Category: Ministry

How to Construct a Worldview

How to Construct a Worldview

While reading Matthew 5:15 it occurred to me that in the same way that a lamp beneath a basket is obscured, that if a person was under a basket he would not clearly see the world outside the basket. He would experience obstructive filtering of external light. a)While I do not think that this is the intent of this biblical passage, it provided me with a mental picture to serve as an illustration. Only bits and pieces of the outside environment would pass through a woven basket. If you were inside the basket, you may glimpse a bit of blue sky through one hole and a bit of green leaves through another. Your view of the world outside would be incomplete.

I have been thinking about opposing worldviews.

Gather a number of individuals. Have them observe the exact same event. Ask each of them the meaning of what they observed. I predict that you will get as many different views as there are individuals in the group. Some will agree in part. There will be variations. I think that you will see that observers arrive at an event with preconceptions that will shape their observations. I think that some observers arrive hoping to achieve personal agendas.

Our preconceptions and agendas are the basket through which we filter the light. They are essential parts of our worldview.

I propose that it is better to weave your own custom-designed basket rather than passively acquiring a basket that may obscure reality.

An individual may drift into a worldview that is shaped by the culture, environment and influences around him. On the other hand, an individual may examine their culture and influences, decisions and behaviors, preconceptions and intentions and deliberately shape their own worldview in order to provide more coherent and reasonable explanations about life.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.b)Romans 12:2 – ESV

God provides Scripture so that you will allow Him to shape your mind.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.c)Philippians 4:8

Rather than forming a worldview (or allowing a worldview to form) then filtering Scripture through that basket, we should investigate God’s revelation of Himself and use that information and influence to weave our worldview.

The Scriptures will provide coherence, unity, truth, purpose, and fulfillment.

References   [ + ]

a. While I do not think that this is the intent of this biblical passage, it provided me with a mental picture to serve as an illustration.
b. Romans 12:2 – ESV
c. Philippians 4:8
How to Overcome Fear

How to Overcome Fear

“Just tell yourself not to fear.”

This is not biblical advice. The Scriptures do not teach us to eliminate fear by refusing to think about it. Faith is not a denial of the truth. Faith does not require me to lie to myself or others.

Person of FearThere is no incantation to speak over fear that will magically banish it away.

Let’s ask the Scriptures about conditions for not fearing.

God’s Presence is stronger than fear.

Psalm 23 is a favorite. “I won’t fear because You are with me” seems to indicate that God’s presence in our lives can be stronger than the source of fear. In Psalm 23, the source of fear is walking through the valley of the shadow of death.

In Deuteronomy 31, God’s character is emphasized in Moses’ prophetic instruction to Joshua.  “It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” In the face of conflict or threat, the presence of God is stronger than fear or dismay.

Abide in the presence of God whenever you find yourself temporarily in the presence of something fearful. God’s presence is greater than anything that causes fear.

God holds us in His righteousness.

A good memory verse (and a great song from Seeds Family Worship) is Isaiah 41:10. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” This message to Israel teaches about the righteous character of God. God holds us in His righteousness.

The righteous find a safe place in God.

The name of the Lord is a fortified tower;
the righteous run to it and are safe.a)Proverbs 18:10

The righteous possess boldness.

The wicked flee though no one pursues,
but the righteous are as bold as a lion.b)Proverbs 28:1

God is with us. God is with us in times of fear and weakness. Our contact with God is in His righteousness. We ought to wonder what happens to us when we reject righteousness and choose selfishness.

Redemption is a strong factor in conquering fear.

But now thus says the LORD,  he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.'” Isaiah 43:1 indicates that fearlessness is one of the benefits included in redemption.

FAITH | FEAR
or
FAITH | UNBELIEF ?

I propose that fear is not the exact opposite of faith. The antithesis of faith is unbelief.

Antonyms for fear include: assurance, confidence, courage, fearlessness, trust, boldness.

Faith conquers fear by persuading us to fear the right stuff… particularly to properly fear the Lord.

