Archeological Digs

On September 28, 2015 while continuing my 2-year archeological dig at the Murphy Jameshistorical Land of Kysor (park), I unearthed what is believe to be a third battle field. It is assumed this to be the traditional site where two rival tribes, using their 9 or 10 best warriors would engage in the clubbing of projectiles thrown at them thrown at them by a machine.

One at a time these very young and brave warriors would step in front of this machine. Each tribe member could defend with only a round long stick and quick reflexes. The machine was backed up by 9 or 10 members of the other tribe. Each tribe had a unique name. The goal, I believe, was to take out three of the opposing tribe at a time.

This ancient ritual included a dug out. Tribal members and reserve forces could hide while watching one of their tribal members step onto the field to wage battle with that machine. Some would be asked to “self-sacrifice.” Each youthful sacrifice would be met with cheers as another tribal member who had distracted the other tribe by hitting the projectile would advance further behind the lines of the opposing tribe.

This excavation continues. A box in the ground found next to the high ground mound shows where this tossing machine was tethered. If a tribal member was successful at defending him or herself with this rounded stick, s/he would then race behind enemy lines. Opposing tribal members would then throw the same projectile at the one who successfully hit it; all without further assistance from the tethered machine.

Over the past two years two other battle fields have been discovered and are now excavated. Those interested in this ancient ritual are welcome to visit and use these ancient fields of battle.

I have amassed significant information during my archeological digs as ancient tribal members stop by to share their experiences with the machine and opposing tribes. Some had sons or daughters who did self-sacrifice for their tribe. We must remember them and train future warriors.

The Living Word of GOD -Connecting the dots of the history of mankind

The Living Word of GOD -Connecting the dots of the history of mankind

Archaeological digs are very similar to deep study of the Bible. The more of this ancient history book we dig into, the more we realize it makes a lot of sense. One can’t dig just one hole in a research. The dots need to be connected by discovery digging. Eventually the dots connect themselves.

Reliable and Valid Christian Living

Reliability is the extent to which an experiment, test, or any measuring procedure yields the same result on repeated trials.

Validity refers to the degree to which a study accurately reflects or assesses the specific concept that the researcher is attempting to measure. While reliability is concerned with the accuracy of the actual measuring instrument or procedure, validity is concerned with the study’s success at measuring what the researchers set out to measure.scientfic

Using a scientific approach, can we say that the Bible is true via reliability and validity? The world of secular research and science usually holds to this regimen. They MUST demonstrate reliability and validity of results in order to confirm its reported results.

Let’s begin with Reliability? Question: Is the Bible reliable to the extent that it produces the same results regardless of the text used to support or make a point? Let me explain this as the world would use and accept the results per this part of the measure.

I recently went in for a hearing test. I do have severe hearing issues, deaf in my left ear and limited hearing in my right ear. The test results from this test were the same minus a few exceptions with a test I had two years earlier by another audiologist. This would suggest that the testing method is reliable; it yields the same results on repeated trials. But this is also contingent upon all other variables being constant in that means the testing circumstances are controlled in similar manners. But it also means that the client (me in this scenario) is also unchanged.

The Bible has similar conditions and pre-conditions. Can over time the scriptures be reliable? Let’s consider the simplest yet most important verses in Scripture, that which concerns salvation. This is also where the word faith (pistis in the Greek) comes into the equation. As early in the New Testament as one can go (The Book of Mark) salvation comes only through faith, belief in Jesus, and a committed heart. Belief is not simply accepting the facts as presented, but acting upon them. Faith that a well-tuned piano can produce some of the most beautiful music is more than looking at a piano and making such a statement. It requires the good works of application by a true pianist. If my brother who was a concert pianist played the keyboard and another applied pianist did the same thing, we would prove two things; the piano was reliable and a true pianist was valid. For me to sit at the ivory keys, we would still have reliability per the piano, but no longer valid beauty in the sound results.

This is true of the Christian faith. True believers demonstrate time after time that Christ makes a difference in his or her life. This is reliability. We get similar changes in lives. To prove the validity of this measure, one would need to see if this same “improvement” occurred in all measured subjects. These measures would be Galatians 5:22 “ the fruit (evidence) of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, fruitfulness, gentleness, self-control i.e. indwelling of the Holy Spirit. There must be consistency between those measured with only occasional blips. When it is the blips that are more often revealed in this example research, the measure is somehow wrong.

