Monday, June 29, 2015

True Spirituality (part 6): Why “Coexist” Does Not Work

If the Apostle Paul had his way, operating by the plan he had for his own life, he would not have been in the line of work for which he is famous. No, if he had his way, he would have continued on with religious zeal, killing Christians. But he did not get his way.

“Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” [2 Cor 3:5-6 ESV]

Assume that we were able to construct our own spirituality: what guarantee do we have that we've got it right? How can our own spirituality be right if our own compositions are so different?



The COEXIST bumper sticker is a lie because the gods represented there disagree with one other and the followers are not listening! Tolerate all you want: the god of my personal understanding (whoever he or she is) will always be greater than yours!

The true and living God gave us a new covenant in Christ Jesus. "For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission [forgiveness] of sins.” [Mat 26:28]. There is true spirituality!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Randoms

Vulcans or Romulans? A short article on Apologetics and Muslims.

This is what happens when 300 Spartans take The Tube.

Yes, they've been around a while, but here are "7 Exercises Made More Popular By CrossFit." You're welcome.


Monday, June 22, 2015

True Spirituality (part 5): Sufficiency From God

Paul uses contrast to help us recognize true spirituality. He examines the old against the new, the flesh in opposition to the Spirit, the Old Covenant (Mosaic law) counter to the Spirit of Life. God’s truth engraved in stone could only condemn as a law code under Moses; but, after the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Spirit of Life brought God’s truth to the heart. Externally, the law shows us where we fail to meet God’s perfect standard. Internally, His Spirit gives us more than enough to meet His requirements. This happens when we repent, are born again, putting off the old and putting on the new. Let’s examine the contrasts to test our spirituality:

THE SUFFICIENCY OF THE OLD (SELF) VS. SUFFICIENCY FROM GOD

“Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God” [2 Cor 3:5 ESV]

In his defense, Paul doesn't think of himself as sufficient. Everything that has been accomplished by him has been accomplished by God. Remember Moses rejected God’s call to lead the people from Egypt five times (5x!) because he felt insufficient and every time he rejected God’s call, God responded with a promise of His very presence. Jeremiah felt he was insufficient and tried to disqualify himself from the prophetic office. Just as before, God promised His presence.



We put ourselves in a strange circumstance: on one hand, we tell God “I am insufficient. You can’t use me,” and we try to disappear into the bushes. Then while we hide, we compose our own spirituality, telling  God how He should be with us in the world of our own making.

Listen, if you feel insufficient, you are! We can only go as far as ourselves. But if what we have is from God, we have more than enough.

It comes down to is this: If you are self-sufficient then you must know all there is to know about the spiritual realm to create your own spirituality. The only other option is to let God’s Spirit do it for you. If you feel insufficient to be used by God, and admit you are insufficient to create your own spirituality, you are in the perfect position for Him to glorify Himself through you.

Friday, June 19, 2015

"The Pagan Connection: Did Christianity Borrow from the Mystery Religions?"

Probe Ministries answers how "critics of Christianity point to several parallels between Christianity and the myths of the mystery religions. However, a brief study of the legends reveals that there are few if any parallels to the life of Jesus Christ."
. . . .
A brief summary of a major section of the article demonstrates: 
  • "First, none of the resurrections in these myths involve the God of the universe dying a voluntary death for His creation."
  • "Second, Jesus died once for all (Heb. 7:27, 9:25-28), while pagan gods repeat the death and rebirth cycle yearly with the seasons."
  • "Third, Jesus death was not a defeat but a triumph. The New Testament’s mood of victory and joy (1 Cor. 15:50-57 and Col. 2:13-15) stands in contrast to the mood of pagan myths which is dark and sorrowful over the fate of their gods.
  • "Finally, Jesus’ death was an actual event in history. Christianity insists on and defends the historical credibility of the Gospel accounts while the pagan cults make no such attempt."
Read more on the so-called parallels to virgin birth, death, resurrection stories as well as a brief examination of fallacies used in the argument against Christianity. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Randoms

"No, Prayer Really Isn't A Conversation"

Are you drinking enough water for fitness, or too much? "Going Clear: Hyperhydration & The Prison of Belief"

Speaking of Fitness, here are "6 Things You Should Never Do Before A Workout"

Christopher Lee was certainly one of the most interesting men in the world.

The caption of this picture reads, "The author at work in his private study aided by the Isolator. Outside noises being eliminated the worker can concentrate with ease upon the subject at hand."


