Friday, July 31, 2009
According to a Greek legend in ancient Athens, a man noticed the great storyteller Aesop playing childish games with some little boys. He laughed and jeered at Aesop asking him why he was wasting his time in such frivolous activity.
Aesop responded by picking up a bow, loosening its string, and placing it on the ground. Then he said to the critical Athenian, “Now answer the riddle if you can. Tell us what the unstrung bow implies.” The man looked at it for several moments but had no idea what point Aesop was trying to make.
Aesop explained, “If you keep a bow always bent, it will break eventually; but, if you let it go slack, it will be more fit for use when you want it.”
People are also like that. That’s why we all need to take time to rest. Jesus prescribed time off for His wearied disciples after they had returned from a prolonged period of ministry. God set a pattern in the Old Testament for us when He “rested from all His work.” (Genesis 2:3)
Keep the 4th Commandment by setting aside a time to be renewed spiritually and relax physically one day out of seven. You will be at your best for the Lord if you have taken time to loosen the bow.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Fugitive Murderer Captured After Hiding for 16 Years in Portugese Caves - International News | News of the World | Middle East News | Europe News - FOXNews.com
Time NEVER erases a crime.
Fugitive Murderer Captured After Hiding for 16 Years in Portugese Caves - International News News of the World Middle East News Europe News - FOXNews.com
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My shining feet will never run on early morning lawn;
My feet were crushed before they had a chance to greet the dawn.
My fingers now will never stretch to touch the winning tape;
My race was done before I learned the smallest steps to take.
My growing height will never be recorded on the wall;
My growth was stopped when I was still unseen, and very small.
My lips and tongue will never taste the good fruits of the earth;
For I myself was judged to be a fruit of little worth.
My eyes will never scan the sky for my high—flying kite;
For when still blind, destroyed were they in the black womb of night.
I’ll never stand upon a hill, Spring’s winds in my hair;
Aborted winds of thought closed in on Motherhood’s despair.
I’ll never walk the shores of life or know the tides of time;
For I was coming but unloved, and that my only crime.
Nameless am I, a grain of sand, one of the countless dead;
But the deed that made me ashen grey floats on seas of red.
(Fay Clayton, Christian Crusade Weekly, January 13, 1976)
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Ray Stedman shared this amazing insight into the lesson of the fig tree. He wrote:
“When I came to California, I planted a fig tree just to see what it would do and to learn from it. I learned the answer to this riddle from the fig tree in my yard. The first spring, I watched with interest as the barren limbs of that tree began to swell, the buds began to fill out, and the leaves began to appear. And to my astonishment (I did not know this about a fig tree) little figs appeared right along with the leaves. I thought, ‘Well, that’s strange: the fruit comes right along with the leaf. Fig trees must be very unusual that way.’ So I watched these little figs grow and turn from green to yellow, and begin to look as if they were ripe.
One day I sampled one. To my amazement, instead of being full of juice and pulp as a normal fig would be, it was dry and withered inside, with no juice at all. I opened another, and another, and found the same thing. I thought, ‘Oh, my fig tree is a lemon!’
But then, to my amazement, I saw [over time] that the tree began to swell and grow bigger. And when I opened one, I saw that it was a normal fig, ripe and juicy and filled with pulp. And the tree has borne a great crop of figs ever since. So I learned something: a fig tree has two kinds of figs-—one that I call “pre-figs”, which look like figs but are not figs but which always appear first. I learned that a tree does not have those pre-figs, it will not have real figs later on.
This is the explanation for what Jesus found: it was not the season for real figs. But when Jesus looked at this tree, he found no pre-figs, and so He knew that this tree would never have figs, hut produced nothing but leaves. The life of the tree had been spent producing its luxuriant foliage, so that it looked like a healthy tree, hut was not.”
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
New Testament scholar Paul S. Minear noted:
"[Composer Johannes] Brahms chose his own texts [for his German Requiem] from Luther’s Bible to illustrate the Protestant conviction that man must hear and respond to God’s word in man’s own language, and that every believer must be free to deal with the Biblical text apart from priestly veto . . . For the word 'German' he would gladly have substituted the word 'human' because he was concerned to comment on 'the primary text of human existence' finding there, as in the Bible, the universal themes of suffering and joy."
Monday, July 27, 2009
- July 21, 2009
There's a genuine big shot inside the White House who has advocated the sort of population-control policies that we associate with Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and power-drunk mad scientists in science-fiction movies. And President Obama appointed him.
How would you describe someone who has called for forced abortions? For mass sterilizations? For mandatory population controls? Would you call him a coercive eugenicist? Or would you go further, and call him some sort of nasty totalitarian?
Call him what you want, but the one thing you have to call John Holdren-- is that you have to call him Director of the Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP) within the White House, where at least 62 people call him "boss." The post is sometimes known as the "Science Czar," which in Holdren's case is something of an understatement.
Click here for the full article.
"Our starting point is Scripture, which we accept as God’s unique and trustworthy revelation. Yet, in seeking with loyalty to conserve this truth from God, we attribute no infallibility to our own evangelical traditions. We desire, rather, to re-examine them radically -- that is to say, with a thoroughness which digs down even to their roots. If we seem to the reader to be always sure about the truthfulness of Scripture but sometimes less than sure in our understanding of how to apply it to complex contemporary questions, then he has accurately grasped our mood."