I have a fear of flying. I think it is more of a fear of heights or a fear of falling from a height. I never had it when I was young. I first noticed it in my thirties. It isn’t a mild anxiety. I have physical responses like increased pulse, vertigo, and probably an increase in adrenaline and cortisol.

ANXIOUS FLYER

Telling myself to mentally not think about it doesn’t work. Faith does not require me to lie to myself.

Faith controls my behavior.

I do not want fear to control me, but I cannot overcome my fear by a mental denial or renouncement of my emotional state. My fear comes from being very high up in the air. I can overcome my fear by including information that is strong enough to overrule the fear. I think of the safety protocols that govern the maintenance and operation of the plane. I think of the benefit of arriving at my destination in hours instead of days. I give myself a greater purpose that keeps my fear from controlling my behavior.

Faith acknowledges the truth.

True faith is not a denial of the truth. True faith must surely involve knowing the right thing to fear and not fearing the wrong stuff.

One must stand in awe of anyone that has the power and authority to kill him. One must not fear/awe/respect anyone who attempts to manipulate him. One must not be afraid to do what God wants him to do.

Knowledge without fear does nothing.

c)FOTU: The fear of the unknown may be the fundamental foundation of all other fears.

True faith must result in obedience to God or it is no more than lip-service, taking the name of Christ while rejecting his authority over your life. A faith-filled person must also be a faithful person.

Faithfulness requires the fear of the Lord. Therefore, I propose that the antithesis of worldly fear is the fear of the Lord.

Psalm 111:10. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…d)New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ps 111:10.

Proverbs 1:7. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.e)New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Pr 1:7.

Ecclesiastes 8:12-13. Although a sinner does evil a hundred times and may lengthen his life, still I know that it will be well for those who fear God, who fear Him openly.
But it will not be well for the evil man and he will not lengthen his days like a shadow, because he does not fear God.f)New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ec 8:12–13.

Ecclesiastes 3:14. I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him.g)New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ec 3:14.

yare˒ (יָרֵא, 3372), “to be afraid, stand in awe, fear.”  …Basically, this verb connotes the psychological reaction of “fear.”h)W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 79.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14. The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.
For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.i)New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ec 12:13–14.

A young man may know his father’s rules, but will disregard them because he does not respect his father. Is it better to obey the Lord or to disobey the Lord? The right-minded person will say it is better to obey than to disobey. However, a lot of people do not obey the Lord even though they know what is right and believe that it is better to do what is right. The knowledge of right doesn’t result in obedience without the fear of God.

Isaiah 50:10. Who is among you that fears the LORD,
That obeys the voice of His servant,
That walks in darkness and has no light?
Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.j)New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Is 50:10.

 

References   [ + ]

a. Proverbs 18:10
b. Proverbs 28:1
c. FOTU: The fear of the unknown may be the fundamental foundation of all other fears.
d. New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ps 111:10.
e. New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Pr 1:7.
f. New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ec 8:12–13.
g. New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ec 3:14.
h. W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 79.
i. New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ec 12:13–14.
j. New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Is 50:10.
What is the ultimate mission of the Church?

What is the ultimate mission of the Church?

Recently, I was in a training in which Scripture was cited and then this question was asked. The Scripture was from Revelation chapter 7.

9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; 10 and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying,
“Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”

The group concluded, based upon the great multitude falling on their faces and worshiping God, that the ultimate purpose of the church is to worship God and make worshipers of God.

While the worship of God is an important activity of the holy Church, this passage does not point to that conclusion. In fact, the group that falls on their faces before the throne to worship God are angels, not the Church, not the great multitude.

Someone could comment that “angel” means “messenger,” so these are the messengers of the Church, whether that is apostles, prophets, evangelists, or pastors, etc. However, that definition would require us to deconstruct the meaning of the words in this passage. Revelation clearly states that the supernatural beings here are the angels from Revelation 5:11 and not the Church.

