Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Worshipping Only One God (Mark 12:28-30)

28One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" 29"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.[e] 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'

As Jesus taught to this teacher of the law, the most important commandment is to not worship any other gods, and to worship God with everything you got.

Now when most people hear that the most important commandment basically tells them to not worship any other gods they are relieved. They are relieved because they know for a fact that they don't worship any weird animal creature idols, or practice witchcraft.

The thing which they are forgetting is that sometimes 'worshiping' another 'god' can take many forms.

It is easy getting used to 'worship' something such as money, because of the instant gratification which it brings. This is often the case with things which humans fall subject to 'worshiping'.

But what is the big deal, why can I not pursue things such as money, It's not like I am too obsessed with it.

Well that would be where the second part of the most important commandment comes in.

30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'

How will you be able to love God with all your heart, and soul, when you are busy with these other 'gods'.

It is very important to be able to identify these false 'gods' in your life and deal with them as soon as possible. Deal with them, and you will be able to devote more of yourself to God.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Did Medieval Church Builders Miss The Point?

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Italy and Greece on a two week History / Art trip that is offered by my school. I was lucky enough to travel to several of the famous churches in the reigion, including: The Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's Basilica both in The Vatican, The Duomo in Milan, and also St. Mark's Basilica in Venice.

We had visited The Duomo first and I was in awe of the massive size of it. It felt neat to be in a church like that and it invoked a very humbling feeling. It was generally modest, and I felt that it really hit the nail on the head as how a really BIG church should be like.

Our second stop was to Venice, and St. Mark's basilica, I was not as impressed with this one. For one, one of the most famous features of St. Mark's, are these giant bronze horse statues adorning the front. Now these statues came to St. Mark's when Constantinople sent some of his loot that he acquired during the 4th crusade. I took issue with having these huge, you could say, idols, adorning the front of this church.

And the inside of St. Mark's was nice enough, with tapestries telling the whole biblical story. Yet I was appalled, yes appalled, when I saw a gift shop inside the church. It was selling small trinkets and post-cards, just general souvenir stuff. I have failed to grasp how those who run St. Mark's could have allowed this. The gift shop being located outside of the church would've been slightly more acceptable, but have they never read Matthew 21:12.

12Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.

As we continued our trip we travelled to Rome and were able to visit the Vatican. I thought the Sistine Chapel was awesome. The artwork was really beautiful, seeing Michaelangelo's frescoes were amazing. For those of you who don't know, Michaelangelo had to "prove" himself as a painter in this chapel, and he surpassed all expectations painting both "The Creation of Man", and "The Last Judgement" shown below.

Our next stop was St. Peter's basilica also located in the Vatican. What disappointed me about this church, was that it was almost too marvelous. The builders seem to have really missed the point, huge statues adorn the walls, and the place is absolutely massive. I saw this splendour not as being in the glorification of God, but more to make this church better then all other churches around. I felt as if the church builders were competing for their own glory, not God's.

During my trip I was taken aback by the splendor of these churches, but I also felt conflicted. The Bible reminds us to live modestly, so why have all these churches completely ignored that lesson. Do not these churches encourage a lavish lifestyle, and also encourage a parading of that wealth.

Unfortunately these churches will remain an everlasting testament to man's misdirection, and our incapability to follow the lessons which God has laid out for us.

Friday, March 02, 2007

The Story of Legion

One of my favourite stories in The Bible is found in Mark 5:1-20, it is the story of Legion.

I will give a brief summary. So basically Jesus saw a man whom was filled with demons, that lived in a cave. This being called itself Legion because the demons referred to themselves as many spirits. These spirits drove the man into seclusion and made the man cut himself with stones. So Jesus sends the demons into some pigs which go and drown themselves and the man is cured.

There is one important point I would like to highlight.

After Jesus cures this man he wants to follow Jesus and travel with him, but Jesus will not let him and says,

"Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you." 20So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis[c]how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

Much the way Jesus instructs this man to minister to the people in Decapolis (just East of Lake Galilee), Jesus also wants all Christians to share the story of Jesus with others. And the best place to start spreading Jesus' message is by sharing his story with those that are close to you. The trust that you share with people close to you helps when talking about such important matters as God, especially when the whole 'religion' thing is foreign to them. Take initiative to share your faith with others.

