Archives For January 2012

This is a Puzzle??

January 31, 2012

I never thought I would see the day I had a few weeks ago. What happened is a puzzle to me.  I never thought I would react the way I did.  Okay, I don’t want to make this into some big mystery (but I kinda did) so I will just come out and say it. My wife has gotten me into working picture puzzles. She has been doing that throughout our 25+ year marriage. She spends hours upon hours sitting at her hobby table working puzzles. She no longer considers anything less than 2,000 pieces to be a challenge.  I have never shown much interest in this particular hobby. I have always just watched her from afar; I sometimes helped her find one or maybe even two pieces she needed but that was the extent of my involvement. I just couldn’t see the allure of doing what she does.

Then a couple of weeks ago I just got a sudden urge to try this stuff out for myself.  I set up a place at the vacant end of our dining room table (we seldom get any dinner guests anymore) and started trying to find the edge pieces first. That seemed the logical the way to go. My wife wanted to help me but I insisted on learning my own way.  I am kind of ornery in that regard. :) After a couple of weeks the 500th piece was in place. There was a strange sense of satisfaction in putting that final piece in!

I’m not sure what got me started but it was probably the thought of the impending cabin fever I always get between mid-January and mid-February. That is the coldest and usually iciest time of year around here so I seldom get out of the house except for my volunteer work twice a week.  The completion of this first puzzle of my adult life lead to another one. I have found that there is something somewhat relaxing about trying to find a small part of the very large picture. Of course my wife discovered that years ago and since she never misses the chance she said “I told you so”I have heard that phrase frequently recently.  Philosophically I suppose that is what we do generally in life when we try to find the place we fit in the world scheme of things.

I guess I now have the bug as I just ordered a couple more 500 piece puzzles for myself. One, as shown to the right is of a very large sandwich. The other is of a cluttered work shed.  My wife, as most women do, tend to go to the more girly pictures. If I am going to be spending  the hours looking at a picture  in its minutest detail it needs to be a more manly scene. What’s more manly than a big old gnarly sandwich? I presently don’t know where this will end. I expect I will put them up when Spring arrives and all the outdoor work again calls me for many hours of my time.

I’m sure a lot of you out there have already discovered this hobby but I am just now putting picture puzzles as part of my rather extensive hobby portfolio. Its kind of fun and relaxing but after a few hour my back starts to remind me that it is time to do something else.

Why do we as a society allow our war machine to gobble up so much of our taxes.  Do we really need to spend so much in money and young people’s lives to be the policemen of the world?? When we quit believing that our security lies in the ability to kill then we will truly be secure.

War Is Not the Answer

About James…

January 29, 2012

In order to make sure you are aware of who wrote one of the most important letters in the Christian Bible I deem it appropriate to make this post primarily about James, the brother of Jesus himself. Some may not realize the history of the person around which I have been quoting as inspiration.  Here is part of what Glo – The Bible for the Digital World says about him:

 The author identifies himself as James ( 1:1 ); he was probably the brother of Jesus and leader of the Jerusalem council ( Ac 15 ). Four men in the NT have this name. The author of this letter could not have been the apostle James, who died too early ( a.d. 44) to have written it. The other two men named James had neither the stature nor the influence that the writer of this letter had.

James was one of several brothers of Christ, probably the oldest since he heads the list in Mt 13:55 . At first he did not believe in Jesus and even challenged him and misunderstood his mission ( Jn 7:2-5 ). Later he became very prominent in the church:

1. He was one of the select individuals Christ appeared to after his resurrection (see 1Co 15:7 and ).

2. Paul called him a “pillar” of the church ( Gal 2:9 ).

3. Paul, on his first post-conversion visit to Jerusalem, saw James ( Gal 1:19 ).

4. Paul did the same on his last visit ( Ac 21:18 ).

5. When Peter was rescued from prison, he told his friends to tell James ( Ac 12:17 ).

6. James was a leader in the important council of Jerusalem ( Ac 15:13 ).

7. Jude could identify himself simply as “a brother of James” ( Jude 1:1 ), so well-known was James.

8. James was martyred c. a.d. 62.

…….

If this early dating is correct ( before AD50), this letter is the earliest of all the NT writings — with the possible exception of Galatians. The recipients are identified explicitly only in 1:1 : “the twelve tribes scattered among the nations.” Some hold that this expression refers to Christians in general….

From the above it is obvious that James became a very important person in the early church. I can’t understand why he and the Apostle Peter did not get more of documents included in our version of the Bible.  One other notable thing about James occurred during the Protestant Reformation.  Martin Luther vehemently stated that the letter from James was a fake and should not be in the Bible. He later recanted that belief in order to solidify his then popular position of total biblical inerrancy and sola fida.  James continues to be a very unnoticed letter by many protestant denominations today who insist that our faith and works, which is the center point of James’ letter, are totally divorced things.

During my extensive three-year study of Christianity one of the things I learned was that during the early years of Christianity when a Roman soldier wanted to be a Christian the first thing he had to do was to find a new occupation. Early Christians believed that the collected words of Jesus, their founder, and being a warrior were not compatible. There are many places in the Bible where Jesus commented about soldiers. The most prevalent one was “Those who live by the sword die by the sword”. Jesus just did not condone violence in those around him. I know there are many Christian “hawks” out there who will pull up numerous places in the Old Testament where God supposedly condoned war and even vicious violence. But they will not find it in the new covenant that Jesus brought with him to this earth.

Studying beyond the early Christian era to those times after Constantine in the 4th century violence and war once again crept into the church. The Holy wars were the most glaring example of this fact. What happened between the time of the early Christians, that is the first two to three hundred years and the Holy wars?  When Constantine brought the political process into the church he brought false teachings with it.

Today many of the most fervent supporters of our military are found among the “Christian Evangelicals”. They not only accept war but they encourage it and even celebrate it. To me I align with the early Christian and therefore Jesus’ thoughts of war. Celebrating war and being a Christian is the same as oil and vinegar; they cannot be mixed. Jesus told us there are only two basic commandments from God in his new covenant and that is to love God and to love your fellow-man.  Giving life totally comes from God and when it ends must also come from God. When we kill our fellow-man for any reason we are actually killing a piece of God himself; love has nothing to do with that horrible condition.