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Posts tagged ‘Bible’

The Time of Singing Has Come – a Stillspeaking Devotional

The Time of Singing Has Come
Bible Excerpt from Song of Solomon 2:8–13

Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come and the voice of the turtledove is heard in the land.

Reflection by Anthony B. Robinson

Aren’t these lines of Scripture lovely? Read them aloud to yourself once more. Scholars debate whether the Song of Solomon is human love poetry that is all about the love of two people, or a metaphor of God’s love for Israel and the Church. But does it have to be one or the other? Can’t it be both? If we can entertain that possibility, here’s another: could you imagine that God is as wild and crazy about you as a teenager gone hook-line-and-sinker, head-over-heels in love? Often, it seems, we think and speak of God’s love for us as cool, restrained and matter-of-fact, and frankly sort of boring. But is that really the way love is? Imagine this: God is just crazy about you! Could that be? Try, this one day, believing that God is just wild about you.


This day, dear God, help me imagine, that despite my flaws and foibles, I am precious in your sight and beloved (wildly) by you. Amen.

About the Author

Anthony B. Robinson, UCC pastor, speaker and author, teaches leadership at Emmanuel College at the University of Toronto. His newest book is Changing the Conversation: A Third Way for Congregations.

The Stillspeaking Daily Devotional is a free service and is supported by your gifts to Our Church’s Wider Mission. Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America, adapted. Used by permission. All rights reserved. 

“I trace the rainbow through the rain and see the promise is not in vain.”

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Endings and Begins – Random Hippie Thought

Another year ends.
Another year begins.

I didn’t really think I’d see either.

My one of my FB friends “said” something worth repeating to myself every day no matter what:

I’m going to cut me off a big slice of today and not count the calories. – Sukie de la Croix

Jesus talks about mercy to those in trouble in 24 verses of the Gospels, tells people not to judge in 34 verses, tells people to love and forgive even their enemies in 53 verses, tells people to love their neighbors as themselves and treat others as they would want to be treated in 19 verses, and specifically tells people to help the poor and/or spurn riches and the wealthy in 128 verses. That is a lot of verses, 258 by my count, where the One conservative Christians call Lord and Savior sounds like a tried and true, solid to the core, far-out, lefty liberal


If you have read the Gispels, this poem makes much more sense…and if you haven’t read the Gispels perhaps that can be a “project” for 2012.

By Susie M. Best

That night when in Judean skies
the mystic star dispensed its light,
a blind man moved in his sleep-
and dreamed that he had sight.

That night when shepherds heard the song
of hosts angelic choiring near,
a deaf man stirred in slumber’s spell-
and dreamed that he could hear.

That night when in the cattle stall
slept child and mother cheek by jowl,
a cripple turned his twisted limbs-
and dreamed that he was whole.

That night when o’er the newborn babe
the tender Mary rose to lean,
a loathsome leper smiled in sleep-
and dreamed that he was clean.

That night when to a mother’s breast
the little King was held secure,
a harlot slept in happy sleep-
and dreamed that she was pure.

That night when in the manger lay
the sanctified who came to save
a man moved in the sleep of death-
and dreamed there was no grave.


Jesus knows me — this I love.


Live simply. Love generously.
Care deeply. Speak kindly.
Leave the rest to God.


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Why Christians should celebrate Darwin

I beleive, affirm, an d avow that “ALL Truth is God’s Truth”

I think I was in fith grade – back in the Stone-Age – when I first heard any Christians having a probkem wuth the Theory of Evolution. I may have been a tiny bit brighter than my fellow students, but even I knew that was “kinda stupid”.

Even I knew that the Bible was about God “doing things”, and Science was about “explaining how things” happen. How could there be a contradiction between the Bible and Science?

It was like saying that an appke wasn’t food because it was mashed potatoes, to me.

This article confirms what the 10 year old me thought.

(BTW” Hippie needs to point out this is yet another “post” from my files, and was orginally seen on my old MySpace blog in 2009. I hope all he URLs in the article are still “live”.)

Why Christians should celebrate Darwin
By Denis Alexander
12 Feb 2009

One of the deep mysteries of the early 21st century is why one set of Christians go round churches trying to persuade another set of Christians to reject the theory of evolution. This is in a world of incalculable need, both material and spiritual. Trying to persuade Christians to disbelieve Darwinism soaks up huge resources that could be better spent elsewhere.

