My Thoughts

Adventures in Faith


Thursday, January 26, 2017

fearWhen I look at my righteous achievements, I fear. When I look at my perfection, I fear.  When I look at the quality of my prayers, I fear.  When I look at my life each day, I fear.  When I think about dying, I fear.  When I think about the judgment, I fear.  Am I paranoid?  Some might think so, but “No!”  Do I have panic attacks? No. How can I possess fear and not have negative results?  How can I own those fears and be a Christian?  I am one, but my shoulders are too small to bear fear’s burden alone!

My righteous achievements?  Laughable.  My perfection?  Nonexistent.  The quality of my prayers? Dismal. My daily life? Inadequate. My death? Frightening. The judgment? Questionable.

Yet, I don’t have panic attacks nor negative results.  I haven’t been defrocked.  My shoulders remain small.  I fall so short, if measured in inches, powerful microscopes would not see me. Paul may have been “chief” but I’m second.  My cry is the same as his, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”  (Romans 7:24 (NKJV).  His and my answer?  Jesus!  Jesus!  Jesus!!  What’s yours?

Without Jesus, fear would be my driver.  What can I do to pay for my sins or assist Jesus’ blood in my cleansing?  If perfection is required, failure is my companion.  Perfection was Jesus’ mission, not mine.  Belief in what He did for me is required, not “Look how much I have done for you, Jesus.”  I sin, but it drives me to the one who remits it.  If I thought my prayers paid for my forgiveness, I would be a fool.  My gospel would not be good news but one rewarded with damnation.  I don’t fear dying because I know who walks with me through that valley.  I am not afraid of judgment because I will not stand there to remind Jesus about how faithful I’ve been, but rather praise Him for how gracious He is.  I will not look at my achievements, but glory in His.  He takes away fears and gives peace! He is my focus, not me!

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  (2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV).

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

In Luke 14: 15-24 Jesus tells about a man who had a banquet but the invited guest had excuses and could not attend.  The master sent hbible-scrollis servant out to invite people off the street.  The hall was still not filled, so the master told the servant to “Go out to the highways and country roads.  Make them come.  I want my house to be full!  I tell you, none of those men whom I invited first will get a taste of my banquet!

We are introduced to the same story in Matthew 22:1-10.  However, a lot of things are added and the purpose is different from the one in Luke.  In Matthew, the secondary invited folks, if not properly dressed, are bound and thrown out.  The story ends with, “Many are invited, but few are chosen” rather than “none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

In Luke’s account the “excuses” are more detailed than in Matthew.  Luke doesn’t mention that this is a wedding party.  Matthew does.  Luke is more descriptive about who the servant invites.  In Luke the guest are compelled to come, but not so in Matthew.  In Luke the host is “a certain man” whereas in Matthew he is “a king.”  In Matthew, how one is dressed is important, but Luke says nothing about it.

The Holy Spirit inspired both Matthew and Luke.  So, why are their stories different?  Both are stories or “parables.”  Matthew is writing to a different audience than Luke.  Matthew fills in some details of Jesus’ story not covered by Luke.  Luke is writing to a Gentile readership.  Luke picks out a lesson that fits the audience he is writing to whereas Matthew uses what will best fit his readers.

Preachers are often approached after a service and told what the individual got from the sermon.  Most preachers are surprised because the point they were making is different from the point that person heard.  Sometimes an audience with different needs receives help to deal with that need from a sermon that wasn’t designed by the speaker to address it.  Sometimes a person is feeling guilty about a secret sin and imagines the preacher is exposing it, whereas the minister is totally innocent of the charges.  It is the power of God’s word (Hebrews 4:12)!

Matthew is not contradicting Luke.  Both are giving the essence of Jesus’ story, but dealing with different points from the story which fits their respective readers.  In the first century, most people would not have both Matthew’s account and Luke’s.  We have the advantage of possessing both so we may gain the lessons delivered to both audiences.

In studying Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, one needs to research the parallels of each to gain all that is being said.  Our studies are enriched by this advantageous blessing.

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

A few Sundays ago one of our songs was, “Lord, I Need You,” written by Matt Maher in 2013.  Some of the words are:

assuranceLord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart.

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You.

As the congregation sang that song I wondered how well those words were sinking into our consciousness?  How many believe God will save them because of their righteousness, performed to co-host His?  One faith teaches that we must have more “good” works than bad ones if we are going to heaven.  In other words, you are on a “point system” and must work to produce “x” number in order to save yourself!  If that is our religious foundation, we have no business singing Matt’s song!

