Monday, September 26, 2016

The discovery of 2000 year old Leviticus fragment

What were the original languages the Bible was written in? How did we get the Bible? Was the Bible corrupted by men when they were translated?

Good questions!

The Bible was written in two main languages, Hebrew in the Old Testament, and Greek for the New Testament. Two other languages appear briefly. One of them is Aramaic. A few chapters in Ezra and Daniel were originally in Aramaic and one verse in Jeremiah, also.

There are a few words in another, fourth language that appears extremely briefly for a few words in Job, and that's Ugaritic. The Ugaritic does't impact the original Bible's reading and interpreting because of the minute amount the Bible contains, but Ugaritic does help to understand the Hebrew overall.

Two thousand tablets written in Ugaritic were discovered in 1929. The Kingdom of Ugarit was located in Syria, and was a thriving kingdom of the late Bronze Age (1570 - 1200 BC.) It co-existed with the Hebrew tribes and,
The Ugaritic texts offer innumerable literary and religious parallels to biblical literature. The parallels are so rich and in some cases so specific that it is evident that the Ugaritic texts do not merely provide parallels, but belong to a shared or overlapping cultural matrix with the Hebrew Bible. (Source)
The Ugaritic language was almost letter for letter identical to Hebrew, and where a Hebrew word was unknown or difficult to interpret in context, the Ugaritic texts helped as a kind of Rosetta Stone in interpreting the difficult Hebrew biblical word properly.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Kay Cude poetry: Everlasting Mercy

Kay Cude poetry, used with permission. Click picture to enlarge

Artist's Statement:

I am consistently drawn to Dore's work! And each time I utilize one of his profoundly sensitive pieces, I imagine that as he worked on his wood plates, he had no concept of their enduring qualities or that centuries later I and others would be drawn to use them in our efforts to magnify and praise God! How amazed Dore would be to know that his telling works now cover the earth through digital media, or that millions have seen God's glory through his pieces, and in a more profound way than he could even begin to imagine! Isn't God just so very wise! His plans to make Himself and His Christ known through art and other forms of media makes our intuitiveness very pale! I believe God selects those desiring to serve Him in this manner and uses their work (spiritual gifts) for His purpose...

More on artist and engraver Gustave Dore and his fabulous and evocative works, many of which are biblical scenes.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Why you must forgive yourself

Recently I'd read the essay 7 Dangers of Embracing Mere Therapeutic Forgiveness and posted a link to it from this blog. The essay focused on the truth of forgiving others.
I’ve been preaching the past couple weeks on forgiveness. In preparing I’ve found Chris Brauns’ work, Unpacking Forgiveness, to be immensely helpful. A position that I have held for awhile now is that forgiveness isn’t simply about us. We don’t forgive someone primarily because we release ourselves from some prison of bitterness. Though that is certainly a benefit—we forgive because God forgave us.
Recently in a coincidence, our pastor explained the same concept, but from a different perspective. We usually focus more on the process and benefits of forgiving others, but what about forgiving ourselves? The scene he was preaching through was from Genesis 45. Joseph is revealing himself to his brothers, who had sold Joseph into slavery 13 years prior. He is reassuring his brothers that he is not angry and will not harm them. Genesis 45:5 says,

And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.

Joseph is a picture of Jesus. Joseph did the unthinkable, he forgave his brothers for selling him into lsavery and conspiring to murder him. Yet ... note the part of the verse that says 'do not be angry with yourselves'. People in the church today have made up this brand new phrase. It's not anywhere in the Bible. It goes like this- "I know that God has forgiven me, but I just can't forgive myself." My pastor had explained it this way,
It’s a phrase that has become very popular in church circles. 'I know that God of the Universe has forgiven me, big deal. The REAL issue is I just can’t forgive myself.' I heard someone explain this issue in a way that shines new light, sheds new light on this issue. It made me never want to use the phrase. This is what I heard from one pastor. He said, "If you’re saying that if I know God has forgiven me, but I’m still angry at myself, I still can’t forgive myself, what you’re saying is, the blood of Jesus may be good enough for God, but the blood of Jesus is not good enough for me. I have higher standards than the God of the universe." This means you have put yourself above God and you have higher standards than God. 
Also as an example, let’s say you did something at work, and you got fired. You did it. You did something wrong and you got fired. You say I know it was sinful and I’ve repented. I know God forgave me for this but I lost my job and I’m still mad at myself. I can’t forgive myself for what I did. This is a sign in that moment that the job was actually more important than God. The job had become my God-replacement. I was getting my meaning, my purpose, my worth and value, my joy. Now that I’ve ruined it, I just can’t move on. That would be an evidence that God hasn’t taken first place yet in your life.
Forgiveness is an attribute of God which demands our attention because it's so integral to the Gospel. Jesus forgives us our original sin unto justification:

