Thursday, April 30, 2015


The Slow Watch. Finally getting back to older ways of measuring time! I love this!

Tomorrow is May 1. Here's an interesting history of a horrifying May Day tradition called "Moving Day."

Well, here's the answer to that age-old question: "Flamethrower, or Firehose"?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Forgiveness Factor (part 7): The Fragrance Of Forgiveness In The Gospel

If you had to lose one of your five senses, which would you choose? You can always close your eyes if you don’t want to see something and you can plug your ears if you don’t want to hear--but you can’t escape smell. Sure, you can hold your nose (or breath), but you must breathe--and when you do, every odor comes wafting in. If you did not smell, you could not taste. You might not even remember, as smells connect us with times and places. You can see, even hear from a distance, but smell requires close proximity--unless you’re a vulture.

When I finish a long distance run, or a grueling training session outside, one might find me lying flat on my back in exhaustion. There have been times when laying on the ground, I look up in the sky and see buzzards checking me out, but they don’t mess with me because I smell alive. I may look dead, I may even feel dead, but those buzzards, who live by death, can tell the difference. Honestly, I am just troubled that they show up at all . . .

To those saved from sin, the gospel smells like life (2 Corinthians 2:14–15, 16b). Scripture connects prayer with incense and God calls us to make our lives a fragrant aroma. We do this by carrying the odor of Christ to others. His very name “Christ” carries with it the memory of sacred smell. “Christ” is Greek for “the Anointed One” connecting Him with the sweet fragrance of the anointing oil of sacred worship. Because of this, when we carry Christ with us, we smell like Christ. What does Christ smell like? The smell of life is smell of holiness. When we extend forgiveness to others, like Christ did for us, we spread the fragrance.

To those who remain unforgiven, who will not repent, the gospel smells like death (2:16a). Ever notice how things change when people around you “catch wind” that you’re a Christian? The world can’t figure us out, yet “watch your language around pastor” or “You can’t do THAT when she’s around.”

Being a Christian does not mean you can’t have pleasure or have fun. Do all to the glory of God! Do everything properly and in good order, enjoying Him as you do it! But that’s the catch--the lost want nothing to do with God, so they can’t enjoy anything to His glory. The world is it’s own buzz-kill.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Photoblog: Big Boy Shoes

Grandson left his shoes on my desk. Too cute!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Two Songs from Sunday (covers)

Thanks, 'Lisa for recording! So blessed to be in this ministry with such talent--but of course, we miss Johnny!

"Great Are You, Lord" (All The Sons and Daughters, cover)

"You Are So Good To Me" (Third Day, cover)

Friday, April 24, 2015

I Can't Decide: Giraffes, Elephants or Flamingos?

(ht: IO9)

I'm still partial to the Flamingos. 

Misquoting and Misusing the Bible

The Apologetics Index recently posted this summary of how cults (and I will add, "opposing worldviews") misinterpret and misuse the Bible. The source material is James Sire's excellent book,

Scripture TwistingSire provides a wide range of examples and clarifications in his book.

