February 28, 2010

A Penny Saved

When I was a kid my father showed me some Indian Head Pennies that he had gotten back in the 1940’s. After seeing them I began collecting coins and this lasted until I was in my early 30’s. When you collect a coin what you are really doing is removing it from circulation in the system. It is still money and can be used or spent like money but because of its rarity or intrinsic value it is pulled aside because it is special. It is put away to protect it from further wear. The coin can be pulled out years later and spent but having been removed from circulation it is distinct from its contemporary counterparts that are still circulating in the system. Most often when these coins re-enter circulation they are immediately recognizable as “more valuable” then their surrounding counterparts. The other coins that have remained in circulation may be similar in appearance but their value ends up being less because they are more tarnished and beaten by the world. Some coins are worth more at face value and these are called denominations (penny, nickel...) and when they are used and work together the sum is always more than a single coin by itself. Coins taken out of circulation tend to hold their luster longer also. The only way to arrest the deterioration of the coin and freeze or improve its value…is to pull it from the system / circulation and set it aside. If they are covered and sealed from the world’s corrosive environment the luster on these coins can last indefinitely or at least seem to.

Why do I tell you this? Let me retype the previous paragraph changing a few words. My father and mother were saved when I was a kid and I saw what it did for them. When the Lord collected them for salvation he removed them from circulation in the system. They still could function within the World’s system but they acted much better as an example of what others still in the world system could be if they would only accept the Lord and remove themselves too...from the system. It is the Lord that gives them (and us) our intrinsic value and rarity (in this current evil age). Some are big people, some small, all worthy and of some value in both the Kingdom and the world system. Even though they are of value in this corrupted world system and can still function they retain more value if we remove them from the corrosion of the world (sin) and seal them away with others. Even though these people may no longer be of use in the world system, they are still of infinite value to God…

John 17:16
They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

They can still function in the system as they formally did but they stand apart and people recognize something about them. They may be older but they seem to have a luster, a sharper edge not nearly as worn down as others. Their vintage was from another era and another place but they stand out from their contemporaries. They have been set aside for special use and they are an example of what others can be.

Because of my parents and other believers like them, I too have been removed from circulation.

1 Peter 1:14-16
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."

February 27, 2010

My Father's Chair

Prayer is a difficult topic for me as it was with Martyn Lloyd Jones. I understand why and what its for but it still stupefies me. It is universal and speaks to some deep innate human need. In much of the world, skepticism and prosperity dilutes prayers of people who would've normally been more faithful. The worst distraction of all? Time, or more specifically, the need to crowd out prayer because of needs of subsistence. Needs God already told us he would provide if only we trusted in Him first. Work, money, children, parents and the lesser mindless droning of radio, television, media, Internet. Many people including believers feel more comfortable exposing their souls to friends, family or even complete strangers in the form of psychiatrists rather than giving their anxieties and their soul to God. After 40 years I have come to the conclusion that most people do have a God shaped hole in them as Blaise Pascal said that can only be filled by God. A yearning for transcendence. Unfortunately, a large portion of humanity find false gods or idols of the mind and these anxieties never unload themselves from their victims. Those people never find peace. The God of the Bible has put forth what is needed for our peace. To resist what has been extended to us is to turn callous and ignore the blatantly obvious that is marked off in the creation all around us.

Romans 1:18-20
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Prayer is the intersection point between God and man. It is a privilege not a duty. To consider, even for a second that God actually is willing to condescend to hear our petitions and pleas for what we believe we need or want when He already knows what we need or want, is mind-boggling. Like a loving parent that knows better He still stops to hear us. He stops to hear us. Because He is always there with us and we don't pray...it would be like having a friend next to us all day and not talking to them. Ignoring them as if they are not important. Why would someone do that? It seems so counter intuitive.

Prayer requires discipline just like anything else that requires effort and is of benefit in our lives. At times it is hard work. Strenuous exercise helps condition us to better run the race in a way that allows us to win.

Hebrews 12:1-2
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

There is nothing quite like the appreciation that toiling over something instills in the human soul. Talking with someone else creates and strengthens a relationship. Like relationships we run the gamut of emotions when dealing with them, ecstasy, dullness, mindlessness, anger, concentration, joy, irritation, frustration and completeness. Prayer has all the features in common with communication in a marriage or friendships but it is with God and because of this, is so much more.

Psalm 46:10
"Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!"

The imperative translated “be still” comes from the Hebrew term רָפָה raphah whose meaning better translates: "vacate" or "leave self". God invites is to take a break. To literally become slack in some of our duties. This break allows Him to work where we have vacated in our lives. Many of us have tried to totally takeover our own lives and when we have success we totally attribute it to our own efforts and give absolutely no credit to God. We need to stop being god in our lives and let Him be who He is: GOD. We need to climb down from our Father's chair (throne) because we do not belong there. When we eat of the spiritual things we need to be in our proper places. Our Father is at the head of the table where He acts as the provider of all things good, of all things righteous, all things holy. We go to Him for this sustenance. It is our Father's chair not ours. We have our own seat the table. When I was a child, everyone knew which chair was our father's. No one dared to sit in it.

2 Samuel 9:13
And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king's table, and he was crippled in both feet.

The story of David and Mephibosheth is a typology or shadow of the relationship we as believers would have in the new covenant with Jesus Christ. All of us have as believers now are being given undeserved royal treatment by a king, instead of being exiled as we deserved. This similar experience is certainly one of the reasons why God included the story of Mephibosheth in His Word. The relationship between David and Mephibosheth is meant to portray a picture of the relationship between God and us.

To be able to have this relationship...we must relinquish control and have total faith in His plan for us. Reliance on prayer is believers being willing to see our lives from God's point of view. The only way we can do that is to have a two-way relationship with Him. To allow God to instill knowledge and holiness. The great thing is that we need not be perfect to receive it because God is merciful and full of grace.

If we have and intercessor that takes our prayers directly to the throne why would we not pray?

Hebrews 9:24
For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.

Go pray before His throne.

February 26, 2010

βρέφος: Brephos

This will be a post that will ruffle feathers and cut against the grain with some but I am convicted to speak. This is what the word says so I believe it is true and is to be followed and obeyed.

A number of Bible passages make it clear that God regards conception as the moment at which personhood commences.

Job 10:8-12
"Your hands shaped me and made me. Will you now turn and destroy me? Remember that you molded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust again? Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese, clothe me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews? You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit.

Job 31:15
Did not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers?

These verses attribute divine value and human qualities to the unborn. Psalm 139:13-16 similarly exalts God for his creative work. Isaiah 49:1-5, Jeremiah 1:4-5, Galatians 1:15-16 all note that God can work in your life before you are born.

Luke 1:41-45
When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice and said, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! "And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? "For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. "And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord."

This part of Jesus' birth/infancy narrative in Luke shows the emotional joy of the unborn John the Baptist when Mary visits Elizabeth. Even more intriguing is the description of when sin begins in a persons life as described in David's prayer. So, not only do we have a statement about when human attributes can be attributed to life it is also a statement about how wretched the fallen human condition is.

Psalm 51:5
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.

None of these statements of fact would be possible if personhood started at birth. Some of the passages in the Bible speak of the unborn the same way a person is spoken of as an adult. This shows that God views them the same.