In discussing the righteousness of Jesus as compared to ours, an individual asked if his obedience didn’t amount to something in procuring his salvation.  Is “obedience” necessary?  Yes (2 John 1:9 NIV).  If one loves the Lord, he will willingly obey Him (John 14:15, 23; 15:10).  However, that is altogether different than saying, “My righteousness is worth __% in paying for my salvation.”  Actually, “our righteousness” is like a dirty rag, that if you touched it, you would want to immediately wash your hands (Isaiah 64:6)!

At the judgment, one will not remind Jesus about how well his works measured up to Jesus’ actions upon the cross and expectantly state, “You owe me something for what I’ve done!”  Those who do such have missed the Good News completely.  In fact, it could be another gospel (Galatians 1:6-9).

If my trust in going to heaven is based upon how obedient I am, my failure to “do enough” will leave me frustrated, ridden with guilt, depressed, and with a fear that will consume me.  Why?  Because our obedience will never be sufficient to make a down payment on our sin debt.  However, I can with assurance say that Jesus is my Savior and I trust that He paid it all for me!

“Lord, I need You, oh, I need You, Every hour I need You, My one defense, my righteousness, Oh God, how I need you.”

Jesus paid it all!!  I am not capable of adding even 1%.  Jesus is not a 99% Savior.  He is my 100% Lord and Savior!  He is the one who saves, not me (Hebrews 5:1)!  I obey Him, not to make points, but because He made the points for me.  I can never repay Him.  My obedience does not supplement the full price he paid for me (1 Corinthians 6:20)!  Why do men demote what Jesus did in order to glorify what we think we’ve done?

What is your assurance built on?  You??

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Monday, December 26, 2016

This family got up together.  The boy dressed and went to milk the cow.  The father cut and retrieved wood for the cook stove and started the fire.  The mother prepared breakfast for going-to-church-2everyone after she got the youngest child dressed.

The father fed the livestock.  The mother gathered the eggs and fed the chickens.  The boy strained the milk, separating the cream, and put the milk where it would stay cool.  Everyone finished breakfast, got the Bible, and finished getting ready to go to church.  The mule was harnessed and each member mounted it.  Snow was still on the ground, but the weather had warmed causing the yard and road to be soft and muddy.  They rode five miles to the church building in town, arriving fifteen minutes early.  The year was 1895.

The alarm goes off.  An arm manages to swings out from under the covers and hit the snooze button.  Fifteen minutes later, the scene repeats itself.  He and his wife finally drag out of bed.  He retrieves the Sunday paper and sits to read the funnies.  The wife yells at the two boys to get up, “IT’S SUNDAY”!  There is no response.  A second, third, and fourth warning is called out, each getting louder.  Grumbling is heard.  Arguments begin.  It signals that both are up!

Mom heats up some Pop-Tarts for breakfast.  Three times “Breakfast is ready” bounces off the walls before anyone appears.  There is bantering between the boys but breakfast is soon consumed.  Instructions again about it being Sunday and the boys are admonished to “quit messing around and get dressed.”  Dad is included in the instruction!  He shaves and combs his hair.  He and she get dressed.  A few more admonitions and the boys look half way decent.  It takes a few more warnings to get everyone in the family vehicle.  Off they go.  They live four block from the church building.  The speed limit is 40, but dad fudges 5 miles more.  This morning they hit all the green lights.  They arrive but parking near the entrance is taken.  Four part grumbling fills the car.  They are in the seventh row of parked cars and down about 300 feet.  All four doors open and the family exits, heading for the church entrance.  The wind is brisk and cold.  More grumbling. They are ten minutes late rather than the usual fifteen.  They congratulate themselves on being five minutes earlier!  The father is the great grandson of the youngest brother pictured on the mule.  The year is 2016.

The wife sees that picture every Sunday and wonders if their ride was on a mule rather than in a Ford Bronco, would they arrive at church fifteen minutes early?

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

It began as a radio program and migrated to television.  The first broadcast was on June 3, 1949.  It became a TV show around 1951.  The title was Dragnet and Jack Webb played the part of Detective Sargent Joe Friday.  The show lasted until 1970.  Although Webb never said it in any of the segments, the expression “Just the facts, Ma’am” were attributed to him.  When Webb died in 1982, LAPD Chief Darryl Gates retired Shield Number 714 and Webb was buried with full police honors.  A rarity for a non-policeman!

“Just the facts”!  Some would rather not hear them.  Some have the idea that if they don’t hear them, those facts will not be true.  Some don’t want to talk about death because it might happen!  Yet the fact remains, “It is appointed for men to die once” (Hebrews 9:27 NKJV).  Men still claim, “There is no God.”  Yet, a truth older than that spokesman continues to be read, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” (Psalm 14:1 NKJV).

