Thursday, February 28, 2013

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume V, Issue XI

C. S. Lewis' Trilemma, Why it Matters

The 'other' weekly news magazine this week features Oscar Pistorius [click to read]. The cover reads: "Man, Superman, Gunman." Indeed, when those we see as the greatest, and most exemplary among us, fall; questions must be raised. We are right to examine the lives of those we would hold up as role models.

But when we look at our fellow men in such positions, it is well to remember that Romans 3:23 tells us: "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." This does not excuse our shortfallings, rather it offers an honest assessment of the human condition. Honest examination, while it may lead to disillusionment, is necessary if we are to offer solid example.

Pistorious has a great story of triumph over circumstances, but is guilty of either a great crime or (as he claims) a great error. If he is a role model for discipline in overcoming adversity, his lack of discipline, or lack of clear judgement, must also be presented as evidence.

When Jesus proclaims Himself the fulfillment of Scripture, He too invites our examination. C. S. Lewis puts it in these words:

C. S. Lewis' Trilemma: Who is this Man?

"Then comes the real shock. Among these Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was G-d. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time. Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of G-d, or one with G-d: there would he nothing very odd about it. But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of G-d. G-d, in their language, meant the Being outside the world, who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you have grasped that. you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.

One part of the claim tends to slip past us unnoticed because we have heard it so often that we no longer see what it amounts to. I mean the claim to forgive sins: any sins. Now unless the speaker is G-d, this is really so preposterous as to be comic. We can all understand how a man forgives offences against himself. You tread on my toes and I forgive you, you steal my money and I forgive you. But what should we make of a man, himself unrobbed and untrodden on, who announced that he forgave you for treading on other men’s toes and stealing other men’s money? Asinine fatuity is the kindest description we should give of his conduct. Yet this is what Jesus did. He told people that their sins were forgiven, and never waited to consult all the other people whom their sins had undoubtedly injured. He unhesitatingly behaved as if He was the party chiefly concerned, the person chiefly offended in all offences. This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin. In the mouth of any speaker who is not God, these words would imply what I can only regard as a silliness and conceit unrivalled by any other character in history. Yet (and this is the strange, significant thing) even His enemies, when they read the Gospels, do not usually get the impression of silliness and conceit. Still less do unprejudiced readers. Christ says that He is ‘humble and meek’ and we believe Him; not noticing that, if He were merely a man, humility and meekness are the very last characteristics we could attribute to some of His sayings.

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be G-d.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of G-d: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and G-d. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."

-- C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (1952; Harper Collins: 2001) 51-52.

C. S. Lewis was a skeptic and an Oxford scholar. His honest scholarship led him to conclude that Christ is indeed who He says He is. Josh McDowell, a journalist, also set out to disprove the Gospel message. Instead, he ended up writing a book called Evidence that Demands a Verdict. In it he lays out a compelling case for Jesus the Christ.

Interestingly enough, I have read an Atheist's thoughts to the effect that Jesus can still be a great moral teacher even if we find delusion or outright prevarication in his message (of course, wanting to claim that He is ONLY a great moral teacher and nothing more). I do not think that is possible. We demand a standard of integrity that is higher for even those who are men like we are that we would hold up as models for our lives. The sad story of Oscar Pristorius proves it.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume V, Issue X

This week the 'other' weekly news magazine focuses on Medical Bills [click to read]. No doubt, healthcare costs are rising. Insurance is becoming less affordable (in the wake of the 'Affordable Care Act's' mandates). The 'answers' being legislated are not solving the problem. Maybe it is time we restated the problem. Listen to Dr. Benjamin Carson's Remarks [click to read] at the National Prayer Breakfast. Often our falling short in the solution comes from a lack of vision in correctly envisioning the challenge.

The Power of Our Words

Today THYME is breaking from parody of the 'other' weekly news magazine to look at the power in rephrasing the situation. Here is a moving video presentation that illustrates the power of our words. 

The power of our words.

Speaking into the troubled world of the Roman Empire, the Church in the First Century was accused of being "these that have turned the world upside down." Acts 17:6. Indeed, the promise of a new and better Kingdom changed how people saw their situation -- and how they looked at one another! 