It is interesting to note also that the New Testament uses the same Greek term in Luke 1:41,44 passages for life prenatal as it does for life postnatal in Acts 7:19...

Acts 7:19
He dealt shrewdly with our race and forced our fathers to expose their infants, so that they would not be kept alive.

βρέφος: [brephos] an infant(properly, unborn) literally or figuratively:--babe, (young) child, infant.

Many reading this will note that a majority of this post is scripture, not my opinion. Most of what I have typed is commentary on aforementioned scripture. It is not what I feel, it is what I obey. Can someone please explain to me how this scripture is not understandable. Can someone please explain to me how this makes murdering children/brephos acceptable? This is not an issue of a person's right to choose. It is an issue of a person's failure to obey the Word of God. Luckly, like all other sin, God has given Himself as an atonement for sin and we can be forgiven. Exalted is His name above all others. Jesus Christ.

February 25, 2010

The Apple of God's Eye

Deuteronomy 32:10
He kept them [Israel/chosen people] as the apple of His eye.

God clearly does not have a physical eye. This reference to God's eye is clearly an anthropomorphism which means it is a statement that gives human attributes or characteristics to something that is not human. The figure of speech the "apple of the eye" means the pupil of the eye. He [God] kept them as if they are/were the pupil of His own eye.

One of the fastest reflexes in the human body is the eyelid covering the eye to protect it from damage. When objects approach the eye the body's reaction intuitively is to blink or close the eye. According to Wikipedia the average length of a blink is 300 to 400 milliseconds.

So we need not worry about things because on the eternal scale. We are covered and secure as believers.

Fear is to the Devil what faith is to the Lord. Satan responds to, takes advantage of and delights in fear the way the Lord responds to and delights in faith. This contrast is on direct display when Jesus walks on the Sea of Galilee and has Peter get out of the boat. It was a dsiplay of faith overcoming fear in the presence of the Lord. When Peter believed he walked on the water. When he became afraid even in the presence of Jesus, anxiety grabbed him and he began to sink. Faith needs to be a constant that is exercised continually or it atrophies.

Deuteronomy 31:6
Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.

Psalm 27:1
The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?

As a believer our salvation is assured. Fear not.

John 6:38-40
For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

[items in brackets are my emphasis]

February 20, 2010

The Great Ontological Question

The great ontological question: Why did God create anything? Was it because He needed a friend? Eh, no. The Bible tells us that God is self-sufficient and self-existent. It is called aseity [Latin: "from himself"]. God does not need us or anything in or of the creation. The Persons of the Trinity have existed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit eternally and are fully content and equal. Each Person is fully God. There is one God. If He had created us because He "needed" us then we cannot say that God is self-existent, can we? It would imply God could not be happy without man. It would make Him dependant on something outside the Trinity. So why are we here?

God created the creation and man for His glory. Glorification which had also been taking place between the Persons of the Trinity for eternity past to eternity future. (John 17:5)

Revelation 4:11 “ You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.”

When we worship and glorify Him, it brings Him joy.

So many would say, "we are therefore insignificant and worthless". Not so says the Bible and says God. What does the Bible say about man and his importance? We are meaningful and of great worth because He values us. He gives us our value.

Isaiah 43:7 Everyone who is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed, even whom I have made".

It is not a symbiotic relationship. We need Him for our existance, meaning and purpose. All he asks in return is to glorify Him. The original ideas was that we were to glorify Him through our work.

Genesis 2:15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.

Why work? Because it mirrors Him and His acts of creation.

Genesis 2:1-3 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

...and then mankind fell in Genesis 3 and we've been working to get back to the way it use to be ever since. How? By seeking God because He has predestined us to be drawn to Him and to be chosen since before the foundations of the world.

Ephesians 1:4-6 ...even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

To work out our own salvation and sanctify ourselves with Jesus Christ.

Philippians 2:12-13 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

God has a plan for us all. He has had it forever. In the end it all glorifies Him. He created us, knew we would fall because He created an imperfect being capable of choosing incorrectly. Even so, He still had a plan to redeem us! Jesus Christ! To us it may intially seem like a puzzle but it is because we are so limited in ability to think like God. We can't even etch the surface. God's depth is infinite an impenetrable without Him first revealing it to us. It took God revealing it in the Bible and through His Son Jesus for us to even comprehend at a miniscule level. HE had to reveal it just so we could understand the letters that make the words, to say nothing of the sentences. Man was not even capable of discovering this on his own because he is so wretched, it HAD to be revealed to man. We need only accept it through His Son.

**Addendum**If there is ambiguity in my wordage above concerning the Trinity I have also included my belief worded here in relation to the Westminster Confession of Faith. Just so there are no misunderstandings because of semantics.

"In the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost: the Father is of none, neither begotten, not proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son." (WCF II.3)

February 19, 2010

Am I Evil? Am I Holy? I am man.

The Question of Evil. "Why does God allow evil, why doesn't he stop it"? You should thank Him that he doesn't eradicate and exterminate it as soon as it rears its ugly head. We all would've been dead and in hell a long time ago. We would've never been able to repent and gain salvation through Christ. God gave us freedom to choose. Since the fall of man in Genesis 3 we have been choosing incorrectly. That included choosing not to love and obey Him. Anyone who does not do this has already gone errant and strayed. Sinned. Committed evil in the eyes of the Lord. To allow freedom to choose, the Lord God allows man to choose incorrectly. You say, "why doesn't He make people love and obey Him"? Is that really love and obedience? God doesn't actualize evil, man does. It has to be allowable or we would exit and be able to repent. Anything short of the the holiness of the Lord is evil. Sin is sin whether it be adultery, lying, bestiality, immorality, deception, teaching false doctrine, homosexuality, seduction, temptation, murder, coveting, idols. Whether it is telling a half-truth or sending children to the gas chamber. Evil is evil. Some people sin a lot more than others. The Nazis sinned and committed acts of evil a lot greater than your little brother playing with matches and lighting the basement on fire. David probably commit worse acts that Saul. The difference? David repented and grieved his sin. Saul did not.

Romans 3:23 ~...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Evil is absence of good, just as a shadow is an absence of light. Evil is an absence of something that should’ve been there (good). For moral evil to be present and idea of what is good needs to exist. A moral law must exist. God created things as good. Any corruption of this ideal is evil or is a corruption of the intended order. Evil is corrosion, erosion, degradation, retrogression, entropy, destruction of all that is proper.

Evil isn’t what Good is.
Evil is Emptiness of Moral Law, Good is Fullness of Moral Law
Evil is a emptying of Moral Law, Good is a filling of Moral Law
Evil is Absence of Moral Law, Good is Presence of Moral Law
Evil is an ontological parasite of good

Evil is a Disease
Evil is a Parasite
Evil is a Parasitic Disease

Disease: (noun) [Old French meaning "dis-ease" or "lack of ease" in a certain area of the body]- any harmful, depraved, or morbid condition, as of the mind. A condition or tendency, regarded as abnormal and harmful. Disease is a term for any condition that impairs the normal functioning of an organism or body. It may include state of injuries, disabilities, disorders, syndromes, infections, isolated symptoms, deviant behaviors, or atypical variations of structure and function.

Parasite: (noun) [Latin from Greek parasitos one who lives at another's expense]-Something that exists by taking from or depending on another without reciprocating. Synonyms: bloodsucker, bootlicker, deadbeat, flunky, freeloader, leech, scrounger, stooge, sycophant, deadbeat. Parasites are generally harmful to their hosts, although the damage they do ranges widely from minor inconvenience to debilitating or fatal disease.

