Monthly Archives: December 2017

Symbols – of Christ’s birth, Part II

Part I featured the Shepherd’s Staff and the High Priest’s Ephod.  Consider now:  The Human Brain.  It relates to Christmas by representing the upper class in Israel:  the priestly, wealthy, aristocratic class.  They had no faith in Jesus, no tolerance of Jesus, no obedience to Jesus. They mentally and determinedly opposed him.

The Brain distinguishes humans from all creatures.  They never had, and do not now have, God’s Image on them.  Not that they lack a brain.  The sperm whale has the largest brain among sea mammals.  It weighs some 18 pounds, about 500 cubic inches.  The human brain in contrast is approximately 80 cubic inches in size.  However, the brain mass in said whale constitutes only .02% of its total body mass while the human brain of 3.1 pounds constitutes 2.1% of our body mass.

The Image of God gives the exponential advantage to frail mortals denied sea leviathan, elephant, dolphins, and whatever else exists in the animal world.  Internet

We all visited the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry when Lance’s sons were still in strollers.  I pushed one of them past the Brain Display.  On it was a sign reading, “Out of Order.”  I made a mental note right then:  how appropriate a reference to humanity.

When we say no God exists, our brain is out of order.  When we think God is irrelevant, our brain is out of order.  When we think homosexuality is an alternative lifestyle, our brain is out of order.  When we say human sin isn’t the basic problem in humanity, our brain is out of order.  When we say no judgment awaits the sinner, our brain is out of order.  Etc., etc., etc.

Indeed, the brains of all creatures, reacting by instinct, remain true to their created purpose.  While the human brain, based on reason and the means by which we praise and serve God, remains out of order because we remain outside his will by our stubborn pride.  It will regain its created purpose only in conversion.    – 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 books:

      The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741

      Gift of the GIVER:Gifts for the GIVER, Vol. 2 at www.createspace.com/7551153

      Their Own Best Defense, Vol. 2, Part 2 at www.createspace.com/7446349

 

 

 

 

 

Symbols – of Christ in Christmas, Part I

Symbols can be powerful representations of a position, a conviction, a faith.  The United States flag symbolizes all three, and more.  They’re NOT the truth they surface but draw us to substantial truth.  It’s proper to use symbols as signs of faith in God and his works.  To be permanently useful, however, they must be seen merely as heralds of truth beyond themselves.

In the next two blogs let’s consider symbols relating to our Master’s birth.  They’ll be used in my message 24 December.  If anyone from Escondido Christian Church is reading this, READ ON.  I’m only going to skim the cream of the sermon for the blogs.

A.  Consider the Shepherd’s Staff. I have several walking sticks stuck in the corner of the bedroom.  The one used on daily walks stands beside the stereo in the entryway.  A ceremonial stick given by a Christian brother in Las Vegas is too soft to be used in defense.  Then there’s the shepherd’s Staff Brooks gave me a few years ago.  It’s the symbol of a Shepherd’s authority over his sheep; what he carried before them as he went before them; what he used as a weapon against intruders of his flock, the crook of which he used to retrieve lambs out of arms’ reach in a crevice.  This one is also too soft a wood to be used in real life situations.

Let’s remember that the first Noel—Christmas carol—featured an angelic choir singing to…shepherds.  The unlikeliest audience to hear, the least likely to be considered worthy by those in charge of Israel’s life.  Those everyone else missed, but God saw.  That others overlooked, but God looked over.  The representatives of the unknown, unseen, unpretentious people in every generation—the salt of the earth people!

B.  Consider the Linen Ephod. With twelve precious stones representing the 12 Tribes stitched onto it.  Across his chest.  Over his heart.  Carrying the people to God.  Bearing their cares and aspirations and sins before God.  The symbol of authority to the people, of God’s presence among his people.

And, as representative of the Hebrew establishment, all that Israel had ever known, the final word in all religious matters.  Which, by the time of Christ’s ministry, represented the biggest obstacle to his originality, creativity and singularity:  TRADITION!

They defied his miracles, teachings and claims, all reinforced by massive evidence.  They would rather the nation perish with them than survive under another, particularly a Doctor-less in any study, who nonetheless had a Post-Doctoral knowledge and wisdom.

