Category Archives: Bible Study

For Thy Stomach’s Sake

An add I’m about to place:

“Desperate Baptist school bus driver is actively seeking a Greek scholar who can verify στόμαχος (stomachos) also refers to one’s nerves.”

It’s been that kind of day. 

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Filed under Alcohol, baptist, Bible Study, Do not judge, Humor, legalism, Struggles and Trials, Theology, translations

YHWH vs BAAL: Should God Be an “Option”?

Last week I mentioned in a sermon how that I believed the different baals were actually one god, not multiple deities. Because my statement sounded controversial, I thought it might be good to repost something from a while back.

The following was part of a paper I wrote for a class atcTemple Baptist Seminary back in 2012.

Introduction

The question that needs to be asked is: did the people of Israel ever offer Yahweh as an alternative to Baal? Much of modern Christianity has resorted to offering Christ as an alternative to the gods of this world. They say, “Choose Christ,” or “Give Jesus a try.” But did the ancient followers of Yahweh do this? Did they ever consider their God one of many choices? Did they try to convince the Baal worshippers of the day that God was a “better” God to worship? Or, did the children of Israel present God as the only God to which there was no alternative?

On the third of December, 2008, Pastor Rick Warren appeared on the Fox News program “Hannity and Colmes.” During an interview promoting his new book, The Purpose of Christmas, co-host Allan Colmes questioned Warren about his [Warren’s] belief in Jesus. Colmes asked, “All right. Let me ask you: you talk about, OK, so you think everybody needs a savior.” Warren responded with an “I do.” “Well, what about those people who don’t — you know, I happen to be Jewish? … What about — what does it say for all those people who do not accept Christ as their personal savior?”

Pastor Rick Warren: Wikipedia

Pastor Rick Warren: Wikipedia

The response that Rick Warren gave to Allan Colmes’ question on national television stunned many evangelicals. He said, “I’m saying that this is the perfect time to open their life, to give it a chance. I’d say give him [Jesus] a 60-day trial.” “Like the Book of the Month Club,” said Colmes. “Give him a trial,” replied Warren. “See if he’ll change your life. I dare you to try trusting Jesus for 60 days. Or your money guaranteed back.”[1]

Where does the Christian church of today find biblical support for such statements? Was that the kind of offers being made to the inhabitants of the Promised Land? Did Joshua ever tell the 12 tribes of Israel to go out into the land which the LORD had given them and offer a 60-day trial membership? Well, if they offered Yahweh as a “choice” among other gods, then they might have served well at Saddleback, Pastor Rick Warren’s church.

Let us therefore examine some of the differences and similarities between Yahweh and Baal; compare how each was worshipped; and then consider whether or not followers of Yahweh might have given the followers of Baal a “60-day challenge.”

Baal – The Canaanite god

By Unknown - Jastrow (2006), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=723538

By Unknown – Jastrow (2006), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=723538

Baal was the proper name of the primary competition to the God of Israel, Yahweh. However, it might be a little confusing to see both Baals (Heb. be˓ālîm, e.g., Judg. 2:11; 3:7; 8:33; KJV “Baalim”) and Baal (e.g., 6:25, 28; 1 Kgs. 16:32; 18:21) as worshipped by the surrounding peoples in the Old Testament.[2] Both were the names for the same deity, but one (Baalim) was the plural form, similar, but not exactly like Elohim. We also read in the Bible of Baal-hazor (2 Sam. 13:23) and Baal-hermon (Judges 3:3), and what has been assumed is that Baal was a generic term used for local gods, the last part of the name (such as Hermon and Hazor) being the city in which that local god was associated. However, recent scholarship has come to favor the idea that “only one deity specifically named Baal was worshipped in each region,” and the different names were only a reflection of that fact.[3] Baal, then, was probably not many different gods, but one male deity, with the additional suffixes attached to describe associations with regions where he was worshipped.

The idea that Baal was simply the name given to local idols and false gods does not give credit to the meaning of the name. The Hebrew word ba’al  carries with it the idea of a god that is multi-regional and overarching, not just one of many lesser gods. The name Baal means “master,” “possessor,” and “husband.”[4] Some have suggested that Baal was one of the classical gods of mythology, such as Zeus, Jupiter, or Hercules,[5] but the evidence to support that theory is lacking. More than just a local deity, or a small god, Baal was evidently thought of more as a god over all things, the supreme god, even amidst a polytheistic culture.

