Zack's Worldview

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How to answer, “Religions are myths.”

How to answer, “Religions are myths.”

One of my neighbors recently posted her advice for everyone to live without religion.

Here is what she posted:

“Religions are myths. Love yourself and be kind. My inspiring thought for today is that we only can judge ourselves. There were no brutal blood sacrifices needed to make you whole. You’re a whole person just as you are. Live in that freeing truth. You are not the chief of sinners, but youve (sic) made mistakes, easily corrected. Live lawfully, kindly, and lovingly. You don’t need a book to tell you right from wrong. You are good. You are worthy. Live in the light of secular peace.”

Let’s find some common ground.

Her statement must be understood in Christian terms.

Kindness is encouraged by the Christian Scriptures and the Christian God (the One that was brutalized and sacrificed his blood).

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another a)Colossians 3:12

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. b)Galatians 5:22-23

Judging yourself is a Christian principle.

Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup… But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged.  c)1 Corinthians 11:28,31

Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. d)Romans 2:1

Ineffectual blood sacrifices are rejected by God.

What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?
    says the Lord;
I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
    and the fat of well-fed beasts;
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
    or of lambs, or of goats. e)Isaiah 1:11

Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices pleasing to me. f)Jeremiah 6:20

Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; g)Amos 5:22

For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. h)Psalm 51:16,17

Truth as a source of freedom is a beloved citation from the words of Jesus.

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” i)John 8:31-32

Living lawfully is a Christian principle.

But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.  j)1 Peter 4:15,16

The Bible clearly states that we all have made mistakes.

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  k)Romans 3:23

God does tell us to live in the light.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” l)John 8:12

…I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me. m)Acts 26:17-18

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. n)Philippians 2:14-16

At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. o)1st John 2:8-11

Finally, Scripture teaches that religion is myth.

“THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS,
BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.
‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME,
TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’ ” p)Matthew 15:8-9

O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. q)1 Timothy 6:20-21

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.  r)2 Corinthians 11:13-15

All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. s)John 10:8-10

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” t)John 14:6

Only Jesus saves.

No religion can save us. Church membership cannot save us. Only the person Jesus can save us. So let’s not focus on making up more human rules and philosophies and imposing them on others.

Words must have meanings.

Without the words of Jesus and the Scriptures, I would have no reference point from which to understand the all-religion-is-myth (ARM) statement.  She uses Christian language such as “chief of sinners” and other phrases.

In an atheism-based universe, everything is amoral matter. Loving and hating would be morally equal values to a bunch of molecules.

The ARM statement absolutely endorses everyone doing what they feel is right. The definitions of good, kind, and lawful are all subject to human judgment or conscience and societal norms.

Imagine a society where everyone has always done whatever each independent person feels is right. History has recorded some of the atrocities performed when self-guided atheistic leaders were in authority. Even Christianity has a tarnished record because of what happens when the Church follows human will.

Imagine the history of the world if Judeo-Christian cultures never existed and pagan or atheistic cultures had prevailed and if societal norms had not been shaped by any of the followers of Jesus. Thank God for Christian stuff like rule of law, education, medicine, liberty and human rights.

Can I be a Christian without Christ?

The ARM statement wants all the fundamental behaviors of Christianity (love, peace, kindness, lawfulness, justice, selflessness, et cetera) without Christ. This is a backwards compliment to Christians, a nod that we are following the right way when we follow the principles of Scripture. It’s like saying, “We want to be like you, but we don’t want your bloody Jesus.”

The ARM statement unfortunately overlooks the facts, stuff like history and geography. Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Nazareth are all real places that still exist for examination. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are well-documented by eye-witnesses in an abundance of manuscripts in existence today. Anyone can say that Jesus was a mythological character, but they do so against the facts and evidence. They call him a myth as an act of faith and emotion, not as a result of unbiased investigation.

It’s a trap!

It’s a trap!

The author of the original ARM statement was shocked by the reaction of Christians. They didn’t like what she wrote. They let her know that they didn’t like it.

One of the Christians went too far and threatened to pray for her, so our atheist writer responded, I don’t understand why I’m being persecuted for my lack of faith this way. 1st Amendment!(Because, as we all know, the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America u)FIRST AMENDMENT: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. is the one that protects your right to express disapproval toward religion and prevents rebuttal from the target of your criticism. )

The writer intentionally posted on the hot topic of religion in order for religious readers to respond. She knew before she posted that people would disagree with her with strong emotions.

