Thursday, September 22, 2011

Forgiveness is Key

While reading this book, I saw an overall theme. Everywhere I read there was someone who needed to forgive someone else or needed forgiveness. All that Aaron Blank wanted from his father was forgiveness for his past. He wanted to be embraced as the man he is rather than the man he was. Sylvia ran away from her problems and didn't ever intend to be forgiven, because she never wanted anyone to know of her sins. And lastly, Cara had hated her father for years, but when she found out that she couldn't join the Amish faith before forgiving him, she had to really try to forgive. Forgiveness is probably one of the hardest virtues to fulfill, because it is based on whether we are ready to let God heal us. Forgiveness heals wounds that might have been there for years, but we can't always forgive people on our own,most of the time we need God to be there so that we can lean on Him when we become too exhausted mentally and spiritually to even go another day. Forgiveness takes so much from a person that most people just find it easier to hold a grudge, but you can never know true peace until you no longer hate another person. God calls us to live in peace with each other and I think that this book is a great example of how to finally come to that point when the hate doesn't matter anymore and you just want to embrace your fellow brother in Christ.

For the first chapter, go to

I reveived this book from Waterbrook Mulnomah Publishers though their Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Creation and Flood Story Compared

As we look through ancient cultures, we see a common thread in their mythologies. In almost every civilization there is a story of creation and there is a story of a flood. Some of them are not even remotely close to the others, but it is still true that they all believed in a common idea, the idea that the Earth was in fact created and that somewhere along the way there was a great flood. Some stories differ in their details, but the overall skeleton is there. As we start to look closer at these stories, we start to see the similarities. Some of these stories that are close in their resemblance are the Biblical story, which we believe to be the truth, the Ancient Chinese creation story, and the Babylonian’s flood story from the Epic of Gilgamesh.
In Genesis we see God create the universe from nothing. He does this over six days, creating new things each day and resting on the seventh day. Over these days he creates the world, the sun and moon, water and land, animals, and lastly he created humans in his own image on the sixth and final day of creating. God made man out of the dust and breathed life into his lungs. This first man was Adam and God made him Eve to be his helper. God gave them the divine command to populate the earth. After he was finished, God looked upon his creation and saw that it was good. After the fall of man and the institution of sin, we see that the world becomes wholly evil except for one man’s family. This man was Noah, the only righteous one among the whole of the earth. God saw the earth’s evil and decided to destroy it, but he gave man one last chance by telling Noah to build an Ark and prepare for a great rainfall. At this point people could have repented of their sins and joined Noah in his beliefs, but they all scorned and mocked him for the hundred or so years that he built his Ark. After all, no one had ever even heard of water falling from the sky, for back then, water solely came from the ground. Unfortunately only Noah’s family believed and so when the time came for God to destroy man, he brought Noah two of every kind of animal to put on his Ark. God sealed the door and then sent his destructive Flood for forty days and nights. After about half a year the Ark came to rest on a mountain and Noah saw that the waters had receded so he sent out a raven and then a dove, but neither could find a place to land so they returned to him. Again he sent the dove out and this time it came back with a fresh olive sprig in its beak and Noah knew that they could leave the Ark. Right after he got off the Ark, Noah offered up a sacrifice to God, thanking him for saving his family. After they had settled, God came to Noah and made a covenant with him to never flood the whole of the Earth again; he represented this by placing his rainbow in the sky.
Although the Biblical God and the Chinese goddess Nuwa have nothing in common, the creation stories about them are quite similar. Nuwa’s story is a lesser known story, but it is one of the oldest. In the story Nuwa was a goddess that roamed the earth but she became lonely. So she decided to create something. For six days she created animals such as pigs and sheep. Then on the seventh day she looked into a pool beside her and saw her reflection. She saw that all that she had created looked nothing like her. She picked up some yellow mud from beside the pool and started sculpting. Finally she looked at what she had made, but it was not alive, so she set it down feeling disappointed. Once her creation touched the earth it came alive. Nuwa was pleased and continued sculpting little humans to keep her company.  After a while she grew tired and realized that she could not sculpt fast enough. Bending down, she picked up a vine and dipped it in the mud and flicked it. Little humans appeared where the clumps of mud landed. She created them male and female so that they could populate the earth without her having to sculpt new ones every time she became lonely. As we look at this story, we can see at least four similarities. The first similarity is that both God and Nuwa created man on the last day of creating. Next we see that man was created in her image just as God had made man in his image. Another parallel is that in both stories man was made from the dirt of the earth. And lastly we see that both creators told their humans to populate the earth.
The Babylonian’s flood story is actually the oldest known written story ever, this being the Epic of Gilgamesh. Even though it was written before the Bible, the Bible is still the more accurate writing. In the Epic of Gilgamesh the hero of the story meets Utnapishtim on his adventure who then tells Gilgamesh his story. The god Enlil got tired of man’s noise and rabble and convinced the rest of the gods to flood the earth. Only the god Ea was sympathetic to man and instructed Utnapishtim, a righteous man, to build a boat and put his family and as many living things as he could on it. He finished the boat just in time for rain to start falling. It fell for six days and when it ended the things on the boat were the only survivors. Even the gods were terrified of what they had done. After floating on the sea for a while, Utnapishtim’s boat finally landed on a mountain. Utnapishtim released a dove but it returned so he released a raven which did not return and he knew that they could leave. After getting off he offered a sacrifice to the gods. In the end Enlil grants Untapishtim and his wife eternal life. Comparing this flood account to that of the Bible, we see that they are almost identical, the first similarity being that both Noah and Utnapishtim were instructed to build boats to survive a global catastrophe. They were both righteous men and were told to put animals on their boats. After the flood, both boats came to rest on mountains. Wanting to get off the boat, both men released a dove and a raven to see if it was safe. And finally the last similarity is that both men offered sacrifices once off the boat.
Clearly these stories all have a common beginning. Although many don’t believe that the Bible is true, we can see that it has had a great impact on the stories around the globe. If these stories and comparisons are not proof enough, just chose a civilization and look at their myths. Almost every single one has a creation story and a flood story similar to that of the Bible. The Chinese and Babylonians without a doubt had common ancestors with that of the Hebrews of the Bible. This is most likely the reason for such close parallels. Over time the stories were corrupted by each civilization and lost their truths. Despite these frustrations we can still see how the Bible can be confirmed by comparing it to other written accounts. Through the comparison of the Bible’s creation and flood stories, the Chinese creation story and the Babylonian’s flood story, we can see the resemblances.  

Saturday, September 10, 2011

School is Finally Here

Well sadly it is that time of the year again. The time when you have to stay inside and actually learn things even though it is still really nice outside. In fact it has actually been nicer this past week than it was most of the summer. All of that aside, I actually like this time of year. In fact I have somewhat been looking forward to school this fall. This is my 10th grade year and I get to learn Ancient History (which is my favorite) and I get to do Algebra 2 (which I find easier than Geometry). But I must say that I was relieved when my 1st week ended. Our family celebrated by going to the lake yesterday. My friend Sienna and I even went jumping off Tubbs Hill, which is a 30 ft. cliff on the lake. It was quite the rush. Hopefully everyone else's 1st week went well too.Thus the end of another summer has come and the start of another school year has begun. I'm already looking forward to next summer.