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Showing posts from August, 2009

QQC--The NERVE!

Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Exodus 12:32 The last plague has hit Egypt. All the firstborn sons and animals have been killed unless they were inside a building that was marked with blood on the door. Pharaoh and all Egypt have had it. “Go, already!” But wait! Pharaoh has a request: “Please bless me!” Excuse me? You’ve enslaved God’s people for centuries, you’ve ordered the death of their newborn sons, you’ve refused to let God’s people go all the times they’ve asked and now you want a blessing? I don’t think so! But we don’t know. Did Moses bless him? Or not? What is your guess? Previous | Next Return to Quirks, Queries and Commentary's Main Page

"My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult

Anna was a designer baby, engineered to be a perfect tissue match for her older sister who is dying from a rare form of leukemia.But when does she get to have her own life?When does she get to say if and when her body can be harvested for parts?What if her sister's needs collide with her own?Campbell is an expensive lawyer who assumes that any teen girl who wants to hire his services would be better served by Planned Parenthood and really doesn’t want to mess with a thirteen-year-old—especially one whose vocabulary and technical knowledge exceeds some assistants he’s had.He agrees to help her sue her parents for the right to her own body in exchange for polished doorknobs but can he win the case?Does the girl really want him to?Sara is Anna’s mother who knows more about leukemia, hospitals and edge-of-life living than any mother should.She simply wants her eldest daughter to live and enjoy life for as long as possible.It’s ridiculous to even imagine that the younger one might not.…

QQC--Grace and Belief

Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Exodus 9:13-19 God provided a way out of the devastation of the plague of hail. If the Egyptians would bring their animals and workers into shelter, they would not be affected by the plague. In order to take advantage of this grace of God, however, they had to believe that God would really do what he said he would do and then act on it. Not everyone did. We can be like that. God offers his grace to us but until we believe that he will do what he says he will do, we're not likely to accept that grace. Despite our theologies, we are often a people of very little faith. Previous | Next Return to Quirks, Queries and Commentary's Main Page

"Freeing the Sabbath"

The floors were washed and waxed, furniture dusted and polished, clutter cleaned up, schoolwork put away, the aroma of tomorrow’s meals filled the senses.All work was done and now was a time to rest and relax. It was Friday evening, the sun had set and Sabbath had begun.I grew up in a Seventh-day Adventist home where Sabbath-keeping was de rigour.It put us out of step with everyone else, and many of my peers disliked the restrictions but I have fond memories of those days.“Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.”“Holy” means set apart and as you read the fourth commandment (Exodus 20:8-11) you can see that no work was allowed—not even for the servants and slaves.I attribute my love of God and knowledge of the Bible to the observation of the Sabbath as a child—at least in part.What child would not love an entire 24-hour period where no housework, no schoolwork, no work of any kind was allowed (though farm kids had chores to do—cows needed to be milked, for example, and animals needed…

"Nineteen Minutes" by Jodi Picoult

Nineteen minutes—that’s all it took for a boy to shoot his way through his small-town high school, kill one teacher and ten students and wound many more.It’s the length of time it took for the police to be called, siren their way to the school and race through the scared, wounded and dead before apprehending the shooter.That’s all it took to change some lives forever.As we are lead through the aftermath of the tragedy and through the trial from the perspective of several key people, the author takes us back to the beginnings.What would possess a teenager to wreak such carnage?Why did he make a special note to spare one girl?At the end of her acknowledgements, Picoult writes: “...to all the thousands of kids out there who are a little bit different, a little bit scared, a little bit unpopular: this one’s for you.”Perhaps it’s because I was one of those thousands that this book resonated so clearly in me.It’s a story that discusses what we do to be accepted and what we do when we’re rej…

Beatitudes for the Inner City

Blessed are the captive, for they will be set free.Blessed are the marginalized, for they will be first in the kingdom of heaven.Blessed are the hungry, for they will be fed.Blessed are the bruised and battered, for they will be healed.Blessed are the lonely, for they will find friendship with God.Blessed are those who sacrifice for others, for they will have an abundance.Blessed are the mentally ill, for they will learn to rely on God.Blessed are those who struggle with sin, for they will learn obedience.Blessed are the tired, for they will find rest.Blessed are the homeless, for they will have mansions in heaven.Blessed are the unloved, for they will experience God’s love.My church is in the middle of the worst part of town.Here we find gangs, drunks, sniffers, druggies, prostitutes, the homeless, the destitute and more.The largest ethnic population is aboriginal, who certainly have been marginalized and disenfranchised here in Canada.Many of the homeless are the mentally ill who ha…

QQC--Wasn't the Livestock Dead Already?

Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Exodus 9:1-7, 13-19 Hail was the seventh plague God brought upon Egypt. "Give an order now to bring your livestock and everything you have in the field to a place of shelter, because the hail will fall on every man and animal that has not been brought in and is still out in the field, and they will die." But wait a minute! "All the livestock of the Egyptians died" in the fifth plague! What was left to be killed by hailstones except the people left out to work (poor blokes--surely they weren't Israeli slaves!)? Previous | Next Return to Quirks, Queries and Commentary's Main Page

QQC--"I Spared You for this Very Purpose!"

Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Exodus 9:13-19As God led up to announcing the plague of hail to Pharaoh, he informed the monarch that he, God, could have wiped Pharaoh and all his people off the earth by this time, but he had chosen not to. Why? "I have raised you up [footnote: spared you] for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." That particular pharaoh existed for the very purpose of God showing his glory. It could be argued that God raised Pharaoh up specifically to torment his, God's, people. This sounds contrary to popular beliefs about God--God will do only good things for his people. Many people suffered under the slavery Pharaoh had imposed on the Israelites but this is the backdrop God needed to show his glory. If there was no fight with Pharaoh, God's people could have just picked up and left and God's glory and power would be doubted by everyone. Instead, not only were the Egypt…

"Terrify No More"

Terrify No More by Gary A. HaugenEarlier this year, a man representing the International Justice Mission came to speak to my church.I was so fascinated by what he said that I bought all three books written by the president and founder of IJM.I finished the first two in a week or two.Oh that there were more doing what this Christian organization does!In many places, not just third-world countries, slavery is a scourge that victimises millions of people including little girls who are sold or abducted into prostitution.We would all confess to being outraged that this is happening, but what can we do to stop it?If we find a way to remove the girls from the adults that control them, those adults will simply find more to abuse.The key, then, is to put the abusers out of business and send a message to others that the abuse will not be tolerated.This is what IJM does.An important part of their work is undercover—operatives going to brothels posing as johns to gather audio and visual proof tha…

QQC--Why Not "Right Now!"?

Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Exodus 8:8-10
Pharaoh was understandably dismayed with all the frogs that had invaded the land, including the palace and his own bed and bakery so he called Moses, asking him to get rid of all frogs except those belonging in the Nile. When Moses asks him when he wants the frogs to leave, he doesn't say "Today!" but rather, "Tomorrow!" That's odd. I would have wanted them gone right away!
As an aside, I find it amusing that the dead frogs were more of a plague than the live ones because they stank. God could have made them disappear with a zap, but he allowed their carcasses to remain. I can imagine the Egyptians gathering all they could find to toss into the fire and then continue to find, like Easter eggs in my kids' rooms, the odd frog carcass for days and weeks afterwards. What a stinky mess!
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"Death by Love: Letters from the Cross"

Death by Love: Letters from the Cross by Mark Driscoll and Gerry BreshearsThe book arrived by mail during Holy Week this year and so, fittingly, I began to read it on Good Friday.Each of twelve chapters illustrates a truth about what Jesus accomplished on the cross: victory, redemption, sacrifice, gift of redemption, justification, propitiation, expiation, atonement, ransom, exemplar, reconciliation and revelation.Each chapter tells the story of a traumatic event that changed one person’s life.These are reflected in chapter titles such as, “Demons are Tormenting Me,” “My Wife Slept with my Friend,” “I Molested a Child,” “My Daddy is a Pastor,” “My Wife has a Brain Tumor.”The story is brief, outlining what happened and how it has affected the person’s life.Following each story is a pastoral letter by Mark Driscoll, looking at the person’s pain and/or sin through the lens of the Cross.Each letter uses the person’s story to highlight and explain what Jesus can be for that person in their…

QCC--Is it Wrong because "They" Do It?

Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Exodus 8:1-10
The Egyptian magicians had been duplicating everything Moses did. They were able to turn their staffs into snakes, turn water into blood and now produce frogs. We know from the story that Moses wasn't evil or ungodly for producing frogs. It didn't matter how many frogs the magicians produced, Moses was obeying God in doing the same.
I've discovered something disturbing in some Christian circles. They say that because people in Eastern religions or the New Age movement meditate and use silence as part of their religious practices, if Christians are engaged in meditation or contemplative prayer, they are embracing Eastern and New Age spirituality. It is true that there is a dangerous move in some churches towards non-Christian spirituality but we need to be careful that we don't throw out the good with the bad.
The Egyptian magicians produced frogs, the sailors on the ship with Jonah prayed, the prophets of Baal offered a bull on…

Muslim Women and Girls Need Safety in North America

Just recently in Canada, there was a case of a mother, father and brother killing three teen girls and the father's ex-wife because of some offense by one of the girls and the ex-wife. How many women and girls are going to be killed before North American officials realize the very real danger many Muslim girls and women face, even though they've immigrated to our countries of freedom?
Court Expected to Send Runaway Teen Home Despite Muslim Honour Killing Fears Friday, August 21, 2009
By Joshua Rhett Miller YouTube
Rifqa Bary A 17-year-old girl who fled to Florida after converting from Islam to Christianity will almost certainly be forced to return home to Ohio, experts say, despite her fears that she will become the victim of an honor killing for abandoning her parents' faith. Continue reading.

"Killing Fields, Living Fields"

Killing Fields, Living Fields: An unfinished portrait of the Cambodian Church--the Church that would not die is written by former Cambodian missionary, Don Cormack and, with gardening and farming imagery, is the sometimes dry and sometimes riveting history of Protestant Christianity in Cambodia, beginning in 1923 with the first converts and continuing until the time the book was written in 1998.The communist Khmer Rouge took control of the government in 1975 and began to systematically torture and kill so many of their fellow countrymen that the entire country became one large concentration camp.People were killed for no reason and for every reason, their bodies left in mass graves.By 1995, 8,000 mass graves had been found with the expectation of finding as many as 20,000.Cambodia became known as the Killing Fields.What happened to the Church during the brutal rule of the Khmer Rouge?Even before that time, life was difficult for the Khmer (Cambodian) people.The author writes, “The onl…

Mennonites, Mennonites, Everywhere are Mennonites!

Southern Manitoba is filled with Anabaptists of the Mennonite and Hutterite traditions--traditions that object to war and fighting in war, though Anabaptism doesn't refer to pacificism but to adult baptism, which includes all Baptists. Because Mennonites are generously sprinkled through nearly all social, economic, political and religions groups here in Winnipeg and the rest of the province, it is helpful to know their origins. Joe Kissell, for "Interesting Thing of the Day," writes the following:

AnabaptismThe third way of ChristianityThe history of Christianity is alternately fascinating and tragic—often both at the same time. I have always been amazed that the religion whose founder taught his followers to “turn the other cheek” and “love your enemies” has produced so much war, violence, and intolerance over the centuries. Equally amazing to me are the massive and seemingly irreconcilable differences between different brands of Christianity, and even between individu…

QQC--Frogs, Frogs Everywhere!

Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Exodus 8:1-10
Seven days after all the water in Egypt had been turned to blood, God produced so many frogs in the land, they were everywhere--in bedrooms and beds, ovens and kneading troughs. But frogs need water! What had happened to them when the waters were blood? Even frog eggs and tadpoles need water, not blood! There is no natural way this could have happened.

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Father Loses Second Son to Murder-by-Mother

"Mother, Boyfriend Charged in Death of Idaho Boy Found in Canal"An 8-year-old boy, Robert Manwill, was murdered, allegedly by his mother and her boyfriend. What struck me (other than the question: How can a mother kill her own child?) was a paragraph near the bottom of the page:
This is Charles Manwill's second child to die violently. His former wife, Silke Fatma Manwill, stabbed their 4-year-old son, Michael, in the chest in 1993, killing him. She was sentenced to federal prison after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter, and was released in 2002.
That father needs prayer for healing. I can't imagine having one of my children intentionally killed by the other parent, but to then have that repeated sixteen years later with a different child? Unfathomable!
He read a letter to his son at the funeral: "Robert,You were a little light in a dark and cruel world. And you were taken from us long before your life on this earth should have ended.I remember before you…

