Friday, November 28, 2014

"Why does the Bible say people spoke other languages BEFORE the Tower of Babel incident?"

“I’m confused. Three times in Genesis (10:5, 20, 31) we are told that people were divided according to the languages they spoke; however, the next chapter (Genesis 11:1) says that the whole earth spoke one language. Please explain this contradiction.” We all enjoy a good movie or story, but what is the one element that keeps us engaged? It is the creative story telling. We are never given all the information up front! Sherlock Holmes would never have existed if Doyle gave us the details of the crime in telling the story! It is true that the people were divided into their nations according to their languages--but how did those different languages come to be? While Chapter 10 gives us a “table of nations,” Chapter 11 explains the language detail of Chapter 10. The whole earth spoke one language before the Tower of Babel! It makes sense in our culture to have all the information presented in a chronological order; however, we are not the original audience, so good students will be culturally sensitive not to impose modern methods of reading on an ancient text. The original audience understood the order in which the information was presented. 

Black Friday: The Movie

I'm staying indoors. Like I do every year.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Monday, November 24, 2014

Comforting Words (part 3): The God of All Comfort

Paul writes, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort”.  (2 Corinthians 1:3) Here we find reasons why God is praised as well as some truths about the God of all comfort.

God is praised because He is God of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, Jesus has a God. After the resurrection, “Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, “I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.”’”[Jn 20:17] When Jesus died, the disciples needed comfort. Jesus comforts Mary with the truth that God has not forgotten anyone. He sends her back to the disciples with a message concerning His ascension: The same God who raised Jesus from the dead is our God by reconciliation which is rooted by faith in His death, burial and resurrection.

Who is the God of Jesus? Notice that I did not ask, “who is God to you?” Who God is and our idea of God may not be the same. Our God must be the God of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This may be one reason we have difficulties--we may have the wrong view of God. When trials come, we say things like, “where is God?” or “He has forgotten me” or “my problems are too much.” The reality is that God is everywhere, He knows all and He is all-powerful. We say things in ignorance then wonder about our trouble.

I had lunch with a missionary who described a conversation he had with bed-ridden Imam in Kosovo. The conversation required two translators, but the gist of the conversation was like this: the Imam told the missionary, “ask me any religious question.” The missionary asked, “how is man made clean of sin?” One of the translators had never heard the gospel and later told the missionary “this is hard teaching.”

The point is this: if my God is the same God as Jesus’ God, then the pressure is off me to figure Him out, to define or defend “my idea of god.”

So here are some questions to ask about God:

Does He exist?
Has He revealed Himself and how?
What Does He call Himself?
Can Jesus say your God is His?

Next time we will examine the question, “If Jesus has a God, then how can Jesus be God?”

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Bible Is Full Of Errors And The Evidence is Overwhelming!

I was on the campus of the University of South Carolina a few years ago sharing the gospel with students in "The Horseshoe." One student got extremely agitated in our conversation and raising his voice in objection, “You can’t quote what Jesus said because his words are contained in a humanly written book that is filled with errors!”

While I wanted to ask him who wrote the textbooks in his hand, I held out my Bible and asked him to show me some of those errors. He stepped back and declined my offer. He shot back, "prove walking on water archaeologically!” I confessed I could not, but that’s why such events are called “miracles.” He wanted to go eat, and thus ended our conversation.

I’ve not been able to shake his comments about errors in the Bible. The more I think about it, the more I realize he is right. There ARE errors in the Bible. The Bible is full of mistakes and I will highlight a few:

