Friday, 1/17/20 – Friday Tough Question

What’s a “Paradigm Shift?”

20200116_181731The film Planet of the Apes (1968) stars Charleton Heston as Taylor, an astronaut who awakens from deep space travel hibernation to find he has crashed on a planet unknown to him. He discovers the planet is ruled by apes who have learned to speak and possess technology. Taylor is captured by them but escapes and explores the planet more fully. Outside the ape city he discovers remnants of a previous but destroyed civilization. Eventually he stumbles upon something familiar. Oh no! Can it Be? Taylor had never left earth orbit at all! He had not travelled through space but through time–to the future. This planet was earth!

In an instant an entirely new world view is thrust upon Taylor. He has no choice but to accept it. I fear this is the fate soon to be thrust upon many who walk this earth today.

20200116_181656During the 18th century and beyond The Great Awakening, spurred by the Spirit empowered preaching of men like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield, transformed the hearts and minds of many. Eyes were opened to see the true spiritual realities of their existence. Heaven and hell, justification through Christ or eternal damnation, these were the issues of this brief thing we call a lifetime. Souls are eternal. Decisions must be made.

Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6). Many today discount this. They say Christ was just a man, and they build their philosophy of life on other notions. But the Christian knows that a day is coming a day in which

“at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2:10-11).

What Taylor experienced is a “paradigm shift.” What every soul upon coming to Christ experiences is also a “paradigm shift.” One discovers that their whole way of thinking about the world, the universe, life and death is inaccurate and must be abandoned. God is staring them in the face, they surrender and are transformed! This is what happened during the Great Awakening and this is what happens in the honest transformations that result from true spiritual Revival.

Open your heart to Christ today! Don’t be like the one who spends all of his life climbing higher and higher on some ladder of success only to discover that the ladder has all the while been leaning against the wrong wall!

Press on…

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Friday, 1/10/20 – Friday Tough Question

Star Wars and “The Force”

men s black and gray collared top

A soul running from God loves to console itself with imaginations that there really is no God in pursuit. It could be safe to slow down, to rest, to accept instead the latest or currently most popular imagination of the society of runners around it. The existence of God is relative to each individual one finally seems to convince oneself. Thus, if I believe, truly believe in some alternative it will suffice for me.

But these thoughts are fantasy.

There are at present many widely touted alternatives one may wish real: “Mother Nature,” evolution, personal truth, philosophical thought, reincarnation, mystical energies and Gnosticism to name a few. No doubt there will be others.

Here, C.S. Lewis comments on the imaginings of “Creative Evolution” and the “Life Force ”but his words have relevance to all of the above…

One reason why many people find Creative Evolution so attractive is that it gives one much of the emotional comfort of believing in God and none of the less pleasant consequences. When you are feeling fit and the sun is shining and you do not want to believe that the whole universe is a mere mechanical dance of atoms, it is nice to be able to think of this great mysterious Force rolling on through the centuries and carrying you on its crest. If, on the other hand, you want to do something rather shabby, the Life-Force, being only a blind force, with no morals and no mind, will never interfere with you like that troublesome God we learned about when we were children. The Life-Force is a sort of tame God. You can switch it on when you want, but it will not bother you. All the thrills of religion and none of the cost. Is the Life-Force the greatest achievement of wishful thinking the world has yet seen? – C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

mountains nature arrow guide

How can we know the way?” Thomas asked. “I am the way and the truth and the life,” Jesus replied. “No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6).

Real truth is usually something quite simple. Gravity simply pulls everything down and we must respect it. No amount of alternate belief will cause you to float upwards. You must learn to live within its principles. Work with it and you may indeed find a way to fly. Run from it, trying to imagine it away, and you will most certainly perish.

“May the Truth be with you.”

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 1/3/20 – Friday Tough Question

What does the Bible say about Social Media?

man looking at ipad pro

It’s a complicated world these days, isn’t it. Almost daily it seems our world gets more complex — and faster too. In such an environment our minds try to simplify the chaos. We tend to categorize the complex into simpler concepts. Shades of grey things are more easily managed if we classify them as black or white. When we are unsure which it should be we sometimes stamp a thing as evil, and avoid it completely even when it could be put to good use.

