Monthly Archives: December 2016

Chance – more on as incidental and God-directed

When, in 1877 George Eastman planned a trip to Santo Domingo, a banker friend urged him to make a photographic record of the trip.  Eastman thus plunged into photography.  The trip failed to materialize, but Eastman’s life was set.  American Heritage, October 1972, 84.  A business venture began by chance.

U.S. Grant got an appointment to West Point only because an Ohio friend with the appointment had to leave the Academy for disciplinary reasons.  Smith – Trial, 152.  Chance at the time led to an appointment that years later would be a God-ordained decision.

In the retreat from Long Island in the Revolutionary War, absolute secrecy was necessary.  Yet, a Tory woman near the ferry point heard the commotion and sent a black servant to tell the British.  He made it through the lines to a German officer.  For Washington’s good advantage, that officer spoke no English and arrested the servant.  By that small difference, Washington’s retreat and the American cause were saved.  Patriots, 388.  A particularly-divine intervention that saved the American Revolution.

General Lee’s plan to invade Pennsylvania in the Fall, 1862, seemed irresistibly logical to the South, and as irreversibly troubling to the North.  Lee’s warriors had bested every Union army sent against it and every Union General had proven a military imbecile against the famed Rebel Chief.  That included George McClellan, Commander of all Union troops.

On September 12, 1862, the Union Twelfth Corps bivouacked in the countryside around Frederick, Maryland.  On the grassy meadow an Indiana corporal by chance found an envelope that contained three cigars wrapped in a sheet of paper.  Lee’s famous Lost Order.  The find worked its way up to McClellan.

That incredible stroke of “luck” was really God’s determined decision to force a Pennsylvania-bound Lee to gather his forces and fight an inconclusive but terribly significant battle at Antietam.  The inability of Lee there to overcome McClellan and the letter’s incompetence in not being able to defeat an enemy whose entire battle plan lay before him, led to the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863.  That Proclamation turned a Civil War into a War against Slavery.  No European government would side with a South proposing to keep slavery intact. Civil War, American Heritage, 213

Point made:  the difference between pure chance and God-directed discoveries is the role each plays in God’s will for a person, a people and, particularly, his Kingdom.

 

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

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

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

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

Chance – known as something else to Christians

Thomas Hart Benton, famous Missouri muralist, entered a career as an artist by “accident”.  He had drawn from an early age, but was headed for a career in law and politics when he went at age 17 to Joplin to help a surveyor.  He entered a saloon—House of Lords—and began surveying the huge painting of a nude above the bar.  The miners barraged him with obscene suggestions and he defended himself by saying he saw the portrait as a professional artist.  One of the hecklers, knowing the local paper needed an artist, called his bluff and took him to the editor.  As a test, he had to sketch a local druggist.  He got the job at $14 a week.  Once on the job he forgot about practicing law.  American Heritage, June, 1973.

That may have been chance at work.

General Keane had marched 1800 British troops to within nine miles of New Orleans without General Jackson’s awareness.  Had Keane immediately attacked, New Orleans would have fallen, creating who knows what obstacles to final resolution of the War of 1812.

Surprised and shocked by the intelligence he received, Old Hickory’s instinctive militancy flared into flame.  Once he knew the exact location of the enemy Jackson ordered attack that very night.  It stopped all British initiative and made American conquest possible.

That didn’t happen by chance.

When news of Lazarus’ illness and death reached Jesus at Aenon, north of the Dead Sea, he remained in place two days.  He then returned and found that Lazarus had been dead four days.  His arrival at that time had nothing to do with chance.  He arrived in Bethany at the right time, by God’s will, to achieve God’s purpose.

The difference between chance and something different, as in God’s will, is determined by how essential people and circumstances are to God’s Kingdom.  When they are essential, nothing happens by chance.  If they aren’t, all can be merely by chance.

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

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

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

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

 

Truth – spiritual comes only to God’s chosen

God graciously shines his light and drops his rain on all people.  That makes life on earth possible.  God periodically revealed his truth to and through wicked men.  His statement to Pharaoh in Exodus 9:16 stresses that.  That’s necessary since even the depraved serve God’s purpose.  God rules Satan and any person Satan uses.  Nebuchadnezzar also experienced that harsh reality Daniel 4.

