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It saddens me to see how little some people care about others. They are intent on getting the best for themselves even if it means manipulating others, stealing from them or lying to ruin their reputations. Why do these people think that their desires are more important than anyone else’s? Why are they willing to hurt others to reach their own goals? Is getting what they want really worth that? If we were truly worthy of the best, we shouldn’t have to resort to these tactics to get it, and if we are not worthy of the best, sooner or later, someone is going to put us in our place.

Jesus was obviously upset by similar self-serving behaviour. In Luke 14:7-11, He tells a parable in response to those who wanted to elevate their status by pushing and shoving their way to the best seats at a Sabbath meal. It would be as if they were invited to a wedding reception, but decided to take their seats at the head table which was reserved for members of the wedding party. How many times do you suppose that someone could do that without being told that they would have to move? On the other hand if the guests had chosen to sit at the equivalent of the kid’s table, surely someone would ask them to move to a place of higher honour. Jesus was warning them against the dangers of pride, something that Solomon had taught long before. (Proverbs 16:18)

This parable can apply to other situations besides seating plans. How often are you willing to do the things that don’t get recognition or appreciation but still need to be done? How often do you help someone else with difficult or unpleasant tasks? Are you willing to help even when it’s inconvenient for you? D.L. Moody once said that, “There are many of us that are willing to do great things for the Lord; but few of us are willing to do little things.” Jesus said that whatever you do for the least fortunate you do for Him. (Matthew 25:40) If we love our neighbour as ourselves, (Matthew 22:37-39) we won’t try to get ahead at their expense.

The purpose of this blog is to look closely at individual Bible verses or short passages of scripture, but those verses should never be considered outside of the message of the entire Bible nor outside of their immediate context. One verse that is frequently taken out of context is Matthew 18:19. Many people believe that if two or more are together in the same room praying for the same thing, that they will get the answer they desire. This verse, however, is sandwiched between instruction on how to restore a relationship with a fellow believer (Matthew 18:15-18) and how often we should forgive. (Matthew 18:21-22) The agreement referred to in Matthew 18:19-20 is in the context of church discipline.

If two on earth agree about what measures are necessary in the way of church discipline, it is likely because they have both already sought God’s guidance in the matter. Because they are praying for God’s will, and because they agree, God is there with them. Therefore, whatever they decide to do, shall be done. This presumes that they have already been following God’s steps for reconciliation: private confrontation, the testimony of two or three witnesses, the decision of the church. It is only as a last resort that anyone should be asked to leave the congregation. (Matthew 18:15-18)

That is not to say that agreement in prayer is not a good principle. By praying together, we can encourage each other and hold each other accountable to praying according to the will of God. Hebrews 10:24-25 urges us to spur one another on, and to not abandon meeting together, because--we learn from Proverbs 27:17--as iron sharpens iron, one friend sharpens another. We help each other, and we are kept from feeling like we are facing the trials of life alone when we meet together to pray.

There are, however, other passages in the Bible where we are instructed, or shown the example, to pray alone. Just before Jesus gave the disciples a model for praying that we now know as the Lord’s prayer, (Matthew 6:9-13) He told them that they should pray alone and in secret to avoid being like the hypocrites who prayed publicly so that they would look pious. (Matthew 6:5-8) In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus left His disciples Peter, James and John and went off by Himself to pray. His most important instruction to them was not about how to pray, but to in fact keep praying and not fall asleep. (Mark 14:32-42) He wanted them to focus on communicating with God rather than giving in to their own physical desires. If our heart is focused on prayer, then we will pray without ceasing, (I Thessalonians 5:17) whether we are alone or with others.

Whatever we pray needs to be in keeping with all scripture that teaches us about prayer. (Matthew 6:9-13, I John 5:14-15, James 1:6-8, Hebrews 10:22) God is not obligated to give us whatever we want just because we get someone else to agree with us, but He does listen to and answer the prayers of His people whether they pray in groups or alone. We are encouraged to take all of our cares to Him. (Philippians 4:6)

Today's post is written by Rusty Wright and Linda Raney Wright. It is a little different from my regular posts in that it doesn't look at one specific passage, but it is an excellent look at the documented evidence of the authenticity of the New Testament.
The New Testament: Can I Trust It?