When a by-mouth-only so stated Christian tries to sit at the ivory keyboard of Christianity, s/he would soon prove to be a fraud or invalid as a true believer in and follower of Christ; thus reliability of inconsistent living AND little to but no validity. Put the two side by side and our Christianity study or measure would demonstrate different results meaning something is invalid.

checklistWant a check list for yourself? Okay here is one. If you don’t’ want to personally know about validity and reliability in Christian living, stop reading here. The rest of this blog or article may be too truthful to accept. Remember that true results must have both measures.

  1. Do you thirst for bible knowledge or are the simple “stories of the Bible” good and deep enough for you?
  2. Do you pray on a continual basis for more things than a blessing on the food you are about to eat, and then only if in private and NOT in a public place? Do you forgive others as you want the Lord to forgive you your sins?
  3. Do you want to share what God has done for you or are you still wondering IF God has done anything for you?
  4. Do you seek to be with other believers in fellowship and WORSHIP or is Sunday attendance good or close enough?
  5. When was the last time you picked up, opened and STUDIED the bible other than to possibly carry it to church?-
  6. Is a Bible devotional to you the same thing as bible study?
  7. Are you more worried about the ball game next weekend than the salvation of your neighbor, friends and/or family?
  8. Do you pray for the healing of others so that you yourself may be healed?
  9. Is a little gray sin, a little deceit, or little lie not a sin in your opinion?
  10. What does the word HOLY mean to you? Just a special word or do you grasp its true depth?

These are enough measures to test one’s Christian reliability and validity. Here is how the Biblical addresses each of the above questions. If we believe in Jesus Christ, live the above and the Bible commands it, one is a reliable and valid Christian. See you here, there, or in the air.

  1. Matthew 5:5 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
  2. Matthew 6:9-13, Daniel 9:3-19 (forgiveness of sin) Adoration of God’s Holy Name and His holiness, His goodness, His omnipotence, His sovereignty.  The Lord’s Prayers says “Hallowed be your name.” also read), Daniel 6:10
  3. Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:19-20, Luke 8:39John 4:28-29.
  4. Hebrews 10:25, Matthew 18:20
  5. Luke 4:4, Exodus 24:3, Deuteronomy 6:6, Acts 17:11
  6. 1 Timothy 4:15, John 5:39, 1 Corinthians 2:13
  7. Acts 10:1-8, Acts 16:20-34, Luke 23:39-43
  8. Matthew 7:7, Psalms 107:28-30, James 5:16, Ephesians 6:18
  9. Romans 6:23 simply calls sin, SIN, James 2:10, Matthew 12:31-32

jStark3Drj Stark

PS: There is an old song and saying that goes like this:

“God said it, I believe it, and that’s good enough for me.” On the surface this seems to be good enough. But the validity is missing; i.e. evidence. Now if one can relate to this… “God said it; I LIVE it, and that’s valid enough for a witness,” then we have a true Christian life after which one can model his or her own.


Ecclesiastes -Chapter One: The Futility of Life

Copy right to the author-Posted with his permission Gene Whittum

Copy right to the author-Posted with his permission
Gene Whittum

The Book begins with a morbid and negative range of ideas which continue throughout the book. The pessimistic motif of the book is quite contrary to the rest of Scripture. To account for the pessimistic pattern isn’t always easy.The antidote to the pessimism is to recognize the positive verses that are scattered throughout the chapters as well as the subjects under discussion by Solomon.

For instance, the observations of life in chapter four can be reversed and taught as warnings concerning the hazards of life. If one prepares for the negatives in life, it must be accompanied by positive approaches mentally and spiritually. Mental and spiritual preparation comes only from an fuller understanding of the rest of Scripture as well as a positive relationship to the God of the Bible. Another is in chapter five where the reader is admonished to “guard your steps when you go the the house of God.” Solomon then gives warnings concerning the approach to the God who is “above the sun” as opposed to the life of one who is constantly “under the sun.”