  1. INACCURATE QUOTATION. A biblical text is referred to but is either not quoted in the way the text appears in any standard translation or is wrongly attributed.
  2. TWISTED TRANSLATION. The biblical text is re-translated, not in accordance with sound Greek scholarship, to fit a preconceived teaching of a cult.
  3. BIBLICAL HOOK. A text of Scripture is quoted primarily as a device to grasp the attention of readers or listeners and then followed by a teaching which is so non-biblical that it would appear far more dubious to most people had it not been preceded by a reference to Scripture.
  4. IGNORING THE IMMEDIATE CONTEXT. A text of Scripture is quoted but removed from the surrounding verses which form the immediate framework for its meaning.
  5. COLLAPSING CONTEXTS. Two or more verses which have little or nothing to do with each other are put together as if one were a commentary of the other(s).
  6. OVER-SPECIFICATION. A more detailed or specific conclusion than is legitimate is drawn from a biblical text.
  7. WORD PLAY. A word or phrase from a biblical translation is examined and interpreted as if the revelation had been given in that language.
  8. THE FIGURATIVE FALLACY. Either (1) mistaking literal language for figurative language or (2) mistaking figurative language for literal language.
  9. SPECULATIVE READINGS OF PREDICTIVE PROPHESY. A predictive prophesy is too readily explained by the occurrence of specific events, despite the fact that equally committed biblical scholars consider the interpretation highly dubious.
  10. SAYING BUT NOT CITING. A writer says that the Bible says such and such but does not cite the specific text (which often indicates that there may be no such text at all).
  11. SELECTIVE CITING. To substantiate a given argument, only a limited number of text is quoted: the total teaching of Scripture on that subject would lead to a conclusion different from that of the writer. Example: The Jehovah's Witnesses critique the traditional Christian notion of the Trinity without considering the full text which scholars use to substantiate the concept.
  12. INADEQUATE EVIDENCE. A hasty generalization is drawn from too little evidence.
  13. CONFUSED DEFINITION. A biblical term is misunderstood in such a way that an essential biblical doctrine is distorted or rejected.
  14. IGNORING ALTERNATIVE EXPLANATIONS. A specific interpretation given to a biblical text or set of text which could well be, and often have been, interpreted in quite a different fashion, but these alternatives are not considered.
  15. THE OBVIOUS FALLACY. Words like OBVIOUSLY, UNDOUBTEDLY, CERTAINLY, ALL REASONABLE PEOPLE HOLD THAT and so forth are substituted for logical reasons.
  16. VIRTUE BY ASSOCIATION. Either (1) a cult writer a associates his or her teaching with those of figures accepted as authoritative by traditional Christians; (2) cult writings are likened to the Bible; or (3) cult literature imitates the form of the Bible writing such that it sounds like the Bible.
  17. ESOTERIC INTERPRETATION. Under the assumption that the Bible contains hidden, esoteric, meaning which is open only to those who are initiated into its secrets, the interpreter declares the significance of biblical passages without giving much, if any, explanation for his or her interpretation.
  18. SUPPLEMENTING BIBLICAL AUTHORITY. New revelation from post biblical prophets either replaces or is added to the Bible as authority.
  19. REJECTING BIBLICAL AUTHORITY. Either the Bible as a whole or texts from the Bible are examined and rejected because they do not square with other authorities - such as reason or revelation = do not appear to agree with them.
  20. WORLD-VIEW CONFUSION Scriptural statements, stories, commands or symbols which have a particular meaning or set of meanings when taken within the intellectual and broadly cultural framework of the Bible itself are lifted out of that context, placed within the frame of reference of another system and thus given a meaning that markedly differs from their intended meaning.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Happy Birthday, William Shakespeare

"Alas, poor cupcake. I knew him Horatio! A fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy."

The Bard was born April 23, 1564 and died April 23, 1616. He wrote, “With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.” ("Merchant of Venice," Act 1, Scene 1).

Guildenstern ponders, "The only beginning is birth and the only end is death – if you can't count on that, what can you count on?" (Tom Stoppard)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Forgiveness Factor (part 6): The Triumph of Forgiveness

The word we use that describes completion or achievement is “triumph.” We may even imagine a bit of a party going on. When one turns from sin, forgiveness can be given--that’s worth celebrating. Relationships are be restored. Animosity is ended. Paul’s ministry to the church in this second letter has been the correction of the wrong ideas regarding forgiveness. Now he reminds them of two occasions that serve as models for them.

“When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though a door was opened for me in the Lord, my spirit was not at rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia.” [2 Cor 2:12-13 ESV]


Paul first reminds them of his concern for the lost “When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though a door was opened for me in the Lord. Acts 16 gives the details of Paul’s ministry and how the Spirit of Jesus directed his ministry. Troas was the place of the Macedonian vision, showing his sensitivity to his commission and specifically about where and to whom he was to speak. Paul is underscoring to the Corinthians the sincerity of his ministry.

