Category Archives: Theology

What It’s Going to Take

“A church is revitalized by the power of God through the Spirit of God at work through the word of God by means of a faithful shepherd of God.”

– Brian Croft, Biblical Church Revitalization: Solutions for Dying & Divided Churches, p. 24

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Filed under Christian Unity, Christianity, Church, Prayer, Preaching, Theology

Can You Start Anywhere? 

How well do you know your Bible?

I know it sounds like a loaded or trick question, but it’s not.

I’m not asking if you can name all 66 books, the 12 disciples, or all of the 10 commandments. It’s certainly not as complicated as asking you to define Biblical inerrancy, the offices of Christ, or the perseverance of the Saints.

My question is simply this: Do you know your Bible well enough to lead someone to Jesus – starting at any place in the Bible?

As I was teaching through the book of Acts the other day, one particular verse jumped out at me, practically taking me out behind the woodshed for an old-fashioned tail whipping.

Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. – Acts 8:35 

You see, there was this Ethiopian official, a eunuch from the court of the queen, who was sitting in a chariot while reading from the book of Isaiah. God sent Philip into the desert to meet up with him, and when he did he asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”

Unlike the average atheist who’s read the Old Testament so many times he’s come to the conclusion there’s no God, much less the God of Christianity, the Ethiopian eunuch replied to Philip, “How can I, except someone guide me?” Then he invited Philip to come sit with him in the chariot for an impromptu desert Bible study.

But the thing that stood out this time as I read through the verse was that when given the opportunity, Philip didn’t ask the eunuch to flip over to another passage; he began right there in Isaiah 53 and began to share Jesus.

So, what’s my point? How well do you know your Bible? Could you, if someone was just sitting on the tail gate of his Ford truck reading from the Old Testament, begin at whatever passage he was reading and take him to Jesus?

Isaiah 53 is an easy one, frankly. What about Psalm 23 or 22? What about Genesis 1 or John 1? Better yet, could you lead someone to Jesus if you had to begin at Nehemiah 6 or 1 Chronicles 3?

Is it that we only think the New Testament speaks of Jesus? Are you so stuck on the “Roman’s Road” that you can’t take a detour through Ruth? Jesus said ALL the scriptures testify of him (John 5:39), not just the gospels.

As a matter of fact, the standard was set by Jesus himself when he met two men on the road to a place called Emmaus. It was while talking to them, Jesus, “…beginning at Moses and all the prophets…expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27).

In other words, Jesus went from Genesis to Malachi showing how all of Scripture taught that the Christ must suffer, so it shouldn’t have been a shock or surprise to anyone. He said:

O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? – Luke 24:25-26

So, I will ask again, how well do you know your Bible?

I’d bet we all need to do a little more study.

 

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Filed under Bible Study, Christian Maturity, Theology

Overtaken vs. Granted

If you’ve been around this blog for more than a few years, maybe you’ve noticed that I have been going to the archives and bringing back some older posts. It’s not that I have writer’s block; it’s just that I don’t have as much time as I’d like and there is a lot of good stuff packed away in over 1,000 posts.

Some stuff is worth repeating, don’t you think?

Anyhoo, here’s something from 2014, and it’s still true…

Scary Things

There aren’t many of things that scare me now that I am an adult. However, as a child I lived in dread of a lot of things. I was afraid of vampires, clowns, Russians, and girls with cooties. Now I know that vampires can be killed with a good flashlight (the handle part, that is) and Russia is less of a threat than China, I think. However, clowns and girls are still a problem.

On the other hand, I used to love to fly in airplanes, drink from unwashed soda cans and public water fountains, and drive sports cars at ungodly rates of speed down curvy mountain roads. Now, as an adult, I know that it takes a long time to fall from 30,000 feet, germs are everywhere, and deer have a habit of walking in front of good drivers.

But the biggest thing is that most of the scary things in life are either in my mind, or avoidable. I have no fear of them eventually catching up with me. If killer bees get too close, I’ll just move. The wicked, however, have no such hope.