John R. W. Stott (1921-), “Obeying Christ in a Changing World”
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Saturday, July 25, 2009
And these things happen by accident?
Amateur Astronomers Discover 'Soap Bubble' in Space - Science News Science & Technology Technology News - FOXNews.com
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Friday, July 24, 2009
Report: North Korea Publicly Executes Christian Woman for Distributing Bible - International News | News of the World | Middle East News | Europe News - FOXNews.com
"We cannot attain to the understanding of scripture either by study or by the intellect. Your first duty is to begin by prayer. Entreat the Lord to grant you, of His great mercy, the true understanding of His Word. There is no other intepreter of the Word of God than the Author of His Word, as He Himself has said, 'They shall be taught of God' (John 6:45). Hope for nothing from your own labors, from your own understanding: trust solely in God, and in the influence of His Spirit. Believe this on the word of a man who has experience."
Martin Luther (1483-1546)
Thursday, July 23, 2009
If Carl Sagan was right about the crab and natural selection . . .
Then these crab had better get busy making faces uglier than certain Dutch Harbor captains . . . oops! Too late.
Sorry. Natural selection is not micro-evolution.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Scant, but tantilizing evidence that humans helped to kill off Neanderthals? Key words and phrases: "probable," "any number of scenarios could explain it," "we think," "implies," "scientists are continuing to refine their understanding," "conflicting evidence," "likely," "may have been," "one recent study suggested."
Yet, Genesis 4 is a myth?
Stone Age Murder: Spear Wound Shows Human Killed Neanderthal - Science News Science & Technology Technology News - FOXNews.com
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One could not help but notice the pagan response to this event as it occurred.
Longest Solar Eclipse Shrouds Asia in Darkness - Science News Science & Technology Technology News - FOXNews.com
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Carl Sagan (author, astronomer, astrophysicist, humanist, and skeptic) observed in his book, The Dragons of Eden:
"A single human chromosome contains twenty billion bits of information. How much information is twenty billion bits? What would be its equivalent, if it were written down in an ordinary printed hook in modern human language? Twenty billion bits are the equivalent of about three billion letters.
If there are approximately six letters in an average word, the information content of a human chromosome corresponds to about five hundred million words.
If there about three hundred words on an ordinary page of printed type, this corresponds to about two million pages.
If a typical book contains five hundred such pages, the information content of a single human chromosome corresponds to some four thousand volumes.
It is clear, then, that the chromosome contains an enormous library of information. It is equally clear that so rich a library is required to specify as exquisitely constructed and intricately functioning an object as a human being."
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
I am mechanically declined, so I need a liscence to hold a screwdriver. At least I know how to drive nails: watch the nail, not the thumb. Why? Because you always hit what you watch, right?
So if Christ is our spiritual nail, why keep going for the "thumbs?"
Monday, July 20, 2009
Having a small child around the house again has brought some long-forgotten lessons back to me. For example, have you ever noticed how easily a child is quited and amused with trinkets, toys, etc--as long as he or she is not hungry? Once those pangs hit, we quickly learn that NOTHING will satisfy but what it craves--food.
So it is with man and the matters of the soul. Music, flowers, incense, candles, banners, processions, clothes, acccessories, ceremonies, etc. may all do well under certain conditions, but once he or she feels the need of the soul, there is no contentment in anything save Him alone who completely satisfies.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
"While that great body [of the Roman Empire] was invaded by open violence and undermined by slow decay, a pure and humble religion gently insinuated itself into the minds of men, grew up in silence and obscurity, derived new vigor from opposition, and finally erected the triumphant banner of the Cross on the ruins of the capitol."
Edward Gibbon, "The Decline And Fall of the Roman Empire." (1776)
Friday, July 17, 2009
Islamic Supremacist Group Holds First U.S. Conference - Local News | News Articles | National News | US News - FOXNews.com
Sometimes I wonder if our house ever sleeps. Someone seems to be always watching TV or is on the computer and listening to music through headphones. Still someone else may be in her or her room playing their stereo or guitar. When the phone rings, all volumes drop (or should, theoretically) so the caller can be heard and understood. The TV gets muted, conversation quiets—or the phone is taken into a quieter room.
God sometimes speaks in such a still small voice that we may find it hard to hear Him when He speaks. It may require that the distractions be removed—those areas of sin which deafen our ears to the voice of the Lord.
The world loves noise because it does not want to stop and think, much less hear the voice of the Lord. The world loves to kill time, is always seeking ways to pass the time. An undocumented source observed:
“Picture, if you will, some solar ray suddenly causing all radio, cassette players, stereo sets and televisions to stop working. Trembling hands impatiently twirl dials, adjust knobs, flip switches. Eyes are dilated with fear. Breathing comes in spasms. Marx was wrong. Religion isn’t the opiate of modern man, incessant sound is. We’ll listen to anything to avoid silence--long pointless talk shows, boring conversations, round-the-clock news, and even rock and country music. We like sound because it blocks out the despairing cry of our own souls, as well as the still, small voice of God. But we need occasionally to take God’s hand and journey into the fearful land of silence. It can be both painful and healing--with the presence of the One who is able to still the despairing cry, and give us a new song of thanks.”