The writer intentionally used words that oppose the Christian God, “Brutal blood sacrifices” is a verbal assault against the Gospel and the Atonement.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. v)Romans 5:8

The writer placed the bait for Christians. She hoped they would be unkind so that she could justify her attack on their God. What religion tolerates this type of hateful defamation of their God? Well, Christianity does, because our God said, “Love your enemies.” So she was safe from house-burning or tar-and-feathering because she singled out the precious blood of Jesus.

My conclusion is that Christians should respond as Jesus said to respond.

Don’t take the bait and get caught in the trap. Any rebuttal, even an offer to love and pray for someone, will be interpreted as unkind, actually as un-Christlike.

You can’t win this argument with an argument. I don’t know anyone that was angrily squabbled into the Kingdom of God. The best witness is always kind, patient, peaceful, gentle, faithful, selfless, and loving.

I remember that God loves me. And if God can be gracious toward me, He also loves this angry atheist. We need to behave toward this person as she is a person loved by God.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” w)Matthew 5:43-45

References   [ + ]

a. Colossians 3:12
b. Galatians 5:22-23
c. 1 Corinthians 11:28,31
d. Romans 2:1
e. Isaiah 1:11
f. Jeremiah 6:20
g. Amos 5:22
h. Psalm 51:16,17
i. John 8:31-32
j. 1 Peter 4:15,16
k. Romans 3:23
l. John 8:12
m. Acts 26:17-18
n. Philippians 2:14-16
o. 1st John 2:8-11
p. Matthew 15:8-9
q. 1 Timothy 6:20-21
r. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15
s. John 10:8-10
t. John 14:6
u. FIRST AMENDMENT: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
v. Romans 5:8
w. Matthew 5:43-45
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.
Why does God hate people with handicaps?

Why does God hate people with handicaps?

Was the Leviticus meme written by someone completely ignorant about the Bible? …or was this anti-Christian meme written by someone who deliberately wanted to change the real meaning of the Scripture?

Here is an example of the Leviticus meme:

Image result for leviticus meme handicapped

  1. Leviticus 21 contains no reference to God’s hatred of anyone.
  2. Leviticus 21 does not refer to the Church.
    Image result for leviticus meme handicapped
  3. Leviticus 21 does not forbid persons with handicaps from attending or ministering in Church.
  4. Leviticus 21 does not apply to everyone. It applies only to a few specific members of the family of Levi. The name of Levi is in our name for the book: Leviticus.
  5. Leviticus 21 applies only to priests with specific duties connected to the holy sanctuary of the Tabernacle or Temple.
  6. Leviticus 21 does not forbid Levitical priests from serving the Lord in every other way. It only limits the function of those who would serve the holy Temple.
  7. Leviticus 21 does not place any moral or spiritual judgment upon those Levitical priests with blemishes or handicaps.  This was a case of ritual or ceremonial imperfection. It does not indicate that physical blemishes or handicaps are sinful.
  8. This meme deliberately uses an archaic English translation of Leviticus 21 so that the language seems offensive to modern readers.
  9. God never intended that the requirements of Leviticus would be applied to the Church. Those who expect Christians to obey the requirements of the Law are not living in God’s grace.
    1. “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.,, I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” Galatians 2:15,16,21
    2. “You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” Galatians 5:4
  10. Jesus Christ fulfilled all the requirements of the Levitical priesthood to minister in the true heavenly Temple. He became the Great High Priest.
    1. “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.” Hebrews 4:14
    2. “If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also.” Hebrews 7:11,12
  11. The perfection of Jesus Christ makes every believer a priest, eliminating the need for the Levitical priesthood altogether. This priesthood of believers places value upon everyone regardless of physical blemish or handicap.
    1. “Then Jesus said to his host, ‘When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’” Luke 14:12-14
    2. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9
    3. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Stop listening to false narratives about God’s Word. Seek the Truth.

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…)

How to Cope With Cessationism

How to Cope With Cessationism

Yesterday I received a book as a Christmas gift. It was Volume Four of a four-volume systematic theology. One of the topics supported in the theology book is cessationism. The word cessation is the noun related to the verb “cease.” Therefore, I wold have thought that the word means that something has ceased. However, the author defines cessationism as “the view that some of the (spiritual) gifts exist today.” What a wonderful way to spin it!