If we want to know the function and purpose of the innumerable multitude, we need to pay attention to their description. They are a mixed group from every ethnos and phule and laos, every nation and tribe/clan and people/race/language. They are standing before the throne and Jesus the Lamb. They are clothed in white stoles. They are holding palm branches.

Furthermore, there is an explanation in verses in verses 14-17.

14 I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 “For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. 16 “They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; 17 for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”

  • They came out of the Great Tribulation.
  • They have been whitened by the blood of Jesus the Lamb.
  • They work in God’s temple.
  • They dwell in God’s tent.
  • They do not hunger or thirst or overheat in the sun.
  • Jesus the Lamb shepherds and guides them.
  • God wipes their weeping eyes.

The first few items are meaningful to our question. They are a description of the condition of the saints. The remaining items are descriptions of the benefits of living in the eternal home of our heavenly Father.

If we choose Revelation 7 to understand the eternal or ultimate purpose of God’s people, based upon the description of these Tribulation Saints, we would need to focus on the most important functions in this list of descriptions.

  1. The Church needs to be cleansed by Jesus’ blood. No one gets to heaven any other way. Not even the blood of the martyrs can gain them entrance without the blood of the Lamb.
  2. The Church needs to be victorious over sin. The blood of Jesus makes us holy. God’s Holy Spirit is working to make God’s people holy by conforming them to the image of Christ. The palm branches are symbols of victory. In this case, victory over sin and death.

Based upon Revelation chapter seven, my conclusion is that the purpose of the Church is to be transformed into the holy image of Jesus Christ.

How to Cope With the Impending Loss of Your Job

How to Cope With the Impending Loss of Your Job

Death is Not the Only Source of Grief

The loss of a loved one is the most intense grief that a person can experience. However, there are other losses in life that also produce grief.

For example, if you know someone that has health problems and can no longer care for himself, you know that loss of independence is extremely difficult and stressful.

Loss of your job creates real grief.

Surprise! Grief Happens As Soon As You Know

Grief begins when you learn of an impending loss. Some people call it anticipatory grief or preparatory grief. It is the same as grief that occurs when a loss is actual. Some people are surprised by the emotional aspect of this time of grieving, because they thought it wouldn’t hit them until after the loss.

Loss of Identity Precedes Loss of Income

What kind of worker doesn’t personally invest himself into his work activity, doesn’t take pride in what he does? A bad worker.

Humans identify with activity. Therefore, even before you experience the loss of income, when you are told that you won’t be doing your job anymore, expect to feel some self-questioning. “If I’m not a (previous job assignment), then what am I? ”

The level of emotional investment varies with the depth to which you perceive your work. Factor in the amount of time spent developing your career, the amount of education required, the amount of personal resources you have used.

  • “My job is merely a mundane task. I don’t care.” You may not have much grief.
  • “My work is my career. I have worked hard to get where I am.” You should expect a great deal of grief.
  • “My work is a special calling. I have sacrificed everything to answer that call.” Massive loss invites massive grief.

When a supervisor decides that your services are no longer necessary, you are being told that your work was unimportant. You are being rejected. No wonder you feel anxious. Your professional life has a great impact on your personal life, no matter how much you try to separate them.

An important aspect of your job is working as a team member. Some teams act as families to each other providing emotional support that is vital to your well-being. It can be devastating to lose those relationships.

A career change is a change in your daily routine. Our small daily routines create a larger stability and steadfastness in our lives. Routines relieve stress. Change produces stress.

Along with anxiety, stress and grief produce a lot of emotions: shock, anger, guilt, blaming, denial, profound sadness. If you allow it, grief from job loss can damage your personal and family relationships. Grief can damage your ability to move forward and find a new job.

