Picture Mixture Thursday: Polaroid’s back, new feature called Crypti-tweet, Prototype movie, more

Photos for you today.

Great news! Polaroid is back. Instant, analog photos. Good. Digital photos are fun but do not have the same sense of generational care and personal story that well-worn photo album with analog photos does. And the Polaroid instant aspect is just a super bonus. No more waiting for film to be developed and returned from the store! The original Polaroid was launched 80 years ago. Wow. You can also buy vintage original Polaroid cameras at the new site for as little as $19. Hmmm.

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As Hurricane Harvey and Irma leave devastation in their wake, we remember the costliest and deadliest hurricane in the US ever, the 1900 Galveston Hurricane. Isaac’s Storm was a fantastic non-fiction book recounting the storm, its people, and the result- birth of the modern National Weather Service. Meanwhile, here is an interesting project that released today at the Toronto Film Festival. It’s called Prototype,

Revisiting a Devastating 1900 Hurricane in an Experimental 3D Filma non-narrative journey through the aftermath of the Great Galveston Hurricane shot in crisp 3D.

I like stereoscopic photographs, and occasionally post one here from an old book called Earthly Footsteps of the Man From Galilee, pictures taken in the stereoscopic format in the late 1800s and compiled into a book. My grandparents had a stereoscope and a library of photos I used to look through. It transported me to foreign lands and sparked my imagination.

The Prototype movie opens by using vintage stereoscope cards, a primitive 3D viewing method popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The stereoscopic cards in question are souvenirs made from photographs of the devastation wrought by the Great Storm of 1900, a hurricane that struck Galveston, Texas, says the movie’s synopsis. Here is a review of the movie a critic saw as a sneak peek. Here is a review of the movie a critic saw as a sneak peek.

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Unsplash- a repository for high-resolution, creative commons, available-to-use photos. The photography is so outstandingly beautiful and mine just do not belong there! These photos will take your breath away. Just go look, if you want something gorgeous to feast on. Here are just 2. Use Unsplash for your blogs, you can search by photographer or theme.

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Here’s a very funny photo publicizing the new study group based on work done by Jess Pickowicz in writing a study guide to go along with the MacArthur & Mayhue tome Biblical Doctrine:

biblical doctrine chickens

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Here’s a new feature I made up called Crypti-tweet. These are tweets from self-professed Bible teachers or Christian leaders which make no sense. I know it’s hard to say what you want to say within the confines of 140 characters, and we all flub up sometimes. I’m not talking about those tweets.

I’m also not talking about the poetry we sometimes get carried away with tweeting, tweets that attempt to capture an ephemeral but powerfully real spiritual emotion we might have been feeling at the moment. I’m not talking about those intensely personal and understandable but generally cryptic-to-outsider tweets either.

No, I’m talking about teachers or leaders who are charged with making sense, as in, that is their sole task, (able to teach, 2 Timothy 2:24) but consistently issue tweets that are just insane sounding, ergo, directly contradicting the one and only skill-level command that the Bible insists that teachers possess, which is “making sense”. Here is Beth Moore, inaugurating the Crypti-tweet:

cryptic 4 moore

Till next time!

Why are there so many natural disasters?

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Irma devastated the island of St Marten. CNN photo

I posted the other day in my essay “Is it the Birth Pangs?” that natural disasters have always been with us. One perspective I had offered was from a John MacArthur sermon. Dr MacArthur had said in his sermon Supernatural Lessons from a Natural Disaster,

We live in a society unlike any in the past, a world of electronic media, a world of mass communication, a world of overexposure to relentless visual images and enhancements.  We see everything and we see it constantly.  In fact, we’re not isolated from anything that happens anywhere in the world

Every catastrophe, every calamity, every cataclysm, every disaster, every tragedy everywhere eventually comes to us through the media and we vicariously experience all the pain and sorrow and suffering and death…

It’s true. I know that when I hunch in front of my laptop and watch in real time Houston flooding from Hurricane Harvey and then a few days later watch the news eagle eyed because Hurricane Irma is predicted to pass over my own area, my mind and heart gets beleaguered. The flood surges, drowned animals, missing elderly, lost homes, evacuations…are all so terrible. It’s difficult to comprehend the significance. And we do look for significance. Why is there so much disaster in the world?

In that previous essay I wrote that the pangs have been appearing for 2000 years, since Jesus ascended. and that this is just the beginning. (Matthew 24:8). Earthquakes, floods, death, and disasters have always happened, since after the time of Genesis 3. Do you know why? The curse. Sin. The earth groans under it.

