One Year Bible Bloggers

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Thanks to the From Knowledge To Wisdom blog, who has collected a list of One Year Bible Bloggers. I've been thinking about adding an OYB blogroll. This list will help motivate me to do so!

OYB: January 19

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Genesis 39, Genesis 40, Genesis 41:1-16
NT: Matthew 12:46-50, Matthew 13:1-23
Ps: Psalm 17
Pr: Proverbs 3:33-35

Today´s notable verse:

For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.

Matthew 12:50 (NIV)

The One Year Bible Blog notes:

Comments from you & Question of the Day - Based on my comments above related to our readings in Genesis about God blessing Potiphar for Joseph's sake - I wonder - does God intervene and bless our work lives? I think he does. I'd love to get your opinions on this - do you pray about your work life regularly? Do you think God blesses your work life? And like Joseph, does God maybe bless those around you, even if they aren't necessarily in relationship with God? And maybe does he do this for your sake?

I think that God does bless us, so that we may bless others, and so that God may be glorified. When I seek to glorify God in my work - or in whatever I do - God blesses that work. I think God blesses us because He loves us, and wants to bless us, but the ultimate purpose of such blessing is, again, to reciprocate that blessing, and to glorify God.

OYB: January 18

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Genesis 37, Genesis 38
NT: Matthew 12:22-45
Ps: Psalm 16
Pr: Proverbs 3:27-32

Today´s notable verse:

I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Psalm 16:8 (NIV)

The One Year Bible Blog notes:

My first question I had was whether Joseph should have shared these dreams with his family? And I asked this question because I wonder if sometimes we also maybe get an insight or what we believe to be a word from God - and if we should share these things with others? Or keep them between God and ourselves? I don't have an easy answer on this one... If you have some thoughts on this, please post up in the "Comments" section below. The other thing that came to mind for me here is what role do dreams play for us today? Does God still communicate to people via dreams today?

Hard to say, whether or not Joseph should have shared his dreams with his family. Most of the OT prophets were given visions, or a word, and then told to go tell someone; in most cases, the "going" involved several days' (or months', or years') travel - time spent meditating on the Word given them. Perhaps Joseph should have done the same. On the other hand, Joseph was a boy at the time, and would not have had the wisdom of a more mature adult. If God gave him these dreams at this point in his life, then it is reasonable to assume that God would extend him grace to account for such lack of wisdom. Perhaps God's plan would have worked out differently, had Joseph acted differently; regardless, God - who had fore-knowledge of the events about to transpire - used what happened to accomplish his will.

I think that we do still hear from God today. God has not changed, so why would His means of communication change? However, circumstances have changed. The Word of the OT prophets was the literal Word of God. They spoke with the authority of the literal Word of God, at the risk of death. Today, we have the complete and written Word of God, in the form of the Bible. This Word is the standard by which we are to judge any Word from God that we hear, or that others hear. I believe that God established the five-fold ministry in the New Testament - Apostles, Prophets, Preachers, Teachers, and Evangelists - and that this five-fold ministry is still at work today. However, the prophetic ministry is under the authority and constraint of the established Word of God - that is, the Bible. Why should God not still speak to His people through visions and dreams? I see nothing scripturally that indicates that certain workings or forms of communication that were in place in NT times have ceased. Food for thought - what does this mean: "...For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." (Rev. 19:10 NIV)

OYB: January 17

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Genesis 35, Genesis 36
NT: Matthew 12:1-21
Ps: Psalm 15
Pr: Proverbs 3:21-26

Today´s notable verse:

For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath

Matthew 12:8 (NIV)

The One Year Bible Blog notes:

The other thing that these Proverbs verses remind me of is one of my favorite three word quotes - "Habits determine success." I've spoken about this in some of my weekly emails in regards to reading the One Year Bible each day. It takes some planning and insight for us to figure out when we will realistically read the Bible for 15 minutes every day. After this planning and insight and after a week or two we've suddenly built up a great habit. A habit that will determine our success in reading the Bible in a year.

Actually, as I understand it, a behavior takes about 21 consecutive days to form a "habit". Regardless, the point is the same. That's why I set my alarm an hour earlier, to be sure I have time to read and write each morning. (Establishing the complimentary habit - getting to bed an hour earlier - has been more difficult.)

Comments from you & Question of the Day - Based on my reflections in Proverbs above, how do you go about planning things in your life? In what ways do you invite God into the process of planning your life? And in what ways, or at what times, do you simply make decisions based on your own knowledge or common sense? What is the foundation of your own knowledge or common sense? Is it the Bible? Is it God? Do you suppose with the foundation of God and the Bible in our lives, that we may not need to take every single decision throughout our day to God in prayer because we are operating (generally speaking) from a biblical godly worldview? How do you balance taking things to God for guidance and making decisions on your own?

