Saturday, March 26, 2016

Thank you CMI  (Creative Ministries International) for all of your valuable insight into biblical questions many of us ask. 

HAPPY EASTER. HE HAS RISEN! 

Why did Jesus wear a crown of thorns?

thorns
Published: 25 March 2016 (GMT+10)
In Genesis 3:17–19 we read;
And to Adam he [God] said,
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”
The thorns and thistles introduced in Genesis 3 pose significant problems for Christians who do not take Genesis as real history, as it is intended.
In God’s originally perfect creation Adam and Eve, when created on Day Six, were placed in the Garden of Eden. Here, they were given one commandment; they were not to eat from ‘the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ (Genesis 2:17). In the above verses from Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve had disobeyed God’s command, thus bringing sin and death into the world (Romans 5:12), God explained to them some of the fuller consequences and effects of their sin: the Curse. The Curse was not merely imposed upon them, but upon all creation, over which they had been given dominion.1 Contained within this Curse is a specific reference to the introduction of thorns and thistles into the now fallen creation. In the immediate context—that is, Adam and Eve and the predicament they now found themselves in—“Adam’s sin has spoiled his environment, and it suffers along with him”.2 As Henry Morris wrote, “The earth which had previously cooperated readily as the man tilled and dressed it (Genesis 2:5-15), now became reluctant to yield his food. Instead it began to yield thorns and noxious weeds, requiring toil and sweat and tears before man could eat of it.”3 The effects of the thorns and thistles have continued from that day to now, as any farmer or gardener well knows.4 Before the Fall and Curse, all would have worked together in perfect harmony. Adam could have taken pleasure watching plants grow with ease and producing an abundant source of food. However, what would have been a joy-filled task for Adam in the Garden of Eden now became laborious, requiring toil and struggle.

Curse incompatible with millions of years

Caleb Salisbury
Thorns-fossil
Christians who believe God’s infallible Word (no thorns before sin) cannot also believe in man’s fallible ‘word’ (millions of years of thorns before people).
The thorns and thistles introduced in Genesis 3 pose significant problems for Christians who do not take Genesis as real history, as it is intended. If, as long-age secular geologists claim, the earth took billions of years of slow and gradual processes to reach its current form, then we have to conclude that thorns found in the fossil record are also millions of years old. This would mean that thorns, and death, must have come before Adam’s sin and long before any human being arrived on planet earth. This is obviously problematic and leads to a re-interpretation of the plain reading of the biblical text through imposing the fallible ideas of man on to the text instead. In contrast, thorns in the fossil record are not a problem for biblical creationists, who believe the majority of the fossil record resulted from Noah’s Flood, which destroyed the earth as it then was. This catastrophic event happened more than 1,500 years after sin entered the world, so biblical creationists would not be surprised to find thorns in the fossil record. Rather, it would be very consistent with the natural chronology of the Bible.

Symbolism of thorns in Scripture

The crown of thorns vividly symbolized the curse of sin being placed on Jesus’s head. It immediately takes the reader back to Genesis, reminding us of why Jesus went to the cross, to take the penalty for sin on our behalf.
As well as thorns and thistles being a very real physical component to the cursed world that we all now live in, they carry further symbolic negative overtones throughout the Bible, firmly pointing back to the Curse in Genesis. Their symbolic meaning also creates problems for those who do not read Genesis as a true historical account, as the negative biblical overtones associated with thorns and thistles are integral to their historical origin at the time of the Curse. Without the connection to their historical origin, their symbolic meaning becomes empty and vague.
The numerous references to thorns and thistles5 throughout the Bible remind us of the historical Original Sin and Curse that followed. The negative biblical overtones associated with thorns and thistles after Genesis 3:18 are demonstrated in their representation as obstacles, punishment, or serving as a reminder of sin and its consequences. For example:
  • In Numbers 33:55, God warned the Israelites that if they did not drive out the inhabitants of the land of Canaan, allowing them to remain, the Canaanites would be an obstacle to them. They would be, “thorns in your sides”. Proverbs 15:19 again uses the imagery of thorns as obstacles, saying, “The way of the sluggard is like a hedge of thorns, but the path of the upright is a level highway.”
  • In Isaiah 34:13, when God is speaking of the consequences of His judgment on the land of Edom, thorns feature as part of their punishment: “Thorns shall grow over its strongholds, nettles and thistles in its fortresses. It shall be the haunt of jackals, an abode for ostriches.”
  • The New Testament also uses thorns and thistles in reference to the inner workings of the worldly heart, corrupted by sin. In the parable of the sower, Matthew 13:3–8, some seeds “fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them” (v. 7). Also, the outward expression of that worldly heart which apostatizes from Christ is likened to a barren wasteland, which, “if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned” (Hebrews 6:8).

