Friday, April 30, 2010

What Do You Believe?: Jesus is Lord - April 30, 2010

Psalm 110 (New International Version)

Psalm 110 Of David. A psalm.

1 The LORD says to my Lord:
"Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet."

2 The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion;
you will rule in the midst of your enemies.

3 Your troops will be willing
on your day of battle.
Arrayed in holy majesty,
from the womb of the dawn
you will receive the dew of your youth.

4 The LORD has sworn
and will not change his mind:
"You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek."

5 The Lord is at your right hand;
he will crush kings on the day of his wrath.

6 He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead
and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.

7 He will drink from a brook beside the way ;
therefore he will lift up his head.


Over 1000 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, David, inspired through the Holy Spirit, wrote this prophetic psalm about Jesus. Here you can see the relationship between the God the Father (YHWH) and God the Son (Adonai). Even before the time of Jesus, this was thought of as a Messianic psalm by the Jews. It is generraly thought that in this psalm David speaks prophetically about the coming Son. It is a coronation psalm for the coming King-Priest, and the later judgement to come as you can read in this passage from the Book of Revelation:

Revelation 19:11-18 (New International Version)

The Rider on the White Horse
11I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 12His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

17And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, "Come, gather together for the great supper of God, 18so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great."

Although difficult to imagine, someday Jesus will be revealed to everyone, those who believed in Him and those who did not. Whose side do you want to be on when he does?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

What Do You Believe?: Jesus; Who Is He?(Part 2) - April 29, 2010

John 10:22-33 (New International Version)
22Then came the Feast of Dedication(Hanukkah) at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon's Colonnade. 24The Jews gathered around him, saying, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly."

25Jesus answered, "I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, 26but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one."

31Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, 32but Jesus said to them, "I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?"

33"We are not stoning you for any of these," replied the Jews, "but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God."

Now I could probably site all kinds of research that has been done into Jesus' claim to be God. Any search engine can find plenty of information, both for and against the fact that Jesus is God, a distinct person of the Godhead. How can God consist as three persons? I do not have the understanding or wisdom needed to explain it. All I know is that the Bible that I believe is the indisputable, infallible and inerrant word of God tells me so, and I believe that if God can create the Universe, He can do something fairly easy, like keep His word straight.

People have sliced and diced the Bible for centuries and yet no one has really been able to disprove what it claims. Not that people haven't tried to twist the words through translation, in fact many of the religions that claim to be Christian and yet deny that Jesus is God, rely on their translation and changes rather than authoritative translations. Others have claimed that the Scriptures were corrupted in the 1st Century and subsequent translations have carried forward errors to this time. You might ask then, how can we rely on the translations that we have? The answer is that authoritative translations have been scrutinized and validated over time, and have been heavily supported by manuscript and other evidence(see my post from April 11, 2010).

If you have problems with what Jesus claimed as the Jews did in the verse noted above, that he was "mere man, yet claimed to be God", I would challenge you to do your own research with an open mind. I would go further and challenge you to research not only the positive but the negative claims. I can confidently say without a doubt that if you will honestly research the validity of the Bible and the claims therein, you would come to belief in Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.

I like the way C.S. Lewis, the author of the well-known children's book series, The Chronicles of Narnia, said it in his book Mere Christianity. In Mere Christianity, Lewis makes this profound and logical argument:

"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: "I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God." That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg - or he would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse."

"You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What Do You Believe?: Jesus; Who Is He? (Part 1) - April 28, 2010

John 1:1-5,14,17-18 (New International Reader's Version)
1 In the beginning, the Word was already there. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.
3 All things were made through him. Nothing that has been made was made without him. 4 Life was in him, and that life was the light for all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness. But the darkness has not understood it.
...
14 The Word became a human being. He made his home with us. We have seen his glory. It is the glory of the one and only Son. He came from the Father. And he was full of grace and truth.
...
17 Moses gave us the law. Jesus Christ has given us grace and truth.18 No one has ever seen God. But God, the one and only Son, is at the Father's side. He has shown us what God is like.

Philippians 2:6-8 (New International Reader's Version)
6 In his very nature he was God. But he did not think that being equal with God was something he should hold on to.

7 Instead, he made himself nothing. He took on the very nature of a servant. He was made in human form.

8 He appeared as a man. He came down to the lowest level. He obeyed God completely, even though it led to his death. In fact, he died on a cross.


The single most devisive issue that has always faced Christianity is the existence and nature of Jesus. This sets Christianity apart from all of the other faiths, and it has even led to divisions among those who call themselves "Christian" as well. This dispute is what ultimately caused the execution of Jesus, because although Jesus was fully a man, he represented himself to be equal to God:

John 5:17-19 (New International Version)
17Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." 18For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. 19Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.

There is no question in my mind or the mind of scholars over the past two thousand years that Jesus existed. Although there is some dispute that the entire passage is genuine to the author, the Jewish historian Josephus wrote in the late 1st Century about Jesus in his Testimonium Flavianum, as it is popularly called:

Antiquities 18.3.3 Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ, and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians so named from him are not extinct at this day.

I have linked to the comments to the passage and the criticisms for and against authenticity, and I would suggest that you read the foundations for this secular reference to the existence of Jesus.

In addition to this and other secular references, the holy book of Islam, the Qur'an, supports the existence of Jesus. Jesus is mentioned 25 times in the Qur'an and although Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet from God before Muhammad, the very fact that Islam chooses to define Jesus' nature validates his existence. The Qur'an was written in the 7th Century, and if you take time to read the passages, you will find many parallels to Biblical writings about Jesus, with a slight twist to conform to their theology. Wikipedia does a good job of covering this topic, and you can find great links to English versions of the Qur'anic passages about Jesus to study for yourself.