Thursday, July 16, 2009
"I see no faults in the Church, and therefore let me resurrected with the Saints, whether I ascend to heaven or descend to hell, or go to any other place. And if we go to hell, we will turn the devils out of doors and made a heaven of it."
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 316.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
When David Livingstone (1813 - 1873) was asked if he didn't fear that going into Africa was too difficult and too dangerous, he answered, "I am immortal until the will of God for me is accomplished."
Enjoy this video of his amazing story:
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
"It's a wonderful calling," said his mother, "but why do you want to be a preacher when you grow up?"
"Well," said the youngster, "I figure since I'll be in church anyway, it'll be easier to stand up and holler than stay sat down and be quiet for the rest of my life."
Monday, July 13, 2009
"Guide me, O Lord, in all the changes and varieties of the world; that in all things that shall happen I may have an evenness and tranquility of spirit; that my soul may be wholly resigned to Thy divine will and pleasure, never murmuring at Thy gentle chastisements and fatherly correction; never waxing proud and insolent, though I feel a torrent of comforts and prosperous successes."
Jeremy Taylor (1613 - 1667), "Holy Living"
Saturday, July 11, 2009
"Just as at sea those who are carried away from the direction of the harbor bring themselves back on course by a clear sign, so Scripture may guide those adrift on the sea of life back into the harbor of the divine will."
(St. Gregory of Nyssa, b. 331? - d. 396?)
"Many years ago, F. B. Meyer was returning to England from northern Ireland by ship. It was night, and as the ship was entering the harbor, nothing was to be seen but a confusing array of lights. Dr. Meyer was concerned as to how the captain could hope to navigate into the harbor safely at night in such a confusing jumble of lights, and said so.
The captain called him up to the bridge and said, 'You see, Sir, it’s really very simple. I’ll show you how. Do you see that big light over to the left? And do you see that other big light over there to the right of it? And now, do you see that outstanding light further still this way? Well now, keep your eyes on those three lights and see what happens.'
Dr. Meyer did so. The big outer light on the left gradually moved in until it coincided with the middle one. Then, as the ship veered further, that light gradually merged into the third.
'There now,' said the boatman, 'All I have to do is to see that those three big lights become one; then I go straight forward.'
Even so, when the Word of Scripture and the inward urge of the conscience and the corroboration of outward circumstances become one, we need have no fear. We may go straight ahead. God’s will is clear."
(J. Sidlow Baxter, "Does God Still Guide?")
Friday, July 10, 2009
I watched two movies that have nothing to do with each other; yet, they both tell the same story. I refer to “Rent” and “The Lion in Winter.” Both were first-time viewings for me. I n case you are wondering where I’ve been, I am not one to rush out and see movies during their hype. I like to let the dust settle so I may digest the event without distraction from the hoopla.
Both movies were remakes of their original. “Rent” (2005) is a direct translation of Puccini’s 1896 opera, “La Boheme.” The story is of the cold, of love and hate, of life and death through the eyes of starving artists in the ghetto. “The Lion in Winter” (2003), starring Patrick Steward and Glenn Close, was a bold remake of the 1968 Hepburn/O’Tool film, which tells the story of King Henry II, of cold, of love and hate, of life and death through the eyes of regal villains scratching for the throne during the 1180’s Britain. This story has been told and retold by Shakespeare (“King John” and subsequent “King Henry” plays) and countless other historians, though eloquently recorded by Winston Churchill (also known as “the last Lion” himself) in the first of his 4-part book series, “History of the English Speaking People.”
Both stories are of bohemianism; that is, both describe the plight of disenchanted people who wished to live non-traditional lifestyles. Old Solomon was right when he said there was nothing new under the sun, and both stories could have the tagline, “No day but today.” While one story counted out five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes to, in a sense, take a head-count to see who survived, the other story counted out five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes to see who would be next to go. In “Lion”, the victor gets the spoils. In “Rent”, the victor goes to the spoils.
Both “Rent” and “The Lion in Winter” take place in over Christmas, and in their metropolitan centers. Both concern themselves heavily with “love” and the consequences of abusing it. Both show people living in fear. Both include the theme of homosexuality (Prince Richard/Prince Philip, Tom/Angel and Maureen/Joanne) as a crucial factor in the plots.
The comparisons are uncanny.
King Henry II and Mark/Marcello are despairing, yet want to make a mark in history;
Queen Eleanor and Maureen/Musetta will do whatever it takes to get them on the top and still maintain their eccentric tastes;
Prince John and Angel are the “freaks”, but both are held in highest esteem with their “families,” despite their flaws;
Prince Geoffry and Roger are the “machines,” just plodding along through life with hopes that everything works out for themselves (and if others are helped, that’s great, too);
Prince Richard and Tom Collins are the “go-getters,” working hard and even fighting for what those around them to the fault that they loose sight of that which is closest to them;
Prince Henry and April never appear because they both are dead before the story actually begins, but the impact of their lives affect their families and are never forgotten;
Alais and Mimi are must like innocent bystanders, but both are the key-stone to tragedy: used and user, loved and unloved. Both are openly known to practice unmarried sexual relations.
And the list goes on.