Verse 2. “Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanitiy of vanities; all is vanity.” (KJV) Solomon was not alone in his study of wisdom literature. There were other writers in the ancient world who discussed life’s problems that included serious philosophical essays in which they would probe the depths of the same questions that atheists and existentialists do today. It is a strand of literary pessimism in which the authors would raise the question as to whether life was ultimately worth living.underthesun

In chapter one, Solomon is not giving a weather report or a scientific discussion of the sciene of evaporation and precipitation. He is addressing the idea of many cultures and religions concerning the ebb and flow of time as being a futile recurrence of the same thing. The Eastern philosophy of reincarnation is probably the prime example of what Solomon is really discussing.

The word “futile” is the most gross obscenity in the human language. A person can take most any kind of disappointment or discouragement as long as there is a ‘light at the end of the tunnel.’ However, if one believes that all of life is nothing more than an exercise in futility, it becomes unbearable and completely vain and meaningless. That is the message that Solomon is addressing and that is what a person faces when approaching life entirely “under the sun”.

Solomon (vs. 12) then gives his credentials and authority for writing the Book. We must remember the great wisdom that was given to Solomon by the Lord; he is well qualified to face the problems of life but admits that he was facing a “heavy burden that God had laid on men!” He had seen “all the things that are done “under the sun” and “all of them are meaningless, a chasing after wind.” (vv 13-14 NIV)

(continues in column to the right)

He admits in verses 15-17 that even his great wisdom is insufficient regarding events and knowledge “under the sun.” In chapter two, he gives his testimony of his experiences of life “under the sun”.

“All if futile”. That is the message of the skeptic, the nihilist. These are words to describe the philosophy of despair. The life of despair is so severe that the only conclusion is that it IS meaningless. There are no values, no purpose for life and human existence that we are at best a kind of cosmic joke. If that is all we have, then life, truly, if vain.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), the German philosopher and poet, is one of the ‘fathers’ of modern nihilism. He examined life and came to the conclusion that God is dead and that the end of life is nothingness, the ‘nihil’. The same sentiment is taught again and again in schools and universities in our day. Our children are flooded by the philosophy of the absurdity of life. Philosophy begins with a contemporary novel or book; the motion picture industry promotes it and ultimately it filters down to teaching in grade schools and mingles into the lives of our children.

His French contemporary, Albert Camus, made the comment that the only serious question that is left for philosophers today is the question of suicide (written about by the ancient Egyptians). Much of these attitudes came into out country as a result of reaction to the revelation of the holocaust of WWII where as many as 8,000 people (mostly Jews) were killed every day. When many Nazis escaped punishment, the pessimism became even more ingrained the populations of the world. There is much more that could be said regarding the development of the philosophy of despair and the doctrine of reincarnation,but the reader can study that on his own.

One more thought on Nietzsche’s philosophy of nihilism. When he declared that God is dead, the world rejoiced that they no longer had to be accountable to a “dead” God. The problem was that some of the existentialists looked at that and then looked at the other side of the coin. Their determination was that: “If I am no longer accountable, that means that I am also no longer of any account.” If God is dead, there is no standard of good and evil, right or wrong and the philosophy of nihilism is magnified and life truly becomes “meaningless” and “futile” “under the sun”. The existentialist and philosophers have nowhere to go and nothing to offer.

Such lack of meaning can explain the chaos that exists in societies throughout the world today. However, Solomon goes on to examine life “above the sun” and continually brings the God of the universe back into the picture. He is not dead, but alive and working in the hearts of men and women around the world. His book is summarized in chapter twelve where he begins with “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth . . .”

Ecclesiastes – Part 2

Gene Whittum

Gene Whittum

Ecclesiastes is the quest of one man seeking the meaning of life “Under the sun”. When you look for the ‘interpretation’ of a book such as this, it helps to see what words are prominent, especially in the Wisdom Literature of the Bible.

