Friday, December 23, 2011

LIVING OUTSIDE THE BOX


A funny thing happened this morning while I was reaching up in one of our kitchen cabinets to retrieve something to get my morning started, oh yea, it was one of those heating pads that you put into the microwave to relieve old man muscle pains. Anyway, I knocked down a light bulb that exploded on the kitchen counter, shattering myriads of little pieces of shrapnel all over the kitchen.

I then dutifully got out the little hand held vacuum and began sucking up little pieces of glass. After I was done cleaning up my mess, I asked my wife (Miss Eagle Eye), I swear she could see a speck of dirt on our living room carpet from the moon. She quietly bent over, and like a scientist peering through a high powered microscope she found just about as many pieces of glass on the kitchen counter that I had just sucked up in the vacuum. She then looked at me with that [wifey] look and said, "you got to bend over and look for the glass from this angle), and she was right, as soon as I looked for the little pieces of glass from that particular angle, I discovered that little pieces of glass were hiding everywhere on the kitchen cabinet.


How important in our culture to think outside the proverbial box, to look at life from a completely different angle, a different perspective? The day of the factory worker is over, where you were given a job to do and you performed without question. I think average is over, and our culture presents great opportunities for those who are willing to look at life from outside the box.

Wherever you are,become indispensable, be creative, move forward with intuitive ideas. Do new creative things inside the context of your marriage, become indispensable to your employer, if you're in leadership; then lead intuitively. Remember we don't become indispensably merely because we are different, but the only way to be indispensable is to be different.

Learn to read between the lines, look for the nuances in the story of life, there is rich detail sometime in the fine print. As Solomon tells us, "whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might" (Ecclesiastes 9:10).


The Apostle Paul sums it up this way when he says, "whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men" (Colossians 3:23). The  follower of Jesus should use all their creativity, ingenuity, and intuitiveness for His glory and honor.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

God living in us



I read a tweet the other day that really impacted me, the tweet said "God lives on the inside of me and is roaring like a lion." We often think of the christian faith as soft and timid, but Scriptures do present Jesus as King and as a fierce Lion.

This saying reminds me of the passage that tells us that God is in us and and He is greater than the evil one who lives in the world (1John. 4:4). What a wonderful thought that we have God indwelling us and empowering us to live a life that is pleasing and honoring to Him.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New Age Mysticism


I feel an incredible need to write about the infusion of the spiritual formation movement that is sweeping through our churches today like a blazing forest fire. Christian yoga, spiritual disciplines, contemplative prayer, labyrinths, are all the rage in many of our evangelical bible churches.

I've been a christian for over three decades, and have experienced many different churches and have seen movements come and go. A fascinating study is to look at church history and see all the different movements that have taken place, and to take note, that they were all reactions to "something" that was perceived as askew in the church.

Take the pietism movement during the late seventeenth-century, this movement combined the Lutheranism of the time with the Reformed emphasis on individual piety and living a vigorous Christian life. Lutherans were more interested  in the working of the Spirit and a personal faith than the institutional type faith of the church at that time. If you want to spend some time looking at this movement here is a good source: http://www.deusvitae.com/faith/denominations/pietism.html

From my research it seems that movements tend to "overreact" and the pendulum swings way to far to the left or right.Take the Fundamentalist movement that was a movement that began in the late 19th- and early 20th-century within American Protestant circles to defend the "fundamentals of belief" against the corrosive effects of liberalism that had grown within the ranks of Protestantism itself.

One of the charges against the fundamental movement was that they separated themselves and tended to withdraw from the culture that they were called to engage. George Marsden's book " Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism explores this movement at great length.





 The deeper life movement of today calls for Christians and churches to live a deeper more meaningful christian life. I for one feel that that there is warrant for a call that the church examine herself to make sure that a dead cold orthodoxy has not taken over. As J.I. Packer noted "Evangelical Christianity in North America is 3000 miles wide and a half inch deep."

My concern about this "New Age spirituality" is the subtle infusion of teaching that is completely foreign to Christian Orthodoxy and the Holy Scriptures. Much of the teaching is really an attempt to reorient evangelical Christianity. 

My call to the church and the individual christian is to take this movement and its authors and teachers to the light of the Holy Scriptures. The instruction of Paul to the Church of Thessolonica was to examine everything carefully and to hold fast to that which is good (1Thessalonians 5:21). The Bible is clear that, " God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence (2 Peter 1:3).