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14).

Jesus forgives us our sins post-salvation when we repent:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:19).

In this verse, we learn about the infinite-ness of forgiveness. Such forgiveness includes riches of His grace (which is infinite), how it is dispensed (lavishly), and that it's made known to us in all wisdom and insight.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Ephesians 1:7-10)

Do we have more wisdom than God and more insight as regards forgiveness within the place of His plan? What a ghastly thought! However that is exactly what we are saying when we say we know that God forgives us, but we just can't seem to forgive ourselves.

On the surface it might sound pious and humble to say that you can't forgive yourself, but it isn't. If you knew you sinned and asked Jesus to forgive you, He has. Leave it with Him and go on about your business in confidence of His love and according to the riches of His grace.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Does God speak in unidentified promptings?

A quick lesson on discerning a meme. I saw this on Facebook. Here is a lesson on how to parse the silly sayings we see on social media. Let;s take it apart phrase by phrase and really think about what it is trying to communicate.

"Unidentified promptings" contradicts his word on the face of it, because He always identified Himself as the One speaking. Even when God spoke to pagans they knew this was an authoritative and undeniable voice of a God they must obey.

Would God speak behind a veil of uncertainty as to the source? No, never. Further, the Lord never spoke unclearly to an audience. He was always open and authoritative when He spoke. (Matthew 7:29). Did the Lord say "I shall give Pharaoh unidentified promptings to let My people go"? (Exodus 4:22). Does Exodus 7:17 say, "Thus prompts the LORD in unidentified manner, In this thou shalt strongly suspect through an inner voice that I am the LORD: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in mine hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood. Probably. If you discern the prompting correctly."

In addition, if the promptings are unidentified, how do you know they are from God? We know the devil speaks. (John 8:44). We know our own heart speaks too, for out of it come evil thoughts--murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander; says Matthew 15:19. Why would you want to risk acting upon something that could either be from the devil or your own dark heart?

Third, do you ever act on unidentified promptings in other cases in real life? If an unidentified voice whispered over the intercom at work to go do something, would you? If an unidentified voice left on your phone messages urged you to an action, would you do it? No. You'd probably say 'This is creepy' and delete the message or ignore the intercom. Why risk following an unidentified prompting that more than likely is coming from the devil or your own foolish heart?

Next, 'promptings' cannot be confirmed by the word. A prompting is a nebulous, gossamer thought like the last remnant of a dream you're trying to hold on to before full consciousness erases it. How can the word of God confirm something so tenuous? In the Bible, is there a Book of Unidentified Promptings to which we turn blank pages and write our own indefinite and unclear words in invisible ink?

Last, 'promptings' are not a communication. They are an unidentified feeling, more than likely generated by ourselves from ourselves to ourselves.

Mr Swindoll's is a ridiculous statement. Leave the unidentified promptings alone. Better to just read God's word, make decisions according to His commands and precepts, and take responsibility for them.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Necessary Angst

The natural man knows there is a God. We know this because he suppresses this truth in unrighteousness. (Romans 1:18). There is no such thing as an innocent pagan. Deep down they know there is a God, and if they know there is a God they know they do wrong (sin) and someone has to call them to account for it. (Romans 1:19-22).