What made Baal worship so attractive to the Canaanites, and also the Israelites? Baal worship attracted the Canaanite, as well as the Hebrew, because the benefits promised appealed to natural needs and base senses. Essentially, it was a fertility cult. The “promise of agricultural, animal, and human fertility…sacred prostitutes, sexual activity, and imitative magic to insure fertility in every area of life”[6] made Baal worship not only hard to resist, but seem more exciting than Judaism. The three basic elements of the theology of Baal worship (Relation to cycles of nature; Immortality; and Polytheism) further enhanced its appeal.[7] But nowhere is it suggested in scripture that Baal worship was to be exclusive. Even though Baal may have been the chief god in the Canaanite pantheon, [8] other gods were also worshipped. It was not uncommon, even, for later Hebrew kings to attempt to serve both Baal and Yahweh.

YHWH – The Hebrew God

The God of the Hebrews, and consequently the God of the Old Testament, was and is Yahweh. The name, spelled Yahweh today, was not the way it was originally spelled, because the original Hebrew did not include vowels. Known as the Tetragrammaton (meaning “four letters”), Yahweh was spelled YHWH.[9] The only thing is that because of such commands as not to take the Lord’s name in vain (Exodus 20:7), Jews started using the word Adonai (Lord) in the place of YHWH, which was spelled with all capital letters in most English translations as LORD. No one really knows, though, how YHWH is to be pronounced. However, “most scholars today believe that YHWH was probably pronounced Yahweh (Yahʹ weh).”[10] Jehovah (Jĕ hōʹ vah) is the English transliteration of Hebrew text’s current reading of the divine name Yahweh. [11]

Like with Baal, there are multiple names found in the Hebrew Scriptures for God. However, YHWH, or Yahweh (also spelled Jehovah) is the supreme name given by God to describe Himself to Moses.

“And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” – Exodus 3:13-14 KJV

“The name was given by God to Moses at the burning bush, and was linked to the Hebrew verb hāyāh (‘to be’). God defines himself as ‘I am’ and the word YHWH therefore means ‘he who is’.”[12] This name is then linked to other names, therefore describing the eternal characteristics of His nature, such as Jehovah-Heleyon, the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity (Isaiah 57:15), and  Jehovah-M’Kaddesh, the LORD who sanctifies (Leviticus 20:8).[13] The difference between Yahweh and Baal, however, is that each of these names is linked to one of His attributes and the way he deals with men and women, not simply the name of a location in which He is served.

An even greater distinction between Baal and Yahweh is that God desired to be personal in His relationship to His people, Israel (and by extension, all those who follow after the faith of Abraham). God told Moses, “And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God [YHWH], which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians” (Exodus 6:7). In Numbers 15:41 Yahweh said, “I am the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD [YHWH] your God.” And instead allowing for the idea of polytheism as with Baal, YHWH demanded total allegiance when He said, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Why did God bring Israel out of Egypt? It was so that Israel “might know that the LORD is God; there is no other besides him” (Deut. 4:35 ESV). God chose Israel that all the people “may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the LORD, and there is no other.” (Isa. 45:6 ESV).

YHWH an Option?

So, now the question should be asked, “Would the children of Israel, the Hebrew people called out of slavery by YHWH, the One who said, ‘I am the LORD, and there is no other,’ ever offered Him as a ‘choice’ among many gods, including Baal? Is it conceivable that the Hebrew people would have gone into the Land of Promise and said, “Try YHWH for sixty days, and if you don’t like Him, if He doesn’t meet your self-defined needs, then ask for your money back?” It seems highly unlikely, that is for sure. In Deuteronomy (6:13-14) we read where the LORD said, “Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God [YHWH], and serve him, and shalt swear by his name. Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you…” The God of Israel went on to say in verse fifteen that “the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you,” so the option to serve other gods would have been out of the question, “lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.” If YHWH was so particular about the fact that He was the only God, then what purpose would it have served to offer the option of anything other than total worship? It is the author’s opinion that Yahweh was never offered as an alternative or option to the gods being served by the Canaanites, rather He was introduced to the Canaanites as the ONLY God. There was “no other.”