Evil, like parasites and diseases, is transmittable and often times fatal. Like parasites and disease evil often favors the dark or shady areas. When the parasite becomes more hardy, stronger, bold it will even expose itself to broad daylight. Like the disease, like cancer it can metastasize and kill. It must be cut out of it's host, extricated before it destroys the good, even if it means removing a piece of the host with it.

Matthew 18:9 ~ And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.

Evil is the only disease/parasite that you can chose to have or not to have. Evil is a choice to not be holy. Evil is a choice to not love God. Evil is a choice to not obey edicts that were put down by God for our own benefit because he loved us. God gave us the ability to decide.

Are you to be evil? Are you to be holy?

Romans 7:18-25 ~ For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

One final thought: If we want evil to stop in the world perhaps we should begin with ourselves and let the Lord deal more with the world for now? Once we begin to rein in our own evil then maybe the Lord can use us to go out into the world to help others. We are of no use if we can't move because we are buried under our own sin.

February 17, 2010

The Wide Path Is Lined With Predators

This is a warning to Christ-believers to not heed the false teachings of false teachers/shepherds but to obey the teachings of Jesus Christ in their pursuit of holiness. And to realize that multiple teachings in the Bible can be seen through the same lens. Life doesn't always unfold exactly the way certain parables or stories did in the Bible. Sometimes it isn't a wolf or a roaring lion (they're metaphors people) it is alcoholism and pornography. Sometimes it isn't Judaizers and Gnostic it is a TV evangelist or a motivational speaker pretending to be a preacher. We need to discern the danger and know when we are being led to slaughter.

Matthew 7:15 "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

A narrow road leads to the city (The Kingdom of Heaven, Paradise). It is unconquerable in its fortified majesty. The only way to enter is through the narrow gate at the end of the narrow trail because it is easily defended. This narrow road and narrow gate are representatives of righteousness and holiness such is the characteristics that Jesus demands of His disciples. A broad road leads to another city known by many nefarious names (Hell, Gehenna, Sheol, destruction) which is situated on the open plain, similar to the cities of the plain, Sodom and Gomorrah. Its gates are wide allowing anything or anyone to enter. There are no restrictions and all vices are welcome. It caters to complete and absolute freedom which turns eventually to complete and absolute slavery. Because its wide gate beckons all to enter it, it also beckons to thieves, murders and the morally debased and mentally insane. Most assuredly the murderous invaders will flock to the easy prey and reap their witless bleating victims. The broad wide road symbolizes lax behavior taught by false prophets/teachers and practiced by false disciples or undiscerning sheep. Lax behavior may give you freedom now and exempt you from immediate persecution; it will subject you to destruction when you attempt to access through the wide path. Conversely, superior righteousness may subject you to persecution and mockery now; it will exempt you from it for eternity by entering through the narrow path.

False teachers/leaders/shepherds care nothing for you as sheep in Christ’s flock. They will expose you to the lurking wolves and invaders because they themselves are wolves and invaders in the Church. If they don't fleece you themselves they will allow you to be fleeced if not killed outright. They only care about power over this world system, financial gain or self-aggrandizement. You know who the wolves are. They sit in the shadows waiting for the weaker sheep to fall off the pace and get behind the main body so they become easy prey (fall victim to sin or the teaching of false teachers). They are then systematically isolated, cut-off and consumed. Regardless of how its done the devil gets his due.

Sadly, some false teachers/shepherds have become so deluded and led astray by the devil they themselves don’t realize they have gone rogue. In turn they are unwittingly leading their sheep down the wide path to the wide gate. The wide path for some has become so wide it isn't even a path anymore, it is an avenue of annihilation. It is dead-center in the middle of the plain where all can see it, no defenses and an easy target for destruction or more specifically, easy for targeting the unwitting for destruction.

Matthew 7:16-17 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.

Matthew 7:21-23 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”

2 Peter 2:1-3 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

The wide path is lined with predators and some of them even kill wolves.

First Fruits of the Resurrection - Part II: Tithing

The idea of First Fruits for the Christian believer not only carried over to the New Testament in the form of Christ dying for our sins and being resurrected but Paul also alludes to a secondary example:

1 Corinthians 16:2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem.

He is referring to giving back to the church or to God directly through the church. Not being under Old Testament ceremonial law Christians are under no obligation to "part with their money" nowadays. Interestingly, it should be recognized that...your money isn't your money. It is the Lord's and you are only a steward of the money. Being stingy only ends up corrupting your soul anyway. It turns into a coveting of cash or accumulation of money which is an end in itself that has little or nothing to do with God, grace, mercy or charity.

God knows if you are being tightfisted and miserly. If you are prospering it is because He is prospering you. You should be filled with gratitude and reciprocate in kind by giving back with a smile on your face. If it wasn't for Him you would be destitute...or perhaps you are destitute? Spiritually destitute? Bankrupt.

The Old Testament said ~ Proverbs 11:24 There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want.

Jesus said ~ Luke 6:38 "Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure--pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return."

Paul the Apostle said ~ 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

You only need to ask yourself one question: Can a man rob God? Said another way: Can a man take what is God's and keep it for himself?

February 16, 2010

Steps To Become Spiritually Strong

Romans 15

The road that we travel as believers isn't always easy. Jesus never promised easy. He did state the opposite. As believers we often take the harder road and in the end we will be rewarded and blessed for it. It was this way in the early church and so it will be now and in the future. Enter by the narrow gate by the narrow path.

When we are strong we need to "do" for others. To continue to build our strength and thiers one step at a time.

Romans 15:1-We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.

Because of this strong and weak alike should be in a spirit of unity striving for the same goal. Christ and Christlikeness. We need to accept one another as Christ accepted us (warts and all) in order to bring glory to God. In our desire to help others and our selfless motives we glorify Him.

Jesus invited disciples to show themselves as meek and lowly in spirit by doing the same even though he as God incarnate. This same behavior should be the mark of His servants of all ages. The end net result must by glorifying to God. Put Christ on dsiplay in your attitude and behavior. Is God pleased with your service? What is it that you are doing that is pushing the example of Christ forward for the world to see? Are you taking your faith and beliefs to the next level? Are you living the life through your actions?

First Fruits Of The Resurrection - Part I: Jesus Christ

Leviticus 23:9-12 The LORD said to Moses, "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: "When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest. He is to wave the sheaf before the LORD so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath. On the day you wave the sheaf, you must sacrifice as a burnt offering to the LORD a lamb a year old without defect..."

In Feast of First Fruits the Hebrews were to bring the first sheaves of the barley harvest and wave them before the Lord. At the beginning of the day representative leaders of the people would cut certain barley sheaves that had been set aside specifically for this purpose and bring them to the priest. The priest would then present them to the Lord by waving them back and forth. The purpose of this was to consecrate the harvest to the Lord. The first fruits were representative of the entire harvest. This act reminded Hebrews that the land and all its harvest rightfully belonged to God. The people are just stewards of the land.
Jesus fulfilled this feast when He became the first fruits resurrected from the dead. His beginning marked the beginning of the harvest of souls who have been set apart for God through the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:20-23 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming…

Jesus was the human sheaf that God had set apart for the purpose of conquering death and providing eternal life for all those that acknowledge Him as savior. This includes those that believed before and after he came because it is by faith that man is saved to eternal life.