Beware of traditions that have a life of their own, an end in themselves.  They invariably sacrifice Truth itself to protect what has become their reason for living.       – 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 books:

      The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741

      Gift of the GIVER:Gifts for the GIVER, Vol. 2 at www.createspace.com/7551153

      Their Own Best Defense, Vol. 2, Part 2 at www.createspace.com/7446349

 

Gifts – God’s . to us, Part III

In mentioning gifts from God, let’s appreciate his Gift of Forgiveness.  Matthew 1:21 said that the Son born to Mary would be called Jesus because he would save his people from their sins.  Whatever we may say the meaning of Christmas is, the Bible says it means Jesus came to save us from sin.  Remember that.  Never forget that.  Remind people of that when they say “the real meaning of Christmas” is….

In his short story, “I’m A Fool”, Sherwood Anderson told of lying to impress a girl he met.  He felt deceit necessary because the girl lived in a social and economic class above him.  He indeed impressed her, but didn’t know:  was it because of him or because of the story he created about himself?  He did know he wouldn’t see her again when she left by train to go home.  Because he couldn’t summon the courage to admit his deceit.  Gateway to the Great Books, Vol. 2, 511

Humanity loves to act before God; to pretend we’re something we’re not.  Defense lawyers make millions pretending that indicted criminals didn’t really commit that crime; that the sentenced criminals hadn’t really been bad as the sentence received.  We all excel at trying to convince God we’re really not sinners deserving punishment.  That we’re not as bad as the guy next to us.  That we deserve a break, etc., etc., etc.

Jesus coming as Savior means we should  never pose before God.  Never explain WHY we sinned.  Never justify our behavior.  He loves us when we say, “Father, I have sinned against you and am no longer worthy to be your child.”  He doesn’t care what sin we confess so long as we confess it, not excuse, justify or explain it.   He doesn’t care what we ARE when we come to him if we’re willing to let him remake us in his Son’s likeness.

Jane Eyre thought she could return to aristocrat Edward Rochester since she had become independently wealthy by inheriting 5000 Pounds—a real fortune for that time.  People think about themselves vis à vis God that way.  They delay coming to Jesus because their lives are a mess, they can’t do anything right, they’re working at getting better, and when they are, they’ll become Christians.

Wrong!  Never delay coming to Jesus because we’re sinners, we’re unworthy, we’re unrighteous.  Only those admitting the above qualify as recipients of his grace.  And only then do we get better by coming to him in our sinful state.  For in forgiveness God declares us righteous.     – Fini –

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

      The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741

      Gift of the GIVER:Gifts for the GIVER, Vol. 2 at www.createspace.com/7551153

      Their Own Best Defense, Vol. 2, Part 2 at www.createspace.com/7446349

 

 

 

 

 

Gifts – God’s to us, Part II

Unappreciated by most, God’s Gift of Predictability in creation makes life substantial and dependable.  How would anyone plan if we couldn’t depend on God’s faithfulness in the seasons?  Consider today God’s Gift of Grace.  Ephesians 2:8 embodies it.  It’s by Grace alone through faith—not by Faith alone through Grace—that we have been saved.

A May, 2015 story in the San Diego U-T reported carelessness of cops in Washington D.C.  While a cop’s gun is his lifeline; while it’s like an added layer of his skin; while it distinguishes him from civilians; while he keeps it with him at all times; while he surrenders it only if he’s unconscious or dead, D.C. cops kept leaving theirs in rest rooms after a nature-call.  It got so bad that the Chief instituted a five-day suspension for any officer guilty of the oversight.  It continued to get worse until he instituted a 30-day suspension for the first offense, then considered termination for the second.  5.21.15

The spiritual lesson is obvious.  Policemen are judged by the law they represent and enforce.  When failing their responsibility, we can only say, “C’mon guys; get your act together or you’re fired!”  Christians are judged by the far-more merciful Grace of Jesus.  We can always say to ourselves, “C’mon, guys, repent of your sin, confess it to Jesus, and get back out there and try again!”