Gonna Getcha

The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him: but the desire of the righteous shall be granted. – Proverbs 10:24

I like the way the NIV translates the first part of this verse, “What the wicked dreads will overtake him…” This proverb is telling us that the wicked are running from something, while the righteous are running to something. And more than that, whatever the wicked are fleeing from will eventually catch up.

What do the wicked fear? What will eventually overtake them? A few things come to mind: being alone, pain, loss, falling, and death.  Huh…coincidentally, all of those will be present in hell. Go figure.

Gonna Grant It

But for the righteous…the ones who know every good gift is from God, the ones who know grace can’t be earned…their desires will be granted.

Amazing, isn’t it? What does the righteous desire? To be loved. To be healed. To have treasure that won’t decay. To be caught up. To have eternal life. Wow! Everything that heaven will bring!

But there’s one more thing: the righteous will welcomed into the presence of their greatest Desire – Jesus.

Don’t run from Jesus. Run to Him. Make Jesus your desire.

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Filed under Christian Living, Faith, Life Lessons, Theology

Your Cursed Curses Are Useless

Proverbs 26:2

“As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.” (KJV)

“Like a flitting sparrow or a fluttering swallow, an undeserved curse goes nowhere.” (HCSB)

Curses!

I recently watched a funny scene from the movie Despicable Me. Vector, the really bad guy, had stolen a stolen shrink ray and was playing with it in his bathroom (lavatory), and that’s when he purposely shrunk his toilet. He then proceeded to mock the toilet like it was a defeated enemy. When the shrunken toilet popped off the water line, Vector yelled, “Curse you, tiny toilet!”

Curses are as old as mankind, I suppose. They have been around long before Vector, Scooby Doo, Endora (Samantha’s mother), or the literal witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28:7). The first curses recorded in the Bible can be found all the way back in the book of Genesis. There God cursed the serpent (Gen. 3:14), the ground (Gen. 3:17), Cain (Gen. 4:11), and even the anger of Simeon and Levi (Gen. 49:7). So, it would seem that the earliest curses came not from witches, but from God.

However, when God pronounces a curse, it is usually a denunciation of sin (Nu. 5:21, 23; Dt. 29:19–20), His judgment on sin (Nu. 5:22, 24, 27; Is. 24:6), and the person who is suffering the consequences of sin by the judgment of God is called a curse (Nu. 5:21, 27; Je. 29:18).[1]  On the other hand, men use curses as tools to bring something about. However, the difference between a curse from God and a curse from man is capacity: man’s is limited, but God is omnipotent.

Capacity

Those who spew out curses typically have no ability to see them come to fruition. In Eccl. 8:4 we read: “Where the word of the king is, there is power.” In other words, a king can pronounce a curse on his subject’s land or life and have the ability to make it happen. But for most people, “damning” someone is pretty useless.

I once made a video depicting a monkey puppet making fun of evolution. The video asked the question: “What do you get when cross a monkey with time?” The answer was, “A man? No, just a monkey.” Immediately I received hate mail and curses from atheists around the globe.

Click the picture to watch the video for yourself.

On other occasions I have written about my views on marriage, which have brought even more hateful language, and even threats. The curses came by the boat load and generally read like this: “I hope you get sick and die!…go to hell!…damn you!” But therein lies the point of today’s proverb – cursed curses are useless.

Causeless

Solomon said, “the curse causeless shall not come.” Therefore, we should not fear the curses of fools, for they do not have the capacity bring about the end result. They presume upon a Power beyond their own to bring about the judgment they declare, but “there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

Let the witch doctor cast spells; let the voodoo doll be stuck with pins; let the curses come from Hell itself; they will fly by me like sparrows on the wind, for they are as powerless as the cursed fools who send them.


[1] J. A. Motyer, “Curse,” ed. D. R. W. Wood et al., New Bible Dictionary (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 248.

The above post was copied from my other blog, ProverbialThought.com., and adapted for this site.