  • Genesis: God told Adam to eat of any tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he is not to eat of it or else he would die. Adam disobeyed God and death came. Big mistake.
  • Exodus: God told Moses to speak to the rock and water would come out for the thirsty people. Moses struck the rock and disobeyed God, so Moses was not able to enter the Promised Land. Bungle!
  • Leviticus: Nadab and Abihu disobeyed God’s directions for priestly behavior and fire fell from heaven and consumed them. Error!
  • Numbers: God told Israel to take the Promised Land, but the people failed to believe God and wandered until the unbelieving generation died. Blunder!
  • Deuteronomy: A review of past mistakes for the next generation (Ch. 9) and a prediction of future rebellion (Ch. 31). Beware misappropriation!
  • Joshua: God instructs that no souvenirs be taken from conquered cities, but Achan did anyway and the army was defeated at Ai. Achan died for his disobedience. Misjudgment!
  • Judges: everyone does what was right in their own eyes and were punished. Constantly. Aberration!
  • Ruth: Naomi’s thinking that God afflicted her. Misconception!
  • 1 Samuel: One word says it all . . . “Saul.” Delusion!
  • 2 Samuel: Again, one word . . . “Bathsheba.” Misapprehension!
  • 1 Kings: In the midst of all wisdom, Solomon drew around himself a lack of discernment. Laxity!
  • 2 Kings: Israel trusted in their strength amidst their rebellion against God and the Babylonians invaded. Misguided!
  • Chronicles (see 1,2 Kings)
  • Ezra: Adversaries of Judah tried to resist and oppose the rebuilding of Jerusalem. False Impression!
  • Nehemiah: see Ezra.
  • Esther: Yet another single word . . . Haman. Self-Deceit!
  • Job: try to put words in God’s mouth. Malapropism!
  • Psalms: Misguided worship is not a good idea!
  • Proverbs: acting like a fool. Whoops!
  • Ecclesiastes: try anything once, do the fun things twice. Vanity!
  • Song of Solomon: (uh, hmmmm. Oh, here we go . . .) Treat love cheaply. Dream!
  • Isaiah: Practice empty religion. Woe!
  • Jeremiah: try to tell God He does not know what He is doing. Bull!
  • Lamentations: try to act like nothing is happening. Flaw!
  • Ezekiel: hang onto idolatry and false religion. False hope!
  • Daniel: tell God who the king REALLY is. Malediction!
  • Hosea: do whatever you want, even it means acting like a harlot. Faulty!
  • Joel: Don’t repent. Foolish!
  • Amos: abandon true worship and act foolish. Heresy!
  • Obadiah: Edom mistreated Judah. Erratum!
  • Jonah: God said, “go”; Jonah said, “no”; God said, “oh?” A Bubble!
  • Micah: persistently pursue evil. Trip!
  • Nahum: be proud against sovereignty. Danger!
  • Habakkuk: see Amos and Micah.
  • Zephaniah: ignore God’s attention-getting. Delusive!
  • Haggai: misplaced spiritual priorities. Not advised!
  • Zechariah: see Haggai.
  • Malachi: hold contempt for God. Oops!

See, the Bible IS full of errors! And that’s just the Old Testament!

(re-post from 2011)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Randoms

Remember to set your scales back 10 pounds Thanksgiving week!

Silly question, but I can't help myself. Remember the movie, "Gremlins"? When were they NOT supposed to be fed? Well, if the old man buys the first critter in China, in which time zone does midnight fall? Isn't it always midnight somewhere?

Just How Poor Are We?

A "Space Silent" version of "Gravity"? Yes, please!


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Comforting Words (part 2)

It’s difficult to tell from the outset, but as Paul is suffering quietly he opens his second letter to the Corinthian church with an doxology (an outburst of praise): “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.” (2 Corinthians 1:3)

1618-1648 the “Thirty Years War” raged in Europe over who was going to control Germany. Entire regions were devastated, stripped by by foraging armies. Military and civilian survivors were eventually hit with famine and disease that followed the waste of wartime. Countries in the conflict went bankrupt. Lawlessness added to the hardships.

Martin Rinkart was one of four pastors in a small German town that was overrun three times by battling armies. The city and his home eventually became a place for refugees and their diseases. One pastor left for reasons of health and safety. Martin buried the other two pastors along with his wife, performing as many as 50 funerals each day. Martin wrote these words:

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessèd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

In our day, the only way to sing about circumstances is to sing the blues. Paul is not singing about his circumstances but is bursting with praise to God who controls all circumstances. Praise is an important element to victory over discouragement and depression. “Praise changes things” just as much as “Prayer changes things.”

In this season of thanksgiving let us be mindful that when we worship, the downcast soul is leans on the God of all comfort.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Monday, November 17, 2014

Comforting Words (part 1)

I heard a quote recently that I would like to modify: “studying God’s Word is for the serious, not the curious.” Sure, we could approach this block of paper with curiosity, read it as a great literary work of the world, but the serious student find God’s Word as living, active. Like a two-edged sword.

The living Word of God makes the difference for one’s survival as it contains direction for life orientation, connecting to God. Sometimes we get in trouble, disoriented, but like a compass we can find the way once more through God’s unchanging Word.

When it comes down to reading, understanding and “doing” God’s Word, we find there is a difference between our wishful thinking and God’s plan. The Bible is a record of what God does in life, about His love and concern for us, even about what to expect when we face troubling times. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

"If There Is None Righteous, Then Where Do All These Righteous People Come From?"

