Jul 1, 2017


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Brake Time!

I want to take this opportunity to thank you for visiting my blogs. I hope each visit has been insightful as well as entertaining.

I will be taking the month of June-July off to do a little exhaling, but I will resume posting come August. Meanwhile, I hope you will continue to return as time permits.

If you have any suggestions or comments feel free to pass them along.

Thank you for your support.


:Philip

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA


America the Beautiful - Ray Charles

May 21, 2017

Mansions Of The Lord - Remebering Our Men And Women



WE REMEMBER, NEVER TO FORGET
THE MEN AND WOMEN
WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES
SO WE CAN BE FREE. 


Happy Memorial Day

Apr 23, 2017

The Christians Who Defunded Jesus

by John Pavlovitz

The President’s proposed budget and the GOP’s recent maneuvers preceding it, seek to drastically reduce or eliminate funding for programs and services that tend to the urgent needs of our most vulnerable, most on the margins, most threatened citizens—the working poor, the hungry, the homeless, the physically sick, the mentally ill, the disabled, the elderly, those in public housing.

It’s a clear, shameless assault on those Jesus called “the least of these;” the ones he lived in solidarity with while here. He told those who would aspire to his likeness, that their treatment of such marginalized people was a direct act, either of affection or neglect toward him. It was the very measure of their religion. In fact (contrary to what preachers have led you to believe), Jesus says that it is in their response to the marginalized, not any altar call or magic prayer or baptism—that their salvation or condemnation comes.

Many Conservative Christians have long contended that the Church not the Government should care for people, and so they’re currently applauding these tactics by the White House. The problem is that they—the people who voted-in the politicians currently dismantling healthcare, de-funding public schools, and eliminating meal programs—are the same people filling many of the country’s churches (which apparently were already supposed to be doing this least-loving.)

Then exactly where and when is this love going to make an appearance?

Right now, I don’t see these Christians rushing en masse to come to the aid of the poor and the homeless, to immigrants and refugees and to those on the margins. We’re not witnessing an overwhelming outpouring of compassion from Conservative church folk who have declared that they’re going to repair the homes and make the lunches and pay for the surgeries and watch the children for the millions about to be kicked to the curb by this President and his Leadership—and we shouldn’t be holding our breath.

The truth is, if these same people who call the Evangelical Church home had been following Jesus’ example all along we wouldn’t be having these conversations, would we? If these professed men and women of God were truly burdened to love their brothers and sisters as they would Jesus, this would be a non-issue. But we do have this epidemic of poverty and pain and hunger, and the disheartening truth is that these Christians are the very people always loudly telling the least to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps,”—neglecting the fact that they have no boots to begin with, and now we’re cutting funding to get them any. These people don’t see the ironic tension of a supposedly “Christian nation” that can’t or won’t care for its most vulnerable, brimming with followers of Jesus in leadership who somehow can reason that not feeding people is compassionate. For some reason a country supposedly filled with followers of a man who spent his ministry years healing the sick—is resistant to universal healthcare.

If I could have 30 seconds with the Conservative Church; with these professed men and women of God who are applauding the President and these policies, I’d say the following:

“If feeding and caring for people is indeed the sole role of the Church and not the Government, why are so many people still starving, still hurting? You’ve been open for business for 2,000 years now—supposedly the business of reflecting the character of Jesus and replicating his life. How much longer is it going to take? Just what in the hell have you been waiting for? When in God’s name are you going to tangibly demonstrate an empathy that resembles Jesus, because from where I’m standing, all I can make out is a whole lot of self-righteous judges who seem determined to pass the buck, unwilling to show empathy, and violently allergic to really loving the least.”

To be honest, I’m not convinced that many of these Republican Christians want their Government or the Church to lift people in need. I think they’d prefer to live with the fictional narrative that poor people are poor because they’re lazy, that those in need, are so because of some moral failing or bad decision. This story allows them to keep the stuff they have, to ignore the call to love their neighbor as themselves, and to feel morally superior in the process.

