Monthly Archives: August 2017

Failure – Bible Facts About, Part II

The first fact:  all failure results from Adam’s sin.  The second fact:  all God’s servants fail.  The third fact:  believers in Christ are potentially beyond failure if they remain true to their baptism.

Consider three more facts about Failure.

Ø  Fourth Bible Fact About Failure.  Failure shouldn’t prevent a renewed effort to succeed.  Acts 15:36-41 records the disagreement between Paul and Barnabas over John Mark.  Such striking divergence occurred that Paul and Barnabas parted company.  Yet John Mark didn’t content himself with being a failure.  He matured emotionally and spiritually and had worked his way into Paul’s favor at the time of his imprisonment Colossians 4:10, Philemon 24.  At the time of his final imprisonment Paul wanted Timothy to bring Mark to Rome II Timothy 4:11.  How we react to failure is more important than failing itself.  We should always ask God for guidance in discovering why and where we failed, and how to recover from it.

Ø  Fifth Bible Fact About Failure.  We can use it to confront more difficult challenges.  Simon Peter was offended when Jesus predicted his failure at the trial Luke 22:31-32.  Yet, Jesus offered him the chance to grow beyond it to leadership.  John 21:15-19 reveals the nature of Simon’s apostolic role in the early church.  Simon Peter grew from a craven denier of Jesus to a stalwart witness for Jesus, because he overcame the lesser failure to succeed in the greater challenge.

Ø  Sixth Bible Fact About Failure.  God’s purpose in changing us into Christ-like people will be achieved Philippians 1:6.  Our perseverance in Christian living is necessary, since nothing is harder than to be like Jesus; nothing is worthier; and nothing is more definitively certain than we shall be like Jesus if we try, because God wills to bring us to that maturity.      – Fini –

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

Failure – Bible Facts About, Part I

The Bible says much about failure, directly and indirectly; by example for warning or encouragement; in the lives of believers, skeptics and unbelievers.  Consider six Bible facts about failure.

First Bible Fact About Failure.  All failure is caused by the initial disobedience of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden Genesis 2:17, 3:6, 17.  Failure is in our nature because sin was in their free will.

Second Bible Fact About Failure.  Even the best of God’s servants are victims of failure.  Abraham had a congenital weakness for lying when he felt physically threatened Genesis 12:10-20, 20:1-18.  David sinned by lusting after Uriah’s wife, II Samuel 11:2-4, then egregiously violated the sixth commandment, Exodus 20:6, by murdering her husband II Samuel 11:14-15. 

Third Bible Fact About Failure.  Christians are potentially beyond the power of failure if they’re true to the purpose of baptism Romans 6:1-14.  For it’s oxymoronic for someone dead to something to continue a living relationship with it.  If we continue failing, it’s because we ignore the purpose and power of our baptismal vow.        – End Part I –

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Others – helping succeed as disciples, Part II

We know Andrew Carnegie gave money to American cities for free libraries.  Did we know that James Anderson’s gift of books to working boys, young Carnegie among them, inspired Carnegie’s later largesse?

That leads to a spiritual principle:  the success of all Christians, not of individual disciples, is the essential factor in discipleship.  If someone achieves public fame, those who remain anonymous, but have empowered him, are as essential to success as he.  Only God knows where the lesser or greater credit is due.

As Edwin Layton wrote in his book And I Was There, enormous good can be done, and equally enormous success achieved, when it doesn’t matter who gets the credit. Christians can’t ignore that point.  If Christianity succeeds, Jesus Christ gets the Glory, not individual Christians.  If an anonymous disciple helps a famous disciple win a victory, Jesus Christ gets the credit, not the famous disciple.

Whatever any of us can do to help another Christian succeed, let’s do it for Jesus.  Then we’ll be fulfilling Philippians 2:3-4:  “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  – Fini – 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Others – helping succeed as disciples, Part 1

We likely know that Andrew Carnegie endowed many American cities and towns with free public libraries.  We may not have heard of Colonel James Anderson, the man chiefly responsible for Carnegie’s generosity.  A retired manufacturer in Allegheny, a suburb of Pittsburgh, Anderson had 400 books in his library.  He wanted to share them with working boys—he had been one as a lad.  Those boys could pick up a book at his house each Saturday.  They could get another when they returned the book a week later.

It proved so popular that, when Anderson’s library grew to 1800 volumes, he established a public library, with a paid librarian in charge.