The church in Corinth had a problem of closing the door against people by not helping them experiencing the joy of forgiveness found in the gospel. They closed the door first on the forgiveness of God. The man repented and the man was left outside, in sorrow. They held his sin against him. They closed the door second on the faithfulness of God. Paul moved when God said “move.” He closed his previous letter stating that he would come “if the Lord wills.” The Lord did not will, and the church shut him out, holding his absence against him. Paul’s greatest joy was talking about Christ, taking advantage of every opportunity--if he could not come back to Corinth, he would continue in other places!

Here’s our “take away” from Paul at this point: If we are faithful to open our mouths for the sake of Christ and the gospel, he will open the hearts of those who hear. When did you last pray that God would give you an open door for the gospel? When did you last pass through the open door?


Second, Paul reminds them of his concern for his team: “I had no rest in my spirit, not finding Titus my brother. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia.” This is something to love about Paul--he was not a one man wolf pack; rather, he was accountable. He had no difficulty confronting strangers with the gospel of Christ, but he did not want to do it alone. 

There is another aspect of Paul’s statement here. 1 Cor 16 says that Paul was sent Timothy to Corinth and was to report back. Timothy’s visit did not go so well, so (as we will see later in this epistle) Paul sent Titus. Paul’s distress is that he has no news from Corinth! Paul demonstrates deep concern for the growth and life of this church--but he had to keep moving because the Spirit was moving.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Photoblog: Backyard Evening Glow

Enjoying the beauty of God's creation in our backyard today.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Forgiveness Factor (part 5): “Don’t be ignorant of Satan’s schemes” (2 Cor. 2:11)

Satan can say many thing to deceive us. He could say things like:

  • “There is no God.” The difficulty with this is that the evidence of God is overwhelming. Anyone who has the faith to believe Satan’s lie, God calls a “Fool.” 
  • “There is no judgment.” The difficulty here is that anyone and everyone know that actions have consequences, not to mention the sense of “guilt” and “shame.”
Instead, Satan's says things like this: “there is no hurry. Just listen to God’s word, and take care of matters--later.” You know as well as I that “later” never comes.

Why should Satan gain by tempting us to put off what God says to do today--specifically, to forgive someone who turns from their sin, their own wrong-doing? God calls coveting a sin. A person who will go to ANY means to gain what they want, even if it means withholding forgiveness, is exactly like Satan, the devil. Why should Satan gain by deceiving the Church except to scar what Christ is building.

Realize what Paul is saying here: the Church is to enjoy fellowship, communion with one another. Christians are to be known by “LOVE.”
  • If (in the name of “love”) the church does nothing about sin in the church, Satan makes ugly what Christ makes beautiful in the Church, by building with people called OUT of the world. LOVE is not permissive!
  • If (in the name of “love”) the church does not restore one who repents to fellowship, then Satan makes ugly what Christ makes beautiful in the Church with unkindness, unforgiveness. 
While Satan takes pot shots at the flags of the Kingdom (stirring up trouble with minor issues), we level our cannon at the foundations of the gates of hell to bring the whole thing down around his head.

We don’t have to be outwitted by Satan!

Chuck Swindoll reminded me how kids throw rocks at frogs for fun, but adults tend to throw rocks at each other--and spit. It even happens in the church. Sometimes rocks are thrown with no intention of causing hurt or harm--just like kids skip rocks at the lake. But accidents do happen. “I was only kidding” doesn’t stop internal bleeding. Neither does withholding forgiveness.

Friday, April 17, 2015

"Has Science Made God Irrelevant?"

Must we choose between God or Science? What if there is another option? Where does "love" reside ("Interstellar" fans should find that question compelling)? There must be another option. 26 minute video here

Again, what scientific theory defines "love?" Also, what scientific imperatives demand that one be honest in one's scientific findings? Is science able to explain everything? Ravi Zacharias answers these and more of the Biggest Objections to Christianity in this Q & A. 90 minute video here.

Thursday, April 16, 2015


Here's a fun game: "Can You Guess What Guy Is Eating?"

Pain: When To Push And When To Listen To Your Body

Photos of famous rock bands represented by a single composite of all the band members' faces

"What if the church is not supposed to be like this?"
I am very interested to hear feedback (on-topic comments only will be posted):

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Forgiveness Factor (part 4): Three Objectives Toward Forgiveness

“So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” [2Co 2:8-11 ESV]

Another feature of forgiveness is comfort. This is what Paul intends by instructing the church to come alongside the man who repented, reaffirm him with Christian love.

