A.L.I.V.E.—The “E” Is For Engagement Of Christ’s Followers

Let’s get some insight into the Greco-Roman and Jewish mindsets of the first century AD. Specifically, the mindset of men. 

There is a well-known letter written June 17, 1 BC, from a man named Hilarion, who was gone off to Alexandria, to his wife Alis, whom he has left at home. He writes to her: “If—good luck to you—you bear a child, if it is a boy, let it live; if it is a girl, throw it out.” This letter captures the male-dominated mindset in the Roman world concerning women and children. In a word: inferior or even disposable. 

This mindset wasn’t limited to the world the Jews called “pagan,” but it was prevalent in Judaism too. Every day Jewish men began their morning prayer time with, “God, I thank You that You did not make me a Gentile, a slave, or a woman.” 

With this background, it makes it startling that a Jewish man (who prayed that prayer thousands of times) writing to people in Rome (who undoubtedly had the same mindset as Hilarion), begins his list of thank you notes with gratitude to two women! Paul goes on to list no less than 8 women, even giving preferential treatment to a wife (Priscilla) over her husband (Aquila) when he mentions her name first! (see Romans 16:1-4, 6, 12).

William Barclay wrote, “Anyone who asks the question: ‘What has Christianity done for the world?’ has delivered himself into a Christian debater’s hands. There is nothing in history so unanswerably demonstrable as the transforming power of Christianity and of Christ on the individual life and on the life of society.”

Indeed Christians changed the lives of at least four groups:

  1. Women (especially in the role of marriage)—divorce was so common that it was neither unusual nor particularly blameworthy for a woman to have a new husband every year. Yet Christians taught men to esteem their wives and for marriage to be honored by everyone (Ephesians 5:28; Hebrews 13:4). 
  2. Children—who weren’t even considered a part of the family until they had grown up and proven their worth to the father. Yet Christians taught fathers to nurture their children (Ephesians 6:4).
  3. Senior citizens—the pragmatic Romans had little to do with those they considered less valuable. But the first blind asylum was founded by Thalasius, a Christian monk; the first free medical dispensary was founded by Apollonius, a Christian merchant; the first hospital of which there is any record was founded by Fabiola, a Christian lady.
  4. The weak and sick—when a plague hit Rome, all the young, healthy people left the sick and elderly behind. They ran away, but the Christians stayed to help. The Christians taught that everyone (regardless of age, sex, or wealth) was valuable (1 Timothy 5:1-2). 

That was just the start of Christianity. Men like William Wilberforce and Abraham Lincoln were Christians who opposed slavery; Clara Barton was nicknamed “the angel of the battlefield” and founded the Red Cross; Paul Brand was a doctor who ran to leprosy patients when everyone else shunned them; Mother Teresa loved those poor, dying souls whom others ignored. 

So what’s your conclusion? Throughout history Christians have been martyred for their faith, but not only are they willing to die for their belief that Jesus is alive, but they continue to do good to those who persecute them. Would people do this to perpetrate a hoax? Or does this sound more like the real deal?

Please check out the other evidence I have presented for the resurrection of Jesus:

Jesus Our Healer

“It’s clear from the Gospels that Jesus was a healer. We don’t know the exact number of people He healed, but it was certainly in the thousands, as on many occasions the Gospel writers tell us He healed ‘multitudes.’ We don’t know all the afflictions people suffered from, but they included leprosy, a deformed hand, swollen limbs, hemorrhaging, blindness, deafness, lameness, paralysis, seizures, a severed ear, and even death.

“It’s tempting to believe that all these people were healed by their faith, but we don’t know that for sure. We do know, however, that they were all healed by Jesus.

“I’m not just playing with words here.

“There are about forty different descriptions of healings in the four Gospels (some are described in more than one place), but faith is said to play an explicit part in only a little more than one-third of them. And in most of those healings, the faith of another person, not the afflicted, is stated. Faith is not even mentioned in the majority of Jesus’ recorded healings. Only twice did Jesus remark about someone (the centurion in Matthew 8:10 and the Gentile mother in Matthew 15:28) having great faith before He healed that person’s loved one.

“The common factor in all Jesus’ recorded healing miracles was Jesus Himself—not the faith of the sick people or their loved ones.” —Lynn Eib, in Peace In The Face Of Cancer

Poetry Saturday—See God In Everything

lake-michigan“Give me a new idea,” I said,
While musing on a sleepless bed;
“A new idea that’ll bring to earth
A balm for souls of priceless worth;
That’ll give men thoughts of things above,
And teach them how to serve and love,
That’ll banish every selfish thought,
And rid men of the sins they’ve fought.” 