Jesus’ thorny crown

The ultimate fulfilment of the symbolism that thorns and thistles have in the Bible is found in Matthew 27:29:
“[A]nd twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ ”
Here the governor’s soldiers placed a crown of thorns on Jesus’ head, to mock him as the King of the Jews. Oh, if only they had known both what they were doing and the symbolism that their actions entailed! Thorns were not present in the original very good world, but the Roman soldiers didn’t have any trouble finding thorns to place on Jesus head. Thorns that were a direct result of man’s original sin are now found in abundance in a world that is steeped in sin. What the soldiers unwittingly did was hugely significant. There is nothing random in the Bible; every word that has been written in its pages is significant. The crown of thorns vividly symbolized the curse of sin being placed on Jesus’s head. It immediately takes the reader back to Genesis, reminding us of why Jesus went to the cross, to take the penalty for sin on our behalf.6 He died as the perfect sacrifice for our sins, so that the Curse that God had pronounced upon this earth because of sin, can be removed for those that believe in him, and that ultimately creation itself can be redeemed. “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:20-21). Christ’s actions will blunt every sharply pointed thistle and thorn as well as the other effects of the curse. The Christian can shout, “O death, where is your sting?”7
While the Roman soldiers may have mocked Jesus, just as many others do today, He is indeed the King of Kings, Creator and Lord of this universe. He conquered sin and death through his death and resurrection, so that all those who repent and believe on Him can be saved. This is good news to all people. Amen!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

When Confusion Reigns

         According to Merriam-Webster the definition of confusion is: a situation in which people are uncertain about what to do or are unable to understand something clearly  : the feeling that you have when you do not understand what is happening, what is expected, etc.  : a state or situation in which many things are happening in a way that is not controlled or orderly     
       I am of the belief that most of us walk around in a state of confusion pretty much everyday; although we may not be aware of it. For instance when you wake up and you’re in a hurry to get dressed for work because you have an important corporate meeting, and you decide to wear your favorite black suit. Now come the socks. Here’s where the confusion can rear it’s ugly head. Before you lies a drawer full of unmatched socks. You need black, but as you hold them up to the light you’re uncertain, perhaps they are really dark blue. First thought that comes to mind —  “I really need to organize my sock drawer next week”. Second thought — “Who cares. Know one is going to notice my ankles”, so you hastily grab two, pull them on,  and run out the door. But later in the morning as you sit down across from the CEO of Marketing for an upscale clothing store you realize how wrong you were in your assumption as Mr. CEO gives you the once over.  Or how about this scenario. If your the chief cook in the family it’s all about what am I going to make for dinner tonight. The kids are fighting, the dogs are barking, and you can’t remember if you took the chicken out of the freezer to thaw, because the doorbell just rang, and as you pass the calendar hanging on the wall you see circled in red a parent teacher conference you have scheduled which you need to be at in an hour. Good grief. 
       Life is all about choices. We make them everyday.  If we end up ordering pizza because the chicken wasn’t thawed, or you have to hide your legs under the chair because your socks don’t match, does not in anyway effect where you’ll be for eternity. That’s the good news, because we all make decisions on a daily basis, some are good and some aren’t. Some things are very subjective. Maybe wearing socks of  different colors will be the next big fashion statement, (What!)  and perhaps pizza is the perfect meal.
       There is one concept—idea—truth, however, that is not meant to be subjective and that is Christianity. Once you fall into the quagmire of vague uncertainty where Christianity becomes only about subjective things like feelings — matters of the heart — then you lose all objectivity as to what is eternally true for all. If you begin falling into the dictum of “what’s true for you may not be true for me” then you begin sliding down the slippery slope of postmodernism. 