Christian discovered that in Pilgrim’s Progress.  While Satan stood on one side of the wall, throwing water on grace, Jesus stood on the other side, secretly fueling grace with a continual supply of oil.  The point being that Christ’s grace always excels Satan’s power and our sins. p.35

The allegory—which, by the way, is based on Zechariah 4—is that we can’t be a worse sinner than Jesus is a greater Savior—and Satan can never keep us from God’s presence if we want to retain fellowship with him.

Thus, when God wanted to temporarily overlook sins, he used a scapegoat.  When he wanted to forgive absolutely he sent his Son, who came as the powerful solution Galatians 4:4-5 text declares.

Law convicts us of sin.  Grace alone forgives and removes sin.  Never appeal to law for forgiveness.  It sole purpose is to IDENTIFY sins and convict the sinner.  That’s why God’s Grace in Christ freed us from the Law of Moses.  Under Moses we could always count the many ways we sin.  And while Law offered protection from the harm others would inflict on us, it could never justify us before God for our sins against him.   – End Part III –

 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 books:

      The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741

      Gift of the GIVER:Gifts for the GIVER, Vol. 2 at www.createspace.com/7551153

      Their Own Best Defense, Vol. 2, Part 2 at www.createspace.com/7446349

Gifts – God’s . to us, Part I

We’re talking gifts in this blog.  Especially God’s gifts to humanity; particularly God’s gifts to his Christ-like people.  Let’s introduce the subject by thanking him for his Gift of Predictability in creation.  It’s seen in many ways.  One is this week 21 December, when the Winter Solstice brings the shortest day of the year in the Northern and longest in the Southern hemisphere.  It happens every year.  What are the chances that Chance could make it happen every year at the same time?

Another is the King Tides that occur when the moon is closest to the earth.  They occur in San Diego in late December and at the beginning and end of January and February.  However, the biggest tides will occur between 29 December, 2017 and 5 January, 2018.  The peak will be at 07.52 hours on 01, 2018.  U-T, 12/16/17.

Only creation by God’s design provides such predictability.  Chance never could.  Evolutionists, including many oceanographers, may have no use for God in their personal lives, but they rely on the predictability of God’s creation when studying their sciences.  How else could they predict to the moment when the highest of the high King tides will hit San Diego beaches?

Consider also God’s Gift of Hope.  They most ancient of all hope started when God warned Satan in Genesis 3:15 that he would “put enmity between” him and the woman and between his offspring and hers.  That enmity—adversary, opponent, conqueror—would crush Satan’s head while he only struck the enmity’s heelThat enmity is none other than Jesus Christ.  His arrival and mission accomplished God’s purpose, as Paul noted in Romans 16:20a.

God later confirmed that hope to the Jews, but including it in the Garden meant he promised it to the nations and creation.  That hope…of that adversary coming to encounter, confront, contest and overwhelm Satan…resonated in every Hebrew generation.  Each remembered it and never forgot it and gradually concentrated it in MESSIAH—The Coming Emmanuel, the Long-Expected Jesus.     –  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 books:

      The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741

      Gift of the GIVER:Gifts for the GIVER, Vol. 2 at www.createspace.com/7551153

      Their Own Best Defense, Vol. 2, Part 2 at www.createspace.com/7446349

People – church leaders never need to change presentations, Part III

San Diego Hardware opened its doors in downtown on December 15, 1892.  In 2006 it relocated to Kearny Mesa.  The ownership has remained in the family, with those now leading having first worked in the store.  The inventory has changed.  From a nuts-and-bolts, hard-to-find hardware store, it shifted to decorative hardware for all kitchen, doors and bathroom fixtures.  With the advent of Amazon—“Talk about a Goliath,” one of the owners declared—the store established a shopper-friendly e-commerce site.  They deliver orders within a day or two.  U-T, 12/9/17

Which leads to a spiritual point.  Whatever other changes occur in shopping habits—whether to brick-and-mortar stores or the lazy way—people still shop.  Even our local Ralph’s store now delivers grocery orders.  Shades of Illinois in the 1940’s!  This man, then a little boy, would take mom’s order to Kerpan’s store.  The truck would deliver it that day.