There is no new truth or hidden secret knowledge that is being discoverd today that can make us deeper more spiritual Chriastians. All that we need to be Godly is found in the pages of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. There are no formulas or methods that the believer uses to grow in his relationship with Christ. 

Here is a look at one of the contemplatives that has gained wide acceptance in the Evangelical community; his name is Brennan Manning: This information was taken from "The Way Of Life Literature."http://www.wayoflife.org/files/f00aa44cb8005f573ad047f1e90ffc41-188.html

Taken from  Manning’s web site features his biography. What is glaringly absent is any scriptural testimony of salvation. Instead, we find the following statement:
“In February 1956, while Brennan was meditating on the Stations of the Cross, a powerful experience of the personal love of Jesus Christ sealed the call of God on his life.”
There is no repentance, no rejection of false gospels, no Scriptural new birth, merely a “sealing” of that which began at his infant baptism. Manning went on to become a Franciscan priest and though he is no longer active he continues to attend and promote the  Catholic mass. When he is in his home in New Orleans he attends the morning daily mass at the Holy Spirit Catholic Church.



Listed below are just a few of Manning's false and damaging teachings:

Manning says, “God is a kooky God who can scarcely bear to be without us” (
The Ragamuffin Gospel, p. 165). Would you ever describe The Sovereign King as "a kooky God?"

“The first step toward rejuvenation begins with accepting where you are and exposing your poverty, frailty, and emptiness to the love that is everything. Don’t try to feel anything, think anything, or do anything ... Don’t force prayer. Simply relax in the presence of the God you half believe in and ask for a touch of folly” (
The Ragamuffin Gospel, p. 196). Does this sound like sound Biblical Theology to you? Not thinking or feeling are part of the teachings of the contemplative prayer movement.

Manning promotes visualization, instructing people to visualize what Jesus might have looked like (p. 197). This is vain idolatry. No man knows what Jesus looked like, and if I visualize what I THINK He looked like I am creating my own idol.

Manning promotes silent meditation. He once spent six months in isolation in a cave in Spain. He meditates in silence each day. He spends eight days a year at a Jesuit retreat center in Colorado during which he speaks only 45 minutes each day. His primary spiritual director is a Dominican nun.


Mike Gendron in his article "Beware of Wolves in Sheep Clothing" presents more background information on the dangers of Mannning's contemplative prayer, mystical teachings, his link http://www.reachingcatholics.org/beware.html

Some might ask did you read the book "The Ragamuffin Gospel?" to which I would affirm yes! I read his book from cover to cover along with countless reviews that present on a consistent basis the heretical teachings of Brennan Manning.


Another danger in Manning's book along with another popular author Richard Foster "Celebration of Discipline" is all the references to those who are completely sold out to Eastern Mysticism. You will come across the teaching of universalism, pantheism, all roads lead to God, and a flat out denial of the work of Christ on the cross.

Here is a list of men and women that you will see referenced by both Manning and Foster. And keep in mind not referenced as to people that the christian should be aware of and avoid, but referenced as men and women who speak profound and deep spiritual truths:

Thomas Merton 1915-1968 

At an inter faith conference in Thailand Merton stated:
I believe that openness to Buddhism, to Hinduism, and to these great Asian [mystical] traditions, we stand a wonderful chance of learning more about the potentiality of our own Christian traditions.

Henry Nouwen 1932-1996

At the end of his life Nouwen proclaimed:
Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God's house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God.

Sue Monk Kidd 1948-

I am speaking of recognizing the hidden truth that we are one with all people. We are part of them and they are part of us ... When we encounter another person, ... we should walk as if we were upon holy ground. We should respond as if God dwells there.

These reference can be found in the book "A Time of Departing" by Ray Yungen, all references are well documented with  extensive end notes in the back of his book.

To those believers who may have started on this precarious path please turn around and go back to the clear teaching of the Bible. If your church is promoting this New Age Mysticism talk to your leadership, show them this blog, get the book "A Time of Departing," if your leadership refuses to listen you must leave and find a fellowship where the leadership will not promote New Age Mysticism.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Integrity


Character does matter. We teach our children character traits from the time that they are old enough to understand. A solid character is the foundation of all good things. This also goes for a society, any person or society that is destitute of character is doomed for failure or destruction.

There are many character traits and virtues that contribute to our moral foundation, but the one that stands out to me is the virtue of integrity. Integrity is the one virtue that makes us real, it allows us to live before others in our strengths and weaknesses. 