QQC—Blood and Water

Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Exodus 7:19-24
When Pharaoh refused to let God's people go, God began a show of signs and wonders that were so amazing, they are remembered to this day. Moses met Pharaoh at the river's edge when Pharaoh went for his morning bath. Egypt revered the Nile for it was, by their observation, the source of all good that came to them but God told Moses to stretch his staff "over the waters of Egypt--over the streams and canals, over the ponds and all the reservoirs'--and they will turn to blood. Blood will be everywhere in Egypt, even in the wooden buckets and stone jars." When Moses did this, "all the water was changed into blood."
How then did the Egyptian magicians manage to do the same thing? Where did they find water that wasn't blood to turn into blood if blood was everywhere, even in wooden buckets and stone jars? And how were the people able to dig in the ground for water if all the water had been turned to blood?

QQC--Deceptive Appearances (Or: How Could it Be God?)

Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Exodus 5:19-21Moses made his way to Egypt and appeared to Pharaoh with this request from God: "Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the desert." (Another lie.) But Pharaoh not only refused but made the work of the slaves more difficult by not providing the straw needed to build bricks but not reducing the quota of bricks he expected to be made. The Israelite foremen protested to Pharaoh but got nowhere so they complained to Moses: "May the Lord look upon you and judge you! You have made us a stench to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us." If someone came to your community or church and something they said or did resulted in dire consequences and possibly death for all the people, what would your assumption be? This can't be God! The Israealite foremen (and probably all the slaves) were no different. Certain that this was not God, they cursed the one God sent.I wond…

QQC— More Lying!

Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Exodus 4:18After Moses returned home from the burning bush, he needed to tell his father-in-law he was going back to Egypt but for some reason didn’t want to give the real reason.What did he say?“Let me go back to my own people in Egypt to see if any of them are still alive.” Why did he find it necessary to hide the real reason? Did he think Jethro would laugh at him? Throw him in the nearest mental institution? Was he still unsure that God could really use him to set his people free?Previous| NextReturn to Quirks, Queries and Commentary's Main Page.

QQC— He Ran from the Snake

Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Exodus 4:1-5At the burning bush, in answer to Moses’ concern that he wouldn’t be believed that God sent him, God had him throw his staff to the ground and it became a snake.I’ve always thought of that snake as rather tame and harmless but Moses ran from it—Moses who had just spent forty years in the wilderness caring for sheep.Surely he had met things far worse than a snake, yet he ran from this one.However, despite being so afraid of the creature that he ran from it, when God told him to actually pick it up by the tail, he did!That is faith and trust!Previous| NextReturn to Quirks, Queries and Commentary's Main Page.

QQC--Another Blessed Lie

Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Exodus 3:18It was at the burning bush where Moses, eighty years old, met God and received the instructions that would determine the rest of his life. He was to speak to the elders of Israel, tell them God’s intent to bring his people out of Egypt and then go to the king of Egypt and say these words that God gave him: “Let us take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God.”God had no intention of letting them return to Egypt after they had been gone for three days.It was a ruse, a lie, he told Moses to tell to accomplish his great purpose.Previous | NextReturn to Quirks, Queries and Commentary's Main Page.

The Pirate's Consort

About a week ago, I introduced you to a sea slug that looks very much the pirate. Today I found the "perfect" mate for such a dashing swashbuckler. Doesn't she look elegant with her flowing ball gown (or, if you'd rather, her well-coifed hair)?













Both creatures live in the sea and both are called nudibranch. I haven't a clue what that means but I think their photographs are stunning. The diversity and beauty of God's creation is incredible. Thank you, God!
from National Geographic http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/photo-of-the-day/translucent-nudibranch-pod.html

Perseverance and Hope

The last few weeks have been hard for me--it seems to take very little for me to fall apart and I have done that several times this summer. What do I do when I fall apart? Eat! I eat ice cream and cream-filled pastries and more ice cream, raisin bread toast slathered in butter, regular toast loaded with butter and honey--pretty much anything sweet that I can find. I've been doing a lot of this lately, becoming worse and worse as time progressed until yesterday I stuffed myself with only those foods whose nutritional value was incidental.
I could see what I was doing. I knew I would regret it later, but it was a compelling force that, though I could have ignored it, I didn't want to. My doctor says it comes out of a sense of deprivation inculcated into my mind when I was very little and reinforced through time. I know I eat for comfort but it certainly isn't comfortable to gain ten pounds in a month.
Yesterday, in the midst of it all, I took some notes of my thoughts.�…