The author’s deliberation goes this way:

  • Since an Apostle had to be an eyewitness of the resurrected Christ, and since only persons living in the early first century could be eyewitnesses, therefore the New Testament gift of Apostleship stopped.
  • And, since the gift of Apostleship ceased, and since some gifts were unique as sign gifts of Apostleship (healing, raising the dead, laying on hands for others to receive the gift of tongues), therefore tongues ceased as an Apostolic sign gift.
  • And, since the gift of tongues was received exclusively through the laying on of hands by an Apostle, therefore any person speaking in tongues who has never met one of the Apostles is practicing a form of pagan religious gibberish.

While I do agree that some modern tongue-talking is not legit, I don’t agree that the Bible teaches the cessation of speaking in tongues …or loss of the Apostolic gift.

In Second Corinthians 12:12, Paul defended his apostleship by saying, “The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works.” He did not say that the signs of an apostle were signs and wonders. He only wanted his apostleship to be seen as analogous to the hyperlian Apostles with their signs and wonders. This is not a statement of an Apostolic requisite.

Hebrews 2:3,4 says, “(This message) was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” This passage is cited as textual proof that outward signs were only needed for the establishment of the Church and then were intended to cease entirely. However, the passage doesn’t contain any indication of such a presumptive premise, the cessation of any spiritual gifts. Other passages of the New Testament indicate that the Church could expect the gifts of the Holy Spirit to continue until the return of Christ.

Acts 14:4,14 say Barnabas was an apostle. “But the people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles… But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd…”

2 Corinthians 8:23 says there are other apostles. “As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker for your benefit. And as for our brothers, they are apostles of the churches, the glory of Christ.”

Philippians 2:25 says Epaphroditus is an apostle. “I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your apostle and minister to my need…”

I can’t find any New Testament passage that binds apostleship to the gift of tongues. An apostle is someone sent supernaturally by the Holy Spirit through the Church. This is exactly what the modern church does by ordaining and sending missionaries. Paul’s apostolic travels are called his “missionary” journeys.

Unfortunately, there is an ugly modern view that apostles are loud-voiced people who have a special anointing giving them the right to dominate over others in the church. (Maybe they don’t get 1 Peter 5:1-6.) If these modern super-apostles are truly apostles, then I am a cessationist. This needs to stop.

Not all kinds of tongues are languages known to men. 1 Corinthians 12:10 says that there are various kinds of tongues. On the Day of Pentecost, tongues was languages naturally known to the hearers but unlearned by the speakers. 1 Corinthians 14 says that there someone may speak in tongues of men and of angels. I doubt if any human can naturally diagnose, interpret, or understand the language of angels. In both cases, it is clear that the person speaking in supernatural tongues would not naturally understand either one, tongues of men or of angels.

False tongues does not rule out genuine tongues. It has been pointed out that some pagan religions exercise speaking in tongues. The poor logic says, “…surely God is not giving a miraculous confirmation of paganism.” I say that counterfeits only exist because of the genuine nature of the original.

The promise was not only to Apostles. On the Day of Pentecost, Peter understood that the promise of the baptism of the Holy Spirit that was evidenced and accompanied by speaking in an unlearned language was premised upon the prophecy of Joel. Joel did not make the promise exclusively to the Apostles. He made it to sons, daughters, young, old, male and female servants.

The author states that Acts 2:7 is proof that only the Apostles spoke in tongues on the Day of Pentecost. “And they were amazed and astonished, saying, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?'” Since the Apostles were the “men of Galilee”, and since other members of the 120 in the Upper Room were not from Jerusalem and Judea and not from Galilee, wouldn’t this prove that only the Apostles spoke in tongues? It would not, since the Galilean statement is a quotation of the Jews that were staying in Jerusalem for the feast. The biblical record attests that, true or false, the astonished Jews actually said it, not to the veracity of the statement. It could have easily been an overly generalized assumption about all the Christians since they were in the company of Galileans. In no way would an uninformed statement by anyone limit the scope of the promise of the Holy Spirit to specific recipients or exclude those that were not Galilean.

It has been assumed that the only way to speak in tongues is through the laying on of the apostles’ hands. Acts 8:18, “Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money…” However, this passage is a statement of what Simon the Magician observed without any application upon the rest of the Church. There is no reason to extrapolate such a rule of limitation from this verse… unless you want need to perfect your eisegesis (the art of forcing a text to mean what you want it to mean).

Finally, the Bible says, “as for tongues, they will cease.” The theology book pulls these six words out of context and applies them to the end of the Apostolic age. Take a look at the passage in 1 Corinthians 13:8-12. “Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” It is clearly a passage about eternity, about heaven. When we get to heaven, there will be no need to speak in tongues. They will cease.

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