Wow, if only you knew just how impactful those questions have been in my life recently... We should always seek God when we make decisions. It is wise to take major decisions to God in prayer, and to seek the counsel of godly men and women. For the day-to-day life decisions, I think we need to have God's Word stored up inside of us, so that we can apply it. It is never wrong to seek wisdom from God directly, but I think we can become spiritually "lazy" by not using His Word, that He has already given us, to prepare us to make such decisions. Bear in mind also that God's wisdom usually turns worldly wisdom on its head, and that the right decision is seldom the easy one. God's principles seem exactly opposite to worldly common sense: to become a leader, serve? To become great, become the least? To live, die? Repay evil with kindness, and pray for those who persecute you? To the world, what nonsense! To us, however, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God! (I Corinthians 1:18-31)

OYB: January 16

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Genesis 32:13-20, Genesis 33, Genesis 34
NT: Matthew 11:7-30
Ps: Psalm 14
Pr: Proverbs 3:19-20

Today´s notable verse:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

The One Year Bible Blog notes:

Comments from you & Question of the Day - Based on my last question in the Proverbs section above, have you been keeping up with all of the news and issues of the day surrounding intelligent design / creationism / evolution? I have only kept up at a high level. Are there any websites or books or resources you can recommend to further study intelligent design & creationism? Can anyone offer up a good definition or distinction between intelligent design & creationism - if there is a difference? Do you think it is possible to believe in both intelligent design and evolution - if God's hand was guiding evolution - or no?

I'll have to find the time to write at length on this subject, as it is of interest to me. I think the whole ID-vs-evolution debate is based on bad premises. To answer your question, intelligent design (ID) is simply the alternative to evolution. (Here's my problem with the opposition to ID as scientific theory: if evolution is "sound" science, then it must be - one of the purported arguments against ID - falsifiable. So, if it's a falsifiable theory, then something else must be true. Evolution simply states that random chance produced life as we know it. The alternative to random chance is some non-random event/events. The theory that life came from non-random events is a perfectly valid definition of ID theory.) Creationism, on the other hand, introduces philosophical/moral/religious ideas on top of ID. ID theory itself does not discuss, per se, how or why or by whom or what. Using the term Creationism invokes these issues (in my opinion).

NOTE: The use of the term "evolution" here applies to macro-evolution - speciation - the theory of one species of live evolving through genetic mutuation into a distinct species. The theory of this form of evolution has never been observable nor reproducible: two other fundamental requirements for a theory being considered "sound" science. Micro-evolution, on the other hand - genetic mutation resulting in changes within a species - does happen. No one credibly argues against it.

Note also that evolution is not intended nor is it adequate for answering questions of origin. I think, to ask if evolution can be consistent with the Genesis creation story as a whole would be to invoke questions of origin, and therefore not really appropriate. However, I don't think that evolutionary theory is consistent with the Genesis story for the creation of man. Genesis states that man was a new and unique creation, from the dust of the earth.

I'll write more coherently, and more at length, on this subject in the future.

Sorry For The Delay

Filed in PersonalTags: Computers

My laptop hard drive failed Sunday morning. I'll get caught up on posts this evening. I owe y'all a couple OYB posts.

Oh, yeah... and Anna and I are done; for good. I won't be bothering to hide posts/pics this time, though; what's in the past, is past.

OYB: January 15

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Genesis 31:17-55, Genesis 32:1-12
NT: Matthew 10:26-42, Matthew 11:1-6
Ps: Psalm 13
Pr: Proverbs 3:16-18

Today´s notable verse:

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.

Psalm 13:5-6 (NIV)

The One Year Bible Blog notes:

Comments from you & Question of the Day - In our Matthew chapter 10 readings today we read this teaching from Jesus in verses 24 & 25 - ""A student is not greater than the teacher. A servant is not greater than the master. The student shares the teacher's fate. The servant shares the master's fate. And since I, the master of the household, have been called the prince of demons, how much more will it happen to you, the members of the household!" Do you believe these teachings of Jesus are true? Do we, as students of Jesus, share his fate? What was Jesus' fate? What then is our fate? Have you ever been persecuted or called names because of your faith in Jesus? Should we be surprised when this happens?

Here is part of the fate we share with Christ:

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Colossians 2:9-15 (NIV)

(See also: Ephesians 2:1-5)

As for persecution, we are truly blessed to live in a country in which the worst form of persecution we face is a twisted mis-interpretation of the meaning of "separation of church and state." I am reminded that this One Year Bible Blog group consists of people from all over the world - people some of whom know what real persecution means.