Integrity gives us the courage to celebrate our weaknesses---to live a life of vulnerability and transparency.  Think for a second of the people in your journey that you have been attracted to---it would most certainly be those who were real, authentic, the real Mccoy, the real deal.

Now take the time to think of those people you had a natural aversion to; it would have to be those people who were manipulative, counterfeit, ungenuine, and unreal. Integrity frees us from the grip of hypocrisy and sets us free to live our lives in authenticity and truthfulness.

In Philippians 1:10b the Apostle Paul prayed for the Philippians that they would be sincere (have integrity). Let me share this beautiful illustration of the etomology of the word sincerity:

In ancient Rome fine pottery was relatively thin and fragile and often developed cracks  while being fired. Unscrupulous shops would fill  the cracks with a hard, dark wax, which would be concealed when the object was painted or glazed, but would melt when the pottery was filled with something hot. In ordinary light, the deception was usually undetectable, but when held up to the sunlight it was clearly exposed, because the wax appeared darker. Reputable dealers would often stamp their products sine cera ("without wax") as a guarantee of high quality. 


Integrity is a virtue that must be planted in the fertile soil of the soul. Integrity like all virtues proceeds from the inner part of our lives; the Bible calls this inner or secret part of our lives the "heart." 

Let me make an application. We must as faithful Christians hold our lives up to the sun light of the Scriptures. We must allow the truth of God's Word to "light up" the dark things in our lives; and we all without question have our dark sides. I'm always reminded of the words of Jeremiah that our "hearts are dark and deceitful" (17:9).
Take the time to allow God's word to shine into those areas of your life where no man dares to tread, yes, it can be painful, but we can  start the process of building real lasting authenticity and integrity into our lives.




Monday, December 12, 2011

What is the Kingdom of God?


The Kingdom of God is undoubtedly one of the  most challenging ideas in the Scriptures. We ask where is the kingdom? what does it look like? how does one get into it? Is the kingdom here now? or is the Kingdom of God something in the future? Each term that we use in trying to describe the kingdom while accurate, is incomplete.

For many of us who have grown up in the church, we have been befuddled by messages that we heard concerning the Kingdom of God. Look at these two popular hymns that you probably sang at some time in your church experience: "THIS WORLD IS NOT MY HOME" AND "THIS IS MY FATHER'S WORLD."

These two hymns embody the  paradoxical teachings concerning the Kingdom of God. One sees the world as a barren wasteland in which the christian should have as little to do as possible, while the other views the world as a place where cultural transformation is certainly the call for all christians.






How then should the Christian live in this world? Does the christian avoid the world, sequester himself, live as a hermit, dare not touch or taste the things of this world for fear of contamination.





 Or should the christian be consumed in transforming the culture as apart of kingdom activity? Should the christian be concerned with societies ills: the poor, the homeless, the sick and needy?





The answer to these questions have caused much conflict within the body of Christ. I would answer this question by stating that we are to do both. We recognize that we live in a fallen world that is tainted by sin---however we continue to practice kingdom principles while we live in this fallen world. This in another one of those paradoxes, while the world is in a fallen state it is also our Father's world; where the "birds their carols raise, the morning light, the lily white, declare the maker's praise."




One of the best ideas that I've come across that  can help us understand the paradox of the idea of the Kingdom of God is this: the kingdom is "already and "not yet" it is all about balance, balance, balance, and more balance, now notice I'm not saying compromise, but balance.

The Scripture is filled with paradoxes, and some knotty and hard teachings: God's love and anger, the sovereignty of God and man being a free moral agent, you have to die to live, and the kingdom is here now, but it is not yet.

In order to understand the Bible's teaching concerning the Kingdom, we must see the kingdom as a process. In the Old Testament the Kingdom was largely limited to "peoples and lands of Israel." In the New Testament the Kingdom extended to "all peoples and all lands."

In the New Testament we see the inauguration of the Kingdom with the coming of Christ. At the baptism of Jesus; both John and Jesus declared that the Kingdom of God is now at hand or near (Matt. 3:2: 4:17; Mk. 1:15).

We now are living in the continuation of the inauguration. The kingdom of God (His reign) is active and spreading.

The last phase to this process will be the consummation of the Kingdom. The consummation is a future event when all of the promises of total transformation will become a reality (Daniel. 2:44, 7:13-14, 22).

