LOYAL JAPANESE DOG WON’T FRIEND’S SIDE IN THE AFTERMATH OF TSUNAMI AND EARTHQUAKE IN JAPAN

March 18, 2011

ABOUT THIS VIDEO

This is one of the most touching videos. Amid all the sadness and tragedy in Japan right now, even dogs are bonding together. This dog in particular will not leave their injured friend’s side. What an amazing creature!


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WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT “THE FEAR OF THE LORD”

March 18, 2011

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.”

Psalms 111:10 KJV

The Lord is to be praised for his works. Here his everlasting righteousness shines forth in union with his boundless mercy. No man is wise who does not fear the Lord; no man acts wisely except as influenced by that fear. This fear will lead to repentance, to faith in Christ, to watchfulness and obedience. Such persons are of a good understanding, however poor, unlearned, or despised. The Bible mentions two specific types of fear. The first type is beneficial and is to be encouraged. The second type is a detriment and is to be overcome. The first type of fear is fear of the Lord. This type of fear does not necessarily mean to be afraid of something. Rather, it is a reverential awe of God; a reverence for His power and glory. However, it is also a proper respect for His wrath and anger. In other words, the fear of the Lord is a total acknowledgment of all that God is, which comes through knowing Him and His attributes. This is what Psalms 111:10 is telling you. However, the second type of fear mentioned in the Bible is not beneficial at all. This is the “spirit of fear” and it is mentioned in the bible here, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 KJV  No one is perfect, and God knows this. That is why He has liberally sprinkled encouragement against fear throughout the Bible. Beginning in the book of Genesis and continuing throughout the book of Revelation, God reminds us to “Fear not.” I looked it up and found out that fear or fear the of the Lord is in the bible around 150 times. He says in the bible, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 41:10 KJV  So what does the Lord require us to “fear in the Lord ?” It says in the bible, “what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?” Deuteronomy 10:12-13 KJV  “Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods;” Joshua 24:14:16 KJV One of the greatest fears people are fighting at this time is fear of financial loss and fear of the future since many of the prophets of God are declaring times of trouble and tribulation in the U.S.A. and the world. The Lord knew the hour we would be living in and we can rest assured He has a plan of protection and provision for all of His committed people. What we must all do is seek the Lord with our whole heart and get His plan for our lives since these are perilous times. The only safe place for any of us is in the will of God! The same principle applies to the spirit world. Once we have learned to put our trust in God, we will no longer be afraid of the things that come against us. We will be like the psalmist who said with confidence, “But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.” Psalms 5:11 KJV  God is love and that He can wash away all of our fears. He is for us and not against us. If our sins have been forgiven, then there is no fear of judgement. If there is no fear of judgement, there is no fear of death. If there is no fear in death, what do we have to fear in life? This is the beginning of wisdom. Fear God. If we are to walk this path that God calls us to, then we must have this healthy fear of the Lord to do what is right in the eyes of God, not in the eyes of this world. We must be the hands and feet and mouth pieces of God as a Christian. To “fear” the Lord God is to give Him the highest respect. For the believer, it is not a matter of feeling intimidated by Him or His character. But out of respect for His person and authority, we walk in all His ways and keep His commandments. Fear causes us to grasp what we have in faith in God to opens our hands and hearts to others so we can walk in His light.  So why not open up your heart to Him today and ask for forgiveness of your sins, because He is the One that died on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins so you could have the free gift of eternal life. Amen

By: Jeff Ellinger



NUCLEAR THREAT COMPLICATES JAPAN RELIEF EFFORTS

March 18, 2011

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.


Nuclear Threat Complicates Japan Relief Efforts
Campaign to End Persecution of Christians in North Korea
Iran Website Suspended after Reporting Bible Burning
Christians in Turkey Face Harassment; Murder Trial Stalls

Nuclear Threat Complicates Japan Relief Efforts

The danger of radiation from damaged nuclear reactors has greatly complicated Southern Baptist disaster relief efforts in Japan, one member of the assessment team said Tuesday. Baptist Press reports that the third explosion at a nuclear plant exposed fuel rods for several hours, sending radiation levels soaring to 163 times previous levels. The government responded by ordering people living within 19 miles of the nuclear complex to stay indoors to avoid exposure. “The crisis at the nuclear power plant further complicates the situation,” said one member of the Baptist Global Response disaster relief assessment team who arrived in Tokyo March 12. “Presently our ability to respond to the tsunami is minimal because access to the coastal areas is severely curtailed as the government responds to the crises in the area. We are concentrating our assessment on non-coastal areas where damage was caused by the earthquake.”

