Tuesday, December 25, 2007

MERRY CHRISTMAS

For unto us was born, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. That Babe was found lying in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes just as the angels said He would be. God came and dwelt amongst us. The shepherds saw Him and spread the news abroad. The wise men came from the east and worshiped the young child. How will you celebrate this day that commemorates that moment in time when heaven came near? Will you draw near to Christ and worship Him and tell others about the Gospel?

May the message that stirred the shepherds and beckoned the wise men have the same effect upon our own hearts this glorious day.

MERRY CHRISTMAS and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!

Monday, December 17, 2007

FOR WHAT DO YOU HUNGER AND THIRST?

We are in the midst of the greatest holiday season of the year. Beginning with Thanksgiving and ending a day or two after New Year's day, we spend the better part of about 6 weeks imbibing in a diabetics nightmare. Eggnog, fudge, cookies, chips and dips fill the menu for many. Office parties, church parties, Sunday School parties and family gatherings fill the agenda for many. Living down here in the gulf south does not afford the opportunity for snow to fill our yards, though the frost we had this morning was quite spectacular. Yes, I do long for knee deep snow. But beyond all of these temporary and transitory goodies, do you hunger and thirst for something more? When the holidays are gone, are you still left with a void that none of the prior things listed could fill?

There are many things we can search for and hope for and ask for. I really would like snow. Snow knee deep would really be neat. But is my desire for snow a deeper desire that even that much snow could not fill? Would that one request satiate me or would I long for more.

Well, amidst all of the things we could seek after, there is one that the Jesus said would lead to us being filled. Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, he said, would be filled. If we were to list all of the things that we are desirous of this year, how many of them would fall under the category heading, Righteousness? Why are we then surprised when those things that do not fall under the heading Righteousness, do not fill us with any meaningful filling?

So, for what are you hungry and thirsty?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

A FUNNY I HEARD

Lord willing, I will soon be back into the blogging rhythm. For those of you who have been patiently waiting and encouraging me, I thank you.

Getting things back on track now, I have decided to share a TRUE story that I was told. This sounds unbelievable and it would seem that it came right out of some stand up comedians act but I assure you that this is first-hand knowledge of the event.

A young girl that I know was recently celebrating her 17th birthday and was given a watch by her uncle. She opened the watch and was excited to wear it. She asked her dad what time it was and proceeded to give him the watch to set it for her. Upon looking at the watch, he noticed that the time was correct and he told his daughter that it was so. She asked how the time could be correct and he told her that the watch had probably been preset by someone at the store or the factory. (Now I remind you that this girl has just turned 17.) His daughter replied, "Yeah, right! Like they would know this would be the exact time I would open my present."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

THANKFUL? TO WHOM???

I am thankful to our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ. A lot of people will be speaking of WHAT they are thankful for today. I encourage you to tell them to WHOM you are thankful.

Blessings and peace be upon your homes today in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Save Treasures or Serve Jesus?

There is a cliché that goes, “where God guides God provides”. Now as to who exactly was the first person to phrase that thought in this manner I doubt anyone but God truly knows. Not all clichés have validity and not all have truth but the one quoted has basis from the Word of God.

God had initiated a covenant with the people of Israel and part of the responsibilities revealed to Moses was that of the making of the Tabernacle. It was not a place for God to live, but it was a place for God to dwell amongst His people. God had set forth the standard that was to be used in building the Tabernacle and it would be a formidable task. The materials were not those that could just be found laying on top of the ground in one’s perusal through the wilderness. It was not called the wilderness because of its bounty. Another problem in building the Tabernacle would be in acquiring someone with the talents and skills that could build to the exact specifications.

Now consider this for a moment. God had given instructions for this to be built, how to build it and what to build it with. God also as we learn from the Scriptures provided for those instructions to be met. The people of Israel took with them from Egypt the spoils given to them and these spoils consisted of the precious items that would be used to form the Tabernacle. God had sent the plagues and because of the display of His power, not the Israelites, the people of Egypt were only too happy to get rid of the Israelites and their God. Another way that God provided was by giving wisdom to a worker who would be skilled in following God’s direction. God had also provided by giving Moses the details, measurements and even a glimpse of the real items so that the message could properly be relayed. But something was lacking. Something was missing from this mixture and chapters 35-36 reveal what this was that was missing. It was a God designed missing element. What was that element?

A willingness of the people to serve God in obedience. Chapter 35: 5, 21,26, 29; Chapter 36:2, 3. There is no doubt that God had given them the wisdom. There is no doubt God had given them the provisions. But now, God wanted the people to willingly return unto Him by obedience. They were not forced to participate. They chose to participate. They stirred up their hearts to serve the LORD. Yes, God had guided and God had provided. Now it was up to the people to serve the LORD, willingly at that, or become enamored with these treasures.

God’s righteousness requires righteousness from man. Man, lost in his own sin is unable to provide the righteousness needed to achieve God’s righteousness. God made provision for that righteousness through Christ Jesus. God guides man to Jesus through the preaching and hearing of the Word. Now the question to be answered is this: What will you do with the new life offered to you in Christ? Will you reject it? Will you delay a response to it? Will you keep it for yourself buried in some treasure box? Will you live it grudgingly in outward obedience? Or will you willingly yield all that you are and have up to Him in obedience? The Great God of love and provision yearns for your response.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Christianity and Halloween: Oil and Water

Unless you have lived in a cave all of your life, the fact that there is opposition to the observance of modern Halloween should be no surprise to you. If you are reading this blog, I am equally sure that you are savvy enough to research the origins of this event as there is no shortage of information available on the internet about this particular day. Well then, you may ask, just why are you adding to the already abounding information about Halloween? My intent with this post is not to add more information to your files but instead to get you to process and think about that which you have learned.

Halloween's modern observance, apart from giving candy to kids, is about scaring, being scared, death and dying. For some, this day is a time for an office party or the likes in which it is okay to imbibe in drinks and other faculty diminishing provisions without restraint. It can be difficult, then, to try to lump all participants into one nice neat box when describing this day and the way it is observed. Yet, we are called to be salt and light in this world and find it necessary then to address this day and its common observance.

Haunted houses, witches, spiders, spooks, goblins, ax murderers, graveyards and ghosts inhabit this event. Shouldn't these things wave a red flag in the Christian's mind? Christianity does not deny the existence of demons and devils and Satan and the likes. However, we find through the reading of God's Word that these entities are our enemies and not our friends or even associates. Death and dying, as the end result of sin, are what Jesus came to defeat as our enemy and as such we are not to celebrate death and dying in the physical sense but we are to celebrate new life and everlasting life that is found only in Christ Jesus. Satan and his evil hordes are defeated through the power given to us by Jesus Christ. Why then would or should a Christian dress up like any of the such as if to honor those that are our enemies? Why then would or should a Christian participate in any events in which theses enemies evil character is celebrated or used in the intention to drive fear into the hearts of others? Can you really conceive of Jesus or the Apostles participating in these events?

By the way, I can offer you a way better option for your pumpkins than to carve a scary face in them in order to ward off wayward spirits. Carve them up into pieces, boil em down until they are soft. Blend them. Add egg, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar and few other ingredients to taste and after a little more cookin', voila, pumpkin pie. Ummmmm Umm!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

WHO CAN BE SAVED?

Revelation 22:18-19 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

These two verses are interesting in so many ways but there is just one aspect of these verses I would like to consider at this time. The idea to consider is that "God shall take away his part out of the book of life". I have searched commentaries and many have either skipped over this or glossed over it. And yet, this single phrase is so bound with truth. The argument amongst many 4pt vs 5pt Calvinists usually exists in the area of the extent of the atonement. This debate not only exists amongst themselves but also amongst Calvinists and non-Calvinists as well. How this phrase is interpreted can tie knots in our theology IF our theology is built more on philosophy than the revealed Word of God. So let us look at this phrase very closely and see what God has revealed to us.

The first clue to the understanding of this phrase is actually in verse 17. The Gospel call is universal in scope and is not bound by any limits whatsoever. "Whosoever will" is as broad a call as a call can be. The call is made to all men without distinction of any sort. The call made to all men is genuine without any reservation of any sort. It is not just a Gospel for the "elect". It is the Gospel for the WHOLE WORLD. The Gospel is Good News TO AND FOR all. How does that impact verse 19 then you may be wondering?