"How can any well-educated person believe the New Testament? It was written so long after the events it records that we can't possibly trust it as historically reliable." This is a common question on the university campus and deserves an honest answer.

How does one determine the authenticity of an ancient book? C. Sanders, a military historian, outlines three basic tests used by historians and literary critics.{1} These are the internal, external and bibliographic tests. Let's consider briefly how the New Testament stands up to each one.

1. The Internal Test

Here our question concerns the trustworthiness of the writers as revealed by the text itself. One of the chief issues is whether or not we have eyewitness testimony. The New Testament accounts of the life of Christ were written by eyewitnesses or by people relating the accounts of the eyewitnesses of the actual events. John wrote, "what we have seen and heard [concerning Christ], we proclaim to you also."{2} Peter stated that he and his associates were "eyewitnesses of His majesty."{3} Luke claimed that his gospel was based on accounts compiled from eyewitnesses.{4} In a court of law, eyewitness testimony is the most reliable kind.

Another issue in the internal test is the consistency of the reports. If two writers present testimony that is contradictory, doubt is cast on the integrity of one or both records.

Many have charged that the New Testament contains contradictions. To deal with such charges, it is important to understand that "contrary" is defined by Webster as "a proposition so related to another that, though both may be false, they cannot both be true." Thus, the statement, "Joe and Bill are in this room" contradicts the statement, "Only Joe is in this room." It does not, however, contradict the statement, "Joe is in this room." Omission does not necessarily constitute contradiction.

With this in mind, consider several alleged New Testament contradictions. Some observe that Luke writes of two angels at the tomb of Jesus after the resurrection{5} while Matthew mentions "an angel."{6} The observation of the statements is accurate, but the interpretation of them as contraries is not. If Matthew explicitly stated that only one angel was present at that time, the two accounts would be dissonant. As it is, they are harmonious.

Others note an apparent discrepancy in the accounts of the birth of Jesus. Hans Conzelmann, a German theologian, writing of Matthew's and Luke's accounts of the nativity, states that "in every detail they disagree."{7} He focuses on apparent geographical inconsistencies.

Simple observation shows that the two accounts do differ. Luke tells of Joseph and Mary starting in Nazareth and traveling to Bethlehem (for the census and the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem). He then records the family's return to Nazareth.{8} Matthew's account begins with the couple in Bethlehem (and Jesus' birth there) and records their flight into Egypt to escape King Herod's wrath, and relates their travel to Nazareth after Herod's death.{9}

Conzelmann regards these details as contradictory, but are they? The Gospels never claim to be exhaustive records of the life of Christ. Any biographer must of necessity be selective. Could not Matthew have chosen to omit the census journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem and Luke the flight into Egypt? As such, the accounts are complementary, rather than contradictory.{10}

Often such critics seem unable to carefully discern the content of biblical texts because of their own negative presuppositions and lofty speculations. One is inclined to agree with C. S. Lewis' criticism of these skeptics when he writes, "These men ask me to believe they can read between the lines of the old texts; the evidence (that they cannot) is their obvious inability to read (in any sense worth discussing) the lines themselves."{11} Consider a final (and more difficult) example of alleged inconsistency. Many have noted a difference between the synoptic accounts (those in Matthew, Mark and Luke) and John's account of the dating of the death of Jesus. Specifically, the issue concerns the chronological relationship of the crucifixion to the celebration of the Passover meal by the Jews. Mark refers to some Jews observing the Passover the evening before the crucifixion.{12} John seems to indicate a Passover celebration after the crucifixion.{13} In a recent definitive article, Dr. Harold Hoehner of Dallas Theological Seminary solves the puzzle.{14} Citing evidence from the Mishnah and the scholars Strock-Billerbock, Hoehner shows that the Pharisees and Sadducees (two contemporary religious parties) disagreed about the day of the week on which the Passover should fall. The result was that the Pharisees celebrated the Passover one day before the Sadducees did. This makes it entirely plausible that the synoptics use the reckoning of the Pharisees, while John presents that of the Sadducees, thus accounting for the difference.

