ROSH HASHANAH AND RAMADAN
Within twenty-four hours, two major religions--Judaism and Islam--will celebrate two distinct and revered holy observances: Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, beginning at sundown today, and Ramadan, the Muslim period of fasting and prayer that extends from sundown tomorrow through October 23. With the Jewish religion I share a reverence for and strong belief in one holy God and His revealed truth through His Word. Many of the Christian's holy scriptures are the same as the Jew's. With Islam and Muslims I struggle to find common ground in my beliefs about God.
What makes my beliefs so different from both of these religions?
1) I believe that the New Testament, along with the Old, is the Word of God.
2) I believe that NOTHING I do can make me right before God or earn me a place in heaven.
2) I believe that Jesus Christ is the prophesied Messiah of the Torah and the Talmud.
3) I believe that His death on the cross bought the forgiveness of man's sin, my sin, that His blood can wipe the slate clean for us before God FOREVER. (No Gentile or Jew TOOK His life; it was in His plan
to GIVE it up.)
4) I believe that if I put my faith and trust in Jesus, no matter how weak that faith might be, He will bestow that forgiveness on me, cleanse me in God's sight, and begin to change me by placing His Holy Spirit in my body. (This is what happened to me 28 years ago!)
5) I believe that eternal life begins here and now, when I put my trust in Jesus, and that when I die (or He returns to earth) I will live with Him forever.
These are only a few of the very basic tenets a Christian holds. If you are seeking the truth about life, God, and what you believe, consider reading the Bible, starting with the book of John. After all, eternity is a long time and a high price to be wrong. What if Jesus and His claims are true? Amazing promises of God's mercy, grace, and love bubble out of the Bible as a spring of life.
"No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love Him"
but God has revealed it to us by His Spirit.
--Isaiah 64:4, quoted by Paul in First (letter to the) Corinthians 2:9 & 10
As the song says so eloquently, "I can only imagine . . ."
Friday, September 22, 2006
ROSH HASHANAH AND RAMADAN
Monday, September 11, 2006
SEPTEMBER MOURN, SEPTEMBER MORN
I remember September 11, 2001, dawned as a gorgeous fall day in the South. Speaking on the phone with the dear director of a local theatre who struggled with melanoma around 8:45 a.m., I was ignorant of what had just occurred. We spoke only briefly, so her warm voice and cheerful spirit encouraged me that she was doing well. When I hung up, I tuned in to the usual morning news show. As I watched horrified, the second plane smashed itself into the Tower. The plot continued to unfold before my eyes as another plane hit the Pentagon and reports came of a fourth plane, downed in Pennsylvania. The unreality of it all mesmerized me and the rest of the country. I watched hour after hour, transfixed and paralyzed. Realism therapy.
Both of my parents flew in different directions that morning, to two different medical meetings, related to their medical device home business. My mom contacted me, and, to my relief, they were both fine, though grounded. She decided, since her meeting was cancelled, to make the most of it. She set out to see the sights of Newport, Rhode Island. My dad's plane landed in Kansas, far short of his meeting site. He met a pastor from Tennessee, who was also stranded and headed in the same direction. They rented a car together and began their journey toward home, talking of the spiritual meaning of the day's events.
My husband was only a phone call across town. We could hardly speak, we were so shocked. Our two children were safe at the local high school, but I worried about them. What emotions engulfed them when they heard the news? Would they call asking to come home? Should I collect them right away? I offered many tears and prayers for my children and their lost innocence, for the souls who had perished, for the bereaved stunned by grief, for our nation linking arms in solidarity.
A few months later, I learned that our dear theatre friend had died within weeks of 9/11. Her bravado lulled me into thinking she would heal. That phone conversation had been our last. Losing her will endure in my memory as part of the day's tragic casualties.
Tears, prayers, and ponderings later, I still have no clear answers why people do such things to other people. God has not answered many of my other 9/11 questions. However, I know He is in control even when things seem out of control. I know that His peace can sift through the smoke of fallen buildings and settle into the lives of those who have lost the most. There is hope among the ashes and eternal life inside the flames. He is Life and gives us life. When our world collapses around us, sometimes Who He is serves as ALL we have to hold on to. It is enough, because HE is enough.
And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into His plans. -- Romans 8:28
For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from His love. Death can't, and life can't. The angels won't, and all the powers of hell itself cannot keep God's love away. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, or where we are--high above the sky, or in the deepest ocean--nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when He died for us.
-- Romans 8:38-39
Scriptures from The Way, The Living Bible Illustrated
Other writers on 9/11:
Refugee from the Culture War
Rocks In My Dryer: My September 11 Story
Mom 2 Mom Connection » Blog Archive » Remembering 9-11: Five Years Later
Friday, September 08, 2006
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
THE CROCODILE HUNTER
My son, ever vigilant for new entertainment media, first put me on to the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin. Together, our family oohed and ahhed over the outlandish stunts he pulled with the unusual and often dangerous creatures he pursued before the camera. Yesterday I saw footage of that tenacious small snake latched onto his arm. It occurs to me that the Crocodile Hunter, too, held on to his dreams and beliefs just as tenaciously.
Steve Irwin believed that unloved animals such as crocodiles, snakes, and sharks deserve to live and to thrive, as much as any others. His behavior, foolhardy to most of us viewers, signaled, nonetheless, the need to conserve both wildlife and its habitats. He wanted to draw attention to zoological and ecological issues, and in that, he was a great success.
Viewing the footage of the birth of his son, I recalled the softer side of Steve Irwin: that he was human, that he could be conquered--by love for his wife and his children. Sure, he died doing something he loved, but he leaves behind a grieving family. His daughter will barely remember him, perhaps his little son, not at all.
The bright spot in the Croc Hunter's tragic death? He leaves behind a legacy. In his own words, his father's encouragement and work with animals greatly influenced how Steve chose to spend his life. Now the choices that he made will affect perhaps how his wife carries on their work. Someday, his children may also choose a similar path because of their dad's legacy.
I don't know what Steve Irwin believed about Jesus Christ, or whether he knew Him personally. I do know that all of us, whether or not we claim that Name Above All Names, will leave some kind of legacy behind. We're making those tracks today, just as certainly as the Crocodile Hunter followed the tracks of the animals he so valued. We're imprinting what (and Whom) we value on our co-workers, our neighbors, our fellow students, our friends, and, yes, on our families. What will we leave behind, and how will it change our world?
[Jesus speaking] My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are one in them and You in Me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You love Me.
-- John 17:20-23, New International Version
'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin dead - Sep 4, 2006
Irwin's last moments caught on videotape - Sep 5, 2006