The idea here is that reconciliation has occurred AND both sides are talking, conversing. Fellowship restored so all that’s left to do is encourage, strengthening. Don’t let a repentant person to wallow in sorrow. Guilt is found in sin, not in forgiveness. The man was over- whelmed in sorrow, aware of his sin but also afflicted under punishment. Now it is time for the church to meet three objectives:

First, “Reaffirm love” (2:8); that is, demonstrate that the discipline the man experienced was out of love for the person and hatred for the sin. The intention is not to destroy him, but help him bear Christ’s name as a new creation. Paul says he will stand behind their forgiveness, fellowship in shared ministry.

Second, “Be obedient in all things” (2:9-10). If his sin was so heinous they could no longer love him then they should check their motives. But here’s the real test: will they do what Paul says? They have been deceived to reject Paul yet they did what he instructed in the first letter by rejecting the man. Will they take the man back since he repented by Paul’s instruction and the preaching of the gospel? This is a great opportunity for the church to step back and review the source of counsel: is your teacher giving biblical counsel? Compare and contrast what teachers say with scripture!

Finally, “Don’t be ignorant of Satan’s Schemes” (2:11). Do you see who the real enemy is? It's not the person who seeks forgiveness. The enemy is the devil, adversary of God and man, the accuser. We see Satan at work accusing Paul, we see him at work accusing a man forgiven of sin--what makes us think he no longer operates when we are often tempted to withhold forgiveness from another person who names Christ? Here’s how the adversary works--Satan says things like this:
  • “Everyone has bad habits, no worse than yours”
  • “After a few weeks this will all blow over”
  • “You don’t want to be disappointed do you?
  • “I really don’t feel like praying/giving/serving/forgiving.”
  • “I’ll get to it eventually.”
Deceptive thoughts like these tempt us to withhold forgiveness from the one who repents of his hurt against us. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Forgiveness Factor (part 3): The Freedom of Forgiveness

“ . . . so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” [2Co 2:7-11 ESV]

When the church is permissive with sin, people will not be clean from sin. Forgiveness is not a reality where sin is permitted. The Corinthian church once permitted an incestuous man to remain in the fellowship. It was during this time the man continued without repentance, remaining unclean before God. When the church repented and confronted the man about his sin, then he repented. What happened next is astounding--the church did not forgive the man nor restore him to the fellowship.

One component of forgiveness is restoration. Paul says to forgive the one who repents (2 Cor 2:7). Hold nothing against him. He repented, received forgiveness by God; now, do the same. The key here is that forgiveness does not come without repentance. What is forgiveness?

First, forgiveness is NOT a feeling. Remember this scene?

Yes, the clip also provides a discussion about faith, but focus on the 1:10 mark and following. Forgiveness is not a feeling that wells up inside us. Forgiveness is a willful decision, but only as it is the fruit of a God-changed heart toward the repentant; Christ-given grace; love that stoops, humility toward another. Forgiveness comes from a Spirit-transformed mind about how we will or will not think or talk about the one who caused hurt. Forgiveness is a God-infused decision that changes feeling. If I forgave based on how I felt, I would not be doing much forgiving.

Second, forgiveness is not forgetting. Time never erases crime, so waiting for forgetfulness is a waste of time. Forgiveness is a deliberate action, rooted in God’s deliberate action. “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.” (Isa 43:25) God is not saying he cannot remember but that He will not remember. When He chooses to forgive, He chooses not to bring up our sins again because of the sacrifice of Christ. When we forgive, we draw on God’s grace to intentionally decide not to think of talk about what others have done to hurt us. The effort is tremendous as long as the offense is still in our mind. We don’t stop dwelling on sin passively, but actively, deliberately.