2. External Test

This test asks whether other historical and archaeological materials confirm or deny the internal testimony provided by the documents themselves. Several authors of antiquity wrote of Jesus as a person of history. Among them were Tacitus, Josephus, Seutonius, and Pliny the Younger.{15} Sir William Ramsey, an eminent archaeologist, once held that Luke's writings were not historically sound. His own subsequent investigation of near-eastern archaeology forced him to reverse his position and conclude that "Luke is a historian of the first rank."{16}

Nelson Glueck, former president of Jewish Theological Seminary in Cincinnati, one of the greatest archaeologists, and a Jew, wrote: "It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference."{17}

Consider a few examples of archaeological confirmation of the New Testament. In I Corinthians, Paul refers to the meat market in Corinth.{18} An inscription from ancient Corinth has been discovered which refers to the "meat market."{19} Luke refers to the temple of Artemis in Ephesus and speaks of a riot that occurred in a theater in the same city.{20} The temple was excavated in 1803 and measured 100 by 340 feet.{21} Twentieth-century Austrian archaeologists unearthed the theater and found it could hold nearly 25,000 people.{22}

Mark writes of Jesus healing a blind man as He left Jericho.{23} Luke, apparently writing of the same event, says it happened while Jesus was approaching Jericho.{24}

Excavations in 1907-09 by Ernest Sellin, of the German Oriental Society, showed that there were "twin cities" of Jericho in Jesus' time--an old Jewish city and a Roman city separated by about a mile.{25} Apparently Mark referred to one and Luke referred to the other, and the incident occurred as Jesus traveled between the two.

William F. Albright, one of the world's leading biblical archaeologists, adds a helpful comment: "We can already say emphatically that there is no longer any solid basis for dating any book of the New Testament after about A.D. 80, two full generations before the date of between A.D. 130 and 150 given by the more radical New Testament critics of today."{26} This statement is crucial because it means that some of Christ's opponents, who were living when He was on earth, were undoubtedly still around when the New Testament books were penned. Their presence would have prompted the New Testament writers to give careful attention to the veracity of the statements. And we can be certain that if any errors were made in their accounts the opponents of Christ (of which there were many) would have been quick to expose them.

3. Bibliographic Test

This final test is necessary because we do not possess the original manuscripts of most ancient documents. The question that must be asked, then, is: "How many early copies do we have and how close in time are they to the original?" A. T. Robertson, author of one of the most comprehensive grammars of New Testament Greek, wrote, "...we have 13,000 manuscript copies of portions of the New Testament."{27} Many of these copies are dated only a short time (80-400 years) after the original.

When the New Testament documents are compared with other writings of antiquity for the numbers of early copies and the chronological proximity of the copies to the original, the New Testament is far superior. (For instance, we have only 10 good copies of Gallic Wars and they are 1,000 years after the original; seven copies of Plato's Tetrologies, 1,200 years after the original. Similar results hold for the writings of Thucydides, Herodotus and a host of others.){28}

The late Sir Frederic Kenyon, former director and principal librarian of the British Museum, was one of the leading authorities on the reliability of ancient manuscripts. He drew this conclusion:

"The interval then, between the dates of original composition and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established."{29}

If one concludes that the New Testament documents are historically reliable, it stands to reason that he should seriously consider the message they present. In the Old Testament and the New, the message of the Bible is the message of Jesus Christ. And He offers an abundant and eternal life to anyone who will consider and respond to His claims: "I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life...and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."{30}


