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Showing posts from September, 2011

the science of spirituality

The NPR series, " the science of spirituality " leads off with... More than half of adult Americans report they have had a spiritual experience that changed their lives. Now, scientists from  universities like Harvard, Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins are using new technologies to analyze the brains of people who claim  they have touched the spiritual — from Christians who speak in tongues to Buddhist monks to people who claim to have had  near-death experiences. Hear what they have discovered in this controversial field, as the science of spirituality continues  to evolve. And then under the "god chemical" article , it continues... At Johns Hopkins University, research suggests that chemicals that act on the serotonin system trigger mystical experiences  that are life-altering. Serotonin is a chemical messenger that helps regulate mood and sleep. Now those neurologists -- and  others -- are replicating studies from the 1960s in which patients with end-sta

walk through the temple

This is a very cool site.  UCLA Urban Simulation Team in conjunction with the Israel Antiquities Authority have made videos of what the Temple built by Herod in Jerusalem would have  looked like in Jesus' day.

the decline of the west

Here is an insightful article by Jonathan Sacks , Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of Great Britain.  He says we need to see 9/11 and its aftermath from the Muslim perspective, and particularly in light of the social theory of 14th-century Islamic thinker Ibn Khaldun. Ibn Khaldun's theory was that every urban civilisation becomes vulnerable when it grows decadent from within. People live in towns and get used to luxuries. The rich grow indolent, the poor resentful. There is a loss of asabiyah, a keyword for Khaldun. Nowadays we would probably translate it as "social cohesion". People no longer think in terms of the common good. They are no longer willing to make sacrifices for one another. Essentially they lose the will to defend themselves. They then become easy prey for the desert dwellers, the people used to fighting to stay alive. Al-Qaeda's application of this principle -- especially after the fall of Soviet Communism during Russia's occupa

the fountain we seek

Here's a beautiful exposition of gospel truth in exalted prose by French pastor and evangelist Jean Cauvin... If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that it is ‘of him.’  If we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, they will be found in his anointing.   If we seek strength, it lies in his dominion;  if purity, in his conception;  if gentleness, it appears in his birth. For by his birth he was made like us in all respects that he might learn to feel our pain.  If we seek redemption, it lies in his passion;  if acquittal, in his condemnation;  if remission of the curse, in his cross;  if satisfaction, in his sacrifice;  if purification, in his blood;  if reconciliation, in his descent into hell;  if mortification of the flesh, in his tomb;  if newness of life, in his resurrection;  if immortality, in the same;  if inheritance of the Heavenly Kingdom, in his entrance into heaven;  if protection, if security, if abundant supply of all blessings, in h

on grace

"And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." (John 1:16-17 ESV)  "Friends, you can't begin to understand the gospel or the Bible if you don't know the meaning of 'grace'. ... If 'glory' means the 'outward shining of the inward being of God', grace is the 'free and unmerited favor of God.'  In one word grace is generosity .  The grace of God is the generosity of God. Grace is God's gracious kindness to the undeserving.  Grace is God taking the initiative, God coming to our rescue, pursuing us even to the cross. Grace is God stooping, God loving, God serving, God lifting, God taking the initiative.  Grace, like glory, is seen most vividly at the cross."   (John Stott, "Jesus As the Son Makes God Knowable", sermon at All Souls , Langham Place, 2000) 

on water to wine

Chris Faith, on John 2:1-12, from Sunday's sermon: So why would the eternal Son of God begin to display His glory by such a frivolous miracle as turning water into wine? Why not start with a big bang? Why not raise the dead, or feed thousands of hungry people with one boy’s bag lunch? I’m convinced Jesus began by turning water into wine because He wanted to make clear from the very beginning the nature of God’s New Covenant, the reason the Son of God became the Son of Man. He came to reconcile us to God, to usher in a whole new way of intimacy with God. Jesus wanted us to know He came to start a new chapter in man’s relationship to God. The reality is we can’t measure up to God’s holiness. Water pots for washing don’t bring us into God’s holiness. But Jesus’ death on our behalf truly does.  Hebrews 7:18-19 says it this way: "The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which w

