It is all ‘Greek’ to me!

 

If I were able to choose an ability to be gifted with it would be a gift for languages.

It would be wonderful to be able to pick up a previously unknown language simply by hearing a few words of it spoken.

Imagine being able to see a written word and be able to give the English equivalent with a minimum of study.

Sadly this ability is given to very few, for the most it takes many years of hard study.

My efforts to translate Latin phrases have fallen down because while a dictionary may give me the meaning of the word, unless can understand the declension i.e. grammatical variation of form, you cannot completely understand the writer’s meaning.indexlatin.jpeg

Additionally, you need a greater understanding of grammar than I currently possess.

Recently it has been made clear to me that the Greek of the New Testament has in its words greater shades of meaning and richness than can be adequately conveyed in English translations.

To give you an idea of this I would suggest you peruse a copy of the ‘Amplified ‘Bible.

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It does make for rather cumbrous reading but does reveal the depth of thought of the New Testament writers under the Spirit’s guidance.

One teacher’s educational course for biblical ‘Greek’ was called appropriately ‘Greek’ for the rest of us’.greek alph

While I would not expect us all to try for a working knowledge of the languages of Scripture it is still imperative that we grow and get deeper in our understanding of the Word.

A Basic knowledge of the imperatives of Christianity is fine at the outset of the Christian life but can hardly sustain the growth necessary to the believer.

True, we cannot content ourselves with a mere ‘academic’ knowledge of the Word.

It must be applied daily to our experience and thinking in dependence of the one who ‘breathed’ it to the writers of Scripture in the first place.

The modern trend of relegating and trivializing Scripture makes our efforts to grasp its truths all the more imperative.

Athenasia

The best that modern medical science and ‘New Age’ philosophy can offer is ‘Euthanasia’, a (supposedly) ‘good’ death. Only God in Christ can give ‘Athanasia’, eternal life.

A ‘rust bucket’

220px-HMAS_Melbourne_(R21)_San_Diego_1977

An author writing about the last days of service of Australia’s last Aircraft Carrier; the H.M.A.S. Melbourne, states that the crew no longer engaged in ‘scraping’ the ships paintwork, to remove the rust underneath. Apparently finding, it had developed to such a stage that it was only the rust that held sections of the ship together.

He writes that the ‘gangways’ were so rusty that members of the crew fell through them.

He adds that this state of affairs was understandable because this warship was only built to last for the duration of the emergency of the Second World War.

As it was, it the ‘Melbourne’ served the Royal Australian Navy for over thirty years.

Historically, there have always been those who regard the Bible in much the same way as this grand old ship.

They think the Scriptures are ‘past their used by date’ and of no more than historical or sentimental interest.

These people are forever finding ‘rust’ where it is not there and imaginary ‘barnacles’ which they would gladly remove. If they could but throw overboard those things in the Scriptures they see as superfluous, obsolete and offensive they would be well pleased.

Yet in the end they discover that they only sink themselves while the Bible keeps afloat all those who trust in God and remain aboard it.

An author writing about the last days of service of Australia’s last Aircraft Carrier; the H.M.A.S. Melbourne, states that the crew no longer engaged in ‘scraping’ the ships paintwork, to remove the rust underneath. Apparently finding, it had developed to such a stage that it was only the rust that held sections of the ship together.

He writes that the ‘gangways’ were so rusty that members of the crew fell through them.

He adds that this state of affairs was understandable because this warship was only built to last for the duration of the emergency of the Second World War.

As it was, it the ‘Melbourne’ served the Royal Australian Navy for over thirty years.

Historically, there have always been those who regard the Bible in much the same way as this grand old ship.

They think the Scriptures are ‘past their used by date’ and of no more than historical or sentimental interest.

These people are forever finding ‘rust’ where it is not there and imaginary ‘barnacles’ which they would gladly remove. If they could but throw overboard those things in the Scriptures they see as superfluous, obsolete and offensive they would be well pleased.

Yet in the end they discover that they only sink themselves while the Bible keeps afloat all those who trust in God and remain aboard it.

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It is all ‘Greek’ to me!

I.F.F.!

Iff

Identification, friend or foe (IFF) is an identification system designed for command and control. It enables military and civilian air traffic control interrogation systems to identify aircraft, vehicles or forces as friendly and to determine their bearing and range from the interrogator. IFF may be used by both military and civilian aircraft. IFF was first developed during the Second World War, with the arrival of radar, and several infamous friendly fire incidents.