Audio Adrenaline - "Kings and Queens"

A beautiful capture of Imago Dei!

No longer limited in vision to an empire of many slaves and few citizens, the Church now saw themselves as joint heirs of Christ's Kingdom, and began to treat each other accordingly.

Romans 12 entreated the new believers: "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." 

Today's world is in no less need of radical revisioning. How will Scripture inspire us to see differently? Real Transformation must begin with Faith and Vision...

Rice Paper Butterfly, or Paper Kite Butterfly, Idea leuconoe, Illustration © 2013, by Kristina Elaine Riley for HOPE Publications, Pvt. ltd.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Steeples of Staunton VI

Spires Seen Along Greenville Avenue

Third Presbyterian Church on Barterbrook Road.

Linden Heights Baptist Church.

Lifeflow Church.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Stones of Remembrance...

Remembering G-d's Mighty Works in Our Lives

Angus Dei (Lamb of G-d), by Kristina Elaine Riley. [1.]

One of the greatest challenges to our Faith is our forgetfulness. Pastor Seth Hankee preached our sermon this past Sunday about how the people were instructed to remember the great things G-d had done for them. G-d separated the Jordan, as He had the Red Sea, for the people to walk across and gave them the following command:

"And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the Lord spake unto Joshua, saying, Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man, And command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests' feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night.

Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man: And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the Lord your G-d into the midst of Jordan, and take you up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel: That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?

Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever. And the children of Israel did so as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones out of the midst of Jordan, as the Lord spake unto Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them unto the place where they lodged, and laid them down there.

And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood: and they are there unto this day." -- Joshua 4:1-9

The Passover meal had already been instituted as testimony to G-d's redemption, so that a child would ask: "Why is this Night Different from all Other Nights?" The story in a meal gave illustration to the miracle that had carried the people out of Egypt.

 For the Christian, remembering deliverance from sin is the greatest miracle. In preparation for Easter, the Church observes Lent, reminding us of the deliverance Jesus brought us by way of the cross: 

"Ash Wednesday emphasizes two themes: our sinfulness before G-d and our human mortality. The service focuses on both themes, helping us to realize that both have been triumphed through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

During some Ash Wednesday services, the minister will lightly rub the sign of the cross with ashes onto the foreheads of worshipers. The use of ashes as a sign of mortality and repentance has a long history in Jewish and Christian worship. Historically, ashes signified purification and sorrow for sins."-- —Adapted from The United Methodist Book of Worship

So it is very important to tell our stories of redemption, using reminders that will stir our minds to recall times when we were vividly aware of the Divine reaching out to touch our lives. Pastor Seth showed us a little children's book he had saved from his first house... on closer examination you could see the tire print on the page, a reminder of how when a cart careened into his living room, it had narrowly missed hitting his wife and young child. Certainly G-d had protected his young family and that little book now told a much bigger story!

So now it is time to commit ourselves to the telling of the great stories, the ones that end in redemption and deliverance from our present condition. The Book of Judges follows the Book of Joshua and gives a sober warning: "And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being an hundred and ten years old. And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathheres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash. And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel." -- Judges 2:8-10

The importance of stories and their redemptive narrative cannot be emphasized enough. Passing the torch must always be a priority in every generation.

1. "I did this with a sheet of 8.5"x11" computer paper some ashes from my fire place and canola oil. I mixed up some of the oil and ashes similar to how they are mixed on Ash Wednesday and painted them on the paper in a cross then sprinkled the rest of the dry ashes on top. I then found one of the music compositions for "Agnus Dei," Latin for Lamb of G-d, on [click to read] and cut out strictly the music overlaying it and changing the opacity over the picture of my ash cross. Then I added the Latin words meaning, "Lamb of G-d, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us, grant us peace." This piece is to remind us that we are sinners made up of dust, but G-d loved us so much, he took mercy on us sending His son as a sacrificial lamb, to take away our sins. If we believe and accept his sacrifice we are granted this eternal peace and life with Him. May the Lord bless you all and lead you closer to Him during this season of Lent, looking forward to the promise of Easter. Amen." -- Kristina Elaine Riley

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Differences...