The idea that Christians can lose their salvation is not in sight here, that is one thing that is for sure. But that is NOT the MAIN idea of that phrase. There is a difference between having your name removed verses having your place removed. In the book of life, there is a "place" for all names to be written down. Just because there is a place for that name does not mean that all will be written down. For example, here in Louisiana, when we go to vote, there are many names recorded in a register. The only ones who can vote are those who sign their names in their place. There is the offer to all to vote, but only the signer can vote.(Please do not push this illustration too far, it will fail as will ALL of men's illustrations but its reason for being used illustrates clearly what is being said.) I'll say it once again. The book of life, as it were, has an available place for ALL. The all here is not just without distinction, but all in its entirety. The call of verse 17 illustrates that. However, those who reject the truth of God's word or add to God's word will/can not be saved but not only that, they will LOSE/FORFEIT their opportunity to be saved, their place will be removed. II Thessalonians 2:11-12 teach the same thing. Listen. "And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." For what cause? It is mentioned in verse 10 and verse 12. The did not receive or believe the truth! And the sending of the strong delusion is equivalent to having your place removed from the book of life. When that happens, there is no hope of salvation. When the truth of salvation by faith in Jesus is rejected, what other alternative is there to salvation? There is none. God's word teaches that there can come a point in time where a line can be crossed and one can forfeit any hope of ever being saved. Not that they would want to be as is clear from their rejection of the truth and Jesus.

Why then is this important? Because 5pt Calvinism teaches that there is only a chosen group that can be saved and that the others, though the Gospel they may hear, cannot respond nor would they want to respond because they are not among the chosen. I am saying, that is not so. The opportunity for ALL to be saved is apparent in Revelation 22:17-19. I am saying that the Gospel offer to any is a genuine offer and has potential. What the person does in response to that offer is what determines one's eternity.

In conclusion, I am not saying ALL will be saved. I am saying that the opportunity for ALL to be saved is legitimate. There IS NOT a secret list in heaven of those who can be.(while I believe it is known who will be). There IS the book of life. Upon those pages, every human born into this world has a place in the book and the opportunity of having their name written in their place if they will receive/believe the truth. Rejection of that truth can and will result in losing that opportunity and not only that, but the place as well. The Scriptures testify that TO DAY if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts...

Monday, October 1, 2007

GOSSIP AND ITS COMPANIONS

I Peter 2:1-3 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

MALICE...GUILE...HYPOCRISIES...ENVIES...EVIL SPEAKINGS

Malice-the intent, the thought/s, the inner thinkings
Guile-deception
Hypocrisies-appearance is contrary to reality
Envy-displeasure at the sight of another's excellence or joy
Evil Speakings-slander, backbiting, even includes the idea of defamation

NONE of these things leads to the growth of a Christian. They are not beneficial. Instead, they are destructive. These words are contrary to the teachings of Christ and they are contrary to the leading of the Holy Spirit in the Christian's life. Where gossip exists and abounds, you can be sure that in some form or distribution, you will find the others, malice, guile, hypocrisies and envies. And, where these things abound you will NOT find a Christian abounding in Christ. In fact, you most likely will not even find a Christian who reads the Word of God.

If you contend that you do not have any of those motives or intentions when you gossip, then pray tell, WHY DO YOU GOSSIP? If you contend that you can gossip and not possess any of these other qualities than you are self deceived. You are self justified. Gossip is NEVER with the intent of doing good. It may come under the disguise of doing good but the root of gossip is ALWAYS sin. If you truly have the other persons best interest at heart, go TO them do not talk ABOUT them. Also, to spread such even though you may not be the instigator, aligns yourself with the sin and not the right.

As I have asked in an earlier post, do you really desire to grow in the Lord? If the answer is yes, you have not but one option. Put Gossip AWAY from you.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

GOSSIP AND THE HEARERS RESPONSIBLITY

FOURTH IN A SERIES


Ecclesiastes 7:21-22 Also take not heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee: for oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others.


You were hoping I wouldn't go there weren't you? Well, I did and we will provided you keep on reading. What is the responsibility of the listener when gossip is spoken? Oh, I know. The listener is to REBUKE the speaker and PUT THEM IN THEIR PLACE. Well, lets at least look at this passage before we make that assumption.

The first phrase IS NOT a command to hear what you like and ignore the rest. Rather, it is telling us to not pay attention to the babbling of others and babbling in general. Why? Because if you listen to all of the babbling and grumbling and complaining, you will hear your servant curse you and if you act against that grumbling and babbling, you are setting yourself in a higher moral plane than others and the reason is clear that that cannot be done. YOU likewise have cursed others in your vain babblings as well. We are condemned by our own actions if we condemn all actions of the other.

What does this have to do with Gossip? The hearer of such needs to filter what is heard. In other words, perhaps the one speaking the gossip is doing it out of anger and hurt feelings and on any other normal day, would not have said so much. Perhaps they are just babbling things about when they should have just kept their mouth shut. We are not speaking about those who are intentionally trying to stir up strife. We are speaking about those who, for whatever reason, are just "spouting off". The listener/hearer then should not make any judgment calls about the subject of the speech then. We have said things we do not mean before. We have said things out loud that we wish we had not said before. We have put our mouth in motion without having our wisdom in gear before have we not? Thus we are to use great wisdom in this situation. Sometimes, we just need to let it, the gossip, fall to the ground when we consider the source of the speech. We do not need to have an answer for all the babblings around and we certainly do not need to be correcting EVERY babbling we hear. We too say things when we are upset or discouraged or the likes.

So to the listener/hearer/over hearer of such things, sometimes, we need to just drop it and let it go. What they said may hurt and what they said may be wrong. But you and I have done the same thing to others when in reality, we were speaking off the cuff or on the spur of the moment or on a whim of emotion and not that our failures make theirs acceptable, rather, we give and grant room for forgiveness and understanding all the while knowing that if it were not for that same forgiveness, our own heart would be under condemnation as it must readily admit that we ourselves have done likewise.

May God grant us the wisdom to be as wise as serpents but as harmless as doves.


For the first in this series, go HERE.
For the second in this series, go HERE.
For the third in this series, go HERE.

Monday, September 24, 2007

GOSSIP: ABIDING IN GOD'S PRESENCE

THIRD OF A SERIES

Psalm 15:1-3 LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in they holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor.

The focus of this little series has been on the concept of gossip. This particular passage considers this concept from the position of personal holiness. Introspection is what few of us really enjoy doing. We tend to want to think better of ourselves than we should. At times, we miss the obvious beam in our own eye while pointing out the sawdust in another's. Motivation for doing so varies from individual to individual and occasion to occasion. Perhaps we have been offended and we are wanting to "even the score". In other words, personal vendettas rule the moment. We are warned against taking vengeance into our own hands when in fact the Scriptures testify that vengeance belongs to the Lord. That passage can be read in Romans 12:19-21. But if our goal be personal holiness or rather, a sanctified daily walk, we need to consider OURSELVES rather than the other person. This Psalm considers that gossip is a hindrance or a defiling of such personal holiness. If abiding in the presence of the Lord is what one truly desires, then there truly is NO PLACE for gossip in that life.

Verse two of this passage is very positive and speaks of that which should be done. However, even if that were done on a human level, there are certain things that should be avoided as well. In fact, it could be argued that there is no way that you could practice verse 2 WITHOUT practicing verse 3. Paul, in the book of Romans parallels the two ideas when he said that those things he should not do he does and those things that he should do he does not. The point being that they are not mutually exclusive. You cannot have sanctification without BOTH being practiced rightly.

Verse three is where I have been driving for and it is comprised of three things that SHOULD NOT be done. The word backbiteth is also translated as slander. The word basically means to go about on the feet. In some instances, it means to spy out. Thus one goes about on his feet in search of whatever information is sought. However, in this passage and in 2 Samuel 19:28, it is used of slander. A person goes about on foot(traverses the internet) in order to bring a false message or even a message of truth that is meant to "destroy" the particular individual that it is lodged against. This phrase is closely tied with the next in that the one who wants to abide or dwell does not "do evil" to his neighbor. Jesus told us who our neighbor is and in this passage of Psalms, we are not to seek the hurt or harm of our neighbor. We are not to seek to do injury to our neighbor. This includes spreading truth under the guise of safeguarding others while our motive is nothing but injury to the individual. Brethren, be sure of this. God knows your heart. He will search you out and reveal you for this. You can say it is for good all the while knowing your heart is evil and yet the audience to whom you speak cannot do much else rather than observing your life and seeking God's wisdom to try the spirits. You may hide behind clouds of religion and piety but you can rest assured, you have not escaped the Light of God. The man who wants to abide with God does not take up a reproach against his neighbor either. Take up means in this passage to take up as with voice, even to carry as your own a reproach, a mocking or scorn of your neighbor. It is wrong to taunt your neighbor but it is especially a hindrance to those who are wanting to have that holy walk that is honoring to God. In blogland, you have seen it as well as I have, that some,not involved in a particular situation, become the most vocal on something they really have no specific knowledge of or relation in a personal way. Too often, under the cover of "our opinion", we are simply passing out slander, gossip or mocking to whoever will listen in order to tear down another or take up a cause against another to defend one we call our own. As one of my seminary professors used to say. "My brothers, these things ought not be so!" Our goal for our neighbor should be to do them good, not cause them harm.