Hey you never know, you may just change someone's life.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Biblical Sea Monsters and Dragons, No Way!!!

When I heard about sea monsters and dragons being mentioned in the Bible I was definitley intrigued. I have done a bit of research in The Bible and will give you the basic run down of Biblical monsters.

First I come to Rahab the dragon. Let us not though confuse this dragon with Rahab the prostitute who is discussed in Joshua 2:1-21. Anyways this dragon, Rahab, is mentioned a couple of times in The Bible. First he is mentioned in Job 9:13,

13 God does not restrain his anger; even the cohorts of Rahab cowered at his feet.

From this passage we can see that Rahab must have been very powerful, since it seems to show that it is rare that Rahab and his cohorts would ever cower at someone's feet.

Rahab is involved in a story that most likely was somewhat of a fairy-tale in biblical times. This story details how Rahab becomes defeated. This is why the word Rahab is used in The Bible sometimes to describe the country of Egypt, take Isaiah 30:7 for example.

7 to Egypt, whose help is utterly useless. Therefore I call her Rahab the Do-Nothing.

Another monster which is more well known in The Bible is the Leviathan. The first mention of it comes in The Bible at Job 3:8, Job refers to him while he was cursing the day he was born, and refers to Leviathan as a sleeping sea monster.

8 May those who curse days [a] curse that day, those who are ready to rouse Leviathan.

A much greater description comes later in Job in chapter 41. Job is listening to what The Lord is having to say, and God mentions Leviathan a few times, warning against fighting it, saying that there is no hope in defeating it, here are some selected quotes that describe the Leviathan,

8 If you lay a hand on him,
you will remember the struggle and never do it again!

9 Any hope of subduing him is false;
the mere sight of him is overpowering.

14 Who dares open the doors of his mouth,
ringed about with his fearsome teeth?

15 His back has [b] rows of shields
tightly sealed together;

16 each is so close to the next
that no air can pass between.

17 They are joined fast to one another;
they cling together and cannot be parted.

20 Smoke pours from his nostrils as from a boiling pot over a fire of reeds. 26 The sword that reaches him has no effect, nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin. 33 Nothing on earth is his equal— a creature without fear.

There is also mention of Leviathan in Psalms. In Psalm 74, there are quotes exalting God for his strength where these creatures are mentioned.

13 It was you who split open the sea by your power;
you broke the heads of the monster in the waters.

14 It was you who crushed the heads of Leviathan
and gave him as food to the creatures of the desert.

There is also mention of Leviathan in the book of Isaiah. While Isaiah is prophesying about a day The Lord will dole out some punishment he mentions this,

1 In that day, the LORD will punish with his sword, his fierce, great and powerful sword, Leviathan the gliding serpent, Leviathan the coiling serpent; he will slay the monster of the sea.

So what to make of all these crazy monsters which appear in The Bible?

For me I take the mentions of these monsters a mere device to make a point. I doubt that these monsters actually existed, and they were commonly known mythological creatures. We should look at these monsters as actual living things, but rather look at their mention as an attempt to try and rationalize God's strength.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Goodbye Mike Fleming

At first today seemed like any old normal Saturday. I was relieved to sleep in and to read the morning paper in front of my fireplace. As I headed out for basketball I read a message in Facebook that I was to call Matt Wilkinson (my LIT small group leader), it was something about Mike. I hardly even considered the possibility that something of this magnitude had happened, but I soon came to realize that it was true, my friend from camp, was dead.

As I read over the news article I was stunned to say the least.

I have never really dealt with anything like this before. In my life so far there have been no major tragedies or losses which I have had to overcome. I was not really sure how to deal with it, I cried, I prayed, and I looked back on the memories which me and Mike shared together. While I was looking back I started to fully realize how great of a person Mike was.

For one, he was a very positive person. I remember on our canoe trip when he was making Shepherd's Pie and mashed potatoes, and decided to mix the two into a unique "Shepherd's Stew". He used his advanced culinary skills to make something out of nothing, and the end result was amazing. Shepherd's Stew turned out to be the best meal on the whole trip.