Jesus, we must remember, ate and drank with those whom others deemed outcasts… persons to be avoided at all cost…. lepers, tax collectors, maimed and unclean. He turned all of these into that which brought glory to God.

man holding microphone while talking to another man

Movies, money, media and medicines, just for starters. All of these have potential for great evil or great good. They are extensions of ourselves… levers with magnify that which is in our hearts.

person holding opened book

“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” wrote Baron John Dalberg Acton back in 1887. In Proverbs we read “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Prov. 4:23). Jesus put it like this, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45 NKJV). Or we could add, “out of the abundance of the heart a Christian uses his authority for good … writes a faith-inspiring movie script…. uses medicine to heal… social media to minister to hurting souls.”

photo of women taking picture

Yet still, there is need for caution here. Paul warned the Corinthians, “not everything is beneficial…. not everything is constructive…” (1 Cor. 10:23). The aim of our use of the things of this world must be “the good of others… [and] the glory of God.” (v. 24, 31).

And as with all these things we must also guard against overuse… against addictive behaviour which consumes our time and influence in this world. “Be wise as serpents,” said Jesus, “as shrewd as snakes” the NIV has it (Matt. 10:16). Paul warned the Galatians to be alert to their limits. “Considering yourself lest you also be tempted” And we must remember that we are always an example to our weaker brother.

So that’s it. No external thing is evil in itself; the evil (or good) resides within each individual. Our job as Christians is to choose the good — and the glorious thing is we have the Spirit of God within us to help us do exactly that.

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 12/27/19 – Friday Tough Question

And what have you done?

So This is Christmas by John Lennon & Yoko Ono was released in 1971 – some 48 years ago now, but still its subtle despair condemns us.

So this is Christmas / And what have you done
Another year over / And a new one just begun

And so this is Christmas / I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one / The old and the young

A very Merry Christmas / And a happy new year
Let’s hope it’s a good one / Without any fear

And so this is Christmas / For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones / The world is so wrong

And so happy Christmas / For black and for white
For yellow and red one / Let’s stop all the fight

A very Merry Christmas / And a happy new year
Let’s hope it’s a good one / Without any fear

And so this is Christmas…

brown and black cut away acoustic guitar

The lyrics yearningly express “the hopes and fears” of so many years, and hearts, and countries, and ages… “Let’s hope it’s [a year ahead] without any fear… The world is so wrong… Let’s stop all the fight”

adult doctors gloves health

But mankind’s efforts have never succeeded. No one can transplant their own heart. They must surrender their lives by a willful act of placing all hope for life in the hands of another. The Bible calls this faith and names the only Surgeon for the job, the Creator of the creature… the One Who became us to experience it all, from babe to burial: Emmanuel.

And awakening, what are we to do with this new life, this new heart?

We are to live the remainder of our days for the Surgeon, for Christ. Not because of contract or compulsion, but because we love Him. You see, He did this work freely, without charge, and the heart He gave us was His own.

 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20)

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23)

“Freely you have received; freely give.” (Matt. 10:8)

Someone once said, “Eternal life is God’s gift to us; what we do with it is our gift to Him.”

So this is Christmas / And what have you done
Another year over / And a new one just begun

Press on…

selective focus photo of person holding book

Want to talk more about this? Use the Contact page. We can help point you to the Surgeon.

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Friday, 12/20/19 – Friday Tough Question

Why gold, frankincense and myrrh?

scenic view of night sky with stars

“Magi” (star gazers from the east, not kings) discerned that the Christ would be found in Jerusalem. They saw the star and brought these gifts to the young child, now a toddler approximately 1 to 2 years old. The family was no longer in the manger but living in their Jerusalem home. Scripture does not tell us how many magi there were. The idea of three has been popularized because of the three gifts they brought.

“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” (Matt. 2:11).

David Langford, associate pastor of Harrisburg Baptist Church, Tupelo Mississippi suggests these “magi” may have been descended from the wise men of Babylon mentioned in Daniel: “King Nebuchadnezzar, appointed him [Daniel] chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners.” (Daniel 5:11). But whoever they were they brought these three specific gifts.

Gold – Gold was indeed a gift fit for a king. The Queen of Sheba, for example, when she visited King Solomon, came “with camels carrying spices, large quantities of gold, and precious stones” (1 Kings 10:2). Gold is recognition that Christ is indeed a great King!

Frankincense – Frankincense is an aromatic gum resin which when burned creates a lovely aroma. It is used much in temple worship and therefore represents deity. It was costly and precious.

Myrrh – Myrrh is a spice made of tree sap and used in embalming. Herod was buried wrapped in over 150lbs of it. John records that Jesus was similarly wrapped with half as much:

“Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.” (John 19:39-40).