Do you really desire personal holiness and a sanctified walk with God? If that be the case, make sure that you understand that gossip/slander is a hindrance to, not a help with, that walk.

For the first in this series, go HERE.
For the second in this series, go HERE.
For the fourth in this series, go HERE.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

GOSSIP: TRUTH WITH A TWIST

SECOND OF A SERIES


Proverbs 10:18 He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander is a fool.


Already this does not look good does it!? I think it is that fool part at the end which is so disturbing. But hey. It is your choice whether to be one or not simply by keeping your mouth closed or your keyboard silent.

In the first phrase of this verse, we have the word hideth and that is actually the same Hebrew word for concealeth which was looked at in the Proverbs 11 post. The word hatred is more than just a passive dislike. In Numbers 35:20 it is tied to the idea of physical violence. In Ecclesiastes 9:1, it is contrasted with the word love which is more than just an emotion but an emotion that moves one to action. With love, the action is positive. With hate, the action is negative. In this same chapter of Proverbs, once again the word hate is contrasted with love and here we see hatred tied with strife and love with covering. The word lying is in reference to untruth. Such spoken words have no truthful foundation and as such have NO value. In essence, the person full of hatred tries to hide it by telling you all is well. They may even use such phrases as, "you have nothing to worry about", "I have your best interest in mind" or even the worst, "I love you in the Lord" when their heart is decrying just the opposite. The implication is that even though man may not know the heart, God does.

But this verse covers more than just the one who lies to cover hatred. It also speaks of those who spread the truth with a negative twist and/or for ungodly purposes. This word slander is used in Numbers 13:32; 14:36,37. In those passages, it is translated, evil report. Now when you look at their report, they bring back the truth so far as it related to the land. They said it was a land flowing with milk and honey but they also said that the people in the land were giants and great men of statue and the way that they said it was to cause despair upon the people. In fact, their report led the people to murmur. They were not interested in encouraging the people, they were trying to discourage them and to even turn the people against Moses which to a degree was successful. In Genesis 37:2 it is used of Joseph's account to his father about his brothers. It is used in Jeremiah 20:10 where the people were slandering Jeremiah and hoping to catch him in a trap. In Psalm 31:13 slander is once again tied in with the concepts of fear and deceit. Slander may have an element of truth or even be the truth but the purpose in sharing it is to cause fear and grumbling and it would also be a fair statement that those involved in such are usually doing it to cause destruction for those they speak against.

What does the Scripture say about such people? Those who lie to cover the opposite of what they say and those who slander to cause great harm, dissension and destruction? The Bible says they are fools. In Ecclesiastes 2:13-14, the fool is said to be in darkness while the wise is in light. Ecclesiastes 5:1 records that fools act rashly and do evil. In Ecclesiastes 10:2, the fools heart is in his left hand while the wise man's heart is in the right. Proverbs 1:7 tells us that the fool despises wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 10:23 tells us that a fool delights in causing trouble and as such, he is a liability to his circle of influence. In Proverbs 13:20, God warns that being a companion to fools will lead to brokenness and destruction. By no means is this an exhaustive list of the fool. You cannot read Proverbs and Ecclesiastes without noticing the word fool unless of course you are one.

Gossip, particularly of the slanderous sort is meant to be destructive towards those it is spoken of and it will lead to the destruction of those participating in it. It should not be participated in by those who claim the name of Jesus. The epistle of James is truly correct when he notes how such a little member as the tongue can kindle such a great fire. Like a rudder steers a ship, so your tongue steers you. If you are not sure that what you are about to say is slander or gossip, you either need to remain silent in speech or keyboard OR hey, here is a novel idea, try telling them about the love of Jesus instead.


For the first in this series, go HERE.
For the third in this series, go HERE.
For the fourth in this series, go HERE.



*NOTE* The following references were used and are used by this writer.
Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament(1980). Harris, Archer Jr., and Waltke.

The Complete Word Study Dictionary, Old Testament(2003). Baker and Carpenter.

Yes, I know that is not Turabian format. That is one of the neat things about this being my blog.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

GOSSIP: CONFIDENTIAL BROADCASTING

This will be the first of many passages over a series to be examined.

Proverbs 11:12-13 He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace. A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.

In this passage, the most important concept to understand here is that it is a revealing of something that was learned in confidence. That is what the word secrets is referring to in verse 13. This is all about retaining the information one has gained in private counsel by keeping ones' mouth closed/keyboard silent. Private counsel does not mean that they came to you for advice or that you came to them for advice. It simply refers to conversation that was held in private or was confidentially shared. The word talebearer is also very germane to understanding the text as well. Talebearer refers to movement about, usually by a human, without regards to a specific destination. Thus the talebearer is one who tells anything he/she knows wherever he/she goes. The idea of a wandering blabberer(gossiper) seems to fit here. This person will tell anybody anything. Continuing with our little word study here, faithful is indeed operative. It means to build up or support, like parents supporting a child in their arms, thus to nurture is also part of the meaning. The faithful do not seek the destruction of the person who spoke in confidence but rather the welfare of that person. And how does the faithful spirit do that? They conceal the matter. They hide the matter. They cover the matter.

Where do we even begin to address the application of this? These two verses are indeed powerful and govern our speech in a rather specific way. They also address the issue of our heart. Why do we do what we do? OR Why did they do what they did?

1. Do we really love our neighbor as Jesus taught us to love? Do we want to see them fall and destroyed or do we want to see them prosper in the Lord? Beyond saying we want the best for them, is it really for the best or is it what fits our agenda and boosts our own egos?

2. Do we see the information gained from private conversation as a leverage? Do we see the possibility of that information being useful as blackmail in the future?(though we would never call it that)

3. Do we listen to confidential talk just to hear juicy information? Is it titillating to our voyeuristic mind to hear the thoughts of another?

4. Do we use the information we've gained in confidence as a stepping stone to our own whims or desires?

5. Do we really love our neighbor as Christ loved us?

Finally, if you do not really love your neighbor as Christ loved you, then you have an obligation not to listen to one who approaches you in confidence! You have an obligation to warn the person who is talking to you that you are not faithful! But all of that pales in comparison to my next question. Do the words, "well done thou good and faithful servant" mean ANYTHING to you? One of two labels fit you here, either Talebearer or Faithful spirit. Which is it for you?

For the second part of this series go HERE.
For the third part of this series go HERE.
For the fourth part of this series go HERE.



EDITED TO ADD:


*NOTE* The following references were used and are used by this writer.
Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament(1980). Harris, Archer Jr., and Waltke.

The Complete Word Study Dictionary, Old Testament(2003). Baker and Carpenter.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

STATE SENATOR SUES GOD

HERE are the links. HERE and HERE. The last two links add a little more towards how the legal ramifications may work out. He even says he is not trying to be funny in doing this.

Perhaps, like He did with Job, God will visit this Senator. But, since they will not allow the Ten Commandments to be displayed in the court, I doubt they would like the original Writer to appear as well. I bet the local marshal is glad that he will not have to serve God a subpoena since the Senator is willing to admit that God is omniscient and already knows about the suit. Well, I do pray for this Senator that when he eventually meets God, that he will be covered by the blood of Jesus because if he is not, the verdict sentenced upon him will be without appeal.

Friday, September 14, 2007

DOGMA: SATAN, THAT SERPENT OF OLD

In Genesis chapter 3 we find record of the temptation of Eve by the serpent. Just who was this serpent and can we be sure? You did read the title of this post didn't you? I remember over hearing a guy in seminary bragging because he set his Sunday school teacher straight. They were studying Genesis and the teacher made the comment that Satan was the serpent and boy did he correct that teacher, at least in his own mind he did. He was not to be convinced of what the Bible makes so clear. I have heard it said that John MacArthur says, "when you have a question in the Bible, keep reading and you'll eventually find the answer". Again, I am not sure that the statement is attributable to him but in the case of the serpent, it proves itself valid.

