Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

What Christianity Offers

February 10, 2010

C.S. Lewis had a knack for cutting to the heart of a subject:

Now the whole offer which Christianity makes is this:  that we can, if we let God have His way, come to share in the life of Christ.  If we do, we shall then be sharing a life which was begotten, not made, which always has existed and always will exist.  Christ is the Son of God.  If we share in this kind of life we also shall be sons of God.  We shall love the Father as He does and the Holy Ghost will arise in us.  He came to this world and became man in order to spread to other men the kind of life He has – by what I call “good infection”.  Every Christian is to become a little Christ.  The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else. – Mere Christianity

Do you believe this?  If so, are your actions this week – in worship, in prayer, in Bible study, at work, with your family, at play – helping you with this?

Gratitude

August 19, 2009

I just listened to this and it is fantastic.  One of many memorable things: “Don’t treat people in light of who they are, treat people in light of who we are.”

Have a listen:  The Power of Gratitude

Asking God for Help

August 9, 2009

Do you believe that if you ask God for help, He’ll answer you? That He would actually do something to help you? If He does, will you be able to recognize it?

I suppose a good part of that depends on what you ask:

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. – 1 John 5:14 – ESV

Now I’ve struggled for a long time about what to ask for. There are people like Joel Osteen who, as far as I can understand, believe you should ask God for a bigger house or more money. That doesn’t seem right to me, as I read the Bible to say that I shouldn’t really care that much about those things:

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. – Matthew 6:31-33 – ESV

As C.S. Lewis said in Mere Christianity, “Do not think I’m going faster than I really am.” I’m not against being wealthy any more than I’m against being well fed or having a roof over my head. It is the pursuit of wealth or food or possessions above all else that seems to me to be the problem. In any case, I suspect Jesus said all that business about the camel and the needle for a reason…

But that’s not my point here. My point is that I believe I can show you something that God will always grant you, though I’m not sure how it may be manifested in your case. For me, it has worked like this:

Ever since I started down the path toward becoming a Christian, I’ve been asking God for help. I’ve not been sure exactly what to say to Him but in general I have just asked Him to help me get closer to him, and to show me the truth. And at least for the past few years, I’ve been telling Him that I’m willing to subjugate my will to His, whatever that may entail.  As I look back I marvel at what He has done: for the past 10 years I’ve had a succession of people always there offering to study with me. Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Catholics, Church of Christ people, and people who just considered themselves “spiritual”. At every single step of my journey I had multiple people there helping me, and they always seemed to be the right ones at that time. I didn’t always (and often still don’t) agree with everything they were saying, and occasionally they (very properly) made me a bit uncomfortable as they pushed me to examine my sometimes mistaken or inconsistent or irrational beliefs.

I don’t know how you feel about that kind of thing, but the only conclusion I can reach is that God has been sending me these people. There have been too many of them, over too long of a time, for any other explanation.

So what does this all mean?  Pray for Him to show you the truth, to lead you through the narrow gate.  Basically, look back at 1 John 5:14 and pray for things that are “according to His will”.

Bible Study Buffet

June 29, 2009

This was written by Allen Dvorak for our church bulletin a couple weeks ago.  It was so good I just had to share it.  As you read it, please accept this advice: don’t get caught up in some little point of doctrine where you may disagree – focus on the main point of whether you happen to be picking and choosing yourself.

The American public seems to love food buffets, sometimes called food bars. Many restaurants include a salad or dessert bar in addition to their normal menu items. The appeal of the buffet, of course, is that you have a wide selection of different foods and can select the foods that you want. Order from the menu and the desired entrée may come with something that you don’t like, but at a buffet, you can ignore the spinach, broccoli or green beans and load up on fried foods! The food bar allows you to mix and match your favorite foods that don’t come together on the menu. Add the fact that food bars typically allow the patron to “eat all you want” and it is easy to understand their appeal.

Unfortunately, some Bible students approach the study of the Scriptures in a similar style to the food buffet. Even as one can pass by the foods in the food bar that he doesn’t like, so Bible study ala “buffet style” allows one to choose the verses/passages that he likes and ignore the rest.

Many Bible students like the passages that proclaim salvation to be a matter of grace, but dislike the verses which speak of the need for obedience. It is certainly true that we are saved by grace (Ephesians 1:7; 2:5, 8; Romans 3:24; Acts 15:11), but it is just as certain that we must do the will of the Father in order to inherit the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:21; Hebrews 5:9).

They pile their figurative Bible study plate high with verses proclaiming the necessity of faith, but wrinkle their noses at those “water baptism” verses. Without faith, we cannot please God or be justified in His sight (Hebrews 11:6; Romans 5:1), but it is just as certain that water baptism is involved in our salvation. Peter wrote:

“who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an antitype which now saves us — baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” (1 Peter 3:20-21).