Coping with Anxiety and Stress

  1. Don’t react immediately to the negative emotions of grief. You may burn some bridges that you will need in the future. Try to leave on the best terms possible. Take the high road, no matter what road others take. The period of intensity of grief will pass, so don’t stay there. Move forward with dignity.
  2. Focus on building positive relationships at home. Your spouse is your greatest resource in coping well during grief. Research has shown that a kiss a day produces chemical changes in your body and lowers the effects of stress. Bring as much sunshine into the room as possible.
  3. Ask a trusted friend to come alongside you and assess your feelings of rejection. A good friend or even a professional can give you a more objective opinion. Identify one flaw that you can change to improve. Identify issues that were exaggerated, blown out of proportion, that were used to manipulate you into feeling that the severance was all your fault. Identify issues that were completely fabricated against you. Decide to deal with the real problems, minimize the exaggerated ones, and ignore the lies.
  4. Update your resume and create a list of your marketable skills. Get really creative as you assess your skills. Include your abilities to perceive situations, cope with changes, set goals and implement improvements in the workplace. Include personality traits that would make you a desired team member. As you look over this list, imagine a job that fulfills your talents more than a job that merely pays the bills.
  5. Keep your eyes open to identify resources that bring stability into your life. Create a new daily routine until a new job finds you. Serve in your community and experience the reward of giving selflessly. Participate more in your community of faith. Exercise, do yard work, fix stuff.
  6. React to hopelessness by reaching out for professional help. If your sadness swells to depression, talk to a qualified person. This is especially important if you have a history of depression.

The Bible Reveals the Truth About Grief

Look to the Scriptures during grief.

Many characters in the Bible faced and coped with loss. Job lost everything and held on to his integrity before God. Naomi’s loss of husband and sons preceded the birth of king David. Hannah grieved for children that she did not have and asked God to give her Samuel. David’s sin resulted in loss and intense grief. David poured his grieving heart out to God. His psalms encourage us to do the same. Tell God how you feel and trust His faithfulness as you go through grief.

Look to Jesus during grief.

Jesus wept as he experienced the grief of Mary and Martha when Lazarus died. Throughout his earthly life, Jesus was a man acquainted with grief; he is moved by our feelings of weakness.

Look to the Holy Spirit during grief.

Remember that Jesus sent a Comforter, the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God will give you a refreshing new perspective on life and God’s purpose for your life.

God has a purpose for your grief. It is a time to regain stability so that joy can return. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

 

 

How to Break the Jargon Barrier in Your Church

How to Break the Jargon Barrier in Your Church

Jargon is a specialized vocabulary that is distinctive to a specific group.

Jargon creates an impressive image.

If you want to sound like an expert, use the distinctive vocabulary that is specific to that field of knowledge. Knowledge of the correct use of jargon can make you seem like an authority in a given field, regardless of whether or not you have any actual in-depth knowledge of that field.

Jargon provides a tool to create a stronger internal identity.a)Jargon can function as branding. And sometimes branding becomes jargon, as in Kleenex and Coke.

Each of your social groups creates their own vernacular or vocabulary. Within one group, jargon aids in communicating longer ideas in shorter buzzwords. Outside that group, jargon negatively affects effective communication.

Jargon, like any new language, can be difficult to grasp.

Jargon tends to exclude those who don’t get it.

An increased level of jargon results in increased isolation of a group.  The use of elitist language that only privileged insiders can understand creates an exclusionary environment that is hostile towards outsiders.  Inside jokes are deliberately pretentious and purposefully exclude others from understanding. Jargon may be utilized in order to make others feel uninformed, out-of-touch, ignorant.

Jargon can create distrust.

Listeners may feel that you are hiding something from them when you choose to not speak plainly in concrete terms. Jargon is a verbal disguise. Jargon is a language of concealment because it prevents disclosure of a clear definition. It is natural to distrust a person who avoids providing a clear definition of their terms.

Your church should be careful when speaking jargon.

  1. Recognize words that are jargon, how much of your communication is jargon, and how jargon affects people that are not part of your inner circle.
  2. Use a limited amount of jargon to strengthen internal bonds of identification within your congregation. If your church has too much jargon, trim it. Use easily identifiable phrases rather than witty fad names to brand everything.
  3. Provide clear definitions of jargon. Post definitions where they can be accessed by people that need them. Remember that abbreviations and acronyms are jargon.
  4. Communicate intentionally and clearly at all times. If jargon is hindering good communication, quit using it. Don’t alienate people that you don’t intend to alienate.