I’d focused on the curse from Genesis 3.

Here is another reason why, perhaps, there are disasters like hurricanes in the world:

The scene is Jonah 1. The ship is underway. Jonah is rebelling, and the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, which tossed the ship. (Jonah 1:4). In this sermon called Running Away from God’s Will, John MacArthur explained

Well, they were praying, and none of their prayers were doing any good, and they figured they ought to get Jonah in on it. Verse 7, “And they said every one to his fellow, ‘Come, let us cast lots, throw dice, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us.’ So they threw the dice and God controlled the dice, and the lot fell on Jonah,” and it was Jonah. Isn’t it interesting that sin here causes a …a natural disaster? You know, I really believe that, as we look around our world, we see all the earthquakes and so forth and so on that are going on. You know, there’s a…a percentage of earthquakes today that’s greater than at any other time in history, and I think it follows right along with the mystery of iniquity unfolding toward the coming of Christ, because natural disaster follows in conjunction with sin.

Now, if you go back to 2 Chronicles, for example, chapter 7, I think it is, verse 13. “If I shut up heaven that there is no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among the people, if My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked way, then will I hear…hear from heaven forgive their sin and will…what?…heal their land.”

You see, God responds to sin with very often natural disaster; and so God brought a storm in response to the sin of the prophet Jonah.

In other words, sin again. The creation is cursed and groaning, and the humans are sinners causing drama and disaster.

All this should point us to the Day, the time when Jesus renews the earth and the heavens, and no curse will ever exist. No disaster will ever befall any glorified human or any holy angel. No howling rainstorm will flood, only fresh dew will spring from the ground. No screeching wind, but only soft breezes to ruffle the hair and kiss the leaves. No trees toppling, only stately cedars standing strong, giving shade to us and homes for birds of the air.

The Lord is grace itself, His mighty voice upholds the heavens. Some day, the heavens will be fresh and perfect, and no curse of disaster shall ever trouble us again.

In My Seat: a 9/11 Pilot’s Story and the Providence of God

God is in sovereign control of every single thing on this earth, in heaven, and throughout the universe. He is at work providentially, invisibly. We would never have known this story until the video was made and the man told of this event. Yet known or unknown, this story of providence is repeated millions of times per day, every day, over and over, by Jesus, so that His plan will come to fruition at any given moment and at every moment.

Do not fear. This same Jesus has your life in His hand. He is orchestrating all things for your good and His glory. Whether His plan had been to put you in that seat, or to take you out of that seat, on any given day, His ministrations and ordination of events will come to pass. He is God, and there is no other.

This 15-minute video is WELL worth your time.

Synopsis:

September 10, 2001, First Officer Steve Scheibner packed his suitcase and waited for the phone call finalizing his assignment to fly American Airlines Flight 11, from Boston to Los Angeles. The call never came. In My Seat recounts the events leading up to Flight 11 and the subsequent death of Tom McGuinness in the seat that should have been filled by Steve Scheibner.

Examples of a spineless gospel presentation

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I offer to you two men, both preachers of God’s word, both with church flocks, both well known. One is known for his falsity and prosperity gospel and has a poor reputation among true believers. The other is known for his Reformed stance and is highly thought of by many believers.

Three times the interviewer asked the guest if Jesus is the only way, and three times the guest had the opportunity to state the true answer unequivocally. They didn’t. Eerily, both men’s responses were similar despite being several years apart and on separate and different forums.

Here are both responses in video plus link to full transcript to interview #1, below.

This summer I was researching Tim Keller. I heard a lot about him but had not personally delved. Well, I delved. In all the product I consumed to do my research, this interview stood out.

As a side note: When I research and I come across things that are grievous to me, I am spiritually pierced. I literally mourn, and I weep literal tears and I pray. I do not take posts like this lightly. I find no joy in them.

My method is journalistically solid. I don’t cherry pick to fulfill a pre-conceived agenda. I don’t lift one wayward quote from a body of work that is otherwise solid. I look at the person’s overall life’s work over time. I look at the entire essay, I watch the entire interview- for context. I wait to discern. I observe if the person will repent or course-correct.

That said, MSNBC journalist Martin Bashir interviewed Tim Keller about Christianity, at Columbia University in February 2008, related to his book The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. This full Veritas Forum interview is quite lengthy, it’s 1 hour 24 minutes. I watched the entire program. Here is another blogger’s transcript of the 6-min excerpt from the longer interview. There are other problematic answers later int he program to other topics as well.

Here in this 6-min clip from the above full-length interview, I’d like to direct your attention to the fact that the interviewer asks three times if people who aren’t Christians are going to hell or not, just as Larry King had pursued the question with Osteen.

