No Fluff, Please

Posted May 8, 2016 by John
Categories: Christian Life

We watched a DVD at church by Ken Ham from Answers in Genesis on how Christians can reach our modern day culture with the Gospel. Ham made several excellent points, but I want to focus on one for now.

Ham noted the distinction between why it is there are differing views of end times vs. the differing views about creation.

Those who study prophecy come at their conclusions based on what they’ve researched in Scriptures. They’re using the Bible as their authority.

Those who believe in a view of creation other than that explained in Genesis come to their conclusions from sources outside the Bible. The Scriptures are not their main source of authority.

Ham points out several times in his series of messages that we either base our religion and faith on either God’s authority or Man’s authority. It makes a huge difference as to how we view the Word of God and the world we live in.

This relates to why I gave up on reading a book by a Catholic priest about his ministry to the severely handicapped. His emphasis was supposedly on living closer to Jesus.

But so much of what he wrote was based on feelings and things associated with the Catholic church, such as icons and stories about monks or Catholic saints. The Word of God was secondary or incidental.

How sad.

I want to read about how someone became closer to Christ based on the Word of God. I want to see what a belief in the authority of God’s Word can do to transform a life.

In other words, I don’t want to read or hear spiritual pablum. No fluff, please. No man centered “God told me this or that.”

God’s Word must be supreme if we are to walk closer to Him. It’s the only thing that will transform our lives and enable us to have an impact on the lives of others.

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12

It’s About Worship

Posted February 21, 2016 by John
Categories: Christian Life

The issue of Moments for You for the first quarter of 2016 is available. The theme is worship.

I enjoy this quarterly magazine, and I hope you’ll appreciate the issue linked above. Take a few minutes to read the whole thing online.

God Makes Things Simple

Posted January 31, 2016 by John
Categories: Christian Life, Salvation

Nothing is ever as simple as it seems. Yet God makes things simple.

The message of the Gospel is simple. It’s in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.

3.For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4.And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:…

Many believe we must do good works to earn our salvation. Would you believe Jesus says that’s true? According to Jesus in John 6:29, all we have to do is believe in Him. How simple is that?

28.Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?
29.Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

Here’s how simple God makes believing. According to Ephesians 2:8-9, He gives you and me the ability to believe.

8. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9.Not of works, lest any man should boast.

It’s the grace of God that leads Him to give you and me the faith to believe on Him for salvation. That faith doesn’t come from something you or I stir up.

But it doesn’t stop there. That faith goes well beyond salvation. According to Romans 10:17, it grows as we grow in the knowledge of His word.

17. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

The Christian walk is a forward walk, according to 2 Peter 1:5-8.

5.And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6.And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7.And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
8.For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God makes things so simple that He gives us the Holy Spirit to enable us to walk in His ways, according to Romans 8:14-16, 26-27.

14.For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
15.For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
16.The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:…
26.Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
27.And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Because He makes things simple, simply trust Him.

An Ocean at the Center of the Earth

Posted January 17, 2016 by John
Categories: Thoughts from John

Science catches up with the Bible’s reference to the fountains of the deep in Genesis 8:2. See A Vast Ocean Inside the Earth: The Deep Unknown.

Genesis 8:1-4–
1.And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters asswaged;
2.The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained;
3.And the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated.
4.And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.

Strong Delusion

Posted January 10, 2016 by John
Categories: Thoughts from John

In 2 Thessalonians 2:11, Paul says God will send strong delusion to the followers of the AntiChrist during the Tribulation period. I’ve reproduced verses 1-12 below so you can appreciate the context.

It’s been my contention for some time now that Americans–and no doubt others around the world–are under unbreakable delusion already. I’m referring to such things as the official story of 9/11, why we’ve been at war for years, and the notion that the economy is good.

See Synthetic Reality Nation for one commentator’s take on our modern day deception.

The question that comes to mind is, considering how badly we’re deluded and deceived now, how bad will that strong delusion be during the Tribulation?

It boggles the mind.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-12–
1.Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
2.That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
3.Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
4.Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
5.Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
6.And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
7.For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
8.And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
9.Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
10.And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
11.And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
12.That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

You’re In For It Now, Buster!

Posted December 6, 2015 by John
Categories: Thoughts from John

When you’re watching or listening to the news, do you ever get the feeling you’re back in school, waiting for the hammer to come down on you for doing wrong? I’ve had that feeling often, and I don’t expect it to go away any time soon.

Paul Craig Roberts explains why that is in a brilliant article entitled The Punishment Society. Our country is punishing those within and without who don’t tow the line.

I want to try to tie several seemingly random things together to emphasize this point. First, a little personal thought to get the ball rolling.

Generally speaking, I liked school when I was a kid years ago. I’ve always enjoyed learning. But one thing I absolutely hated was that the wrong actions of one person screwed things up for all of us. If one person did something out of line, we were all guilty. No chance to prove innocence.

Forget about individual responsibilities and rights. Collectivist thinking is surely instilled when we’re treated as a group, not as human beings.

That’s the attitude exhibited in our country today. There are all kinds of reasons why you and I might be domestic terrorists. The bottom line is, if we take a viewpoint that’s out of synch with the government in any way, we’re in for trouble.

But most people don’t know or believe that. Do right, and all will be well. Only those who break the law or are terrorists deserve punishment, right?

How will they know what you and I are up to?

Because we’re being watched all the time. And we’re told to watch each other. You know, See something, say something.

“The Atlantic” for November 2015 includes an article entitled If You’re Not Paranoid, You’re crazy. The author warns of the dangers of the surveillance we’ve come to expect and accept in our everyday lives. There’s surprisingly very little of the anticonspiracy theory attitude in it, which one would expect from such an establishment publication.

