Theological Insights from a Modern Perspective

Occasionally you come across a series of events that require such precise timing as to question if they could happen in a random universe. Such an event happened to me last week.

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I like to hike…a lot. I like to hike like Michael Jordan likes to play basketball. I do a hike of at least 6 miles every week, I’d do more but then I’d come home to find my clothes in the driveway. Last week I was on a 9 mile hike in one of my favorite areas – Ohiopyle, Pa. Ohiopyle has just about every summer outdoor activitiy there is – rafting, fishing, biking, hiking, camping, and probably a few things I can’t remember, but hiking is my main activitiy (okay, some rafting as well). On this particular hike a bunch of things came together in such a way as to enable me to help two other hikers, a timing that has to make you question if it could be anything other than a guided occurrence. Let me lay it out (this is only from my side of things, I have little idea what occurred on their end):

  • I left my house at 9:10, I wanted to leave at 8:30 but woke up late so my timing was off.
  • I wanted to update the music on my Jeep’s radio, so when I left I plugged in the USB drive and began the process of uploading over 1,800 songs (yes, this is part of it).
  • When I got off the turnpike in Donegal I decided not to follow my navigation system, so I turned left instead of right.
  • By turning left I came across a work zone and had to wait for my turn to drive through it.
  • My upload of the songs was taking longer than I thought, so I slowed down so that it would have more time to complete the upload (and I wouldn’t have to wait in the trailhead parking lot).
  • When I got to the lot the upload was still running (argh!) so I had to sit for 18 minutes for the upload to finish.
  • After the upload finished I loaded my daypack and my waterbottle, grabbed my hiking staff and headed off. I was trying out two new trail apps and had them running simultaneously on my cellphone. Because of this my hiking went slower than it normally would as I would periodically stop to check out both apps to see if they were faithfully tracking me.
  • I also stopped along the way to take pictures to see if they posted to the apps properly. Along with these were the normal stops for drinks and breaks to rest and enjoy the views.
  • At one point one of the apps was far off from where I should be, so I stopped for 5-8 minutes to check it out, see what was going on, and compare it to the other app. Since my phone battery was starting to run low (GPS apps use a lot of power) and the one app was already wrong, I turned that app off to save battery, then continued on.
  • At one point I had to make a decision on whether to follow a different trail further up the hill, or my original trail as it turned back down to Ohiopyle. I decided to go up the hill to Sugarloaf Knob.
  • When I reached the parking lot at Sugarloaf Knob I stopped for a quick lunch.
  • After lunch I decided to take the shortcut in front of the knob instead of the trail that goes around the knob, meeting up with the shortcut trail on the other side of the knob. I took the shortcut.
  • At the other side of the shortcut I started the trek down the hill into Ohiopyle (patience, we’re almost there).
  • Going down the hill you cross a service road, on the other side of the road the park had done some clearing of trees. It’s a normal process, but it made it hard to identify my trail from fake trails made by bikers. It took a few minutes to find the real trail and continue on my way.
  • After a half mile I came across a junction with another trail. I stopped to take a drink, at that point I heard the other hikers coming down the side trail. When they saw me they called out for some help, they were lost. They had talked with someone else when they first realized they were lost and he sent them down the trail that intersected with mine, with the instructions to turn left at the junction and follow the trail down to their car. He was wrong. Had they followed the advice they would have ended up on the trail I had just used to come down the hill, and would have been back up at Sugarloaf, or on one of the side trails that came off of that trail.
  • I told them to follow me and I would take them to the trail that would take them back to their car. They walked with me for about 2 miles when I sent them off on their trail, and I continued on mine to where I was parked.

Consider everything that had to come together, along walking speeds, to assure that the three of us would meet at just the right time and place. Even a minute later and I would have been out of their sight. A few minutes earlier and they would have turned left, they might have met up with me, or they might have ended up at the clearing and who knows where they would have gone from there, with all the fake trails (I say fake trails because they do not appear on any maps, with no idea where they lead).