Jesus says that whatever we do to the poor and the hurting and the hungry—we do to him. That should be a terrifying proposition to supporters of the President who claim the Christian faith or call the American Conservative Church home. This Administration and the many Christians who co-sign its actions toward those who are the most in need of compassion and mercy in these days, are saying with great clarity: “Move along Jesus, we don’t give a damn about you.”

This is what happens when the least are treated as less-than. This is what it looks like when the Church abandons its namesake and tells him to fend for himself.

Forgive them, they know not what they do.

-John Pavlovitz

Hilarious Anti-Masturbation Campaign Waged By BYU

5 Reasons Why the Roman Empire Collapsed


by Patrick Lynch

There is much debate as to the causes of Rome’s destruction. What we do know is that no single factor can be blamed as it was a combination of problems that led to the demise of one of the world’s greatest empires. It reached its peak under Trajan in 117 AD but ultimately, its size caused all manner of problems. Diocletian split the empire in two at the end of the Third Century Crisis, and by then, it was swiftly heading in the wrong direction. Internal and economic factors helped weaken Rome, and the invading tribes were able to take advantage. Realistically, the empire was finished a long time before the last emperor, Romulus Augustus, was deposed in 476 AD.

German historian Alexander Demandt is an expert in the history of ancient Rome and came up with 210 different theories as to why the empire collapsed! In this piece, I will briefly look at just five possible reasons.



1 – Internal Strife

In ‘The History of Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’, Edward Gibbon had a controversial theory. He claimed the rise of Christianity contributed to the fall of Rome as it bred a ‘turn the other cheek’ mentality. He also claimed the religion valued idle and unproductive people and also led to internal divisions. Gibbon wrote this in the 18th century, and modern historians tend to disagree with his analysis.

Gibbon’s claim that Rome was subject to moral decay probably holds more water. In the 2nd Century BC, Polybius wrote of a decline in moral virtue that led to the fall of the Republic. The same affliction appeared to damage the empire. The original ideals, values, and traditions upon which Rome was founded declined and were replaced by a notion that life was cheap and depravity, gluttony, and cruelty were the norm.

The advent of the Gladiatorial Games is one such example. Rome developed a ‘mob’ mentality and these individuals needed to be entertained. The rise of slave labor led to a huge number of unemployed Romans who required state handouts. If they became bored, civil unrest and riots followed. The Games were a means of keeping the public in check and consisted of excessive violence and cruelty. The emperors paid for the games which of course mean the state bore the cost. At one point, setting up the Games cost one-third of the Empire’s income as rulers tried to curry favor with the people.

The breathtaking incompetence of many of Rome’s emperors was yet another problem. Even those with a cursory interest in Roman history will have heard of Nero and Caligula for example. In the early days of the empire, a good ruler would come around now and then to clean up the mess of the inept leaders before him. Towards the end of the empire, there was a succession of weak and clueless emperors incapable of dealing with the ever-growing number of threats.

The Senate acted as an advisory body, but corrupt and power-hungry rulers routinely ignored this advice. Angry senators would plot against the leader and decisions were never made for the good of the empire. The Praetorian Guard were the personal bodyguards of the emperor, but they too became drunk on power. Eventually, they decided who would be emperor and would routinely murder the person on the throne.

The Third Century Crisis almost destroyed the Empire and paved the way for its eventual downfall. From 235-284 AD, there were at least 26 emperors and all, but a handful was murdered. Rome’s traditional trade network collapsed during this period so by the time Diocletian brought an end to the Crisis; the Empire was on its last legs.



2 – Economic Deterioration

As is the case with all great empires, Rome was founded on a strong economic foundation. By its peak in 117 AD, the empire spanned approximately 1.5 million square kilometers and was inhabited by around 130 million people. Trade was crucial to the growth of the Roman economy and its outstanding transport system allowed a huge variety of goods to be imported across its borders. However, governing the empire was an expensive task with enormous military, administrative and logistical costs. A combination of several factors resulted in hyperinflation, heavy taxes, a localization of trade and ultimately, a crippling financial crisis.