Despite the name, IFF can only positively identify friendly targets, not hostile ones. If an IFF interrogation receives no reply or an invalid reply, the object cannot be identified as friendly, but is not positively identified as foe. (From Wikipaedia)

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Is there a spiritual equivalent of I.F.F.?

All believers have a standard or rule by which they assess the reality and degree of another person’s Christianity or indeed whether they are Christians at all.

It may depend on the length of time that we know them or how open and above board they are about themselves. Also we make judgments based on what we see of their behavior outside of Christian circles.

We are more likely to give the professing Christians we encounter, ‘higher marks’ because of their likeability and generosity.

We may find that because their theology or preference of worship somewhat conforms to ours, we are entitled to assume that they are at least on the right track with their Christianity.

On the other hand, we may look at the company they keep or their shortcomings in theology as mitigating factors when accepting them as a friend and fellow believer.

Again, we may see their lingering sinful propensities or perceived laxity in some areas as reasons for caution and even separation.

Unfortunately we are fallible, and therefore likely to draw false and hasty conclusions in our judgment of others.

We can ‘write off’ some people as if they were a car, not worth the effort or money to repair.

There are in ‘today’s’ Christianity, many ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’ and it makes the discerning of friend from enemy vital. Yet in like manner, as the disciples when they called upon Jesus to rebuke the man discovered casting out demons in His Name, we may find the response to our efforts to be a similar rebuke.

The need for discernment in the Christian’s life is necessary, today more than ever. The danger comes when it is pursued in the wrong spirit and zeal.

Wish as we may, we are not the judge, jury and executioner of those we encounter day by day.

God alone is the ultimate judge of men and women.

It is not our ‘place’ to consign people to “the uncovenanted mercies of God’.

It is conceivable that some of our present enemies will become our future friends and sadly, the vice versa.

While we may find much to criticize and deplore about some people’s practice and beliefs, we are nevertheless, to seek their eternal welfare and holding fast to the truth of God.

There is a time and place for us to imitate  ‘metaphorically ‘John Knox and his two – handed sword but for the most part all that is required is a well considered and kindly word spoken in Christian love.

In short, like the original I.F.F. system, our ability to evaluate others is not infallible. Only God truly knows the hearts of men and women.

It is His mercy and truth we seek for others and for ourselves.

Let us pray for not only the serpent’s wisdom but also the dove’s harmlessness.

Let us aim most of all, for the manifestation within ourselves of a Christ-like spirit.

 

Our New Relationship!

george 5 ascot

King George the fifth was a stickler for dress and punctuality, but so enchanted was he with his new ‘daughter in law’ that one morning when she came down to breakfast and apologized for her lateness, the king replied that He and the remainder of the company must have sat down too early.503dc7ab4f3d7751b3877a9a4d01d0cf--bowes-lyon-george-vi

Infinitely more so, our new relationship as believers with God ,as our heavenly Father, through union with Christ removes the penal displeasure that is our due as sinners.

The Christian is brought to  see,  as never before, God’s loving countenance and tender compassion for our weakness and frailties.

Even our sins and straying from the right path draws out His loving-kindness and Shepherd – like care and reveals His willingness to forgive and the call for our return, attended with the promise of mercy and restoration.

All of these mercies and blessings come to us through our union and oneness with Christ Jesus our Lord.

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I.F.F.!

The Bigsworth’ Board.

The ‘Bigsworth’ board’ was issued to aircraft navigators and observers so that they had a convenient way to plot their aircraft’s course in flight.indexbigsworth board

(Captain W.E. Johns named his famous character “Biggles” after the man himself as he had worked with him at the British Air ministry.)

Bigsworth served with distinction during the First World War and was awarded a D.S.O. and bar for daring attacks against a German Zeppelin and an enemy submarine.)

In the often cramped confines of an aircraft, especially in the old “open cockpit” days, the Bigsworth’ board was a useful help to airman.

In an infinitely higher sense the Bible is a vital tool to help us navigate through life.

Like an aircraft pilot it is easy to go off our appointed course. We also need to be able to check our progress and be forewarned of dangers that loom before us, like jagged mountain ranges.

The Word of God charts the landmarks which confirm that we are heading on the right bearing and flying at the right altitude.bigsworth board

The Bigsworth’ board also prevented the airman’s chart from blowing away in the slipstream.

Similarly, the Bible despite the efforts some to “blow” it away, remains firm, intact and a reliable revelation of God’s holy will.

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Gee & Oboe!