When, however, God reveals positive Spiritual truth, he chooses particular messengers as his conduit.  As examples, Abraham as the father of the faithful; Moses as master of Law; David as prototype king of God’s people. And when Joseph and Mary came to dedicate the 40 day old Jesus in the temple, God revealed Christ’s nature and mission to a pair of SENIORS—old Simeon and old Anna!  Take that, youth culture, you who think the future belongs only to you.

Simeon and Anna:  humble, ancient, overlooked, disregarded.  But chosen by God in their latter years to recognize the future of the baby Jesus.  Chosen by God to KNOW Jesus because they had made a habit of LOOKING for God’s Son.  Let us, whatever our age, go and do likewise.

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

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

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

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

Christmas – historical transitions that foretold – Part V

We needed a Savior, so Jesus came to Forgive.  Whatever human expectations Jesus faced, he came as his own Authority.  The fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 introduced Christianity as God’s world-wide Faith.  The very nature of Christianity demands a Finale unlike any ever seen.

Now…that finale….Throughout Spring, 1967, Moslem states of the Mid-East, led by Egypt’s President Nasser, ranted their violent rhetoric against Israel.  Pending action by them inevitable, the Israeli’s launched a withering pre-emptive air attack that destroyed Egypt’s Air Force on the ground.

As ground conflict erupted, then-Israeli Cabinet member Golda Meir secretly informed Jordan’s King Hussein that Israel wouldn’t attack him if he remained neutral.  He instead attacked Israel.

In their counter-attack Israeli forces entered, captured and occupied the Old City of Jerusalem for the first time since A.D. 70.  To this day, the Old City and its Temple grounds remain under Israel’s control.

Though few Americans then or now understood the significance, Israeli occupation of Ancient Jerusalem fulfilled Christ’s prediction of Luke 21:20-24.  He foresaw it as a Transition in history, with God renewing Jewish evangelism.  Paul underscored that by saying all Israel would be saved, Romans 11:25-32, meaning a new, divinely inspired outreach to Jews would bring many Jews to Jesus.  Such organizations as Jews for Jesus embody that effort.

In June, 2017, the unexpected Israel victory will celebrate 50 years of a change Moslems hate with increasing manic hatred.  Which they can never reverse.

All of that, however, fades before the last great Transition the ongoing historical conflict presages.  That will be from TIME to ETERNITY occasioned by the Return of Jesus Christ when “The Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God!” I Thessalonians 3:16.  Looking forward to that!  Fini

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Christmas – historical transitions that foretold – Part IV

Jesus came as Savior.  Jesus came in unexpected ways.  Jesus came with historical preparation.  Something transforming happened in Bethlehem at the Savior’s nativity.  Absolutely essential to humanity, it happened that night, at the right time, in the right village, in the right nation, in the right political and religious milieu.  And has kept happening historically, where the Christ, born in Bethlehem, renews through conversion each believer in his image.

Historical events don’t necessarily end as great as they begin.  They fulfill their purpose between starting and stopping.  (Morally and spiritually, America certainly isn’t now what we were in 1776.)  The Mississippi River begins weakly in Lake Itasca and ends weakly in Louisiana wetlands.  No matter:  the Fluid Behemoth fulfills its purpose between Minnesota and Louisiana.

The ultimate result of Bethlehem must be MORE at its end than in even its glorious beginning.  And it is.  Even now, as unbelievers gloat of a Post-Christian era, Jesus Christ rules the world on God’s behalf.  And he’s not even close to being finished.

Christianity fulfills its purpose at the END of history, not before.  For it proposes to abolish the heavens and the earth and, from the incinerated nothing, rebuild a new heaven and earth.  More on that next.  End Part IV

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

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

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

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

 

 

Christmas – historical transitions foretold – Part III

Everyday events and crises are usually linear continuations of previous events and crises.  On occasion God introduces events and crises that transform society and history.  The birth of Jesus Christ is the Singular event that transformed history.  Today, two more critical events.