The modern idea of offering God as an “alternative” or “option” among many other choices (gods), in the author’s opinion, would have been out of the question in Joshua’s day. The children of Israel were chosen by God to take the glory of His name unto all the nations, to declare Him as the only God, and to declare all other gods dead, dumb idols made by men. The Hebrew mind would have thought completely heretical the idea of offering a trial relationship with the great “I AM.” Why then should the modern believer in Jesus (who said, “Before Abraham was, I AM”) offer Him with a “money-back” guarantee? Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). Nothing about being nailed to a cross implies a temporary trial relationship. Following Christ, as was following Yahweh, is a total commitment. And part of that commitment is the understanding that there is “no other gods” from which to choose.

Presenting Jesus Christ should never be done in such a way that implies that other gods could, in theory, be a better alternative. To offer Jesus as an “option” who could be “tried” for a period of time implies that the one offering may concede that other options may be “better,” hence the offer of a “money-back” guarantee. Worshipers of Yahweh knew better. So should we.

 

[1] The transcript for this conversation can be found at http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,461685,00.html.

[2] Allen C. Myers, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987), 113-14.

[3] Myers, Eardmans, 113-14.

[4] D. F. Payne, “Baal” In , in New Bible Dictionary, ed. D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard et al., 3rd ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 108.

[5] James M. Freeman and Harold J. Chadwick, Manners & Customs of the Bible (North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos Publishers, 1998), 167-68.

[6] Lamar Eugene Cooper, vol. 17, Ezekiel, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 26.

[7] Cooper, The New American Commentary, 26.

[8] Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, ed. Chad Brand, Charles Draper, Archie England et al. (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 1172.

[9] Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, 1695-96.

[10] Ibid., 1696.

[11] Ibid., 878.

[12] New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, ed. T. Desmond Alexander and Brian S. Rosner, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001).

[13] Stelman Smith and Judson Cornwall, The Exhaustive Dictionary of Bible Names (North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos, 1998), 86.

 

Bibliography

Cooper, Lamar Eugene. Vol. 17, Ezekiel. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994.

Freeman, James M. and Harold J. Chadwick. Manners & Customs of the Bible. North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos Publishers, 1998.

Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Edited by Brand, Chad, Charles Draper, Archie England et al. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003.

Myers, Allen C. The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987.

New Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Edited by Alexander, T. Desmond and Brian S. Rosner. electronic ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001.

Smith, Stelman and Judson Cornwall. The Exhaustive Dictionary of Bible Names. North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos, 1998.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001.

The Holy Bible: King James Version. electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version. Bellingham WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995.

Wood, D. R. W. and I. Howard Marshall. New Bible Dictionary. 3rd ed. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996.

 

 

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Let’s End the Election vs Free Will Debate

The years and years of debate between the seemingly polar-opposite doctrines of election and free will can now come to an end. Free coffee and donuts for all. 

I submit to you two words:

Divine Ireconcilibility

You’re welcome. 

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Filed under Bible Study, Christian Unity, Christianity, God, Theology, Uncategorized

How We Know Jesus Was a Gift from God

A Christmas Sermon Outline

Have you ever been given a gift, or seen one under the Christmas tree, that needed no card or tag informing you who sent it? Maybe the meticulous wrapping was a clue to who the wrapper was.

I know Christmas is still 24 days or so away, but some of you might need something to preach or teach between now and then. Therefore, please accept as my gift of an outline I prepared, “How We Know Jesus Was a Gift from God.”

Please, feel free to use it 🙂

“How We Know Jesus Was a Gift from God”

I.  Because of When THIS Gift Was Given

·   Galatians 4:4 “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His son…”

II.  Because of How THIS Gift Was Wrapped

·   Luke 2:12 “And this shall be a sign unto you, you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

·   Philippians 2:7 “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:”

·   Hebrews 4:15 KJV – “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as [we are, yet] without sin.”

III.  Because THIS Gift Was Truly Free

·   John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He GAVE…”

·   Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace…it is a GIFT of God, NOT of works…”

·   Romans 3:24 “Being justified FREELY by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

IV.  Because THIS Gift Was Exactly What We Needed

A.  To Bring Us Life – Luke 2:11 “Unto you is born, in the city of David, a SAVIOR…”

B.  To Bring Us Joy – Lamentations 3:22-23 “His mercies are new every morning”

V.  Because of the Love that Went Into It.

·   1 John 4:9 “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.”

VI.  Conclusion:

A.  Accept the Gift of Jesus

B.  Give Thanks! – 2 Cor. 9:15 “Thanks be to God for this unspeakable Gift!”

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Jesus Memes and the Comma-Challenged

imageIn a recent Facebook post a friend of a friend posted a meme created by John Fugelsang, the actor, Huffington Post contributor, and former co-host of America’s Funniest Home Videos (1998-99). The meme was posted in an effort to show how that Jesus Christ, if He were politically active in today’s America, would more likely be a liberal Democrat than a conservative Republican.