Of course you will need your Bible so after getting it out, you will need to read Ezekiel 28:11-19. But brother Luke, that passage is about the king of Tyre you say? Tell me, the description of this king of Tyre, being in the Garden, being a covering cherub, does this sound like a mere mortal to you? No it absolutely does not. Now with a little deduction, let's see, in the Garden originally were God, Adam, Eve, various other unspecified animals but one that is specifically named, The Serpent. This "king of Tyre" was said to be in the Garden as well. I am thinking that you can clearly see the connection but let us check two more references to confirm this. Romans 16:20 is recorded this way. "And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly." Sound remotely familiar? That is the curse pronounced by God upon the Serpent in the Garden. Genesis 3:15 states "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise they head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." Now where does this put the Serpent? That is right. Under the feet of her seed. Paul's statement in Romans puts Satan in the Garden as well. Now for the last reference. Revelation 12:9 states "And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world..."(emphasis mine). John places Satan, the Devil, back in the Garden by that one simple phrase, "that old serpent".

I believe it is very clear. Without grasping at any straws, the Scriptures plainly tell us who the Serpent was/is, what his original position was, why he fell and what he did after the fall. And by the way, we found this out because we kept reading. From Genesis to Revelation, that Serpent of old has been deceiving and attempting to destroy the works of God. Thank God though that Satan's plans will not turn out the way that he wants them to and rather that we, as the children of God through the power of God have the ability to tread on that old serpent, to crush his head and to spread the Good News that Jesus saves.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

DOGMA: JESUS WAS BORN OF A VIRGIN

This will be the second installment of, only the Lord truly knows how many, doctrines of truth that God's HolyWord unequivocally states as truth that can be known and which no true preacher of the Word of God should ever be afraid to state as dogma. Yes! I am saying that to oppose this truth is to oppose God and His Word, both written and incarnate. As with all of these that I delve into, my goal is to be concise and precise letting the Word speak for itself.

The fact that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit is illustrated in the Gospel of Matthew and Luke. In the Gospel of Luke 1:34, Mary asks the angel how it is that she can be pregnant since she does not know a man? The context CLEARLY portrays that Mary was NOT having sexual relations with Joseph prior to their marriage nor had she had sex with anyone prior to Joseph. The fact that she could be with child puzzled her because she knew that the only way for a woman to get pregnant, until now, was to have sexual relations with, know, a man. And may I address our culture here briefly? The ONLY way for a woman to be pregnant, whether naturally or through artificial insemination, is for the egg of a woman to be fertilized by the sperm of a man. This miracle, that did not include the seed of a man, was a One Time miracle.

The fact that Mary was a VIRGIN is also illustrated in the Gospel of Matthew 1:18,25. When Joseph found out Mary was with child, he sought to put her away because he perceived that she had been unfaithful to him during their betrothal. However, an angel of the Lord intervened, told Joseph that this was a Miraculous Conception and instead of putting Mary away, he married her and did not have sex with her until AFTER Jesus was born. These two Gospels paint a compelling and convincing picture that Mary knew she had not had sexual relations with any man up to the point of conception and that Joseph knew that, never before and not until after Jesus was born, did he have sexual relations with Mary.

There is NO OTHER way for this text to be understood but that Mary was a VIRGIN and the Child which was conceived in her was a Miraculous work of the Holy Spirit, aka the Power of God. Let the Gospel preacher proclaim that once again the power of God, as demonstrated in Creation and in Conception, reigned, and still reigns, supreme. That which is impossible with man is possible with God!

Monday, September 10, 2007

DOGMA: 6 LITERAL DAYS OF CREATION

Can we really know for sure that the heavens and the earth were created in a literal day, that which we would know of as a 24 hour period? I realize that there are many who claim the title christian who would also say that we cannot be sure about the time frame. I, however, think we CAN know and that we CAN know dogmatically. The greatest part about this "search for truth" is that one does not have to be a Hebrew scholar in order to know this truth. Genesis chapter 1 explains itself quit easily.

Without going into great detail, each day is signified and set apart as to what happened on each day. By focusing on the word "day" and jumping to texts other than Genesis 1, we can see how error creeps into interpretation. I contend that all that one needs to know about the word "day" is clearly delineated in chapter 1. Moses, under inspiration by God's Spirit specifically delineated what is meant by day. We find these words, "and the evening and the morning were the...". This formula is repeated once for each day of creation and in conjunction with the word "day". ANY other length of time just will not fit the formula, evening and morning. One thousand years would have thousands of evenings and thousands of mornings.

One need not say that he was not there, therefore he cannot know. With absolute certainty he can know! Why? God had it written so that we WOULD know. Evolution seeks to impose science, so-called, upon the Text and many have caved in not allowing the Text to speak for itself. In writing Genesis chapter one, Moses clearly defined what a "day" is and we can teach this truth as FACT. Though some may charge us with a lack of humility for not being willing to entertain the idea of thousands if not millions of years, simply being charged with it does not make it so. If that were the case, the charge would be against Moses because the Text offers no other alternative but six literal days.

There is Truth. You can know it. You need not be shamed into any other position. There is No Shame in standing unwaveringly upon the Truth of God's Word. Hold the truth in love we must. But hold the truth with reservation? We can not! We must hold the truth in love WITHOUT reservation.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

LIMITED VISION

In John 5:5-7, Jesus challenges Philip to see beyond the horizon. A large crowd is approaching Jesus and it is supper time and Jesus stirs Philip's thinking with this question, "Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?" Philip's answer betrays his thoughts. He was thinking of the expense involved rather than the source of the provision. Jesus was not interested in the cost, he was interested in moving Philip to see who alone could provide in a situation like this. I, like Philip, too often see the cost involved rather than to whom I can turn for this to be provided. Jesus' question was not, "can we afford it?"; but rather, "who are we gonna turn to for provision?". We are also told that when Jesus asked this question, he already knew what he was going to do. Jesus did not ask Philip to provide, he just wanted to see to whom Philip would turn. Jesus was prepared to act, would Philip turn to Jesus for that provision. Philip could see the crowd but he missed Jesus right next to him. Philip could see the problem, but he did not see the Provider. Our vision is not limited when we cannot see the whole problem, rather, our vision is limited when we do not see the Problem Solver. May God grant us the wisdom to turn to Him as provider rather than surveying the problem looking for a human solution.

GONE TO BE WITH JESUS

It is reported here and here that D. James Kennedy has left this earthly life to enjoy the presence of Jesus. May his family rejoice in heaven's gain and may we weep with them in earth's loss.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Sunday, September 2, 2007

A NEW BLOG IN TOWN

A new blog kicked off on Saturday September 1. I encourage you to stop in and visit sbcIMPACT. This new site intends to accomplish what others struggle to do in offering cutting edge thinking and discussion without personality attacks. While you are there, be sure and visit dailyIMPACT. If you do not recognize her at first, this is SelahV. May God bless their endeavors as they walk in the light as He is in the light.

Friday, August 31, 2007

WILLINGNESS VERSUS ABILITY

It has been a while since the conversation that I am referencing to took place but here is a link to the entire post and thread from Peter's site that is the ember for this post of mine. I had attempted an answer to a question that I was asked and my answer was not the answer they were looking for at the moment. Being told that my answer was a non-answer kind of bothered me for the briefest of moments because I am not unwilling to voice my opinion/thoughts on any subject. You can either attend my church for about a month and listen to my preaching or you can write my members to affirm what I thus state but that is beyond the scope of this post. I will attempt in this post to address said issue and my own answer and should discussion or interaction from those of you reading take place, I will once again be happy to let you have a swipe at my iron.

When addressing a question posted, "why are some willing and some not willing?", I responded with John 5:40. Well, to say the least, my answer was not well received for some did not see what I saw clearly and still clearly see. Therefore, the following will be my answer as to why some are willing to come to Jesus and why some are not but the answer I will be giving is based solely upon this one reference in John 5:40 and the entire context surrounding it.

Jesus in this passage has been giving a defense of his authority and power to heal and not only to heal but to heal on the sabbath and then tell said person to take up his bed and walk which was not a violation of God's Sabbath but was a violation of the religious leaders 600 + man made additions for the sabbath. That being the case, it cannot be said that Jesus broke the Law but he did ignore the law of men at this juncture. In Jesus' defense of his authority and power, he plainly states WHY the religious leaders would not receive him.

John 5:44 How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?