Objection: The contradiction is plain: the Bible states there is no righteous person, yet many biblical figures are described as righteous (Job, Joseph, Noah, to name a few)--even Christians go around talking about being made righteous. I can't believe in a religious contradiction. 

Answer: The apparent contradiction is very plain, but is anyone asking “what does ‘righteousness’ mean?” The central text from which we learn “there is none righteous” is found in Psalm 14 where we also find one definition. Other biblical uses quote this passage or point back to this place, so instead of addressing each one individually, we will consider the source.

First, it helps to know who is writing and it takes no scholar to find the answer as the first line reads “Of David,” who incidentally is also one of the biblical figures whose righteousness is called into question.

What is he writing about? Well, the first verse explains his topic as “the fool [who] says in his heart, ‘there is no God.’”

So what about these fools? They are described as “corrupt” because “they do abominable deeds.” No fool does good.

Now someone will object here: surely everyone does good! Yes . . . and no. The kind of goodness the fool will never do is to seek after God. There is a “kind” of understanding, but God looking down from heaven sees they don’t understand Him and the goodness that pleases Him. No fool does God’s kind of good.

This is why David writes that these fools have “all turned aside . . . have become corrupt.” Every person who does not seek after God nor desires the things of God does the goodness of God. They don’t know how, so they “eat up” God’s people. Chew them up and spit them out as they continue to reject God. They live in terror because the reality is this: God is found with the generation of those who seek after God, who want to please God. God is found in the midst of those whom He makes righteous.

Try a test: discriminate someone who is afflicted and has trusted God and you will find you can’t touch him. He will not be moved. Who is being unfair and unequal but the one who calls into question the Creator and Giver of all things.

This is why Job and Joseph and David and so many others could be called righteous--despite their mistakes, their sins--they kept short accounts with God and constantly sought Him out in order to be pleasing to Him. God puts His righteousness on our account.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Paul's Greeting (part 5): "From God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ"

(part 4)

When the Apostle Paul was inspired to conclude his greeting to the Corinthian church, we find that greetings are extended “from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

GOD OUR FATHER

What comes to your mind when you think of God as Father? Homer (the ancient Greek philosopher, not the cartoon character) reflected how his culture thought that mankind was the “paignion theon” (plaything of the gods). Ideas like this show the huge difference between our personal idea of God (who we eventually find is no greater than ourselves, and we get disgruntled with that image and blame him) and what God revealed about Himself by revelation. We are designed to receive greater ideas than we can imagine.

One can’t help but wonder: if we live in a world of fate, how can we know peace? If God does not care, how can there be peace? A god who has not revealed Himself cannot be our “Father.” Just think of all a Father can do: He is a Lover; the family founder; the marriage-arranger; the Honor-protector; the compensation-collector; the discipline-giver; an educator; a provider; the blesser; the hope-giver. Peace is found in our Father’s house, who is in heaven.

Describing God as Father reminds everyone what it means to be a disciple. When Jesus taught the disciples to pray, He began with the way to address God: “our Father,” not “almighty infinite power” or “unknowable mystery” or “inaccessible light.” When we address Him as He has revealed as “Our Father” then He assures us, His children, that He loves us and cares for us. Sure, He cares for birds, feeding them daily. He cares for flowers, clothing them-but how much more He cares for us! We are not neglected, but are given a way to relate to Him in a way all creation cannot!

God as Father reminds us that He is always accessible. We are not kept waiting outside the door wondering if it is ok to come in, but have full access to His presence. He is never too busy running the Universe to have time for us! He is an accepting Father--we don’t accept Him--He accepts Us!

THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

Isn't that comforting? And why not? Paul’s greeting concludes from “the Lord Jesus Christ.” Do you realize that comfort has a name? Iranian Christian Mehdi Dibaj wrote: “These days there are celebrations everywhere. People outside celebrate the day of the Revolution and you, my son, are celebrating your birthday today (7 years old). Inside my prison cell I am celebrating my forty-third year of becoming a Christian and today I am celebrating the entering of the eighth year of the test of my faith in Jesus Christ our Lord. There is a celebration and joy within my heart. I thank my loving God ever so much that He counted me worthy to be here in prison for more than seven years now because of my love and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my Christian brothers and sisters who have supported me with their prayers and love, so that the victory should belong to the Lord. Victory is yours, risen Jesus, Son of the Creator, our Redeemer.” Mehdi was released from prison then murdered 6 months later. He died in comfort.

If all Paul meant by these opening words was merely “hello,” then Mehdi’s hope was in small talk and has nothing to do with the Fatherhood of God or the grace and comfort of Christ.