Mr. Fugelsang uses his meme (if he was actually the one who created it) to state ten assertions regarding who Jesus was and what He believed. For ease of reading and future commentary by me, I’ve listed them below (punctuation intact).

According to John Fugelsang (and, by extension, the friend of a friend on Facebook) Jesus was a:

  1. Radical nonviolent revolutionary
  2. Who hung around with lepers hookers and crooks;
  3. Wasn’t American and never spoke English;
  4. Was anti-wealth anti-death penalty anti-public prayer (M 6:5);
  5. But was never anti-gay, never mentioned abortion or birth control,
  6. Never called the poor lazy,
  7. Never justified torture,
  8. Never fought for tax cuts for the wealthiest Nazarenes,
  9. Never asked a leper for a copay;
  10. And was a long-haired brown-skinned homeless community-organizing anit-slut-shaming Middle Eastern Jew.

Before I go any further, I must address Mr. Fugelsang’s punctuation. You see, I am not a grammar Nazi, nor am I a punctuation prodigy, but sometimes a point can better be made if one would pay attention to the proper use of commas. For example, without commas it could be inferred that Jesus hung around with the hooks and crooks which belonged to lepers. As for “anti-gay anti-death penalty anti-public prayer,” that simply makes my head hurt.

Now, to the ten assertions…

Radical nonviolent revolutionary.  First, how many radical non-violent revolutionaries are there? I guess they exist here and there, but are they really that common? I mean, once you put radical and revolutionary together, specifically with the qualifier of “liberal,” how many are not violent? Jeez! However, that’s only based upon my own observations, so I’m happy to be proven wrong.

However, the question that ought to be asked first is: “Was Jesus really a revolutionary?”  I don’t believe He was. For one thing, most revolutionaries are focused on bringing about change within a political system – Jesus’ purpose in coming had nothing to do with any political system. Then secondly, it is clear from Jesus’ own words that He did not come to change or do away with anything, only to fulfill it.

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” – Matthew 5:17 KJV

[He] hung around with lepers, hookers, and crooks (punctuation added).  One of the biggest misconceptions about Jesus is that because He chose not to stone anyone for things like adultery (John 8:11) He must have had no problem with their actions. The problem with that assertion is that it totally avoids his command to “go and sin no more.” Yes, Jesus ate with the sinners, but that’s not to be construed that He “hung around” with them. Jesus came for a purpose, to “seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10), not to condone their lifestyles and avoid confrontation. No, Jesus ate with sinners so that they might be saved!

And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard [it], he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. – Mark 2:16-17 KJV

[He] wasn’t American and never spoke English.  Except for the most diehard KJV-only-ist, and one who might never have had even the most basic of history lessons, most would agree. This is pretty much a given. However, the assertion being made is that Jesus is thought of by conservatives as being pro-American and anti-everything else, and that is mostly untrue and unfair. Sure, there are some kooks who believe America is the New Jerusalem, but there are others out there, such as Louis Farrakhan, who believe aliens live in a spaceship and are circling Earth as we speak. Neither represents the majority, I hope.

Actually, the only think that we must be concerned with is whether or not our nation (whichever nation that is) is on the side of the Lord, for His Kingdom is not of this world.

When Joshua was near the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and demanded, “Are you friend or foe?” “Neither one,” he replied. “I am the commander of the LORD’s army.” At this, Joshua fell with his face to the ground in reverence. “I am at your command,” Joshua said. “What do you want your servant to do?” – Joshua 5:13-14 NLT

[He] was anti-wealth anti-death penalty anti-public prayer (M 6:5).  Oh boy. May I break this down into sub points? I mean, really, commas would have been helpful.

  1. Anti-wealth. I’d really like to know where Fugalsang got this. My guess is that he got it from passages like Luke 12:15 or Matthew 6:19-21. In the first Jesus warns us to guard against greed, while the second advises us to store up treasure in heaven, not down here where it can corrupt and/or be stolen. Even more, Fugalsang may be thinking of how Jesus is described as one having no place to lay His head (Luke 9:58), or that passage where Jesus says it’s easier for a camel than a rich man to pass through the eye of a needle (Mark 10:25).However, the fact is that it wasn’t wealth that Jesus had a problem with; it was greed, envy, selfishness, and faith in one’s own money and not in God.