Reporter Discovers Rounding on Food Labels

Filed in Social IssuesTags: Health/Nutrition

I guess it's Pick On day...

On the launch of the new FDA food label requirements, one HealthFinder reporter discovers that labels can legally accomodate for rounding:

THURSDAY, Jan. 12 (HealthDay News) -- When it comes to food labels that list levels of unhealthy trans fats, zero plus zero doesn't always equal zero.

That's because newly implemented U.S. Food and Drug Administration rules on labeling allow foods with less than 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving to claim "zero" grams of trans fats on their labels.

Under these guidelines, which went into effect on Jan. 1, a food with 0.4 grams of trans fats can be listed as having zero trans fats. That means that Americans who consume three or four servings of these foods in a day will have unwittingly eaten an extra gram or two of trans fats.

...Barbara Schneeman, director of the Office of Nutritional Products, Labeling and Dietary Supplements for the FDA said the reason the FDA is allowing foods under 0.5 grams of trans fats to be rounded down to zero is that current detection methods for trans fats aren't very reliable below 0.5 grams.

Um, hello?!? Has our illustrious reporter never before looked at a food label? Has she not noticed that ALL macro-nutrients - fat, carbohydrate, and protein - as well as their sub-categories (e.g. saturated fat, fiber) are subject to the same rounding rules?

Free. This term means that a product contains no amount of, or only trivial or "physiologically inconsequential" amounts of, one or more of these components: fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, sugars, and calories. For example, "calorie-free" means fewer than 5 calories per serving, and "sugar-free" and "fat-free" both mean less than 0.5 g per serving. Synonyms for "free" include "without," "no" and "zero." A synonym for fat-free milk is "skim".

Here's another "shocker" for our reporter: ">1g" means 0.5-0.9 grams. The reason for such rounding? First, the meaningful differences between zero, >0.5, 0.5-0.9, and 1.0g of a macronutrient are negligible. Second, as mentioned in the article, detection methods for such small amounts are not terribly accurate or reliable.

The problem lies not with the rounding, but with the often-asinine "serving" sizes listed on labels. Easy fix: list both the nutrition information for a serving size, as well as for the package as a whole. Most questions of "hidden" amounts of macronutrients would then disappear.

Government-Propogated Stem Cell Obfuscation

Filed in Science, Social IssuesTags: Clone The Truth, Cloning, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

You know, I generally like the web site as a decent roundup of recent studies and information. I don't, however, like it when this government-maintained web site propogates the unnecessary and agenda-driven obfuscation of the stem-cell issue:

TUESDAY, Jan. 10 (HealthDay News) -- What had once seemed a giant leap for science has turned out to be not even the smallest of steps -- for now.

Seoul National University's announcement Tuesday that all of Dr. Hwang Woo-suk's apparently groundbreaking research in human stem cells was faked closes a bitter chapter in the quest to find more and better remedies for human illnesses.

Hwang's only legitimate claim is having cloned the world's first dog, Snuppy.

For those who have pinned their professional and personal hopes on stem cells, the shocking disclosure means this area of research is headed back to square one.

"We're back to the beginning in terms of trying to achieve somatic cell nuclear transfer," said Dr. Susan Okie, a contributing editor with the New England Journal of Medicine.

For the uninitiated, "somatic cell nuclear transfer" (SCNT) is the technical term otherwise known as "therapeutic cloning" - in other words, embryonic stem cell research. The article, however, makes no mention of the differentiation of types of stem cells, nor that adult stem cell research has already delievered many bona fide treatments and therapies (as of July 2005, the stem-cell scorecard reads: Adult 65, Embryonic 0).

The article's out-of-context doom-and-gloom continues:

Research is being reset to "where we were before, where using somatic cell nuclear transfer to derive stem cells is only a theoretical possibility," added David Magnus, director of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethnics. "We're hopeful, but whether it's possible and how long it's going to take is something that is now a complete unknown. This really is a setback in a lot of ways."

The setback is not a death knell for the field, however, experts predicted.

"I think these kinds of experiments will succeed," said Dr. Darwin Prockop, director of the Center for Gene Therapy at Tulane University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. "They will eventually succeed, and perhaps sometime soon."

While SCNT researchers remain "hopeful" that "these kinds of experiments... will eventually succeed", adult and cord-blood stem-cell therapies already succeed, and without the ethical implications or thus-far false hope of embryonic stem cell research:

Leading proponents of research on embryonic stem cells are themselves lowering expectations that dramatic cures to diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s are just around the corner. The Guardian newspaper recently reported that Lord Winston, the most prominent embryonic-stem-cell researcher in the United Kingdom, said that hopes for cures had been distorted by arrogance and spin.

