A STORY OF SACRIFICE FOR MEMORIAL DAY

US Navy TBD-1 Torpedo Squadron Six (VT-6), from USS Enterprise (CV-6), in about 1938 (from here)

We have studied the night before a test. Some of us have awaited the hour before an important interview. About half of us have stood beside our ladies as they suffered, giving birth to our children. We have all waited for the arrival of a crisis, when an important matter would be resolved. Few of us, however, have contemplated our options as the minutes ticked away before the onset of a great battle.

Imagine going into battle knowing you could be a sacrificial pawn. Imagine flying over a vast ocean to battle an enemy fleet in an obsolete war plane. Consider Victor Davis Hanson’s words from Lessons from the Battle of Midway. Continue reading “A STORY OF SACRIFICE FOR MEMORIAL DAY”

A VISIT TO THE BIBLE ON MOTHER’S DAY

Here I am, sitting in the basement. It is Mother’s Day.  I am sort of wondering why I never wrote a post and if I should. So I went to the Bible for some inspiration. What did I find?

In the New King James Version (NKJV), “mother” shows up 306 times. The first occurrence grabbed my attention.

Genesis 2:24 New King James Version (NKJV)

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Our children — my lady and I — now have grown children. They have left us to begin their own lives. The separation is necessary, but it hurts.  In order to raise our children well, we must love them and expect nothing in return. Yet we get much. Still, they must go.

It is Mother’s Day, but what is a mother without a father? Curious, I found out “father” shows up up 1510 times in the Bible, about five times as often as “mother”. I suppose some will call that sexist, but I think some people jump to conclusions too quickly.

The first verse where “father” occurs is also Genesis 2:24. So I guess, like my lady, I also have our Lord’s permission to miss the patter of little feet.

So why does father occur so much more often in the Bible? I am not certain, but given how little importance some people attach to fatherhood these days, it is worth considering.  I suppose I have found a good project for Father’s Day.

What is a mother without her husband? What is a father without his wife? The word “husband” shows up 129 times in the NKJV and the word “wife” shows up 370 times.  Significant? Perhaps.  We have lots of jokes and proverbs that tell us that behind every successful man stands a good wife. Here is one of my favorites.

Behind every successful man is a proud wife and a surprised mother-in-law. — Hubert H. Humphrey (from here)
But what does the Bible suggest? What is the first verse where the word husband occurs?

Genesis 3:6 New King James Version (NKJV)

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.

Was the woman a temptation for the man?

What is the first occurrence of wife? Like mother and father, the word wife first shows up in Genesis 2:24. It is the love of a woman that drives a man to leave his father and mother.

There is an old saying that seems to be in accord with the Bible (Proverbs 14:1).

Men make houses, women make homes (from here)

God gave Eve to Adam because he needed her. Eve made Adam whole, and he knew it.  But it does not seem to be easy for a woman to be a good wife. Perhaps she is too preoccupied being a good mother, and it is not easy for a man to be a good father. Perhaps he is too preoccupied with the wrong kind of success.

What is a good woman? She is precious. She is a woman in whose hands her husband’s heart is safe.

Proverbs 31:10-31 New King James Version (NKJV)

The Virtuous Wife

10 Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
So he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
And willingly works with her hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
She brings her food from afar.
15 She also rises while it is yet night,
And provides food for her household,
And a portion for her maidservants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
From her profits she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds herself with strength,
And strengthens her arms.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is good,
And her lamp does not go out by night.
19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hand holds the spindle.
20 She extends her hand to the poor,
Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
For all her household is clothed with scarlet.
22 She makes tapestry for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies sashes for the merchants.
25 Strength and honor are her clothing;
She shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.

WHEN WE INSTRUCT OUR CHILDREN IN HATRED

Battle of Jericho (biblical)
Depiction by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld (1794-1872) (from here)

Cal Thomas has a column that got me to thinking. Here is the key to that column.

Here’s the danger for President Trump. The Quran allows Muslims to lie to “nonbelievers” in pursuit of Islam’s goal of an earthly kingdom ruled by their religion.

An example occurred last week when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met at the White House with President Trump. Abbas said, “Mr. President, I affirm to you that we are raising our youth, our children and grandchildren, in a culture of peace.”

That is a flat-out lie, as even a cursory Google search or visit to the Palestinian Media Watch website proves.

Do the Palestinians instruct their children to detest non believers, even to lie to them and kill them? As Thomas said, it is easy enough to look up. Google Do Palestinians Teach Their Children to Hate? The mainstream press does not like to talk about it, but even The New York Times has occasionally carried a story. Here is one from 2013, To Shape Young Palestinians, Hamas Creates Its Own Textbooks. Apparently, Hamas was not satisfied with what it got from the Palestinian Authority.

Textbooks have long been a point of contention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in which dueling historical narratives and cultural clashes underpin a territorial fight. And they are central examples of what Israeli leaders call Palestinian “incitement” against Jews, held up as an obstacle to peace talks newly resumed under American pressure.

Beyond their take on Israel, the new texts are also a salvo in the war for influence between the rival Palestinian factions: Gaza-based Hamas and Fatah, which dominates the Palestinian Authority and the West Bank. They reflect a growing gulf between the 1.7 million Palestinians living in the densely populated Gaza Strip and the 2.5 million spread among the West Bank’s cities and villages. (from here)

How seriously should we take this sort of thing? We have an excellent point of reference, our own American Civil War. In the South, children grew up learning to approve of slavery. In the North, children grew up believing slavery wrong. Most in the North may have thought the Negro inferior, but they refrained from believing Negroes should be enslaved. Considering that the whites in the South did not want to enslave the whites in the North, the conflict that eventually ensued between the North and South grew extremely violent. One can only imagine what that war would have been like if all the people in the North had been Negroes.