1. Sanders, C. Introduction to Research in English Literary History (New York: MacMillan, 1952), pp. 143ff; quoted in Montgomery, John. "History and Christianity," His Magazine reprint, Chicago, December 1964-March 1965, pp. 6-9.
2. I John 1:3.
3. 11 Peter 1:16.
4. Luke 1:1-3.
5. Luke 24:1-4.
6. Matthew 28:1-8.
7. Conzelmann, Hans. Jesus. The classic article from the RGG expanded and updated (Philadelphia: Fortress Press), pp. 26-27.
8. Luke 1:26, 2:40.
9. Matthew 2:1-23.
10. Cheney, Johnston. The Life of Christ in Stereo. (Portland, OR: Western Seminary Press, 1971), pp. 6-14, 243.
11. Hooper, Walter (ed.). Christian Reflections (William B. Eerdmans) quoted in McDowell, Josh. More Evidence That Demands a Verdict (San Bernardino, CA: Campus Crusade for Christ, Inc., 1975), p. 342.
12. Mark 14:12ff.
13. John 18:28.
14. Hoehner, Harold W. "Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ, Part IV" Bibliotheca Sacra (Dallas: Dallas Theological Seminary, July, 1974), pp. 241-264.
15. Bruce, F. F. Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974), pp.19-41.
16. Ramsay, W.M. The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament. (1915), p. 222; quoted in Bruce, F. F. The New Testament Documents - Are They Reliable? (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1968), p. 91.
17. Glueck, Nelson. Rivers in the Desert History of Negev. (Philadelphia: Jewish Publications Society of America, 1969); quoted in McDowell, Josh. Evidence That Demands A Verdict. (San Bernardino, CA: Campus Crusade for Christ, Inc., 1972), p. 68.
18. 1 Corinthians 10:25.
19. Bruce, Christian Origins. p 200.
20. Acts 19:27-29.
21. Free, Joseph P. Archaeology and Bible History. (Wheaton: Scripture Press,1951), p.324.
22. Ibid.
23. Mark 10:46-52.
24. Luke 18:35 43.
25. Free, op cit, p. 295; the old Jewish Jericho may have been a "ghost town" or merely a mound in Jesus' day.
26. Albright, William. Recent Discoveries in Biblical Lands. (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1955), p. 136; quoted in McDowell, op. cit., p. 65.
27. Robertson, A T., Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament. (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1925), p. 70; quoted in Montgomery, op. cit., p. 6.
28. McDowell, op. cit., pp. 46-56: Montgomery, op. cit., p. 6: Bruce, op. cit., pp. 10-20.
29. Kenyon, F. G. The Bible and Archaeology. (New York and London: Harper, 1940), pp. 288, 89; quoted in Montgomery, op. cit., p. 6.
30. John 8:12, 32.


Linda Raney Wright is an award-winning author, writer and speaker. A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley (AB, rhetoric), she has written for major magazines and has appeared on television talk shows as she has lectured in universities and cities around the world.

Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents. He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively.

I was just outside enjoying the first full day of summer. It’s a warm day here in Southern Ontario, Canada, and the sky is blue with a few bright white, billowing clouds lazily drifting by. As I walked across the lush green grass, a robin, who apparently would rather run or hop than fly, skittered away from me. A goldfinch flew from the birdfeeder to the safety of the nearby cedar branches. High above me the breeze rustled the leaves of a large ash tree. The dark pink peonies that were in full bloom yesterday appear a little more beaten down today, a result of last night’s thunderstorm. I’m sure some would have enjoyed the majesty of all that thunder and lightning a little more if they hadn’t been trying to sleep at the time.