However, since whatever the age or morality, people still sin, they need the Savior’s forgiveness.  And however medical science prolongs life or mere existence, we still die and need the resurrection of Jesus to bring us into his eternal kingdom and to one day raise our bodies into a replica of his very own brilliant body.

The point is, how do church leaders need to adapt the church to changing conditions?  They don’t.  If leaders think they do, they become part of the problem, never part of the solution.  If preachers want to continue being relevant, they need only go back to, or continue, studying God’s Word in-depth.  Then they need to pray for the Holy Spirit to inspire lessons and sermons.  Then they need to study the preparation until it becomes part of their personality.  Then they need to preach it in the power the Spirit never fails to provide.  AND trust the Spirit to do his work, which he never fails to achieve when God’s word is preached.  Which he always does.  Which he delights in doing for anyone who refuses to adapt his message to expected societal norms.  Who confronts listeners with the forceful, eternal, powerful word of God on any subject.  Understand?   – 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 books:

      The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741

      Gift of the GIVER:Gifts for the GIVER, Vol. 2 at www.createspace.com/7551153

      Their Own Best Defense, Vol. 2, Part 2 at www.createspace.com/7446349

People – no one is unknown to God, Part II

The San Diego Union Tribune story featuring the San Diego Hardware Store included the picture of a young woman wearing hardware accouterments.  The question was, “Who was the pretty lady?”  A Chula Vista resident knew:  Fanny Sherman Sloane.  She had often seen Fanny’s picture in the home of a former boyfriend.  Fanny’s father, Matthew Sherman, had served in the Civil War.  On returning to San Diego he had developed the Sherman Heights area of the city.  Fanny was in her mid-20’s when the picture was taken.  She married Charles L. Sloane, a Rockford, Illinois native.  Etc., etc., etc.

Fanny didn’t remain unknown long.  Some people in nation-wide morgues aren’t so fortunate.  Some people in the deserts of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah aren’t so fortunate.

But none, not a single one of the perhaps 12-14 Billion people ever to live, is unknown to God.  He calls the stars by name and labels the planets.  He sees every sparrow fall and counts our head-hairs.  (Some of us make that easy.)  He know us all by name, by the very distinctive mark his image makes on each soul.

That perfect knowledge stimulates Christians.  What powerful encouragement to know God’s care of each disciple.  We may count our friends on one hand, but God counts us as his single friend.  He cradles everyone in his hand, each one part of the whole, the whole broken into its individual parts.  The unsaved don’t want that intimacy.  They feel self-sufficient except in extreme crises, but want God’s attention only during those times.    – End Part II –

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 books:

      The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741

      Gift of the GIVER:Gifts for the GIVER, Vol. 2 at www.createspace.com/7551153

      Their Own Best Defense, Vol. 2, Part 2 at www.createspace.com/7446349

 

 

 

 

 

 

People – change occurs in . Part I

San Diego Hardware has been a fixture in the city for 125 years.  It began in 1892, occupying a building on lower Broadway.  Its inventory counted 50,000 items from 400 suppliers.  If you needed it, San Diego Hardware carried it.  Famous people found there what they couldn’t elsewhere:  Bill Walton supplies for his apartments; Jerry Lewis a boat fixture; Archie Moore an unspecified item, except he pounded on the doors after hours, shouting, “You gotta let me in!”  Many more of us unknowns drove downtown to buy what no other hardware store stocked.

Then…change came.  A fire in 1986 damaged the store.  Then, after re-building it, Home Depot opened its 10 county stores.  The nuts-and-bolts” store suddenly existed in a precarious economic environment.  Long-term Navy contracts kept it going.  Then…developers of downtown San Diego made it hard to find parking for the people who had always been customers—this writer among them.  In 2006 the store moved to Kearny Mesa, where it continues in business in December, 2017.  U-T, 12/9/17    – 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 books:

      The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741

      Gift of the GIVER:Gifts for the GIVER, Vol. 2 at www.createspace.com/7551153

      Their Own Best Defense, Vol. 2, Part 2 at www.createspace.com/7446349

 

Mary – the Biblical . – Part IV

The Master’s encounters with his mother included his siblings.  Which, by the way, were half-brothers and sisters, not half-cousins.  Matthew 1:25 clearly teaches Mary’s virginity TILL she gave birth to Jesus.  Then…UNTIL…means she stopped being a virgin and began being a married woman with sexual rights practiced.  Nothing but church politics says differently.