Did you catch the answer to WHY they were not willing? Jesus said that it is because they loved the honor they had before men and gave men rather than the honor from God they so desperately needed. The religious leaders would have to give up their own preeminence in order to give preeminence to God. In other words, they would have to DECREASE so that Jesus might INCREASE and they WOULD NOT because they loved the honor of man rather than the honor of God.(By the way, I am using italics for emphasis rather than simply bold to convey the idea that I am not shouting but vocally emphasizing my points.)

Now here is the catch. For those to whom I was responding, even Jesus' answer, would have to be considered a non-answer. Jesus did not say that they could not come to him because they were not chosen. Jesus did not say that they could not come to him because he had not regenerated them. Jesus did not say that they could not come to him rather he stated plainly that they would not come to him. And the reason for their "would not" he stated was that they loved the honor of men MORE THAN the honor of God. If it is more than that, is Jesus guilty of giving only a half answer here then? Well brother Luke, Jesus was not asked the question we asked you? Granted, not in the particular words asked of me, but none-the-less, Jesus' answer is not only appropriate but it addresses directly why some men, in this case the religious leaders, would not come to him. The religious leaders, because of their own pride, were unwilling to bend their hearts to Jesus and is it any wonder. He points out in this same passage that even that which they claimed to believe and know, the writings of Moses, they did not believe! For had they believed Moses, they would have received Jesus. Paul's words in the second epistle to the Thessalonians addresses this issue as well. Chapter 2:11-12 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. Paul's words and word order make it plainly clear why some did not receive Jesus and will not yet to come.

Sometimes, we miss the forest for all of the trees. We focus on the smallest of pine cones or pine needles and we miss the BIG picture. Jesus addressed this issue in John 5 as well. The religious leaders spent so much time studying the jot and the tittles, for this post that means the adjectives and adverbs, that they missed the SUBJECT and the VERB of the Scriptures.

In verse 42, Jesus stated that they did not have the love of God in them and that the reason this was evident is because they did not receive Jesus who came in the Father's name. THEN he tells them WHY. He says that they would receive someone who came in his own name and in doing so, breeches the concept that they love the honor of men and not the honor that comes from God only. Self honor...pride...that old sin from the beginning that Satan himself was guilty of and used to deceive Eve as well. The day that you eat of this fruit, he told Eve, you will be like gods, you will be wise, you can receive honor rather than give it! No, man is not guilty because he CANNOT come to God but he is guilty because he WILL NOT come to God. Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.(John 9:41)

We cannot pass the blame to anyone or anything else. The soul that sins, it shall die.(Ezekiel 18:4b)

WHY not? Because they WOULD not.

The God of peace be with you all...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hope, Help and Healing

What are you facing today that you would really prefer not to face? More pointedly, what decision are you having to make and you feel like you are trapped between bad and worse? What situation are you looking at and you see no way out and no other options? There is hope for you. There is help for you. There is healing for you.

There is hope for you. Luke 1:37 "For with God, nothing shall be impossible." Perhaps you have forgotten to add to your equation the God factor. After all, we are speaking of the one who spoke the world into order. We are speaking here of the one who created out of nothing. We are speaking of the one who formed some clay with His hands and breathed life into that clay. Be encouraged to know that there is a hope. That hope became flesh, was crucified BUT resurrected on the third day and He just happens to be coming back as well. Jesus, Emmanuel(God with us), IS your hope. AND, where you see no blessing in this situation, God gives hope that it will be a blessing.

There is help for you. Luke 1:37 "For with God, nothing shall be impossible." Yes, the task at hand looks impossible. Consider Mary's thoughts, how can a sexually inactive woman get pregnant? Note that this was long before invitro-fertilization. God did not send Jesus to show you how to do, though Jesus showed us how to do much. God sent Jesus to do what you could not do. In fact, Jesus said to take up His yoke. He is there to walk this WITH you. Men may fail you. Man's wisdom and knowledge may fail you. But there is help and it is in the person of Jesus.

There is healing for you. Luke 1:37 "For with God, nothing shall be impossible." This very one that Mary was to bear would in fact be even her Savior. There is a greater healing than just physical healing. There is a greater healing than the mere fact that your situation works out well in the end. The greater healing is that which takes place in your heart whereby God applies the blood of Jesus cleansing and making whole that which was darkened and dead. That despair over no hope was sin. That despair over no help was sin. But thanks be to God that He sent the healing for that sin. More than just a remedy, you will find the peace to endure all that is before you.

With God, that situation that seems hopeless is full of hope. That situation that seems helpless has help waiting in the wind. That situation that needs healing has a Healer that can address the cause of the illness.

May peace in Christ Jesus be yours today.

Friday, August 24, 2007

TRUTH or CONSEQUENCES?

I have been giving an issue some thought for a little while and it will probably result in a change/tweak in the way that I preach as well as think. A general scenario or two will help us to get started here.

I preach that Bible teaches that young people should refrain from sex until marriage and then after marriage, they should have no sex outside of their marriage. That should not surprise you about me. But here is where I think I may go wrong in the proclamation of that truth. I have addressed the young ladies with statements like, "you know, the boys are just after one thing", "they will tell you they love you and then leave you after the 'loving' " and even, "the guys just want to use your body and you will be stuck with the consequences". Well, you may reply, brother Luke, that is true. Those statements you have made are usually right on target. True, they may be, but those are NOT the reason why one should abstain from premarital sex. Those are CONSEQUENCES of premarital sex. Rather, the SOLE reason to refrain from premarital sex is because, God's Word says to refrain from premarital sex. It is a matter of TRUTH, not CONSEQUENCES that should be the compelling reason for remaining faithful to God. W hat IF the consequences are not so bad? What if she does not contract an STD? What if she does not get pregnant? What if the guy ends up marrying her? The bottom line is this, even if premarital sex had no obvious physical consequences, it is still wrong simply because God's Word says so.

Here is another illustration for you to consider. "If I offended you, I apologize." Now how many times have we heard that! Let's back up the trolley and consider something here. Whether a person was offended or not has NO BEARING on whether the act in and of itself is wrong or not. In fact, I would even contend that we have learned to "accept" sin because the general public and body of believers are no longer focusing on whether it was wrong or not but rather if it did not offend me, then it is okay. Pedophiles are not offended by pedophilia. Alcoholics are not offended by alcohol. Practicing adulterers are not offended by adultery in others and gossipers are not offended by gossip about others. But the final question is not who on earth was offended as to whether it is right or wrong. The final question is rather, "Was God in heaven offended by what I have done?" In other words, people may okay a behavior but if God has called it sin, it is still sin. Back to the original statement of "if I have offended you", we need to ask ourselves legitimately, not have I offended someone but have I sinned against a holy God? There may be some things that are lawful but not expedient and yes the Scriptures address this. So while something may be lawful and not sinful, I refrain from it in order to refrain from sinning by being offensive. But nowhere can it be said that just because no one was offended, it must be okay or not sinful. The question we must ask ourselves is this, "Was God's holiness breached by our actions?" That is the true question.

Now for Biblical consideration.
II Samuel 12:13 And David said, I have sinned against the LORD.
Psalm 51:4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done evil in thy sight.

Wait a minute. Did not David abuse his authority with Bathsheba? Did not David abuse his trust with Uriah? In other words, did not David sin against and with Bathsheba as well as sin against Uriah? The bottom line is this. Whether Bathsheba was offended or not is not the most important question. Whether Uriah was offended or not is not the most important question. Whether the people of David's court were offended or not is not the most important question. Whether David's other wives were offended or not is not the most important question. David got it right in his confession when he pointed out that he had sinned AGAINST GOD. Because he had sinned against God, the people should automatically have been offended. But it matters not if the inhabitants of the land approved or disapproved, it matters most that God disapproved. It is not the consequences that determine if an action was wrong or right. It is not public opinion that determines if an action was wrong or right. It must be asked again and again for every action, was this wrong or right in God's eyes? Would God approve of my actions?

To guide our thoughts and actions then, we might do well to ask ourselves not will this offend the people, not will the consequences be good or bad but rather, will this offend God? Faithfulness to God ALWAYS has good consequences. Disobedience ALWAYS has bad consequences. Time will prove both of those statements to be valid.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

MUSIC OR MADNESS: From Pain to Praise

I came across a little quote the other day on a website and they did not know who to give credit to for saying it as well so please know up front that I am not the originator nor do I know the original source for the quote under consideration.

"If God removed the stones from the brook, the brook would cease to make music."