pN on husbands and wives

Good friend and fellow pastor, Neil, on Proverbs 12:4.... "An excellent wife is the crown of her husband but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones."  (Proverbs 12:4)    Hey—I didn’t write it.  But it  is a truism that I think bears out under observation.   Despite our topsy-turvy, top on bottom and bottom on top culture, there is a natural order to how families are supposed to work.  Husbands are supposed to be husbands and wives are supposed to be wives.  Husbands are not supposed to be wives and wives are not supposed to be husbands.  Specific job descriptions are in part, up for discussion perhaps, but the basic roles and foundational definition that there IS a thing called “husband,” the idea of which God created, and there IS a thing called “wife,” the idea also which God created, stands.  And if a woman works at being an excellent wife, she is the best thing in her husband’s life, even eclipsing having an excellent kid and certainly eclipsing havin
Read the story here .

a prayer for 9/11

Written by Mike Cosper, pastor of worship and arts at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Kentucky: Lord as we gather, celebrating your glory and goodness, we acknowledge the shadow of today’s anniversary. Together, we remember September 11, 2001. We mourn for the lives lost in New York City, Washington D. C., and on Flight 93. We lament death’s reign, the visible and invisible forces of evil, the principalities and powers of this dark world, and the evil that lurks in the hearts of all men . . . including our own. With the Psalmist, we cry: “How long, Oh Lord? How long will your enemies scoff? How long will you withhold your justice from a world that is desparate to see it?” We lament a world at war, and we ask you for peace In Afghanistan in Iraq in Libya in Israel and Palestine in Egypt and Syria, and all of the nations of the earth that long for freedom from oppression. We ask for protection over our loved ones and families who serve ove


the altar, by george herbert

[click to enlarge]

on gratitude

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe..." (Hebrews 12:28 ESV)  Gratitude is the third of three things the Heidelberg Catechism says is necessary to know in order to live and die happily in the Lord: The misery of our fallen-ness (guilt), how we are redeemed (grace), and finally,  gratitude the basis of our subsequent living... Question 2 . How many things are necessary for thee to know, that thou, enjoying this comfort [of a saving relationship with Christ] , mayest live and die happily?  Answer: Three; the first, how great my sins and miseries are; the second, how I may be delivered from all my sins and miseries; the third, how I shall express my gratitude to God for such deliverance .  (Heidelberg Catechism, 1563) Here are some quotes regarding gratitude, it's necessity and nature:   "May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glor

it all depends

Listening to a John Stott message on "Jesus Is Lord", I heard this poem that he used to describe the morality of our relativistic world" It all depends on where you are; It all depends on who you are; It all depends on how you feel; It all depends on what you feel; It all depends on how you're raised; It all depends on what is praised; What's right today is wrong tomorrow; Joy in France, in England sorrow; It all depends on points of view; Australia, or Timbuctoo; In Rome do as the Romans do; If tastes just happen to agree, Then you have morality; But where there are conflicting trends, It all depends, it all depends. Here's a good intro to a Christian view of morality .  

the vocation of thought

Ravi Zacharias on thinking, and thoughts... One of the tragic casualties of our age has been that of the contemplative life—a life that thinks, a life thinks things through, and more particularly, thinks God’s thoughts after Him. A person sitting at his or her desk staring out the window would never be assumed to be working. No! Thinking is not equated with work. Yet, had Newton under his tree, or Archimedes in his bathtub, bought into that prejudice, some natural laws would still be up in the air or buried under an immovable rock. Pascal's Pensees, or "Thoughts," a work that has inspired millions, would have never been penned. What is even more destructive is the assumption that silence is inimical to life. The radio in the car, Muzak in the elevator, and the symphony entertaining callers "on hold" all add up as grave impediments to personal reflection. In effect, the mind is denied the privilege of living with itself even briefly and is crowded with outsid