The beginning of Paul’s defense begins here, with words of the founder of The Church, Our Great Shepherd, who makes us lie down in green pastures, leads beside still waters--The Prince of Peace.

Grace and peace from our King, defeater of enemies;
Grace and peace from our Savior, defeater of sin;
Grace and peace from our Security, defeater of uncertainty.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Yes, please

You know how this works: shut up and take my money. The 2:09 and 4:30 mark are . . . well, you must listen.

Yaybahar by Görkem Şen from Olgu Demir on Vimeo.

Paul's Greeting: "Grace and Peace" (part 4)

(part 3)

Some say he means nothing by it, but what if he really does? The Apostle Paul was inspired by God to start nearly every letter he wrote the exact same way: "grace to you and peace". It’s difficult to imagine how God would inspire someone to write empty words that mean nothing more than, “howdy.” Would he not have used different words other than "grace and peace" if he meant something other than these?

“Grace to you.” John R.W. Stott defines grace as “Love that cares and stoops and rescues.” This describes a goodness of God that man can never earn because man does not deserve it. What is most striking about grace is that grace is not a “thing” but is an attribute of God -- grace is part of who God is. God has two kinds of attributes: those He shares, and those He does not.

Attributes God does not share include Omnipresence (He is present everywhere all at once); Omniscience (He is infinite in knowledge); Omnipotence (He is all powerful and does what He will); Immutable (unchanging). If you think of change, one must agree that anything that does change must do so for the better or for the worse. God cannot change for the better, since He is perfect; and, God cannot change for the worse, because He is perfect.

Attributes God does share include: Holiness (the very essence of God, the hub of all attributes); Righteousness and Justice; Goodness, which is where we also find the love and benevolence of God, dealing kindly with creation because He cannot hate what He has made. “But,” someone asks, “doesn't Psalm 5 say that God hates the sinner?” Yes, it does and we find that God deals kindly with the repentant sinner because His justice was placed elsewhere. Two more attributes God shares are His mercy (God’s goodness to distressed; compassionate) and His Grace, goodness given to those who don’t deserve goodness. Both of which are optional, not obligatory.

Paul also uses “and peace.” Peace has a range of meaning, such as the opposite of war or freedom from anxiety. Peace means the end of hostility and the start of ethical living--we are free to do everything we should. Peace also includes reconciliation between God and man as well as between men. The beauty is there is no guesswork with God when it comes to peace because He has all these in mind because peace describes our final condition when salvation is complete. Lu 2:13-14, “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’”

What does this mean for a church? It means the flock can settle down and grow in health. When God inspired Paul to begin a letter with “grace and peace,” He sets the tone for the entire book as grace and peace are intended to be shared among believers. After all, peace is the benefit of reconciliation between God and man in Christ Jesus, the builder of the church.

Friday, November 07, 2014

The Parting of the Red Sea

Question: Exodus records the incident of the parting of the Red Sea by a wind that blew all night. How is this possible?

Answer: We can get an idea by observing this phenomenon recorded in England, where a 98 foot waterfall is reversed by high winds.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Randoms

Here are "5 Questions To Analyze Any Worldview"

Here's a map of countries, as named in their own languages.

How To Wrestle An Alligator. 'Cause you just might have to.

This band is impossible to listen to. They must be watched:



Here's an older one, but just as fun--to watch:

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

The Church of God

We are considering the second letter Paul wrote the Corinthian church, whom he addresses “to the church of God.” Christ’s ownership is clear: this is God’s church, not your church, my church, not Paul’s church. We exist because of Christ, the builder, and we are a living body, the legislators of God’s Kingdom, a group of people (not a building) called out of the world by common faith in Jesus as risen Lord. Paul is busy locking down the business of hell so the church can do what the builder intends! Here we touch on the very reason Paul was inspired to write this letter. This particular church has rough edges to be knocked off so the living stones can fit together. The “church of God” fulfills the purpose of God.      

The story of The Church blossoms out of Christ’s story: “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor 5:21). Christ’s suffering and glory is the Church’s suffering and glory:

  • 2 Cor. 4:8-10, “[We are] hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; [we are] perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed-- always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
  • 2 Cor. 4:14. “. . . knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present [us] with you.”
  • 2 Cor. 4:17, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding [and] eternal weight of glory”
We connect to the purpose of the builder, to seek and save the lost (Evangelism) and to commune with Christ and one another. Our service is to one another as the royal priest- hood, bringing Christ to others and others to Christ, sharing what is common among us to meet needs; fellowship; observe the ordinances of Baptism and Lord’s Supper; worship; grow together through discipline, edification and education. These are the marks of The Church of God, worldwide and across time.