Some want to deny God’s existence because if He does and will call us into account, they know they will not do well in that court!  They would rather believe that when they die they will have no place to go since all will be annihilated.  So, their theme is, “You only go around once in life, so you’ve got to grab for all the gusto you can.”  Because of this perception, the Christian view of life is rejected and expressed as offensive.  If their lifestyle is offensive to the Christian community, it doesn’t matter because all Christians are religious lunatics.  Their advice to those charged with that perception is, “Get over it!”

Truth is offensive to those who discount it, and some believe no one should have to hear it.  So, the Christian should keep his convictions closeted.  Some offended by truth think the First Amendment is not applicable to those who offend them.  The Pharisees, and even the apostles of Jesus, were offended by the Lord’s teaching (Matthew 15:12).  There are some who sink in their own quicksand refusing help because they believe they don’t need it.  True, there are some that cannot be reached because having ears to hear, they cannot hear (Mark 7:16; Luke 8:8).  Yet, Jesus still gave the Great Commission and said, “Go” and “teach” (Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:19 KJV).

I know there are honest and sincere folks who have no desire to hurt others that are of a different belief.  Yet, they are offended if any criticism is levied against those in that religion that are guilty of mayhem and murder.  The media refers to the guilty as “terrorists.” but try not to identify their religious affiliation.  That information might offend the peaceful!  The terrorist quote from their scriptures highlighting passages that demand the deaths of all infidels.  They point out that there are two houses in their belief system.  One house is called “Peace.”  This house is ruled by their god and contains the obedient.  The other is the house of “War.”  It is populated with non-believers who refuse to convert.  These make war against the house of “Peace” by refusing to submit to the god of the house of “Peace.”  It is the god given duty of all who are in the house of “Peace” to destroy the house of “War” so peace will reign upon the earth.

Since 1968 incidents involving “infidels” being murdered has increased drastically.  Those who believe they have a command from their god to eliminate infidels are those who wears suicide vests and believe Paradise and multiple virgins will be their reward.  They display videos of severed heads of “infidels.”  They hijack airliners and fly them into buildings.  They plants homemade bombs on Boston streets.  They march in the streets with signs that promise death to all “unbelievers.”  They gang rape “infidel” women who refuse to wear special clothing.  They torture and murder homosexuals.  They vandalize churches and desecrates Christian cemeteries in countries under their control.  This escalation doesn’t send a message of peace to those who do not convert to their religion.  These are just a few actions that set them apart from other religions and influence people to think the entire religion is like that.  “Just the facts”?

This criticism against those who are committing these atrocities isn’t meant to offend those who advocate peace.  It is strange that every warlike group over the past fifty years happens to be people from that faith who quote their scriptures as their authority to kill infidels.  If those who believe in real peace want that message known, their objections need to be heard above the sound of explosions, automatic rifle fire, and threats of death to all who are not in that religion.  If they are not heard and the peace they claim is not practiced, then the more aggressive crowd will be the only ones being seen and heard.  The Nazi minority in Germany squelched the majority’s opposition until Germany surrender to the allies in 1945.  The same results are seen today.  The difference is that the peaceful advocates are in the minority!   “Just the facts?”


Monday, March 12, 2018

ACTS 2:37-47

Luke informs us that on the day of Pentecost, Peter was asked a question.  His response was, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38 (NKJV).

Peter stated 1) Repent, then everyone was to be 2) immersed which resulted in 3) the remission of sins, after which they would 4) receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  In the following verses we see the response of about three thousand.

“And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation.’  Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them” (Acts 2:40-41 NKJV).

Peter had already given them 4 points on what to do.  Here he exhorts them to 1) be saved.  To accomplish that, they 2) gladly received his word, which included v. 38, then they were 3) immersed and as a result they 4) were added.

Luke also tells us: “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47 NKJV).

Luke’s math equals the Lord 1) added and as a result they were 2) being saved.

ROMANS 6:3-4

“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life”  (Romans 6:3-4 KJV).

Paul asked the Romans about their baptism or immersion.  They were 1) immersed into Jesus and thereby immersed into his death.  He tells them what this meant.  They were 2) buried with Jesus by immersion into his death.  Paul shows the results of this immersion.  They were 3) raised up from death and were now walking in newness of life, or in a new life.


“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ(Galatians 3:26-27 NKJV).

Paul reminds the Galatians that they are sons 1) through faith.  Then he shows the actions of that faith.  They were 2) immersed into Christ and the results was that they 3) put on Christ.

COLOSSIANS 1:13-14; 2:11-13

“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14 KJV).

We were 1) in darkness.  Jesus 2) delivered us and 3) translated us 4) into his kingdom where we have 5) redemption and forgiveness.  He continues to explain this in the following verses to the Colossians.