Campaign to End Persecution of Christians in North Korea

Human rights group Release International is urging christians to pray for their fellow believer in North Korea as part of a new campaign. Christian Today reports that the One Day campaign also asks people to sign a petition calling for religious freedom in the secretive country, which Open Doors has labeled the worst persecutor of Christians in the world. Christians can be imprisoned if they are caught praying, much less reading a forbidden Bible, and their families often disappear with them. One  former prisoner, identified only as Mr. Kim for security reasons, told Release, “If there is a hell in this world, then it is the North Korean concentration camps. [In the camps] there is only fear, and absolutely no connection to the outside world… We cannot say it is about human life. There is no freedom to speak.”

Iran Website Suspended after Reporting Bible Burning

Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports that Mohabat News, the only active news agency inside Iran reporting on the recent mass arrests of Christians in the country, was suddenly suspended yesterday. It is unclear why the website has been disabled, but authorities have previously shut down websites run by human rights groups and critics of the regime under the guise of attacking “cyber warfare.” One staff member of Mohabat News was allegedly threatened via an email from the Revolutionary Guard, which stated that he and his family would be targeted, and “bad things” would happen to them as a result of Mohabat’s output. The suspension of Mohabat News came the day after it reported the seizure and burning of 600 New Testaments by authorities in western Iran on Feb. 7.

Christians in Turkey Face Harassment; Murder Trial Stalls

Though the horrific scale of the 2007 Malatya murders has not been repeated in Turkey’s Protestant church, a recent report shows harassment continues to be a daily problem for the country’s Christians. In a report published earlier this year, the Turkish Association of Protestant Churches’s (TEK) Committee for Religious Freedom and Legal Affairs showed Turkish laws and “negative attitudes of civil servants” continue to make it nearly impossible for non-Muslims to establish places of worship. Compass Direct News reports that missionary activities are still considered a national threat despite the existence of Turkish laws guaranteeing citizens the freedom to propagate and teach their faith, and children are victims of discrimination at school, according to the report. “After four years [since the Malatya murders], Turkey’s religious freedoms have not improved as desired,” said attorney Erdal Dogan.


SAINT PATRICK: PRACTICAL THEOLOGIAN, SOCIAL ACTIVIST

March 18, 2011

WHO WAS ST. PATRICK?


Good question. Most of my knowledge about St. Patrick came from the Veggie Tales’ Sumo of the Opera episode, so when asked to write this article, I had some research to do. Sorting out myth-story from history became difficult when studying about someone who lived at the far edge of the civilized world during the decline of the Roman empire, but there were a few facts I discovered about Patricius (Patrick).

Patrick lived after Christianity became mainstream in the Roman Empire. He was born sometime around AD 386 in Britain and died around 460 in Ireland.[1] His grandfather was a priest, and his father was a Roman official who was also a deacon in the Roman church. Patrick left behind two documents: his Confession and Letter to Coroticus.

When I started reading both the legendary and historical material about Patrick, two key characteristics struck me. First, according to legend, Patrick was a practical theologian. Second, according to history, Patrick was a social activist.

 

PATRICK THE PRACTICAL THEOLOGIAN

Patrick’s story as a bishop to the Irish began oddly: kidnapped by pirates at age 16, he was taken from Britain to Ireland. Sold into slavery, he spent six years as a shepherd. According to Thomas Cahill, he had two constant companions: nakedness and hunger.[2] It was under these harsh conditions that Patrick learned to pray constantly.  One night he heard a mysterious voice telling him it was time to leave Ireland, and after walking to a seaport, he miraculously found passage away from Ireland, and eventually, back to Britain.

Because of his captivity, Patrick missed a formal education. He later spent time training for the priesthood, but he lacked the classical training of his contemporaries. As a consequence, when he finally went back to Ireland, he had to rely on skills other than classical oration or philosophical theology to work with the Irish people.

His lack of training became a strength. When he came up against Druidic shaman and pagan kings, it was Patrick’s prayer life that impressed them and not his rhetorical skill.

Patrick’s belief that all the world belonged to God became part of his power. An example of his confidence in God’s world was his legendary use of nature to teach about the Holy Trinity. According to legend, Patrick would take up a three-leaf clover and ask, “Does it have one leaf or three?” Those listening would respond, “both.”  Patrick then explained, “And so it is with the Trinity – Father, Son, and Spirit are one God. Three persons in one.”

Patrick’s ability to see God in nature paralleled both Paul and the Psalmist. In Romans chapter one, Paul declared that God provided the world with knowledge about Himself through His creation. Attributed to David, Psalm 19 proclaimed that the sun’s movement through the heavens declared God’s glory.

