Sunday, June 17, 2012

Christmas Moved to June - Scientists Confirm

After seeing a presentation over ten years ago on the birth of Christ and the astronomical event know as "The Star of Bethlehem", Christmas has never been the same for me.  Rick Larson, an intellectual property lawyer and stargazer, began a research project at the prodding of his daughter.  His research of the night sky over two thousand years ago led to the discovery of the actual dates surrounding Jesus' birth.

Mr. Larson's presentation has been viewed the world over, including by top scientists at NASA.  And all evidence suggests he nailed it.  Jesus wasn't born on December 25th but most likely on June 17th.  So, happy birthday Jesus!

More recent studies have confirmed this date in 2BC as the time when Venus (the Mother Planet) and Jupiter (the King Planet) came close enough to create one of the brightest stars the world had ever seen, leading the wise men to saddle up the camels and seek out the Savior.  This astronomical event was so significant it's shown in planetariums today.

So what about December 25th?  Many say early Christians chose the date to overshadow a pagan festival.  But astronomy points to that date as the time when Jupiter appeared to "stop" in the night sky, an event astronomers refer to as retrograde motion and one which lead the magi straight to the infant King.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

10 Ways A Good Samaritan Changed My Life

What does that mean?  The Good Samaritan has become extraordinarily familiar to our culture.  The phrase has become a colloquialism to describe anyone who offers aid to another.  In fact, you can find the name Samaritan utilized in everything from tire shops to health care organizations.  But what was Jesus' original intent in talking about this Samaritan we seem to know so well?  Understanding the following has changed my everyday life.

  1. You're going to get robbed, stripped, and beaten in life.  Sometimes you'll feel like you're living half dead.  That's a universal truth.  It doesn't matter your race, creed, or gender.
  2. If nobody comes to your aid, your journey will progress from half dead to fully dead.  You need to expose yourself to someone who will help.  But expect some people, and very "good" people who know how they should respond, to pass you by.
  3. Most people (yes, most people) would rather pass by than help.  It has nothing to do with the person in need.  It has everything to do with the person passing by.
  4. Take the time to "see" people.  If you can't see them, you won't feel compassion, and you'll join the crowd of people passing by.
  5. Let compassion move you to action.
  6. Living out Jesus' values, the values of the kingdom, will cost you - time, money, energy, and more time.  The allocation of the irreplaceable commodity of time reveals your highest priorities.  Life with Jesus demands prioritizing people.
  7. Prioritizing people will always mean interruptions.  You really like your plans, I know.  That's OK.  Learn to like interruptions even more.
  8. The Samaritan initiates.  The half dead person shouldn't have to crawl over to your feet. 
  9. Your neighbor is whoever you see.  And if you prioritize people, you should see them a lot.
  10. Loving your neighbor doesn't mean just helping people - it means restoring them.  And that takes more than one person.  The Samaritan didn't do it all himself.  He used the resources of the innkeeper.  Restoration only happens in community.
In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis writes:
"Do not waste your time bothering whether you 'love' your neighbor, act as if you did.  As soon as we do this, we find one of the great secrets.  When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.  If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more.  If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less."