So, how do we get into God's Kingdom? Matthew 3:2 give us the answer, the word is repent. We must be willing to surrender ourselves to the rule of the King. We must be willing to follow the way of the king. We must be willing to yield our autonomy and live under the authority of the King.

Kingdom living here and now manifests itself with a yielded life, a surrendered will, and a bowed knee to the King. Kingdom living here and now is simply coming under the reign and rule of King Jesus.

Our God we thank you for being our King, we willing yield our lives to you, recognizing you as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

What is the Kingdom of God?



The phase the "kingdom of God (also called the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of the Lord, or just the kingdom) is woven throughout all of Scripture.

We repeat the phrase (Your kingdom come) in the Lords prayer. So, why is this phrase found throughout the Scriptures---and how is my understanding of it even relevant to my life.

As I started digging into the Scriptures and asking a few learned men their understanding of the meaning of Kingdom in the Scriptures, I was infused with a new enthusiasm for God's working in the world today. It gave me a fresh vision on how I'm apart of God's working in our world, how I'm  a partner with the King.

The Bible uses many metaphors to describe God, but the primary imagery which the Biblical writers used to describe God was that of a King (e.g. 1 Samuel. 8:7).

In addition to God being described as king, the Biblical writers write with deep conviction  that God reigns over all creation as his kingdom (Pss. 47:1-9; Dan. 4:25-26; 5:21). Let me summarize these two thoughts:

God is the sovereign King who rules in heaven over all things.
(Matt.5:34; Eph. 1:20; Col.1:16)

                                                                                                                     


Bear with me on this next thought: There is a great conflict or disparity going on between heaven and earth. Remember the Lord's prayer asks for God's kingdom to come? Well here is the conflict, all the creatures in heaven honor the King with unqualified voluntary service.

On earth it is somewhat different, not all of God's creation subject themselves to the rule of the King. On earth we have rebellion and anarchy---man living independent of their creator.



The reality that the Scripture presents is that one day this disparity between heaven and earth will be eliminated (1 Chr.16:31). Isaiah and Zechariah both present a time that God will judge those who refuse to submit to His kingship rule and God will bring all those who have submitted to His Kingship rule into a NEW CREATION (Isa. 65; Zech.14).





In my next post I'll talk about John the Baptist announcing "that the kingdom of God is here" (Matt. 3:2). John the Baptist told the people to "repent in order to get into God's Kingdom." We will discover what the Kingdom of God is, and how to gain entrance into that Kingdom.










Friday, December 2, 2011

AN OLD TIMER GIVES SOME TIMELESS ADVICE


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow observed "a single conversation across the table with a wise man is better than ten years mere study of books".
 
 
I had this opportunity while sitting in the cafe the other day while sipping some fresh brewed java. I took my seat next to an "old timer" as I call them, we struck up a conversation, and for sixty minutes I was taken to school; the school of experience and hard knocks






What made this conversation special for me was this old timer reminded me of the many conversations I had with my own father...my dad passed away in 2008.



So, as I listened intently to the old timer reflecting on his life, I took the counsel of Solomon, "a wise man listens to advice." The old timer began to share with me his biggest regret in his life...he shared how he so desperately wished he would have treated his wife differently. He shared with me that his wife passed away in 2005 from breast cancer.

The old timer began to give me a list of things that he wished he had done differently with his wife. Let me share some keen insights that were given to me free of charge:

1. Give your wife a rose from time to time... the old timer emphasized that it only takes one rose; it shows that you were thinking about her.

2. Tell your wife that you love her...he told me that women want to be told they are loved.

3. Take the time to know your wife...he noted that women are unique and they need to be treated as individuals. 

4. Be kind...he spoke with deep regret, telling me that he did not show his wife the kindness that she so deserved. 

5. Don't get so caught up with work and material things...he emphasized that as you get older; work and material things start to lose their attraction.



I was taking my last few swallows of java as the old timer began to leave the cafe, as the old timer was leaving he looked back at me with a huge bright smile as if to say thanks for taking the time to listen to an old man's ramblings.

I'm again reminded of the words of Longfellow, "Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending."

There was much pain and hurt in the old man's voice, but I think he came to terms with his past failures; the old timer on more than one occasion mention God's forgiveness.

Our lives hang on very thin wires, so take the advice of the old timer husbands/wives and bring each other a rose from time to time.