I feel like I’ve been on a roller-coaster ride with only one direction: straight down.
The tragedy is that people really live like this . . .
Thursday, July 09, 2009
"In yer FACE!"
Does that sound familiar? Not so long ago in a galaxy, well, right here, we used to hear this term used in derogatory ways, “in yer face!” The phrase connotes a retaliatory “same to you and more of it” kind of attitude. Now it is more commonly heard as trash-talk in the venues of sports and games. It’s a prideful insult, “getting’ all up in it [the face].”
Doing Hebrew studies a few years back I learned that Exodus 20:3 (commonly translated as “You shall have no other gods before me”) really reads in a surprisingly contemporary manner. From the Hebrew we read, “No there will be or become from you gods of another kind [according to, on account of, on behalf of, concerning, beside, in addition to, together with, beyond, above, over, by, on to, towards, to, against upon above, over from upon, from over] my face.” In other words, “You will have no other god in my face.”
Will it suffice to say we are to simply have no other gods besides the one true God? No. We are to raise up nothing as deity to His face! Anything but God is “in yer face” to God. There is one God and only one God and beside Him there is no other. Since there is only one God, there is only “one” in terms of those things that pertain to God. He is the sole source of our satisfaction, the conversant in prayer, creator and sustainer of all things. He makes heaven what it is, not a place outside Himself where He dwells.
The issue of getting up in God’s face is seen in the emphasis on the sanctity of worship and the condemnation of polytheism. At its ground level and most basic meaning, God intends that nothing be erected in the sanctuary. Understanding that, there is no need for any other deity (whether they exist or not—and no other deity exists, so don’t try to make one . . . that’s in the second commandment) as the One true and living God who set the captives free is to be receiving the utmost love and attention. Since He is the source and giver of all things whether in heaven or on earth, nothing should take His place.
Why can’t mankind make sense of the simplicity of this primary command? First, “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Cor. 4:3-4). Second, though God has given Himself and has made Himself available, scripture says that none will seek after Him. This is the greatest sin of humanity.
So why can’t mankind see? Because he is rebellious. “Sinful humans . . . don’t love God. The don’t delight to do His will. Instead, the law of sin and death has written its bloody signature across the godless human breast (Romans 7:21-24). Our inborn cry is, ‘Not you will but mine be done!’ The devil is our father and his will we gladly do.”[i]
In a survey of Paganism, one cannot help but notice how this animistic world religion is founded on the very breaking of the first commandment. The pagan claims to practice irreligion, a system of absent authority or liturgy; or, one may claim to practice no religion at all, so the first step one takes is away from God, declaring his or her autonomy. Two things happen simultaneously in this declaration: first, man (generally speaking) has set himself up as absolute and supreme authority, a god. “By creating our own divinities we create mental steps for ourselves, up which we can mount toward realizing ourselves as divine.” [ii] Notice how, now that he has taken this stand, he is now in direct contradiction to his own system of absent authority. The balances that he seeks to maintain through the manipulation of forces and powers has begun off-balance! Second, in declaring his autonomy from God he has actually agreed with God concerning the condition of mankind at the very moment of the fall in the Garden of Eden! When Adam disobeyed God, he was declared to be “like one who is abandoned, all alone, autonomous, from it [the tree of the knowledge of good and evil] knowing good and evil.” The pagan has two choices: make his own gods, or revere himself as one. Paganism is hardly a godless system at all.
A second feature of paganism is the attempt through autonomy to elevate experience over dogma. First, what exactly is the “open mind” of paganism toward religion if there are no commandments? They seem to draw the line somewhere. One writer rationalizes, “The lack of dogma in the Craft, the fact that one can worship the Goddess without believing in Her, that one can accept the Goddess as `Muse' and the Craft as a form of ancient knowledge to be tested by experience; these are precisely the things that have caused the Craft to survive, to revive, and to be re-created in this century."[iii] If there is a lack of dogma, how can there be ritual? By definition, ritual assumes some sort of law or custom. If there is no dogma, how can there by ritual? Second, what is the measure of experience? How does one know he has arrived? There must be a standard. A godless divinity and a dogmaless doctine? Hardly.
A third feature of paganism tied to the pursuit of experience is divination, or magick. This is simply an attempt to act divine, or god-like through the raising of power via meditation or concentration; spells or incantations; astral-type projection; herbs, medicines, incense, alcohol and/or drugs; expressions of “freedom” through dance and body function and/or manipulation and blood control. As impressive as these may seem, they hardly qualify for truly divine characteristics as omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence—and these are non-moral attributes. Clearly paganism raises a god that has no moral attributes as love, only fear; peace, only strife; joy, only pleasure that must be replenished; and others.
Now someone must be saying, “Hey! I may not believe in God or whatever, but I don’t believe all this stuff! I am not a Satanist or a pagan!”
John Angel James wrote in his booklet on Spiritual Idolatry: “It is obvious that whatever we love most, and are most anxious to retain and please--whatever it is we depend most upon for happiness and help--whatever has most of our hearts--that is, in effect, is our God! It does not matter whether it is friends, possessions, desires--or our own selves! These are the idols of the heart! SELF is the great idol which is the rival of God, and which divides with Him the worship of the human race.”