We talk, in a rather sanctimonious spirit at times, about wishing that our lives would be a sweet sacrifice to the Lord, something that would bring glory and honor to him. Sacrifice means death. Death means pain. But somewhere in the midst of the pain a soul can offer up music that can cause even the angels of heaven to fall silent and to give ear to the chorus arising from earth. I wonder if that is what it was like when Paul and Silas began to praise God from the damp, dark dungeon and the bars were made to bend to the command of heaven and open their own mouths in submission to the almighty God.

Oh, I love the sound of a brook. In fact, if I ever would take the time to simply do it, I have the necessary materials to make a small brook and pond in my yard. It is one of my goals to create tranquility were beauty already exists amidst the steady stream of traffic which flows by on a daily basis. But in order for that water to make music, in order for that babbling to take place, there must be stones or rocks or something that agitates the path of the water on its course. The interesting part about the babbling brooks is that those stones which once were rough and jagged and produced a raging torrent are now smooth and rounded and produce a relaxing melody.

Yes, when trouble strikes, it is like a torrent of water rushing through the rough and jagged rocks and raising the noise level at times to a point of being deafening. But over the years and over time, those rocks are polished and rounded and smoothed to the point that the once before torrent has been fashioned into a gentle, calming, personal symphony of praise.

James wrote that we are to "count it all joy when we fall into divers temptations". May the rocks that line our brook become a cause for music rather than madness.

Monday, August 20, 2007

God and Jephthah Parallel

I am preaching through Judges on Sunday nights and I am at the point where Jephthah has just been summoned to be the peoples leader. The reason why I am putting this post on my blog is to record my thoughts BEFORE I read any books or commentaries concerning what I am going to write. I have stated before and I continue to believe that God is capable of showing us personally that which He is shown others and that our PERSONAL learning moment is much more easily retained than simply gleanings from another's, though this is not to say that we cannot be blessed by reading the words and works of others.

Here is what I see that God has shown me and I find quite fascinating. In Chapter 10 starting with verse 6, we see the people forsaking God to serve other gods. In verse 10, after smarting under the chastisement of God, the children of Israel "...cried unto the LORD..." and in verse 16, we see the LORD moved with compassion at the plight of Israel.

In Chapter 11 in verses 2-3, Jephthah is turned away from his family. The literally chase him off. In verses 5-6, we see the people, smarting under the fear of the Ammonites calling for Jephthah to return and be their leader. Jephthah's return, though conditional, is still a return that removes the source of pain from the people.

The parallel is that we see the same thing happen to both God and Jephthah. They are pushed away, the people under pain appeal for their return and both do return and deliver the people from their pain. FASCINATING! To me it is anyway.

To me, this is a fertile field for plowing and I intend to do so, I simply needed to claim this as my own(from God of course) but put this in writing BEFORE I searched other books and commentaries. Thus, while the concept may not be original, I will be able to with clear conscience state that it is original to me in that I was not shown this by flesh and blood but rather by the Spirit of God.

Feel free to interact with my "discovery", actually it would better be said illumination by the Spirit, and I do so hope that it blesses you.

What Hinders Your Vision?

One thing really cool about spending some time at Toledo Bend if you are not near a lot of other camps or campgrounds is that you experience very little light pollution. This means that at night, unless hindered by clouds, you can see things at Toledo Bend that you cannot usually see in a city or even small town. The first time I saw the Milky Way, I thought it was a wisp of clouds. However, the next night that very same wisp happened to be in the very same place and each night it was the same. No. That was not a wisp of clouds, that was the Milky Way which has always been there even though the light pollution where I live has hindered many from seeing the night sky wonder. I saw satellites and meteorites and many aircraft that normally would have been hindered from sight where I make my home. While light pollution from the neighboring city at my place is not as significant as it would be for those who live near larger cities, it is still enough to hinder observation of what is in the night sky whether seen or not.

Spiritual light pollution!? Dare I even make such a comment or broach such a subject? Is it possible that there could be something even akin to such? Can we be so caught up in "serving" God that we cannot see God, or that we miss the small nuances because of the clamor of that which is around us? College and Seminary proved at times to be very challenging and not because of the papers that had to be written but precisely because the papers had to be written. The works in and of themselves at times became the goal rather than spiritual growth. Meeting a deadline and making sure everything was fine according to Turabian trumped any personal light that could and should have been garnered from the task. It is the flaw of many classes that the rigor of academia replaces one's relationship with the Living Word. As such, in this post, I am calling it light pollution. We are exposed to "so much" light at one time and with such time constraints and grammatical restraints that we miss the True Light.

This also happens on a daily basis if we are not watchful. We can find ourselves so caught up in serving the Lord and "defending" the Word that we miss our relationship that comes with the Lord through the Word. This is precisely why some step away from blogging for a while. This is precisely why some pastors take vacations. But I wonder if a "yearly" break is what is truly needed. At times in the Scriptures, long after others had gone to sleep, we find Jesus on a mountain top praying. You think maybe he went to the mountain top so that He could see what was hindered from being seen in the valley below? He made it a practice to step away from the canvas and look at the overall picture. He made it a practice to step away from the crowds so that He could "see the stars" in all their glory, without being hindered by the light pollution around Him. If Jesus Himself saw the practical and habitual need of being alone, unhindered in vision to nurture His relationship with His Father, how much more then do we need to practice the same? No. I am not talking about more vacations or more time spent at Toledo Bend. Rather, I am talking about that daily turning off the TV, radio, computer...I am talking about putting down that theology or mission book...I am talking about looking past the present argument on the blog...I am talking about taking a break from memorizing that verse to see that which is obscured by that which is around you and to see that which you will miss if you do not step back.

Jesus said, in John 5:39-40, Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

We can miss so much, if we do not spend time away from that which impedes. Have you seen the "Milky Way" lately?

Monday, July 30, 2007

BLOGGING IN PUBLIC

It can be quite interesting to watch the exchanges that take place on blogs. Perhaps the most interesting to me of all is when someone is told to "put up or shut up". Okay, so that exact phrase is not used very often in Christian blog discourse. But, we do often see someone asked to substantiate their claims or give credence to their statement. We are not surprised at all when someone is asked to "show their cards" so to speak, however, we do tend to act surprised when the challenged will not "ante up". I even find myself chuckling at the myriad of responses that are given when further detail is requested. Sometimes, people even come across as being downright offended when asked for substantiation or clarification.

IF, as a Christian, you are going to use blogdom to further or bring forward a cause, rather than acting offended, lethargic, or self justified when someone asks you to "pony up", please realize that those seeking credibility in your statements are but practicing what Scripture deems to be wisdom. In other words, if you really expect to be taken seriously, be prepared to give a defense for the assertions you have made. WHY?

Proverbs 18:17 He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbor cometh and searcheth him.

When you go to court as the plaintiff, you are compelled to reveal your case and your evidence. Why should anything less be expected in the court of public arena, or rather what we know it as, blogdom?

And blog reader, you have no less responsibility to seek out the truth than the writer has to present the truth. Before dog piling onto an issue, it would be wise to take heed unto Scripture as well. WHY?

Proverbs 18:13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.

May God grant us all knowledge and wisdom to use blogdom as an effective means of pursuing truth as well as reaching the lost, discipling the growing and studying the written Word.

Friday, July 20, 2007

THE HEALING MIRACLES OF JESUS

There is a civil discussion taking place here at Peter's place. If you cannot be civil, do not go. But out of that discussion, I personally have stumbled onto something I would like to probe a little further. As pastors, we frequently use the "sick" as illustrations. By sick, our reference is to the blind, the lame, the maimed, the deaf, the leper, the bleeding, the fevered, the demoniacally possessed and the dead though I am sure that list is not exhaustive but you do get the point do you not? In our preaching rhetoric, we use such people as illustrations of what man is in his "lost" condition. Depending on one's total theology, that may not be such a useful or consistent idea. A single case to discuss, of many I would assume, is this: the blind man of John 9.

The discussion at Peter's place is all about the intricacies of ability and inability to come to Jesus on one's own. Please understand from the beginning, while I DO NOT believe in salvation apart from faith in Christ, I believe that when Jesus draws men, it is their responsibility to come to him though some will obviously refuse to do such.

Concerning ability to come to Jesus and the blind man now. In verses 39-41, Jesus uses blindness "in general" as a discussion about salvation. I do not believe he was referring to the pharisees "ability" but rather their "willingness" when he used that illustration. Here is why.