    The reason Jesus spent more time with the poor than the wealthy was because the wealthy more often had hard hearts (much like today). The rich tend to put their faith in their possessions and positions more than in God, so why would they respect the One who divested Himself of the riches of heaven and humbled Himself, even to the death of the Cross (Philippians 2:8)?You see, Jesus wasn’t anti-wealth; He was concerned only with what men do with it (Matthew 25) and the condition of their hearts: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36). For crying out loud, the Church is forever in debt to Christians who used their wealth (while remaining wealthy) to feed, clothe, house, and instruct the poor of the world. It was even a rich woman in Thyatira named Lydia who used her wealth to house the early Church in her town (Acts 16:14-40).

  2. Anti-death penalty. Again, this must be one of those derivations from John 8:11, the passage where Jesus rescued a woman caught in the act of adultery. The only problem is that this passage does not assert that Jesus disagreed with the law, but rather opposite. Jesus gave every opportunity for her accusers to carry out the death penalty which was prescribed by law, but none of them were able to stand without hypocrisy. Jesus knew they were trying to set Him up, not to mention the fact that there was an un-mentioned man involved. Jesus took the opportunity to take the Law beyond where it could go on its own and showed mercy and grace.
  3. Anti-public prayer (M 6:5). Seriously? First, you don’t abbreviate the book of Matthew with a capital “M”. I mean, there are other books in the Bible that start with “M,” such as Mark, Malachi, and Micah. I guess since we’re talking about Jesus we’re supposed to know the one to which he was referring.Secondly, to use Matthew 6:5 as a basis for condemning public prayer is to admit one has little understanding of context. The context in this passage of Scripture was one which dealt with pride and hypocrisy. Jesus was addressing those who did good deeds and prayed verbose prayers all for the purpose of being seen and praised by men. That is why He said of the hypocrites, “They have their reward.”

So, what is the assertion being made with this point? That people should not be allowed to pray in public? That freedom of speech should not include two Christian school football teams being allowed to use a public address system to say a prayer before a game? – Yes that just happened.

But was never anti-gay, never mentioned abortion or birth control.  The whole “anti-gay” thing has been argued over and over and much has been devoted to it, yet liberals will only hear what they want to hear; therefore, I will devote very little time to it in this essay. However, saying that because Jesus never mentioned abortion or birth control means these are non-issues and would have been no concern to Him is ludicrous. It would be just as easy to say that governments shouldn’t restrict unnecessary use of antibiotics because Jesus never mentioned Penicillin.

Let’s save some time and get straight to the big theological issue in the room: Jesus is the second Person of the Trinity, the Word of God made flesh, Emmanuel (“God with us” – Matt. 1:23). What was said about homosexuality in the Old Testament are actually the same position Jesus took, for He and the Father are One (John 1:1-2, 14; 17:11).  The only difference is that Jesus came to show that the strict requirements of the Law could only cause men to realize their own sinfulness in the light of Holy God, not save them. Jesus came to show God was merciful and wanted to graciously save men through putting their faith in Jesus. If you divest Jesus from His divinity then all you have is a crazy man who thought He was God and died for nothing.

As for birth control (speaking of contraception), there is no mention of it in the Bible, most likely because it was commonly understood that children were a gift from God (Gen. 4:1; 33:5) and the man with a “full quiver” was blessed (Psalm 127:5). With regard to abortion, it is God who gives life and considers us persons even before we are born (Psalm 139:13-14; Jeremiah 1:5), so I believe Jesus would have viewed elective abortion as murder. After all, it was Jesus’ own cousin, John the Baptist, who “leaped” in his mother’s womb when (Luke 1:41) when she greeted the pregnant Mary.

[He] never called the poor lazy. No, I don’t think He did. However, the Bible (the Word of God – See John 1) does say the following:

  • By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” – Genesis 3:19 ESV
  • For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. – 2 Thessalonians 3:10 KJV

[He] never justified torture. That’s probably true – can’t argue with that. Of course, Jesus wasn’t a military leader who’s task it was to protect the lives of millions of his fellow citizens, either. Actually, Jesus was the One who gave His life so that others might live. Yet, He also said to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matt. 10:16). We will all have to answer to God for our actions.