I think I understand why young people have no sense of the loss of personal privacy in our modern day surveillance society. It’s something that has baffled me before now.

First, they’ve grown up with pervasive technology that I didn’t experience years back. Second, there’s no sense of punishment associated with being watched. At least none that’s perceptible.

In fact, it’s flat out pleasurable to engage in social media. Who cares about consequences? See Why Do We Expose Ourselves? for mor thoughts on this.

There’s another side to the punishment coin. It’s not only the authorities who wish to punish the masses. It’s the masses who want to punish as well.

An attitude of political correctness has been allowed to grow and run rampant. Nobody would dare to hurt somebody else’s feelings, would they? They deserve punishment if they do step out of line.

And yet look who wants to do the punishment. The same people who don’t think twice about putting everything on social media.

Look at the punishment attitude embedded within the turmoil this fall over alleged racism at the University of Missouri. It toppled top leaders. The contageon has spread in one form or other to other colleges.

Look at the example of the weatherman who was fired in France a few weeks ago for not agreeing with the party line on global warming. Read about it here.

Let’s go further.

If you don’t believe the U.S. government’s official story about 9/11, the Boston Marathon bombing, the attacks on Paris, the shootings in San Bernardino, CA, etc., you’re a conspiracy theorist and must be made to feel out of step with reality.

We now have so-called mass shootings and terrorist attacks of one sort or other at least once a week. It’s alleged by talk show hosts and many among us that Muslims are invading America. Yet anyone who speaks out against them in any way stands the risk of being prosecuted.

This is a deliberate attempt to intimidate and bully Americans into submission.

Can you honestly tell me this isn’t a punishment society?

Or are you one of those who claims to have nothing to hide. You’re coloring inside the lines.

And yet, with the excess of regulations these days, we’re all law breakers of one kind or another.

Ironically, the solution to everything that looks out of order is to make more rules and regulations.

So many little things happen that reinforce the punishment society attitude. For example, after a Russian airliner was shot down over Egypt, a picture emerged allegedly showing a soda pop can bomb. Or maybe it was a beer can.

Either way, it could be that from now on when you drink a can of Coke in public, you’ll be looked at suspiciously.

Here’s another angle to that. If you’re not really a terrorist, do you really need that soft drink or beer anyway? Obesity runs rampant, right? Haven’t voices been clamoring for us to do something about it?

So, you see, you’re now being punished for drinking a can of pop.

But how brilliant is it that making people scared to drink from a can in public is a way to fight terrorism and obesity at the same time?

As that Russian comedian used to say, “What a country!”

OK, do you truly want to be a good citizen?

All right then. Here’s how you can avoid being punished in society today.

  • Believe absolutely everything you’re told by the media, government and anyone in a position of authority.
  • Remember authority is always right.
  • Never ask questions about anything.
  • When a new idea or law is put forward, always accept it blindly and eagerly.
  • Never ever think outside the box.

There may be more rules to follow, but those should get you buy for now.

Are you satisfied with that? I’m not, and I never will be. And my punishment is a harsh one–attempting to maintain sanity in an insane world.

The Nine and the One

Posted November 29, 2015 by John
Categories: Christian Life

Luke 17:11-19–
11. And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
12. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
13. And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
14. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
15.And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
16. And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
17. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
18. There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
19. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

The Sunday before Thanksgiving our pastor preached from Luke 17:11-19 on the need for us to be thankful, like the one leper out of ten who came back to give thanks to Jesus. His message prompted a couple of thoughts I’d like to share with you.

When the lepers cried out for Jesus to have mercy on them, He told them to go show themselves to the priest. According to Leviticus 13, there were several reasons those with skin diseases should show themselves to the priest. Jesus wasn’t asking anything unusual of these men.

Had they been to the priest before? We don’t know, but it’s possible they may have been, since they kept their distance, knowing they were unclean.

Notice they obeyed Jesus’ command. They had enough faith to follow His word. And their obedience was rewarded. They were cleansed–healed physically and no longer unclean.

Did they have any idea that would happen? We’re not told in the passage. Jesus hadn’t promised them anything.

I see an important principle here. The lepers obeyed and were rewarded with something they may not have anticipated. So it is with us. God’s word doesn’t always tell us everything we think we ought to know. Nonetheless, when we obey His word by faith, we are rewarded, perhaps with something good we hadn’t expected. Perhaps, like the lepers, we’ll get it sooner than expected as well.

Now comes the critical part–gratitude.

Nine of the lepers kept going on their way to the priest. The tenth turned around, raised his voice to glorify God, and bowed in worshipful thanks to Jesus.

Notice the passage mentions he was a Samaritan. The Samaritans and Jews didn’t want anything to do with each other. Jesus Himself referred to this man as a stranger.

Keep in mind, we who are believers in Christ were once strangers, spiritually speaking.

Perhaps it was leprosy that brought Nine Jews and a Samaritan together in a common bond because no one else would have them. Adversity can make strange companions.

Yet it was this Samaritan who showed his thankfulness to Jesus. And he was rewarded for it. Jesus told him his faith had made him whole.

Hadn’t the others exercised faith, too? They obeyed Jesus’ words, didn’t they?

But it was only the one who gave glory to God and showed gratitude. Perhaps it’s safe to assume he was not only healed physically, as were the others; but he was healed spiritually, too. In other words, Jesus gave him salvation.

Shouldn’t we be like that one leper?

Where Are the Other Nine? – Geoff Moore