Third, forgiveness is not a “front”; that is, we do not excuse sin. Excusing says, “That’s okay,” which translates to “what you did wasn’t really wrong,” or “You couldn’t help it.” Forgiveness is really an authentic exhibition, the polar opposite of excusing. The fact that forgiveness is needed and granted shows that what someone did was wrong and inexcusable. This is how we should approach God first concerning our own sin. ii. Forgiveness says, “We both know that what you did was wrong and without excuse. But since God has forgiven me, I forgive you.” FORGIVENESS IS NOT NATURAL BUT SUPERNATURAL. Forgiveness deals honestly with sin, bringing freedom that no amount of excusing could ever hope to provide.

Finally, forgiveness is costly. Forgiveness does not simply happen because it is expected or demanded. Once cannot stand before a judge and be let go for crimes committed, so expec that God is the greater judge! The Swedish diplomat Dag Hammarskjold (1905-1961) said, “Forgiveness breaks the chain of causality because he who ‘forgives’ you--out of love--takes upon himself the consequences of what you have done. Forgiveness, therefore, always entails a sacrifice.”

We should Praise God for his gracious gift of forgiveness to us! (Eph. 4:32) says “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” You will probably have an opportunity to extend forgiveness this week. When you do, try to remember what forgiveness is not, and fix your eyes on the full and gracious forgiveness that God has given you in Jesus Christ.

Friday, April 10, 2015

"Where Did John Baptize?"

Some opponents of the Bible point to Jesus' baptism by John as inconsistent, recording the event happening in two different locations. Matthew 3:6 and Mark 1:9 records the location as the Jordan river. John 1:28 says that John was baptizing in Bethabara, beyond the Jordan. Which is it?

"Bethabara" is the place where one crossed a stream that fed into the river Jordan in order to enter Judea. The place is also known as "Bethany" in the gospels. Matthew and Mark were simply not inspired to be as precise and John.

We use generalizations without difficulty. If I ask where you were born, would you report the state, city, street address, floor and room number, naming the hospital you were born; or, simply name the city of your birth? Or at least the state. Are we inconsistent if we withhold information?

Consulting a map, one finds no contradiction.

Thursday, April 09, 2015


This year so far, my fitness program has burned off about 250 Hamburgers. That's .02 trips around the world! I want a tee shirt after my first trip!

"I'm Tired Of People Building Backyard Pyramids The Wrong Way."

Hammocks for Trains? How's about hammocks for planes?

Jump from this link to a blog dedicated to the strangest space wardrobes on Star Trek: Next Generation.

"Here are 5 (Happy Little) Things You Did Not Know About Bob Ross"

Speaking of Bob Ross, if you don't feel good after watching this, your paint's dry.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

The Forgiveness Factor (part 2): What Does Sin Do?

“But if anyone has caused grief, he has not grieved me, but all of you to some extent--not to be too severe. This punishment which [was inflicted] by the majority [is] sufficient for such a man,” [2 Corinthians 2:5,6 NKJV]

What do you do if someone sins then repents? Forgive him, right? The Corinthian church had it backwards: a man in the church was having an incestuous relationship and they overlooked his sin, tolerated it--acting like they forgave him. When he was finally disciplined and repented, they held him at arm’s length. Paul writes this second letter with instructions that give right perspective on sin and forgiveness.

First, sin brings grief, heaviness, sorrow to God. Grief over sin does not occur naturally because we are born sinners. We grieve sin when we understand what God thinks of sin. Consider Isaiah 63:10 “But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit; So He turned Himself against them as an enemy, And He fought against them.” Sin does not make friends with God but brings Him grief. “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Eph 4:20)

Pop Quiz! Read John 21:15-19. What is Peter’s reaction when Jesus made His third request for Peter’s love and Peter was reminded of his three denials?

Second, sin brings suffering to the one who sins. A common question today is “Why does God allow suffering?” He doesn’t. This is why He paid the penalty for sin in the death of Christ Jesus. The Lord’s Table is a place to grieve sin because there we remember that Christ drank the full cup of God’s wrath against sin on our behalf. When God’s people take the Lord’s Supper we are to reflect, grieve and confess sin. Paul calls for this kind of examination in his first letter.