“In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” (Colossians 2:11-12 NKJV).

They were circumcised.  How?  1) without hands.  What did this do?  2) put off sin.  How was this accomplished?  When they were 3) buried with Him in immersion.  How did they know this is what they were supposed to do? It was based upon their faith response!  Paul repeats this action in the next verse.

“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses” (Colossians 2:13 NKJV).

Their former condition was they were 1) dead in their sins.  But, Jesus 2) made them alive with Him, and the results was that they were 3) forgiven.

God shows through the writings of Luke and Paul how He adds individuals to the saved (Acts 2:41, 47).  The saved make up “the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:27).


“And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the churchwhich is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Ephesians 1:22-23 (NKJV).

  1. Jesus is the head over his body (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18).
  2. The saved of Acts 2:47 are the “body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:27).
  3. We have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20).
  4. The Spirit dwells in us and we are the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).
  5. We are “dead to sin” (Romans 6:2, 22-23; 8:1).
  6. We are a new creature or creation in Christ Jesus because he has taken all our sin and bestowed upon us his righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:17, 21).

Numbers 1 through 6, and Acts 2:41-47 through Ephesians 1:22-23 happened before anyone decided to become members of a denomination referred to by Paul as “of Paul,” “of Apollos,” “of Cephas,” or “of Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:10-13).  Denominating of the body of Christ is condemned by Paul who was writing to the “body of Christ” in Corinth which he referred to as “the church of God” (1 Corinthians 1:2; 12:27).  God added folks to the saved.  The saved were referred to as “the church of God which is at Corinth” (1:2).  They were “the saved,” “the body of Christ,” and “the church of God which is at Corinth” before some in that saved assembly decided to be “of Paul” or one of the other three.

Since God had added them to the saved/body of Christ/church of God, what was the purpose of establishing the “of Paul” division or denomination?  It wasn’t necessary to their salvation because they had already been added to the saved by Yahweh Himself.  It wasn’t needed because they were already members of the body of Christ.  It wasn’t to put them into Christ because that had already experience that prior to the establishment of those “of” bodies.  It wasn’t so they could have fellowship with other saved individuals because they enjoyed that relationship prior to those “of” groups coming into existence.  The establishment of those “of” fellowships originated from man since God already had his fellowship in place which those “of” groups were disrupting and destroying.  Paul devoted four chapters to show the error of those groups being established. The other twelve chapters show the disruptive activities caused by those four divisions.

God’s Good News points to unity not division (John 17:20-23).  There is life in what God promotes.  If we don’t follow what God installed, what happens to the good news?


Thursday, March 8, 2018

John Guedel introduced an idea to radio called “People Are Funny” on April 10, 1942.  Art Baker was the first host of the program.  On October 1, 1943 he was replaced by Art Linkletter.  The show moved from radio to CBS TV in 1951 to 1954.  It transferred to NBC TV that year and continued until it closed out in 1960.  My generation will remember the show.  Despite its closing, people haven’t changed and continue to be funny!

Recently on an Internet Bible forum several were condemning The Message, The Living Bible, and the New Living Bible for their translation of Romans 16:16.  The KJV, ASV, NASV, RSV, NRSV, NIV, ESV, and IEB render it as “greet . . . with a holy kiss.”  The Message has, “Holy embraces all around.”  The Living Bible offers, “Shake hands warmly with each other.”  The New Living Bible renders it, “Greet each other in Christian love.”  The complaint was that those three translations changed the wording.  Yes they did.  But, people are funny, and it would be laughable if it wasn’t so inconsistent!

None on that forum that charged those three translations with heresy, practice the holy kiss!  How do they greet one another?  1) With a holy embrace (The Message), or 2) shake hands warmly, (TLB), or 3) greet each other (NLB).  It doesn’t bother them that they refuse to greet one another with a holy kiss but are willing to condemn those translations for rendering Romans 16:16 with their practice!  They refuse to recognize that inconsistency.  If it is sinful to change the words, wouldn’t it also be sinful to practice one of those three actions the versions have switched to?  Aren’t they rewriting Romans 16:16 with their practices?

What is interesting is that The Message, The Living Bible, and the New Living Bible have taken their lead from the 1611 King James Version!  In the early seventeenth century King James authorized a committee to translate both the Old and New Testaments.  The results was called The King James Version.  King James and committee were Anglicans.  Anglicans believed in and practiced sprinkling.  When the committee came to the Greek word baptizo, they refused to translate it as “immersion,” since that invalidated their practice.  So, they spelled out the Greek letters into the English word “baptism.”  The definition for “baptism” became sprinkling, pouring, and immersion.  The KJV developed the route which The Message, TLB, and the NLB were following.  All four translated the actions that people practiced, rather than rendering it as God spoke it.  Due to the KJV following that path, most of the English translations which followed, walked in their footprints.  To condemn these modern translations for doing what the KJV did, is to label all with the epitaph, “heresy.”  Yet, time has a way of smoothing out the rough spots and centuries of practice acclimated future generations to accept as biblical what long ago was introduced by change agents.   People are funny, and it would be laughable if there wasn’t a serious note to consider!