Locally, Paul addresses the church “which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia.” Corinth is the capital of Achaia and if you know your literature, will recognize this as the home of Odysseus, Sparta. Acts 18:1-18 

records Paul's first stay in Corinth and how his ministry in the synagogue ended with conflict. The result was that he turns his ministry to the non-Jews of the area, namely, the Corinthians. Paul stays here for 18 months working as a tentmaker and lives with other tentmakers, Aquila and his wife Priscilla. He eventually finds himself in conflict again, only this time is brought before Gallio (the Roman proconsul) and accused of heresy. Gallio ultimately dismisses the charge and Paul leaves.

We take the time to mention these people and places because archaeology confirms their reality. Engravings have been found with Gallio’s name as well as “Erastus,” a Corinthian who becomes a disciples of Paul, whom he greets in other letters.

One final word about the church in Corinth. Paul addresses “all the saints” found in the entire region of Achaia, not simply the city. In other words, Paul was inspired to write to the body of believers, not just a physical address.

Fascinating how this is in keeping with God’s plan to impact the nations through His Word that transcends time and space. Salvation is extended to everyone. Holiness is intended for everyone. Followers of Christ are to live by a different standard, experiencing victory over sin and the joy of reconciliation with God and one another. Grace and Peace are transferred to everyone. Fellowship is valued in everyone.

The burden of Paul’s heart must be addressed heard by the entire region because of the wide work of the enemy.

What do we do with this? Well, if you call yourself by the name of Christ, do not misrepresent Him in the way you treat others. Do not take His name upon yourself for vanity. The standard of life Christ intends is freedom to do everything we should in obedience to His Word.

Paul is about to launch into a very long response against those who have taken up a position against him. This is his opportunity to remind his audience who they are in Christ, to one another and to him.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Photoblog: Dessert!

One night we were watching Food Network and Leslie jumps up and goes in the kitchen. I hear the blender go to work for a while, then she surprises me with this bowl of home-made ice-cream! I love the inspiration!


Monday, November 03, 2014

" . . . and Timothy, our brother."

Paul does not write to the Corinthian church alone for we find in the opening verses, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother” [2 Cor 1:1 ESV]. Immediately we discover that Paul’s concerns for the Corinthian church are shared.

What do we know about Timothy? A little study will show that Timothy and Paul are peas in a pod. Timothy’s mother mother was Jewish and his father was Greek. (Acts 16:1 and 2 Tim 1:5). Timothy was also follower of Christ, probably a convert from Paul’s first missionary journey which included Lystra, a Roman colony with Greek Culture that was home to Timothy.

Paul calls Timothy, our brother.” A few verses down we learn that Timothy was with with Paul during his initial ministry in Corinth (see v. 19) then later sent back by Paul to continue ministry in Corinth; however, his ministry was not successful so he was replaced by Titus. Yet Paul calls Timothy “our brother”. Two thoughts:

First, Timothy was part of a gospel ministry that produced results, and this very church was the evidence. “For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church” (1 Cor 4:17). But there is another side to this: an enemy is present. When Timothy comes, see that you put him at ease among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord, as I am. So let no one despise him. Help him on his way in peace, that he may return to me, for I am expecting him with the brothers.” (1Co 16:10-11) Conflict with the enemy is unavoidable; but, who is the enemy? The one doing the Lord’s work? Paul is reminding this church that Timothy is (literally) “of the same womb.”

Second, as Paul told them earlier: don’t despise Timothy because he is being obedient to God’s call in his life. Remember, brotherhood was defined by Jesus as the one who does the will of God. The Corinthians were deceived by self-made so-called “apostles”-- clearly NOT “brothers.” Corinth got to the point they opposed Paul and Timothy, challenging their credentials and authority of their ministry.

Paul’s carefully chosen words speak loudly to the church concerning brotherhood.

  1. Brotherhood points out a Parent: we have The Father;
  2. Brotherhood reveals our Position: we are Family;
  3. Brotherhood indicates the Church’s Power: we have Function;
  4. Brotherhood describes Church’s Production: we make Followers;
  5. Brotherhood explains our Practice: we have Fellowship;
  6. Brotherhood demonstrates our Performance: we Fortify;
  7. Brotherhood announces our Peace: we are Friends;
  8. Brotherhood discloses our Philanthropy: we are phenomenal!
  9. Brotherhood declares our Profession: we have Faith!


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