 




Thursday, December 1, 2011

GOD IS IN CONTROL


Has there been times in your journey where you had to trust that God is in control? I mean really trust Him, knowing that the situation is totally out of your control.

Well, I'm sure that if you are apart of the human experience you would say yes, there has been times that a situation was beyond my control.



I can think of a few defining situations in my own life where I was totally helpless, and the only thing that I could do was trust in the goodness of my God. Thinking back over the many long years I can still see the doctor's face as he brought the x-ray into our hospital room as Michele was in labor with our fourth child.The doctor suspected that there would be a problem with the delivery and his suspicions were right, the child was in the breach position which required immediate attention.

As the doctors delivered our little girl I was struck with shock and disbelief. That moment swept over me with the cold wind of reality, our little girl had many abnormalities and the doctor's gave her just a few hours to live. At that point the only thing that I (we) could do was just trust; trust and rest that God was in control.

Michele and I found calm assurance in the words of the Scripture:

But our God is in the heavens;
He does whatever He pleases
                                                       (Psalms 115:3).


Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
                                        and do not lean on your own understanding
                                                       (Proverbs 3:5).


And we know that to those who love God
all things works together for good
(Romans 8:28).


We need to allow God to bring us to the place where we trust Him and Him alone. If your are in the pit and see no way out, it may be where God wants you, it is here where God often performs those deep works in our souls.



 Remember the old hymn: 
Trust and obey for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.



Monday, November 28, 2011



When you think of the word saint what comes to mind?

If you're like most people you're likely to think of those who have left all the comforts and niceties of life in order to serve others.

You probably think of those who have sold all their possessions to serve on the mission fields of Africa or some other country that you can't even pronounce.



Mother Teresa certainly comes to mind, how can she not, she served on the mission fields of Calcutta, India for over 45 years. She ministered to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying of Calcutta.

She has to be on the top of the top ten list right?





As I was having my Bible reading the other day in the book of Philippians, I was struck with how the apostle Paul referred to the Christians who live in Philippi; the apostle Paul addressed these believers as "saints" in Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:1b).



So I did a little digging and discovered that the word for saint literally means holy, and that the idea of holy is to be set apart.

As we go through the Bible we discover that all believers are saints, all believers are holy, and all believers are set apart for God.

Now the good stuff---since God has declared  that you are a saint, holy, set apart, then you are holy. This saintliness or holiness is not yours, it was given to you when you believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.

All believers are saints, not because we are righteous in ourselves, but because we have been given the righteousness of Jesus (Rom. 4:22-24).



Our understanding of the word saint has been somewhat twisted. We have come to believe that saints are a special higher order of Christians who accomplished extraordinary good deeds and lived an exemplary life. The danger here is that it leads us to believe that we have some holiness or saintliness of our own.


If you are a child of God, then you are holy, not because of any innate holiness of your own, but because God has set you apart and declared that you are holy.We are like the poor beggar, we are destitute of any righteousness or holiness of our own. This is exactly what Jesus meant in His sermon on the mount  when he said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God" (Matt.5:3).




The child of God is the one who realizes that he is poor and destitute before a Holy and Righteous God. The child of God looks to God and rests in His grace and mercy.The child of God realizes that it is in recognizing his own poor condition before God that he finds eternal life.



The old hymn, "Jesus paid it all", shows us that it is not our goodness, righteousness, or holiness, but God's work in our lives:
  1. I hear the Savior say,
    “Thy strength indeed is small;
    Child of weakness, watch and pray,
    Find in Me thine all in all.” 
    • Refrain:
      Jesus paid it all,
      All to Him I owe;
      Sin had left a crimson stain,
      He washed it white as snow.
    •  
  2. For nothing good have I
    Whereby Thy grace to claim;
    I’ll wash my garments white
    In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.
  3. And now complete in Him,
    My robe, His righteousness,
    Close sheltered ’neath His side,
    I am divinely blest.
  4. Lord, now indeed I find
    Thy pow’r, and Thine alone,
    Can change the leper’s spots
    And melt the heart of stone.
  5. When from my dying bed
    My ransomed soul shall rise,
    “Jesus died my soul to save,”
    Shall rend the vaulted skies.
  6. And when before the throne
    I stand in Him complete,
    I’ll lay my trophies down,
    All down at Jesus’ feet.













Saturday, November 26, 2011

Simple


Sometimes you just need to put off all the cares of life and just meditate on this one simple truth:


"JESUS LOVES ME THIS I KNOW FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO."