Mike was always a very funny guy and he could always bring a smile to your face. Mike was the front-man in our group the "OPC Boys". He possessed a certain sureness and swagger when performing, and showed his amazing personality with his ability to play the part of a member in a boy band. He was a really creative and funny, he was the type of person that was sure to make you laugh.
I cannot imagine what his immediate family is going through right now. It must be very hard for them to lose their son to a car accident. I was clear that his parents were strong Christians, with outstanding values, because of the way Mike was.

Although I did not know Mike for very long, we shared many great memories. I see this as a testament to the type of man he was. Michael Fleming lived life to the fullest and always kept a high energy level. His energy and enthusiasm rubbed off on everyone that he was around, and made the LIT experience for everyone better.
Another characteristic of Mike that really stood out was that he was a genuinely nice person. Mike would go out of his way to help those around him. I recall the LIT observation day at AC where a kind act by Mike really stood out to me. He was paired up with a special needs boy in a wheel chair, and when the campers decided to choose tag as their game of choice, this boy felt somewhat left out. In this scenario Mike really rose to the occasion and gave this boy a piggy back for the game's duration, a real classy move. The boy was overjoyed to say the least as he was whisked around the playground by Mike.

Mike was a great role-model. Just by being around him, it was obvious that everyone (me included), looked up to him in one way or another. He was a great friend to everyone, and was an stellar example of a Christian man. Mike possessed exemplary values and morals, and it showed through his actions.

It just seems so unfair that Mike was taken from us. It seems that you hear about things like this on the news everyday, but never in a million years do you think it could ever happen to you. I can hardly get over the fact that such a strong Christian, devout in his faith, could be taken at this age.

This tragedy sort of puts one's life into perspective. I complain about stupid little things, and get upset over trivialities. Yet when all things are taken into account, the things that upset us usually hardly affect us at all. We should be exceedingly grateful with the life we have, especially due to the fact that we are comparatively so well off compared to the rest of the world. Sometimes we forget to just celebrate the fact that we live in a great country, with great people, and have limitless opportunities at our fingertips.

Michael Fleming is a man which we can all learn something from. There were so many things about him that made him a great man. He had a great personality, was fun to be with, he was a positive role model, and a devout Christian.

It is comforting to know that Michael is now with God in Heaven.

Mike I cannot wait until the day I see you again, for you are such an awesome person. I will always remember the summer we spent together, and the things you taught me.

I love you


1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,

3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.

4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death, [a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Tips On Grace

I've seen quite a few graces said in my day to thank God just before a meal. And through all this experience I have realized what makes a good grace, and have decided to put these in a step by step guide of how to say a good grace.

Step 1:
Thank God for bringing everyone together, and also thank him for the food which you are about to eat. Celebrate the fact that everyone can enjoy one and others company, and that you have been blessed to have this food.

Step 2:
Thank God for a characteristic which he possesses. Maybe thank him for his forgivingness, or thank him for his love for all of us.

Step 3:
Pray for someone other then you. Ask God to watch over someone you know, or maybe even ask God to help watch over a world event that is affecting many people.

Step 4:
Wrap it up. Keep grace relatively short so no one grows impatient. Develop a ending line that is uniquely yours and wrap it up. e.g. Bless this food to our body, and bless the hands that prepared it, Amen.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Top Christian New Years Resolutions

Well I have posted a few Top Christian Lists about Christmas so I thought I should try to write about the best new years resolutions to strengthen your faith...

6. Attend Church Weekly

Perhaps the easiest resolution you can make which will help you with your faith is to attend church weekly. Going to church will connect you to other Christians within your area, and it will also help you better understand God's teachings. It's not that hard, only about two hours a week and you can still make it home in time for the NFL.

5. Read the Bible

It differs how much each individual person can read the Bible routinely. Even if it is once a week, or maybe set a goal to finish the New Testament this year, reading The Bible will help you understand God's teachings better in the new year.

4. Donate to Charity Regularly

Donating to charity is a great way to show your generosity and to have a positive impact on the world. Set aside loose change, or take a small amount off each paycheck and earmark it for charity. Find a charity that really resonates with you to give yourself a greater drive to stick to a plan.

