A Closed Mouth and Silent Heart

Prayer My heart was hot within me; while I was musing, the fire burned. Then I spoke with my tongue.— Psalm 39:3

Prayer among evangelical Christians is always in danger of degenerating into a glorified gold rush. Almost every book on prayer deals with the “get” element mainly. How to get things we want from God occupies most of the space. Now, we gladly admit that we may ask for and receive specific gifts and benefits in answer to prayer, but we must never forget that the highest kind of prayer is never the making of requests. Prayer at its holiest moment is the entering into God to a place of such blessed union as makes miracles seem tame and remarkable answers to prayer appear something very far short of wonderful by comparison.

Holy men of soberer and quieter times than ours knew well the power of silence. David said, “I was dumb with silence. I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred. My heart was hot within me; while I was musing the fire burned; then spake I with my tongue.” There is a tip here for God’s modern prophets. The heart seldom gets hot while the mouth is open. A closed mouth before God and silent heart are indispensable for the reception of certain kinds of truth. No man is qualified to speak who has not first listened.

James tells us to be slow to speak and quick to listen. Perhaps then we will experience the fiery presence of the Holy One.

Aaron Ivey – Found

Is Haiti Cursed?

haiti earthquakeIn the aftermath of the devastation in Haiti, Pat Robertson made international headlines by claiming that the country is cursed.  Robertson stated that the troubles in Haiti can be traced back to the time they “swore a pact with the devil” while fighting for their independence from France. World leaders and news outlets immediately denounced Robertson’s comments as inaccurate and insensitive in this time of tragedy.

Knee jerk reactions seem to abound on both sides. Perhaps a more reasoned analysis is needed.

It seems that what Robertson is really saying is that God is passing judgment on Haiti for its commitment to Voodoo. God is judging sin.  The bible clearly states that part of God’s dealing with the political systems of the world is to pass judgment on them. Further, God has and will continue to judge nations and cultures based on His Word and holiness. Finally, there will be a day when He judges all of the world and history. Everyone will stand before Him.

Even though Judaism, Christianity and Islam each have clear messages of final judgment and accountability, the world and its leaders reject the idea that it could ever actually happen. A Christian, however, cannot believe that God is a mere bystander in world events.

From most any viewpoint one must describe the recent earthquake in Haiti as a disaster. Some writers, even secular ones, have described the destruction in ‘biblical proportions.’ One need only review the last 10 years to recognize the truth of that view.

Haiti earthquakeHaiti is a caricature of political corruption and the catalog of natural disasters is mind-numbing.  In the last 10 years Haiti has suffered four tropical storms or hurricanes and four major floods each killing hundreds. A killer combination of geography, deforestation, shoddy building standards, poverty, an ill-prepared government, and heart-wrenching social ills keep this country in a near constant state of emergency.

This is the 15th disaster since 2001 in which the U.S. Agency for International Development has sent money and help to Haiti. Some 3,000 people have been killed and millions of people displaced in the disasters that preceded this week’s earthquake. Since the turn of this century the U.S. has sent more than $16 million in disaster aid to Haiti.

For this to be the deadliest quake on record, the death toll will have to top the 2004 Asian tsunami that killed more than 227,000 and a 1976 earthquake in China that killed 255,000. While early estimates on the death toll topped 500,000, it now seems likely to be much lower.

Helping Haiti

helping HaitiAt times like these people naturally want to help. Recent tales of corruption and mismanagement frighten people. Everyone wants to know their gifts are being used properly. I will be giving money through my local church that will be channeled through the Southern Baptist Convention. Click on the photo to give online.

I found a great post on How to Help Haiti that gives links and details for many worthwhile organizations that you can be confident in your giving. It also has links for Twitter and Facebook feeds giving up-to-the-minute details in Haiti.

The American Red Cross has a simple and unique plan.  Text the word Haiti to 90999  in order to donate $10.

Jesus in the Qur'an

My good friend Dr. Bud Colegrove sent a paper to me this week and we decided to share portions of it for your review. We have split the material into three posts and redacted the original paper to conform to the space limitations of this blog. You can download the entire paper at this link.

