Rain, Rain, Go Away!

Rain, Rain, Go Away, come again another day. It seems that I was saying that about every day last year when it seemed to rain non-stop. Now, it’s starting again; we are seeing rain almost every day now for the past couple weeks. Is it a bad thing?

Surely not, since God did bring it to us. So why then do we get so discouraged when it comes? You know, this is true for many things in life. Some people grumble, complain, whine, or criticize almost everything in life. But did you ever stop to think that what you are going through was provided by God?

Now, let me clarify a few things: God did provide the good, the bad, and the ugly. However, just because He provided it, doesn’t mean it’s His “fault.” I would venture to say that we brought on the bad ourselves. Sure, God delivered it, but we were the ones responsible for it being bad.

No one is good except God alone – Mark 10:18

This implies that there is one type of people in the world: bad people. Now, the rest of the Bible does go on to directly clarify that bad people can be redeemed (Thank God!). Only Jesus who came to earth truly paid for His own redeemed life. We are totally undeserving alone. However, God loves us so much, that He provided a means to remedy us from our fallen state of sin (John 3:16).

The Psalmist tells us that our God and His ways “are perfect” (Psalm 18:30); therefore, we can’t blame Him for our bad circumstances, events, or outcomes. Unless of course, you give him “credit” for those things, and see them in a good light – a manner in which to allow you to grow. When we think of it that way, God is growing us. He has allowed us to walk freely, but also rewarded us with the consequences (some positive, some negative).

Next time you find yourself moaning, try to Thank God instead. Thank Him for everything around you, even what you see as bad and ugly.

Thank you for the rain today God!

Either or

A lady walked into a cell phone store and demanded a new phone because hers wouldn’t work right. A rather sarcastic employee said “For your new phone, do you want to be angry about dropped calls, or complain about the poor battery life.”* It seems that with everything that is made today there must be a trade-off of one performance item for another. Which do you select? What is more important to you?

Of course, for those with more money, you can buy the “best of the best” and trade your money for performance. But still as soon as you buy something (especially technology), it’s already outdated and a better product is on its way to the shelf from the manufacturer.

Thankfully, God isn’t that way. You don’t need to “buy” your salvation. And you don’t have to trade your life on earth for God’s love. There is nothing you can do physically, no amount of money you can pay, no work of grace that you can perform that will get you into Heaven. And what you get from God isn’t outdated. It will never be replaced for anything better. God has already provided the best present through Jesus Christ that is ever possible, an eternity with Him in Heaven.

On the other hand, there is one thing that you MUST do. You must accept Jesus Christ as your LORD and Savior. By accepting Him into your life, you have admitted that you are not holy enough to get into Heaven by your own deeds (Romans 6:23, 10:9). You have stated that you believe that He is the one true Son of God (John 20:31), and that His sacrifice on the cross was payment for your sin (Isaiah 53:5). You are also stating that you trust Him with your life. After all, He gave it to you, He planned it, He designed it. It is His life that is in you (Genesis 2:7, Job 33:4). By accepting Him, you are simply agreeing to His plan.

And another cool thing…. No dropped calls to Heaven, and you don’t need a battery to call upon Him. That technology can’t be improved by man!

*Cell phone story adapted from Dilbert Desk Calendar, June 28, 2014.

Don’t hold back…

Yesterday I spoke about spiritual gifts, but didn’t get into details of the importance of each. I merely mentioned that each gift has an important role to glorify God. Today, I want to continue that thought through what Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 12.
Paul uses the parts of the body to describe the differences among spiritual gifts and how each is relevant and needed by the other members to function properly. “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.” (1 Cor 12:21).

Some would say there are parts of the body that are less important. But let’s take for instance some of those parts. We’ll start with the part that we use to dispose of waste (#2) from the body. It’s rather nasty to think about, but honestly it is an integral part of the body that is required. Without it, you’d all be full of [something].
Now let’s take a look at body parts that scientists declare are un-useful, or “vestigial”: the appendix, the tailbone, male nipples, wisdom teeth, etc. What about these members of the body? After all, billions of people have had at least one of these parts removed, without apparent effect.

Appendicitis occurs at least 1/minute in the US alone, so removal of such organ must be irrelevant to the body function, right? According to science, they don’t do anything. Oops, there it is: “science.” [don’t get me wrong, I love scientific proven equations]
Science, that’s the explanation! Just like the theory of evolution (remember THEORY – means NOT proven), science has messed up. Science declared eggs bad for you (about 10+ years ago), and good for you ( Here’s another: Cholesterol is bad for you – right? Everybody knows that! Posted August 2013, “in fact, cholesterol happens to be one of the most important nutrients in your body.”* So which is it? Science would say, “well, it depends….”

Well, let’s just conclude that science doesn’t know everything. I’m willing to bet that we find out in just 10 more years what the appendix really does do [at least according to Science 🙂 ].