In listening to the above 6-minute clip, I was reminded of similar answers from the 2005 interview Larry King did with Joel Osteen. In looking for transcripts of both interviews, I was struck by the similarity in tone, the vagueness of the responses, and the gutless gospel given. I made a chart so as to compare the responses. I tried to go apples-to-apples, comparing similar questions’ topics with their individual responses, as closely as possible. I deliberately left off the names of these two gentlemen. See if you can deduce who said what. Save to see larger.

comparison final

Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27For I did not shrink back from declaring to you the whole will of God. (Acts 20:27)

John MacArthur has always been bold. I remember he explained his tactic when asked to go on a secular interview show. He said that he gets the Gospel out as quickly and succinctly as he can. Oftentimes he is interrupted or time doesn’t allow, so he cuts to the chase and presents it. He said that his main responsibility in life as a pastor is to explain and defend the Bible, and whenever he has a national opportunity to speak, he feels obligated to pursue souls quickly, with grace and clarity. Here is MacArthur on Larry King Live in 2003, on a panel that consisted of 4 other men of various faiths. I edited out two responses by a Catholic man so as to keep the focus on MacArthur’s answers.

KING: John MacArthur, you believe that Muslim people, the Islamic people are wrong. Their beliefs are wrong.

MACARTHUR: That’s right. And this is not some personal belief of mine. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life…”

KING: Yes, but if they don’t believe that…

MACARTHUR: If they don’t believe that, no man comes to the Father but by me.

KING: He died for the Islamic, too?

KING: You believe that, too, right?

MACARTHUR: Well, I believe God loves his creatures, his creations.

MACARTHUR: But in the end he’s going to condemn to an eternal hell all those who reject his son Jesus Christ.

KING: All of them?

MACARTHUR: All who reject his son Jesus Christ, the Bible says, are condemned to eternal punishment.

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If MacArthur is on a panel with 4 other men, speaking under a shorter time frame, with looming commercial interruptions every few minutes, and still managed here and elsewhere in that same interview to get the truth out, what excuse do men like Osteen and Keller have, who were alone on a show with over an hour of leisurely talk time and one of those without any commercials at all?

None.

Our lesson as laypeople is the same. Despite the current trend away from speaking of sin and wrath and judgment, it is important to state the truth – the whole truth – clearly and unflinchingly. We have the truth, as Christians. It’s a privilege and responsibility to state it to people & to the world as it is stated to us in the Bible. No shrinking back, no alterations, no equivocations.

During a Q&A at Grace Community Church, Phil Johnson, Moderator, thanked MacArthur for his clear stand on a previous Larry King Live interview session, in this session called Standing Firm in Unstable Times. The more unstable times get, the more we need good men who are clear with the Gospel.

PHIL: I want to say…Thank you, John, for the clear stand you took for Christ and for the way you made the truth of the gospel clear. You don’t see that very often on Larry King.

JOHN: Well, it was a pleasure, believe me. It was a great opportunity and, you know, when you get an opportunity like that to give the simple straight-forward gospel to the wide world, it’s just a great privilege.

Amen.

Picture Mixture Tuesday: kids’ digital footprint, bacon, 9/11, piano, gelato, more

There are lots of people in my area without power from yesterday and into today due to the remnants of Hurricane Irma passing north through the state of Georgia. Thank you, Linemen, for your dangerous but so important work!

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Yesterday was the 16th anniversary of 9/11. On waking up that bright fall morning, millions never knew that in a few hours their families would be devastated, and our national security and psychology would never be the same.

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A new trend, this precious moon nightlight!

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I’m a vegetarian due to taste and preference issues (not philosophy). I rarely eat any meat. I dislike cooking bacon because of the mess. But this is funny. In the south, I hear many wives mourn the fact that they can’t get their men to eat vegetables, and salads are practically anathema. This dish would be close to the truth in any proud southern home… 😉

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I thought this was pretty. I’m getting set to do a musical instrument series. I shot this after church Sunday. The delicacy and beauty of a well-crafted instrument is wonderful to behold. When it is played skillfully by someone singing hymns to the Lord, it’s even better.

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Something to think about when posting pics of your kids on Facebook. Are you widening their digital footprint to the degree that their future privacy will be lost? More here.

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Where is the best gelato in the world? Well, duh, Italy of course! After three years and many nations competing, one gelateria in Spoleto Italy has won. I’m not an ice cream fan but when you are in Italy tasting real gelato, your world will be rocked. More here on the winner.

picture 7 gelato

Psalm 63:6-8

On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you; your right hand upholds me

Have a great day!