Hebrew 11:1-3 & 6 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible…And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

In fulfilling the Feast of Passover Christ was crucified on the fourteenth day of Nisan. To fulfill the Feast of Unleavened Bread Christ as buried on the fifteenth day of Nisan. On the Sabbath Jesus rested in the tomb. On the Seventeenth day of Nisan (Sunday) Jesus Rose from the dead fulfilling the Feast of First Fruits. Jesus then ascended to the Father as a presentation of First Fruits to the Father in Heaven so that the rest of the harvest would be acceptable in the eyes of the Father. A great high priest offering the First Fruits on the exact day that they would’ve been waved in front of the Lord at the throne of the Almighty.

Additionally, just like a barley sheaf contains many stalks of barley bundled together so to the Lord offered up Himself with others that day. The bodies of many of the saints also resurrected.

Matthew 27:52-53 The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.

February 15, 2010

Jesus the Passover Lamb

When God established Passover he told the Jews to set aside the lamb on the tenth day of Nisan.

We learn that Jesus entered Jerusalem to be the human lamb by the tenth day of Nisan.

John 12:1~Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.

Passover is celebrated on the fourteenth, this would mean Jesus came to Bethany on the ninth.

John 12:12~On the next day the large crowd who had come to the feast [Passover], when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees...
This tells us that the following day was Palm Sunday, from this we can deduce that the Saturday was the, the ninth of Nisan.

The purpose of setting aside a lamb was to make sure it was without blemish. Jews observed and tested lambs before sacrifice. Just like Jesus was tested for five days. His authority is challenged in Matthew 21:23-27. He was asked trick questions to try and use them against Him in Matthew 23. Jesus responded perfectly, every time. They could find no fault in Him, not even Pilate could find fault in Him. This all took place between the tenth and fourteenth of Nisan.

Hebrews normally killed the lamb by 3:00pm in the afternoon so that it could be consumed, all of it, by 6:00pm. When 3:00pm arrived they would slaughter the lamb catch the blood in a basin before it hit the ground and apply blood to the doorpost. So that the angel of death would pass over that household. They would then roast the lamb and it had to all be eaten so that nothing remained for the next day. In preperation no bone could be broken. If done to instruction the lamb would need to be placed on a spit like a cross(bar) so that the body would roast evenly.

Jesus was finally crucified on the fourteenth day of Nisan (Good Friday). Nailed to a cross. With no bones broken. By the third day He had risen again.

This was all done in a way so that the Jewish people would recognize who He was and what was happening.

The result of us coming to the cross with Christ as the passover lamb? Peace with God. We become children of God by faith in Jesus Christ.

Why Do I Still Get Nervous When I Talk About The Lord?

I thought as I studied the Bible, understood my faith better and grew closer with God I would lose this nervousness and butterflies when I incorporate apologetics, witness or evangelize. I have now come to the realization that this is exactly what the Lord wants to maintain in me. When I am nervous I continue to call on Him to put the right words in my mouth. I am less inclined to rely on my own devices. I become humbled and dependant, especially when things come through with flying colors.

I Stepped Into The Light

I have been told by some that I took a “blind leap of faith” into the dark by abandoning my empirically based engineering (electrical) background of the last 23 years. I dismiss this observation. Christianity is based on evidence / witnesses and is a reasonable faith. The idea of a “leap into the dark” is from Soren Kierkegaard at its heart and secular philosophers, liberal theologians and science majors fraudulently use this as a starting point for their poorly "grounded" arguments in logic. This "poor ground" eventually leads to a "short(age)" in their argument in the end. When starting with a false premise or presupposition you cannot even correctly argue a point. This inevitably produces a false conclusion.

To clarify, I did not take a blind leap into the dark. This would’ve been directly opposed to how I am wired. I stepped into the light. A leap in blind faith would’ve been a rejection of Jesus Christ and His deity in the face of insurmountable and overwhelming corroboration of facts not an acceptance of Him.

I could’ve looked for another job in engineering. I chose not to. Perhaps I should say God chose for me by opening some doors and closing others. Either way I have seen too much to think otherwise. Any sane and intelligent person reviewing my life and the events contained therein would’ve concluded that I should’ve been dead years ago. I am not. That is as much evidence as anyone needs to prove the truth of The Faith. Not only have I survived; I have prospered. Remarkable.

Is the Artist in the Painting?

Are attributes of the artist in a painting?

Because God created the world we should expect to find traces of Him in the creation. This is not to say that He is creation (that's Pantheism). We should be able to find hints or not so subtle hints like the way an artist leaves and impression in a painting. But just like the artist...is the artist in the painting? Physically? No. Was He at one time? When?

Because He also redeemed creation through Christ we expect to look for salvation that the Chirstian Gospel promises. We know that we can have knowledge of God through the creation but the knowledge of creation cannot save a person.

The questions then become:
"How can one be saved?"
"Who is the Savior?"

This is where the doctrine of the Divinity of Christ comes in...firmly ground in the death, the burial, and the resurrection. Everything hinges on this. Everything. It is the pivot point of the Bible. The Gospel encapsulated in 2-3 verses. Believe and you are saved. But understand that this is just the beginning not the end. Just the beginning. Actually, I should say it is the end of the old you and the beginning of the new.

1 Corinthians 15:3-6
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living...

So ask yourself the question again. Is the creator in the creation?
He was. Once. For approximately 33 years. 2000 years ago. By choice. For one reason. For who? Why? Don't you feel special. It's because you are. Because of something you did? No. Because of grace. Because He loved us first. Because of Him, for Him, by Him. It is his painting. He can do with it what He likes.

Hermeneutics #1: Conditional Clauses

IF / THEN statements (in Greek)...Conditional clauses function as part of the predicate (a predicate is one of the two main parts of a sentence [the other being the subject, which the predicate modifies]) in that they give a condition under which the action of the verb can take place or a reason or cause for the action of the verb taking place or not taking place...

First condition: Yes (if the "if" is true)
Mark 4:23-If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.

Second condition: No (if the "if" is false)-these clauses generally express hypothetical conditions which the speaker himself believes to be contrary to fact.
John 5:46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.

Third condition: Maybe (if the "if" could be true, but might not be)
Colossians 4:10 "...If he comes to you, receive him".

Fourth condition: Improbable (if the "if" is an uncertainty)
1 Pet 3:14 Even if you should suffer because of righteousness, (you will be) blessed.

If the Bible says "if" and the "if" is addressing a person(s) action(s) it is stipulating or noting an expected or existant action(s).

If you do this, then...
If you act this way, then...
If you do not obey the Word of the Lord, then...
If...then what?

Knowledge Settling In Like a Morning Mist

Again I visit Job...again I come away dumbfounded.

Referring to when he was in his prime:

Nobles would be hushed and listen when he spoke...
He "was the eyes to the blind"
"feet to the lame"


Job 29:21-22 Men listened to me and waited and kept silence for my counsel. After I spoke they did not speak again, and my word "dropped upon" them.

"dropped upon"...it hung in my head so I pulled out the interlinear and Bullinger's Figures of Speech and low and behold...!

