Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Beautiful, Colorful Church

The Beautiful, Colorful Church

 Someone asked me, recently, why there were so many varieties of Christian churches?  Wasn’t one good enough?  Was only one right, and the others wrong?  What gives? Good questions, and I will use a box of crayons to, excuse the pun, illustrate my answer.  Now, ask yourself, what can be finer than a brand new box of crayons.  All those sharp, clean  points, and that rainbow of waxy colors, it holds limitless creative possibilities. I don’t want to buy a box of all black crayons any more than one that contains only red.  While we all have our favorites, the skillful use of each one is vital in creating an appealing finished project.  An interesting composition is derived from subtle tones, shading and the use of many colors.

In the church that Christ envisioned, there were many different “colors“.  People with various talents and gifts working together to build and further his church. Remember that the church is the earthly group of believers, not a building or a denomination.  It’s easy to see then, how we, his church, resemble that  box of crayons, we’re all different. God designed us like that, because that’s how he rolls.  Look at his creation, there isn’t just one kind of flower, animal or rock, no, there are multitudes. God realized that to be successful, his greatest work of art, the church, must be a unique assortment of followers.  A box containing only one color is boring.  So too, a church that’s monochromatic.

Let’s face it, we all are designed to worship God in our own way.   Some of us are the flamboyant type, and find our expression in singing and  writing.  Others are teachers, leaders, organizers and hospitable hosts, all working to the same end.  “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.”  1 Corinthians 12: 4-6.

The church can’t continue with only one kind of talent, it needs them all. Just because we enter different sanctuaries, doesn’t mean we’re coming out of different boxes of crayons.  Over the centuries, however, division has occurred.  Instead of working together on the picture that God began, we started name-calling and camp choosing.  We’ll never be able to complete the picture with only the colors our denomination selects.  We must all work together, in harmony, striving for the exact same end.  David knew this when he said, “How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity!”  Psalm 133:1.  Paul loving reminds us in this way. “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. “Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.”  Ephesians 4:2-6.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let’s remember that we’re all crayons in His big box;  Colorful, varied and beautiful, just like the picture of his beautiful church!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Finger Pointing

Finger Pointing.    Have you ever been the recipient of a finger point?  No, not that finger, the other one, the one we like to point, in judgment, at people.   Oh how we love to flex our digits.  I’m sure, that you, like myself, have been both a pointer and a pointee. Here’s an example of what you might hear a pointer say: “I don’t know how a person can call themselves a Christian, and watch that TV show (or read that book, see that movie, wear that outfit etc.)!”  I have a friend who likes to use comments like this one.  While not mentioning my name, but I know they're referring to me. The pointing part is easy, and the self-righteous feeling we get is really good, but being on the receiving end, not so much.  We try to shrug the comment off, but the feeling of condemnation gets on us like stink on a wet dog!

 What is our role, as Christians, when it comes to fault finding?  Is it our right to condemn? First and foremost, our actions should line up with what Jesus did. The Bible addresses this issue in numerous scriptures. “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  Galatians 6:1.  So, it seems that it is ok, in fact God encourages us to do so, gently!!  Gently implies that we do so in a loving, burden-carrying, non-judgmental way, and no finger pointing allowed!  When we start pointing out even minor faults in others, we lose track of our own pretty fast.  I think we’re all familiar with this verse.  “How can you think of saying, 'Friend, let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,' when you can't see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye.”  Luke 6:42. Remember the old saying, when you point a finger, there are three more pointing back at you!!!

When in doubt, go back to Jesus, and how he handled this often awkward subject. It was not Jesus’ habit to point an accusatory finger at sinners.  Remember the woman caught in adultery? “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7.  He did, however, get into the faces of the “religious” folks who had itchy pointing fingers.  Are there instances when we should go to another Christian with the intent to gently restore them?  Certainly!  If we stand back, when a brother or sister is being drawn into a sin that could effect their relationship with God,  we have a loving responsibility to help them.