Back to the topic. Each body member does contribute (albeit we may not fully understand how) to our bodily function. Similarly, each Christian’s spiritual gift CAN contribute to the glory of God. But our obedience is the real issue. Will you use your spiritual gift the way God intended?

Some spiritual gifts are beautiful (singing, playing music), others are filled with love (serving, giving, teaching), and some are less pristine (cleaning, diaper changing). However each gift, when combined and working together in a local church (building or community), contributes to God’s great glory. Without each of these gifts working together, the universal church couldn’t function and we couldn’t worship and praise God the way He deserves. Don’t hold back your spiritual gift and be the reason that God doesn’t receive His well-deserved glory.

*posted at huffpost.com/us/entry/3499583/

Do Something!

“Woke up this morning, saw a world full of trouble.” Wondered how God could create a world like this. Why doesn’t He do something about it?*

Then it occurred to me He did. He created ME! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_RjndG0IX8

If you haven’t listened to this song, I encourage you too.

If we don’t do something, who will? If we don’t act now, when will we?

Now, some of you are thinking, ___(fill_in_the_blank)___ just isn’t my gift. It’s just not who I am!

You may be right. Even if you are, remember that:

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. – 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)

God gave you a unique gift. Use it! Whatever it may be!

Maybe it’s speech, then speak the Word of the Lord. Teaching may be your gift, then teach for the Lord. Are you better gifted to serve, then serve. Maybe love is your gift; God’s love could shine through you.

For anyone that knows music, a single instrument is generally not applauded alone. However, when used in unison with other instruments, beautiful music can be produced. The same is true for our spiritual gifts. Alone, our gifts may not seem like much, but when used for God’s glory along with every other Christian using their gift, the power and beauty of it can be remarkable.

God entrusted you with a unique gift. Use it for God’s glory.

*Lyrics quoted and adapted from Matthew West’s Do Something

Principles for Marriage

OK, so this is a topic I have not really dealt with yet in many years of blogging. However, today during my devotion, I am led to speak on it. Some would say “tread lightly,” but that wouldn’t be very Biblical would it? Some Pastor’s stray from certain topics because they may OFFEND someone. Well, I don’t remember Jesus worrying about offending anyone. In fact, He is probably more well known FOR offending people. However, it was always based on God’s Word, not the world’s view. Therefore, I think I am safe if I stick to the Bible.

So, let’s first point out that I am not targeting anyone or any event in real life. What’s that legal jargon? Oh yes….

  1. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
  2. And now MY disclaimer: this blog is intended for married people, if you’re single, you can stop reading now.

Ok, now that we have that taken care of, let’s get to Scripture.

“It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman” – 1 Corinthians 7:1

That’s right, right there in the Bible! Along with it, we can find in the Bible “There is no God” (Psalm 14:1). Now, let’s quickly understand that BOTH of these verses are taken out of context!

Psalm 14:1 completely says “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”

And in 1 Corinthians 7, we find that Paul is addressing the church in Corinth “Now concerning the matters about which you wrote ‘it is good for a man not to have ….’” Notice, this was not a command from God, or anything Jesus said. Paul is addressing an issue the church asked about.

Paul continues to speak about sexual temptation and the best way to avoid sexual immorality:

“Each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.” – 1 Cor 7:2

He continues to speak concerning sexual relations:

“The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise, the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” – 1 Cor 7:3-4

He furthermore goes on to explain that “depriving one another” is not good, EXCEPT for “perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer.” – 1 Cor 7:5

Paul points out that sexual self-control is a difficult sin to manage. In fact, throughout the 7th chapter he addresses marriage and sexual discipline several times, due to its prominence, even years ago!

There is no doubt that sexual immorality and adultery is a very high cause of divorce in the United States. In one survey, infidelity is reported as the 3rd top reason for divorce. So how do we prevent this? Paul spoke very clearly on the subject as previously mentioned: we must understand and accept our partner’s needs.

For years, psychologists have noted the differences between men and women. Who hasn’t heard that “men think about sex every 6 seconds”? I can’t say that I know where the stat comes from, or even if it’s true for the average man. However, there is significant evidence to prove that male and female sex drives differ in terms of frequency and circumstances. So why did God program us so differently?

Well, that’s a topic for another day (maybe). In the meantime, let’s stick to the topic at hand, and remember that men and women are different.

The best way to deal with that is to be open with one another and respect one another’s needs and not focus on just your own desires. Lack of communication has also been found to be a high cause of divorce in the US. Therefore, maybe it’s time to talk to each other about sex, after all, you are married!

Do you bring the Kingdom come?