Why is it so hard to pray?

We’re commanded in many places in scripture to pray. We have the duty of continual communion with Him. And yet, so often we don’t pray as we ought. Why is this?

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

It seems so easy. Praying isn’t as hard as spreading asphalt in Nevada on a summer day. It isn’t battling a five-alarm fire in the canyons. It isn’t helping your mother with Alzheimer’s. All you do is sit in your air conditioned place, put your hands together, and speak to Jesus, our friend.

 

But is that all prayer is? No.

David McIntyre in his 1912 book, The Hidden Life of Prayer (free online) explains why praying is so hard sometimes. He tells why we do not do it as we ought. The Hidden Life of Prayer was one of the books that Tim Challies selected for his program “Reading Through the Classics.” Challies wrote,

McIntyre was a Scottish preacher who succeeded Andrew Bonar as minister in Finnieston and later served as principal of the Bible Training Institute in Glasgow from 1913 to 1938. His book was first published in 1913.

McIntyre is insightful when he writes this,

Our Lord takes it for granted that His people will pray. And indeed in Scripture generally the outward obligation of prayer is implied rather than asserted. Moved by a divinely-implanted instinct, our natures cry out for God, for the living God. And however this instinct may be crushed by sin, it awakes to power in the consciousness of redemption.

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Photo by Anna King on Unsplash

McIntyre is powerful when he writes this,

 

And yet, instinctive as is our dependence upon God, no duty is more earnestly impressed upon us in Scripture than the duty of continual communion with Him. The main reason for this unceasing insistence is the arduousness of prayer. In its nature it is a laborious undertaking, and in our endeavor to maintain the spirit of prayer we are called to wrestle against principalities and powers of darkness.

We know that we do not wrestle with others, but with powers and principalities of the air. And who is the prince of the power of the air? Satan. (Ephesians 6:12, Ephesians 2:2). But to put the two concepts together as one of the reasons prayer is so arduous, we have a powerful truth.

And lest we think that even if we had an easy life with no problems, or can slack off due to our tight communion with God, McIntyre write this about Jesus:

And this one who sought retirement with so much solitude was the Son of God, having no sin to confess, no shortcoming to deplore, no unbelief to subdue, no languor of love to overcome. Nor are we to imagine that His prayers were merely peaceful meditations, or rapturous acts of communion. They were strenuous and warlike, from that hour in the wilderness when angels came to minister to the prostrate Man of Sorrows, on to that awful “agony” in which His sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood. His prayers were sacrifices, offered up with strong crying and tears.

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Photo by Natalie Collins on Unsplash

“Prayer is the key of heaven; the Spirit helps faith to turn this key.” ~Thomas Watson.

Is it the birth pangs?

Tuscany was lashed with torrential rains and floods. There were fatalities.
Bangalore is flooded. Water levels rose over 5 feet. And it’s drought season.
Mexico was subjected to a 8.1 earthquake with many dead. The President of that nation declared a three-day period of national mourning.
Hurricane Harvey inundated the US city of Houston this week.
Wildfires are raging in three US states.
Of course Hurricane Irma devastated the Carribbean and also the SE of the US, where it is predicted that it will take billions of dollars to reconstruct.
A new hurricane is in the Atlantic, Jose.
The Guardian has a run-down of the disasters currently in play. Below, Hurricane Irma photo taken by Russian Cosmonaut Randy Bresnik aboard the International Space Station.

irma

We live in a society unlike any in the past, a world of electronic media, a world of mass communication, a world of overexposure to relentless visual images and enhancements.  We see everything and we see it constantly.  In fact, we’re not isolated from anything that happens anywhere in the world.

Every catastrophe, every calamity, every cataclysm, every disaster, every tragedy everywhere eventually comes to us through the media and we vicariously experience all the pain and sorrow and suffering and death, whether it’s earthquakes in Mexico, or Japan, or Indonesia, or whether it’s famine in Africa or volcanic eruptions on various islands of the sea, or whether it’s horrific hurricanes in Asia or in Florida, whether it’s plagues in India, avalanches in Europe, wars in Iraq, whether it’s genocide, whether it’s suicidal terrorists in Israel or New York City or Washington D.C. or in a Russian school, whether it’s a plane crash, a train disaster, the sinking of ferry boat in a choppy sea in the English Channel, whatever it is, we are not isolated from these disasters, …

Whatever it is, we get it all. We cannot escape the information about catastrophic car wrecks that kill people. We see them replay it again and again on the nightly news, or house fires that burn up entire families.