Between Successful and Unsuccessful People

By Chuck Balsamo


It’s always blown my mind to see two perfectly similar people in appearance, upbringing, and education grow and become two totally different human beings.

Have you ever wondered how one person becomes so highly successful, and then another person who is just like him or her (in almost every way) becomes so woefully unhappy and unsuccessful?

To me, high success is not defined as having lots of money and things, or attaining to certain levels of achievement.

The differences between successful and unsuccessful people are beneath the skin. You’re not going for a certain new look, but a certain new mindset. You don’t need a new outfit. You need a new attitude.

Successful People…

Love themselves and their family and friends. They are thankful for the past, content with the present, and optimistic about the future

Unsuccessful People…

They are the sleepwalkers. They are bitter about the past, angry and hurt in a hundred ways. They groan and grumble about the nightmares of today. They are consumed with the dread of a hopeless tomorrow.

If you are woefully unhappy and unsuccessful, you can switch tracks.

You just have to understand these major differences between successful and unsuccessful people, and then choose a more successful way of thinking (and acting) for yourself.

Stop repeating the same excuses! Everyone has a terrible past. Everyone has challenges. Everyone has a few good reasons to be unsuccessful.

I don’t believe in the power of good luck and bad luck, because I believe more in the power of right and wrong attitudes, negative and positive expectations, and positive action (or the lack of it)!


How do you generally feel about yourself, your life, and the world around you?
  • Are you self-loathing, guilt ridden, enraged, embittered, etc. (OR)
  • Are you grateful, loving, graceful, playful, hilarious, energized, etc.
  • Stop being such a downer! Open the window blinds and let the sunlight in! Clean up your spaces from the devastating effects of your last pity party.
  • Smile with difficulty until you can smile by default!


What are you expecting to happen with your life?
  • Do you feel like the whole world is conspiring against you, that life is always going to be an impossible uphill struggle? (OR)
  • Do you feel like the whole world is conspiring in your favor! Do you expect the mountains to move? Do you expect people to like you, love you, and bless you?

Positive Action

How are manifesting energy, taking action, and moving towards your dreams?
  • You have to be more than a dreamer to win!
  • Unsuccessful people are lazy. They wake up late and they do whatever, whenever, wherever… most of the time.
  • Unsuccessful people spend lots of time wishing for a better life, but they do little or nothing (consistently) to drive them forward.
  • If you want to go from woefully unsuccessful to highly successful, you must turn your wishes into strategic plans, and actually go for it!
  • The world behaves differently when you TAKE ACTION!
Consider these verses from the Bible…
Attitude: “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8 NLT)
Expectations: “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT) “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:30 NLT)
Positive Action: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your strength.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10 NLV)
Create a new attitude!

Develop a long new list of expectations!

Enter into the power of positive action!

When you do these things, the entire universe will welcome you to the UPWARD FLOW.

Sure, you will have challenges and opposition. But with the right attitude and expectations, and with positive action you will keep blasting forward without losing momentum! You will win. Because it’s impossible to stay at the bottom when you give attention to the things I’ve written in this blog today.

Please leave a comment, and if you loved this message… share it!
Dream Big,
Chuck Balsamo [1.]
Today’s image from

Thursday, February 14, 2013

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume V, Issue IX

Our Once and Future Hope

This week the 'other' weekly news magazine features The Once and Future Pope [click to read]. The issue deals with the politics of the Vatican. Certainly the modern Pope wields a great amount of power in the affairs of nations. That was not always the case.

Consider the man, Peter, whom Christ mentored to serve His first small band of disciples. He was a common man, a fisherman. Certainly he was no stranger to dangerous situations, but when Jesus was being tried by religious and secular bodies prior to His crucifixion, Peter's flesh grew weak and he denied Christ three times. The story is recorded in Luke 22 and shows the human frailty of a great saint.

In Matthew 8:14 we learn Peter had a Mother-in-law. The first elder of the Church was married and ran a household. He was given to impetuous reactions, as when he cut off the ear of a high priest's servant. (John 18:10). He perhaps had more confidence in his courage than he should have (Luke 22: 33-34). Most of us can relate to his humanity in some way. Yet Jesus beckoned him to step into the work of a better Kingdom!