My latest travels to NC found me listening to Christian music (of course). And this time, I heard a recent song by Jason Gray: With Every Act of Love. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4bB7BUxBbY

Very simply, the song reminds us to bring Jesus to the world with every act that we do. The chorus:

Oh, we bring the kingdom come
Oh, with every act of love
Jesus, help us carry You
Alive in us, Your light shines through
With every act of love
We bring the kingdom come

What I love about coincidences is that they are not (in my mind) coincidence. God plans things in a certain way for us to better understand and learn. Yesterday during Sunday School, I spoke about a time when God used me to witness to an angry person, against my will. I say “will” because I didn’t want to be in the presence of the individual, but God had much different plans. In the end, His plan was much better than mine, and I believe God used me to plant seeds in this person’s life.

The lyrics of Jason Gray’s song continues:

God put a million, million doors in the world
For His love to walk through
One of those doors is you
I said, God put a million, million doors in the world
For His love to walk through
One of those doors is you*

I believe that God has a plan for each of us. What is His plan for you? When will He use you to reach someone? Or have you already heard from God, and you are resisting like I did. I think I probably resisted for a long time (and granted I still do). But aren’t we failing God when we do?

‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me.’ -Matthew 25:40 (NIV)

Let God’s love walk through us into this world:

Oh, with every act of love
Jesus, help us carry You
Alive in us.

 

*emphasis mine
** Lyrics and song by Jason Gray

Man it’s hot outside!

Today I received a weather alert stating Heat Index near 97F tomorrow in Greenville, SC. What? I just moved from Alabama, and their Index doesn’t normally go that high till July! What is going on with the weather here?

Last year we had rain, rain, and then more rain. This year, heat, heat, and more heat (plus rain)! Geez! What did I get myself into moving here?

Despite my griping, I do love Greenville. And despite the heat, it’s really not that hot! I mean after all, I do use the steam room at the gym (110-120 degrees F at 100% humidity). I have also been enjoying the sauna (160-180 F at about 20-25% humidity). While many people may not enjoy the extreme heat produced by those, it is relaxing and a stress relief for others. And believe it or not, there used to be a sauna competition that required competitors to sit in saunas up to 230F (in 2010 the competition stopped after a fatality, of course).

However, these heats still don’t compare to what the future holds for unbelievers. We are told in Revelation (20:12-15) that the lake of fire (and brimstone) is the final resting place for anyone whose name is not found in the Book of Life. This general description of the lake of fire is traditionally associated with eternal pain, and sometimes as a punishment for wickedness. I once heard someone describe it as having one’s body dropped into a vat of boiling oil! OUCH!

I’m not sure about you, but that’s enough to scare me senseless. So why did God create such a place? Is He evil? Does this support some atheist’s theory that God is not a loving God after all? No! In fact, many atheists love to use items like this to twist our mind and cause us to doubt our faithful creator. However, Jesus told us in Matthew 25:41 that the lake of fire was designed for “the devil and his angels.” And if we stay with John in Revelation, we can verify that the lake of fire was designed for evil: Babylon (chapters 17-19), the beast and false prophet (19:20), and the dragon [satan/devil](20:10), as well as Death and Hades (20:14). God created a place for this evil to be separated from Heaven. And although some critics claim that a death in the lake of fire will be sudden, the Bible clearly tells us that where the Beast, false prophet, and Satan are, they will be “tormented day and night forever and ever” (20:10). And, as a reminder, those whose names are not found in the Book of Life will also be cast into this same lake of fire (20:15).

Sorry to preach such sadness. Some Pastors stray from teaching on the negative side and consequences of sin and unbelief. However, the Bible clearly teaches us this for a purpose.

Would you allow a loved one or a dear friend to spend eternity being tormented? Or will you “risk your friendship” with them to tell them about Jesus, and how to spend eternity in Heaven?

Technical difficulties . . .

Sorry! That’s the first thing that comes to mind today. After several days of issues with my blog site, all I can say is sorry!

Thankfully, what I am responding to is simply a website and e-mail service. Sure, it does distribute the Word of God, and I am disappointed that I may have missed some opportunities to spread more seeds. However, I am thankful that this instance is solely related to a “communication” and nothing else. You see, even though I was unable to communicate normally in the last few days, the Word which I do speak remains unchanged.

Despite any technical difficulties or human intervention, and regardless of anything that happens here on earth – God is still God! And His plan for Salvation remains true. There is nothing I can do, or technology mess up that will change God’s unfailing love for us.

Over 4,000 years ago, He put in place a plan to save our dear souls from eternity and we can’t mess it up (God’s plan – that is). In spite of how hard we try and no matter how many times we fail, God’s plan remains.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16 (NIV)

That’s a lasting truth that remains forever!