Ephesians 4:29 asks us to speak words that build up others, giving grace to others.

Colossians 4:6 tells us to let our speech always be gracious.

Titus 2:7 tells us to have sound speech that cannot be condemned.

1st Peter 4:11 tells us to speak as the oracles of God.


*George Orwell essay: Politics and the English Language

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

References   [ + ]

a. Jargon can function as branding. And sometimes branding becomes jargon, as in Kleenex and Coke.
How to Answer Anti-political Statements

How to Answer Anti-political Statements

I recently read a paragraph written by Martha Gelhorn and published in a compilation of her writings from the 1930s to the 1980s titled “The View From the Ground.” Gelhorn had a 60-year career as a war correspondent, journalist, novelist, and was a companion and wife of Ernest Hemmingway.

Gelhorn wrote,

People often say with pride, “I’m not interested in politics.” They might as well say, “I’m not interested in my standard of living, my health, my job, my rights, my freedoms, my future or any future.” Politics is the business of governing and nobody can escape being governed, for better or worse. In the few fortunate societies where voting is free and honest, most people take the weird view that politics is a horse race–you bet on a winner or loser every so often, if you can bestir yourself; but politics is not a personal concern. Politics is everything–from clean drinking water through the preservation of forests, whales, British Leyland to nuclear weapons and the disposal thereof. If we mean to keep any control over our world and lives, we must be interested in politics.

As a follower of Jesus, I would like to adapt and supplement her statement.

I have heard Christians smugly say, “I am neutral about politics.” They might as well say, “I am neutral about social injustice, world peace, the future of our children, freedom of religion, and the advancement of the Gospel.”

There is nothing especially spiritual about refusing to participate in culture and society and government. Holy love demands that we care about the abuse of our neighbor, that we unselfishly care about the welfare of others.

On earth in this dispensation we do not live in a theocracy. Men govern men.

Government is a necessary evil because men can be evil. First, if there is no rule of law, evil will flourish unchecked. Then, when we do necessarily establish human governments, we are obligated to engage in limiting evil men that hope to gain control… not just at home, but also where our neighbors live.

Followers of Christ were not instructed to isolate themselves. We ought to be people that make a difference, people that challenge society where it fails to love your neighbor as yourself, people that engage with both grace and diligence, people that live in the world without being contaminated by it.

Abstinence from politics is not Christ-like. It is selfish, smug and arrogant.

Should Christians Salute and Pledge to the U. S. Flag?

Should Christians Salute and Pledge to the U. S. Flag?

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Heil Boilermakers

Should Christians pledge loyalty to anyone but Christ?

Jesus said not to make oaths.

“Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not]make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil. z

How would this commandment apply to the following important oaths? Should Christians make oaths in some situations but not in others?

Marriage Vows. Should a Christian husband pledge to be true and faithful to his wife until they are parted by death? The Bible does not contain any record of marriage vows, yet it honors marriage.

Oath in Court.  Should a Christian swear to tell the truth in court? The Bible tells us not to take a brother to court, but it does not forbid giving testimony in court. Most of us are familiar with the scenario when a witness places his right hand on a copy of the Bible to say, “I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” The Bible is no longer required for this swearing in, but a refusal to take the oath is considered contempt of court.

Oath of Office. Should Christians make an oath to fulfill their duties when they are elected and employed by government? The Bible does not address the required oath of office taken by those elected to government positions, such as the oath of office for the U. S. Senate.

I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses, a millenarian restorationist nontrinitarian movement labeled as Christian despite their unorthodox beliefs based upon a peculiar translation of the New Testament, teach that a Christian should not vote or seek election, “they remain resolutely neutral with regard to the political affairs of the nations.”* This politically neutral stance has been adopted by a number of mainstream Christian pastors and churches in America. JWs  also believe that bowing down to a flag or saluting it, often in conjunction with an anthem, is a religious act that ascribes salvation, not to God, but to the State or to its leaders.

Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America. Should Christians from other nations take an oath to become citizens of the USA?

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

Take Oaths Seriously

Jesus spoke against taking false oaths or taking oaths lightly. It should not be necessary to swear by any other power in order to convince someone of the value of your word. Your integrity and honesty will speak for you.

All Oaths are Subordinate to Faithfulness to God

Christians in the United States have enjoyed a constitutionally fundamental freedom of religion since 1791. The Declaration of Independence attributes our inalienable rights to the Creator along with the necessity for government to have the consent of the governed. This consent of the governed is solemn enough to deserve an oath. This is not an oath that supersedes our loyalty to God but an oath that is subordinate to our faithfulness to God.

The New Testament Encourages Respect Toward Civil Government

Is it appropriate for Christians to show disrespect in the name of Christ? We are not at liberty to ignore Romans chapter 13.

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for [d]good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

1st Timothy chapter 2 indicates that Christians have a duty to support their specific secular government with prayer.

First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.

1st Peter chapter 2 makes it clear that honoring a human government is not a betrayal toward God and is recommended to demonstrate true Christian character within this world.

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.

The US government is not the kingdom of God. It is not the Church of Jesus Christ. It is a civil government established and maintained through human effort. Where there is liberty for men, there will be liberty for some to abuse that human law for sinful objectives. Somehow, God’s sovereignty is higher and greater than all this. God is higher and greater than the US government, yet he asks his followers to be respectful and honor human government.


Christians Should Be Cautious About Their Political Identification

Refusing to salute the flag is political activism. The greater question is, “Should Christians join this type of movement?” Christians should be cautious about identifying themselves with opinions that are expressed by the enemies of Jesus Christ and that clearly go against Scripture, God’s higher authority. Christians have been observed wearing scarves that identify them with solidarity of militant organizations that have set a goal of the death and destruction of all Jews. Consider your ways. Don’t just follow fads without thinking.

Celebrate Your Liberty to Disagree With The USA In The USA

Why is this political action only recommended in America? Because we see the absurdity of asking Christians of other nations to respect the flag of their own nation. Within the USA, you can speak against the government, this is your safe place to rant or pour out your emotional opinion. Nobody will storm your home, jail your children, or behead you for your dissident opinion. Thank God for your liberty to do so here. (Kinda makes me want to salute the Red, White, and Blue right now…)

Peace at Any Cost?

Peace at Any Cost?

 

God tells us to bless those who curse you. In fact, it is reinforced in the New Testament at least three times.

Matthew 5:44. “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…”

Luke 6:27-31.  “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.

Romans 12:14. “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.”

So then, wouldn’t you think that church people are expected to humbly accept every and all forms of abuse and insult? For example, wouldn’t these verses indicate that anyone can come into your church on Sunday morning and start cursing everyone, and all you can do is offer them the microphone and a complimentary glazed donut?

The Bible says to bless those who curse you. However, it isn’t the only thing the Bible says.

Jesus’ objective was that we live at peace with one another, that we should be peacemakers, but when his disciples were rebuking the children, Jesus did not welcome their poor attitudes. He became indignant (ἀγανακτέω) and corrected them publicly. When Jesus saw that temple worship had been twisted into an opportunity for financial exploitation, he physically blocked people from doing business and flipped their tables and chairs, and rebuked them. Why didn’t he bless them? That is something to think about.

The truth is that Christians are not called to embrace any and all kinds of speech and behavior. It does not promote peace to tolerate everyone who wants to destroy the peace of God that comes through the gospel.

Paul instructed us not to tolerate anyone perverting the Gospel:

Galatians 1:6-9. “ I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

John commanded us not to bless those who sin and deceptively spread false doctrine:

2nd John 9-11.   Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.

Paul directed the church to remove a persistently divisive person:

Titus 3:9,10. But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.