It is clear that Peter wrote about water baptism (see the end of verse 20). He affirmed that water baptism is an antitype “which now saves us.”

Many people appreciate those verses which tell of divine love (e.g., John 3:16), but don’t like to hear about verses which speak of divine judgment (2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:10-12) or the wrath of God (Hebrews 10:30-31; Matthew 25:31-46).

Other Bible students have great interest in those verses which command singing in worship to God, but don’t spend much time with admonitions about the danger of spiritual pride. Some Bible students fill their plates with passages relating to the local church’s organization, mission and “name,” but don’t have much of an appetite for other verses which affirm the need for individual benevolence and spiritual zeal.

Will God permit us to ignore some passages while embracing others? Does He not expect us to honor all that He says? Paul wrote to Timothy, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16). Since God is the source of all scripture, it doesn’t make sense to accept some of scripture and reject other parts. Why would God reveal various truths if He did not intend for man to accept them? Can we expect that God will ignore portions of His own word at the final judgment? Will He say to us, “I didn’t really mean that part about obedience”?

Eating at food buffets tends to contribute to an unbalanced diet. The “buffet style” of Bible study causes us to have a skewed (unbalanced) view of God’s truth on various subjects. Of course, the proper method of Bible study is to accept and respect all that God has to say on a particular subject. Naturally, Bible students have to recognize the difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. The Old Covenant was given to the Jewish nation and was taken out of the way at the cross (Ephesians 2:14-16; Colossians 2:13-17). Those who live on this side of the cross are responsible to the New Covenant…all of it.

Do you have to sin over and over for it to be a bad thing?

April 6, 2009

I recently heard a sermon where one of the points was that we don’t have to make a habit of some sin before it is bad in God’s eyes.

First, keep in mind that we’re not talking about something for which you repent, but about something that you are rationalizing away without repentance because you don’t do it “all the time”.

Consider three quick examples from the Bible:

  1. Lot’s wife (Genesis 19:26) only looked back at Sodom once, and God killed her for her disobedience – she didn’t get multiple warnings.
  2. Nadab & Abihu (Leviticus 10:1-2) only offered unauthorized fire to the Lord once, and they died for it.
  3. Ananias & Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11) only lied to the Holy Spirit once each, and they were killed for their duplicity.

Aren’t we lucky that the Lord doesn’t punish us physically today like He did in Biblical times?  It seems like we get chance after chance after chance.  And we do, right up to the point where we don’t anymore.

I’m not saying that if we mess up one time we’re going to Hell (I certainly don’t believe that) – I’m saying that we can’t say that something isn’t a sin because we don’t make a habit of it.

The Best Blog Post I’ve Ever Seen!

February 25, 2009

Both this very short post and this video are simply amazing. It may be the best thing I’ve ever seen on the Internet:

http://michaelhyatt.com/2009/02/the-gift-of-validation.html

"An astrologer and a Christian?"

February 8, 2009

I saved the Friday, October 31, 2008 “Life” section of the Huntsville (AL) Times because it had a story about an astrologer named Keisha Tafari, and I knew when I had time I was going to have to comment. There was a sub story with the title that I’m also using for blog post:

An astrologer and a Christian?
“Sure. A Christian can study astrology”, says Keisha Tafari, minister of music at Unity Church on the Mountain and a student of astrology for about 13 years. She holds a first-level certification from the School of Metaphysics.

She turns in the Bible to Genesis 1:14: “God said, ‘Let there be lights in the dome of the sky…and let them be for signs and for seasons.'” Then to Luke 21:25, where Jesus is talking to his disciples about the days before his second coming: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars.”

“It’s almost like we’re instructed to study astrology, that it’s a form of God’s guidance along the say,” Tafari said…

I’ve often wondered how someone can honestly think this way. Unfortunately, as incorrect as I believe this lady’s thinking is, reasoning like this isn’t uncommon. What I suspect happens is that people have some idea in their head or some belief that feels good to them and want to pretend that the Bible supports it. So they pick a verse or two that might, possibly, kind-of-if-you-read-it-just-right, almost, sort of imply that belief. And they ignore many other verses that much more clearly address the issue (in this case ones such as Isaiah 47:13-14, Deuteronomy 4:19 and 18:9-12, Leviticus 20:6, Daniel 1:20 and 2:27-28, Acts 16:16-18, 2 Chronicles 33:5-6, Revelation 3:16, Matthew 7:22-24, etc.).

Many of us will scoff at the thought of Christianity being compatible with astrology, but let’s ask ourselves whether we’re making the same mistake. Do we hold beliefs just because they are comfortable? Have we checked them against what the Bible actually says (as opposed to what we want it to say)? I think our obligation to do just that should be stronger than our ability to rationalize our way out of it. Remember what Jesus said in Luke 6:46: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?”