So what does Christianity teach about race and culturally based hatred? This is a question that confuses many Christians.  In its May 4, 2017 broadcast, If God Is Good, How Could He Command Holy War?, Derek Thomas examined the issue for Renewing Your Mind. His subject was the Book of Joshua and the Holy War (or herem) God declared against the Canaanites. In the Book of Joshua, the Hebrews execute God’s command to move into the Holy Land and kill the Canaanites.

The Victory of Joshua over the Amalekites by Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665) (from here)

When we read the about the destruction of Jericho, we usually marvel at the miraculous collapse of the city’s walls, but what happened after that?

Joshua 6:15-21 New King James Version (NKJV)

15 But it came to pass on the seventh day that they rose early, about the dawning of the day, and marched around the city seven times in the same manner. On that day only they marched around the city seven times. 16 And the seventh time it happened, when the priests blew the trumpets, that Joshua said to the people: “Shout, for the Lord has given you the city! 17 Now the city shall be doomed by the Lord to destruction, it and all who are in it. Only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all who are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. 18 And you, by all means abstain from the accursed things, lest you become accursed when you take of the accursed things, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. 19 But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the Lord; they shall come into the treasury of the Lord.”

20 So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. 21 And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword.

What does Derek Thomas point to in the Bible to justify utterly destroying all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword?

Genesis 15:16 New King James Version (NKJV)

16 But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.

God had decided iniquity of the Amorites was complete.  Because the answer is unsatisfying, Thomas grieves over this.  Yet Thomas did not finding the answer unsatisfying for the reason some might expect. When Thomas considered himself and the rest of us, sinners all, what is remarkable is that God has any mercy to spare for any of us.

There but for the grace of God, go I. — John Bradford (1510–1555) (from here)

We are not worthy of God’s grace, but we can choose to receive it. Fortunately, when Jesus died on the cross and rose on the third day, He established a new covenant. Instead of destroying unrepentant sinners, we now spread His Gospel.

So what about Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his lies? As best we can, we need to help the Palestinians understand the truth. The Allah that he and his fellow Muslims worship is an invented god.  What too many Muslims worship is war, not peace. Only with Jesus can have peace.

Gustave Doré, The Death of Agag. Agag was executed by Samuel as part of God’s command to put the Amalekites under herem (1 Samuel 15). (from here)

IS ANYONE OUT THERE? THE BIBLE HAS AN ANSWER

The Lagoon Nebula, shown in a photo taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope (from here).

In is anyone out there?,violetwisp gives four reasons for her Atheism.

I can’t deny that there’s a tiny, tiny chance that one of the other religions in the world is true. But there are four main reasons it’s logical to dismiss them all without spending the rest of my life trying to find out for sure:

1. Even with a basic understanding of just a few religions, we can be fairly sure that they developed to fill gaps in our knowledge and their existence can logically be explained by our need to assign agency. They are essentially superstitious stories that developed structure over time.

2. The stories demonstrate some common themes (invisible powers making things happen that we can’t explain, thinking outside of ourselves) yet have enough differences to show they don’t come from a unique external source.

3. On the 0.01% (or near) chance that the above is wrong and there are creator gods out there, it would be clear from what we have in front of us that there are natural explanations for everything here – that must be part of the ‘design’. It would also be clear from the mess of assorted religions that have developed that the gods don’t really care about sending a useful or even coherent message.

4. So many people have spent so much time dedicated to these questions and all of them have come to different conclusions. Either there is no truth, or the truth doesn’t need to be found.

When I read ‘s post, it occurred to me that not so long ago I could have written something much the same. Therefore, I thought it might help if I addressed her four main reasons.

1. Christianity stands out as unique, not as just another gap filler. One reason for that is that the Bible is not something men would have written unless God inspired them to do so. It does not flatter us, not at all, but it does tell us of our sins and our need for a savior.

As a historical figure, Jesus’ influence is unsurpassed. Given the claims made for Him in the New Testament, that’s no surprise, not if He is who He said He is. Given the affect Jesus and the Bible have had on Western Civilization and the rest of the world, no one can rightly call themselves well-educated unless they have carefully studied the Bible.

2. God is not unique, external source? The real problem with miracles is separating the “miracles” performed by charlatans and our over-active imaginations from those we can only attribute to God. Nothing of that sort is ever easy.

3. There are natural explanations for everything here? Actually, science doesn’t have answers for the most important questions. The Bible does.

  • Why am I here?
  • What is right and wrong?
  • What brings me meaning
  • What happens to a human being when I die?

Ravi Zacharias (an expert in Christian apologetics) says there are Four Questions To Answer In Life.

Science does not have the tools to deal with those questions. Scientists are just human; they cannot experiment with God.

We can observe the miracle of birth. We can fret over the decay of death, but what happens to that spark — that soul — that made someone special to us? Where did it come from? Where has it gone?

4. The fact that different people come up with different answers for those four questions doesn’t mean that we should not seek the Truth. The fact that we come up different answers just means God did not make us with a cookie cutter. Yet if we don’t want to know the Truth, it does help if we do not look for it, and that is one of the answers we come up with.

If there is a God (I believe we can know something about Him through Jesus.), then we exist for His purposes, not our own. We are His creations. We did not create ourselves. So what are God’s purposes? If there is a God, how would we know? Would it not depend upon what He wants us to know? Would it not depend upon how He wants us to learn? The Bible provides some answers, but no one knows the mind of God.

What do we know? Soon after we begin to perceive it, we begin to comprehend Creation as beautiful, marvelously complex, and outrageously big. The notion someone made Creation is astounding. The notion that Creation just is — that it just happened — is absurd. Hence, Atheism is not a good answer.