"dropped upon" (Hebrew: naw-taf'- to distill gradually in small drops, one drop at a time) Like a slow rain (drizzle) mist or fog. Gradually soaking you. It takes a long time for the moisture to soak into your clothes but it can thoroughly drench you. In this case Job is referring to his speaking, speech, his words. The words settled in slowly and this is why people remained silent after he was done speaking. Listeners were absorbing his words like a sponge soaking up a mist. Chewing on the meat and spitting out the bones. Extracting the protein and nutrients from the meat until there was nothing left to extract. Like a cow chewing its cud. Slowly but thoroughly, taking it all in.

To drive home the imagery of water, the next verse completes the picture.

Job 29:23 They waited for me as for the rain.

The ESV and NKJV were Black and White...the original Hebrew was in 3D Color. Nice.

February 14, 2010

Dead Smoking Carcass

In the Old Testament God did not want a dead smoking carcass of an animal or its blood, he wanted what the ashes, body or blood represented. The abject humility and acknowledgement that you are a sinner and seek repentance for your unholiness from the Holy God. It was the heart intent behind the act, symbolic. As Christians we now offer ourselves as the living sacrifice and our souls as eternal living sacrifice. We submit this while we are still alive. It is not the sacrifice of the animal itself that saved any more than it is/was the circumcision or baptism that saved someone. They are all outward symbols of inward grace. The same goes for believers now. God does not want us to literally crucify ourselves and die but He wants is to symbolically and figuratively kill our old selves so that He may reign in us. He already offered the once-and-for-all sacrifice in His son Jesus Christ so we wouldn't have to. Besides, nothing we could do would've bought us one second of salvation anyway. If you just perform the outward and showy ritual and it means nothing to you, why would you have done it to begin with?

When Words Are Not Enough

A language is a way of thinking, not simply a set of words or a unique way of structuring sentences. It is physical thought in that speech is a vocalization of thought. Becasue it is physical thought it can limit how we communicate with others. This also limits the amount of words of ideas we can communicate to God (at least from our side of the conversation). Thankfully God can communicate beyond the limits of our language. Language is the speaking face of the heart, of the soul. This is why Biblical language is so important. The Greek and the Hebrew represent ways of seeing things. The fact that the Bible was written in known languages attest to its humanity. It attests to God's love for us that he would chose to communicate to us in way that we could understand and read over and over and over. The psychology of the Old Testament is very physical. Bodily organs often stand in for emotions. Fear of distress was often described as "my liver is poured out" or "my bones melt". The key is that reader must enter a different "thought world" when trying to understand the Old Testament or the Old Testament Hebrew. Without getting into the correct mindset the translation of expressions gets destroyed.

The books of the New Testament were written in Greek and they reflect a linguistic environment that left its imprint on the Koine of the New Testament. The Greek was strongly influenceed by the Hebrew of the Old Testament. The syntax and meaning of New Testament words are colored by their semitic background. The word "glory" in classic Greek "doxa" meant "opinion", then "reputation" or "honor". But when the New Testament uses the word it uses it in the Old Testament sense of "glory" or (kabod) where it stood for the manifest power, splendor, majesty & holiness of God.

February 13, 2010

Efficacious Grace vs. Common Grace

Another tough topic to get across to readers. Grace. More specifically, Efficacious Grace as opposed to Common Grace. It is also referred to as Irresistable Grace. Everyone, even non-believers recieve Common Grace. Not all recieve Efficacious Grace. Efficacious Grace is like being struck by a lightning bolt where as everyone else gets "illuminated" by the strike, you actually get hit by the bolt. So what is it? It is the work of the Holy Spirit unto the elect of God, illuminating the Gospel, convicting the heart and freeing the sinner to freely respond (accept) to the Lord in obedient faith. It is for the elect of God:

Many are called, but few are chosen~ Matthew 22:14

In other words, Common Grace does not assure salvation. Efficacious (saving) grace is applied to those God has chosen. Those that obtain salvation did nothing to merit it and nothing to earn it. The biblical support for this is numerous.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.~Romans 8:28-29

...or we can just let the Lord Himself explain it in His own spoken words.

"All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.~John 6:37-39

"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: 'They will all be taught by God. Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.~John 6:44-45

"This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him."~John 6:65

Teach Your Children Well

Proverbs 22:6 ~ Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

"Train up" comes from the Hebrew word "khaw-nak" or "hanakh" and means to dedicate or consecrate. It is also mingled in with the idea of making experienced from a mule's bridle allusion. A sense of subduing for the purpose of guiding. If you turn the mule's head with the bridle the entire body will turn with it. Usually, unless the mule is stubborn.

In this verse the word "child" transliterates to "na'ar". In Hebrew this is not just a young child but any child, boy or girl, under marital age. A young man or woman of any age still under the parent's roof or in their care or under their authority.

"The way he should go". Most parents would interpret this "their way" or "the parents way". The literal Hebrew is "upon the mouth of his way" or "way" or "road".

We receive our children from God not as soft pliable lumps of clay ready to be molded into what we think they should become. Each child comes with their own set of abilities, intellect and a way of perceiving and thinking all of which are given to them by God. We can heavily influence them as their stewards through the "na'ar" phase but they have built-in limits given to them by the Almighty. If we try to move beyond those innate abilities it will only end in frustration for the parent and the child.

When you put it all together with the Hebrew idioms and figures of speech it reads: Dedicate, induce, make experienced and submissive by coaxing, the one you call "son" according to his "way" defined by that individual child's characteristic manner and innate ability.

In other words, each child is different and a "one size fits all" manual for raising children is in vain as each child and parent relationship is different. Just like every person has a different relationship with Christ as He has created us all with our own unique capabilities and qualities. We all offer something different to the Body and the Kingdom. If not we would all be cookie-cutter robots. Which we are obviously not. Each parent needs to work within their personality and their child's....in a biblical manner.

The Body

Ephesians 1:22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church

I have studied,prayed read extensively on what I believe are the signs of a “true” church modeled after scripture. To me this was important in choosing and maintaining participation in a church and/or Bible Study. These following items are not in order of importance but they are important.

Effective Prayer
Correct Biblical Doctrine
Effective Witness
Proper Use of Ordinances (Baptism, Lord's Supper)
Effective Fellowship
Correct Church Discipline
Love For Christ
Genuine Worship
Biblical Church Government (Elder’s, Deacons)
Personal Holiness
Spiritual Power in Ministry

Some of these items are nebulous and harder to define but should be generally understood by most church members or the laity. You also need to realize that many of these items, like the process of sanctification, are ongoing processes that continue until members go to meet the Lord. Members need to actively participate in these processes. Like the attributes of the people that constitute individual churches, each church has its own character and has its own strong and weak points. Because most churches have an ongoing process a church must continue to evaluate, pray & seek the Lord’s guidance when it comes to the weak areas (and strong too).

This doesn’t mean believers should try and find the “purest” church but try to work within their own church. To work together with other members in an act of love or in a loving relationship. To strive in unity in Christ. The primary purpose of discipline is to pursue a twofold goal of restoration and reconciliation with God. God disciplines those He loves with gentle admonition (sometimes not so gentle). We need to assure that the sin doesn’t spread in the body. It is like a disease and it can kill. We should protect the church and Christ’s honor. People that continue to sin outwardly so that those outside the church can see it, bring dishonor on their church and Christ. Conversely, we should be aware of when others are already aware of their sin and are trying to work on it. We should try to support and help them with their battle.