Chapter nine verses two and three begin the scenario and I believe they provide the ONLY true context under which too understand Jesus' admonition to the pharisees later in the chapter. Notice, it WAS NOT due to sin that the man was born blind. It was neither parental sin NOR personal sin. What was the reason the man was born blind? So "that the works of God should be made manifest in him." IF sin makes a man totally UNABLE to RESPOND to Jesus, there are two problems with using this passage to illustrate this. First, the man was not blind due to sin, Jesus said so. Secondly, while the man was still blind, he was told to go and wash and he did. Even blind, he had the ability to respond to Jesus' commands. But this is blindness. What about other healings that are used as references of the "sick"/sinner. What about the lame? Some were brought to Jesus by friends. Does this illustrate that one's "inability" to come to Jesus is overcome by the ability of others? While I do not think so, it does make a tempting use for evangelism does it not? Lepers approached Jesus. The bleeding woman reached out and touched Jesus on her own. Back to my point, if we are going to use the healing miracles of Jesus, then at the least, we are able to say that there are varying degrees of ability of "sick" people to come to Jesus and for those who cannot come on their own, we have a responsibility to see that they do get to Jesus or that we get Jesus to them.

Back to the chapter nine of John for a moment now. In verses 39-41 were Jesus addresses the Pharisees, was he addressing their willingness or their ability? I believe it is the former. It was their pride that said they could see when they knew they could not. Jesus said, "but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth." In fact, in light of all of this, had they been blind, Jesus says, "ye should have no sin".

Now back to my main point that I am open for discussion and batting ideas around on. If we are going to use Jesus' physical healings to illustrate inability, we are going to fail miserably. The miracles of Jesus address people, sick none-the-less, but people who have varying degrees of ability to approach him. I believe that at the least, it should cause us to stop and consider that our theology may be inconsistent with our rhetoric.

Please do not tell me I need to read this book or that book or any other book but the Bible. Guys and gals, while I do not need to reinvent the wheel every time I get in my truck, there are times when a complete understanding of how the wheel operates is necessary for me in order to keep my truck operating correctly. We have minds. God intends for us to use them and learn from Him and to grow in wisdom and knowledge and grace. Knowledge puffs up and I think that is because we ourselves do not go through the learning processes of these other great men of faith when we simply read their writings and regurgitate them elsewhere. A baby penguin lives on regurgitation, but there comes a point where he has to learn to eat for himself. That is what I am challenging you to do as you stop and read here today. Quotes from the great men of faith are great, as long as we do not accept them just because they are from the great men. Need I remind you that while we title them great, they are still, just men.

Finally, I do not believe that any of the sick had the ability to heal themselves. Only Jesus could and did heal them. But I do not believe that the miracles were meant to address the ability of the people to come to Jesus. Consequently, I do not believe that any man has the ability to save himself, but I do believe that Jesus was lifted up and that He does draw all men to himself and that the only reason someone then would not be healed of the bite of sin is because they are unwilling to look to Jesus. Not because they cannot, but because they will not.

Grace to you

Monday, July 16, 2007

BEING RIGHT DEMANDS PROOF?

I wonder how many discussions we involve ourselves in during which we seek to PROVE ourselves right instead of seeking to discover what IS right? Do we get involved in those discussions just to hear ourselves speak? Do we get involved just to prove our superior debating skills? Do we get involved to merely assert that the others asking the questions are idiots BECAUSE they are asking such questions? While this post is certainly applicable to blogdom, it is even more appropriate for me, the host.

Does being right mean I have to prove I am right? Can I be right without proof? Even if I could produce proof but instead remain silent, can I still be right? The answers in order are: NO, YES, YES. That being the case, why then do I have to PROVE I am right? Why do I feel this NEED to show that I know what I am talking about? Why do I yield to the desire to PROVE that things are the way they are?

A one word answer would be, PRIDE. We want to be looked at. We want to be noticed. We want to be back-slapped. We want to be praised. We want accolades. We want to be smarter than the other. We want to be more powerful than the other. We want to be seen as superior. Why can I not rest in the assurance of knowing I am right without having to prove to others AND myself that I am right? Is this EVEN POSSIBLE?

Luke 23:8-10 And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him. Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing.

You do not have to prove yourself right, in order to be right!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

THE ONLY TRUE PATH TO SALVATION???

Well, at least he is not afraid to say what he believes. The Pope has once again declared what many of us have already known. That is the belief that salvation only comes through the Catholic Church. You can go here for the story. Of course, once you enter into the Catholic Church, you soon realize that there are quite a few things that have been added to the list of the requirements for salvation.

Just what is then the "true path" to salvation? It is the narrow way.(Matthew 7:14) Jesus said, "I am the way...".(John 14:6) Repent was the message of John the baptist.(Matthew 3:2) Repent and be converted was the message of Peter.(Acts 3:19) Repent and believe was the message Jesus preached.(Mark 1:15) Repent in none of these passages meant to go to a "priest" and say your peace. Repentance meant, and still means, to confess your sins before Jesus, the True High Priest. Repentance also means a turning away from that sin to walk in a new direction. Believing in none of these passages meant to believe that the Pope is a Vicar of Christ. Believing was the settling of one's faith in THE Christ. Paul wrote to the Romans that they were to confess with their mouths the Lord Jesus and believe in their hearts that God had raised him(Jesus) from the dead. IF they did that, Paul stated they would be saved. Nothing MORE, nothing LESS.

No faith in the Pope. No faith in Mary. One does not have to understand the Doctrine of Grace according to John Calvin or any other reformer. In fact, one does not even have to understand the Doctrine of Salvation in order to be saved. Simply being obedient to what the Lord said should be enough. It IS enough. And it needs no flavoring such as men have sought to do since the time of the cross.

Yes, there is only ONE true path to salvation, and it is NOT the Roman Catholic Church/Pope. The ONE TRUE path to salvation is NONE OTHER than the Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 4:12 states that there is NONE OTHER name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. That name is Christ ALONE. Paul wrote to the Galatians this final thought. "Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed."


Monday, July 9, 2007

ONE more TIME

Ephesians 5:15-16 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

We cannot make time, extend time or delay time. We cannot even change the color of our hair.(Matthew 5:36) We cannot guarantee time. (James 4:13-16) But these ideas about time are not what Paul was talking about. Instead, he is talking about making the MOST of the time you have been entrusted with. And how do you make the MOST of time? He just told us that we are to walk circumspectly or in other words, diligently or perfectly. The fool wastes or squanders his time, like the proverbial ant and the grasshopper. The grasshopper spent his time making merry rather than planting and sowing like the ant. The ant had provision and the grasshopper had none. Who was wise?

This is an effort we must put our minds to do. If we do not purpose to do that which is upright and God honoring, we will end up doing that which is unprofitable either physically or spiritually and sometimes even both. So by buying up or by investing in the time, we make the most of it. Doing that which is profitable. And profitable is not bound simply by monetary gain. Profitable is that which is glorifying to the Lord or edifying to the Body and even that which is conducive to spiritual growth in the individual. Spending time blogging in and of itself is not necessarily unproductive. Some use it for personal spiritual growth by posting their struggles, questions and even answers they have found. Others gain insight and benefit from what they read on various blogs. Yet, blogging can become unprofitable when one does not spend ample time sowing and watering amongst the local body of believers as well. Blogging is not to be a substitute for personal investment in a local church. May God use blogging in a powerful way and may we take that power and live it out amongst those who live with us, work with us and fellowship with us.

Well, I have run out of "time". Not really. I have simply said what I wanted to say. On to other tasks.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

TIME Continued...

It has been said that "you can't step into the same river twice". The argument goes that once you step into the river, that which you stepped into is already moving downstream and so when you put your foot into the river anew, you are putting it into water that was not there previously(up-stream) because that which you initially stepped in is now down-stream.

Time, when compared to this analogy is like a river. Constantly flowing and changing. Each moment in and of itself is something unique. This has led some to posit then that the only constant is change. From a humanistic position that would seem to be true. Is this really what the Scriptures teach? That everything is in a constant flux and that nothing is what it was because of the constant state of change or rather, flow of time?

Lamentations 3:23 does teach us that His mercies are "new" every morning. The idea behind new, though, is not "uniquely" new in that it has not existed before but rather the idea of "refreshed". Continuing with this "stream" of thought, consider Hebrews 13:8 "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever". No change discernible in that River of Life. As with many of the thoughts of men, when compared to the wisdom of God, the time analogy falls short. Jesus is who he has always been. The Son of God. Jesus will always be the Son of God.

Time constrains us. Time eludes us. Time pursues us. But let us not give time so much power that it in itself becomes "deity". Time is held in the hands of Deity, God. In fact, time as we know it, was created by God. Sunrise, sunset; day to day; month to month, year to year; given to us by God.