The new thought came, just how, I’ll tell:
‘Twas when on bended knee I fell,
And sought from Him who knows full well
The way our sorrow to expel.
See God in all things, great and small,
And give Him praise whate’er befall,
In life or death, in pain or woe,
See God, and overcome thy foe.
I saw Him in the morning light,
He made the day shine clear and bright;
I saw Him in the noontide hour,
And gained from Him refreshing shower.
At eventide, when worn and sad,
He gave me help, and made me glad.
At midnight, when on tossing bed
My weary soul to sleep He led.

I saw Him when great losses came,
And found He loved me just the same.
When heavy loads I had to bear,
I found He lightened every care.
By sickness, sorrow, sore distress,
He calmed my mind and gave me rest.
He’s filled my heart with gladsome praise
Since I gave Him the upward gaze.
‘Twas new to me, yet old to some,
This thought that to me has become
A revelation of the way
We all should live throughout the day;
For as each day unfolds its light,
We’ll walk by faith and not by sight.
Life will, indeed, a blessing bring,
If we SEE GOD IN EVERYTHING.” —A.E. Finn

Thursdays With Oswald—The Harmony Of Health

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

The Harmony Of Health

     Health, or physical harmony, is a perfect balance between our organism and the outer world. … The great error of the healthy-minded cult is that it ignores a man’s moral and spiritual life. … The attitude to sickness in the Bible is totally different from the attitude of people who believe in faith-healing. The Bible attitude is not that God sends sickness or that sickness is of the devil, but that sickness is a fact usable by both God and the devil. 

   Happiness or moral harmony is a perfect balance between our inclination and our environment. … The Bible reveals that a man can have physical health at the cost of his moral welfare, and happiness at the cost of spiritual welfare. 

   Holiness, or spiritual harmony, is a perfect balance between our disposition and the law of God. … 

   The devil tries to make us think that when we have entered into the sanctified life, all is done; it is only begun. We have entered into Jesus Christ’s finished work, but remember, says Paul, you have attained to nothing yet; everything is perfectly adjusted, now began to attain and to “grow up into him in all things. These three things develop slowly together: first, the basis of spiritual holiness; second, the building of moral happiness; and third, the decoration of physical health. A full-grown man in Christ Jesus is one who has become exactly like Christ Jesus. “Till we all come…unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). 

From The Philosophy Of Sin

Quite simply Oswald Chambers identifies health as a perfect balance:

  • Physical health balances outside germs against inside defenses.
  • Emotional health balances outside circumstances with inside coping mechanisms.
  • Spiritual health balances God’s law (outside) with our obedience to that law (inside).

Furthermore, Chambers says that Jesus Christ is our measuring stick. We must study God’s Word, and watch Jesus closely to see how He lived out the perfect balance of the Scriptural principles so that we can attain “unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”

Charles Spurgeon To Christians: Don’t Be Afraid

C.H. Spurgeon“Poverty, you may walk through my door, but God is already in my house, and He has chosen me. Sickness, you may intrude into my life, but I have a cure standing ready—God has chosen me. Whatever occurs in the valley of tears, I know He has chosen me. Dear Christian, do not be afraid, for Jesus is with you. Through all your fiery trials, His presence is both your comfort and safety. He will never forsake those He has chosen for His own. ‘Do not be afraid, for I am with you’ (Genesis 26:24) is His unfailing word of promise to His chosen ones who are experiencing ‘the furnace of affliction.’” —Charles Spurgeon

The Hospital

C06C0E2718-1260x467I am reblogging this from Live Dead. I wonder how many Christians are really concerned about the truly sick? The Church should be a hospital for the sick and dying, and Christians everywhere should be rescuing those stumbling toward an eternity separated from God.

In a distant land of the decaying, I happened upon a hospital. There were many pseudo-hospitals, clinics and traditional healers scattered in the shadow of its mighty walls, but a quick inspection proved them dirty and inadequate.

I made my way into the hospital via a backdoor and climbed the stairwell to the top floor. I pushed the door open to the children’s ward and was repulsed by the smell. Children crowded three to a crib. Few if any of them diapered, and it was obvious they had wallowed in their own filth for some time. A cacophony of desperate tears erupted at my entrance. Infants with open lesions lifted their hands in desperate appeal. Others could not muster the strength to stretch out their weakened limbs and simply stared at me with a dull look.

