Tag Archives: Religion
Arkansas Supreme Court (1905)
This system of religion (Christianity) is recognized as constituting a part and parcel of the common law.
Shaver v. The State, 10 Ark. 259, 263
To read the introduction to this series, CLICK HERE.
“Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? Who hath gathered the wind in his fists? Who hath bound the waters in a garment? Who hath established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?” (Proverbs 30:4)
I have met some pretty remarkable people during my life. I have met writers, inventors, musicians, engineers, heroes of all kinds, and ordinary people who have done miraculous things. One time I even threw a several-hundred-pound friend through the air when his life was in danger (that’s a humorous story involving a snake). Therefore, I have known and even been part of an elite group of people who have done superhuman things.
However, I have never ascended into the atmospheric heavens under my own power, much less gone to the actual heaven and back. Have you? My hands are pretty quick and can snatch a fly in mid-air, but they’ve never been able to scrunch up the wind like a snowball. Have yours?
Once I made a superhero cape from a bed sheet. Before we got married, I helped my wife sew her bridesmaid dresses. When in Romania I met ladies who would un-thread old sweaters, then take the yarn and re-knit new ones. But darn it, I have never been able to stitch water! Have you?
I have also met some pretty rich people in my day, although I have never been rich, myself. As a matter of fact, I have never even owned property. On the other hand, I have met people who decided where property lines should be drawn. You may have even been one of the military heroes who’s exploits determined the boundaries of nations. But, we all walk on a planet that was here long before us; we didn’t put it here. I didn’t create north, south, east, or west. Did you?
I have met some strange people during my life. Some of the strangest have been ones who have attempted to leave comments on my blogs. One individual even claimed to be Jesus Christ, the Son of the God (except he also claimed to be the son of the Egyptian god, Ra, too). Yet, he lived in America, had never been crucified, and believed there were more ways to the Father than just through him (the opposite of John 14:6). He was a blooming idiot! Just saying.
But the pseudo-Jesus, the son of Ra, is not the only idiot. There are a lot of people who live their lives like they’re convinced they are God. Many people think their loved ones, their possessions, or their careers are gods; but they’re not.
And unless you created the earth; unless you can ball up the wind in your hands; unless you can travel at will back and forth to the farthest heaven in a garment made of stitched water, you’re not God, either.
“And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son (Jesus), that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:13-16 KJV
You may not be God, but you could meet Him!
Call 888-NEED-HIM for an introduction, or CLICK HERE now!
Not long ago I was doing some research for a sermon on Jonah. In the process I came across a Muslim website that made an interesting observation (and I will paraphrase):
“The Bible proves it is not true because God would not allow the prophets’ reputations to be smeared.”
The Muslim website went on to say (paraphrasing, again):
“What kind of role model would a prophet be if we read of him making mistakes?”
What kind of role model? That’s a good question! Was the Muslim author trying to say that role models had to be perfect in order to be real? Here’s a shocker – in one way or another, everybody is a role model.
If the defining characteristic of a role model is “perfection,” that would rule out King David, Solomon, Moses, Joshua, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Peter, Paul, Sarah, Mary (all of them), the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, and many, many others…
Now, Jonah wasn’t exactly the type of person after which I would want to pattern my life, but he was a prophet of God. He had some serious character flaws, though. He was angry, disobedient, and was a racist who constantly talked suicide. He even spouted off to the Lord for being too forgiving!
No, Jonah’s not the type of person I would want to emulate. But hold the whale puke! I am more like him than I thought!
- I have run from God.
- I have harbored racist feelings in the past, I’m ashamed to admit.
- I have been angry and disobedient.
- I have wondered if life was worth living.
- I have even wanted to see whole cities destroyed, innocent people and all, after September 11, 2001.
I have been more like Jonah more than I care to admit.
The Encouraging Part
The fact is that the Bible is not only full of role models, but models of the people we already are: flawed, broken, and human. But here’s the encouraging part: even when we are not perfect, God can still use us – and change us.
- Jonah ran from God, but God pursued.
- Jonah disobeyed God, but it didn’t derail God’s plan.
- Jonah got angry with God, but God responded to him with the understanding kindness of a wise Father.
