Tag: Thought For The Day
Hello! This is Nathan Fisher. I’ve seen my Dad publish a lot of fantastic articles here over the years glorifying God, and this seems like quite a bit of fun.
So anyway, on a more serious note, I was reading an article on the New York Times about “religion.” It correctly attributed the quote,
“I did not come to bring peace, but a sword,”
…to Jesus in Matthew 10:34. However, the author of the article, “How Well Do You Know Religion?,” implied that this shows the violent side of the Judeo-Christian tradition and that Christianity is as violent as or more violent than certain others towards outsiders. Was Jesus saying that He wanted Christians to convert by force, to oppress, or to conquer?
Unfortunately, this shows once again that the Bible has been misinterpreted. When Jesus first began to teach the gospel, He was hated, persecuted, and ultimately executed. This was the same for all of the apostles (except John) and the hundreds of Christians that came after. Those that wanted to preach Jesus’ real words to ordinary folk in their own language, such as William Tyndale, Martin Luther, and others were attacked and pursued.
When Jesus said the above quote, His intention was to show that the message He brought and His death and return to life would bring conflict and strife. His sword was metaphorical: a sword of division. It was not that it was His will to oppress non-Christians, but who He was that would bring trouble. In the evil world we are in, good is not always accepted as what it is.
In fact, Jesus says, and I quote:
“For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law-a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’”(Matthew 10:35-36 NIV, quoted Micah 7:6)
…and this has happened in families throughout history, increasingly so as the events of Revelation draw near.
When He was arrested, the Messiah told Pilate,
“My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews.” (John 18:36)
And another thing about violence, especially concerning the Old Testament:
“For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!” (Ezekiel 18:32)
The sword Jesus is describing was, and is, the violence stemming from the oppression of truth. However, the LORD has a plan to end this. We have the last chapter of history: Revelation.
Oh yes, and lastly, as a comfort to all of us, Jesus told us,
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Jesus, John 16:33 NIV)
It really is true that if you “count your blessings” you begin to realize what a tremendous gift life is, despite all the hardships, horrors, hassles and hindrances. Perhaps my list of favorite things will help you count your blessings too…
The following list does intentionally omit certain favorite things of mine-one is blanket reference to my faith, but you can accept as a given that the God of the Bible rules my preferences, and I have, unavoidably, noted a few things relevant to my beliefs.
Another intentional omission is consideration of romance and sex, which would otherwise populate the list in a rather more colorful way. But as I’ve said before, this is intended to be a “family-friendly” blog.
MY FAVORITE THINGS
Favorite color: purple
Favorite word: love
Favorite sound: birds singing; ocean waves pounding the shore
Favorite plant: Pine tree (all varieties)
Favorite animal: Thrush
Favorite food: English cheese
Favorite meal: Tandoori chicken
Favorite substance: paint
Favorite name: Jesus
Favorite time: bed time
Favorite material: leather
Favorite movie: “Koyaanisqatsi”, “Oedipus Wrecks”
Favorite movie star: Woody Allen
Favorite song: And Can It Be?
Favorite ice cream: Baskin Robbins chocolate fudge
Favorite game: snooker
Favorite sport: soccer
Favorite comedian: John Cleese, Michael Palin
Favorite speaker: Ken Ham
Favorite topic of discussion: origins and creation
Favorite artist: Vincent Van Gogh
Favorite painting: Olive Trees series by Van Gogh
Favorite art style: cubism
Favorite musical genre: electronica
Favorite musical instrument: piano
Favorite composer: JS Bach
Favorite band: Yes, Gentle Giant
Favorite musician: Chris Squire, Jaco Pastorius
Favorite vocalist: Jon Anderson
Favorite book: “The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”
Favorite drink: Couintreau
Favorite planet: Saturn
Favorite Bible book: John’s gospel, Genesis
Favorite website: answersingenesis.org
Favorite fruit: Israeli oranges
Favorite place: the Grand Canyon
Favorite weapon: the pen
Favorite country: England 1973
Favorite experience: worshipping God
Favorite odor: patchouli, pine, seaspray
Favorite statesman: Winston Churchill
Favorite sensation: raindrops on a hot summer day
Favorite weather: severe thunderstorms
Favorite temperature: 88F (low humidity)
Favorite Dr. Who enemy: the weeping angels
Favorite tool: saw
Favorite Star Wars scene: Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan versus Darth Maul
Favorite Star Wars character: the original emperor
Favorite existing building: York Minster
Favorite car: 1970 VW Beetle
Favorite disease: fits of laughter
The majority of us are dishonest at one time or another. I’ve known people who literally spend all their time thinking up ways of benefitting at someone else’s expense…
One of the many benefits of honesty is a clear conscience. I’ll give you an example.