How can people witness all of these marvelous facets of creation and still try to convince themselves that there is no God? I believe that they are trying to avoid being held accountable to the One who created them. As I said in my last post, (June 20, 2011), God is holy, and because He is holy, He cannot tolerate sin. The only way that people know how to avoid being accountable to God is to pretend that He doesn’t exist. This reminds me of students who don’t look at a teacher when she is asking a question. They must be thinking, if I don’t look at her, she won’t see me, and won’t ask me to answer. God sees us whether we are willing to acknowledge Him or not, and we are accountable to Him, whether we are willing to admit it or not. Just because you don’t want to believe something, doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

Romans 1:18-20 tells us that God’s wrath is revealed against the unrighteousness of those who suppress the truth, and that what can be known about God can be clearly seen in His creation. We know from Deuteronomy 29:29 that there are some things that are known only to God, but what we can know has been revealed to us so that we will want to honour and obey Him. God has made all of humankind to understand that creation requires a Creator. The intricacies of this life, the human body, plants, animals, the rotation of the planets in the universe, they didn’t just happen. They follow a design that requires a Designer. We can try to convince ourselves that God doesn’t exist, but it won’t work. The evidence is all around us.

Psalm 19:1-2

In conversations that I’ve had with atheists, they have claimed that there is no God, and then seconds later talked about their perception of God. For example: God does not exist; if He does, why does He allow bad things to happen? People who believe in God believe in fairy tales. Why would He allow us to make our own choices? Romans 1:18-20 addresses both sides of this issue. In this post I will examine God’s wrath, and in the next, the proof of His existence.

Sometimes God shows His judgement in historic events like the flood (Genesis 7) or the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:15-26), but sometimes His wrath is shown by letting us face the consequences for our own choices. We have the option of looking to Him for guidance, for asking Him to direct our paths, (Proverbs 3:5-6, Isaiah 26:7, Psalm 37:23) but we often wait until after we are in trouble and then plead for His help.

God is holy, completely unique in His perfection, and because He is holy, He cannot tolerate sin. Therefore He pours out His wrath and judgement against this world’s sinfulness. God’s wrath is not like human anger; He does not have an emotional outburst of fury, but a controlled reaction to that which is against His nature and against His will (ungodliness) and also to offenses against his people (unrighteousness). There are those who think that it is unfair of God to hold us to His standard, rather than lowering His expectations to our level of sinfulness. After all, we are imperfect beings; how can He expect us to be perfect? Yet, if He changed to make Himself more like us, He would not be holy, He would not be worthy of our worship, and He would not be God. If God did not get angry at sin, Jesus would not have needed to go to the cross, and we would not be in need of God’s great love and mercy.

Some people prefer to focus on God’s grace and love rather than on His wrath, and I can’t say that I blame them. He loves us more than we will ever be able to fathom, and because of His love we do not have to face destruction. Lamentations 3:22, in the New International Version says, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.” But the wrath of God is real. The gift of salvation that has been made possible by Christ’s sacrifice is what will protect us from God’s wrath. Those who choose not to accept it, will ultimately have to pay the consequences.

I was astounded, appalled and saddened by the events that took place after the final game of the Stanley Cup playoffs in Vancouver on Wednesday night. Let me clarify that my title in no way suggests that one team was good and the other evil, but rather that there were two battles that night—one on the ice and the other in the streets. People overturned cars and set them on fire, including two police cars. They smashed store windows and looted the shops. There was violent behaviour that included stabbings, beatings and throwing things (including fists and insults) at police officers and others. Media personnel were asked to get off the streets for their own safety. The police read the Riot Act to the crowd, but it was ignored. Even clouds of pepper spray and tear gas only moved them slightly. It was a scene of chaos and anarchy.

I want to emphasize that this activity in no way represents the majority of the people who live in the beautiful coastal city of Vancouver, and even on that night, there were people who put themselves in danger to do the right thing. Shop owners and private citizens did what they could to protect property. Others tried to break up fights or urged people to move along. Some were beaten for their efforts. The next day, many more volunteered to help clean up the mess that was left behind.