- Jonah even wanted to die, but God never belittled him. He only focused Jonah’s attention on the bigger picture: 120,000 souls, not to mention animals, whose lives were spared (Jonah 4).
I thank God that the Bible doesn’t white-wash humanity. There are so many examples of how people, just like me, can find hope, even when we’re not perfect.
The Perfect One
It is not hard to come to the conclusion that there were some really dysfunctional people in the Bible. But you know what? That’s what adds to the authenticity of Scripture. There are no “perfect” role models in the Bible, except for one – Jesus.
“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.” – 1 Peter 2:21-22 ESV
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” – Hebrews 4:15-16 NIV
I want to be more like HIM!
A Familiar Story
If you are familiar with the Bible, you probably remember the story of Jesus walking on the water. And if you remember that, you may also recall that the apostle Peter was the one who walked on the water with Jesus – until he began to look around.
But if you don’t remember the story, here it is as found in the NIV version of Matthew 14:25-33.
During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified.
“It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Now that you are familiar with the story, have you ever seen paintings or illustrations depicting this passage of Scripture? Of all the ones I have ever seen, Jesus is usually portrayed as a calm, sad-looking, and often effeminate water-stroller. Peter is always some scruffy-looking, heavy-as-stone fraidy-cat.
Then what about those waves? In all the depictions of this story, how high are the waves? Usually they are no more than just a few inches high around the Lord and his bobbing disciple, Peter.
Well, I am here to challenge the common perception based on these fallacious (that means stupidly wrong) paintings.
I am not a seafaring man like my friend David Welford, but I would bet even he would say that 6-8 inch waves would have been NO problem for some experienced fishermen. What ever frightened Peter, once he looked around, had to have been more than a ripple on the surface.
Consider how the Bible described what was happening to the boat in Matthew 14:24: “But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.” Do kiddie pool waves toss a boat? No, but real waves do.
In stead of tossed, other translations use words like buffeted, beaten, and battered. The New Living Translation says that “a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves.” It would seem to me that the disciples were facing a life-or-death struggle, not inconvenient weather.
The Wacky Request
People often belittle Peter for his “lack of faith.” They think less of him because he took his eyes off of Jesus and began to sink. But who on this earth that is not currently on anti-psychotic medication would actually ask a UWG (Unidentified Walking Ghost), “If it is you, compel me to do something totally irrational and dangerous, OK?” What kind of crazy question was that?
I believe there is more to this story than we have been told. Why didn’t Peter just ask Jesus to come a little closer? Why not just ask Him to get in the boat and take a load off? What would have caused Peter to think of leaving the boat?
Maybe, just maybe, what Jesus was doing looked like fun.
The next time you look out over a stormy sea capable of sinking a boat, try to find the smooth spots. The paintings that show the Savior walking delicately over glassy H2o in the middle of a gale are unrealistic.
My guess is that Jesus was doing more than simply walking. He was having fun! He was probably surfing without a board. It is possible that He was going up and down…up and down…up and down…smiling the whole time. That’s when Peter said, “If it is you, Lord, tell me to come out there with you…that looks like fun!”
Seriously, just stop and think about it. Here was a storm that was beating up a boat and wearing out the crew; waves that were anything but small; a boat full of panicking people; and a Man walking on water. Peter must have concluded that if there was going to be any place to be, it was with Jesus, riding the waves.
We can’t help the fact that storms come. But if there is any lesson to be learned from this story it is that the worst possible place to be can be the safest and most peaceful, as long as our eyes are on Jesus and we are walking with Him.
Does it make sense? No. Is it irrational? Maybe. But as long as we have faith in Jesus, we can ride atop the tallest tsunami, admiring the view.
- Walking on water (jennifermcintyreblog.com)
In an effort to keep you entertained and encouraged, even though I’m too pressed for time to press a shirt or French press some coffee, here’s a re-run…a repeat…a re-heated cup of truth. (Oh, and don’t forget to check out ProverbialThought.com)
Like vs. Love
I like coffee, but I wouldn’t say I love it. My wife and kids, on the other hand, are worth dying for. I love them. I only like coffee. I’m not going to jump in front of a moving train to save an espresso.