For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life (John. 3:16).


Please take the time to read this fascinating account of one of the greatest Christian linguists of all time:


Robert Dick Wilson (1856-1930) was fluent in 45 languages and dialects, including all of the Biblical and cognate languages, such as Hebrew, Greek, Babylonian, Phoenician, Coptic, various Aramaic dialects, French, German, and so forth. 45 languages and dialects in all.

Wilson could already read at the early age of four, and by the age of five he had read, among other books, Rawlinson's Ancient Monarchies. Wilson graduated from Princeton University at the age of 20, and he read the New Testament fluently in nine languages by the time he got to seminary. He had memorized the entire New Testament in Hebrew, along with portions of the Old Testament, and it is said the he could recite the New Testament in Hebrew without missing so much as a syllable.
Dick Wilson demolished the critics of his day, especially the likes of the heretic S. R. Driver and the Graf-Wellhausen School. Wilson's major publications, in which he not only annihilated the liberal critics, but also fortified the foundations of the study of the Old Testament with brilliant elucidations and conclusions, like nobody before or since, were, The Scientific Investigation Of The Old Testament, Is Higher Criticism Scholarly, Studies In the Book Of Daniel (a two-volume masterpiece, and THE classic defence of the book of Daniel), and a host of papers and treatises in various publications. An example of Wilson's genuis and scholarship can be seen in this short paper -- The Veracity Of The Old Testament -- which delivers conclusive evidence for the accuracy of the foundation and transmission of the Hebrew Text.
Wilson became the leading professor at Princeton Theological Seminary where he spent many years defending the Bible against all comers, as well as turning out students with a sound foundation of rare learning. Nearing the age of seventy, Wilson nevertheless produced a stirring moment for his students when, after a dissertation on the complete trustworthiness of Scripture, the renowned scholar said with tears streaming down his face --



"Young men, there are many mysteries in this life I do not pretend to understand, many things hard to explain. But I can tell you this morning with the fullest assurance that --




Jesus loves me, this I know
For the Bible tells me so
!"

Friday, November 25, 2011

Cracks in the Wall

The longer I live the more I realize how little I know.


Over the years I've found myself uncomfortable with sweeping generalities...with all inclusive statements, with just accepting things as they are, just because they have always been that way.

In the area of my theology, I look back over the years and see where I don't hold the same positions today that I held in the past.


One of the greatest traps that we can fall into is to stop thinking, stop challenging the status quo.

 "An unexamined life is not worth living." -
  --  Socrates










Matthew 15:1-9 gives us tremendous insight into the dangers of just following religious tradition without thinking.


The religious leaders of Jesus' day (the scribes and pharisees) accused the disciples of breaking the tradition of the elders verse 1.


The religious leaders accused the disciples of not washing their hands before they ate---thus breaking the tradition (the extra biblical law) of the official institutional religious system of the Jews verse 2.


The rest of the verses (3-9) record the rebuke of Jesus---giving an example of how tradition contradicted the clear teaching of the Scriptures.

One of the traditions taught that a person does not have to take care of their parents in their old age. The tradition taught that children could set aside money for GWAD (god = the religious leaders) while ignoring the needs of their elderly parents.

Jesus sharply rebukes the religious leaders and their un-scriptural tradition by quoting from Exodus 20:12 that says to "honor your mother and father." The Jews knew that part of honoring their parents was to make sure that their parents financial needs were met.

Jesus concludes, with yet another rebuke to the religious leaders---he tells them that it is not what goes into the mouth that makes a man evil, but it is what comes out of the mouth (comes from the heart-the center of our being) that makes a man evil.

Jesus goes back into the Old Testament and quotes from the book of Isaiah---telling the religious leaders that the prophet Isaiah foretold of people like you. Jesus said that you are the people that honor God with your mouth and lips, but your HEART is far from God.






The goal of the Christian life is to allow our thinking to be informed by the authoritative Word of God. Don't just accept the teachings of your church or pastor, priest, or your religious leader; challenge, think, argue, by being INFORMED BY THE WORD OF GOD.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

HOPE


We all have experienced brokenness at times in our lives! No one is exempt.



Job cries out in anguish as the pain of brokenness overwhelms him, " Let the day perish on which I was born. And the night which said, 'A boy is conceived'" (Job. 3:3).