1. Vexation occurs some 10 times 2. Under the sun about 31 times 3. Vanity occurs 33 times 4. Folly 7 times 5. Profit 6 times 6. Enjoy 6 times 7. God, occurs some 40 times 8. Labor about 23 times 9. Work 15 times 10. Wise, wisely, and wisdom about 30 times. There will be other words that stand out to you in your study of the book. (Gene often uses the N.I.V. Other translations may have different numbers)

What the author is looking for is what is ‘above’ the sun, and the question that he seeks to answer is: “Is there any meaning to the time that I spend in this world?” [JIV: ‘under the sun’ would be ‘in this world’]

We are born in a certain year and die in a certain year. In between our birth and death, we live out our lives. Is the time we spend here significant, or not? He asks the question early on in 1:3 “What does a man gain from all his labor at which he toils ‘under the sun’?” (The Apostle Paul answers that in I Corinthians 15:58 when he writes:”Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is NOT in vain.”)

Solomon’s sermon begins with dark colors and as he develops his theme(s), the colors get brighter. Note that “God” is mentioned some 40 times in his discussion and what he is doing is poking holes in the canopy that is “under the sun” and letting the light of the knowledge of God shine through the ‘holes’ so that we can see the God that is “above the sun”. It is not a book of pessimism, but of encouragement to those who live in a dark, dreary and disappointing world. Solomon is simply looking at life under the sun, giving examples and explanations of that kind of life which seemingly stymies any chance or thought of happiness.

So, the collision course, or the deeply rooted question in the human heart is: “Am I doing this for nothing? Would it be easier to do nothing?” The ultimate answer and his conclusion is “NO”. The message is simple: There is a reason for one’s life; there is a reason for our suffering, pain and joy. The Apostle Paul answers this in the New Testament in Romans 8:28″And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”In all things–circumstances of life, or in the midst of negative experiences, God is working for THE good. The rest of the chapter defines what the good is and what it leads to.

Solomon is plumbing the depths of some heavy questions that have been asked throughout history and were prevalent even before his lifetime. Note that the Queen of Sheba had a list of difficult questions that she brought to Solomon and she was impressed at his answers. Undoubtedly her own ‘wise men’ were unable to satisfy her curiosity.

There was, in the ancient world, a strand of very pessimistic literature and Solomon begins his book with such a statement in 1:2 when he says: “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” It doesn’t seem that there is any hope when “everything is meaningless.” What chance does a person have with such an outlook?

The book is heavily philosophical in nature and Solomon is certainly acquainted with the literature extant [existing] in his day. (Note: Solomon’s history in I Kings 3-11 and 2 Chronicles 1-9 which will give an overview of his experience in Israel).

There is a sense in which the book deals with literary pessimism but is not really dealing with it in its basic message. It is, rather, addressing the issue of literary pessimism. Both ancient and modern philosophers deal with the meaning of life and some existentialists (Camus and Sarte e.g.) determine that life is not really worth living. The futility of life is as old as life itself. It is not a modern innovation but an investigation of life that people have struggled with whenever they have looked at and examined the significance of life.

This for That or That for This

Not only did I go through a lot of training to be a Service Dog, every day is like on thebytheShadow job training. My mom went through training with me and we will always be in “training.”

One of the reasons I used to love training so much was I always got “this for that.” I got a treat for doing whatever my mom asked me to do if I responded correctly. Boy, once I figured out that I got a treat each time I was faster than fast…YUM! But as I grew and matured the treats got less and less. Sure, I do get treats for doing what I am called to do but only when my mom decides to give them to me. Doing what I do without getting this (a treat) for that (performance) is no longer my motivation. I sort of grew up and do “that” for my mom because it is who I am and what I do.

If my mom felt she always had to give me something for turning the light off or picking up her slippers she would be doing “THAT” for “THIS.” It equally speaks of the wrong motive of her heart. She would be striving to repay me for what I freely give. That would steal my joy of serving.

Are we always expecting “this” for “that?” Or do we feel obligated to give something when they do something (THAT). Both can bring disappointment. “This for that” is the I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine attitude. ”That for This” is striving to and always paying someone back for a good deed or gift.  When we don’t expect “THIS” for “THAT” or strive to do “THAT” for “THIS” it changes us. Giving without expectation and receiving without striving to pay someone back is balance living. It is unconditional love and acceptance. One of the best things in life is when we know the how to give and accept love unconditionally.