Paul gave straightforward instruction on how to deal with a sexually immoral person who calls himself a brother:

1 Corinthians 5:4,5. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

It would be wrong to submit to EVERY kind of opposition just so that we can have peace. There is a time to speak out and act up. At least, Jesus, Paul, and John thought so.

Christians must place a high value on making peace and forgiveness. Please don’t use any scriptures as an excuse to continue unforgiveness toward someone or to display anger and bitterness. Seek peace and pursue it… Pursue peace with all people… Let the peace of God rule in your heart… If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men…

Yet, don’t sacrifice everything sacred upon the altar of peace.

How do we know when to answer with blessing and when to answer with a rebuke? Know the Scriptures. Rely upon the Holy Spirit. Seek wisdom and agreement with mature followers of Christ. Pray.

How to Start a Cult

How to Start a Cult

Recently, a conference speaker said,

“If your experience is exalted above God’s Word, you are wrong.”

In my opinion, this was the most important statement that I heard at the ministers’ conference.

The conference speaker led pastors in an organized session of practicing spiritual gifts, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy, visions, laying on of hands, and other experiences of inspired speech and prayer often associated with the Pentecostal baptism in the Holy Spirit. Imagine a meeting room filled with ministers praying in unknown languages and then taking turns speaking any message that God may have placed in their heart. There were all kinds of statements being made by the participating ministers. Some offered direct quotes of Scripture. Some intended to encourage and uplift the hearers. Others intended to admonish us. However, in all that diversity, I did not hear one minister make a statement contradictory to Scripture.

The Prophetic Experiences of Two Different Groups: A Comparison

 

I wish this were true of other meetings in which the participants were encouraged to speak prophetically. Awhile back, in a different setting, my wife and I were eavesdropping on a class for a few minutes. The leader asked the students to listen to the Lord and then speak out what God placed in their hearts. Almost every statement was foolish. One student spoke into the microphone that God wanted her to pray to a dead saint. The leader nodded in agreement and spoke affirmation into the mic. The leader was encouraging the students to seek an experience with God that was, in fact, a revelation of God apart from Scripture.

Was there a difference between the two different groups? What led to such different outcomes?

The first group, the ministers, were all life-long students of the Bible. They were committed to daily reading of the Word. They all had practiced memorization of Scripture with the intent that God’s Word was grafted in to their hearts. Each minister had received the baptism in the Holy Spirit as prescribed and described in Scripture.

The second group, the students, were novices without any working knowledge of God’s Word. They had not committed Scripture to memory. Their hearts were filled with silly ideas or even carnal thoughts. Some just wanted to say something to make the teacher happy. The participants had not experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Some of them had never even professed salvation through Jesus Christ.

The second group was being encouraged to have an experience, a personal revelation from God. They were doing what the leader asked of them, speaking from what was in their hearts, and the contents reflected exactly what was in their hearts.

The group of ministers possessed hearts saturated daily and filled with God’s Word. They had a desire to tell forth God’s Word. (Prophecy is the forth-telling of God’s Word. We learned that back in Bible college.)

One group spoke from their Scripture-saturated hearts as the Holy Spirit led them. The other group spoke from their own unregenerate soul, human intellect and carnal imagination.

God wants to speak from hearts saturated by His Word.

I have a book written by one of those television evangelists, Charting Your Course By the Dream in Your Heart. “Inside this book is a gold mine of information that will help you develop your full potential and bring into reality your purpose in life.” Yikes. Much of the Bible is about how to stop following your own will, your own heart, because God wants us to learn how to follow His heart. (See Luke 22:42.)

In my opinion, a good way to start a cult is by teaching unfit people to act as leaders. If a person is a non-believer or a new believer (1 Timothy 5:22), don’t encourage or expect them to draw from a deep well and come up with a full bucket. Instead of encouraging them to speak out, let’s ask unfit people to listen quietly and respectfully. (Compare James 1:19 and James 1:21.)

God speaks from a heart that has been faithfully filled with His Word, from a heart that has faithfully listened to His Spirit, from a heart that is dead to sin and alive to God. (See Colossians 3:1-3.)