The denarius was the main coin used in the first 200+ years of the empire. When it was created, each coin contained 4.5 grams of pure silver and was the equivalent of a day’s wages for the average craftsman/skilled laborer. Once the amount of precious metals entering the empire fell, fewer denarii could be created. This lack of money didn’t prevent greedy emperors from building ridiculous vanity projects, and they decided to reduce the purity of the coinage.

Nero was one of the first emperors to devalue the denarius, and by the time Gallienus took the throne in 253 AD, the coins contained approximately 5% silver and consisted of a bronze core with a thin layer of silver. By 265 AD, the denarius contained 0.5% silver; the result was inflation of up to 1,000% across the empire. By this time, Rome had no more enemies to steal from so taxation was raised. The resulting mess completely paralyzed trade. By the end of the 3rd Century AD, the vast majority of trade was localized with barter methods used instead of the exchange of currency.

To make matters worse, the empire faced an intense labor deficit. For centuries, the empire relied on slaves to work as craftsmen and till the fields. In the latter part of the Republic and the first 150 or so years of the Empire, constant conquest meant there was a steady supply of slaves. By the 2nd Century AD, Roman expansion had practically ground to a halt, so the supply of slaves dried up along with the accompanying plunder. Later on, there was a growing humanitarian sentiment within the empire (when Christianity became the main religion) as Romans began to realize that slavery was wrong. A significant proportion of slaves were freed; this exacerbated the labor problem. -History Collection

Astronomers Spot Giant Planet With 3 Suns

'This is a system for which I would not want to design a calendar'

As amazing as three sunsets and sunrises are, "I think nature will have some other surprises in store for us as we continue exploring," Wagner, a doctoral student at the University of Arizona at Tucson, said via email​.
 
Imagine a planet with triple sunrises and sunsets every day for part of the year, and nonstop daylight at other times.

Astronomers revealed such a place Thursday: a strange new world in the Constellation Centaurus that has not one, not two, but three suns. What's more, a year there lasts half a millennium from Earth's perspective.

Discoverer and lead author Kevin Wagner said he's thrilled "to have seen such a beautiful part of nature that nobody else has seen."
Record-breaking orbit

Triple-star systems with detected planets are rare enough; this is believed to be just the fifth such discovery. But the giant gassy world in this one — formally known as Planet HD 131399Ab — has the biggest known orbit in a multi-star system.


Its orbit is double Pluto's — or roughly 550 Earth years. That's how long it takes to orbit its system's brightest star, a super-size sun. The two smaller stars orbit one another and, as a pair, orbit with their big stellar brother.

Planet HD 131399Ab has four times the mass of our own Jupiter. With such a wide orbit and companion stars, scientists would expect a planet like this to be kicked out in a tug of stellar war. Yet that's not the case.
Triple sunrises, continuous daylight

During part of the planet's orbit, all three stars are visible on the same day, offering triple sunrises and sunsets and allowing for day and night. For about one-fourth of its year — around 100 to 140 Earth years — there's continuous daylight. That's because as the big sun is rising, the two smaller ones are setting.

"With three suns, the planet will see different weird combinations of sunrises and sunsets," said co-author Daniel Apai, a University of Arizona astronomer.

He added: "This is a system for which I would not want to design a calendar."


The astronomers used the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile to spot the planet 320 light-years away. It is one of the few exoplanets — planets outside our own solar system — to be directly imaged. Most exoplanets are identified by periodic dips in starlight as the planets pass between us and their stars.

The team reported the discovery Thursday in the journal Science.

As for the planet's alphabet-soup label, "I wish we had a better name," Wagner noted. There is an official protocol for naming planets and their surface features. The International Astronomical Union, in fact, has a relatively new group to handle public naming campaigns.

"Informally, we called it "The Planet,'" Apai said in an email. "But with more possible planet candidates in sight, we will have to change this soon." -CBC News

A Word Of Grace For You

Dear Friend,

This is the third message in a series on the experiences of grace from which I have learned and grown in my relationship with God. I pray that the Holy Spirit will stir your heart about your own relationship to God through these messages.

I was born to a Christian family, educated in Christian schools from first grade through university, married to a Christian spouse, and employed in Christian service right out of law school. With a resume' like that who needs grace?