Before starting on our own personal crusade, we must be sure of what God considers sin, by reading and understanding his word. Paul reminds us that, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 2 Timothy 3:16. Finger -pointing isn’t useful, gentle or loving, and rarely discourages the pointee.  Are you familiar with John 3:17?   “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”  So, holster those fingers, pardners, and instead start pointing people towards Jesus!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Knitting Project

Knitting Project    “For You formed my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.…” Psalm 139:13l  King David wrote this beautiful ode to creation, and I absolutely love the knitting analogy.  If you‘ve ever tried your hand at knitting, or crochet, you know it can be a very rewarding hobby.  The process of transforming a lifeless skein of wool, with the skillful use of slender needles, into a scarf, sweater or afghan is so fulfilling. It should give us a glimpse of the satisfaction that God must get from seeing a new human being take shape in its mother’s womb.  God, the master knitter, has the vision of the finished project, you and me, in his mind.

Whether or not David ever knit in his spare time isn’t important, but he saw the complexity of the finished product, and knew that only God could have created it. Life matters, it is a work of art to be sure.  As attitudes towards our Creator have gotten more “casual” over the centuries, so has our opinion on the sanctity of life.  For generations  Christians believed an unborn child, to be what it was, a work in progress.   Now, this “incomplete” project is viewed by many, even some who label themselves as Christians, as "products of conception"  or blobs of tissue, nothing more.

 A woman, who had just returned from the annual March for Life held in Washington, D.C. came to speak at a meeting I attended recently. She wanted to fill us in on the details of the event. She mentioned all the excitement and camaraderie that took place, but there was one thing that caught everyone’s attention.  At a certain point on the parade route, there was a gigantic screen.  Flashing across the screen were images of children after an abortion.  Without going into gory detail, tiny body parts were collected in bowls to be disposed of without ceremony.  When the marchers passed by, total silence gently washed over the throngs. The sight of dismembered babies, once and for all, debunked the man-made myth of a lifeless tissue blob.  There were no dry eyes, and no unbelievers.

Life is truly life from conception to natural death.  An unborn child is like a sweater that is not quite finished, but we can still clearly see the design and purpose. (Have you ever seen a 4D sonogram image?)  If someone were to come along and unravel the yarns, the sweater would cease to be.  God clearly tells us what he hates: “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” Proverbs 6:16-19.

Abortion is the shedding of innocent blood, and God hates it.  I know that we may not see Roe vs. Wade overturned in our lifetime, but we may have the opportunity to keep a human being from being unraveled.  “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! “ Deuteronomy 30:19.  Choose life, because we truly are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Friday, February 13, 2015

What is Love?

What is Love? In our sophisticated, modern day society, we have a plethora of words for something simple, like a cup of coffee.  We can say joe, cappuccino, latte, espresso, decaf or fully leaded.  Each describes a certain kind or variety of the basic coffee.  Strangely, the English language, with all its nuances, only has one word for LOVE.  Just one tiny, 4-letter word which can be either a noun or a verb, to serve a wide array of situations.  The ancient Greeks, on the other hand, had 6! Here they are:
 1. Eros, or sexual passion. The first kind of love was eros, named after the Greek god of fertility, and it represented the idea of sexual passion and desire.
2. Philia, or deep friendship. The second variety of love was philia or friendship, which the Greeks valued far more than the base sexuality of eros. Philia concerned the deep comradely friendship that developed between brothers in arms who had fought side by side on the battlefield.
3. Ludus, or playful love. This was the Greeks' idea of playful love, which referred to the affection between children or young lovers.
4. Agape, or love for everyone. The fourth love, and perhaps the most radical, was agape or selfless love. This was a love that you extended to all people, whether family members or distant strangers. Agape was later translated into Latin ascaritas, which is the origin of our word "charity."
5. Pragma, or longstanding love. Another Greek love was the mature love known as pragma. This was the deep understanding that developed between long-married couples.
6. Philautia, or love of the self The Greek's sixth variety of love was philautia or self-love.

Not surprisingly, the Bible uses love at least 703 times, covering all the Greek definitions, but more importantly it’s used to describe the nature of its author, God.  “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” 1 John 4:16.  So then, what does it mean to live in love?  Number 4, Agape, most accurately sums it up.  A love extended to all people, even those you don’t particularly like.  Jesus puts it this way: “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” John 13:34.  Impossible, you say?  Without God, yes, and even with his abiding Spirit, it still goes against our inborn nature.