Could all of this happen by sheer coincidence, or were we guided so that we would meet?

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Just a few giggles

Hope you enjoy.

Jokes

Afterlife – The Passage

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Jacob’s Ladder

This is the last of the introductory teachings on the Eastern understanding of the Afterlife. More will come as time passes, but this has provided the basic knowledge on what we believe.

Much of our understanding of the passage from our death to the afterlife is derived from the teachings of the Early Christian Fathers who claim they were received in visions or from study of the teachings in the Old and New Testaments, such as that of Jacob’s Ladder from Genesis.

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Afterlife – Life on Earth

holyfamilyBirth, in the Eastern Church, is a Trinitarian event. Man provides the sperm, woman the egg, and God the Immortal Soul. From the time of conception all three are present in the woman’s womb. For this reason abortion is not permitted in the Eastern Church for it is not just a life that is being rejected, but the gift of the Immortal Soul from God.

If a life ends before Baptism can be performed the soul still goes through the process as Christians, they will just have a harder time of it without the benefit of Baptism and Confession. All must repent of unconfessed sins at their personal judgement. More on that later.

We are all sinners, it’s in our nature and nothing can be done to change it. God realized this and provided for us a way to reach Him regardless of what we have done…repentance. We show our repentance though Baptism and confession of our sins, either here or in the afterlife. Jesus’ purpose on earth was not to create Christianity, it was to teach us how to live, how to love God, and how to love and treat each other. It is by going against these teachings that we sin; it is by realizing that we have sinned, that we regret it wholeheartedly, and that we ask God to forgive us, that our sins are erradicated, now and forever.

At some point in time we will die, die to this world. Our lungs will cease to breath, our heart will cease to pump, our cells will cease their reproductive processes, eventually to decay into their base components, returning to the matter from which our parents created us…all but our eternal soul. Our soul cannot perish in this world for it is not of this world. It contains no matter, no atoms, no mesons, no quarks. It was created by God and implanted into our mortal bodies. It cannot die because it is the energy of life itself, not belonging to this universe, or to any universe. It was created outside of space and time, and it is to there that it must return.

It is that process of returning whence it originated that we will cover in the next installment.

 

As always, please feel free to ask questions.

Afterlife – Adam and Eve

expulsion_from_edenEverything mankind has to deal with started with, and because of, Adam and Eve. According to Genesis (1:26) man was made “in our image (εἰκών), after our likeness (ὁμοίωσις)”. Image and likeness are the two words used to describe the original condition of man at the time of their creation.

Image refers to a physical resemblence, real or imagined, an example of the latter are the graven images the Hebrews made in the desert when Moses was on the holy mountain. Here it is being said that Adam and Eve were made to resemble their image.
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Afterlife – Introduction

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Authentic Christian Gifts

The Eastern church has a much different view of the entire life process than the Western Church, especially that of the Roman Catholic Church. I offer here a look into our views as part of my desire to introduce Western Christians (and non-Christians) into our way of seeing things. Not with the desire to convert anyone, but as a way of making people aware of the differences between Eastern and Western thought on the subject.

My first point of note is that the Eastern church views the Afterlife not just as what happens after our death, but as the end product of a process that begins even before we are born. I will be covering everything from the time of the first birth, that of Adam (it does affect our process), to the end of our days.

 

This is just an introduction to the series, please feel free to ask any questions as we go along. I hope you enjoy the journey.

 

NOTE: Because of the way that WP works I will be adding each new topic as a separate post so that those following this blog will be made aware of when more information is added. The menu item Afterlife will contain all pages of this series as the home page can only hold 10 posts.

God is Love

TLP

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.  This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

1 John 4:16b-18

This short text is tricky; we need to be sharp to get the full benefit of it.  “God is love.” OK, so far, so good, this part is easy.  Them John says, Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.  For us to live in love is to also live in God, and when we do that, God lives in us because God and love are parallel. They are inseparable.  Here comes the curve: John is building again.  Because of…

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Seenager!

