, who feels it their right to alter or amend God’s book will ever see God, except in Wrath.

Think about that when we’re tempted to soften God’s word so people won’t be offended.  Or to remove essential teachings to make our appeal more popular.  Or to live outside God’s teaching while expecting to be forgiven.  Matthew 7:21-27 never stops challenging this writer with a provocative question:  am I a true disciple?

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.

 Books at:  www.createspace.com.  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.) 

 Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1

 Books also at www.amazon.com  (Virgil Hurley & Virg Hurley)

 New book:  The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741

Preaching – should never change

Alfred Angelo Bridal, one of America’s biggest wedding-dress retailers, and with at least 60 outlets nationwide, has filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy.  Fourteen hundred retailers world-wide sold their creations.  Ten thousand dresses are secured in a San Diego warehouse.

The critics say Angelo Bridal didn’t adapt to a changing economy and clientele.  The same inability has doomed other retailers in the rush of shoppers to on-line their phurchases.  U-T, 8/10/17

The church has faced the issue of adapting to culture.  To the shame of many leaders, they HAVE adapted by changing what in the Gospel they preach.  Or how firmly they preach it.  In their haste to remove “unnecessary” obstacles to church growth, even many Christian Church ministers—of the Stone-Campbell tradition—have eliminated baptism by immersion for the forgiveness of sin.  Not a few have eliminated the weekly Lord’s Supper celebration.

They toss out pews as old school and replace them with comfortable chairs.  They eliminate the cross from the sanctuary because, after all, it’s “only” a symbol.

Preachers, don’t eliminate baptism’s importance; and don’t forego weekly communion.  And don’t, by any means, stop preaching that anyone who wants to follow Jesus must make self-denial his daily task so he can make carrying Christ’s cross his daily pleasure!

You might know.  In this degraded age preachers and elders would change God’s perfect, changeless word to appeal to seekers who want an easy, not God’s SURE, way to be saved.  The Gospel needs only to be preached and lived to continue rescuing sinners.  It never needs to be changed or adapted.  Any adaptation weakens it while sinners are seldom changed.  For what difference will it make if we all get along with each other if we all go to Hell by refusing to follow Jesus?

Little wonder churches get bigger while society grows increasingly wicked.  The people God appointed to dare sinners to defy God; to demand they repent; to defy their readiness to live like their unsaved friends—have themselves become so much like their members no one sees any difference in them!

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.

 Books at:  www.createspace.com.  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.) 

 Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1

 Books also at www.amazon.com  (Virgil Hurley & Virg Hurley)

 New book:  The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741

Body – building and re-building

In 1905 San Diego oligarch George Marston built his 4-story home at the north end of what would be Balboa Park.  It had 8500 square feet, 16 to 19 rooms, depending, and wide hallways.  The size of the rooms and width of the halls existed only for the family.  The “hired help”—servants—lived in the fourth floor in far more modest digs.

Anyway, while much could be said about the home—Judy and I have seen it from the outside—note the difference in its original cost—$20,000; and its recent 4-month renovation—$462,000.  The $20,000 represented a fortune in 1905.  The $462,000 doesn’t even equal the medium-priced San Diego County home in 2017.

It does prove that being re-built, or re-modeled, invariably costs more than the original price.  Which has significant spiritual relevance.

First, many young people, as in late teens or early 20’s, have found that bad habits in sex, alcohol or drugs in their earlier teen years demand shocking efforts to re-make their lifestyle.  And many adults have learned that living without God’s discipline in their younger years makes continuing to live without him easier, though more destructive, in the later years.  That’s why it’s harder to interest unsaved Seniors in salvation.  It seems to cost TOO MUCH to redo all that their life has been becoming.

Second, all humans need to be re-built before they can enter God’s Presence.  The renovation begins in conversion, with baptism washing our sins away and the Holy Spirit renewing our spirit.  That leaves NEW life inside the OLD body.  Which limits the effectiveness of our faith, discipleship and desire to serve Jesus.

Third, the creation of an entirely new body will occur at the “renewal of all things” in the Savior’s return.  While the renovation of our spirit cost Jesus his life at Calvary—an astronomically prohibitive price—the change of our body from mortal to immortality, from perishable to imperishable, from weakness to strength, from fallen to REBUILT, will be but a MOMENT, a TWINKLING of the eye I Corinthians 15:50-57.

Looking to that Glorious MOMENT, Praise Jesus!

Check out my E-books and website at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/virgh; www.uglydogpro.

 Books at:  www.createspace.com.  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.) 

 Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1

 Books also at www.amazon.com  (Virgil Hurley & Virg Hurley)

 New book:  The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741