A few years ago, while working in Europe, I was assigned to teach a course entitled, “International Business,” in Bonn, Germany. Students enrolled in the course were sons/daughters of ambassadors from a variety of countries, as Bonn, at that time, was the capital of Germany. The class consisted of about 10 students and each was a Muslim. Progressing through the dictates of the syllabus, we eventually spoke of foreign cultures and the need to be sensitive to a client’s differences in manners, customs, and religion. Taking off on the latter, I mentioned in passing that I knew little of Islam, and had never seen a copy of the Qur’an.

We then entered into an informative discussion (at least for me) of Islam, and the elevated position the Qur’an held in Muslim nations. It lasted for much of the class period, and when we finished for the night, I thanked them for their participation and for sharing with me their faith and its teachings. I thought that was the end of it.

When we met the following week, one student, a tall lovely lady from The Sudan, came in carrying a bag. She approached me and stated that she had related the story of our previous class meeting and my admitted ignorance of the Qur’an to her father. In response, he broke out his cherished copy of the Qur’an and asked his daughter to bring it to me to study. I was delighted, took it home, and examined it for our 10 Commandments. When we met again and I attempted to return the precious book she refused – it was a gift from her father.

Fast foreword to 2009: I now have my own copy of the Qur’an written both in Arabic and English. In Bill Blanton’s Sunday School class recently, I was asked what the Qur’an had to say about Jesus. I didn’t know!! So, later at home, I went to my bookshelf, took out the Qur’an, and opened it. I thought you might like to know what I found.

Bud Colegrove, Ph.D.

I hope you will study this material carefully. It should enrich your own faith and knowledge of Jesus as well as equip you to present the truth about Jesus to Muslim friends.

Find the verses regarding Jesus in the Qur’an.

Read what the Bible says about Jesus.

Dr.B

Jesus in the Qur'an – Answering Islam

The Qur’an discusses some relatively superficial incidents in the life of Jesus. However, in spite of the fact that the Qur’an, and some Muslims, holds Jesus in high regard as a Prophet, the Qur’an says virtually nothing about the teachings of Jesus. For that, we must turn to the Bible and the New Testament where those who were witnesses to His life, works, and teachings established a record. Muhammad lived 600 years after Jesus and had a poor understanding of the New Testament and a poorer understanding of the teachings of Jesus.

There are many wonderful materials giving biblical answers to Islam and the Qur’an and I have listed a few links below. In this present post, let us focus on a single point. The Qur’an goes to great length to record the virgin birth. Yet, Muhammad insists that Jesus is no more than a Prophet like Noah and Moses (Sura 5:75). What then is the significance of the virgin birth?

The virgin birth is an essential doctrine of historic Christianity. To be the perfect sacrifice required that Jesus be free of sin. Yet, Christ also had to be fully man. The virgin birth solved both of these requirements: Christ was born of a woman so as to be fully man; yet was born as result of the miraculous intervention of God, by means of the Holy Spirit — the result of which was that Adam’s sin nature was not passed to Jesus.

The virgin birth was prophesied in the Old Testament, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call Him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). The Apostles recognized Isaiah’s sign as applying to Jesus. They affirmed the virgin birth. “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel’ — which means, ‘God with us'” (Matthew 1:22-23).

The virgin birth was announced in the New Testament. “You will be with child and give birth to a son. ‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:34-35).

Muhammad, and the Qur’an, misses the significance of this historical event. Jesus was born of a virgin because he was not like other prophets. Jesus arrived as the Lamb of God, ready to take away the sins of the world.

Muslim teachers also object to other teachings in the Bible. Here are a few topics and some online resources to reinforce the biblical truth and your Christian faith.

Islam and the Resurrection

Islam and the Deity of Christ and Who is Jesus?

Islam and the Trinity

Islam and the Bible

Islam and Jesus as the Son of God?

Here is the post that started this discussion.

Jesus in the Qur'an – Pt 2

Surah 2:87 For, indeed, We vouchsafed unto Moses the divine writ and caused apostle after apostle to follow him; and We vouchsafed unto Jesus, the son of Mary, all evidence of the truth, and strengthened him with holy inspiration. [Yet] is it not so that every time an apostle came unto you with something that was not to your liking, you gloried in your arrogance, and to some of them you gave the lie, while others you would slay?