In Titus 3:1-2, Paul urges Titus to remind the people of Crete to be subject to authority, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, not to slander, but to be peaceable, gentle and courteous to all. Don’t you think that the world would be a nicer place to live if everyone followed that advice? Unfortunately, there is a difference between the people Titus was leading and the people who were causing so much destruction in Vancouver on Wednesday night. The Cretans had become followers of Jesus and wanted to do the right thing. Paul through Titus was teaching them how to leave their old ways behind, which they were able to do through the grace of Christ. (Titus 3:4-6)

The people who started the riot in Vancouver, many of them high school students, had absolutely no respect for authority, and had no desire to do the right thing. Evidence shows that the riot was planned—it would take place whether the home team won or lost—and that most of the troublemakers did not even go to the game. Statements on social media accounts and the fact that they brought Molotov cocktails with them show pre-meditation. What then can we do to prevent this kind of behaviour? First, we must realize that but for the grace of God, we might be in the same sorry state as the vandals. Second, we should pray, for the people of Vancouver, for the perpetrators of the crimes, and that justice would be done. Third, we need to be light in the world. The more of us who stand up against evil, the harder it will be for the evil to overpower us. Joyce Meyer has said, “When the light is turned on, the darkness has to go. … Godliness has to be chosen, but ungodliness will just run rampant if people are not actively making right choices. … Do not wait for somebody else to be the first one to make a right choice. Don’t you dare say, ‘Well, why should I be the only one?’ Why shouldn’t you be the one that leads a revolution of righteousness? Why shouldn’t you be the one to stand up and start doing what’s right and making right choices? You might be surprised what a leader you are.”

A few days ago a friend posted on Facebook that she heard a song with the line, “What if our blessings come through raindrops?” She was driving to work in the rain at the time. At that point I had never heard it, but later in the day another friend on Facebook posted a link to that very song. It is called Blessings by Laura Story. I was so moved by the song that I had to write about it.

The song questions, as the songwriter has, what blessings really are. We have the idea that blessings are good health, comfort, prosperity. Certainly blessings are not suffering, or trials or sleepless nights. Or are they? Is there more to God’s plan for our lives than we can understand? I’m sure of it. God allowed Job to be tested by Satan to prove Job’s faithfulness. Job didn’t understand why all those hard things were happening in his life, but he maintained his hope in God, and Job passed the test. (Job 13:15) At the end of it Job learned that God is God, and it was not Job's place to question Him. (Job 42:1-6) God's ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9) and beyond our understanding. (Job 36:26, Job 37:5, Psalm 147:5)

Laura Story says, “The album that I did, I guess about three or four years ago, had happened right after my husband went through surgery for a brain tumour, and so a lot of the ideas that I was writing about then were just very fresh, about how we worship in the midst of trials. And so, fast-forward a few years later, a lot of things have changed; a lot of things have gotten better with his health. A lot of things have not. And trying to figure out, you know, we pray for God to bless us; what does it look like when I spend four or so years praying for healing for my husband that never comes? You know, I feel like that we’ve kind of gotten to a place of having to make a choice. Are we going to judge God based on our circumstances that we don’t understand, or are we going to choose to judge our circumstances based on what we hold to be true about God?

One of the lines from this song says, “We doubt Your goodness; we doubt Your love, as if every promise from Your Word is not enough.” God has given us His Word to instruct us and to encourage us. He has told us how much He loves us, (John 3:16) and that He wants only the best for us. (Matthew 7:11, Jeremiah 29:11) Let’s take a step of faith and believe Him. Trust in His promises.

Please take a few minutes to listen to this beautiful song.

You can visit Laura Story's official website here.

I’m a small town girl who was recently in New York City for the first time. From the moment I entered the subway station, people started asking me for money. In the time it took me to walk down the steps, four different people had asked me for amounts ranging from four dollars to five cents. Even combined it didn’t total very much, but it was a bit overwhelming to be stopped every few seconds. God loves a cheerful giver—that’s what it says in II Corinthians 9:7—but I wasn’t giving too cheerfully by that point.

In Mark 12:41-44 Jesus watched people putting their donations into the offering boxes. He was not watching because he needed their donations, for after all He owns the cattle on a thousand hills and everything else in all creation. (Psalm 50:9-12) What He was watching for was the attitude with which the donations were being given. He was concerned with the condition of people’s hearts. He knew that it was not the amount they gave, but the amount they withheld that was the measure of their generosity. The wealthy gave a large portion, but it was not a large proportion of what they had. The widow, a member of the poorest and most vulnerable segment of society, gave all she owned. The wealthy depended on their wealth to provide for them, but the widow depended on God. She trusted God to meet her needs. It was not her money that she gave to God, but her heart, her whole being.