So, if that’s all good, why worry? Well, I’ve mentioned that no matter what we do, we can’t mess up God’s plan, right? That’s true! The problem is that there still is something that we CAN do that will mess up the world we live in. It won’t affect God’s plan – He set that before us. But if we fail to choose God’s plan for our lives, then we won’t have an eternity to share with Him. If we don’t accept Jesus, then we have denied Jesus. It’s one or the other – there is no opt-out.

The same is true for our friends and everyone else in the world. There are many people that have accepted God’s plan of Salvation. However, there are many more people that have not. For them, they have either actively or passively denied God’s plan and will not spend eternity in Heaven.

It is our responsibility to share God’s plan with them. What will you do today to share God’s plan with someone you meet?

Is that the right translation?

I spoke with a colleague today that had a French exam yesterday. He felt confident that he passed, but still hasn’t received his grade yet. When he asked me if I spoke French, I told him the long story: I took a semester of French and a year of Spanish in high school. In college, I studied Spanish again. However, I soon found myself traveling the world with the military; and in Egypt I tried to learn Arabic; in Korea, I picked up some Hangul. Soon after, I found myself in Seminary studying Hebrew and Greek. Needless to say, I’m glad (and lucky) I can still speak English.

All that to say, which Bible is right? I mean after all, there are soooooo many translations out there!

So which Bible is truly the right one? Well, first let’s go to the history of how the Bible was created. Remember, that “all Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16). Following 1500 years, and 40 authors, in 382 AD a church council (of sorts) was formed to pull together all the relevant documents of text that we now call the “Bible.”

But let’s not forget, as someone recently pointed out to me, that even BEFORE experts pulled together all the books of the Bible, they were still Scripture. We know that Jesus read from Scripture in Luke 4:16 – “He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and He stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to Him.” He read, and all present were marveled at His words. Then in response He spoke again: “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21 ESV).

We also need to remember that these scrolls/letters were originally written in different languages: Hebrew (Old Testament), some Aramaic (Daniel, Ezra, …), and Greek (New Testament). Throughout the ages, these original texts (scrolls) were translated into a myriad of languages individually. During the Protestant Reformation (1517), Martin Luther (a Catholic priest and monk) had the Bible translated into German, and the invention of the printing press allowed the Bible to be further distributed to the lay church in mass production. In 1546, the Roman Catholic Church declared the Latin version (Latin Vulgate Bible) as the official and authentic Bible. Then in 1611 King James had the Bible translated into English.

The Bible specifically states for no one to add or take away from the Words of the Bible (Deuteronomy 4:2, Proverbs 30:6, Revelation 22:18-19). That being said, many experts have spent years translating and updating a variety of translations to include the most popular recent releases such as the NLT (1996), ESV (2001), HCSB (2004), TNIV (2005), and the Message (2002).

So, which one is right? While I don’t support any particular translation, I will say that each version has its pros and cons. What I think is most important is that we take time to study a Christian Bible, no matter what translation you use. The only recommendation I would suggest is to stray from “paraphrased translations” such as the Living Bible or the Message, as they do not translate direct words or language, although they are sometimes more readable.


 

Do you have more faith than your atheist friend? I think not!

Today, I was listening to a posting on Facebook (yeah, I know, not necessarily the most academic place to learn). However, an evangelist posted a video in response to an atheist about creationism vs evolution.

The video is in response to those who try to debunk creationism with the supposition that it requires faith to believe in creation. However, as the video points out, the “theory of evolution” is just that – a theory. That means it cannot be proven. Theory is based on observation and experimentation. However, because evolution has never been observed, it cannot be a basis for a theory. No one has ever observed evolution in the sense it is used to apply to the beginning of our world. Only Charles Darwin ever observed what might have been micro-evolution with finches on the Galapagos Island (which was really more of natural selection). HOWEVER, this supposed evolution may have also been evidence of various species of birds, not evolution , as some scientists of his times have reported.

It is even noted that Charles Darwin never once denied the existence of God. He was more known as agnostic, although he was somewhat active in the church, including having church on his private property. Furthermore, he admitted in his own books that if evolution was true, that fossil evidence should be found, which of course, has not been. He found a limited number of fossils which led him to believe in natural selection, but purely admits that the small amount he found is hardly enough to even establish a theory, much less prove one.

So, if we can’t observe evolution, then it requires faith to believe it.

In fact, modeling the theory of evolution:

1) chaos on earth

2) big boom

3) life springs forward

… would result in the following effect: watching a tornado pass through a junk yard and then at the far end, see that in all the chaos of the wind and garbage being blown about, that a well-oiled complex 747 airplane was put together ready for flight after all the destruction. Ok, if we want to be honest, maybe only a 1 seater was thrown together by the tornado, and then it slowly, over millions of years (as the theory goes) turned into a 747 with more garbage and tornadoes hitting it. Sounds like non-sense to me. But people who believe it sure do have faith in it! And I believe it takes more faith to believe that, then it does God!