 Today, as we think about Love on Valentine’s Day, I urge you to go beyond romance, chocolates and such. You certainly don’t have to forsake those things, but give some serious thought, and prayer, to becoming more loving in the sense God intends. It will astound you how that simple act can change not only your little world, but the whole world around you.  Please read the 13th Chapter of 1 Corinthians, the quintessential go-to source on the subject.  “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”  1 Corinthians 13


Thursday, February 12, 2015


Convinced.  Did you ever try to convince anyone about something?  Of course you have.  We try to convince our kids to eat vegetables,  a colleague to back a certain candidate, or maybe you work in sales and do it for a living!!  As is my custom, I refer to the online-dictionary for a definition: to move by argument or evidence to belief, agreement, consent, or a course of action.  Hmm, convincing takes argument and evidence to confirm belief.  Jesus worked in just such a way.  He stayed clear of knock-down drag-out arguments, instead he used declaration and demonstration to instill belief , and conviction in those he met.

Let me give you an example.  If you want to convince someone about anything, let’s say quitting smoking, you begin with the argument/declaration.  At the onset you state the facts; it’s expensive, unhealthy, and makes everything stink.  They’ve heard that all before, so now you unload the big guns, evidence.  Maybe it’s documentation of your own battle with nicotine, and how you overcame.  Or demonstrate to them via pictures, videos or other visual sources what smoking does to the body.  Ultimately it is an individual decision based on the argument and evidence.  Jesus does the same.  Throughout scripture, he declares who he is, and what we have to gain in believing him.  Then to bring the point home, he demonstrates his case with miracles, visual evidence of his power.  Nowhere in the Bible do I see Christ belittling or scaring people into believing, he wants us to be convinced.

In the 26th chapter of Acts, Paul is called before King Agrippa to defend his faith in Christ.  He does a marvelous job of declaring/ arguing his case, and then demonstrates it with evidence of his testimony.  Read it for yourself.  Agrippa listens to it all, and then we hear this exchange; “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”

Are you, like Paul, not Agrippa, convinced, beyond all doubt, that Jesus is the Lord of your life?  He has given us all the opportunity to become convinced, though his declaration and demonstration.  Maybe you won’t have to defend your conviction to an earthly king, but one day we will stand before the King of Creation.  You need to Be CONVINCED!! “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow--not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love.” Romans 8:38

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Where's Your Treasure?

Where's Your Treasure?

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19

This verse always puts the desire for earthly possessions in proper perspective, for me. I’ll be honest, I have my share of “collections”, but the older I get, the easier it is for me to part with them.  Of course, part of that is because, my kids are constantly nagging me to purge so they won’t have to deal with it after I check out of Motel Earth!  Lately, with the prospect of moving, looming on the horizon, I’ve been filling boxes and dumpsters with my unnecessary treasures.

Don’t misunderstand me, having stuff is not the problem, but it can, eventually, lead us away from our center, God. Let’s say you have a teapot collection, and you love to add to it.  At some point, it can become an obsession rather than a hobby. If you find yourself neglecting time in the Word, or prayer, to hunt for new teapots, it should send up a red warning flag . Our enemy, the devil, would like nothing more than to have you value your teapots over God.  A weak, prayer less, biblically/spiritually illiterate church is his ultimate goal.

 Take a look around your own house, and honestly ask yourself, “Where is my treasure?”.  Have you located “it”?  This same verse says that where “it” is, there also is your heart.  Wow, is my face red!  God doesn’t tell us to stop collecting, or enjoying hobbies, but he does want us to put them in proper perspective.  Our real treasure is in our personal relationship with Him. He must come first, and we must be willing to dump all the rest, if he asks us to. No, don’t start pitching now, but do open your eyes and hearts to His gentle reminders.