In the decade before the fall of Jerusalem, catastrophes recurred in the Roman world.  Four emperors suffered violent deaths in 18 months.  That led to uprisings in the provinces.  Famines in the provinces created unrest.  Pestilence killed 30,000 in Rome.  The…from AD 66-70 the seminal Roman-Jewish War occurred.

The Arch of Titus in Rome celebrated Roman conquest.  An unruly people vanquished.  So many of their people sold as slaves they finally brought no profit to the slavers.  Their religion going into hiding.  Their people isolated…hated…persecuted…wandering throughout Europe and the world.  While its offspring, a vigorous, muscular Christianity surged throughout the Empire in an evangelistic fervor so compelling it finally brought the Caesars to their knees.  The War changed everything—as war always does, whatever anti-war activists claim.  The War bound Jews within their ghettoes and freed Christianity to become the only TRUE, God-Given Universal Faith.

While Judaism has never regained its prominence as the only true, orthodox, Biblical, universal Faith, Jews have certainly had a disproportionate influence in politics, economics, media, medicine and academia.  That’s God’s way of keeping his covenant-people together and in public prominence.  He isn’t yet finished with Israel.  End Part III.

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Christmas – historical transitions that foretold – Part II

Making exception to linear events and crises that usually constitute history, Jesus Christ came to transform history.  That’s seen in a series of historical illustrations.

A sun had been painted on the back of the President’s chair at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, 1787.  After he signed the Constitution, Ben Franklin mused that the wrangling and disputation during the Convention make him wonder if it represented a rising or a setting sun.   With the passage of the Constitution he knew it symbolized a rising nation.

So are we now since Jesus saves us from sin, with the added assurance:  what our spirit is now—cleansed and renewed—so shall our body be when Jesus returns.  We now delight in the purity of Jesus Christ’s grace within, despite a body still subject to disgrace and death.  But not in weakness is our future, but in strength:  not in sin but in virtue; not in endless death but in deathless life.

By 1787 the right time had come for the disparate states of America to forge themselves into a nation.  Five years earlier would have been too early.  The states still jealously guarded rights that prevented national unity.  Five years later would have been too late, for the excesses of the French Revolution divided the states into warring ideologies.  The accumulating sense of need drove the delegates to Philadelphia in the summer of 1787, the optimal time.

Jesus came in the “fullness of time” Galatians 4:4.  Meaning “at the right time,” in whatever category we consider it:  spiritual, economic, military, social.  A century before would have seen a fragmented Roman world struggling in Civil War, pirate-infested seas and roads, social instability, incomplete communications.  Christianity’s spread would have been hindered.  Two centuries later would have been plagued by an accelerating dissolution of Roman society.  Christianity’s existence would have been hazarded.  Only when Jesus came did the historical milieu guarantee its greatest possible success.  God KNOWS all the “exactly right” times.

End Part II

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

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

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

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

Christmas – historical transitions that foretold – Part I

Events and crises that occur in daily life, whatever the nation, usually consist of linear extensions of previous events and crises.  They offer examples of humanity’s chronic fallen nature rather than God’s critical interventions in history.  These include business booms and busts, leading to financial prosperity or economic hardships; and diseases afflicting many followed by medical advances controlling or eliminating their threat.

Then there are transforming historical events that discontinue existing life, even if immediately invisible; sending history into an entirely different direction, even if not immediately recognized.  The birth of Jesus Christ provides the greatest-ever example of a transforming historical event.  Note a few examples of such events in history and how the Lord’s birth relates to them.

The Lewis and Clark Voyage of Discovery, 1804-1806, conferred with many Indian tribes along the Missouri and Columbia Rivers.  They ate Indian food, handed out Presidential medals and instructed the natives in behavior their new Great White Father expected.

When finished, the Corps packed their belongings and continued exploring.  The Indians returned to their centuries-old lives, as if nothing had happened.  Had not other white men bearing gifts and offering instructions been in their camps before, and nothing changed?

In reality, something had changed.  Something so revolutionary the Indian-mind couldn’t comprehend it.  Only the passage of time would prove the importance of that solitary band of men holding council in remote places with the original Americans.  For in those meetings the new nation created itself while the original Americans lost most of what they had always considered theirs by the right of occupation.