The mystery deepens when one remembers three important facts. The first is that scientific theories become established or fall by the wayside as a result of publishing evidence in peer-reviewed journals, not by popular vote. So if someone has a problem with a theory, there is only one way to critique it properly, and that is to take the hard road of becoming a research scientist, and then to publish ideas supported (or not) by data in good journals.

Far from being a ‘holy cow’, evolution is no less immune to counter-evidence than any other theory, and any scientist publishing hard data significantly undermining Darwinian evolution (rabbit fossils in the pre-Cambrian, human foot-prints besides dinosaur foot-prints, variation in genetic codes between species, that kind of thing) would be an instant celebrity.

The second fact which highlights the mystery of the anti-Darwinian crusade is that evolutionary theory has been hugely strengthened over the past decade by the advent of genomics: the sequencing of the DNA of hundreds of living organisms, including ourselves, revealing a mass of new data that can only be explained by an evolutionary history, and establishing beyond any reasonable doubt our own common inheritance with the apes.

In other words, Christian opposition to Darwinism has increased at precisely the time when Darwin’s theory is being most powerfully supported by new discoveries. The complete DNA sequence of the wonderful platypus, published in Nature on 8 May 2008, provides further stunning information about evolutionary history.

Of course biologists still argue about the mechanisms of speciation; whether natural selection is at the level of the gene, the genome, the organism, or even the group; and about the details of different evolutionary lineages.
It is good there is still so much to sort out; otherwise many would be out of a job. But biologists are in no doubt that the evolutionary account is broadly correct, and indeed the theory provides the framework within which all current biological research is carried out.

The third fact that deepens the mystery even further, is that this anti-Darwinian crusade is a very modern phenomenon. Mainstream denominations in the 19th century were rather quick to baptise evolution into the Christian doctrine of creation.

The historian James Moore writes that “with but few exceptions the leading Christian thinkers in Britain and America came to terms quite readily with Darwinism and evolution”, and the American historian George Marsden reports that “with the exception of Harvard’s Louis Agassiz, virtually every American Protestant zoologist and botanist accepted some form of evolution by the early 1870s.”

Ironically, among the writers of the Fundamentals, that mass-produced series of twelve booklets published in the period 1910–15 which later contributed to the emergence of the term ‘fundamentalism’, we find a number of evangelical writers firmly committed to Darwinism, such as Benjamin Warfield, who called himself a “Darwinian of the purest water”, James Orr and the geologist George Wright.

Creationism is largely a late 20th century phenomenon, at least in Europe. Groups did not go round churches trying to persuade Christians to disbelieve in evolution in the 1960s. Now that’s quite common. Something has changed.

So what is it that has changed? From a sociological perspective, the phenomenon looks less mysterious. There is a very familiar process in the history of science whereby interest groups move in to utilise the prestige of scientific theories in support of their particular ideology.

Unfortunately the end result is that in the public consciousness the actual meaning of the label given to the theory itself changes, and so ‘Theory X’ becomes socially transformed into ‘Theory Y’ with all kinds of philosophical barnacles attached to it.

Evolution has suffered particularly badly from this kind of process and has been used in support of virtually every kind of ‘ism’ imaginable, including socialism, capitalism, racism, eugenics, and atheism. As George Bernard Shaw once remarked, Darwin “had the luck to please everybody who had an axe to grind”.

Ideological transformations need various kinds of energy inputs to nurture and sustain them, and in this context Richard Dawkins et al have done a great job by seeking to invest evolution with a radical atheist agenda, thereby unwittingly supplying fuel for the creationist cause.

“Although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin”, claims Dawkins, “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist”.

The philosopher Daniel Dennett proclaims that “Evolution is not a process that was designed to produce us”. In his book Darwin’s Dangerous Idea Dennett pictures evolution as a “universal acid” destroying in its path any basis for ultimate meaning and purpose in life.

No wonder creationists are so active. Who wants a universal acid flowing down their street and into the front door of their homes and churches?
The first and important response to all this is to knock the philosophical barnacles off the theory of evolution in order to allow it to do its important scientific task: to explain the origins of biological diversity on this planet.

Evolution as a biological theory has no ideological implications. It simply represents the inference to the best explanation to account for a huge mass of disparate data that spans a great array of different disciplines.