I realized I needed to find the medical staff quickly and ran from the room to do so. Running down the stairs three at a time, I raced to the ward on the floor below me. I rushed in only to stop suddenly at its silence. The ward seemed to stretch interminably. Row after row of the aged stretched out like merging railroad tracks in the distance. They lay there mute and hopeless. On the horizon of that hall I thought I saw a solitary physician, but I would not swear it if under oath. I numbly spun on my heel and continued my search for doctors.

Floor after floor I descended the building and entered ward after ward that burst with the ill and wounded, largely absent of any healers. The horribly burned, maimed and suffering tossed listlessly on filthy sheets vainly waiting for medicine, comfort or cleaning.

I finally arrived on the ground floor. My pace had slowed to a walk by a mounting sense of despair. As I pushed open the ward door, I was smacked in the face by beauty. Fragrant smells wafted from freshly arranged flowers. Soothing music slipped from hidden speakers. The floor gleamed as if recently polished; bright sunshine beamed in the picture windows.

Hospital beds contained patrons smiling in comfort. Some were in critical condition while others appeared only to have minor abrasions or slight temperatures. The puzzling thing about the ward, however, was its activity. Hoards of doctors raced around like frenzied ants. Nurses, technicians and medical assistants jockeyed for elbowroom around each bed. As new patients trickled in, they were practically devoured by aggressive physicians, desperately trying to pull them to the empty bed of their responsibility. Patients seemed over medicated and triple bandaged.

I stopped a physician hurtling by me to join a throng of thirty gathered around one young man who had cut himself shaving. “Please, could you come with me?” I asked. “There are desperately sick patients on the upper floors!” “I would love to,” he replied, “but I have not been called to those floors.”

Another doctor bumped into me as she vainly tried to join a team who argued about who would get to operate on an ingrown fingernail. “Please, ma’am, it is urgent that we have more doctors upstairs,” I pleaded. She scalded me with her eyes, “Can you not see that there are sick people here as well?” I could of course, and I was not suggesting that all the doctors transfer, but couldn’t one or two?

I drifted towards another bustling group who gathered around a pleasant man explaining just how he would like his tummy tightened. “Excuse me, sir,” I asked one of the short doctors who struggled to see over the shoulders of those in front of him, “Could you possibly come help out on a needy floor?” He winced a little and muttered, “You know, I wish I could, but I am not cut out for that kind of stuff. I am glad you can do it, but…well…you know…I just can’t.” And he scuttled off to join a dozen doctors who were reading the chart of a nearby soul.

I tried several more times but was continually rebuffed. Every reason had a measure of truth. Every reason went further to ensure that those struggling for life on the floors above us would certainly die.

I climbed slowly back up the stairs. The music receded, the lovely fragrance faded. The hustle and bustle of clean, intelligent, capable doctors faded into the silence of desperation. I walked with a heavy heart down the silent halls of the neglected. I could not understand it.

I paused to hold the hand of a sufferer, and my tears joined his in anguished refrain. He took one last fragile breath. His eyes framed one last question. And then he passed into the ranks of the damned.

Unstoppable (book review)

UnstoppableNick Vujicic didn’t just write a book called Unstoppable, he embodies unstoppable!

If you are not familiar with Nick’s amazingly encouraging story, check out his first book called Life Without Limbs. In Unstoppable, Nick presents an uplifting follow-up for those facing some of the darkest situations of life: sickness, bullying, suicidal thoughts, purposelessness, lost love, and dead-ends.

Nick weaves together his own life story with those he has interacted with, and ties them all together with a solid strand of scriptural truth. This is not some pie-in-the-sky, three-steps-to-happiness, sappy self-help book. It rings with genuineness because Nick lives out the message of hope. Make no mistake about it, he is realistic about how dark these situations can seem, but instead of offering any get-better-quick schemes, Nick shares the hope that can only come from trusting in a loving Creator.

In the first chapter Nick writes—

I wish I could tell people that if they love God, everything will be okay. The truth is that people still stuffer. They endure sickness, financial problems, broken relationships, and the loss of loved ones. Tragedies occur in every life, and I believe we are meant to learn from them. My hope is that when people who are in pain see that I have a joyful life, they will think, If Nick—without arms and legs—is thankful, then I will be thankful for today, and I will do my best.

From start to finish, this book oozes with unstoppable hope and encouragement!

I am a Waterbrook book reviewer.

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