February 11, 2010

"Postmodernisms" -or- "They Stole The Meanings To My Words"

We live in a world where they've stolen my language and twisted it. I want it back and I want it straightened out too. I want truth to mean truth, and light to mean light again.

Just like George Orwell penned in his novel 1984, words have been perverted and deconstructed only to be reconstructed to mean something they don't mean.

War is Peace
Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is Strength
Black is White and White is Black
...but only when "they" say so.

Love used to mean something sacred not sex.

Hate use to have a purposeful but negative connotation not just a word that that people tossed at others because you didn't like their view.

Differing opinions were differing opinions not "hate speech"

Liberal and liberation used to mean freedom not oppression.

Believing in something was conviction and you were willing to stand behind that conviction and back it up with words and actions if need be.

There was only one absolute truth, now everyone is correct.

There was only one truth not a construct of the state or society's leaders, privileged classes, and institutions of power to manipulate the masses.

Laws were based on inalienable rights given to us by God not based on case law and decisions handed down by other judges based in their opinions and their capriciousness.

Inclusive meant including someone or something not excluding them because they don't agree with you.

Where sin was called sin not pro-choice, tolerance or an alternative lifestyle.

Where tolerance was a form of forgiveness and not an excuse for ignoring blatantly obvious sin or ignoring people that chose to live immoral lives.

Where diversity was a strength and enriched culture not an excuse to give certain people unfair advantages and the right to discriminate against a host culture or the majority.

Gender was determined by your genes and chromosomes not your opinions or perception of reality or based in a social construct.

That terminologies or words themselves were interpreted not deconstructed. That words themselves have actual and absolute meanings in their context and that there was a single authorial intent when they are/were written not a myriad of possible interpretations.

People use to be called men and women not human resources.

Where you were sexually promiscuous or sexually immoral not sexually active.

Where criminals were called criminals not behaviorally disadvantaged.

Illegal Aliens were people in a country illegally not Undocumented Workers.

The list goes on but my patience for deliberate disinformation does not. When you cannot pinpoint through terminologies or words what something is or isn't you cannot identify it. If you cannot identify you cannot say with certitude what is right or wrong. If nothing can be determined to be right or wrong than chaos ensues.

Isaiah 5:20-22 ~ Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

February 9, 2010

When It Isn't Okay

When we consider the things the Bible doesn't speak directly to in the modern day like cloning, bioethics, genetic manipulation, etc...when you're not sure, adhere to the following list. If the Bible does speak to it, obey the Bible and stop reading this blog. Failure to obey inevitably leads to sin or something worse, possibly punishment. In the case of those that have not accepted salvation...it means damnation.

There are a set of principles or criteria we need and should try to adhere to when deciding whether or not something is okay to do or is a sin and disagreeable to God. If the deed, action or thought meet the following criteria than I would say they are okay for you to do.

Edification: Will it produce something spiritually beneficial for someone else or me?

1 Corinthians 10:23-All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable All things are lawful, but not all things edify.

Enslavement: Will it lead to spiritual/physical bondage for someone else or me?

1 Corinthians 6:12-All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.

Exposure: Will it expose someone else's or my mind or body to to defilement or sin.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20-Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

Esteem: Will it benefit others or cause them to stumble.

1 Corinthians 8:8-9-But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat. But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.

Evangelism: Does it further the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a positive biblical manner?

Matthew 28:19-20-Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Ethics: Does it violate my conscience?

Romans 14:23-But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.

Psalm 66:18-If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear;

Exalting: Does It bring glory to the Lord?

1 Corinthians 10:31-Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

So tell me...does abortion meet these qualifications? Cheating on a spouse? Sexual deviance? Calling truth lies and lies truth? Justifying murder because your religion calls for it? Manipulating people to your own ends to get financial gain, power?

Does it, can it or will it enslave or trap you or someone else? We are either slaves (Gk: doulos) to sin or slaves to Christ

February 8, 2010

The Outpost

I am now an alien here, a stranger in a strange land. The manners, customs and behavior of this land are strange and, at times, repulsive. I am a foreigner serving at an outpost of the homeland/kingdom, far from home. I have my own home and am a citizen of another community (politeuma) and it is not of this world.

Philippians 3:20
For our citizenship (Gk: "politeuma"-citizenship in a commonwealth) is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ...

Context: Paul was speaking to Philippi here. They were a Roman colony formed in 41-42BC after the defeat of Brutus. Octavian reconstituted the colony and it took on a decidedly Italian flavor due to the presence of Italian settlers and the constant movement of Roman troops passing through the city becasue of its strategic position in Macedonia.

John 17:14-17
"I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.

We are like a military outpost in the wilderness like John Dunbar on the frontier of Dances With Wolves. We live in this world but we are strangers to it. We are here to send a messege of redemption, atonement, peace....the message of Jesus Christ

The whole time we are here on the frontier we continue to look for others like ourselves but one of our main tasks is to spread the seeds of salvation on the borderlands of the frontier in hopes that some of these seeds will meet fertile ground.

Matthew 13:5-8
Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

Because once some of these seeds take root and germinate, the possibility that they will come to full fruition is certain.

Hebrews 10:22
“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.”

1 John 3:9
No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.

The word seed in 1 John 3:19 is transliterated from the Greek word sperma: something sown, i.e. seed (including the male "sperm"); by implication, offspring; specially, a remnant (figuratively, as if kept over for planting):--issue, seed. Something that, once it germinates or begins at conception...pushes outward displacing in volume what was once in it's place. In the case of a seed the seed of a tree (mustard tree) displaces soil. In the case of a human fetus, it pushes out into the world. Both produce more offspring or seeds. These seeds are planted and germinate because of faith given to us through grace from the Lord Almighty. Implication: As Christ grows (like a seed) in us He forces out everything else. We grow in holiness. We become sanctified towards our ultimate goal of glorification in Christ. The analogy the Lord has put in the Bible is nothing short of perfectly brilliant.

Since we live as an outpost on the frontier (this world) far from our real home(Heaven) we need to sow the seeds in the outer fields and while we are out there on the edge we are to act as sentinels or sentrys, outlooks to protect those in the faith and to spot prospective recievers of The Word.

John Dunbar, first represented the Army and secondly represented himself. We represent Christ and His Kingdom and secondly represent ourselves. What we do on this frontier dictates whether we live or die and whether others live or die on the eternal scale of things. It is a matter of life and death. The chances of survival are greatly increased when we plant seeds to produce new seeds and recruit those around us to be a community and establish a bastion of like-minded people. That like-mindedness? Jesus Christ. We become a light on the dark frontier to bring people in from the wilderness so they too can live.

February 7, 2010

Dark Matter...Science Believes in Nothing

After reading some scientific articles I again am perplexed with science's lack of perception. Dark Matter. Scientists now believe in an object/entity that they have never observed or measured. They are so sure that "it" exists that they now believe "it" binds the universe together (Heb 1:3). If dark matter didn't exist, or so scientists claim, the cosmos would fly apart. I can already anticipate the response from the scientific community if I challange their claim...

"Of course, at the moment we cannot offer any empirical evidence for the existance of dark matter, but we're sure that someday we will."
"While we have seen dark matter's effects in space, no one has actually detected a particle of dark matter." The reality is that scientists have seen certain effects in space which they "believe" might be attributed to an unseen, unmeasured force that they are calling dark matter.