Surah 2:136 Say: “We believe in God, and in that which has been bestowed from on high upon us, and that which has been bestowed upon Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and, their descendants, and that which has been vouchsafed to Moses and Jesus; and that which has been vouchsafed to all the [other] prophets by their Sustainer: we make no distinction between any of them. And it is unto Him that we surrender ourselves.”

Surah 2:253 Some of these apostles have We endowed more highly than others: among them were such as.were spoken to by God [Himself], and some He has raised yet higher.’ And We vouchsafed unto Jesus, the son of Mary, all evidence of the truth, and strengthened him with holy inspiration. And if God had so willed, they who succeeded those [apostles] would not have contended with one another after all evidence of the truth had come to them; but [as it was,] they did take to divergent views, and some of them attained to faith, while some of them came to deny the truth. Yet if God had so willed, they would not have contended with one another: but God does whatever He wills.

Surah 3:42-55 AND LO! The angels said: “O Mary! Behold, God has elected thee and made thee pure, and raised thee above all the women of the world. O Mary! Remain thou truly devout unto thy Sustainer, and prostrate thyself in worship, and bow down with those who bow down [before Him].” This account of something that was beyond the reach of thy perception We [now] reveal unto thee: for thou wert not with them when they drew lots as to which of them should be Mary’s guardian, and thou wert not with them when they contended [about it] with one another. Lo! The angels said: “O Mary! Behold, God sends thee the glad tiding, through a word from Him, [of a son] who shall become known as the Christ Jesus, son of Mary, of great honour in this world and in the life to come, and [shall be] of those who are drawn near unto God. And he shall speak unto men in his cradle, and as a grown man, and shall be of the righteous.” Said she: “O my Sustainer! How can I have a son when no man has ever touched me?” [The angel] answered: “Thus it is: God creates what He wills when He wills a thing to be, He but says unto it, ‘Be’ – and it is. And he will impart unto thy son revelation, and wisdom, and the Torah, and the Gospel, and [will make him] an apostle unto the children of Israel.” “I HAVE COME unto you with a message from your Sustainer. I shall create for you out of clay, as it were, the shape of [your] destiny, and then breathe into it, so that it might become [your] destiny by God’s leave; and I shall heal the blind and the leper, and bring the dead back to life by God’s leave; and I shall let you know what you may eat and what you should store up in your houses. Behold, in all this there is indeed a message for you, if you are [truly] believers. “And [I have come] to confirm the truth of whatever there still remains of the Torah, and to make lawful unto you some of the things which [aforetime] were forbidden to you. And I have come unto you with a message from your Sustainer; remain, then, conscious of God, and pay heed unto me. “Verily, God is my Sustainer as well as your Sustainer; so worship Him [alone]: this is a straight way.” And when Jesus became aware of their refusal to acknowledge the truth, he asked: “Who will be my helpers in God’s cause?” The white-garbed ones replied: “We shall be [thy] helpers [in the cause] of God! We believe in God: and bear thou witness that we have surrendered ourselves unto Him! O our Sustainer! We believe in what Thou hast bestowed from on high, and we follow this Apostle; make us one, then, with all who bear witness [to the truth]!” And the unbelievers schemed [against Jesus]; but God brought their scheming to nought: for God is above all schemers. Lo! God said: “O Jesus! Verily, I shall cause thee to die, and shall exalt thee unto Me, and cleanse thee of [the presence of] those who are bent on denying the truth; and I shall place those who follow thee [far] above those who are bent on denying the truth, unto the Day of Resurrection. In the end, unto Me you all must return, and I shall judge between you with regard to all on which you were wont to differ.
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Merry Christmas

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Merry Christmas

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oops

The Lost Ark – Oops – Nevermind

Reuters is now reporting that the lost Ark of the Covenant will not be revealed by its purported keepers in Ethiopia after all.

Ethiopian Church Patriarch Abune Paulos indicated the Italian media had incorrectly reported that he would place the Ark in a museum in the country’s north.