        Postmodernism is a late-20th-century movement in the arts,    
                              architecture, and criticism that was a departure from modernism.[1]    
                                    [2Postmodernism articulates that the world is in a state of perpetual      
                              incompleteness and permanent unresolved. Postmodernism    
                              promotes the notion of radical pluralism; that there are many 
                              ways of knowing, and many truths to a fact. From a postmodern 
                              perspective knowledge is articulated from perspectives, with all its     
                              uncertainties, complexity and paradox.   
                                                               (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/)

       Christianity is  objectively, eternally, true for all. There is only one God who created everything. He gave us His one and only son, Jesus Christ, who was fully God and fully human. He was raised from the dead to pay the penalty for our sins. If you believe these things then you shall be saved. We were given the Bible, where every word is the inerrant truth to help guide us through life, so we needn’t be confused.
       Hmmm, I hear doubt or hesitation in your voice. You question this authority. I understand. It’s not quite like deciding which is the perfect meal — chicken or pizza?  Experience, science, tangible evidence, nowadays, seems to be more highly valued. Truth, becomes relative. If the Bible, however, is not our source for absolute truth, then what is? Is it the guy standing on the street corner with a sign saying, “Repent of coffee. It is the devils food”? Is that an absolute truth? To him it may be. If everyone has their own “absolute truth” to live by, though, or that truth changes with the tides then where will it take you? What wave will carry you away to another belief system or idea? When a philosophical paradigm shift begins to unravel or disqualify biblical truths, then where are we left?  Not a pretty place, I would proffer. 
       The good news is it doesn’t have to be that way. Christianity does offer experiences and scientific tangible evidence that there is one God who created the heavens and the earth. The evidence is so awe-inspiring that those who cannot see, and do not hear have simply closed off their heart and brain to the truth. They find it all too confusing and unimaginable that they sweep it under the carpet to be thought of at a later time. It’s so much easier to worry about what socks  you’ll wear that day or where you’ll have dinner on Friday night than to contemplate eternity.  
       Eternity is time without end. There is no Confusion  there. I know where I’ll be spending it. Do you?

For your edification check out these websites for further “scientific” evidence and study. 






       

Saturday, October 24, 2015



This blog entry was written for ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) It is written for writers, but it can just as well hold merit for anyone who needs to "get ir done"!



What Inspires Us


       I’m making an assumption here, but I believe we all need to be inspired by something when we first put pen to paper – or fingers to keys, as the case may be. Whether it’s a deadline looming, the proverbial sunrise making it’s entrance on a new day, or simply wanting 30 minutes of alone time with a cup of tea to ponder ideas, there is always something that pushes us forward to write. Whatever it is, there’s usually a je ne sais quoi moment when the light bulb goes on. And when that happens, it’s awesome. However…when the light bulb is dim or has no electric current running through it, what is a person to do? Stick their finger in a socket? I think not.
       If you are one of the lucky ones whose brain turns on like a switch, and your fingers begin tapping across the keyboard like a woodpecker searching for bugs on a tree, then kudos to you.  I, on the other hand, am more like a sloth making his way up a tree trunk in search of a new branch of leaves. In the end, it doesn’t really matter how we get there, as long as we get there.
       I have two things that work for me. First I ask the Lord to give me guidance and wisdom everyday, whatever task I am facing. Then I set about doing it. Seriously, if I have something to write that needs done I go into military mode or Nike mode. You know, just “get it done”.  I sit down and I don’t let myself get up until a spark of an idea has grown into a full-blown fire, even if it’s a sloth like fire. I will steal slightly from the US Postal Service Creed. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays this courier from her swift completion of her appointed round. And, if I may add, even a bladder full of hot tea!
       This course of action may not work for everyone, bit I’ve found through the years if you look for excuses to not “get it done” you will always find them. I am not talking just about writing here. I am talking about everything in life. From cleaning windows, to picking up fall leaves, to making a date to go ice-skating while you still can.  If you put off life until a moment inspires you, then you may miss the inspiring moment. And life is full of them. I just recently cleaned my kitchen windows only to look up and catch a hummingbird hovering, it’s wings beating around 80 times per second, staring back at me. Wow. I stood motionless in wonder at Gods creation. If I hadn’t made an appointment with myself to get the windows done look what I would have missed. Everyday, every hour, every second is full of God galvanizing moments that should not only spark writing ideas, but should ignite a love for the life the Lord created for us, dirty windows and all. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

God of Amazing


(It's 6 minutes, (CLICK ABOVE)  but well worth the watch and listen!)








Also, a new christian song sung by a daughter of friends of mine. Beautiful song, beautiful voice. Here, in her own words, is how it came about. Enjoy listening, but hopefully you'll think about purchasing it from iTunes, like I did.