Paul wrote this to us, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7.  So, keep your teapots, books, dishes, pastimes etc., but don’t count them as true treasure, that shelf is reserved for God.  In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. 1 Timothy 6:19.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Zero Shades of Grey

The long anticipated film, 50 Shades of Grey, based on the mega-best seller of the same name, will be hitting US cinemas on February 14th, Valentine‘s Day.  Have you ever seen such hype surrounding a “Love“, (Lust) story before?  Social media is all a twitter, (pardon the pun), television has been tempting us with sultry clips, and just today a new one showed up.  If you haven’t seen it, here’s the gist of it.  Christian (LOL, ironic name choice) Grey shows his “girlfriend” his “Play Room”.  She naively thinks it’s where he keeps his X-Box.  Oh how wrong she is, as we see her face freeze in, disbelief, shock, you fill in the blank, when she realizes the kind of games he plays.  Hint, they are not of the video ilk, although video taping the games may be part of it. Her only words are, “Oh my God!” The sight of this room should make her run for the nearest exit, but that would make for a rather thin plot.

 If you haven’t heard about this movie, I have to ask, have you been living under a rock? Seriously, Praise God and good for you!!  I’ll admit up front, I haven’t read it, nor do I intend to, and here‘s why.  Unbiased, Wikipedia describes it like this: “Fifty Shades of Grey is a 2011 erotic romance novel by British author E. L. James. It is the first installment in the Fifty Shades trilogy that traces the deepening relationship between a college graduate, Anastasia Steele, and a young business magnate, Christian Grey. It is notable for its explicitly erotic scenes featuring elements of sexual practices involving bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism.” Let’s face it, our flesh/sin nature is curious about such things, but knowing that the Holy Spirit is being subjected to whatever we watch, read, ingest etc., should make us want to pass.

Why is it then, that many Christian people, especially women, are justifying the reading of this trash?  It’s easy to defend it to other readers, but what about to God?  Paul tells the Ephesians this, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30.  This book is grievous not only to God’s Holy Indwelling Spirit, but to all of us who believe.  God implores us through his word to avoid this kind of material.  “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, (or go into your brains) but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29.  “Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God's people.” Ephesians 5:3.

Am I saying that you’re not a Christian, or that your salvation is in jeopardy if you read it?  That’s not my call, but I have to wonder, and so should you, how the powerful lure of this novel can make people turn their backs on the word of God, and enter a very “grey“ area. The fact is, there are ZERO gray or “Grey” areas in God.  “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;…” 1 John 1:5-6.  It’s oh so easy to be sucked into darkness, by the siren call of the world…Don’t go there!!  Always allow Christ to be your light when you feel tempted to enter any of life’s Grey areas.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Oh Come Let Us Endure Him

Oh Come Let Us Endure Him.   No, this isn’t a typo, just my knee-jerk reaction to something I saw on Facebook recently.  The topic of the tongue-in-cheek post was an insider’s perspective on being a member of a particular church.  Some of the humorous “secrets”, as they were called, included, among other things: that communion wafers taste like cardboard; it’s ok to halfway kneel during church; don’t give up anything you really like for Lent; sitting through a service tests your ability to stay awake; and get to church late, so you can stand in the back and leave early.  Don’t think I didn’t get a chuckle out of this post, I did, mainly because we tend to laugh at what we identify with.  My point is not to pick on any church “brand“, because these things occur in any denomination, but to focus on what our ultimate goal in going to church is.

 Many Christians feel that Church, like cod liver oil, daily exercise and housework is some odious task we do, because we feel we must.  The end justifies the means, so to speak.  If we endure the service, and follow religious rules, we’ll fulfill an obligation, and hopefully gain enough points to achieve Heaven.  After church, we make fun of it, and pat ourselves on the back for having endured. Yes, I was once a member of that group, if I made it to church, which wasn’t often.

 I’m not saying that enduring is wrong.  It’s not!  In fact endure is used frequently in scripture, but not in the sense I just described.  For example, “If we endure, we will also reign with Him;” 2 Timothy 2:12.  When Paul was telling Timothy, that suffering, in one form or another, will happen in all our lives that we must endure, he didn’t mean the church service!!!  So then, let’s go back to the verse from “Oh Come All Ye Faithful”, the word used in the hymn wasn’t endure, it’s ADORE. “God is a spirit; and they that adore him, must adore him in spirit and in truth. ... “ John 4:24.  Adore carries with it love, respect, utmost admiration  and spiritually speaking, the desire to express that love in true worship. When you adore someone, no one can force you to express it any more than they can tell you to be silent. It is free-flowing from a heart that is full of love.  Can you see what a difference it is to endure?  Let’s bring this discussion down to an earthly level.  Would you rather your loved ones adore you, or endure you?  That’s a no-brainer!!  God doesn’t want pews filled with “endurers”, any more than you want to see  your grand kids squirming to leave your presence.  Are you enduring or adoring? Please, search your hearts, and the Bible, and make the decision to replace endure with adore in your Christian life!