Before we start feeling aloof and believe we haven’t been touched by this condition, we need to stop and do an examination.  Could we be practitioners ourselves, just ignoring the fact?

In the first century slavery was practiced throughout the Roman Empire.  Slavery was found prior to Acts 2 and continued after it.  God did not condemn it, He simply regulated it.  The King James Version does not use the word “slave” but consistently substitutes the word “servant.”  One may be a servant without being a slave!  It is not until 1963 with the publishing of the NASV that the word “slave” is introduced.  Today, when referring to passages like Ephesians 6:5-9 and Colossians 3:22-4:1, we substitute employee and employer for “servant/slave” and “master.”  We modernize the words and relationships just like those three translations did with Romans 16:16!  We substitute our cultural practices in the place of the culture and teaching of the New Testament passages.  God condemned slavery only when the master abused his slave, or when the slave did not serve his master correctly.  People are funny, and it would be laughable if we weren’t guilty of condemning what we ourselves practice.


Monday, March 5, 2018

Who had the best relationship with Yahweh God in the Old Testament?  Was it Abraham or Moses?  It was neither one!  Yes, they both had a great relationship with Yahweh, but someone else had a better one.  Who?  Before Genesis 3 became past tense, Adam and Eve enjoyed a better relationship than either Abraham or Moses!  They walked and talked with Yahweh without sin!  Abraham?  Not even close.  Moses?  Probably behind Abraham a few meters!

Apparently, Yahweh appeared in finite form to this original pair, so they knew he was coming for His morning walk and attempted to hide from Him (Genesis 3:8).  Sin motivates folks to experience the failure of their attempted impossibility!  Can you visualize what sinlessness is like?  They possessed it until engaging in conversation with Satan’s parasite in Genesis 3:1-5.  Their perfection was shed during their dialogue with the serpent as they feasted upon his deception and developed a finite desire to be infinite (V. 5).  Adam surrendered leadership to develop follow ship and lost his fellowship with God.  Yet, prior to that Genesis 3 episode, they had the most outstanding relationship anyone could dream about prior to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus!

On the day of Pentecost, a question interrupted Peter’s inspired message (Acts 2:37).  The apostle answered but did not give an immediate invitation.  When he did, it was stated in one breath minus an invitation song, “Be saved from this perverse generation” (Acts 2:40 NKJV).  It was not repeated, yet about three thousand responded and desired baptism (V. 41).  Without a church building or an inside baptistry, it was accomplished in what was left of that day.  No one was questioned about his status, nor was any Pharisee admonished to renounce his religious party.  They were added to the saved by Yahweh Himself (Vs. 41, 47).  As the God of all creation added, several things happened.

  1. They had been immersed into Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection before the addition (Romans 6:1-6).
  2. They were immersed to put on Jesus (Galatians 3:26-27).
  3. They were made alive and forgiven (Colossians 3:13).
  4. Paul told the error ridden Corinthian church that they were the “body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:27).
  5. They were “raised up with Him through faith in the working of God” (Colossians 2:12).
  6. They were delivered “from the power of darkness” and translated “into the kingdom of His dear Son” (Colossians 2:13).
  7. In that kingdom they were redeemed “through his blood” and received “the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 2:14).
  8. They were members of “his body” which Jesus was “the head” (Ephesians 1:22-23).
  9. Yahweh dwelt in each one because each added person became His “temple” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).
  10. Each added individual was “bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20).
  11. Each added person was now “dead to sin” and no longer subject to its reward (Romans 6:2, 22-23; 8:1).
  12. Each was now a new creature or creation in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17).
  13. Each now enjoyed the “righteousness of God” because Jesus had taken all their sins upon himself (2 Corinthians 5:21)!

We too have a better relationship than that which was enjoyed by Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, and all others who lived prior to the Acts 2 Pentecost!

If you are among those who have been “added,” “Rejoice” and again I say, “Rejoice”! (Philippians 4:4).


Thursday, March 1, 2018

In the book of Isaiah, the prophet compares Yahweh to the false gods.  He shows how ridiculous it is to worship a god made of wood, stone, or metal.  He asks what can they do?  He challenges the idols to give a history lesson from the past or predict the future.  Then, he shows what Yahweh has done and what He says about future events!  Isaiah gives a detailed description of Israel’s future one hundred and fifty years in the future!  He also gives more passages than any other prophet concerning the coming Messiah.