While I continue to pursue my own understanding of time and what it means from our human perspective, one thing is certain. Time is not meant to be worshiped or served, but instead, it is the opportunity at any given moment to live a life of holy sacrifice to the One who loved me so much that He laid down His life for me.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

TIME

What is time? It has been said before that time is money. But that is not the kind of definition I am speaking of here. In its essence, what is time? Let me help you out a little here. If I were to take all watches and clocks away from you and put you into orbit around the earth in a space ship of some sort, what would time be then? Sunrise and sunset would lose much of its earthly application. If sunrise and sunset were removed from our present understanding of such, what would a day be? What would a week be? What would a month or even a year be then? You might would argue that a year is the time it takes for the earth to complete a revolution around the sun. Okay, let us back our spaceship a little further into space, let us say, outside of the Milky Way and let us re-ask ourselves the previous questions. Time, as I understand it, is very earth and sun relative. Even baking cookies with modern equipment is dependent upon this earth/sun relationship. You can set a timer and your coffee might be waiting for you when you wake up. You can set your alarm and you can make it to the doctor’s office “on-time”, whatever that means. Never-the-less, time as we know it, is very earth centered.

Try this on for size now. Outside of our “world”, does time even exist? Or maybe from another angle, is time, as we know it, in the big picture even relevant? There will be no night in heaven. Heaven is for eternity. Time, seems to me, would sort of lose its relevance at that point for sure in the broader scope of things.

Jesus, when speaking to the Jews, made this incredible statement. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.”(John 8:58) A statement that speaks of his deity as much as his eternality, both ideas being mutually inclusive. And yet we cannot overlook the implication that time does not constrain God. God does work within the time construct. He moved the sun back a few degrees in the Old Testament. Surely time was affected. He stopped the sun from going down for Joshua. Surely time was affected. And yet Jesus’ statement speaks that he is so much greater than time itself.

I surely have just begun to embark on my personal journey of attempting to understand something I am sure only God fully knows. But none-the-less, it does have at least one spiritual, practical application. God is never early, never late and dare I say never even “on time”? Why? Simply because God is! My comfort is not that God is going to show up, but that God is ever present. If He chooses to reveal himself through visible activity, that visible activity should not become the expression of my comfort but rather the affirmation of my comfort. Why do I say this? Because so often, we construct scenarios in our minds that God has to show up when we say or ask him to show up. Should not it be enough to acknowledge that He has always been there (and will be) even when Balaam's donkey does not speak.

Luke

Thursday, June 21, 2007

PROVERBS 17:14

The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with.

It is kind of like trying to eat "just one" cookie. When I was little, we used to get our slingshots and look for wasp nests. Needless to say, some things you just have to experience to understand when we say, you just shouldn't go around messin' with certain things.

Blog land is kind of like that dammed up river or even the wasp nest. Some things/posts are just better left untouched. Otherwise, might I suggest that you either have your life jacket or some benadryl handy.

May God give us wisdom indeed to be a voice for righteousness and truth in cyberspace.

Luke

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

SATAN'S SMORGASBORD

Have you ever gone looking into the pantry or cabinets for something to eat? You were starving and you had to feed that empty pit in your belly. No matter where you looked on the shelves, everything was appealing you were so hungry. It was simply a matter of deciding which particular shelf to raid.

I wonder sometimes if that is how Satan views our churches. I wonder if he considers us as nothing more than a big pantry. The difference, I suppose, between our rummaging through the pantry and his is that he is willing to destroy the whole pantry while we usually just take the item or two we are interested in. I suppose another difference as well is that we can be satiated, if but for a few hours, while he, who is destined for the bottomless pit, has an insatiable desire, a bottomless pit for a stomach, to devour even after just devouring something/someone else.

The problem however lies not so much in that he is insatiable when it comes to destruction. Rather, the problem is our lack of vigilance. You see, he can be resisted. You can avoid being devoured by Satan. You can avoid being the entree or even the dessert. Satan desires to catch you unaware. Charles Stanley has pointed out that this can be when we are tired, sick or even celebrating a great success in our lives.(Heard from a sermon on the radio) We are to be ever watchful and keen of vision if we truly desire to avoid being Satan's next meal. (I'd even go so far as to say that a "SALTY" Christian is undesirable to Satan as well.) To avoid being on the menu, Peter writes:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are int he world.

Are you what's for supper?

Luke

Monday, June 18, 2007

WHAT A WEEK!

VBS/Day Camp, the SB Convention, a garden, 3 nephews and a broken refrigerator. Oh yes, by the way, two sermons for Sunday morning(Father's day of all things) and a Sunday School lesson. Someone asked me, "Aren't you tired?". I replied that I was simply glad the week had passed. Here is a short recap of each.

VBS/Day Camp
Our church does things a little different. In order to reach children who would otherwise spend their day in a daycare, we have what is called day camp. We allow children to be dropped off between 6:30 AM. We take care of them until VBS starts at 8:30 AM. At 12:00PM, when some children leave, we have the rest of day camp until 5:30PM. Many of our church's children stay as well for the activities we have planned for the rest of the day. We feed them lunch and then have recreation, crafts, snacks etc. all without cost to the parents. We like the time to teach them about Jesus as well as enjoying time with other children in a safe, Christian environment. The younger children love Duck, Duck, Goose. Needless to say, I made many a circle around those children chasing them or being chased. I also had the opportunity to teach 3 and 4 year olds a song. It is amazing how fast they can pick up on the words. As one little boy said thought when Friday rolled around, "this is the saddest day of VBS. It is over after today." While I am honestly glad that the "responsibility" is over, I too am sad that all of those little children won't be in church here this morning.

The Southern Baptist Convention
I tried to keep up with the events. I was able to watch a 10 minute live segment. I was able to read a few blogs to follow the events as well but only at short intervals and very few intervals at that. I do not think in any way that it was as defining as some thought it would be but I do see that it has begun a new era in discussion about precisely what SB's are going to claim as specifics for cooperation amongst ourselves and others. Though quite honestly, NO ONE, and I emphasize no one has been able to demonstrate very effectively yet for me how we are going to qualify different "tiers" of doctrine.

A Garden
Beans, squash and cucumbers do not stop growing just because it is VBS week. I tended my garden late in the evening under the cover of rain twice. For you gardeners, during the rain is the ideal time to squish bugs. They seem to move a lot slower during the rain. I think the cooling effect on their bodies slows them down.

3 Nephews
In order that 2 visiting nephews could spend time with the third, I had them over to our place for the evening. I recently acquired Bug's Bunny cartoons on DVD and we watched them as we waited for the 3rd to arrive. They had lots of questions for Uncle Luke but none more important as to exactly when the 3rd would arrive. Upon his arrival, we ate supper. Yes, I can cook. My daughter then took the boys outside to swim in our above ground pool. They had a blast but she continually reminded me that she had not signed up for that. I was tending the garden at that time. Waking them up the next morning was a riot. I woke them up earlier than normal so that we could be at Day Camp on time. 3 nephews, all sitting up on the sofa bed, hair going every direction trying to figure out how it is that 6 O'clock comes twice in one day.

A Broken Refrigerator
What a disaster. We came home from a long day of VBS and the fridge was not frigid. In fact, it was very tepid. The ice had melted, the hamburger patties were mush, the ice cream was liquid foam and the butter was no longer in block form. I checked it out and determined that the compressor had croaked. My cousin then came and checked it and he said that one of the coils had stopped up somewhere and that is what had caused the problem. Basically, buy a new one he said. Someone at church the next day offered my wife a used one. I called them that night to ascertain the facts about that frig but no one was at home, so, I hopped onto the computer and began price checking. I did not have the cash but I do have a credit card. I really did not want to charge it but I saw no other way. We were busy with VBS and my wife suggested that since we were not home much during the week, I could just take care of it on Saturday. Good suggestion! I thought about it all week, wrestling about how to afford either a new or used one. I determined that I was not going to charge it but that God was going to provide if I would take Him at His word. Well, wouldn't ya know it. God CAN be trusted. Through a family member, we were GIVEN, NO MONEY, NO CHARGE a refrigerator. Not brand new mind you but ironically, one that had originally been ours. A little bit of soap, some sawing on the cabinets to make the hole size amiable and viola, we now have ice again. Thank you Lord for providing.

I am SO GLAD that Monday is here. But looking back over the past week, God provided a safe VBS/Day Camp, no one was slain at the Alamo(SB Convention), I really enjoyed watching my garden grow, my time with the nephews was priceless, and I did not have to go in to debt to own a refrigerator. I wonder what God is going to do this week?

Luke