Matthew 14:22-33 Tells us the story:  "And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. 

But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of G-d." 

As long as Peter's attention was focused on Christ, he could follow Him onto the water. When he took his eyes off of Jesus and concentrated on the churning seas, he sank. There is a lesson for leaders here, and history bears it out in the lives of men like William Wilberforce and George Müller, men who found incredible strength for the tasks they undertook. But it was not a strength found in themselves that spurred them on, rather it came from a Faith fixed on the person of Jesus. Wilberforce labored for decades to end the scourge of slavery in British lands [1.] and Müller provided homes for thousands of orphans without ever making one single appeal for money. [2.]

These were not superior men, I would argue. They were men who had a firm sense of their hope and promise in G-d. That led them to perform great works, drawing on a power that could only be found in The Divine, they changed the world.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume V, Issue VIII

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn depicted Christ in the workaday clothes of a medieval artisan.

Accurately Depicting the Savior

There is a recurring vision somewhere in my subconscious, where having reached Heaven, I see Jesus in all His glory. Falling on my face, I am overwhelmed. After a while, His hand softly touches my shoulder as He bids me rise: "Come see what I'm working on." He says and then we walk to His workshop.

So many times I have visited an artist or a craftsman, and received that blessed invitation to enter the place where they create. It is an honor to be cherished, especially when a Master invites you as a fellow artisan. Such is the feeling of Christ's invitation in my dream.

Prior to Rembrant, the Seventh Century Master, artists routinely depicted Christ with crisp European features, either as a very heroic figure or in great agony. [1.]

In 1631, Rembrant moved from his hometown of Leiden, The Netherlands, where he was born in 1606, to the port city of Amsterdam, where he purchased a house in the city's Jewish Quarter.Ten years later, he was using the Shepardic Jews in his neighborhood as models. Since Jesus lived in the Middle-east and not Europe, Rembrant's portrayals strike a strong chord of reality in their composition.

The painting above has Jesus wearing the workaday clothes of a medieval artisan. You can just imagine the smells of the workshop still lingering in those clothes. I've met a few stonemasons who's honest features remind me of this picture.

Depicting Messiah has long been a challenge to the serious artist, [2.] and the theologian as well! There seem to be a lot of thoughts about who Christ is. Some of them seem as overworked as the paintings. Scripture gives us a good basis for knowing Christ's nature though. Ironically, it is two English scholars who give us some of the better word portraits. Clive Staples Lewis [3.]and John Ronald Reuel Tolkien [4.] both wrote great depictions.

Lewis portrayed Christ in the character of Aslan, the Lion of Judah. Tolkien's Aragorn (think of the book character more than the movie one here), also displays characteristics of the Redeemer.

Today, more than ever, it behooves us to present as honest a picture of Christ as we can. Much of our society puts little value in our faith, but are they perhaps looking at an incorrect picture? A faulty rendering can discredit something that is actually of great value! [5.]

Looking at the lives of John Newton, William Wilberforce, Florence Nightingale, Charles Dickens, William H. Howland, George Müller and a host of others actually reads like a companion volume to the Hall of Faith described in Hebrews 11. Their stories and their testimonies must be honestly examined before we discard the Faith that moved them. [6.]

This week the 'other' weekly news magazine presents Marco Rubio [click to read] as 'Savior' of the Republican Party. We at THYME would like to gently suggest that the term is greatly overused when referring to political figures.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

"Journey to Jesus" Come to Life in Video

Audio Adrenaline - "Kings and Queens"

A beautiful capture of Imago Dei!

This video is such a powerful and beautiful vision of what is to come when that trumpet sounds. It reminds me of the book, the Last Battle (the last in CS Lewis' Narnia series). I was also just so happy to see that someone else had the Journey to Jesus vision. So here is Journey to Jesus, come to life. -- Kristina Elaine Riley

The Epic of Human Civilization: Isaiah 60, Rev: 21

Click Here for larger image.

Click Here for larger image.

Journey to Jesus is a mural depicting the world's children as princes and princesses of the New Heaven and the New Earth.