Jesus comes to reveal Yahweh to the world.  He told the Samaritan woman, “God is spirit” (John 4:24 ASV-NIV).  What does “spirit” look like?  When you pray to the Father, what do you envision?  God is not finite material!  So, what do you see?  Do you picture nothing?  If you picture something finite, is that Yahweh?  If you picture something less than the infinite Yahweh, wouldn’t that be the path chosen by idol worshipers?  You do it mentally, they had the mental thought made into wood, stone, or metal.

Even scripture paints a finite frame for us to attach God’s picture to.  John 1:1 refers to the Messiah as “the Word.”  If God speaks, we visualize a mouth!  In the Garden, Adam and Eve “heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden” (Genesis 3:8).  If God “walks,” wouldn’t one picture moving legs and feet?  Giving God human attributes is called anthromorphism.   It is inspirations way of revealing God’s attributes through language we can understand.  Yet, it is finite language to describe an infinite God.

Philip approached Jesus with, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied” (John 14:8).   Jesus’ reply was, “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (v.9).  Was Jesus saying the Father and he were identical twins as far as their “looks” were concerned?  Or, was he saying their spiritual attributes were identical?  Before the man named Jesus was given a name or conceived in the womb of Mary, he was “the Word was God” (John 1:1).  As a man he had given up his previous form (Philippians 2:6-8; John 1:14).  He became a servant or doulos, which may be translated as “slave.”

Before Stephen died, he stated, “‘Look, I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’” (Acts 7:56).  Two things are revealed.  First, Jesus is standing near God.  Second, even this sight is wrapped in finite terms.  Is Yahweh limited to having a left and right side for Jesus to be standing to one side of Him?  Or is what Stephen saw revealed to him in finite terms which he can understand and describe?  Apparently, Jesus is in human form for Stephen to identify him.  Yet, Yahweh is not in human form.  Yahweh is spirit.  Since Jesus was the Word of God prior to the miraculous conception and birth, is he not now that same Word?  He is no longer a “servant” (Philippians 2:7 – doulos).  Yet, he has a glorified body that Stephen can see and identify.  Is the Word of God limited to a human, finite body?  Yahweh God is spirit.  The Holy Spirit is spirit.  Are there two spirits, one Holy and Yahweh who is spirit but without the “Holy” epitaph??  Is the Holy Spirit not Yahweh God (Acts 5:3-4)?  Paul told the Ephesians, “There is one body and one Spirit” (Ephesians 4:4).

Yahweh is greater than our finite words.  He is beyond describing in our human language.  He does not have literal human limbs nor human limitations as we do.  He is Spirit!  So, when you pray to Him, what do you see?


Thursday, February 22, 2018

17 dead.  15 wounded.  Why did Nicholas Cruz, a 19-year-old, do what he did?  He had been taken in by a family that were shocked by his actions.  They said he was naive, but pleasant and obedient.  The only thing unusual is that he brought several guns with him when he moved in.  These were probably owned by his father, who was deceased.  Florida law allows a 19-year-old to purchase guns, or if 16 to 18, hunt with one with adult supervision.  These were kept in a gun safe and the home owner thought he had the only key.  Cruz had to ask permission to take a gun from the safe.  The family had several pets, but Cruz was not harmful to any of them.  After the shooting, police learned that Cruz was living with a family with sons that attended the school where Cruz was the shooter.

Some believe Cruz was violent toward animals, therefore it was easy to transition to humans.  Others believe he learned violence by playing video games that involved shooting and killing.  Were some of these contributing factors motivating Cruz?  If not, why did he do it?

One writer suggested that boys “are broken” when they grow up fatherless.  He writes, “The solution to male violence is not to spout off drivel about the evils of masculinity. Masculinity, channeled well, is the reason assistant football coach Aaron Feis died this week.  Feis shielded students from bullets by pushing them inside a classroom.”

Peter Hasson at The Federalist writes, “Broken homes, or homes without a physically and emotionally present mother and father, are the cause of most of society’s ills.  ‘Unstable homes produce unstable children.’” Hasson continues with, “On CNN’s list of the ‘27 Deadliest Mass Shootings in U.S. History,’ seven of those shootings were committed by young males since 2005. Of the seven, only one—Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho—was raised by his biological father throughout childhood.”