By the time Jesus had been preaching two years, with his fame exploding all over Israel, two groups had reached opposite opinions of him.  The Pharisees said he had made himself a stooge of Satan.  His family said his devotion to God had turned him insane.

Moved by their conviction they arrived to remove Jesus from public life.  They found him so thronged with listeners they couldn’t access him.  They sent a verbal message by people-telegraph:  mom and siblings want you go to with them.  He sent a verbal message by the same telegraph:  his only family were those who heard and obeyed God’s word.  That hit them like a combined uppercut to their jaw, a punch to their gut and a knock-out punch to their nose.  A flattened, imploded physical family slouched away.

Jesus expanded on that revolutionary teaching as he spied Mary and John standing by his cross.  John 19:25-27 records it.  The difference between his kindly response to Mary here and his in-your-face-negative to Mary in Mark 3 is one of her mental and emotional condition:  at the cross a devastated mourner; in Mark 3 an arrogant intruder.  However, an additional perspective also existed.  While Mark 3 removed Jesus from filial and sibling relationships, John 19 exalted him as Ruler and Universal Lord of all humanity.

In Acts 1:12-14 the 120 gathered in the Upper Room.  With his now-believing brothers, Mary appeared as one of them.  This is the last mention of Mary in the New Testament.  Before the church began.  Before the apostles served.  Before the New Testament books were written.  Since no further mention was made of her, her contribution to Christianity began and ended by conceiving, carrying and giving birth to Jesus.  Jesus repeatedly added success on success, victory on victory.  Mary added nothing.     – 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 books:

      The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741

      Gift of the GIVER:Gifts for the GIVER, Vol. 2 at www.createspace.com/7551153

      Their Own Best Defense, Vol. 2, Part 2 at www.createspace.com/7446349

 

 

 

 

Mary – the Biblical . – Part III

That the Wise Men bowed before and worshipped the child Jesus, then presented him their gifts, proves that, even as a child, he alone served as God’s servant.  That wouldn’t surprise us:  angels heralded his birth, not his mother’s pregnancy.

Every event in the Lord’s ministry continued to stress Mary’s humanity, necessarily limited by confronting the mystery Jesus embodied Luke 2:25-35.  Simeon’s panegyric exalted the 40 day old boy, not his father or mother.  They instead “marveled at what was said about him”.   Luke 2:41-52 records the encounter the 12 year old with national teachers and his parents.  He astonished the rabbis and perplexed the parents, who “did not understand what he was saying to them.”

God clothed the next 18 years of his Son in majestic silence.  Then, at age 30 he became a public personality who soon filled Israel and surrounding nations with his Presence.  John 2:1-11 records the next “Man and mother” encounter.  The point of difference was timing.  Mary saw the paucity of wine as the perfect occasion for Jesus to declare himself to Israel.  Her comment certainly didn’t constitute mere conversation, “whaddya you know, the wine supply failed.”  Her willingness to involve Jesus drew his kind but firm rebuke.  He would do nothing at her behest.  He subjected his will only to God’s direction.

That she immediately ordered the servants to “Do whatever he tells you” is nothing but a Jewish mother’s continued interest (A.K.A. interference) in a child’s life—even a grown man’s life.  The Master may have shaken his head when hearing it.  He didn’t care what she wanted or what she said.  She could order the servants but had no influence over Jesus.  Up to, and including this blog, then, the score Jesus 5, Mary 0.  While Jesus continues to make point after point, Mary never scores.     – End Part III –

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 books:

      The Parables of Jesus at www.createspace.com/7164741

      Gift of the GIVER:Gifts for the GIVER, Vol. 2 at www.createspace.com/7551153

      Their Own Best Defense, Vol. 2, Part 2 at www.createspace.com/7446349