What happens if we make the wrong choices, succumb to temptation, or make a mistake or misjudgment? In other words, what do we do when we prove to be human--sinners who fall short of the glory of God? Try harder?

It is humiliating to find out we can't fix what we've broken. Some of us never stop trying. We live like "dry drunks"-- gritting our teeth, clenching our fists, angry and frustrated, making others miserable in our self-absorbed struggle for a perfection that eludes us.

Others give up and say "Even if there is a God, we could never please him. So why make ourselves miserable trying? Let's do whatever we want to do for as long as we can and let nature take its course." When doing whatever we want bumps us up against someone else doing whatever they want or our demands exceed supply, someone is going to be hurt. What then?

Our hearts are riven between what we ought to do and what we want to do. The Apostle Paul's plaintive cry speaks for all of us who have failed to complete the "to do" list whether from exhaustion or neglect -- "Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?" (Rom 7:24). We need relief beyond the limits of our human capabilities and strong enough to deal with the shameful wreckage of our colossal failures in which we are trapped.

Finally, Jesus Christ enters our minds darkened by self-obsession and hearts hardened with scar tissue from disappointment and denial of painful reality. Paul's cry turns to a shout of grateful relief, "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! . . . There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death" (Rom 7:25, 8:1-2).

Jesus Christ arrives with grace, not condemnation. He is the God of the second chance and I, for one, weary, baffled and defeated, need him.

Some people asked Jesus if a group of Galileans who were slaughtered by the order of the Roman governor Pilate suffered this fate because they were worse sinners than other people. Jesus' responded that tragedy could not be explained by the sinfulness of the victims. He said, "But if you don't turn to God and change the way that you think and act, then you, too, will all die" meaning die without hope and assurance of eternal life (Luke 13:1-5).

Jesus then told a story to illustrate that God, in his sovereign grace, offers all of us a second chance.

?A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard. He went to look for fruit on the tree but didn?t find any. He said to the gardener, ?For the last three years I?ve come to look for figs on this fig tree but haven?t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up good soil??

?The gardener replied, ?Sir, let it stand for one more year. I?ll dig around it and fertilize it. Maybe next year it?ll have figs. But if not, then cut it down" (God's Word Tr).

The grace of the second chance is the expression of the heart of the Lord who "is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance" (2 Pet 3:9).

In my junior year of high school, I participated in a dishonest prank that threatened one of the hallowed traditions of the private church academy where I was enrolled. The faculty debated my discipline in eight hours of intense meetings over three days. Some of the faculty and staff thought I was worthy of redemption and argued to give me a second chance. Others felt I was a bad influence, insubordinate and a sneak who deserved to be made an example to the student body. I was ashamed and afraid. Those who wanted the harshest punishment prevailed.

I was standing in the hall of the administration building when the last meeting ended. A young English teacher, Mr. Walls, came out the door first. He strode down the hall to me. He put his arm around my neck and pulled my head tight against his shoulder. He whispered a rather colorful word of encouragement. He then walked quickly out the door to his '69 Chevy Camaro. When he drove away he burned rubber down a half-block of driveway.

I don't know about you, but I am the non-producing fig tree in Jesus' story. I have failed expectations and blown many first chances. The grace of the second chance has been extended to me far more times than the brief examples I described here. I've come to know every day I wake up is a second chance.

Receiving a second chance is devastating to my pride. It announces, "I'm not in control. I need a second chance and someone else has to give it to me."

A second chance requires me to just stand there while someone prunes me back and fertilizes me. Sometimes I have to stand in some pretty stinky stuff to enable new life and growth. I am grateful for every one of my second chances, and most of all, I am thankful for the risen Lord of the second chance.

Jesus Christ is our second chance. That's why he is called, "Savior." He does for us what we can't do for ourselves. There is no formula for accessing his grace, no point system to earn his redemption. All that's required is an honest confession of your need to a waiting Savior. He does the rest.