Some Thoughts on Abortion

January 20, 2009

I’m ashamed to say that at one time in my life I was pro-abortion.

I refuse to call that “pro-choice” and here’s why: I think the primary way we support things like this is that we use names for them that help us not think about what they really are. I held this position long before I was a Christian, and I can remember thinking the common “who are these people to tell this woman what she can or can’t do?”. I didn’t bother think that particular piece of logic through, or I’d have realized that I supported all kinds of laws that told all of us what we could and couldn’t do.

Most people, if they took the time to find out a little about what an abortion (particularly a partial birth abortion) actually is, would be appalled. But they don’t. I certainly didn’t. If you think you support abortion, and aren’t familiar with the details, I suggest you become familiar and see if your opinion changes.

This really hasn’t been much of an issue in my life personally, and my consideration of it was limited to a reaction to the occasional article or commentary or verbal comment I’d run across. So I could be “for” it without much thought or controversy. When I became a Christian I thought about it for the first time in a long time. And since, I’ve come to wonder how people can consider themselves Christians but still support it.

If you are an atheist, who doesn’t believe in any higher power, and therefore don’t believe you are bound to any such rules, then while I think you are wrong, I don’t think it is illogical to support abortion.

But if you are a Christian, I’d think Luke 1:39-45 would give you pause:


In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

It is hard to see how a lump of cells without any consciousness would leap for joy at an external stimulus like this, and almost as hard to see how another lump of cells would be able to cause said stimulus.

One might argue that John and Jesus were different or special, and in many ways they’d be right. But it seems a real stretch to me to say that the way they were special was that they were “alive” in the womb, while everyone else is not.

This isn’t the only Bible verse relevant to this issue. If you consider yourself a Christian, and don’t oppose abortion, I urge you to reconsider your thinking and ask yourself if that’s a reasonable position. Ask God to help you decide what you should believe on this. Study the Bible and see if its message is consistent with abortion. Let me know what you find.

Uncomfortable

January 16, 2009

In a recent Bible study someone said “I’m uncomfortable with that”, referring to a couple of verses that we were discussing.

I stopped the conversation and asked him to define “uncomfortable”. I did that because I’ve heard that sentiment expressed many times by people who don’t like what the Bible is telling them. They are usually able to ignore it with some combination of subject changing and rationalization.

But that’s not what this person meant. He meant that he was uncomfortable that he wasn’t able to be more sure of exactly what the Bible meant in those two verses. Basically he didn’t care one way or another what it said – he would accept that as God’s word and try to live according to it. The problem was that he just wasn’t 100% sure what exactly it did say.

To me that attitude seems just exactly right on. It says “I’m going to do whatever God says, and my only task is to figure out what that is.” There is no “that doesn’t feel right” or “I don’t understand why God would/wouldn’t want that.” Simply, “I’ll work to obey what He says.”

Think about how hard it is to submit that totally to God!

"An astrologer and a Christian?"

January 8, 2009

I saved the Friday, October 31, 2008 “Life” section of the Huntsville (AL) Times because it had a story about an astrologer named Keisha Tafari, and I knew when I had time I was going to have to comment. There was a sub story with the title that I’m also using for blog post:

        An astrologer and a Christian?

“Sure. A Christian can study astrology”, says Keisha Tafari, minister of music at Unity Church on the Mountain and a student of astrology for about 13 years. She holds a first-level certification from the School of Metaphysics.

She turns in the Bible to Genesis 1:14: “God said, ‘Let there be lights in the dome of the sky…and let them be for signs and for seasons.'” Then to Luke 21:25, where Jesus is talking to his disciples about the days before his second coming: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars.”

“It’s almost like we’re instructed to study astrology, that it’s a form of God’s guidance along the say,” Tafari said…

I’ve often wondered how someone can honestly think this way. Unfortunately, as incorrect as I believe this lady’s thinking is, reasoning like this isn’t uncommon. What I suspect happens is that people have some idea in their head or some belief that feels good to them and want to pretend that the Bible supports it. So they pick a verse or two that might, possibly, kind-of-if-you-read-it-just-right, almost, sort of imply that belief. And they ignore many other verses that much more clearly address the issue (in this case ones such as Isaiah 47:13-14, Deuteronomy 4:19 and 18:9-12, Leviticus 20:6, Daniel 1:20 and 2:27-28, Acts 16:16-18, 2 Chronicles 33:5-6, Revelation 3:16, Matthew 7:22-24, etc.).

Many of us will scoff at the thought of Christianity being compatible with astrology, but let’s ask ourselves whether we’re making the same mistake. Do we hold beliefs just because they are comfortable? Have we checked them against what the Bible actually says (as opposed to what we want it to say)? I think our obligation to do just that should be stronger than our ability to rationalize our way out of it. Remember what Jesus said in Luke 6:46: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?”