Psalm 14 helps us understand that God is real because of the foolishness of those that deny Him! To say there is no God is to assume one has absolute knowledge, which would make one out to be a god, even the very thing he denies! The truth is that since nobody has absolute knowledge, one who says there is no God really is unsure, so they act wickedly. The fool insults his own intellect by his immoral behavior. Of Romans 3:10-18 John MacArthur comments, “Paul strings together a series of OT quotations that indict the character (vv. 10–12), conversation (vv. 13, 14), and conduct (vv. 15–17) of all men. Nine times he uses words such as “none” and “all” to show the universality of human sin and rebellion.”[iv]
Just to help us grasp the seriousness of keeping this commandment, try Exodus 20:22, “He who sacrifices to any god, other than to the Lord alone, shall be utterly destroyed.” How devoted should one be in worship? Devoted enough to make sure he gets his worship right, or be devoted to his own destruction (as the 1890 Darby Bible translates).
Consider this quote: “If you find yourself beginning to love any pleasure better than your prayers, any book better than your Bible, any house better than God’s, any table better than the Lord’s, any person better than your Savior, anyone better than your soul, a present indulgence better than the hope of Heaven—take alarm!”[v]
[i] Comfort, Ray. “The Ten Commandments, part 1.” School of Biblical Evangelism. Gainesville : Bridge-Logos, 2004.
[ii] Adler, Margot. Drawing Down the Moon. New York : Viking Press, 1979.
[iii] Adler, Ibid.
[iv]MacArthur, John Jr. The MacArthur Study Bible. electronic ed., Ro 3:10. Nashville: Word Pub., 1997, c1997.
[v]Hardman, Samuel G., and Dwight Lyman Moody. Thoughts for the Quiet Hour. Originally published: Chicago: Revell, c1990., August 15. Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing, 1998, c1997, c1994, c1990.
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
A few years ago our street witnessing team was joined by a visitor. He wanted to go with us, to help spread the good news of Jesus to the lost and dying world, so we let him come along. We went down to our area and “got busy” talking to people, when I suddenly heard our guest (Bible in one hand, tracts in another) use the most foul string of four-letter words as he was talking to a couple of guys. I can’t even remember what I was doing at the time, but I do remember spinning around and was like, “Hey! Watch it, bro!” Needless to say, our witnessing opportunity was over right then and there.
I was asked recently about what I would do if I saw someone doing something that was clearly wrong. The first thing that came to my mind was, “are they a Christian?” We then proceeded to talk about our position in Christ and the “one another’s” of scripture: we don’t confront people because we are better than them, but because of our position in Christ. We use the law to point out sin and lead to repentance, not ourselves as a standard. But it still comes down to it: what is a typical response to wrong-doing? Are we even aware of wrong-doing that takes place around us?
Then we have this wonderful thing called “tolerance” that dictates how we are to confront others with the truth. Is it tolerant for me to allow a pagan to worship any god he chooses, if any at all? To him, yes. But it is intolerance to him if I tell him of the true and living God and salvation only in Christ Jesus. In the same way, when we practice this “live and let live” policy, are we being tolerant of God’s commands? Spinoza said that doubt was the spring of tolerance and social good. James said that doubting is to be in two minds . . . and to be undependable . . . like being a wind-tossed wave. Let’s not confuse Christian Liberty with disingenuine confusion.
Our society places so much emphasis on tolerance that tolerance itself has become deified. With this new idol in place, the practice of biblical admonition is stifled. Next we will find ourselves saying, “Of course I dislike the Nazis. But who is to say they’re morally wrong?”[i] But again, who am I to say.
You know what the problem is? We like to remain comfortable numb. We don’t like pain and confrontation, so we avoid it. You may not believe this, but I know of an entire Christian community that thrives on covetousness and actually steals from one another on a regular basis. I know that though activities are monitored, those “in charge” feel helpless to say anything for fear of hurting someone’s feelings. So they just “love” each other . . . (imposters). Grace comes at a price. This is why Jesus pointed out that the one who is persecuted in His name is blessed.
Peter had a problem. He was wrong. He was so wrong that the Apostle Paul gave him a severe case of “Opposed Face.” What did he do that was so wrong? Well, Peter used to eat and fellowship with Gentile Christians until he was visited by some folks who led him to believe he had to separate himself from them. Paul saw that Peter and others were not walking out the gospel, so he called them out on it (Acts 10 and Galatians 2:11-21). Paul had to remind Peter that it was not keeping the law of God that saved, but the law points out our helplessness. Separating himself from other believers on the grounds of nationality was no argument at all. Jew or Gentile, the law identifies every man a sinner and in need of the finished work of Christ Jesus for justification. Paul simply says that if righteousness comes by the law then the grace of God is void.
Gal 2:20-21. “I have been crucified with Christ, and I live; yet no longer I, but Christ lives in me. And that life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith toward the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself on my behalf. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness is through law, then Christ died without cause.”
Here’s the thing: when we are crucified with Christ, that’s where we end and He continues. God knows more about life than we do. He knows the future and He knows what is best for each of us. Any other addendum tells God that we are dissatisfied with Him and His way in inadequate. If He is indeed the Lord, we should want what He wants above and beyond our own wants, no matter how much it hurts. We cannot be people pleasers and man pleasers at the same time. If we have to let go of prejudices and preconceptions, then we must let go. If we have to cut loose, then by all means, cut loose.