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Filed under blogging, General Observations, Monday Monkey, Theology, wisdom

You Can Do What Through Christ?

Warming Up & Weather

It is a wonderfully blustery Wednesday afternoon as I write this on my own computer. However, because I do not have Wi-Fi or a wireless card on this computer, and the nearest place to plug in is too far away for the Ethernet cable to reach, I’m sitting here enjoying my own keyboard and creating a Word document to save on a flash drive, and then take to my wife’s computer which is connected to the world.

I know you didn’t need to know all of that, but I needed to warm up my fingers – I’ve been too long at the iPhone and iPad.

Storms are about to sweep through our area again, much worse than the lightening that came through yesterday. As of the moment of this writing, we are under a tornado watch and expecting straight-line winds of up to 60 mph, along with hail. That’s not good, but I guess it could be worse – Hillary Clinton could be coming to dinner.

So, before the power ends up going out, or at least before I end up having to shut everything down again, I am now going to share with you some thoughts I had yesterday, before my flash of brilliance (that’s call humor)was interrupted by a flash of lightening.

“I can do it!”

tim-tebow-si-coverHow often have you heard it proclaimed, especially by athletes and motivational speakers, “I can do all things through Christ”?  I’m sure you’ve probably seen Philippians 4:13 written on the sleeves and foreheads of runners; tacked on the end of messages to struggling college students; or heard from friends before you accepted that challenging new position.  For the most part, Philippians 4:13 has been used as a tool to soothe our fears of failure and encourage us to greatness, because, after all, “we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.”

The only problem with using Philippians 4:13 is that the context has nothing to do with what most people want to accomplish. It has nothing to do with running races, lifting weights, saving relationships, getting promotions, or making money; it does, however, have everything to do with enduring hardship, pain, and unfair loss with growing faith.

In verses 11 and 12 the Apostle Paul stated that he had learned how to be content in all circumstances, whether poor or rich, hungry or well-fed, comfortable or uncomfortable. The “things” to which he was referring in verse 13 are anything but contests, races, jobs, relationships, etc.

So often we forget the struggles and trials our forefathers in the faith have endured. In chapter 4 in his letter to the church at Philippi, Paul was attempting to encourage a poor congregation, not a rich one. He was thanking God for their renewed financial support (v.10), while at the same time encouraging them not to feel guilty for their previous lack of support, because they had “lacked opportunity.” He was saying to them, “Hey, it’s OK! Really! God has taken care of me and met my needs. And even when I was in need, or pain, or suffering, the miraculous power of Jesus Christ has proved real in giving me the ability to be content, whatever the situation.”

But I need Jesus

I don’t know where you are in life, but I am trying to learn, as Paul did (v.11), how to be content, even when I don’t know where I’m going to be living in a month, how I’m going to see the little church I now pastor survive and grow, or whether or not we will be able to pay our basic bills, much less keep the cell phones going. The temptation is to fall prey to fear and doubt, to envy and lust, and to struggle against the current of His will, like a butterfly against a hurricane.

However, if I could just rest in Jesus, admit my frailties, and lean on Him, His grace is sufficient for me, and His strength is made perfect in my weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). It shouldn’t matter to my faith if the money isn’t there like it used to be, for “according to His riches” (Eph. 3:16) I will be “strengthened…unto all patience and longsuffering” (Col. 1:11).

Just remember, context…context…context!! Don’t use Scripture where it was never meant to apply. However, no matter what you do, remember the words of Jesus in John 15:5: “…for without me you can do nothing.”

Christ will strengthen the believer that puts his/her trust in Him, but only for the things He has called you to accomplish for His glory. If winning a gold medal, making your first million, or getting that promotion is part of the plan, then so be it; but don’t count on it.

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Filed under Bible Study, Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Life Lessons, Struggles and Trials, Theology

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

Divine Irreconcilabilty

The doctrine of divine irreconcilability is the point where the sovereignty of God and the free will of man meet in the light of the glory of the Gospel.  – A. Baker

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Filed under Christian Unity, God, Theology