Imagine that I work hard in my job, even when the boss isn’t looking. I claim only the hours of work that I’ve actually done, or perhaps even less. I keep my break-time short and punctual, even when no-one would know if I took an extra fifteen minutes or so of time but claimed the pay for it anyway. I don’t complain about my boss behind his back. I don’t steal anything, but treat my employer’s property as I would want my own to be treated-with care, reverence and respect.
In this scenario-becoming rarer in these days-I can go to bed at night and sleep, with no fear, no niggling memory of my own wrongdoing or a “he deserves it” attitude, and no subconscious fear of Divine retribution. I can feel good about myself. I can take pride in my work, in my character, and in my employer’s business.
But more than that, if it transpires that my employer is unfair, dishonest and unreliable; if it turns out that he is taking advantage of me, or worse-if he accuses me of laziness or wrongdoing, I am still the beneficiary of a glorious clear conscience in front of the mirror, in my bed, before my fellow man, and before God Almighty. My reward is eternally secure.
Yes, the ways of human nature can stink to high heaven. But the ways of God are right, and good, and beautiful.
What you were may not be who you are, and what you are now may not be what you will become…
WHAT I ONCE WAS
An old friend sent me an e-mail with an equally old picture of me in it. After recovering from the initial shock of seeing myself so young and handsome compared to my present condition, I began to reflect on what I was like as a person in those days.
I often lament over just how stupid, crass and short-sighted I was in my teens. It seems I had no power of logic or reason when it came to how I was living or what direction I should go in the future. I made a whole series of calamitous decisions and choices. I neglected the people who were most valuable and dear to me. I was involved with people I should have stayed a million miles away from. I had no control over my own appearance or my image. I was lazy and slothful. I was immoral and unprincipled in my lifestyle, and I had no meaningful or cohesive set of beliefs.
WHAT I BECAME
I’ve turned the telescope of time around many times. That is, I’ve imagined what I would have thought at the age of sixteen, if I had met my future self-the “me” I am now.
I would have been horrified to see how much I would change in all the wrong ways. I would never have wanted to become so logical, reasonable or consistent. All the things I wanted to be I have not become. Almost all the people who were valuable and dear to me are not around me anymore, for one reason or another. I have no crazy and interesting friends to color my life. I would recoil at my future appearance and image, I would be shocked by my frenzied, principled and moral lifestyle, and I would be frightened by my rigid and committed set of beliefs.
WHAT I WILL BECOME
Having become a Christian since those long-gone days, I’ve come to understand that my God is, and in fact always was, working to change me for the better. My appearance, my image, my failures, my petty “accomplishments” diminish in significance with every passing day. What matters in increasing measure is my walk, my way of life, and most importantly my relationship with the Shepherd of my soul.
My entire life is a process of change: all I need to do is be willing to change. My willingness to change saves the pain of being changed the hard way by a God who loves me too much to leave me in my past or my current state. But more than that, the ultimate moment of change, that “twinkling of an eye” moment, is getting ever nearer. In that sublime moment, because I’ve given my life and my soul to Jesus Christ, I will be changed forever. I will be changed from glory into glory. I will finally be the me that God always wanted me to be:
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us… ”Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is…” (1 John 3:1-3 NIV).