Abune said,

I am deeply disappointed that the Italian media misquoted me and disseminated false information about me unveiling the Ark of the Covenant to the world,….  It is a fabrication, disinformation.

He went on to restate that his congregation has the Ark but that it will not be on public display.

Oops! – Nevermind.

 

The Lost Ark – Found

American culture was largely introduced to the biblical story of the Ark of the Covenant in 1981 by Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford in the epic tale “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” It now appears that the actual biblical artifact will be revealed for the first time in centuries.

Abuna Pauolos, the patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Ethiopia, has announced to the world the unveiling of the Ark of the Covenant, perhaps the world’s most prized archaeological and spiritual artifact. He says the Ark has been hidden away in a church in his country for over a millennia, according to the Italian news agency Adnkronos.

In Italy for a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI this week, Pauolos told the news agency, “Soon the world will be able to admire the Ark of the Covenant described in the Bible as the container of the tablets of the law that God delivered to Moses and the center of searches and studies for centuries.”

The Bible describes the Ark as the sacred container designed to hold the 10 Commandments. (See biblical text below) God instructed Moses on how to build a chest overlaid with gold.  The lid of the Ark was more commonly referred to as the Mercy Seat (or atonement cover) and was constructed of pure gold. On the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice on the lid as a sacrifice to God on behalf of the entire nation.

The most recognized piece in the Tabernacle and perhaps best known for its remarkable powers, the Ark held a central place both physically and spiritually. The Ark of the Covenant symbolized God’s throne on the earth. God’s presence did not dwell inside the box, but remained over the Ark, in between the two Cherubim. Here God dwelt “in unapproachable light” (I Timothy 6:16 Psalm 104:2). The high priest had to shield his eyes, because “no man shall see Me and live” (Exodus 33:20). This was where God met with Moses (Exodus 25:21-22 Leviticus 16:14-15). The glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle on the day it was erected and anointed (Exodus 40:9,18,34-35).

Ark of the covenantOne striking aspect of the Ark is its size. It is relatively smaller than one typically imagines. At about 45 in. x  27 in. x 27 in., it is smaller than a typical office desk. While no one accurately reproduce the appearance of the Ark, the photo below is representative of what biblical scholars believe the Ark looks like.

Another question for scholars and historians is the position of the angels. We are not told in great detail exactly what the angels.  looked like. Some models show the Cherubim kneeling. Other models show the Cherubim standing. What we do know is that the wings of the Cherubim were stretched out, to cover the Mercy Seat. The wings of the two Cherubim possibly touched one another to form a complete covering.

Over last 2500 years, dozens of locations have been suggested for the location of the Ark. The History Channel, biblical and archeological magazines, and hundreds of universities and treasure hunters have searched the globe for the wonderous Ark.

My own personal belief has been that either the Ark was lost to history after being melted down for the gold or it was located in the high monastery in Ethiopia.

What does the revelation of the Ark of the Covenant mean?

  1. Perhaps nothing. It could be a fake.
  2. Additional archeological confirmation of the authenticity of the biblical message.
  3. Affirmation of the Exodus pilgrimage and God’s deliverance of Israel.
  4. Additional archeological support for the presence of Israel as a nation.

I am personally looking forward to pictures, information and details over the next few days as we learn more about this compelling piece of history.

Exodus 25:10-22 NIV

“Have them make a chest of acacia wood—two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high. Overlay it with pure gold, both inside and out, and make a gold molding around it. Cast four gold rings for it and fasten them to its four feet, with two rings on one side and two rings on the other. Then make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. Insert the poles into the rings on the sides of the chest to carry it. The poles are to remain in the rings of this ark; they are not to be removed. Then put in the ark the Testimony, which I will give you. Make an atonement cover of pure gold—two and a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide. And make two cherubim out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover. Make one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other; make the cherubim of one piece with the cover, at the two ends. The cherubim are to have their wings spread upward, overshadowing the cover with them. The cherubim are to face each other, looking toward the cover. Place the cover on top of the ark and put in the ark the Testimony, which I will give you. There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the Testimony, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites.”