Scientific theories are like maps that join up many different types of data to render them coherent. Evolution provides a brilliant historical narrative to make sense of biological life on this planet in all its remarkable variety.

The other narrative, the Christian doctrine of creation, refers not mainly to the origins of things, but why they exist. The biblical claim is that there is only one great duality, that which exists between the Creator and everything else. God is transcendent, distinct from the created order, but at the same time also immanent in its every aspect. All things exist by the creative and sustaining power of the Word of God.

So all that scientists can describe is the out-working of God’s will, mediated through secondary causes, for there is nothing else to investigate. But the narrative that they provide is complementary to the creation narrative, which addresses a different set of questions: why has God brought all things into existence? Why are we here and what is our future?

Biologists who seek to invest evolution with an atheistic agenda have simply missed the point. It is not that evolution cannot be presented in a way that appears compatible with atheism. Of course it can. But equally you can baptise evolution into virtually any world-view you like and it will fit comfortably within most.

In other words, scientific data are simply unable to adjudicate between different metaphysical world-views, which have to be assessed on different grounds.

Asking a different kind of question is more useful: “Is evolution consistent with a particular world-view?” This is the type of question that scientists often ask in the discussion sections of their papers when assessing their data in relation to rival theories.

Christian thought does rather well in answering that kind of enquiry in the evolutionary context. If there is a God with intentions and purposes for creation, then we expect order, directionality and the emergence of personhood. This is precisely what evolution delivers. Taken overall it is far from being a chance process, with design space repeatedly filling up with organisms living within the constraints of particular ecological niches.

Very similar organs, structures and biochemical pathways evolved independently many times in the remarkable phenomenon known as convergence, because these are what you need to flourish in a given niche. On a planet of light and darkness you need eyes, so eyes are what you’ll get, and indeed compound and camera eyes have evolved independently more than twenty times.

The arrow of biological time also displays a marked increase in complexity over its 3.8 billion years, leading eventually to the recent (past 2 million years) remarkable explosion in brain size, and the emergence of humankind with the most complex known entity in the universe located between the ears, equipped to pray, worship and know God. Such a historical narrative seems quite consistent with the creation narrative that the biblical narrative provides.

Likewise creationists are wrong in thinking that if you accept evolution, then somehow basic Christian doctrines will be watered down or even jettisoned. That is not my experience, nor do I observe that happening in the lives of my many Christian colleagues who are evolutionary biologists.

But Christians do need to pay serious attention to the way that the scientific and theological accounts relate to each other: we cannot take the intellectually lazy route of keeping the narratives in watertight compartments.

I take the early chapters of Genesis to represent a profound theological essay, written using figurative language, that is foundational to our understanding of the rest of the Bible. It is not scientific literature.

Indeed it cannot be scientific literature because this only began to emerge as a more specialised form of language two thousand years later with the founding of the first scientific journals, and the further specialisation of this scientific genre of literature has been continuing ever since.

Understanding of our own evolutionary lineage has been steadily improving over the past 50 years, taking something of a leap forward with the completion of the Human Genome project in 2003.

Our genomes are littered with the fossil evidence of our evolutionary history, including thousands of pseudogenes, genes that are functional in other mammals, but switched off in humans because we don’t need them; retroviral insertions in which a virus has left its leaving card in a primate ancestor millions of years ago, a stretch of DNA faithfully replicated ever since; and transposons (‘jumping genes’) that act as similar signatures of our inheritance. We are all walking fossil museums; every cell of our body contains a little history book, written in the language of DNA.

As we engage with Darwin’s double anniversary in 2009 (birth: 1809; Origin of Species, 1859) my hope is that Christians will be celebrating Darwin enthusiastically, for he has provided us with a great theory that provides the framework for all contemporary biological and biomedical research.

All truth is God’s truth. But Christians have an extra reason to celebrate: creation theology (as distinct from creationism) places the evolutionary narrative within the larger scheme of God’s purposes. Thankfully there is more to life than biology.
© Denis Alexander is director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, St Edmund’s College, Cambridge, where he is a Fellow. His latest book is Creation or Evolution: Do We Have to Choose? (Monarch, August 2008). Dr Alexander was previously Chairman of the Molecular Immunology Programme and Head of the Laboratory of Lymphocyte Signalling and Development at the Babraham Institute, Cambridge.