Scientists are now willling to build a scientific system around and based on "effects" of an unseen and unmeasured particle/entity. The next time someone from a science background asks me to account for my invisible God I will recite the following:

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun ~ Psalms 19:1-4

The effects of God's active work on the universe are present everywhere, yet dark matter atheists would rather reject the obvious in-your-face effects/explanations (Occam's Razor) stated in the Bible and put their faith in a god of their own making. Faith in a cosmic glue that no one has ever seen nor can they measure.

Of course science would be in a bind if they found this particle too. They would have to explain how it was created since all science agrees that our universe is deteriorating (entropy) and is a finite closed system (which means it and everything in it has a beginning).

And what would they call it if it was found? In todays postmodern society I think the "Nothing Particle" or "?" or "..." would be apropos.

Can you imagine how I would be confronted if I said, "I believe in an unseen entity and I can't locate it with pinpoint precision but I've see it's effects in the created universe around me based on my observations...of course I can't measure Him but I will call Him God, Jesus Christ"

People would laugh at me.

...and they often do so, and mock me, and marginalize me and try to discredit me...

They crucified Him. How much more will they view me with utter contempt and other aspects of His creation?

How sad.

February 6, 2010

Good Isn't GOOD Enough

When God says "GOOD" we think we understand what He is saying. When He says "HOLY" we again believe we know what He is saying. Do we? Do we really know what God means by good and holy? God has clearly spelled out in detail what he considers GOOD. We need only look at the Bible. Let's look at this from the Bible's point of view which is God's disclosure of who and what He is to mankind. What are some examples of what God says GOOD and HOLY are?

God created light.
Genesis 1:3-4 "And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good"

God made creation.
Genesis 1:31 "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good"

Jesus laid down His life for our sin.
John 10:11 "I am (ego eimi) the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."
Sacrifice for others welfare.

Doing good for others.
1 Corinthians 10:24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.

Now let us look at what God deems holy.

Leviticus 11:44 "You shall be holy, for I am holy."

One of the clearest depictions of God's holiness is...

Isaiah 6:2-5 "Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."

Isaiah was convinced that his demise was eminent being in the presence of Holy God...and he was correct. An angel eventually pulled a coal from the alter of the Lord to purify him. Even the Seraphs covered their faces. Additionally, wherever the Bible shows a repetition of words it is drawing particular emphasis on that statement of attribute.

How heavenly creatures worship God.
"Revelation 4:8 And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, "HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME." That's all these four living creatures did and they seemed fairly content doing it too.

In this lifetime, as humans, can we ever truly understand this kind of holiness? It is difficult for man to understand true holiness let alone attain it. This is evident in the fact that it takes our entire lives from the point of conversion to our deaths to attain glorification in Jesus Christ through and act of sanctification.

Case-in-point: Many people tell me that I am good at painting pictures through words. Then the same folks say that the Psalmists or King Solomon in Proverbs and Song of Solomon was good at painting pictures with words. We are talking about levels of magnitude of difference it these comparisons that are not just absurd, they defy words. Such is the case when God thinks and says, "GOOD" or "HOLY" and when man thinks and says, "good" or "holy" [capital & lowercase letters are intentional]. We will spend eternity trying to understand the Lord's HOLINESS. So, do you think you are good enough? Do you believe you are holy enough? Only Jesus Christ was good enough. The unblemished lamb & sacrifice that stood in our stead to atone for our wretchedness & sin. He was the propitiation for our lack of goodness and holiness. Even at our best, even at our holiest we are a wretched lot. We have an advocate people. The One to take our case to the right hand of the Father and allow the Father to look at us as HOLY and there was nothing we did to earn it. It was solely through God's grace and mercy that this can happen.

Romans 8:7-8 “The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God".

John 17:17 "Jesus prayed thus, "Sanctify [make holy] them through thy word: thy word is truth".

If man obeys verses that teach him to maintain certain thoughts, values, and speech, he becomes HOLY (Philippins 4:8; Matthew 6:33) It must be understood that man participates in his holiness, God does not force or directly impart holiness

2 Corinthians 7:1 "Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God."

February 4, 2010

A Lamp Unto My Feet

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. ~Psalms 119:105

Let us think about the world when this psalm was probably written. At the latest it was the 5th century B.C. There were no electric lights, no ambient light reflecting from clouds near metropolitan or urban centers. If there was no full moon it was difficult to see at night. If it was a new moon it would’ve been near impossible to see at night. To have been able to even see where you were going you would’ve need a lamp to see at night. Most of the lamps used at night in the 5th century B.C. and older were not very bright. At best it illuminated your path a step ahead when walking. If you were lucky it would illuminate two steps ahead.

"I am the Light of the World" ~John 8:12

If Jesus is the light of the world, and He is, the intensity of the light that we allow to illuminate our path is directly proportional to our faith. The stronger our faith the more Christ illuminates our path. So why is our faith so important? Why do we need the lamp to begin with? We live in the darkness of this world. It behooves us to strengthen our faith in Christ to be able to see deeper into the darkness so we can discern our path farther ahead so that we do not stumble and fall in the darkness. Additionally, the more lamps (believers) you have concentrated in a single area the brighter and more intense it is and the more effective it is pushing the darkness away.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. ~Ephesians 6:12

Until the day when Christ returns in power in His second coming, the darkness of this world’s system rules in power and people will need a lamp in this darkness. The only place it does not rule is in the Christian who act as lights to the world and an illuminating outpost of the kingdom.

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden”~ Matthew 5:14

We do not belong to the darkness and this is why we stand out.

…for you are all sons of light and sons of day We are not of night nor of darkness~1 Thessalonians 5:5

Sifting The Word

Acts 17:11 ~ “Now these [Berean Jews] were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”

What made the Bereans noble-minded? “more noble”, (Gk: eugenesteroi)-“better bred”.

1. “They received the word with great eagerness” …were willing to hear reason, and admit the force of it, and to subscribe to that which appeared to them to be truth, though it was contrary to their former sentiments. Conversely, in Thessalonica many of the Jews out of pride and prejudice refused to listen. The Bereans on the other hand received it into their hearts, so that it had a place there, and worked effectually in them: they believed it, not with a mere historical faith, but from the heart obeyed this form of doctrine delivered to them; and this they did with all readiness, as an hungry man receives his food and feeds on it. They received the word with the joy of the Holy Spirit. The word (Gk: logos) “something said” or to “relate” (in words [usually of systematic or set; a discourse)…the spoken word of the apostles, the word of truth, the Gospel of Salvation. They (Bereans) received into their understandings, not merely notionally, so as to give their assent to it; but spiritually and experimentally, being opened by the Spirit of God for the purpose of the Gospel. They received it into their hearts, so that it had a place there, and worked effectually in them.

2. “Examining the scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” Examine (Gk: anakrinontes)-to scrutinize. “to see whether these things were so.” (ei echoi tauta houtos). Literally: "if these things had it thus."
They did not dispute with the orator or source of the words they compared what they heard up against what they knew as truth, the writings in the Old Testament. To see whether the things which the apostle preached, concerning the Messiah, his incarnation, obedience, sufferings, death, and resurrection from the dead correlated with the OT. Which is the same as what Christ did on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:27, 32)

Their nobility had nothing to do with their earthly birth, it had to do with their spiritual birth.