I remember before coming to the Lord at age 43, I'd pursued all sorts of lines of questioning. The basic unanswered question that drove me was this:it seemed ridiculous to assume that man's life ended at death. For man to have 'evolved' over millions of years only to life a short life of 40 or 50 or 70 years and then die for good seemed a waste. And if man's life did not end at death but continued in some sort of afterlife, how was it decided who got in? It seemed equally ridiculous that everyone got in. That would simply replicate life on earth, and so, what would make it heaven? I mean, would Hitler get in? It was logical to think there was some sort of standard. But what? And there my queries ended, because I could not understand the Jesus-blood-resurrection part of it. That seemed illogical, so I abandoned the issue. But the issue remained in my heart and mind, like a burr under a horse's saddle. I had angst about it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Prata Potpourri: Slogans, Relief, Contentment, Evil Suspicions, Hillbillies, more

At our school cafeteria the kids (or adults, lol) can purchase ice cream. Cones, Fudgsicles, Pop-Ups, and more, for 75 cents. One of the little kids excitedly told me that "Mom is going to let me get an ice cream every day on Friday!" I said, "Every day on Friday?" "YUP!" He said, his eyes agleam with thoughts of sugar high and forehead freeze.

It got me thinking about time. The child's sense of time of course is hugely distorted. One hour seems like a day, one day seems like a year, one year seems like a lifetime. As we grow, that refines. We develop a sense of time which is more accurate. But accurate to what? Time is a tool man uses, an invention of God, only finalized into the thing we know today during the industrial revolution when they needed the trains to run on time and not crash into each other. The General Time Convention was set up in 1853. Before that, people used sundials, mostly, or the sun itself.

In a school my day is segmented almost every hour by bells or schedules, and the clock. It's rigid. I've written before about the Tyranny of the Clock and our release from it, and yet thinking about living in no time, in eternity, is incomprehensible. What will that be like? I don't know. It might just be like every day on Friday.


At Banner of Truth there's a piece on slogans and deception. Oooh, an essay on language! "The problem lies not only with the corrupt and dishonest manipulation of words, but also with a kind of zealous sincerity."

Are you suffering? Going through an exceedingly difficult time? Um, God May Postpone Your Relief for His Glory

Always looking ahead, and never satisfied with where you are now? Christa says, "Contentment is found when I am truly grateful to God for who and where I am right now. If I’m not grateful today, why do I assume my gratefulness level will increase tomorrow?" Hm, good point. Read more here Always Reaching For the Next Big Thing [& how to stop]

There are some sins we don't think much about committing, or if we do, we deem them somewhat respectable. I wrote about the Crooked Speech of Gossip and at the blog Counseling One Another we learned about the Sin of Talking Too Much, and here is Charlene M. Nelson at Come To Christ with thoughts on the sin of Evil Suspicions.

It's a heartbreak for many different reasons when a pastor falls. It's a blot on the name of Jesus. It's a devastating impact on his church. It's a vivid reminder that the seeming mightiest still succumb to sin. We see many pastors tumble, but there are also many pastors who preach for decades and are mightily blessed. What makes the difference? "It is not the most able who are blessed in their ministry, but the most holy." Eric McKiddie has Something Pastors and Preachers Always Need to Be Reminded Of

Dystopia is real, and it is almost here. Which dystopia do you see as a closer reality: Orwell's 1984? or Huxley's Brave New World? Aaron Earls at The Wardrobe Door has some thoughts about The American Church's Real Enemy. If you read that piece, it would be great to follow up with Calling the Church To Repent.

I remember those days. Melissa at Your Mom Has a Blog says Don’t Live for a Compliment from Your Husband

I really like DebbieLynne's writing. Here at The Outspoken Tulip, she discusses Sending Something You Can't.

Samuel D. James with some thoughts on the new book 'Hillbilly Elegy', a book about faith in Appalachia.

The official definition of Finstagram? Finstagram (Finsta) is a fake (or second) Instagram account. Students, usually girls, get a second Instagram account along with their real Instagrams. (Rinstagrams), to post silly pictures or videos. Finstagrams are intimate online spaces intended for an audience of friends, with the number of followers purposely kept in the low double digits. The kids tell it like it is: ” use it to trick their parents into following them there when in reality they have a second ‘true’ account”. Yeah.

Here is Robin Schumacher (a writer whom I love) with a slideshare on The Pattern of All False Religions

Take care and enjoy the day. Remember, for those who are in Jesus, there is no condemnation. (Romans 8:1).