3. Volunteer

Find a local charity that could use some help, and take the step to volunteer with them. Even if you have a busy schedule a little volunteering is better then none. Volunteering is not only a great way to help out, but it is also a great place to meet new friends, have fun, and create lasting memories. On a side note, I volunteered at a camp during the summer and was having such a great time it hardly felt like volunteer work. So my advice is to go out and try it!

2. Relax

What good is a whole year if there is no time to relax. God encourages relaxing, as showcased by him taking the seventh day of the creation of the world off. Don't overload yourself with activity, make sure there is ample time to just sit back and relax.

and the number one Christian new years resolution is...

1. Start A Christian Blog

I have only had this blog for a couple of months and looking back starting this is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Through this blog I have encouraged myself to research scripture, and examine the Christian faith. Also I have received a lot of encouragement which tells me I am doing something right! I encourage everyone to give it a shot, and see where it takes you. And even if writing is not your thing there are many other avenues to celebrate your Christianity in your own personal way.

Have A Happy New Years!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

How To Teach Your Kids A Lesson With Presents

In continuation to "Putting the Christ back in Christmas" I thought I would compile a list of presents you can give children this Christmas that will no doubt teach them a valuable lesson.

1. Donation to Charity

Have your children find a charity which hits close to home with them. And then give them a set amount of money to donate to the charity. A great way to get your kids involved. Hint: tip your kids off to a charity called Child's Play, no doubt they will be excited to donate to a charity that gives kids in the hospital a chance to play video games!

2. Toy Drive Shopping Spree

Before Christmas, take your kids for a toy shopping spree (with a limit). Have them select toys for different age levels and genders, and then take them to a donation site for them to drop it off. This is also a great opportunity to find what your kids want for Christmas.

3. The Joy Of Giving

Before Christmas give your children an arts and crafts set, or anything else which they can use to make presents for others (especially something to make Christmas ornaments). Not only will the recipients cherish a hand made gift, but your kids will also get to experience the joys of giving.

4. A Bible

Giving your kids Bibles will ensure that they will be knowledgeable of the true Christmas story. Sign the front of the bible and leave a personalized message so they will cherish it for years to come. For a personal touch add and insert which has the name and locations of your favourite bible stories.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Putting The Christ Back In Christmas

As a child I always looked forward to Christmas. The presents, the meals, the snow, and did I mention the presents, made me eagerly await Christmas each year. Yet now that I reflect back on previous Christmas seasons I realize how they have helped me grow in my Christian faith, here are a few tips for parents I have thought up to bring the Christ back in Christmas for their kids.

1. Say Grace
What better way to teach your kids about Christianity then by giving thanks to God. Getting them involved by encouraging them to say the family grace is a GREAT idea.

2. Read The Nativity Story
A great way to remind kids what Christmas is really all about is to read them the real Christmas story. (Luke 2)

3. Spend Time With The Family
Christianity stresses the family as a unit, and showing your kids a good time with the family will help them appreciate it more. Anything from putting up the Christmas tree, or helping everyone bake cookies, there are countless opportunities for them to spend time with the family.

4. Give To Charity
Help your kids understand the importance of generosity by giving to a charity. To really get your kids involved make them research different charities and pick the one they want.

5. Christmas Songs
Listen to some Christmas songs, most of them are related to Jesus' birth

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Eden (Genesis 2:8)

Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.

The garden of Eden is one of the most famous settings in the Old Testament. Everyone knows, that the garden was a 'perfect' place (save for the serpent) which God gave humans, in exchange for not eating from the tree. The garden had lush trees and an abundance of water, and also the garden was a place where God freely walked amongst humans.

Yet what many Christians and Jews alike don't know is the origin of the word 'Eden'. The word comes from the Sumerians who occupied the southern part of Mesopotamia from around 3500-2500 BC. 'Eden' was a word which in Sumerian language meant wild grassland of the south. With this knowledge in hand many have attempted to find this paradise, yet to no avail.

Watch out for some more installments on Old Testament / Mesopotamian history.