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

True Spirituality (part 4): Exploring Your Spirituality

1. Is Christ the author of your spirituality or are you? Does your spirituality match what is on the mind of God’s Spirit? Who is the author and finisher of your faith?
    • “And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,” [Hebrews 5:9] 
    • " . . . looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of [our] faith,” [Hebrews 12:2]
2. Do you wrestle with spirituality because someone said you were a Christian or you came from a Christian home and you've been trying to copy others--and it feels empty? Are you learning to follow Christ as a disciple, learning from The Master or are you trying to figure things out on your own? 

3. Has God reached your heart? If you've been “following your heart” and God has not been there, what is the basis of your assurance when it comes to your spirituality? How do you know your heart can be trusted when God says it is wicked?

4. Is the Holy Spirit evident as writes out the script of your life? Are His fruits evident? Do you know what your spiritual gifts are and do you use them?

True spirituality is Holy. Being truly spiritual is to be a composition of Christ, who has written permanently on the heart. He is the author and perfecter of faith.

Monday, June 15, 2015

True Spirituality (part 3)

Last post we considered spirituality as a construction of men--and some difficulties with that approach. Now let’s consider another option, that true Spirituality is a Composition of Christ.

“You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God.“ [2 Cor 3:2-4 ESV]

Paul highlights Christ’s accomplishment in the Corinthian church not his own. His spirituality and their spirituality are not self-generated but is provided by Christ. He uses the example of an epistle, a letter to explain how Christ is the source of true spirituality.

First he says, “clearly you are an epistle of Christ.” (2 Cor 3:3) The author and sender is Christ. You are the expression of what is on His mind. This is Paul’s second reminder that they are of Christ and that peace that should characterize all the churches of saints (see 1 Cor. 14:33).

Have you ever thought about the purpose of the Super Bowl? The purpose of the Super Bowl is to determine the greatest team. The purpose of the Super Bowl is NOT to determine the greatest player. Sure, the NFL recognizes the MVP, but that’s not the purpose of this game. Paul takes the Corinthian church back to their charter, that as a team their purpose is not to cast their vote against Paul and do their own thing, but to communicate what is on Christ’s mind to the world by doing Kingdom business.

Second, when Paul says “you are our letter from Christ delivered by us” (v.3) he describes Christ’s letter delivered through his obedient service. As Christ dictated, Paul wrote. Christ uses Paul to recruit and train his team. Paul is saying “you are our responsibility.” He is responsible for their spiritual upbringing once Christ begins the spiritual work in each person.

Third he describes how they are (3:3) “written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God” (2 Cor 3:3. “Spirit of God the living God” describes the spiritual nature of what Christ has written into their spirituality. Think about it this way: a letter can smudge, get lost, fade (like receipts), can be illegible (like prescriptions), understood by only a few. The Living God writes with permanence, which also makes His writing valuable. Every time the Holy Spirit moved, He left a mark of His influence that cannot be denied. The fact this church exists is evidence. Jesus does not simply build but outfits His Church with appliances, tools to be used in its operations. His Spirit brings gifts to be used in building up the body.

Fourth, true spirituality is written, “not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.” (v.3) Christ does not commit what is on His mind to something without life. Does this cause you to remember the Ten Commandments, written on stone? Why did God choose to write permanently on the heart? Because only God can reach the heart. Only God can express His mind in this way. Only God can use what He writes. Only God can make permanent.

Fifth, who is reading this letter God has written? Who does true spirituality reach? 2 Cor 3:2 says it plainly: we are read by all men. All Achaia can plainly see what Christ has done by calling the Corinthian church out of the world to do Kingdom business. God’s work today is the same!

Finally, Paul has confidence that the spirituality provided by Christ is more precious than a human letter, more valuable than anything Moses could have brought down from the mountain.

How does the community “read” you? How is it evident to your home, your neighborhood, your community that you are what is on Christ’s mind, an epistle, a letter?

What two ways can you name where “all men” recognize Jesus’ handwriting in you through your spirituality?

Is the community receiving the message Christ intends to communicate through us? How well is our delivery system working? What is working well and what is not? What must be done to get it working? What are we supposed to be doing to get Christ’s message before the eyes of the world?

Next time: "Exploring Your Spirituality"

Friday, June 12, 2015

C.S. Lewis on Reason and Atheism

“Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It’s like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can’t trust my own thinking, of course I can’t trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God.”

– C.S. Lewis, The Case for Christianity.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

True Spirituality (part 2)

How do you know you are a spiritual person? I met a man who said he was Christian because he carried a Bible presented to him as a child--it even had his name in it! Spirituality is not constructed of human accomplishment and recognition.

“I’M SPIRITUAL BECAUSE I SAY SO”

Look carefully at how Paul describes his ministry: triumphant (2 Cor 2:14); the fragrance of Christ in every place (2 Cor 2:15); sincere (2 Cor 2:16). The Corinthian church had the idea that Paul was prideful, bragging about his personal accomplishments in ministry. Are these the words of a self-made man or are these the words of a transformed man?