Phillips Brooks wrote, “The soul that takes in Jesus’ word, the soul that through which the words of Jesus enters into the very person of Jesus, the soul that knows him as its daily presence and its daily law—it never hesitates.”
Acts 11:1–18 contains two lessons that jump out at me, the first being, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” God had showed Peter specifically what converting a Gentile is like and nowhere in his own preaching was the keeping of the law for righteousness. Second, go with the Spirit and go without doubt. Go without doubt and there will be no people-pleasing.
This becomes really important when I hear pastors agonize and say, “I’ve put so much time and energy into learning new modern techniques that I don’t think I can do things the biblical way.” I say: consider this conversation.
Romans 6:3-4 “Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father; even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
Those “as many of us” are the red and yellow, black and white. All who are precious in His sight. And we are on level ground. There is no race but “human.” Furthermore, this reinforces that “crucified with Christ”—where I end and He continues. My opinion of others actually reflects back on me and exposes my attitude of the Creator of all men and Savior of the elect.
Christ did not die for the righteous, but for sinners.
So what would I do if I saw or heard someone doing something wrong? I would open the law to tutor them to Christ and repentance. Our responsibility is not to declare men saved, but tell them how to be saved and admonition is continuing the work of gospel declaration.
[i] Anderson, J. Kirby. Christian Ethics in Plain Language. Nelson Reference & Electronic: Nashville, 2005
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
The very next week the young pastor was visiting and witnessing to hospital patients. One man asked, “Are you still serving God after what He did to you?” Adrian replied, “Of course I am. Had there been no sin, there would have been no sickness and death. Sin came into the world through Satan. He was the initiator of sin, and Jesus is the only answer. I’m not going to line up with the devil. Satan’s got a bigger enemy than he’s ever had. Jesus is the only answer to sin and suffering.”[i]
Many of us will never know what the Rogers’ experienced that day, but most of us have had or will have the same kind conversation with someone. For their own reasons, people call God into question about so many things. C.S. Lewis wrote a fantastic book called “God in the Dock”, the foremost imagery of the title being that God has been placed on the court’s witness stand for interrogation. Most often, however, the questions of skeptics are not aimed at God but at His servants. I think the man Adrian Rogers was witnessing to was not calling God into question solely, but was examining Adrian in an attempt to see if the true faith can be undermined. Does biblical faith in the Christ Jesus really work?
Years ago I worked for a Jewelry Supply Company, selling precious metals and stones to Native American craftsmen. One distinctive of my company was it’s Christian witness into the community. We maintained a large sign outside whereupon we regularly posted short Bible verses and poignant thoughts. I shared the happy duty of changing the sign every so often.
One day I was outside posting some golden nugget of biblical teaching on our marquee when a customer (really, a tourist who stopped in to see our silver-lined walls and bins full of turquoise and other precious stones in the raw) sashayed over to see what I was doing. I’m not certain I could reproduce any of the conversation here, but I remember distinctly him asking why we posted Bible verses. He would ask questions and I would answer—but he was not searching for a reason to believe. He was more interested in the validity of the faith in light of the television evangelists whose sins were being exposed and dragged into public view. He was interested in how we could continue talking about forgiveness from sin while our readers remained immersed in it.
How does one respond? How can one stand there and talk about Jesus and the love of God and forgiveness of sin while our brethren are love-lacking, complaining, lying, stealing, etc. so forth and so on . . . even sinners know something ain’t right. Then we hem-haw and look down and jingle the change in our pockets and mumble something about “theresomanypeoplewhoknowthetruthandevenpretendtosubscribe toitbutwhoinactualitydonotliveforthegloryofGod” and we secretly hope in our hearts the hearer will not equate “me” with “them.”
Can it be true that there are so many people who really do know the truth and pretend to subscribe to it but who, in actuality, do not live for the glory of God? Is this the same as dismissing it all by saying “each person is held responsible for his or her actions before God?”
The fact of the matter is that many feel they are in a position in their belief system to be able to put God on trial. They are really interested in those who serve God. Their point is to undermine God Himself, to get a consensus that all He says cannot be trusted, and all He does fails. Animosity is not really aimed at the servant but at the Master. But why? Why put God in the dock?
Because what He says is true and what He does actually works. Jesus had enemies because when He came around, people just cannot stay the same—well, they can, they just won’t enjoy who they are as much. Jesus is the pride-humbler, the hypocrisy-pointer, the self-righteousness dethroner. The leaders wanted to be like Him without holding to the fundamentals. They wanted the popularity and the following, but not the principles. To make matters worse, Jesus was called “rabbi” though none of the Sanhedrin remembered handing him the certificate with their stamp of approval—did he ever ask to be called Rabbi? Nobody could remember.
The same attitude is heard today. Jesus is recognized as one of the great religious leaders of the world, but nobody remembers who put Him on the list. The world cannot understand why we mark our calendars by His birth and nobody else’s. Voltaire went the opposite direction, stating that 50 to 100 years after his death Christianity would be dead and the Bible would be obsolete (he died in the late 1700’s). Voltaire was so disgruntled with Christianity he boldly declared in childlike frustration, “I wish I’d never been born!”