 

How to be Objective About the Alabama Pi April Fools’ Prank

How to be Objective About the Alabama Pi April Fools’ Prank

The April 1998 newsletter New Mexicans for Science and Reason contained a prank article mocking the Bible. Here is a brief quote:

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — NASA engineers and mathematicians in this high-tech city are stunned and infuriated after the Alabama state legislature narrowly passed a law yesterday [March 30, 1998] redefining pi, a mathematical constant used in the aerospace industry.  …”The Bible very clearly says in I Kings 7:23 that the altar font of Solomon’s Temple was ten cubits across and thirty cubits in diameter, and that it was round in compass.” Alabami Pi Hoax

The mockery is based upon the Bible passage describing the construction of the basin for Solomon’s Temple. The basin is known by a few synonyms, such as the laver or the brazen sea.

He also made the molten sea, ten cubits ⌊in diameter⌋, and five cubits was its height. A measuring line of thirty cubits would encircle it all around. Gourds were under its rim surrounding it all around; ten to the cubit, surrounding the sea all around with two rows of gourds, which were cast when he cast the metal. The sea was standing on twelve oxen, with three facing to the north, three facing to the west, three facing to the south, and three facing to the east. The sea was on top of them, with all of their hindquarters turned to the inside. Its thickness was a handbreadth, but its rim was as the work on the brim of a cup, like the bud of a lily; it held two thousand baths. a)W. Hall Harris III et al., eds., The Lexham English Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012), 1 Ki 7:23–26.

A precision circle has no artistic decoration.

The Bible provides information about the brim of the basin. It was artistically shaped as a lily blossom. You are provided a very specific context. The brim was not simple, not shaped precisely as a perfect circle. If we accept the Biblical account, the craftsman had a 4% margin of about 4 inches on the rim. If a mathematical formula does not include some amount of artistic margin for this stated variance, then I must conclude that someone is deliberately misrepresenting this passage of Scripture.

A precision circle is perfectly round.

The Bible does not claim that Solomon’s basin was perfectly round. Round containers for liquid are often purposefully deformed at the rim to provide for pouring out the contents of the container. There are no legitimate reasons for an open-minded person to demand that the basin be a precise circle since there is no such claim in Scripture.

A precision circle has zero thickness.

The Bible provides a measure of thickness of a handbreadth. Even if the basin were perfectly round, which it was not, neither those who accept the Scriptures nor those who mock the Scriptures know 1) the exact thickness of a handbreadth or 2) if the artisan was to measure inside the thickness or outside the thickness or split the difference. (My handbreadth is very close to 4 inches… the same amount of margin described in the Bible.)

The following statements are not applicable unless you demand that the Scripture is describing a mathematically precise circle and therefore reject that the object was an artistic basin formed by a craftsman.

In order to arrive at a precise calculation of pi (π), you must have a precise measuring device. I measured a plain round bowl from my kitchen with my sewing measuring tape. The circumference was 19.25. The diameter was exactly 6. My measuring tape does not even have 6.127465309038. It is reasonable to accept that Solomon’s construction team was skilled enough to work with a rod divided into basic units.

If I want to be precise, how many decimal places for π are needed? Is 3.1415926535 8979323846 2643383279 5028841971 6939937510 5820974944 5923078164 0628620899 8628034825 3421170679 more precise than 3.14? 3.14 is the approximation acceptable to the organization that published the “scientific” article. If scientists can approximate π by rounding to two decimal places, what would happen if we approximated π in whole numbers? It is reasonable to accept that the Bible description uses whole units without fractions or decimals. π rounded to a whole number is 3, the number affirmed in the Bible even though this passage is not describing a perfectly round precision circle.

It is therefore my opinion that only a narrow-minded agenda-driven person would consider the description of the basin in First Kings chapter seven as evidence for error in the Bible.

References   [ + ]

a. W. Hall Harris III et al., eds., The Lexham English Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012), 1 Ki 7:23–26.
Theme: Overlay by Kaira Extra Text
Cape Town, South Africa