Not every male who grew up without a father traveled that path.  My father left us when I was eight and I didn’t see him again until I was almost 20.  When I was 38, my father rejected me as his son over his misunderstanding of a singular passage of scripture.  He refused all my efforts at reconciliation.  Yet, although I own several rifles and pistols and have shot more than 50,000 rounds in the past 20 years, none have been discharged toward another human beinsg.  But, I had a mother and grandparents who directed my steps!  Our home was not “unstable.”  We were taught the Bible, responsibility, and respect for others.

Hasson continues, “America’s boys are in serious trouble. As Warren Farrell’s new book, The Boy Crisis, explains, boys are experiencing a crisis of education, a crisis of mental health (as in the case of Nikolas Cruz), a crisis of purpose. And at the root of it all is fatherlessness.”

Farrell states, “‘We blame guns, violence in the media, violence in video games, and poor family values.  Each is a plausible player,’” Hasson continues by stating, “Farrell noted in 2013 after the Newtown, Connecticut, shooting. ‘But our daughters live in the same homes, with the same access to the same guns, video games, and media, and are raised with the same family values. Our daughters are not killing. Our sons are.’” Farrell continues, “Without dads as role models, boys’ testosterone is not well channeled. The boy experiences a sense of purposelessness, a lack of boundary enforcement, rudderlessness, and often withdraws into video games and video porn.  At worst, when boys’ testosterone is not well-channeled by an involved dad, boys become among the world’s most destructive forces.  When boys’ testosterone is well channeled by an involved dad, boys become among the world’s most constructive forces.”

Farrell concludes with, “To be sure, there will be those who’ll continue to blame masculinity and the NRA for the recent bout of school shootings.  But amidst their chatter are voices of reason who know all too well, either from first-hand experience or because they’re simply paying attention, that the reason boys are broken goes far deeper than policies and politics—and requires us to look at things we’d rather not.  That’s hard. But harder still is waking up to the deaths of yet more innocent children.  How many kids will have to die before we get it?”

The simplistic answer to this problem is, “confiscate all guns.”  Yet, it hasn’t stopped the slaughter of innocent people in England, Europe, or Australia where firearm possession is unlawful.  Instead, knives, hatchets, machetes, hammers, baseball bats, and pressure cookers loaded with explosives have been used.  Whoever is motivated to take innocent lives will find a way to be destructive.  An interesting solution, often overlooked by the world, states,

Love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).  Who is your neighbor?  Answer, “A person who shows mercy” (Luke 10:30-37).  Too simplistic for some.  Too difficult for others!


Monday, February 19, 2018

You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.  No one who abides in Him sins . . .”   1 John 3:5-6 (NASB)

In Him there is no sin.”  I am “in Christ.”  I am a sinner since I am not perfect.  I will never be perfect or sinless.  How can I be “in Christ,” who has no sin, without infecting His sinless nature?  When you multiply all who are “in” the body of Christ, why wouldn’t that multitude affect his sinless condition?  Isn’t this why the windshield wiper doctrine was created by man?  It teaches that when we sin, we’re kicked out of Christ.  When we repent and pray, we’re brought back in until the next sin.  In this “in” and “out” way, the idea is that Jesus’ sinless status is retained.  If we stayed in, it would affect Jesus’ nature, staining his perfect nature with our sins.  Is this view the gospel of Christ?

The windshield wiper doctrine overlooks the power of the blood of Jesus.  Since we are “in Him,” we are continually cleansed (1 John 1:7).  There is no gap to infect Jesus with our imperfections.  He is healing us with His righteousness!    Since we “abide in Him,” we do not have sins.  They are cleansed.  In fact, Paul informs us,

For God took the sinless Christ and poured into him our sins. Then, in exchange, he poured God’s goodness into us!(2 Corinthians 5:21 TLB)

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV)

In fact, Paul reminded Roman Christians,

Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? . . .  knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.  Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.  For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.  Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord(Romans 6:2, 6-11 NKJV).



Thursday, February 15, 2018

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11 NIV).

Do we have the “joy” that Jesus promised?  When Saul of Tarsus was on a rampage, did Christians fleeing Jerusalem have joy written on their face?  When concerned about safety, tomorrow’s future is questionable, and life has turned ugly, does joy continue its residence?  If one is burdened with discouragement and hope hides its face, hasn’t joy disappeared?  Does one have joy only when life is positive?

Jesus endured the cross with joy (Hebrews 12:2).  James admonished, “Consider it pure joy . . . whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2).  Paul stated that the Macedonian churches, “out of the most severe trial” had “overflowing joy” (2 Corinthians 8:2).  Today we hear, “Give until it hurts.”  The Macedonians gave to be joyful!

Regardless of circumstances, the joy that Jesus expressed can be possessed!  Paul spoke of the gospel which the Corinthians had believed giving them that joy (2 Corinthians 1:24).  That faith continued to bring them joy even though their faith needed strengthening.  Paul informed the Roman brethren that joy was possessed by the reconciled (Romans 5:11).  Notice John’s statement,

And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in him.   Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is” (1 John 3:5-6).