“I view the current wave of optimism about embryonic stem cells with growing suspicion,” Winston told the British Association for the Advancement of Science.

Similarly, South Korean cloning expert Curie Ahn now warns that scientists won’t be able to develop cures from embryonic stem cells for three to five more decades. In experiment after experiment, scientists are learning that embryonic stem cells are too carcinogenic or “wild” for therapeutic purposes.

Back to the article, more mis-information:

The damage to the public's perception of stem cell research is likely to linger, Prokop added: "Every time you say stem cell for a while, people will think 'fraud.'"

Nevertheless, stem cell research with the potential for real breakthroughs continues...

The article's one "more information" source link is to the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), hardly an unbiased source, as ISSCR are ardent supporters of embryonic stem cell research, and their FAQ discounts adult stem cell research as well as the already proven therapies from adult stem cell research.

OYB: January14

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Genesis 30, Genesis 31:1-16
NT: Matthew 10:1-23
Ps: Psalm 12
Pr: Proverbs 3:13-15

Today´s notable verse:

I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

Matthew 10:16 (NIV)

The One Year Bible Blog notes:

Matthew 10 verse 16 stands out - "Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. Be as wary as snakes and harmless as doves." This is good advice for us today as well. Jesus is still sending us out today as his followers. And I do think this teaching is wise - for us to be wary and harmless at the same time. It's an interesting line to walk, but I believe a wise one. I believe the only way to really walk this line well is through the blessing of the Holy Spirit. I don't think we can do it on our own...

I chose this verse as today's notable verse as well. Though, the connotation of the NIV's translation as "shrewd as snakes" seems to have more emphasis than the NLT's translation as "wary as snakes." The ESV and Youngs Literal Translation translate this phrase as "wise as serpents", Darby translates as "prudent as serpents", Wycliffe translates as "sly as serpents." The original Greek word used here is phronimos, which means "practically wise, sensible" and is derived from phroneo, which means "to have understanding, to think." Perhaps this understanding brings much more clarity, eh? Jesus is telling his disciples to think and to understand; to be wise, practical, and sensible with respect to the world around them, and the people with whom they interact. The term in, but not of applies here, since Jesus also tells his disciples to be "blameless as doves." Indeed, it is a fine line to walk - to learn enough of the world and of people to understand them, yet to keep ourselves set apart from the world, and from worldly people. If we separate ourselves from the world, we don't risk being influenced by the world - but we also have no opportunity to influence the world for Christ, as salt and light. I would rather face my own failure to set myself apart from the world and risk sinning than isolate myself from the world and risk the opportunity to help one who is lost in the world to find Christ. You know what, either way, I'm going to sin. I do, every day! But on the one hand, God can use me; on the other, I am useless. I would much rather be a useful sinner than useless sinner. Either way, my salvation is secure; but, oh, that I would hear, "Well done, my good and faithful servant!"

Comments from you & Question of the Day - Based on my discussion of "The Red Tent" by Anita Diamant above, are there other Biblical fiction books that you have read that you would recommend? The Red Tent is the first Biblical fiction book I have read, and I'd like to read some more. Please post up in the Comments section below any other Biblical fiction books you'd recommend?

I know it's probably not exactly what you are looking for, but Eli by Bill Myers was a great read. It is a parallel-universe "what-if" book based on the premise that the Gospel story happens in the present-day United States. (Bill Myers' Fire of Heaven trilogy is great as well, but it is apocalyptic Christian fiction, and definitely outside the scope of the question. His best book may be Face of God.)


Bald Man Blogging poses this question:

Then he touched their eyes and said, “Because of your faith, it will happen.” And suddenly they could see! Jesus sternly warned them, “Don't tell anyone about this.” But instead, they spread his fame all over the region.

Curious why Jesus didn't want them to say anything. As a result of their testimony, legions of sick were brought to Jesus wherever he went. Was he hoping to escape the crowds and get on to something else? Was this great healing ministry a “sidetrack” to Jesus' real purpose? Again, I don't have answers; just questions.

I can think of several reasons Jesus may have given the erstwhile blind men such a command (and he does so elsewhere, as well) - reasons consistent with what we know of Christ. Perhaps it was a matter of timing? Even with Jesus, his ministry had a specific timing in which he was to carry it out - just as we today see the element of timing in God's plan for our lives. Perhaps it was important the Jesus' ministry that those who sought him for healing did so because of their belief in who he claimed to be, rather than their belief in the testimony of those whom he had already healed. Perhaps these men (and others to whom he gave the same command) needed some element of personal/spiritual growth that could only be accomplished through their subsequent experience with living healed yet unable to explain how or by whom. All of the above? None? This question is perhaps one of those for which we won't know the answer until Christ's return.