Third, sin brings suffering to the church. When we read 1 Corinthians 5-6, we can see that this church did not understand sin, nor did they understand grace. They misapplied grace to overlook sin and puffed themselves up. They thought themselves to be a gracious church, a loving church and their permissiveness communicated the wrong message to the world. When they finally received Paul’s correction, they were able to act rightly.

Finally, sin brings two kinds of punishment. The first kind of punishment is eternal. They paycheck for sin is death (Rom 6:23). But it does not have to be this way. "The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die.” (Eze 18:20-21)

Church Discipline is a way to show the seriousness of sin and to give the sinner a chance to be delivered from sin. The Corinthian church put their foot down on God’s line and put the sinner out per Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 28. Their action was enough to get the man’s attention and the man repented; however, the church kept him at arms length because they did not understand forgiveness.

We will look at the Freedom of Forgiveness next, so read ahead in 2 Corinthians 2:7-11!

Monday, April 06, 2015

The Forgiveness Factor (part 1): An Explanation of Sin, and An Objection

One of the joys of teaching through the Bible verse by verse is the absence of agenda. What I mean to say is that when one is systematic in teaching, one addresses issues as they are presented. If God sees fit to align a lesson from His Unchanging Word with the headlines, then it happens by His design, not mine.

In today’s text (2 Corinthians 2:5-11) we begin a new section I call “The Forgiveness Factor.” The incident here concerns a church who does not forgive a man who repented of his sin. Now, before we take up arms in a cause against the church, let us be clear about one fact: Jesus said He would build His church and the New Testament is the record of Him fulfilling that promise. That this church had a problem with forgiveness is really the second half of the story--they actually had forgiven the man, but in the wrong way. Here’s what happened.

In his first letter to the Corinthian church, Paul addresses an error: a man who attended the church was having a sexual relationship with his father’s mother (1 Corinthians 5:1-2). The church “forgave” the man, turned a blind eye to the man’s sin and let him carry on with his sexual preference. The church clearly had a misunderstanding about sin and forgiveness, especially when the church corrected its position and disciplined the man by putting him out. Since then, the man repented, ended the relationship and the church did not restore him to fellowship.

Here’s a great place to ask some questions that apply still today:


What is sin? Why is sin a problem? Why is sexual immorality a sin? What should be the response of the church if someone is caught in sin? What happens if and when they repent?

Let’s think for a moment about what sin is NOT:

  1. Sin is not an accident, but the the direct result of Adam’s disobedience. “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners” (Ro 5:19). An “accident” is slipping on the floor. Calling sin “accident” does not undo the damage. If sin were an accident, there is nothing to forgive. 
  2. Sin is not an “balanced Negative” or “natural opposing force” (Yin and Yang). Sin is an active offense against holy God. "Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight—that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge.” (Psalm 51:4). There is no way to counterbalance sin with doing good. If sin balances out, then forgiveness does not exist.
  3. Sin is not a fixed point of social evolution, “enlightenment” from which man emerges from darkness as a moral being. This is unscientific, unphilosophical, and unscriptural. If it were possible for morality to rise from non-morality, then flies grow from meat. If we are simply biological machines responding to natural stimuli, how and why do chemicals sense right and wrong? If sin is the springboard of the evolutionary process, why has man not evolved out of sin with all his gained knowledge? Where is the proof that everything is getting better? Clearly, we don’t live in the Star Trek universe.
  4. Sin is not “an admirable weakness,” a quality that makes a person more likable. Sin grows in strength then takes captives! “The strength of sin is the law” (1 Cor. 15:56).
  5. Sin is not necessary. Some say sin is “responsible personal guilt,” that we cannot escape it therefore we must “make the best of it.” But that's not true. 
Sin is a fact that cannot be ignored. God intends that “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7). Sin can be renamed, reassigned, but the fact remains--sin does not simply go away any more than cancer disappears by calling it “a growth.” J.I Packer wrote, “If you have not learned about sin, you cannot understand yourself, or your fellow-men, or the work you live in, or the Christian faith. And you will not be able to make head or tail of the Bible.”