One rule limited the effect of his largesse.  Only boys known as “bound apprentices” could borrow books.  That eliminated boys who held jobs but weren’t “bound apprentices.”  Among them was Andrew Carnegie, gainfully employed in a telegraph office, but without a contract.  When enough letters of protest reached the librarian, she consulted Anderson, who freed his books to all working boys, including young Carnegie.

Carnegie never forgot Anderson’s generosity.  And chose it as the model for his own free library system.  He erected a monument to Anderson at Allegheny, as so many libraries would build monuments to him in years to come.    – End Part I –

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

Bible – no contradictions in, Part II

Part I suggested that letting scripture interpret scripture eliminates many apparent contradictions.  It also suggested that studying the contexts of the passage eliminates even more.

Contradictions in the Bible will be eliminated if we understand that all the writers agree in essence and differ only in details. This is especially important in studying the Gospels. Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10 both record Christ’s healing of the centurion’s servant. A contradiction is removed if we understand that the centurion may well have rushed to Jesus once he saw him arrive outside his house. Luke records that arrival.

An important point here: if the Gospel accounts agreed in every detail, collusion would be rightly charged. However, critics are so anxious to convict the Bible of fraud that they consider as proof of inconsistency personal details that serve the writer’s purpose. Critics fault the Gospels when they agree in essence and when they disagree in detail. God will reveal any fact needed to prove the validity of his word, but nothing to satisfy our curiosity or remove our objections. The Bible assumes God’s existence, but God won’t tolerate critics assuming the Bible’s guilt until it proves its innocence. No less a scholar than Will Durant, himself a skeptic, admitted that if the tests applied to New Testament books were applied to ancient writings, none of them would be considered true.

Contradictions in the Bible are eliminated if we understand that, where the Bible states a truth without explanation, we must believe it without understanding. This is a scientifically demonstrable principle, without which research wouldn’t be possible. Consider Christ’s statement that the loaf was his body and the cup his blood Matthew 26:26-28. Apart from the fact that they couldn’t literally be or become his body and blood, he said what he meant and meant what he said—without explanation. We may say the loaf and cup represent his body and blood, or are symbolic of his body and blood, but Jesus didn’t say that. In addition, believing that he meant what he said has never divided God’s people; trying to explain what he meant has. Therefore, what Jesus stated without explanation, we must accept without understanding or explanation.      – Fini –

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bible – no contradictions exist in the Bible, Part I

Consult Norman Geisler’s book Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, pages 74-80, for further details. 

Contradictions in the Bible will vanish as we continue to study it. Since scripture brilliantly interprets scripture, consulting all the texts on any disputed subject will clarify one’s questions. We must not stop believing all the Bible just because something particular in it puzzles us. Scientists would never continue studying if questions, apparent contradictions or challenges to previously-held views put an end to their research. Indeed, they see such conundrums as logical, necessary steps to further learning. Yet, these same people often reject the Bible because something they read confuses them or contradicts their long-held opinions. 

Contradictions in the Bible will be eliminated when we carefully consider the contexts in which the apparent contradiction exists. Those contexts include New Testament versus Old Testament perspectives. The New Testament offers the full and ultimate meaning of Old Testament accounts. The classic example is the Apostle Paul’s interpretation of Moses putting on the veil after his second visit to Mount Sinai. Compare Exodus 34:29-35 with II Corinthians 3:13-18. Those contexts also include teachings of Jesus. His demand that we mentally eliminate any source of temptation from life has been incorrectly used to mean one must literally and physically sever an offending limb or eye Matthew 5:29-30. His teaching that we must not retaliate in personal relationships, Matthew 5:38-42, has been incorrectly used to oppose wars, to prevent indictment of criminals and to allow any freeloader with the gall to demand we surrender hard-earned money to him. Those contexts also include apostolic teaching. For example, in Galatians 6:2 Paul commands us to carry each other’s burdens, then in 6:5 says each person should carry his own load. No inconsistency exists if we understand that each Christian is accountable for his own life so long as he has it under control; but when sin so burdens us that we are led astray, God expects others to come alongside us and help lift the load. 

Two principles help us here. First, every text must be read in its context. For any verse, containing a single thought, can mean anything, true or false. Second, an invalid interpretation may be made of scripture, but that invalidates only the interpretation, not the scripture.

  – End Part I –

 

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

 

 

 

 

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 –

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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

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