Paul asks plainly, “do we begin again to commend ourselves?” (2 Cor 3:1). How easy it is to fall into the trap of human accomplishment when it comes to our spirituality. If my spirituality depends on my “say-so”, then I believe the lie that I can create my own destiny.

Here’s how I know I can’t create my own destiny: I can’t control my own body functions. Can you stop yourself from blinking? You prove my point if you nod off during a church service. How much thought do you put into liver function? The body has a mind of its own doesn’t it?

Paul is not playing the spiritual one-upmanship game, building himself up to the Corinthians all over again because of self-made spirituality. You know the games:
  • “How many people did YOU lead to Christ?”
  • “How’s your Bible reading going? I read three chapters before breakfast.”
  • “Hey brother! How long did you pray today?” 
“I’M SPIRITUAL BECAUSE THEY SAY SO”

Paul writes, “Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you?” (2 Cor 3:1).
Paul’s personal and public life does not depend on references, what others say about him. Now let’s not be too quick to dismiss this because there is a time and place for references, but when it comes to spirituality, human references are out of place. Boastful Jewish leaders carry long letters of recommendation.

A few years back I was invited to speak at a week-long Pastor’s conference in Kenya, Africa. I was introduced to the congregation and gave my first lecture of the week. At the end of the lecture I opened the floor for questions. An elderly man in the back raised his hand and asked “who are you? why should we listen?” He was not interested in my credentials--he wanted to know my testimony!

Paul does something interesting: he produces an unusual credential that not only affirms his ministry, but also helps us understand the source of true spirituality. He produces a letter of approval that the Corinthians cannot deny or refute, like holding up a mirror.

We will take a look at this unusual credential next week.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

The Giver Abides, Man!

Ok, so we watched "The Giver" the other night and as I was about to eject the DVD from the player, this happened:


I blame the Knutson's. .

If you get it, you must be a rug lover. If not, you are out of your element. You know, man?

The Dude abides.

Monday, June 08, 2015

True Spirituality (part 1)

Comedian Brian Regan supposes: what if we played football the way we play chess? 



Here’s a question for you: How do you know when you are spiritual? Is there a definite way to know, or does one just “checkmate” their way in the spiritual realm? Some people say that spirituality is a personal matter, a matter that cannot be discussed. This is like playing football with chess rules. Others may say, “well, whatever god you believe in does not matter. We come from the same one." This is like saying "whatever meat you believe in. It all comes from the same chicken."

“Success” sounds appealing when it comes to the outcome of our spiritual lives--but what does true spirituality look like? How do we recognize it? The best way to find out is by returning to our Creator and asking some hard questions of ourselves:
  • What is my motive for wanting a spiritual life at all? 
  • Why do I want to please God--if I do at all? 
  • What does God say about my personal spiritual life? 
  • How does my spirituality fit into Jesus’ plan for the church? 
  • What impact does the spiritual life have in the world? 
We will be exploring the subject of “True Spirituality” the next few weeks in a multi-part series. Take note of your responses to the questions (above) in preparation for our study.

See you next post!

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Welcome to my blog

Feel free to browse posts through the archive link on the right (scroll down) by date or topic

The schedule (generally) is as follows:

  • Monday--Devotional or exploration of a Biblical text or topic
  • Tuesday--Photoblog
  • Wednesday--Devotional or exploration of a Biblical text or topic
  • Thursday--"Randoms": a collection of interesting links gathered through the week
  • Friday--Apologetics oriented posts
Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Black Crest Trail

The U.S. Forest Service calls the Black Crest Trail the most rugged trail in the Eastern United States (map). We ascended this North Carolina trail from Bolen's Creek to Mount Mitchell in two days, summiting 10 peaks culminating in a total altitude change of 3,485 feet across 15 miles. This was the pinnacle experience of our lives, taking everything we had to give physically, mentally, emotionally--and the spiritual impact was not lacking. Makes me wonder "what's next?" Please enjoy our video below, or click on this direct link.


Wednesday, June 03, 2015

"Ishmael or Isaac; Who Does God Want to Bless?" Zwemer Center Podcast

Ever hear that Muslims come from the line of Ishmael and were a result of Abraham’s sin? Who are the ones born under law as descendants of Ishmael (Galatians 4): Arabs or Jews? 

This half-hour podcast from the Zwemer Center discusses the Genesis, Galatians and includes an excellent summary of Tony Malouff's book, "Arabs in the Shadow of Israel: The Unfolding of God's Prophetic Plan for Ishmael's Line

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