Gee, sometimes written GEE, was a radio navigation system used by the Royal Air Force during World War II. It measured the time delay between two radio signals to produce a fix, with accuracy on the order of a few hundred metres at ranges up to about 350 miles (560 km). It was the first hyperbolic navigation system to be used operationally, entering service with RAF Bomber Command in 1942. (Its basic system was later developed into the far more effective Gee H system.)LORAN_AN-APN-4_receiver_set.jpg

Oboe was a British aerial blind bombing targeting system in World War II, based on radio transponder technology. The system consisted of a pair of radio transmitters on the ground, which sent signals which were received and retransmitted by a transponder in the aircraft. By comparing the time each signal took to reach the aircraft, the distance between the aircraft and the station could be determined. The Oboe operators then sent radio signals to the aircraft to bring them onto their target and properly time the release of their bombs. (quotes from Wikipaedia)Oboe_control_room

The German defenders furiously tried to jam or at least fool these systems and thus limit their success.

They also sought to use them as a means of locating and intercepting British bombers.

God has provided the believer with “navigational “aids and protective equipment to guide and guard them on their journey through the world.

The enemy of the saints by cunning ploys, temptations and persecution tries to jam the signal God has sent and tries to misdirect the Christian by employing false beacons to put them off course.

Therefore we have to take every possible care to differentiate the true Word of God from false distortions of the gospel and Worldly cares and desires that are attempting to drown it out.

We must remain alert and on our guard against the “night fighters” and anti aircraft artillery which Satan daily sends to intercept and destroy the follower of Christ.

A “Split Infinitive”

“In the English language, a split infinitive or cleft infinitive is a grammatical construction in which a word or phrase comes between the to and the bare infinitive of the to form of the infinitive verb. Usually an adverb or adverbial phrase comes between them.

A well-known example occurs in the opening sequence of the Star Trek television series: “to boldly go where no man has gone before“; the adverb boldly is said to split the infinitive to go. Sometimes more than one word splits the infinitive, as in: “The population is expected to more than double in the next ten years”.

In the 19th century, some grammatical authorities sought to introduce a prescriptive rule against the split infinitive. The construction is still the subject of disagreement, though modern English usage guides have dropped the objection to it.

(Quoted from Wiki.)

The reading of this definition did not help me at all!

No other grammatical issue has so divided English speakers since the split infinitive was declared to be a solecism (error, inconsistency or impropriety ), in the 19th century : raise the subject of English usage in any conversation today and it is sure to be mentioned.

— Henry Watson FowlerPocket Fowler’s Modern English Usage 

Henry Alford, (7 October 1810 – 12 January 1871) was an English Churchman best known for his 8 volume edition of the New Testament in Greek. (From Wikipedia)Henry_Alford.jpg

In his work “A plea for the Queen’s English” (published in 1866,) Alford professes a profound distaste for the use of the “split infinitive” in grammar but gives no real evidence to support his dislike.

I doubt whether many non-grammarians would concern themselves today with the rights and wrongs involved here.

We all have our ‘pet’ peeves when it comes to a variety of subjects.

My current dislike, in the field of grammar and pronunciation is the practice of people saying “everythink” when they should say “everything”.

Also, the new and common practice of describing a person’s behaviour as ‘precious’ is an innovation that I find irritating.I have no real idea what they mean when they say this.

How do these adjectives apply to a person’s particular behavior in a given circumstance?

Over the progress of the ages, manners of speech and common expressions  change in meaning and may fall out of use altogether.

To some extent, for good or ill, this also occurs in the way we understand and speak about Christianity.

Some find the expressions used in Scripture distasteful,  so they seek to tone them down or replace them with what they perceive as ‘unoffensive’ phrases and use words which are less likely to polarize and divide.

The usual result is a message that bears little or no resemblance to the gospel ,”once for all delivered to the saints” Jude 1:3

It is God’s Message we seek to proclaim and we cannot play fast and loose with it.

Rather we must express ourselves in ways that accurately and faithfully convey this “gospel” to a sinful and desperately needful world.

welldoing

 

 

The Bigsworth’ Board.

Implosion!

The term building implosion can be misleading to laymen: The technique is not a true implosion phenomenon. A true implosion usually involves a difference between internal (lower) and external (higher) pressure, or inward and outward forces, that is so large that the structure collapses inward into itself.implosion

In contrast, building implosion techniques do not rely on the difference between internal and external pressure to collapse a structure. Instead, the goal is to induce a progressive collapse by weakening or removing critical supports, therefore the building can no longer withstand gravity loads and will fail under its own weight. (quoted from wiki)

It seems to me, that there are spiritual and emotional equivalents of an “implosion”.