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Amazing Authority

  Are you up for a trip in the Biblical time machine today?  I hope so!  I’ll be Mr. Peabody,  and all you Shermans, hold on tight!  We set the dials to the year 30 A.D., and viola  in a puff of smoke, and a grinding of gears, we arrive.  Outside the conveyance, we immediately feel the warm dry air, and see throngs of people  making their way to the local synagogue in Capernaum.  It is the Sabbath, and that’s what folks feel obligated to do.  There is some grumbling about how boring the service will be, but they console themselves with the knowledge that their attendance appeases God.  At least they sure hope so!  “All we ever hear is, ‘keep the Law, keep the Law’”, they groan.  “When have we ever heard anything new, or encouraging? Never!”  is the unanimous lament.

 In those days, going to the Synagogue was more akin to attending a dissertation on the Law. It was an elaboration on the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch.  There wasn’t a priest, or minister, any man could go forward and read from the scroll. As we take our seats, a low mumbling fills the hushed air.  Rather than one of the usual men going forth, a young guy, who just turned 30, Jesus, makes his way to the rack of ancient documents.  Recently, the whole region of Galilee had been abuzz with the name of Jesus.  A well-respected fellow who, with his cousin John, had created  quite a scene at the river a few weeks ago.  Since then he had vanished for 40 days, but was now back in town. Anticipation had the assembly turn their thoughts from matzo ball soup, to the man at the dais. Here’s how Mark describes the scene: “Jesus and his companions went to the town of Capernaum. When the Sabbath day came, he went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike the teachers of religious law.”  Mark 1:21-22.

 Real authority, what does that mean?  To understand, you must realize that the only thing the Jewish people were clinging to was the interpretation of the Law, by the scholars.  The voice of God, through the prophets, had been silent for over 400 years.  All the learned men could do was restate the word, and devise more  laws, basing them on past, earthly teachings.  Jesus didn’t quote any old scholar to support his interpretation, instead he spoke as God directed, and with His full authority.

This may not seem earth shattering to you, but to those suffering from an overload of legalism, it was a fresh, sweet breeze blowing through that stifling atmosphere.  Pulses began to race, and then this happened: “Suddenly, a man in the synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit began shouting, “Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” Jesus cut him short. “Be quiet! Come out of the man,” he ordered. At that, the evil spirit screamed, threw the man into a convulsion, and then came out of him.” 23-26.  What should amaze you from this verse, is that the demon recognized Jesus immediately, not the “church folk”.  If Jesus hadn’t had the attention of those gathered before, he did now!  “Amazement gripped the audience, and they began to discuss what had happened. “What sort of new teaching is this?” they asked excitedly. “It has such authority! Even evil spirits obey his orders!” The news about Jesus spread quickly throughout the entire region of Galilee. 27-28.

No one had ever spoken or acted with such power and authority since the prophets, and that was ancient history!  After the service, people were clambering to reach Jesus, to shake his hand and ask questions.  Those at the back, ran to the coffee shop to tell anyone and everyone what they had just witnessed.  As we head back to the time machine, some of you feel like you’ve been missing out.  Your church service is dry, and lacking in this awesome display of power, and authoritative teaching.  It shouldn’t be!  Jesus came to save us from legalism, and stale sermons, and you don’t have to travel back in time to find that exuberance.  I won’t tell you where to find it, but inquire of God and he will direct you.  Jesus, and his church, is still in the amazing business!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Biblical Iliteracy

Biblical Illiteracy. While listening to Christian radio, the other day, I heard this term used.  For some reason I’d never  put those two words together, but sadly they made sense.  There are lots of people in the world, who call themselves Christians, but have little to no working knowledge of the Bible.  Does that automatically mean they aren’t genuine believers? Of course not, but it does makes me wonder why they choose to stay illiterate. Perhaps they don’t even realize it.