Faraday Institute website: http://www.st-edmunds.cam.ac.uk/faraday/index.php

People often say with pride, “I’m not interested in politics.” They might as well say, “I’m not interested in my standard of living, my health, my job, my rights, my freedoms, my future, or any future.”
    — Martha Gellhorn, writer/journalist   (1908-1998)

Live simply. Love generously.
Care deeply. Speak kindly.
Leave the rest to God.

‘God does not share his love between all of his creatures; He gives *all* of his love to *each* of His creatures!’ (Hugh of St. Victor).


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Isaiah 56

I thought I’d take a breath for a moment, and simply share with you from the Bible. It does seem that these are one of those “liberal” passages that God=haters somehow snuck in when no one was looking.
– Ninure da Hippie

Isa. 58:6
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

Isa. 58:7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Isa. 58:8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

Isa. 58:9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

Isa. 58:10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

Isa. 58:11 The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.

What does the bible say bout marriage?

What does the bible say bout marriage?

Some good points to know when faced with the statement that “marriage between A man and A woman has always been the foundation of civilized societies”-and, of course, that the bible defines marriage as today’s religious Americans define it.

Marriage: What is Marriage? What Does the Bible Say About Monogamy, Polygamy?

What is Marriage?:

Marriage is an institution which can be found in every human culture. Although the forms and rules differ, marriages always involve some form of legally legitimized sexual relationship. Traditionally, marriages have had a religious basis. In the modern, industrialized West, marriage is based on a legal contract. In the Bible, women occupied an inferior social position to the nearest male relations — fathers, brothers, or husbands. Marriages were usually arranged in the Bible by the parents.

Biblical Marriage:

In the Bible, the relationship between Israel and God was likened to that of a marriage: one based upon a covenant between two unequal parties. The “marriage” between Israel and God was expected to be monogamous and mutual faithfulness was required from both sides — otherwise, the relationship might be ended.

What is Levirate Marriage?:

In Judaism, a levarite marriage involves a widow marrying her brother-in-law. The Latin word levir is the equivalent of the Hebrew yabam, which means brother-in-law.

What is Celibacy?:

Celibacy is the state of abstaining from sexual intercourse and/or from marriage, usually in the context of holding some religious office or for private spiritual reasons. The label “celibate” is usually only applied, however, to those who have taken sacred vows of celibacy as part of an act of renunciation. Celibacy has been practiced by a wide variety of religious groups across the globe, but not by all. In early Christian tradition, celibacy was seen as superior to marriage.

What is Muta?:

Muta is the word for a temporary marriage, the duration of which is stipulated by contract. Only Twelver Shias recognize muta marriages, although evidence suggests that it was practiced followed by many before Islam appeared. Muta marriages continue to be legal in some Muslim areas, but they are denounced by many orthodox clerics as little more than formalized prostitution — and indeed, a muta mariage might be limited to just a night or a few hours.

What is Polygamy?:

Polygamy is any marriage which involves more than two people. Polyandry involves one woman and multiple husbands while polygyny involves one man and multiple wives. Polygamy used to be common in the ancient world and was supported in most religions. Polygamy is obviously endorsed in the Bible, but it’s unclear to what degree it might have been limited to the upper levels of society. Monogamy seems to have become standard by the Roman Era.

What is Bigamy?:

The word bigamy comes from the Greek bis, which means “two” and gamos, which means “marriage.” Legally, it refers to the act of contracting a marriage when one is already married. In church tradition, however, it has also been used when a person contracts a valid marriage after the death of their first spouse (although this position is not currently reflected in civil law). Concubines, however, were traditionally accepted in the earliest Bible stories.

What is Endogamy?:

Endogamy is the practice of tribal groups limiting marriage to members of the group and prohibiting marriage outside the group (exogamy). Endogamy is more common in socially stratified societies, and is most common among aristocratic and ruling classes. European royalty traditionally limited marriage to other members of royalty and denigrated marriage to “commoners,” even if of the same nationality. The purpose of endogamy is to preserve the “purity” of bloodlines which might become “polluted.”

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The Flat Tire

This is another one of the great stories from my files. I THINK it is true. If not, it should be. – Ninure da Hippie

“The Flat Tire”

My tire had a staple in it. Of all times for this to happen — a flat tire. But when is a good time for a flat tire? Not when you are wearing a suit and you have been traveling for nearly five hours and, adding to this bleak picture, nightfall is approaching.