People are often referred to as ‘going to pieces’ in times of overwhelming sorrow and emotional stress.

The old joke is that some people “go to pieces so fast that others get hit by the shrapnel”.

Emotionally volatile people, in trying times, tend to strike out at those in the vicinity; which may provoke family, friends and colleagues to ‘steer clear’ of them for a while.

Others, when under stress and feelings of despair become withdrawn. Their emotions contract and behavior implodes into introversion and they free-fall in on themselves.

A hedgehog may find this a good defense mechanism: but for everyone else it does more harm than good.

It has the effect of cutting off or hindering the comfort and help others may bring.

I have often been called an introvert.

I often wonder if anything I say to people makes any sense to them and if I connect with them at any level.

The people, I more easily converse with and who seem to understand me most are certainly few and far between.

If people do not react to me in the way I expect, my tendency is to resort introspection and wonder what is wrong with me.

We sometimes feel that it is better limit interaction with others and just speak when you are spoken to.

Some of us only need a little push to turn us into ‘hermits’.

In trying times, the Christian is not impervious to the temptation to close the shutters and doors on everyone and everything and fly away to a place of quiet and solitude in the hope of finding tranquility.

King David understood this feeling more than most.

The danger comes when we turn away from God and thus shun the only true source of aid and comfort.

Phillip Yancey wrote a book called “Disappointed with God”.

We may arrive at a point where we feel that God is letting us down or even spiritually ‘short-changing’ us. We feel as if God is far away and uncaring.

We may, in a fit of spiritual pique give God the silent treatment or go off in a “huff”; “cursing the day of our birth”?

People in high emotion, dudgeon or resentment, are often said to be “seeing red”.

Being this condition affects the way they perceive and handle things.

In like manner, our view of God is often coloured and clouded by the way we are feeling at the time.

The state of a Christian’s relationship with God influences for ‘good or ill’ all other relationships.

If we are open and honest with God we are more likely to be so with our fellow believers.

Focusing on Christ, takes our mind off ourselves and our own problems and makes our focus the pleasing of our heavenly Father and doing good to those around us.

A spiritually healthy relationship with Christ promotes better relations with other Christians and makes us more desirous to seek the welfare and salvation of those who do not know the Saviour.

One fruit of opening ourselves to Jesus Christ is that we find more peace and are less liable to fall to pieces in a crisis.

True this may not always be the case.

The Christian is still a work in progress.

However the closer we cling to Christ, who knows well how to still storms, the less likely we will be to implode spiritually.

Even if we do collapse in some degree, He is willing and able to rebuild and renew us.

building reconstruction

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Jeremiah and Baruch.

To be a faithful servant of God and our Lord Jesus Christ is not always an easy or flesh pleasing task.

Jeremiah, in his day, was given the task of delivering God’s message of impending judgment to the Jewish nation.

The people’s heinous sins and blatant disobedience of God’s law made punishment inevitable.

Jeremiah’s warnings of future judgment, call for repentance and a return to obedience provoked a hostile and sometimes violent response from the leaders of the people.

This took a toll on his sensitive nature.images jerem

He suffered greatly due to the emotional stress and strain involved in preaching an unpopular message to a self righteous and self satisfied people.

The prophet’s obedience and faithfulness to God brought upon him, among other things accusations of treason and sedition against his own nation.

He ‘fell foul’ of the religious leaders and own countryman and like Elijah before him was regarded as a “troubler of Israel”.

Jeremiah suffered reviling, persecution and physical abuse and this made his life almost unbearable.

The book of Jeremiah wrote reveals him to be a person of tender nature and highly developed sensibility.

His profound love for God and his people were constantly in conflict within him: despite this, he remained unswervingly faithful to God and His Word.

No doubt, this man of God would have preferred preaching a message comprising only good news, with promises of unending blessing and a rosy future for all. This was not what he was called to do.

Jeremiah, in faithfulness to his call from God did not shrink from delivering the message given to him regardless of the consequences.

It was a message of imminent judgment that resembled a swift approaching and potentially devastating storm.judgement

The “door” of God’s long suffering was revealed as nearly shut: tragically, it was the people who were fast closing it upon themselves. This was due to their willful obstinacy and disobedience to God’s revealed will.

The prophet instinctively sought the welfare and salvation of his people and to be compelled to deliver a message of impending slaughter and a humiliating exile for the few survivors, grieved him sorely.

Jeremiah doubtless, fervently hoped that the nation would turn in repentance and walk again in the path of godly obedience: this surely would have forestalled the judgment to come.