Myrrh in liquid form was also used in formulating the oil used to anoint the priests, the instruments, the altar, and the Temple prior to offering sacrifices. The connection of Christ as anointed priest and His sacrificial death is obvious.

priest with a little girl

Gold, frankincense and myrrh were often among the gifts brought to royalty. In 243 B.C. for example they were among the gifts King Seleucus II Callinicus brought to the god Apollo at the temple in Miletus, and Isaiah announced concerning Jerusalem’s restoration:

“Herds of camels will cover your land,
young camels of Midian and Ephah.
And all from Sheba will come,
bearing gold and incense
and proclaiming the praise of the Lord.” (Isa. 60:6).

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Thursday, 12/19/19 – Discipleship – Priorities

“Priority One”

20191218_195127“Hey Google,” I said, “What are the top three priorities?”

In an instant a female voice replied, “I found this on the web…” and a plethora of priorities scrolled down the screen: My children, my marriage and my education…. Stay sober, make lots of money, get a bigger house… Beat cancer, look after my little sister, get a new water heater… — Clearly our lot in life, social milieu and spiritual conscience all play a role in the values we adopt and the importance we ascribe to people, to money, and to things.

But is there one common denominator? Is there some one thing that every priority poll might indisputably place at the top?

20191218_200845Jesus gave us what must be every soul’s “Priority One”:

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matt. 6:33).

How do we do this? “Abide in Me,” Jesus urged (John 15:4), “The Holy Spirit will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26).

20191218_200918When we make Jesus our top priority He begins to change us. He begins to work in our lives, our children’s lives, our marriages and other relationships. One’s education and career goals may change. We will have new focus and direction and hope… We will no longer desire to get drunk… Money will hold less value as we realize God can be trusted to provide… Earthly possessions like houses and cars lose their allure as we value more the rewards of eternity… We find Jesus can heal… Jesus can provide… Jesus can bring peace in the midst of our trials. — He can do all these things in ways we cannot imagine. When we seek Him first… His kingdom… His rule in our lives… When we seek to be righteous just as He is… then, all the other pieces and bits and decisions of our lives fall into their proper place.

C.S. Lewis spoke to this in several places…

“Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’; aim at earth and you will get neither.” – Mere Christianity

“You can’t get second things by putting them first. You get second things only by putting first things first.” – God in the Dock…

“Put first things first and we get second things thrown in: put second things first and we lose both first and second things.” – letter to Dom Bede Griffiths (1951)

The Apostle Paul’s great ambition was this:

“I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.” (Phil. 3:12-15).

Press on…

20190522_065320Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would you like to know how to begin this journey and take the very first of the First Steps by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Friday, 12/13/19 – Friday Tough Question

Paraskevidekatriaphobia?

Paraskevidekatriaphobia = the fear of Friday the 13th!

pexels-photo-1425099.jpeg

It’s astonishing to me just how many believers in our Lord Jesus Christ still harbor a lingering queasiness about this particular date. Though the Christian has no basis whatsoever to be afraid of a date on the calendar this particular superstition does seem to have its origins in Scripture!

The word itself is actually derived from two Greek words “Paraskeví” (Friday) and “dekatreís” (thirteen). With the extension “phobia” (fear) we now have the word “paraskevidekatriaphobia” (fear of Friday 13th). But the connection to scripture goes deeper than just the fact that it’s word components are Greek in origin.

the greek statues

The number 13 fell into a dark area as Judas was viewed as the 13th person at the Last Supper: i.e. Christ, plus the twelve apostles. The number 12 it was argued was a perfect number of completeness. There were 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 hours on a clock, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 apostles of Jesus, 12 gods of Olympus, and so on. The number 13 just threw this whole system out of balance!

Friday was also bad enough in itself because it was on a Friday that the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified! Put them together and you’ve got a day of disaster to be avoided at all cost!

man preparing dough for bread

But God is not the author of such superstitious fear. Many wonderful things happened on Friday and around the number 13. I imagine some of the same folk who fear Fridays are also among those who chime T.G.I.F. at the end of every work week. And it’s always nice to get a baker’s dozen (13) of some delicious baked goods. And the teaching of scripture is sternly clear:

Lev. 19:31 – “Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the Lord your God.” (See also Deut. 18:10-12)
Gal. 4:8-11 – “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days and months and seasons and years! I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.”
Col. 2:20-23 – “If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings?”
1 Tim. 4:7 – “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness”
2 Tim. 1:7 – “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

Other theories on the origin of Friday 13th also exist from the Norse goddess of fertility “Frigga” to stories of the arrest of the legendary Knights Templar on a Friday 13 in 1307. But for the Christian this date holds no more terror than the Easter Bunny. God is on His Throne and no man-made superstition can ever budge Him one particle!

ask blackboard chalk board chalkboard

Press on…

 

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send it to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.