The Master’s birth was like that.  That night came—likely not a December night—quickly passed and, the next morning, life went on.  Everyone rose from sleep and pursued the accustomed tasks, thinking nothing had changed.  The stable boy returned to his work, mucking out the stalls and throwing fresh hay into a trough that hours before had been a manger of the Manager of the universe.  Businessmen opened for customers as usual.  Travelers rose, breakfasted and went on their way.

No…nothing different happened in Bethlehem the DAY after the NIGHT Jesus was born.  It didn’t have to since everything essential to God’s kingdom and human forgiveness had happened that night before.  The birth of Jesus meant that nothing on earth would ever be the same.  His single birth split history in two, all before predicting him, everything after flowing from his arrival.  His birth made it possible for life to be the object of our dreams and talents, not the victims of our fears and frailties.  And that hardly encompasses ALL the good that Jesus Christ’s birth forecast.  End Part I

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

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

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

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

Christmas – the unexpected Christ – Part V

Jesus came unexpectedly—as the Person fueling speculation; as the virgin-born Messiah; as God-incarnate; as the non-invited and wanted one; as the one to replace Moses; as the one to personally confront and defeat Satan.

In this Finale, consider:  Jesus Came Unexpectedly; To Die and By Dying, Exposed Satan’s Greatest Power as a Spineless, Empty Shell.

In the spring of 1863, General Grant sent Col. Benjamin Grierson’s Cavalry directly into the Confederacy, from Memphis, Tennessee to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  On arrival Grierson telegraphed Grant that the South was a hollow shell.

A few years ago an immense boulder fell from the hills above Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), crashed through retaining walls and fences and exploded like a bomb on the highway.  It couldn’t be removed.  Caltrans officials decided to drill holes in the rock, plant dynamite in them, then explode them.  It worked, reducing the granite immensity to manageable stones.

When disciples lowered Jesus Christ from Calvary, they carried him away as a corpse and, after wrapping him in a spice-filled shroud, laid him among the other dead.  Nevertheless, on Resurrection Sunday, he exploded death apart from inside death, so it could never frighten God’s people again!  And he left death forgettable, not just manageable.  Death is dead.  Like a new law that cancels an existing law long in effect, but doesn’t put it into effect for a month or two, death has been killed finally and absolutely, but it won’t be obvious until Jesus returns.  But only because Jesus rose from the dead Sunday morning after Friday night can we KNOW death will never again re-invent itself as something else or something worse.

The point of this blog is:  no one in Israel ever expected Jesus to rise from the grave once dead.  The women, representing all Israelites, including the disciples, came to anoint the body of Jesus, not witness the Lord alive from the dead!

We can thank God they saw the Living Lord.  In the biggest joyful surprise they would ever receive.  Jesus gained that victory for himself.  As always, he shares HIS victory with believers in every age.  That’s why we can always say, “Merry Christmas”, as in “God rest you Merry Gentlemen.”  “Merry,” as in surprise you, delight you, exalt you, please you, and assorted other glorious adjectives.  Since Jesus conquered humanity’s and God’s worst enemy, everything he said, did, does, promises and threatens is always EXPECTED.  Amen, Finis.

 

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

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

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

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

Christmas – the unexpected Christ in – Part IV

Jesus came unexpectedly to be Savior from sin, not from Rome; to fuel speculation, not universal identification; to be conceived in a virgin; to be God-incarnate; to be the unwanted intruder in life.  He also came

To Replace Moses As God’s Leader Of Humanity

No one in Israel expected that.  Not John the Baptist, Nicodemus, the disciples, the leaders.  Since Moses had ruled every generation for 1500 years, no one expected Jesus to replace him.  Indeed, no one expected him, as the last Adam—the last MAN, REAL MAN, ONLY MAN ever to live—to reclaim all that the first Adam lost.

He Came To Personally Confront Satan

This occurred in his ministry in head-to-head encounters, in first-hand, face-to-face, knock-down, drag-out conflicts, only one the victor, the other the loser; the one always winning, the other always being defeated.  The writer’s book Face To Face With Jesus details the wilderness conflict in which Christ’s later successes originated.  The Master’s every victory humiliated Satan, unsettled unbelievers and left his disciples in dropped-mouth awe.

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

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

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

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