A little bit of humor.

JUST discovered my age group! I am a Seenager (Senior teenager).

I have everything that I wanted as a teenager, only 55-60 years later. I don’t have to go to school or work. I get an allowance every month. I have my own pad. I don’t have a curfew. I have a driver’s license and my own car. I have ID that gets me into bars and the wine store.
 
The people I hang around with are not scared of getting pregnant, they aren’t scared of anything, they have been blessed to live this long, why be scared? 
 
And I don’t have acne. Life is Good! Also, you will feel much more intelligent after reading this, if you are a Seenager.
 
Brains of older people are slow because they know so much.
 
People do not decline mentally with age; it just takes them longer to recall facts because they have more information in their brains. Scientists believe this also makes you hard of hearing as it puts pressure on your inner ear.
 
Also, older people often go to another room to get something and when they get there, they stand there wondering what they came for. It is NOT a memory problem; it is nature’s way of making older people do more exercise. SO THERE!!
 
I have more friends I should send this to, but right now I can’t remember their names.
So please forward this to your friends; they may be my friends .

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Well, after three operations and one injection, the end is near (hopefully by the end of the year).

As I said in my prior post, I’ve had three operations to resolve a kidney stone problem, and I am in the recovery process now. Had my last post-op visit with the surgeon yesterday (went to a movie afterwards to celebrate). My PSA count (pre-op) was high, and they found what is called a 3+3=6 prostate cancer in 5% of the cells, I’m told this is good and (at my age) not much to worry about. I have to have a post-op PSA done to establish a baseline then, in 6 months, repeat it to see if it is stable or rising (problem). I’ve known men at my age who have had this diagnosis and have passed before it became a problem, so I am not concerned.

My (latest) rheumatologist decided not to bother with the arthritis in my wrist, but to send me to an orthopedic surgeon for an opinion. His opinion? Don’t go back to her. The problem is not arthritis, but an inflamed tendon in my wrist (from the first wrist bone down the thumb side of the arm). He injected cortisone into the inflamed tendon (yes, that hurt 9 on a 1-10 scale (I’ve already had a 10)) and says it should resolve within a month (mid-Sept).

I have one health problem left to resolve, but it’s not a major issue, I’ve held it off a number of years now, but figure since I’ve hit my financial cap for the year why not have it fixed?

So, if all goes well I may be able to return to blogging (real stuff) by the end of Sept.

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All of this has impressed upon me that God does, indeed, have a sense of humor. After having been in pain for better than 1-1/2 years I prayed that God would return me to my “normal” condition. Little did I know just what that would entail. Two operations to remove kidney stones that I thought was just a back pain. One operation to open up a prostate gland that refused to shrink after the two kidney stone operations. A very painful shot to eliminate a minor in my arm. I can’t wait to see what he has in stock for my final issue – tear ducts that aren’t draining properly after a bout of Bell’s Palsy. Yes, He is doing what I asked…but He could have given me a warning of just what that would entail!

Be careful of what you pray for…you may get it!

 

With God’s Love,

Mike, The Modern Theologian

Basic lesson: be yourself, that’s how God made you, and He must have liked what He made. You just need to discover what You really are. Thanks, Paul, you do these talks well.

Just me being curious

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Hey Simon Peter … got a min?

Yeah bro, what can I do for you?

Well you know how you were a rough diamond and all … fisherman .. calloused hands … out early back late … spitting everywhere … probably cursing too … all that “sinner stuff”?

Yep that’s me – what of it?

Well you know how you lopped of that fella’s ear just as Jesus was taken away – just before you ran away … ?

Yep!

Are you a role model for “rough tough Christians?”

What’s a Christian?

Well, you know – sinners saved by grace – born again – baptised and bathed in the Holy Spirit – go to church – read the bible – all that “Christian living”.

You still reading the stuff written way back yonder – all that “prophecy stuff”?

Of course it’s The Bible!

What’s the bible?

You know…

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