Sin is simply breaking God’s moral law: [1 John 3:4] “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” Take a look at Leviticus 16:21 and notice three words: "Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send [it] away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man”

The best way to think of iniquity is to think of something bent, twisted, crooked. The Bible equates iniquity with wickedness, moral perverseness. Our English word “wrong” precisely exactly expresses the idea. If sin is not wrong, then we undermine our own argument.

“Transgression” is a word that communicates revolution, a revolt against rightful authority. “I choose not to obey.” Picture someone stepping over a boundary, or abandoning duty.

“Sin” literally means “to miss the mark” referring to God’s perfect standard. The English word itself comes from the Germanic, French, Dutch, Old English words that indicate the truthfulness of one’s guilty situation. “Sin” is the most common word in the Bible that describes any “change of course” or deviation from the divine goal. The idea includes not only willful and ignorant acts, but also state of mind. This is why Jesus can say that the mere thought = the act.


“You should not talk about sin because Jesus was loving and kind. He did not condemn anyone.”

Did you know that Jesus called the religious leaders of His day “hypocrites” because they did not understand sin? That's right. Jesus condemned the religious leaders. Read Matthew 23 and count how many times Jesus uses the word “hypocrite.” (Seven. He also calls them “blind” 3x).

Do you know WHY Jesus called them hypocrites? "inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:28). See 1 John 3:4, above. Jesus calls the religious leaders “sinners,” breakers of God’s law.

We take the time to think on these things because if we don’t understand sin, we make the same mistake the Corinthian church made, and misapply forgiveness.

Friday, April 03, 2015

"Mythology Exists . . ."

"Mythology exists to show the wickedness of men through the depravity of their gods, whose deeds are so repulsive that man abandon them. The Bible records the depravity of men against a righteous God, who alone can save them."

(Kenneth Prior, "The Gospel in a Pagan Society")

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Loving Rebuke

“For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you, with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you.” (2 Corinthians 2:4)

When we teach the Bible, we come across many hard and difficult truths as we study. Truth is not easy to hear at first because in order to truly hear, one must listen and respond to God first and release our faulty presuppositions. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. If we are not humble then truth hits much harder--and this was the case with the Corinthian church--they refused to change.

Paul says his tears are tears of love--his ministry would be much easier if they would only break. Yes, Paul is being severe, but this severity is only evident in the face of pride. His love for them does not change. He will be graceful if they are humble.

How can a human being ( be it Paul or me or even you) deliver heavenly truth with such deep seriousness without hypocrisy? The answer is simple: be right, clean before God. We do this by reflecting on scripture and prayer. Take a look at Psalm 15, for example and ask yourself these four questions:

1) What are the traits of integrity described here?

2) How do I fail to do these things? (confess this to God)

3) What am I supposed to be doing (read the list again)?

4) What steps am I going to take to obey?

Once we have a clean conscience before God, we can minister to others with God’s love:

1) Oppose the proud. There are times when defense is proper, so strong action is required. If you are “hearing things” from others, don’t lose your temper but find the source.

2) Rebuke when necessary. Sometimes the best response is silence. If you know the truth, the burden of proof is on the objector. No need to speak out if the source of the problem is not available. Some people are tuned to find fault, be on edge, always criticize, edgy. Paul was not like that. William Barclay said, “The more seldom a man rebukes, the more effective the rebuke is when he has in the end to launch it.”

3) Be loving, graceful. Never hurt willingly. Never take revenge. Paul takes no pleasure in pushing people’s buttons just to watch them flinch and neither should we. Paul spoke harshly for the purpose of restoration. Barclay again, “The only effective rebuke is the rebuke given with the arm of love around the other person.” The rebuke of anger does not break the heart, only the rebuke of love.

4) Let God handle the situation. Submit to God; that is, do not correct or domineer. “The fear of the loving God” is not beat into anyone. Rod and staff comfort.

It won’t be long before any of us find ourselves being misunderstood, receiving unconstructive criticism, accusation, doubt. Get close to Paul and find the comfort of living in truthfulness. If you are being obedient to God in Christ, if your conscience is clean by confession, you have only to fall back on God’s faithfulness for comfort. Jesus builds the church so the pressure is off for us to do all the work.

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