John states that there is “no sin in him (Jesus).”  Prior to that he informed them that “Jesus came to take away our sins.”  One is immersed with and into Jesus (Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:27).  We have been added to the saved (Acts 2:41, 47).  We are in the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27).  We are in Jesus who has “no sin.”  We are “dead to sin” (Romans 6:2).  We are exempt from its payment because we are living in him (Romans 6:23; 1 John 3:6).  How can imperfect Christians not sin?  Jesus takes our sins away therefore there is no sin.  There cannot be because we are in him who has no sin!  He bestowed upon us the righteousness of God when we became a new creation in him (2 Corinthians 5:17, 21 NKJV, TLB).  We are not those who refuse to know him!  The Hebrew writer states, “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved” (Hebrews 10:39).  Again, the writer states, “There is no longer any room for doubt, and we can tell others that salvation is ours, for there is no question that he will do what he says” (Hebrews 10:23 TLB).

Do we have that joy that Jesus spoke of?  Notice again that he stated, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you.”  You do have it if you have been listening to Jesus and desire what he offers.  The Ethiopian treasurer responded to Jesus’ instructions and afterwards went on his way rejoicing (Acts 8:35-39).  The Christian life may not always be easy, but it is filled with the joy Jesus spoke of!

 “Rejoice in the Lord always, Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).


Monday, February 12, 2018

Recently we heard that Facebook is populated with the forty and fifty-year old.  There are some younger and older folks on it, but that group is in the majority.  Our speaker informed us that folks forty and older have learned in a linear fashion, having a beginning and building from that.  1 + 1 = 2 and so on.  However, the thirty and younger individuals are taking a different approach.  They are interested in spiritual things, but it may not be religion as such, nor the Bible in particular.  They have questions, but only in what is of interest to them.  Beginning with Genesis and moving through the history of Israel to the beginning of the church may not be their interest.  You could quote all your favorite passages to prove what their real need is but be wasting your breath and their time.  So, how do you reach them with questions which they may be curious in finding the answer to?  You must know what their interests are!  There is the challenge.

A more linear crowd was in Peter’s audience.  He charged them with crucifying God’s Son.  This created a question explaining their interest.  “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37).  Peter gave the answer in verse 38.  However, he did not stop but continued his linear thought.  Yet, they responded to his answer by being immersed (v.41).  Philip asked the Ethiopian treasurer, “Do you understand what you’re reading?”  The eunuch was intrigued by the question and asked, “How can I unless someone teaches me?”  Philip gave him the answer because the treasurer asked, “See here is water, what is to prevent my being baptized?”  So, Philip immersed him.

If Peter had replied to the inquirer, “Hold your questions and don’t disturb me with any other comments until I’m finished with my sermon,” he may have lost his audience.  If Philip had replied to the treasurer, “How can you be a student of Isaiah and be so ignorant of what he is talking about?”  Water or no water, he may have waded into the pond by himself.

If Peter had been more interested in making Cornelius into a good Jewish proselyte rather than perceiving the real question needed at that time, what would have been the outcome?   Would he have been answering what they were interested in getting a reply to??

In all the cases given, linear teaching was being used with questions.  If you talk with someone who is not interested in that form of teaching, how will you know what questions and subjects are interesting to them?  Will, “I’d like to invite you to attend our church services” peak their interest?  Would the question, “Would you like to study the Bible with me?” excite them?  If you were told, “I am interested in spiritual things,” that might excite you until they asked, “Are you interested in séances?”  Perhaps such passages as Micah 5:12 would satisfy you, but will it convince or interest them?

Culture changes and so do teaching technics.  In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries debating was popular, because it was entertaining, and people knew the Bible.  Points were seen because of that understanding.  Challenging one another was acceptable.  Today, some members don’t understand whether an argument is valid or not.  If the preacher is known and respected, he is accepted as the winner whether he embraces the Bible or not.  Personality wins arguments, not logic.  Comfort zones become the standard rather than scripture.  Our culture has also been influenced by affluence.  If we have the right outward appearance, they will come!  Our doors are open, if they can’t find them, it isn’t our fault!

For some the important question is, “Do you want to go to heaven?”  Try that question on someone who believes he has found it here!  How do you reach those who are lost but believe they have found the abundant life through a different way of thinking?

The Jerusalem church refused to preach the gospel to Gentiles for 9 to 11 years because they thought they were not worth saving!  Is that what the twenty-first century church believes about those who are not interested in linear learning?  Just another question.  Is it one you are asking?

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