February 3, 2010

Description: Scourging

There is no picture necessary for this post. Your mind creates the horror of this image on its own.

Hebrew law dictated a limit of 40 lashes, the Pharisees being scrupulous and wishing to make sure the number was not exceeded and the law violated opted usually for 39. To make sure they didn't violate the law. The Romans had no such inhibitions. The only Roman stipulation was that the flogger didn't kill the victim. The device used was called a flagrum. It had a short handle with several thick leather straps. On the end of which were tied either balls of lead to contuse and bruise the flesh or "tali" which were ankles bones of sheep, pieces of metal or metal hooks. Both of which were intended to "drain the life" out of the victim before crucifixion. When describing a scourging Horace; said "sectum flagellis--praeconis ad fastidium" (Horace; Epode IV) "So torn by whips as to disgust those in charge" which concurs with Scripture. Additionally, the word "excruciatus" or excruciating derives from this torture and coined in the middle ages. Literally translated it means "out of the crucified". If you think you've got it bad...you need only compare the things you are enduring to the things Jesus endured on our behalf. Holy is his name. Exalted above all others.

It's A Plan Not A Prediction

Prophecy is not prediction. It is a divine plan. To a God that sees all points in time simultaneously the future is "now" for Him. When God spoke to the prophets He was not revealing predictions...He was stating facts. Only from a human vantage point can they be deemed foretelling. He has given these plans so that man understands that when they are fulfilled, God is glorified.

February 2, 2010

God Works Through the Land and The Man to Prosper "His" Field

Jesus and the Parable of the Rich Fool…

Luke 12:16~Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully.”

The Rich Fool [the planter of the field] didn’t produce the product that would make him richer, it was the field that produced. In other words: God. God provides the plenty or rewards in life. It is He that prospers the harvest. It is he that makes the land produce.

Yes, the man played a hand in his prosperity by working and planting the field…but what would’ve happened if the field was blighted or suffered drought. God worked through the land as well as the man to produce the fruit. The Rich Fool did not see this though. He saw his prosperity solely as the fruit of his own labors, so they were deemed as his own. The reality is the fruits of his labors were God’s. What did he do with the surplus? The fool misappropriated them. He keeps them for himself. He did not need it all. He was hoarding. There were others [the poor] that needed it more but got none in the story. What did the rich fool want to do? Build more barns. The Bible is not against possessions. It is against the misuse of possessions. So what did all this gain the rich fool. A lot of trouble for his self-centered efforts…

Luke 12:20 "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”

What good is a barn, house, life full of goods if you are a walking dead man? Can your toys survive the fire of judgment at your death?

Know Your Audience

Paul uses the image of a "colony [politeuma] of heaven" (Philippians 3:20) to bring out several aspects of Christian existence. By speaking of the Christian community this way Paul encouraged his listeners/readers to think along certain lines. The Christian post is an outpost of heaven here on earth. It speaks the language of the homeland and adheres to it's laws dispite the fact that the world around speaks differently and adheres to a different set of laws. The colony's institutions an beliefs system are that of the homeland and one day these colonists will return to the homeland. These citizens will also take up all the rights and privileges that citizenship confers. This image lends dignity and hope to the "now" and "not yet" and the bittersweet feeling of not belonging to the world and feeling like a third wheel.

Context: Paul was speaking to Philippi here. They were a Roman colony formed in 41-42BC after the defeat of Brutus. Octavian reconstituted the colony and it took on a decidedly Italian flavor due to the presence of Italian settlers and the constant movement of Roman troops passing through the city becasue of its strategic position in Macedonia. The language, imagery and outlook would then have a decidedly Roman flavor even though it was not in Rome or Italy proper. They would exist in the Roman "thought world", hence Pauls's analogy. Philippi was conscinece of their ties with Rome and would've understood Paul perfectly. Paul was speaking their langauge shaping his message to his audience. Paul did the same thing in (Acts 17:22-31) Areopogus sermon.

The Garbage

There are those that accept Jesus intellectually but don’t truly accept Him into their hearts because they are unable too.


They have too much other clutter and garbage in the way, too much refuse blocking the path. The mound of junk is too high. Life takes over their house and pushes Christ out. People have so much junk in their house that it blocks the door when Jesus might have a chance to enter. So what’s stopping your door from opening all the way? Burned in a relationship, arrogance, narcissism, vanity, control freak, physically abused, mentally abused, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, pride, lust, stupidity? What is it? It is a ballast on your spirit.

Some would say, “Well, if he is all powerful, why doesn’t He just force His way in and make people love Him?”

Would you want to force a person to love you? Would you want to force your way into someone’s life and make them love you, accept you? Would that kind of “love” mean as much to you if you had to force a person to do it? Would it mean anything? Would it really be love?

He had the power to raise Himself from the grave and roll the stone from His tomb after His resurrection but he will not enter through the door to your heart without your permission…and the baggage/clutter that you carry, that you refuse to let go of is blocking His way.

Yeah, that stuff! The garbage you don’t really need. The things that are slowly suffocating you. The garbage that is crushing the breath of life out of you. You are being smothered with your possessions and what you “think” you possess. I have to be honest folks, I’ve never seen a dead man own anything.

This goes for all those that proclaim that they love the Lord. Those that have already accepted Christ and never talk/pray to Him. The one’s that treat Christ as window dressing in their lives. The ones that make Christ a "lifestyle" rather than a "LIFE". The Sunday Warriors. We are told to love the Lord God with all our hearts…and our neighbors as ourselves. We need to do that.

What is stopping you from doing that? What junk? Empty out your house. Take out the garbage. The garbage that has become you. Let the Lord God clean house and furnish it. It’ll be more comfortable. You can’t take your junk with you anyway. Take His yoke, it is easy.

Truth or Intolerances

Truth is exclusive [regardless of what the world wants you to think]. Truth needs to exclude that which is not true; which means anything that is false. I am Andy Pierson, a scribe, theologian, weightlifter, husband of Sharon Pierson, father of Seth and Bryce, member of Northpointe Community Church. I can be no other person and no other person can be me. Only one person can be me, and that person is me. There may be others that look like me. That married a woman named Sharon. That are weightlifters, but none are me. Because there is absolutely no possibility that anyone else can be me doesn’t mean that anyone who affirms this fact like my wife or children is intolerant. Someone that says you are not me is not being intolerant they are merely making a correct statement about who “I” am. Likewise, nowadays, Christians who claim exclusivity to a single defining faith are viewed as being intolerant solely for reviewing the facts or evidence and arriving at a conclusion or conviction.

Tolerance is not the question or the issue here, truth is.

The postmodern world believes that even after you have arrived at a truth claim you should continue to be open minded or “keep your mind open” to other truths. If you have already determined what is true why would you continue to look for the truth you have already found? This becomes an unreasonable expectation/proposition. Why would an observer maintain open-mindedness to a second alternative view when truth can only be one of them and the observer has already determined which is true? It is then the one who disbelieves Christianity in the face of the best truth argument then becomes… intolerant. To continue to stay open-minded in the face of this truth then becomes foolishness. There can only be one truth. You tell me, which one is it? I already know the answer. Truth is not dependant on a viewer or viewpoint. Real truth is absolute regardless of whether you or I exist or not. That truth is Christ. Just because someone else’s map to the truth is wrong doesn’t mean the truth itself is wrong.
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