Hello friends & family!
I'm so excited to share my latest project with you! :-) Here's the backstory in a nutshell:
I had the privilege of leading worship for the Heartbeat International conference in April, with my favorite teammate, Rachel Hurt. (Heartbeat is a Christian pro-life organization with a worldwide network of pregnancy help centers.) A couple months prior, I had attended a worship & prayer event here in Nashville & heard a brand new *amazing* song written by the worship leader... and thought, "that is our theme song for Heartbeat!!!" :-) He gave his blessing for us to lead the song at the conference, and the over 1,000 attendees fell in love with it, just as I did! People kept asking for the song but it wasn't available anywhere... so... I got permission to record it myself, and it is now finally available!!! 

Love & Blessings,
Lauren

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

SEE ORIGINAL POST ON ACFW's WEBSITE



The Lost Art of Hand Writing

Stone, clay, copper, silver, parchment and papyrus were all used to write upon during biblical times. I can’t even begin to imagine the tedium in writing just a quick note to a friend. If I had to produce the clay or cut down the reeds to make the papyrus, I would probably forgo any written communication. I’ve read it took Paul, or Paul’s secretary, when writing to the Thessalonians, about 11 sheets of papyrus and 20 hours to complete. Let’s put that more succinctly. If when I finish this blog, and its approximately 500 words, then it would take me more than 4 to 5 hours to finish. Good grief, Charlie Brown! I will try never to complain again about having a writing deadline.

Of course that informational excursion led me to ponder how beautifully our Declaration of Independence and Constitution were written. The penmanship was almost like a piece of art. Again, I wonder how much writing would I, or could I do with my carpel tunnel wrist, if I had to handwrite with quill pen and ink? Hmm? When typewriters were invented the ease of writing became much more fluid. I have to admit I own 2 of them. I will pound at the keys just to hear the lovely clickety click, but again, much more time consuming than a computer. The ease of writing has made written communication quicker and more immediate, but what has been lost in the translation of being expedient? When I read texts, mine included, I sometimes gasp at the errancy of it all.

When once in a blue moon, which by the way happened last month, I receive a handwritten letter, it’s almost like receiving a Christmas or birthday gift. I know it took effort and time and care. I can picture the individual sitting down and thoughtfully creating the words as they move their pen along the page. It’s like seeing a bit of history in the making. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for my laptop and for the multitude of blogs and books and articles I can read and or write at the push of a button, but some days I long for a beautiful well thought out hand written note. Imagine the world without the 278 written words that began with, “Four score and seven years ago…” When I see the original online version, I try and picture Lincoln on the long train ride to Gettysburg and wonder about all the thoughts going through his head in that moment. That doesn't seem to happen too often when I’m reading things written in Times New Roman or Sans-serif.

After all is said and done, I will continue to open up my laptop and tap away, but every once and a while, like this afternoon, I think I will pull out a piece of pretty stationery and write a quick note to a friend or relative. Write on dear friends; write on.



Writing: A Gift From the Lord

Writing. I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me to put my thoughts on paper is a driving force. However, if no one reads my words, is it like the proverbial tree in the forest – when it falls, does it really make a sound? If no one else reads my words, then what good are they? Do they make a difference? Perhaps every writer, famed or not, feels this way.

The Lord provides each of us with gifts. The bible even makes a list. Romans 12: 6-8 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. 

Great writing, I believe, is a gift from the Lord, but doesn’t meaningful writing from the heart have its place too? If we believe we have some modicum of talent, and we believe we are the Lords creation, then shouldn’t we use that talent? I ask this of myself quite often. I hold no awards, no accolades from prominent publishers, not even a book deal, but yet I strive on. And to what purpose I ask myself? In the end, I suppose, I write not for scads of money or fame…thank goodness, since I haven’t acquired either…but because I cannot not write.

Aristotle once said, “The exercise of vital powers, along lines of excellence, in a life affording scope.” Like many, I assume, I am driven to write, to exercise my vital powers regularly. I have a blog. It’s an outlet to express my beliefs and emotions, but there’s another more important reason. I pray that just one person will glean something meaningful from my ramblings. I like to imagine my words moving my readers, whether to laughter or tears or to simply ponder life more deeply. I want to know they are making a difference; perhaps I even need to know they are making a difference. A hundred or a thousand years from now, if the world still exists, will any of my words be quoted like Aristotle? Even if I believe the answer to be no, it won’t stop me. And I pray it doesn’t stop any writer from striving for the possibility. For now, I pray everyone endeavoring to reach others through their words finds success in a way that best suits them. Whether it is fame, or fortune, or fulfillment, or one more friend on their blog page. For now, in such a time as this, it is in placing the words on paper that keep my dream alive and therefore hopefully, builds the dreams of others. Write on dear friends. Write on.