When I think of illiteracy, old western movies come to mind.  Remember those cowboys signing important documents with an X?  Stupidity wasn’t the issue, lack of education was.  I fear that many Christians today resemble those crusty cowpokes.  When asked about why they have faith in God, their silence belies their lack of study, so in essence they sign with an X.  The biblical information that they possess is minimal, and sketchy at that. Think about it, how much information do you have? Everyone loves to pass along in-depth book reviews on the latest novel they’ve read, but can we do the same about the Bible?

The online dictionary defines illiterate as:  displaying a marked lack of knowledge in a particular field:  God’s word goes on to say this: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…” Hosea 4:6.  Destroyed by lack of knowledge, wow!! If your life depended on your knowledge of God’s word, would you still be breathing?  I’m not saying you need to memorize chapter and verse, few are won over by that kind of knowledge.  As the well worn saying goes, it’s not what you know, but who you know.  OK, so I’ve taken some liberty with that phrase, but it’s essential that we know enough about the Bible to explain our faith in “Who we know”, God. That will most certainly  require you to have enough information to support your case.  I watch enough Law & Order to know that without citing precedents, your case for Christ will crumble.

Learning the scriptures is a joy, not an odious obligation.  David knew that when he said, “May my tongue sing of your word, for all your commands are righteous.” Psalm 119:172.  If you’ve never tried, please find a Bible and begin, or better yet a Bible study group.  Believe it or not, I was once counted as one of the illiterate.  I thought the basic knowledge I had was sufficient.  How wrong I was.  Ignorance of the law never holds up in a court of law, nor will it before the Throne of God. Besides, Bible study is just so enjoyable, you’ll find that it becomes addictive! “Every Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness…” 2 Timothy 3:16. Pull yourself out of Biblical illiteracy, and into the full, joyful knowledge of His Word!!


Sunday, February 1, 2015

God is Utterly Evil

It’s funny the posts that show up randomly on my Facebook page, so before you think I’ve lost my religion, allow me to explain. This recent TV interview with British actor Stephen Fry, found its way to me. Take time to look at it for yourself, but today I want you to think what your reply to him would be.  This is not the first time that I’ve heard God called evil.  He’s always blamed for everything from giving children cancer, to causing natural disasters and in general is viewed, by those who don’t “know” him as, well, evil!

 If you don’t, as Paul Harvey used to say, know the rest of the story, you might start believing that lie as well.  Fry, besides being a very intelligent man, is an avowed atheist.  If you ever have to defend your faith to anyone, this is not a combination you want to face without spiritual bullets in your guns.  So, how will you counter his claims that God is an evil maniac?  If he had disparaged your child, friend or parents, you wouldn’t have a problem defending them.  But is your trust and knowledge in God that solid?  Atheists don’t want to hear about Biblical character references, because they don’t believe in it anyway.

Are you scratching your head?  You should be!  Why not start by asking them to describe what a world without God would be like.  Would people be loving and kind to one another?  Would there be disease, pestilence and such?  John Lennon, in “Imagine”, thought it would be a great place.  “Imagine there's no heaven…And no religion too. Imagine all the people Living life in peace…”  Sadly, he was murdered by one of those peace lovers.  The fact is, we had heaven on earth back in the Garden of Eden.  God warned us of the consequences of disobedience, and we all know how that ended.  But, whether you believe in God or not, it seems obvious that man has only himself to blame for the condition of the world. We all love to point the finger of guilt, and God is the most likely culprit.

So, the way I see it, atheists say they don’t believe in God, but want to blame him for everything anyway! How conveniently they leave out the most important fact, He came to live and suffer along with us! Isaiah 5:20-21 puts it this way when describing people like Fry: “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. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.” How clever indeed, after all, someone has to be responsible for this mess.  Maybe I can’t change Stephen Fry’s earth-bound mind, but one day it will be changed.  For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, "AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD." So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God. Romans 14:10-12.  Maybe this week you’ll run into a Stephen Fry…be prepared to build your faith, and, hopefully, his!