But one thing Jesus did do with His words and His works—He claimed deity. Why ask for rabbi-ship when you are God? I mean really! Boy, were the religious leaders upset about this! He claimed to be the Messiah, the Son of God, the Savior of the World! It was one thing for the leaders to want the followship, but ask them if they want to be the Messiah—they would say, “No! I mean, HECK no!” But Jesus had dared to go into the temple, the place where all religious authority dwelt, and cast them out. He humiliated them.
This is why people don’t like Jesus. He humiliates. But they don’t allow Him to exalt. They walk away from Him before He finishes. See, Jesus breaks everything He uses. The world is the opposite, using everything until it breaks—then it goes out and finds another. Ask anyone if they would lay down their life they start to backpedal. But everyone wants to be God—in charge of their own destiny, etc.
Go a step further. Folks don’t want to criticize Jesus. They don’t put Him on the dock to point and yell and gripe about Him. They want to kill Him. They don’t want to see Him just dead. They want Him to stay dead. And He has a hard time doing that.
And He doesn’t stop. Jesus won’t shut up. Once He knows your listening, He gets louder and pointier and the light gets brighter. Oh, He is not your little brother who pokes you to get a rise. He is God and He loves so much He wants change!
Remember Eustace? Eustace was a dragon. Well, not just any dragon. He was really a boy, but he was made into a dragon because he was a nasty boy. He was not always a dragon, and he certainly did not remain one because of the lion.[ii]
Eustace told Edmund, “I was lying awake wondering what on earth would become of me. . .”
“Go on,” said Edmund, with considerable patience.
“Well, anyway, I looked up and saw the very last thing I expected: a huge lion coming slowly toward me. And one queer thing was that there was no moon last night, but there was moonlight where the lion was. So it came nearer and nearer. I was terribly afraid of it. You may think that, being a dragon, I could have knocked any lion out easily enough. But it wasn’t that kind of fear. I wasn’t afraid of it eating me, I was just afraid of it--if you can understand. Well, it came up close to me and looked straight into my eyes. And I shut my eyes tight. But that wasn’t any good because it told me to follow it.
“You mean it spoke?”
“I don’t know. Now that you mention it, I don’t think it did. But it told me all the same. And I knew I’d have to do what it told me, so I got up and followed it. And it led me a long way into the mountains. . . . So at last we came to the top of this mountain I’d never seen before and on the top of this mountain there was a garden . . . In the middle of it there was a well.
“I knew it was a well because you could see the water bubbling up from the bottom of it, but it was lot bigger than most wells—like a very big, round bath with marble steps going down into it. . . . the lion told me I must undress first.
“I was just going to say that I couldn’t undress because I didn’t have any clothes on when I suddenly thought that dragons are snaky sort of things and snakes can cast their skins. Oh, of course, though I, that’s what the lion means. So I started scratching myself and my scales began coming off all over the place. . . . my whole skin started peeling off beautifully, like it does after an illness, or as if I was a banana. . . .
“But as I was going to put my feet into the water I looked down and saw that they were all hard and rough and wrinkled and scaly just as they had been before. . . .
“Then the lion said . . . ‘You will have to let me undress you.’ I was afraid of his claws . . . but I just lay flat down on my back and let him do it.
“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’d ever felt. . . .
“And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me . . . and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. . . . after a bit the lion took me out and dressed me . . .”
[i] Rogers, Joyce. Love Worth Finding: The Life of Adrian Rogers and His Philosophy of Preaching. Nashville: Broadman, 2005.
[ii] Lewis, C.S. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. New York: Harper, 1980.
Monday, July 06, 2009
Why? Because sometimes this stuff just needs to be said.]
God is not ambiguous and says very plainly that sexual immorality is an abomination (Lev. 18:22) and is a judgment of God for one who exchanges and suppresses the truth of God for a lie (Ro. 1:24-32). God has made it very clear that those who are sexually immoral will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-11).
Sexual immorality is contrary to, disobedient to the sound teaching of the gospel of God (1 Tim. 1:8-11). The source of lust is an impure heart (2 Tim 2:22) and to engage in lustful and imaginary acts is to do the act itself (Mt. 5:27-32). Gross immorality and pursuing strange flesh deserves the harshest punishment (Lev. 20:13). Gross immorality cries out to God and must be dealt with (Gen. 19:1-29). Fantasizing and imaginings of the flesh are defiling, authority rejecting and ignorant of spiritual helps (Jude 7-8) and is simply an open raging against the LORD (Prov. 19:3). “The naïve go on and are punished for it” (Prov. 22:3).
Staying onto the path of sexual immorality is to stray onto the path of destruction (Prov. 7:1-27). Sexual immorality is the binding cord of sin (Prov. 5:20-23). Falling into sexual immorality is like falling into a deep well (Prov. 23:26-28). It wastes resources and brings sadness to the family (Prov. 29:3) and is a trap for the destruction of those who fall into it (Eph. 4:7-16).
To overcome, one must first never exchange anything for the truth of God. All He is and all He has done is sufficient and is irreplaceable (Ro 1:24-32). One must be washed, justified and sanctified (1 Cor. 6:9-11; 1 Thess. 4:3-5) by submitting to the sound teaching of the gospel of God (1 Tim. 1:8-11).