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Consider the sparrow

I haven't done a natural history essay for a while. Paying attention to the plants, animals, and agricultural processes of the Bible is worthwhile because knowing more about them enhances our understanding of the context in which the particular verse is delivered to us. I've written of other natural history topics previously, and the links are below, if you're interested.

In Matthew 10:29-31 we read that the sparrow is considered the least of birds. The Cornell Ornithology lab describes a sparrow this way,
You can find House Sparrows most places where there are houses (or other buildings), and few places where there aren’t. Along with two other introduced species, the European Starling and the Rock Pigeon, these are some of our most common birds. Their constant presence outside our doors makes them easy to overlook.
Even more specifically, the Bible Encyclopedia describes the sparrows of Israel thus,
The Hebrew tsippor seems to have been a generic name under which were placed all small birds that frequented houses and gardens. The word occurs about 40 times in the Bible, and is indiscriminately translated "bird" "fowl" or "sparrow." ... Sparrows are small brown and gray birds of friendly habit that swarm over the northern part of Israel, and West of the Sea of Galilee, where the hills, plains and fertile fields are scattered over with villages. They build in the vineyards, orchards and bushes of the walled gardens surrounding houses, on the ground or in nooks and crannies of vine-covered walls. They live on seeds, small green buds and tiny insects and worms. Some members of the family sing musically; all are great chatterers when about the business of life. (source)
I watch, and am become like a sparrow That is alone upon the housetop. (Psalm 102:7)
A sparrow is such a friendly bird that if it were on the housetop it would be surrounded by half a dozen of its kind; ... In an overwhelmed hour the Psalmist poured out his heart before the Almighty. The reason he said he was like a "sparrow that is alone upon the housetop" was because it is the most unusual thing in the world for a sparrow to sit mourning alone, and therefore it attracted attention and made a forceful comparison. It only happens when the bird's mate has been killed or its nest and young destroyed, and this most cheerful of birds sitting solitary and dejected made a deep impression on the Psalmist who, when his hour of trouble came, said he was like the mourning sparrow--alone on the housetop. (source)
From Manners & Customs of the Bible by Freeman and Chadwick, we read,
Greek strouthion, (stroo-thee’-on); diminutive of strouthos, (a sparrow); a little sparrow. Sparrows are mentioned among the offerings made by poor. Two sparrows were sold for a farthing, and five for two farthings (Luke 12:6). The Hebrew word thus rendered is tsippor, which properly denotes the whole family of small birds that feed on grain (Leviticus 14:4; Psalms 84:3; 102:7). 

From Henry Hart's The Animals Mentioned in the Bible (1888) we read the following-
The word tsippor has been already dealt with in most of the passages where it occurs, in which it is translated ‘bird’ or ‘fowl.’ In two passages in the Psalms, however, it is rendered ‘sparrow,’ and the term appears perhaps to refer to a particular species. Elsewhere it is generic. In Ps. 84:3 we read, ‘The sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even Thine altars, O Lord of Hosts, my King, and my God.’ Here the metaphor is one of rejoicing; and the Psalmist pours forth his heart in glad and beautiful verse, full of the hope that he too may be permitted to dwell in the house of his God.
Canon Tristram considers that the latter ‘sparrow’ may be the ‘blue thrush’ (Monticola cyanus), which is a common and conspicuous bird in Palestine and Southern Europe, solitary in its habits, and fond of sitting on a roof or any conspicuous eminence while uttering a plaintive cry.  It breeds in the ruins about the temple at Jerusalem. Other species of sparrow are found in the Jordan Valley, as the marsh sparrow (P. Hispaniolensis) and the Moabitish sparrow of Tristram (P. Moabiticus).
Hart, H. C. (1888). The Animals Mentioned in the Bible (p. 203). London: The Religious Tract Society.

It was common in the Middle East to catch sparrows (and most small birds) and skin them and roast them to sell for a tidbit. Thus we have the mention of them where the Lord says He notices each and every fall of the sparrow and thus we should be comforted because we are much more valuable than these small, commonly sold tidbit birds.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

What a gracious and loving God!


Further Reading



Making wine

Wheat v. darnel