God would have come to them instead with forgiveness, mercy and love.

Sadly, the leaders, priests and people persisted in their idolatry and sin.

The nation careered out of control, going from bad to worse thus making God’s judgment inevitable.

In the depths of his sorrows, Jeremiah tried to bottle up and restrain the word of God within him.

 It was getting all too much for him.

Perhaps if he could remain silent, at least for a time, he could have enjoyed a brief respite and found a little peace.

But nothing could stifle the message of God within him; it burned in his soul, like an active volcano seeking to vent itself and erupt.index vol

The prophet records some of the struggle in his soul.

He felt that God had somehow tricked him, and was giving this message of judgment to the wrong and completely unsuitable man.

Perhaps the prophet, in common with the rest of the people, had grown so accustomed to think of God solely, in the terms of love and mercy.

To the typical Jew, God’s judgment was reserved for the Gentile nations that did not know Him. They thought God would only act for the salvation and deliverance of His people. To think otherwise was a considerable wrench for someone like Jeremiah

The prophet’s message tore away the façade of superficial worship and “lip service” paid to God by the people and held to the “light” the kingdom’s idolatry, corruption and spiritual bankruptcy

God’s imminent coming instead of an expected source of blessing and hope was instead a visitation as Judge and executioner.

The only remedy for the back-slidden people was repentance and reformation: of which there was, as yet no evidence.

One could imagine Jeremiah thinking, “Surely God could have raised up some one like Elijah to deliver this message of judgment. He would have stood like an “oak tree” against this storm of reproach: Why did he choose someone like me? I feel like a plant in the desert, withering from the heat of the sun”!

Jeremiah no doubt, sorely felt every hurtful barb and took to heart every sarcastic sneer.

He bewailed his appointed lot and resented every aspersion made against his character and patriotism.

Yet it was to this “sensitive soul” that the Word of the Lord came and no plea of inadequacy on Jeremiah’s part was sufficient to dissuade God from His choice.

Regardless of his own feelings and despite all of the consequences, this man of God fulfilled his divinely appointed task and faithfully proclaimed the Word of the Lord.

Jeremiah was not the only one who suffered during this pivotal period in Judah’s history.

Baruch the son of Neriah, Jeremiah’s secretary and amanuensis, took some of the “flack” from the affronted and disgruntled leaders of the nation.jer and bar.jpeg

The role he played in the proclamation of God’s sobering message cost him dearly.

Baruch appears to have been a relatively young man with perfectly natural hopes and aspirations for the future. These were to be greatly curtailed by soon occurring, prophesied events.

Baruch’s intimacy and collaboration with Jeremiah in his ministry, made his life difficult and perilous. Added to this, the prospect of impending conquest and foreign exile quashed many of his hopes for the future.

So profoundly did this effect him that God in his mercy, addressed his sorrowful state.

45 When Baruch son of Neriah wrote on a scroll the words Jeremiah the prophet dictated in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, Jeremiah said this to Baruch: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to you, Baruch: You said, ‘Woe to me! The Lord has added sorrow to my pain; I am worn out with groaning and find no rest.’ But the Lord has told me to say to you, ‘This is what the Lord says: I will overthrow what I have built and uproot what I have planted, throughout the earth. Should you then seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them. For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the Lord, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life.’”Jeremiah 45: 1-5

Faithfulness to God’s Word often involves heartache and suffering.

Sadly, many today shirk their duty and studiously avoid the unpleasant truths that God calls them proclaim and the holy life they are commanded to lead.

We all have hopes and aspirations in this world but we also know that this “world is passing away and the lust of it” 1 John 2:17.

We have an uncertain lease on our earthly life with no guarantee of health and prosperity.

The Christian’s call requires the setting aside of our own interests, hopes and desires and our seeking to faithfully fulfill our duty in serving God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jeremiah’s message was not all death and despair. Beyond the gloom the light of hope shone.

Behold, I will attend to you for the evil of your doings,” says the Lord. “But I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries where I have driven them, and bring them back to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them; and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor shall they be lacking,” says the Lord.

“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord,
“That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness;
A King shall reign and prosper,
And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.
In His days Judah will be saved,
And Israel will dwell safely;
Now this is His name by which He will be called:

THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. (Jeremiah 23:2b-6)

 

Let us be faithful and obedient to His Word and service even when the consequence for our obedience is to be hated and persecuted!

The Lord knows those who are His and will reward their faithfulness to His Truth.

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Implosion!