Child of grace, do you need a second chance? Is the ground that you started on, that you thought was so stable under you, now dug up and turned over? Are you standing in "stinky" stuff waiting for a second chance to bear fruit? The Gardener of your life knows your faults and inadequacy and he loves you as you are. He offers you the power of his grace and the strength of his life to enable you to come back to the life he created you to live. He desires you to yield the fruit that you were made to produce.

Others may be telling you, "It's too late. There is nothing to be done but cut you down and replace you with someone useful." They speak to you of death.

The Gardener speaks to you of life. He gently explains, "Here is an opportunity for growth. Let's see what happens if we give your roots some space to breathe and spread some nourishment for them to support new life. This is a "from-the-ground-up" proposition and real growth and patience is necessary to realize the promise.

I will testify to you of my personal knowledge that if you accept the truth of the Gardener's offer, you have a second chance waiting for you in Jesus Christ and you will be on your way to fulfillment of that chance in eternal love and life.

"O taste and see that the Lord is good. Happy are those who seek refuge in him." (Ps. 34:8)

Under the mercy of Christ,

Kent

-Contributed by Ralph

Native Americans Acknowledged 5 Genders

It wasn’t until Europeans took over North America that natives adopted the ideas of gender roles. For Native Americans, there was no set of rules that men and women had to abide by in order to be considered a “normal” member of their tribe.

In fact, people who had both female and male characteristics were viewed as gifted by nature, and therefore, able to see both sides of everything. According to Indian Country Today, all native communities acknowledged the following gender roles: “Female, male, Two Spirit female, Two Spirit male and Transgendered.”

    “Each tribe has their own specific term, but there was a need for a universal term that the general population could understand. The Navajo refer to Two Spirits as Nádleehí (one who is transformed), among the Lakota is Winkté (indicative of a male who has a compulsion to behave as a female), Niizh Manidoowag (two spirit) in Ojibwe, Hemaneh (half man, half woman) in Cheyenne, to name a few. As the purpose of “Two Spirit” is to be used as a universal term in the English language, it is not always translatable with the same meaning in Native languages. For example, in the Iroquois Cherokee language, there is no way to translate the term, but the Cherokee do have gender variance terms for ‘women who feel like men’ and vice versa.”

The “Two Spirit” culture of Native Americans was one of the first things that Europeans worked to destroy and cover up. According to people like American artist George Catlin, the Two Spirit tradition had to be eradicated before it could go into history books. Catlin said the tradition:

However, it wasn’t only white Europeans that tried to hide any trace of native gender bending. According to Indian Country Today, “Spanish Catholic monks destroyed most of the Aztec codices to eradicate traditional Native beliefs and history, including those that told of the Two Spirit tradition.” Throughout these efforts by Christians, Native Americans were forced to dress and act according to newly designated gender roles.

One of the most celebrated Two Spirits in recorded history was a Lakota warrior aptly named Finds Them And Kills Them. Osh-Tischwas born a male and married a female, but adorned himself in women’s clothing and lived daily life as a female. On June 17 1876, Finds Them And Kills Them gained his reputation when he rescued a fellow tribesman during the Battle of Rosebud Creek. An act of fearless bravery. Below is a picture of Osh-Tisch and his wife.

In Native American cultures, people were valued for their contributions to the tribe, rather than for masculinity or femininity. Parents did not assign gender roles to children either, and even children’s clothing tended to be gender neutral. There were no ideas or ideals about how a person should love; it was simply a natural act that occurred without judgment or hesitation.

Without a negative stigma attached to being a Two Spirit, there were no inner-tribal incidents of retaliation or violence toward the chosen people simply due to the fact that individuals identified as the opposite or both genders.

    “The Two Spirit people in pre-contact Native America were highly revered and families that included them were considered lucky. Indians believed that a person who was able to see the world through the eyes of both genders at the same time was a gift from The Creator.”

Religious influences soon brought serious prejudice against “gender diversity,” and so this forced once openly alternative or androgynous people to one of two choices. They could either live in hiding, and in fear of being found out, or they could end their lives. Many of whom did just that.

Imagine a world where people allowed others to live freely as the people nature intended them to be..without harm..without persecution..without shame. Imagine a world where we are truly free. –The Earth Child