Bob Dylan seemed to capture the sentiments of Job in one of his classic songs "Everything is Broken"

Broken bottles, broken plates,
Broken switches, broken gates,
Broken dishes, Broken parts,
Streets are filled with broken hearts.
Broken words words never meant to be spoken, 
Everything is broken.


The farther you are on the journey of life the more you see the "messiness of life:" sorrows, disappointments, unrealized dreams, broken relationships, addictions that have so disfigured a loved one they are barely recognizable.

Gerald Manley Hopkins asks, "O why are we so haggard at the heart, so care-coiled, care-killed...so cogged, so cumbered?"

Johnny Cash's life came to a grinding halt; having lived life in the fast land for decades, his life was ready to crash and burn. Johnny Cash noted that he tried everything, and everything had failed him. However, those old-time hymns that he learned on his mother's knee would speak to him during his darkest nights:
Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling for you and for me;
See, on the portals He’s waiting and watching,
Watching for you and for me.

Come home, come home,
You who are weary, come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home!




The Old Testament Prophet Isaiah tells us that we are like sheep who have gone astray, wandering from the Shepard---and God the Father has laid our sin upon His son (Isaiah. 53:6).

The HOPE and CURE for our brokenness is found in a restored relationship with our God. Sin has separated us from God, and man lives in this broken relationship with his creator until he comes back and allows God to restore this broken and damaged relationship.

Let me share a link to the "lift me up" song, by "The Afters," very uplifting and encouraging. God can restore and give us hope when all seems hopeless: The Afters new video, "Lift Me Up"



Monday, November 21, 2011

What is Joy


John MacArthur in his commentary on the book of Philippians writes about joy, noting that "Biblical joy [is] the settled conviction that God sovereignly controls the events of life for believers' good and His glory...."

Let's just take some time and meditate on that thought.

Biblical joy is to be differentiated from the happiness of the world. The happiness of the world is dependent on life's circumstances; worldly happiness, therefore, is fickle and fluctuating, always dependent on outside circumstances.

Biblical joy finds its roots and foundation in the conviction that God is sovereign and He controls the events in our lives. 

Biblical joy is also rooted in the conviction that God loves us and is working all things out for our good. Our good may not be what we think. According to the Scripture, our good is when "Christ is being formed in us" (Gal. 4:9), in other words, we are growing spiritually to look more like Jesus.



Ultimately, the whole of the "christian life" is not about us, it is for His glory (Rom. 11:36).

Let us live our lives in obedience to God for His glory, and I guarantee that you will experience true Biblical Joy.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Gift Of Writing


Another sub job in my school district another lesson learned. Let me get right to it, as I was wandering the halls after school I noticed in one of the hallways there was a tribute to the great writers of the world.

I started to read some of the poems and short stories posted by some of the students, however, there was one poem that caught my attention. 

The title of the poem was "why I write." The student expressed that writing gives VOICE to what she feels. The poem said with much force and emotion that writing gives her a VEHICLE to say those things that were on her mind.

This got me to thinking about the Bible. God has given us His voice, His mind, His Will, in one glorious book; the Bible.

Think for a minute about the history of writing and in particular the history of how the Bible was transmitted to us: We have baked clay, parchment, papyrus, vellum, and Gutenberg's printing press and all were used as a medium for God to give us his voice.

 (For those who would like to investigate the history of how we got our Bibles here is an excellent resource): http://www.anabaptists.org/history/howwegot.html





Let us not leave our Bibles on the shelves to collect dust; pick up your Bible, love God's Word, study God's Word, remembering that "Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him" (proverbs 30:5, New International Version).

Take God's flawless Word and let it be the meditation of your heart day and night, psalm 1:2.




Thursday, November 17, 2011

Stress....who needs it?

Stress affects us all, and none escape its wear and tear.



ONE STRESSED OUT-SECRETARY told her boss: "When this rush is over, I'm going to have a nervous breakdown. I earned it, I deserve it, and nobody's going to take it from me."




The American Institute of Stress tells us that, job stress is very costly with the price tag for U.S. industry estimated at over $300 billion annually. Here are some additional facts compiled by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health:

40% of workers reported their job was very or extremely stressful;
25% view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives;
Three fourths of employees believe that workers have more on-the-job stress than a generation ago;
29% of workers felt quite a bit or extremely stressed at work;
26 % of workers said they were "often or very often burned out or stressed by their work";
Job stress is more strongly associated with health complaints than financial or family problems.