And the truth is, if we weren’t living in this particular era of human history, we would not experience all of this. We would live in a little world somewhere and that little world would have its share of disasters and sometimes pretty devastating ones. But we at least wouldn’t have to bear the weight of all the disasters of all the world all the time. There is no little world for us anymore, not in western society. The weight of the tragedies of the world finds its way onto our emotional backs. The tragedies of the globe become ours to process in our beleaguered minds. Supernatural lessons from a natural disaster, John MacArthur

Is it the apocalyptic birth pangs? Yes. But the pangs have been appearing for 2000 years, since Jesus ascended. The two men in white announced to the men staring into the sky as Jesus had just been lifted out of their sight,

and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11).

This is just the beginning. (Matthew 24:8). Earthquakes, floods, death, and disasters have always happened, since after the time of Genesis 3. Do you know why?

The curse. Sin. The earth groans under it.

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. (Romans 8:22)

The simple verb to travail, occurs Gal. 4:19, 27; and the kindred noun birth-pang, in Matthew and Mark, Acts, and 1 Thess. 5:3.

Together refers to the common longing of all the elements of the creation, not to its longing in common with God’s children. “Nature, with its melancholy charm, resembles a bride who, at the very moment when she was fully attired for marriage, saw the bridegroom die. She still stands with her fresh crown and in her bridal dress, but her eyes are full of tears” (Schelling, cited by Godet). M.R. Vincent, Word studies in the New Testament

And this-

(1.) That there is a present vanity to which the creature, by reason of the sin of man, is made subject, v. 20. When man sinned, the ground was cursed for man’s sake, and with it all the creatures (especially of this lower world, where our acquaintance lies) became subject to that curse, became mutable and mortal.

(2.) That the creatures groan and travail in pain together under this vanity and corruption, v. 22. It is a figurative expression. Sin is a burden to the whole creation;

There is a general outcry of the whole creation against the sin of man: the stone crieth out of the wall (Hab. 2:11), the land cries, Job 31:38. Source: Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible

God is sovereign. God either allows a storm (satan can whip up a wind, he has that power, Job 1:19); or for His purposes God creates one. (Deuteronomy 11:17, James 5:17, Numbers 16:30-34). Either way, the earth originally was not home to this kind of trouble. In Eden, things were perfect. Not a harsh wind, not a tornado, not an earthquake, not even a stinging insect. Placid, dew-perfect life for Adam and Eve. Until the serpent tempted the humans to sin, and the humans fell. So did creation.

Paul cried out famously, Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Romans 7:24). We could equally cry ‘who will rescue us from this planet of death?’ We groan and the creation groans. The most we can do in the face of these storms is remember who God is. We remember why this is happening (sin’s curse). We pray that those who do not know these things will turn to God and repent. Today because in all likelihood, the news will bring us another one tomorrow and we will we vicariously experience all the pain and sorrow and suffering and death all over again. MacArthur’s prayer-

We’re reminded of the words of the apostle Paul borrowing from the Old Testament, “Today is the day of salvation.” Lord, we have time now. We have opportunity now. We don’t know what the future has. We don’t know what calamity awaits. But we know we are experiencing Your patience and forbearance now. We know it’s not because You’re slack with Your promise. It’s not because You’re impotent, or powerless. It’s not because You’re indifferent. You could take us at any moment. You could snuff our lives out and You would be just in doing that.

But You have given us life and time and gospel opportunity to repent. And we…we have to see that opportunity for what it really is and we have to hear what our Lord said, “Repent or perish.” Death comes suddenly, unexpectedly, and if we have not repented with a repentance of not just turning, as turning from sin but turning to Christ, then eternal judgment awaits and forever we pay the penalty. What a horrific thought. While there is time, while there is opportunity, while there is the knowledge of the truth, I pray, oh God, that hearts would turn to You even now. Father, now we ask that You would do Your work. We’re so grateful for the fact that You have been gracious to us, those of us that know You.

We were given time and space and opportunity to repent. We were given the truth to hear and to believe and, oh Lord, we pray that You would so move in the hearts of those who have heard now and have not yet repented. May they be warned and shaken to the seriousness of the jeopardy in which they exist. And we ask that many would repent before they perish. And Lord, use us to spread this word of warning and of mercy to sinners everywhere. May they know that judgment comes but that mercy waits. And now send us out to be used to Your glory, we pray in Your Son’s name.

Supernatural lessons from a natural disaster, John MacArthur

PS, the sermon above and quoted up at the beginning was delivered 13 years ago, in 2004.