Lust is avoided by not chasing after or submitting to the desire of the flesh (Gen. 29:1-17; Mt. 5:27-32) but separating from it to pursue righteousness, utilizing faith and living in love and peace with God (2 Tim. 2:22). Remembering the examples of those who were destroyed (Gen. 19:1-29) should encourage one not to dream so as to act in the heart (Mt. 5:27-32). One should discipline the flesh, beginning with paying attention to and obeying spiritual helps (Jude 7-8). Using weapons of spiritual warfare, destroy speculations and allow nothing to be raised up against the knowledge of God--second-guess nothing. This includes taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:4-5).
Run to win, not to just be in the race--do not be a slave to the body (1 Cor. 9:24-27) because one is slave to that which he obeys (Ro. 6:1-23). To get self control, one needs the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). Crucify the flesh with its passions and desires (Gal. 5:24). This is possible by Jesus, who has given us all things for life and godliness (Ro. 8:32, 37; 2 Pe. 1:3-4). With every temptation, take the way of escape (1 Cor. 10:13) and live in the efficacy of the finished work of Christ by putting off the deeds of darkness (sexual immorality) and by putting on the armor of light (the Lord Jesus Christ), provide nothing to the flesh. (Ro. 13:11-14).
God sees and knows everything about a man (Prov. 5:20-23). One should be accountable and “walk with wise men” (Prov. 27:17) and not go down that path of destruction (Prov. 17:14). Find safety in the Lord and all He has done and know He will be faithful to defend (Prov. 18:10), for “the prudent man sees evil and hides himself” (Prov 22:3; 18:10; 27:12).
Be aware of those called “friends” (Prov. 22:24-25) for bad company corrupts good morals (Prov. 23:20-21; 1 Cor. 15:33). Give the whole heart and affections to God, letting all desires be fulfilled in Him (Prov. 23:26-28). Feed on the Word of God and don’t feed the fire (Ps. 119:9-11; Prov. 29:18; Prov. 26:20-22). Be surrounded by people who will pray and will edify and look forward to the hope that is to come (Acts 20:32).
Worship God in body by giving it to him. Prove the goodness of God be how the way life is lived in that which is totally His (Ro. 12:1-2). God wills that our bodies be used as one who knows Him (1 Thess. 4:3-5). We are given a place and purpose in the body of Christ (Eph. 4:7-16).
Saturday, July 04, 2009
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
So reads the Declaration of Independence, signed on July 4, 1776. Members of the American Colonies were declaring themselves free from British rule, free to make their own decisions, free to buy and sell as they wished, and free to make their own laws and impose justice as they saw fit. The important document ends thus: "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our Sacred Honor."
What stirring words! No doubt much thought, and even prayer, went into the writing of them. Our early fathers believed in the all-powerful God and we can be thankful that our nation was founded by men who read their Bibles and put Scriptural principles into practice. In all, fifty-six men put their signatures on the Declaration of Independence. Once there, they could not be erased, and they were compelled to stand by what they had signed.
This reminds us of another important record. We read in Revelation 20:12 that God keeps books--books of works and another book called the Book of Life. "And whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:15). We read in Philippians 4:3 of some women "whose names are in the Book of Life." What an important place to have our names recorded! Many famous or benevolent people have their names recorded in places of great significance or value, but I wonder how many have their names recorded in heaven. You may have your name recorded on your birth certificate, perhaps a "church" roll, or a deed to a house, or a will. BUT, is your name recorded in the Book of Life in heaven?
We are enslaved in a bondage far worse than that of the American colonists to England. We are servants of Satan, under his control, doing what he wants us to do, whether we realize it or not. Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin" (John 8:34). Oh, to be free from this dreadful, dangerous bondage!
Each one of us is individually responsible to God. We can't answer for our neighbor and our neighbor can't answer for us. Each one of us needs to see our lost condition before God and come to Him as a sinner, acknowledging that Christ died for our sins on the cross, and accepting Him as personal Saviour and Lord. Then we can "rejoice, because your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:20).
Once our name is written there, it can never be erased for the Lord Jesus says, "I will not blot out his name out of the Book of Life, but I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels" (Revelation 3:5). But if your name is not written in heaven your end will be the lake of fire as we saw from Revelation 20:15. Don't delay any longer. Trust in Christ today, thus making sure that your name is written in the book of life, and that your sins have been washed away by Christ's blood shed on Calvary (1 John 1:7; Hebrews 10:17).
Posted by permission of Moments With The Book.
Friday, July 03, 2009
"The Christian faith believes that the Atonement reveals Gods mercy as an ultimate resource by which God alone overcomes the judgment which sin deserves. If this final truth of the Christian religion has no meaning to modern men, including modern Christians, that is because even the tragic character of contemporary history has not yet persuaded them to take the fact of human sinfulness seriously."
Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)
Thursday, July 02, 2009
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
"The invasion of the Church by the world is a menace to the extension of Christs Kingdom. In all ages conformity to the world by Christians has resulted in lack of spiritual life and a consequent lack of spiritual vision and enterprise. A secularized or self-centered Church can never evangelize the world."
John R. Mott (1865 - 1955)