When God tells us that he want us to give cheerfully, He means that what is important is the condition of our hearts, our motivation for giving. He doesn’t want us to give because people keep asking, or because we feel pressured by public opinion, or to get a tax rebate. He wants us to give because we love our neighbour as we love ourselves, and because we love Him and trust Him to provide for our every need.

Today's post is written by Rusty Wright.
Laugh a Little: It's Good For Your Health

Had a good laugh recently? Need one?

Stressful days can invite comic relief. Doctors realize that laughter can enhance physical and mental health. Now it seems even looking forward to laughter can be good for you.

WebMD reports that Lee Berk, MD, a University of California Irvine medical professor, and his associates have for years investigated how moods affect immune systems and illness. They've found laughter has a role in fighting viruses, bacteria, cancer and heart disease.

Stress can hamper your immune system; a good chuckle can help. Berk found earlier that watching a one-hour humorous video reduced stress hormone secretion and helped the immune system counter viruses and bacteria.

But there's more: Berk now says the mere anticipation of laughing can help. He studied ten men, measured their stress signs, and told them that in about three days they would see a humorous video. In each man, spirits lifted before viewing the video.

Two days before the viewing, depression was down 51 percent, confusion 36 percent, anger 19 percent, fatigue 15 percent and tension 9 percent. Right after the viewing, depression and anger were both down 98 percent, fatigue 87 percent, confusion 75 percent and tension 61 percent.

Berk feels anticipating humor brightens life and affects health. He calls this influence the "biology of hope." Berk says, "Positive anticipation of humor starts the ball rolling in a sense, in which moods begin to change in ways that help the body fight illness. We believe this shows that even anticipation can be used to help patients recover from a wide range of disorders."

Moral: Planning humor can benefit your health. Watch a funny movie, spend time with humorous people. Tell your boss, professor, clergy or club chairperson to liven up their speeches a bit if they want healthy employees, students, or members. Put laugh-breaks on your calendar, since anticipation is part of the therapy.

A Jewish proverb observes, "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." [Proverbs 17:22] Paul, a first-Century follower of Jesus, emphasized hope: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope. . ." [Romans 15:13] Those biblical writers have some good advice now and then, practical stuff for everyday life.

So, laugh more. You'll like it. And say, have you heard the one about. . .?
Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents. He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively.

In my last two posts I’ve talked about the fact that there is trouble in this world, and it is a good thing to wait on the Lord. That is because God is reliable and trustworthy. In the King James Version, Isaiah 40:8 says that the word of our God shall stand forever. He assures us that He will keep His promises, no matter what circumstances we may face and whether or not we always understand how or know when.

The Word of God will last and be reliable forever, even though all else is unreliable and passes away. The metaphor that is used here is that the grass dries up and the flowers wither. In Isaiah 40:6-7 we can see that the grass and flowers are referring to humanity and people’s promises. It is sometimes tempting, when we hear someone give a message that we agree with, or that we long for, to start following, even worshipping, that person. It happens often with celebrities, and it happens with evangelists. It happened with Harold Camping. (May 23, 2011) When Camping said that the world was going to end, people gave up everything they had—some even took their own lives—because they believed the man, rather than trusting the Word of God. Joyce Meyer puts it simply, “Follow God, not people.”

Isaiah 40:10-11 indicate that the Word of God will bring deliverance, and that He cares for us. That love and salvation was made human in the person of Jesus. (John 1:1-5) Jesus’ sacrifice at the cross made it possible for us to have eternal salvation and to have an eternal connection with God who cares so deeply for us that He gave up His own Son to redeem us. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Word. (Matthew 5:17) Because of Him we can be adopted into God’s family, and we can trust His promises both now and forevermore.