[He] never fought for tax cuts for the wealthiest Nazarenes.  This is actually correct! Jesus never did fight for tax cuts for the wealthy. However, it is equally true that Jesus never fought to reduce taxes, either – even for the poor. In Matthew 22:17-21 Jesus made it perfectly clear that we are to pay taxes when taxes are due, and that even goes for the least of us. He said, “Give unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” Later, speaking to average Christians, the Apostle Paul wrote:

And for this reason you pay taxes, since the authorities are God’s public servants, continually attending to these tasks. Pay your obligations to everyone: taxes to those you owe taxes, tolls to those you owe tolls, respect to those you owe respect, and honor to those you owe honor.  – Romans 13:6-7 HCSB

[He] never asked a leper for a copay.  No, I don’t guess He ever did that, either; He just healed them. The last time I checked, neither Republicans nor Democrats are God (even though some think they are) and somebody has to pay somebody for adequate medical services (therefore, refer back to Romans 13:6-7…not just the rich should pay).

And finally, [Jesus] was a long-haired, brown-skinned, homeless, community-organizing, anti-slut-shaming middle eastern Jew.  Well, at least Mr. Fugelsang got the brown-skinned, homeless (technically speaking), anti-slut-shaming middle eastern Jew parts right. The rest, along with the usual lack of commas, he stereotypically got wrong.

Nazarenes (sometimes called Nazarites) were from Nazareth; Nazarites were those who took a vow not to cut their hair, drink wine, etc. Jesus never took a Nazarite vow. But, then again, Mr. Fugalsang is not a Bible scholar, only a political comedian who writes for the Huffpo and creates comma-challenged memes.

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Filed under Abortion, America, Apologetics, Bible Study, Jesus, politics

The Pastor Now Teacheth

It’s not a HUGE deal, at least not from a Donald Trump perspective, but I have some cool news I want to share with you.

Starting next week I will officially become, for lack of a better term, an adjunct professor at a small (sorta) seminary in the Tennessee/North Georgia area as I work toward earning my Doctorate of Ministry (D.Min.). I will be recording video lectures and monitoring an online class covering the book of Acts.

If you are interested in learning a little more about the school and what it offers, please go to their (brand new and still developing) website and download their current catalog.

covingtonpicYou may have never heard of Covington Theological Seminary in Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia, but I first attended classes there back in the mid-90’s. As a young minister I was exposed to solid, biblical instruction from men (mostly veteran pastors) who had been around the proverbial block a few times. In class I got to sit next to other men who loved the Lord and were serious about ministry. All in all, the few years I spent there produced some of the richest spiritual memories I’ve ever received, therefore it is going to be an honor to teach there.

From time to time, as you think of me, say a prayer on my behalf. Pray that God will bless and use the instruction in the video lectures I will be recording – 30-32 hours all total – to encourage a new generation of students (both younger and more mature).

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that I spent the last year, off and on, preaching through the book of Acts, do you? God knew what He was doing, didn’t He?

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Daily Devotions: Definitions and Suggestions

How would you define “doing your devotions?”

What is it, exactly?

Honestly, I am a preacher/pastor who has a difficult time doing my “daily devotions.” Frankly, I am even unsure the term “devotions” is actually appropriate. Something about it often strikes me as magical, prescriptive, or simply religious.

You see, I’m the type of person who sorta recoils from scripted religious stuff; I don’t even like responsive reading in church! Whenever a preacher says “Repeat after me…” in a sermon, I usually don’t. Therefore, when I go into a Christian book store like Lifeway and see shelves of “devotionals” and devotional aids – many written by the most popular authors of the day – I feel like I’m being pandered to, the object of some Nashvillian marketing team.

Whatever happened to the promise from Jesus that the Comforter would come and guide me into all truth (John 16:13)? What about the discernment of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14)? Do I need the products of publishing elites to draw me closer to the Lord? Do I really need to read the polished words of some slick conference speaker to better understand the Word of God? Of course not.

But there does need to be some regularity of personal conversation with my heavenly Father. There needs to be regular communication with Jesus. How else could one develop a personal relationship with Someone if they never spent some one-to-one time together?

But again, how does one do it without it becoming mechanical? How does one keep it from becoming routine? How does one do it without letting someone else do all the work? How does one do it without it becoming just one more thing to check off the list?

I don’t believe there is a right or wrong way to regularly spend time with God; yet, you may have some way that works best for you. Would you mind sharing it?

 

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Filed under Bible Study, Christian Maturity, Prayer