Now keep in mind that these statistics are only dealing with work place stress, now add to that, marital stress, relational stress, financial stress, and, well, I think you get the picture, stress plays a big part in our lives.


The effects of stress on our bodies can be staggering. Migraine headaches, chronic fatigue, bruxism (gnashing of teeth), kidney disorders, hardening of the arteries, heart disease, ulcers and a list of other health maladies.

Stress also affects the way we think and feel. Stress is also associated with adjustment disorders, conduct disorders, (hostility, aggression, neurosis, and psychoses).

I don't think that too many people would disagree about the damaging affects of stress. But by now you have to be asking, "Yeah, I agree stress is bad, but is there any hope?"


Howard Taylor, in Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret, gives us good advice when it comes to stress:


"IT DOESN'T MATTER how great the pressure is. What really matters is where the pressure lies. whether it comes between me and God or whether it presses me nearer His heart."





Annie Johnson's beautiful hymn, Pressed out of measure, Pressured beyond all length also gives us some keen insight on how to handle the daily grind of stress, she writes:


Pressed out of measure, pressed beyond all length;
Pressed so intensely, seeming beyond strength;
Pressed in the body, pressed within the soul,
Pressed in the mind till darksome surges roll.

God is my hope and God is my joy;
He is the resurrection life I enjoy.

Pressure by foes, and pressure from our friends;
Pressure on pressure, till life nearly ends;
Pressed into knowing none to help but God,
Pressed into loving both the staff and rod

There is a poem by Wilfred Peterson that can also give us comfort and peace when the pressures and stresses of life get us worn down:

Slow me down Lord:


Slow me down, Lord!

Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind.

Steady my hurried pace with a vision of the eternal reach of time.

Give me, amidst the confusion of my day, the calmness of the everlasting hills.

Break the tensions of my nerves and muscles with the music of the singing streams that live in my memory.

Help me to know the magic restoring power of sleep.

Teach me the art of taking minute vacations ... of slowing down to look at a flower, to chat with a friend, to pat a dog, to read a few lines from a good book.

Remind me each day of the fable of the Hare and the Tortoise that I may know that the race is not always to the swift; that there is more to life than increasing speed.

Let me look forward into the branches of the towering oak and know that it grew great and strong because it grew slowly and well.

Slow me down, Lord, and inspire me to send my roots deep into the soil of life's enduring values that I may grow toward the stars of my greater
destiny.

 

The cure for anxiety:

We are to bring our concerns to God in prayer.

We are to look to God as the only one that can truly help us in our time of need.

We are to look at pressure (anxiety) as a tool used by God to bring us to trust in Him.

We are to realize that God is bigger than all our problems.

Closing Thought: The Christian Life is to be lived for the Glory of God, allow God to use
the daily pressures and stresses to bring you into a deeper relationship with Himself.



"Casting all you care upon Him for he cares for you" (1 peter 5:7).

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

CONSCIENCE:







Of all the gifts God has given to man, I must say, "conscience" ranks at the top of the list.






 Did you ever hear the saying, "let your conscience be your guide" well,  that may be reliable or it may not, it all depends on HOW our consciences are informed.


Think of your conscience as a GPS, guiding you in all your moral decisions. Keep in mind, that any GPS is simply a receiver being informed by  a constellation of 27 Earth-orbiting  satellites.


In order for your GPS to work properly it must be guided and informed by these satellites.  Our consciences are in some ways similiar to a GPS, in order for our consciences to work correctly they must be properly informed.


Our consciences can experience unhealthy guilt  (improperly informed) as well as healthy guilt (properly informed).




How are our consciences properly informed? Conscience needs to receive its signals from the Word of God. "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" (2 Timothy. 3:16, New International Version).


It makes sense since God has created us with a conscience that He would also give us the satellite (Bible) to properly inform our consciences.






In Edgar Allen Poe's short story The Tell-Tale Heart we see a what can happen to a conscience that has not been properly informed or has just been totally ignored.

The man in the story continues to hear the beating of the old mans heart even though he is dead. A conscience that has been misinformed or ignored can truly bring one to madness.
















Let us thank our great God for giving us 1 John 1:9 "if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."


The power of the cross can restore our damaged consciences and offer us forgiveness of  sins, hallelujah, praise God!!!!!!!!!!

The Renewing of the Mind

I've have written in the past on the life of the mind. I cannot stress enough the importance for the Christian to develop the life of ...