Patrick’s practical emphasis on the Trinity extended beyond the shamrock. During the 19th century, a 10th century manuscript translation in Dublin included a hymn called “St. Patrick’s Breastplate.” Though it was impossible to tell if Patrick actually wrote the hymn, he still received credit for it.

“St. Patrick’s Breastplate” was a protective prayer. Celtic monks used it to start their day.[3] The prayer began:

“I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three”

The hymn was several stanzas long, and the last two stanzas were especially memorable and moving:

“Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.”

“I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.”

PATRICK THE SOCIAL ACTIVIST

History confirms that Patrick was a practical theologian, but not necessarily as an apologist for the Trinity. Instead, Patrick was one of Christianity’s first outspoken opponents of slavery.[4]

Patrick’s Letter to Coroticus described converts taken into slavery, with the sign of the cross still fresh on their foreheads. Patrick pleaded for their safe return. He begged Britain’s Christian leadership for help, but his pleas fell on deaf ears. Patrick’s decision to identify himself with the Irish, a culture outside of Roman Christianity, diminished his ability to influence the church in Britain.[5]

Patrick was especially concerned about how Christian women suffered in slavery. Cahill quotes Patrick saying “But it is the women kept in slavery who suffer the most — and who keep their spirits up despite the menacing and terrorizing they must endure. The Lord gives grace to his handmaids; and though they are forbidden to do so, they follow him with backbone.”[6]

His outcries against slavery were eventually successful. During Patrick’s lifetime (or shortly after), the slave trade in Ireland stopped.

Although slavey seems far from the modern world, a modern equivalent still exists: human trafficking. Some sources suggest that 100,000 minors suffer as sex-slaves within the U.S. borders alone, and even more shocking, 100 million people in India are sex-slaves. Of India’s prostitute population, 40% are children.[7] The net result: more human beings experience slavery today, in the form of human trafficking, then at any other time in human history. These statistics are both shocking and sickening. But they are also appropriate for this article.

St. Patrick’s Letter pleaded for such as these: “Hence the Church mourns and laments her sons and daughters whom the sword has not yet slain, but who were removed and carried off to faraway lands, where sin abounds openly, grossly, impudently. There people who were freeborn have, been sold, Christians made slaves, and that, too, in the service of the abominable, wicked, and apostate [unbelievers].”[8]

The world still needs St. Patrick, and not just in Ireland.

WHERE IS ST. PATRICK TODAY?

Thankfully, the Church still includes believers with similar character qualities as St. Patrick. Believers should consider where modern practical theologians and social activists can be found.

Modern St. Patrick’s are people who (a) love God deeply and are able to discern His calling, (b) are able to teach deep truths by illustrations from common experience, and (c) demonstrate their faith through a genuine love for people, advocating the cause of those who cannot defend themselves; often this advocacy is motivated by personal experience.

Patrick’s life was full of obstacles for those who would want to become leaders in a local church: he lacked education and experienced a terrifying adolescence. Yet those experiences prepared him to become a leader able to reach out to those outside the walls of the church. Patrick’s lack of formal education made him a practical theologian, but a theologian none-the-less. Church leaders: look for the Patrick’s in your own congregation; then recruit and train them for leadership roles.

On St. Patrick’s Day we should be reminded that the world still needs leaders like St. Patrick. Church members: pray that the leadership in your local church will recognize, recruit, and reward such people – practical theologians who speak out against injustice.

[1]Dates taken from Dictionary of Christian Biography. Ed. Michael Walsh. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2001.

[2]Cahill, Thomas. How the Irish Saved Civilization. New York: Doubleday, 1995.

[3]As mentioned at http://www.prayerfoundation.org/st_patricks_breastplate_prayer.htm. This article’s translation of “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” is also from prayerfoundation.org.

[4]As claimed by Thomas Cahill, and evidenced in both Patrick’s Confession and Letter  to Coroticus. Also mentioned in Jonathan Hill’s What Has Christianity Ever Done for Us? How It Shaped the Modern World. Downers’ Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2005.

[5] Both his identification with the Irish and a sin he confessed before entering the priesthood hindered his influence with the British. His confessed sin somehow become a scandal among church leadership, and prompted him to write his Confession.

[6]From Patrick’s Confession, and quoted in Cahill, 109.

[7]These statistics are from http://blog.christianitytoday.com/women/2010/01/facing_modernday_slavery_1.html

[8]“Letter to Coroticus.” http://www.yale.edu/glc/archive/1166.htm

Stanley J. Ward serves as the Biblical Worldview Director at The Brook Hill School (www.brookhill.org) and frequently speaks at conferences (www.stanleyjward.com). He is also a PhD candidate and napkin theologian (www.napkinvideo.com).


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