Now, it must be said that I also like tea. Thanks to the influence of certain English folk, my tea consumption has increased a thousand fold! Yet, tea is not coffee. Sometimes I want coffee more than tea. Sometimes tea needs to leaf me alone. There’s a big difference between loose-leaf anything and some medium roast Jamaican Blue Mountain. That’s real coffee, and I really like it.
What is Real?
But wait! That raises a question. What is real coffee? What is the difference between freshly brewed coffee and let’s say, uh, freeze-dried instant? Both are real, aren’t they?
Fake coffee. Whoever still drinks that stuff on purpose should be psychologically evaluated. Coffee is only coffee if it comes about as the result of gently ground coffee beans being caressed by steaming hot water. Chicory is of the Devil.
Instant coffee. It comes packaged in a jar, but it is made from real coffee. It may not taste as good as fresh-brewed, but it’s real, nevertheless. The worst instant coffee is still better than dandelion tea, believe me.
Nasty coffee. Even the stuff you find in a gas station, an army mess tent, or a crazy relative’s thermos is still coffee. Coffee is coffee, even if it tastes like road tar.
“Unleaded.” What I don’t understand is decaffeinated coffee. Sure, it tastes the same to most people, but why would anyone want it? Without the caffeine coffee is…well…it’s just not coffee. It has the look and taste, but no umph, no kick, no power.
Decaffeinated Christianity is the same way. It looks like the real thing. It smells like the real thing. It tastes like the real thing. For crying out loud, it even outsells full-strength, real Christianity 10 to 1! People love it! They wear t-shirts promoting their favorite brand. Yet, decaffeinated Christianity is no better than decaffeinated coffee without the Power.
You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! – 2 Timothy 3:1-5 NLT
What are you drinking?
A guest post by Wally Fry
Aside from the obvious non-religions like atheism, humanism and so forth, there are only two actual “religions” in the world.
The first is the religion of good works. Believers in this religion believe that there is something, somehow, that they can do to ensure their own entry in to Heaven. There are subsets of this religion:
- Some believe sacraments and rituals, if done properly, ensure entrance into heaven.
- Some believe in the scale of justice theory of salvation, believing that if their good outweighs their bad they can ensure their entry into Heaven.
- Some believe that if they just do not do anything “really bad” they can ensure their entry into heaven. Adherents of this religion call themselves many different things: New Agers, spiritual, Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Buddhist, and even Evangelical Christians.
- Some may call themselves Methodists, Baptists, or any other name one can call to mind.
On the other hand, there is the true “religion”. This is simply the Faith that teaches that absolutely nothing any human can do is sufficient to pay for the sin we have all committed. Our payment is no good here. In the first article in this series, Jesus Paid it All, we discussed the fact that we can each certainly pay our own way for our own sin. That article can be Read Here:
But, as that article shows, the only way we can pay for our own sin is by death, both physical and spiritual. Eternally we pay our debt by being forever separated from God in a place of torment called Hell. That is the ONLY way we can pay for our own sin.
In other words, we can pay our own debt, but we can never redeem ourselves from the penalty of what we have done.
Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
That verse is really fairly self-explanatory and says and means exactly what it says. It seems to say it with little ambiguity or room for alternate interpretations. Nonetheless, let’s expand a little on what it is really saying.
We are saved by God’s Grace, through our faith(and even that is given to us by God.) Grace is a free gift of God, not earned by us. No work we might ever do contributes one iota toward our eternal Salvation. We WANT our salvation to be by our works because we really, really like ourselves.
Grace plus nothing equals our Salvation. Jesus Paid it All. He doesn’t need our help to finish the project, His Grace is sufficient. Period and end of the story.
We can’t do enough good to cover our own sin.
We can’t avoid enough bad to cover our own sin.
We cannot do anything in our unsaved state to appear favorable in the sight of a Holy and perfect God.
Our Rituals, Sacraments and Ordinances, while not wrong by any means can never save us.
No sacrifice of any sort can ever save us.
What, then saves us? It starts with Grace. God’s gift of His son who COULD pay for our sin, and did. We simply have to accept the gift by Repentance toward God and believe in His Son Jesus Christ.