Wait; did I mention that I was on a country road? Okay, now you have the picture. There was only one thing to do: call AAA. Yeah, right. The cell phone I bought for security and protection in moments like this isn’t in range to call anyone. “No Service” it says. No kidding!

I sat for a few minutes moaning and complaining. It’s a male thing. Then I began emptying my trunk so that I could get at the tire and tools needed to get the job done. I carry a large plastic container filled with what I call “just-in-case-stuff.” When I am training or speaking, I love to have props with me. I hate leaving anything home so I bring everything …just in case.

Cars buzz by me. A few beep sarcastically. I hear the horn saying “ha ha!” I say, “You’ll get yours!” Darkness begins to settle in. It’s becoming a bit difficult to see. The tire is on the passenger side, thank God, away from all the traffic, but making it difficult to benefit from the headlights of passing cars.

Suddenly a car pulls off the road behind me. In the blinding light I see a male figure approaching me. “Hey, do you need any help?”

“Well, it certainly isn’t easy doing this with a white dress shirt and suit on,” I said. Then he steps into the light. I literally was frightened.

This young guy was dressed in black. Nearly everything imaginable was pierced and tattooed. His hair was cropped and poorly cut. He had leather bracelets with spikes on each wrist.

“How about I give you a hand?” he said.

“Well, I don’t know . . . I think I can . . . ”

“Come on, it will only take me a few minutes.” He took right over. While watching him I happened to look back at his car and noticed for the first time someone sitting in the passenger seat. That concerned me.

I suddenly felt outnumbered. Thoughts of carjackings and robberies flashed through my mind. I really just wanted to get this over and survive it.

Then, without warning, it began to pour. The night sky had hidden the approaching clouds. It hit like a waterfall and made it impossible to finish the tire change. “Look, my friend, just stop what you’re doing. I appreciate all your help. You better get going. I’ll finish after the rain stops,” I said.

“Let me help you put your stuff back in the trunk. It will get ruined,” he insisted. “Then get in my car. We’ll wait with you,” he insisted. “No, really. I’ll take care of everything,” I said.

“You can’t get in your car with the jack up like that. It will fall. Come on. Get in,” he said as he grabbed my arm and pulled me toward the car. Crack! Boom! Lightning and thunder roared like a freight train. I literally jumped in his car. “Oh, God, protect me!” I thought to myself.

Wet and tired I settled into the back seat. Suddenly a small frail voice came from the front seat of the car. “Are you all right?” she said as she turned around to face me. “Yes, I am,” I replied with much relief seeing the old woman there. It must be his Mom.

“My name is Beatrice and this is my neighbor Jeff,” she said. “He insisted on stopping when he saw you struggling with the tire.”

“I am grateful for his help,” I said.

“Me, too!” she said with a laugh. “Jeff takes me to visit my husband. We had to place him in a nursing home and it’s about 30 minutes away from where we live. So, every Monday,
Wednesday and Friday, we have a date.” She laughed and shook her head.

“We’re the remake of the Odd Couple,” Jeff said as he joined in laughing.”

“Jeff, that’s incredible what you do for her. I would never have guessed, well, ah, you know I . . .” I stumbled with the words.

“I know. People who look like me don’t do nice things,” he said.

Silence. I really felt uncomfortable. I never believed that I judged people by the way they dressed. I was angry with myself for being so stupid.

“Jeff is a great kid. I’m not the only one he helps. He’s a volunteer at our church. He also works with the kids in the learning center at the low income housing unit in our town,” said Beatrice.

“I’m a tutor” Jeff said quietly as he stared at my car.

Silence again played a part now in a moment of reflection rather than the uncomfortable feeling that I had insulted someone. He was right. What he wore on the outside was a reflection of the world as he saw it. What he wore on the inside was the spirit of giving, caring and loving the world he wanted to see.

The rain stopped and Jeff and I changed the tire. I tried to offer him money and of course he refused it. As we shook hands I began to apologize for my stupidity.

He said, “I experience that same reaction often. I actually thought about changing the way I look. But then I saw this as an opportunity to make a point. So I’ll leave you with the same question I ask everyone who takes time to know me. If Jesus returned tomorrow and walked
among us again, would you recognize Him by what He wore or by what He did?

“But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.'”1 Samuel 16:7

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