Where am I going with this? Well, to study and comment on the nature of Jesus, you need to first agree that he exists and walked this earth, and in providing extra-Biblical support I seek to answer any arguments that someone might have against this fact.

(A careful study of these and other secular and Christian sources can be found referenced at KnowWhatYouBelieve.com.)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Living Water - April 27, 2010

John 4:7-14 (New International Reader's Version)
7 A woman from Samaria came to get some water. Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" 8 His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.

9 The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew. I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" She said this because Jews don't have anything to do with Samaritans.

10 Jesus answered her, "You do not know what God's gift is. And you do not know who is asking you for a drink. If you did, you would have asked him. He would have given you living water."

11 "Sir," the woman said, "you don't have anything to get water with. The well is deep. Where can you get this living water?

12 "Our father Jacob gave us the well. He drank from it himself. So did his sons and his flocks and herds. Are you more important than he is?"

13 Jesus answered, "All who drink this water will be thirsty again. 14 But anyone who drinks the water I give him will never be thirsty. In fact, the water I give him will become a spring of water in him. It will flow up into eternal life."

John 7:37-39 (New International Version)
37On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." 39By this he meant the [Holy]Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the [Holy]Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

According to sources at About.com, "Your body is estimated to be about 60 to 70 percent water. Blood is mostly water, and your muscles, lungs, and brain all contain a lot of water. Your body needs water to regulate body temperature and to provide the means for nutrients to travel to all your organs. Water also transports oxygen to your cells, removes waste, and protects your joints and organs."

Since water is so essential for healthy operation of the human body, we have built in mechanisms to regulate and insure that we take in enough water. All of us have experienced the primary symptom from lack of water, thirst. Once we become thirsty, we focus on nothing else but getting something to drink. Nothing is more refreshing than a glass of cold water when you are thirsty, and because we are always active and our bodies are always using up the water that we are taking in, we seemingly have an unquenchable thirst that is never satisfied.

Jesus was used this the example of our unquenchable thirst for his illustration of the spiritual condition. We are born with a thirst in need of satisfaction. This thirst is described in these verses from Solomon:
Ecclesiastes 3:10-11 (Amplified Bible)10I have seen the painful labor and exertion and miserable business which God has given to the sons of men with which to exercise and busy themselves. 11He has made everything beautiful in its time. He also has planted eternity in men's hearts and minds [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy], yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

We are constantly looking for fulfillment in our lives, and to quench this "thirst" for something more. Many of us spend years lost in a pursuit of our own desires, only to find that the things of this world cannot satisfy. The more we pursue these things of the world, the deeper we fall into our sins, and the more desperate we are for relief. It is when we arrive at our time of deepest dispair and greatest "thirst" that we realize that we cannot be satisfied on our own. We have a need for something more and our true desire is to be ultimately loved by God.

Jesus offer us the "living water", the "living water" of the Holy Spirit that convicts us of our lost condition, and brings us ultimate satisfaction by revealing to us that God loves us. It is the spring of "living water" that constantly guides us through this life, showing us God's will and purpose. It leads us into a new and eternal life with God, and quenches our thirst for fulfillment and satisfaction.

But we cannot take the cup and drink from the "living water" until we first accept God's provision for our fallen spiritual condition. Jesus came to take away our sins by dying on the cross, and he rose again to prepare a place for us in eternity. Come and drink from the "living water" and satisfy the thirst in your soul.

Monday, April 26, 2010

For the "Invisible Children" - April 26, 2010

Matthew 18:1-7 (New Living Translation)
1 About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”

2 Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. 3 Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. 4 So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

5 “And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. 6 But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.

7 “What sorrow awaits the world, because it tempts people to sin. Temptations are inevitable, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting.

If you have children, you have been truly blessed. Although they may provide a certain amount of stress from time to time, they are your most cherished gift from God. I dare say we would do anything and sacrifice everything for our children. They are our hope and our joy, and more precious to us than life itself.

This past weekend the Holy Spirit worked overtime with me, revealing a number of things that concern children that are oppressed in our world today. One story that was called to my attention was a series of programs that were aired on Halogen TV over the weekend. The programs featured the "Invisible Children"(If you haven't heard of them, your teenagers may have in their youth group in church). Although I had heard mention of this situation before, this program was the first time I had been truly informed about this horrific situation.

The programs told about how a warlord in East Africa, Joseph Kony, has spent 23 years fighting against the Ugandan government; not with soldiers and a military fighting force, but with kidnapped and abused children that he has turned into his child soldiers. He has turned innocent boys as young 5 years of age into his killers. During the process of indoctrination, if any child resisted or rose up against their oppressors, they were immediately killed and made into spectacle to coerce, intimidate and brainwash other children into serving this maniac. Ironically, he called this army the "Lord's Resistance Army".

The programs followed the struggle of the children of East Africa to avoid being kidnapped and how at one time there were massive nightly commutes of thousands of children from the villages into the cities, where they would cram together in any shelter they could find in which to sleep. The most poignant part of one program was an interview with a boy as he recalled the murder of his brother. Anyone watching would be moved to tears watching him weep deeply because of this great loss. Later, a friend asks the film maker to not forget them once the camera was turned off, and to keep the film so that others could see and hear their story. Although at one time this problem was strictly in Uganda, and their had been some progress towards peace, the LRA has now become active in 5 other African nations, and this murderous abuse continues on.

Too often in an unbelieving world children bear the brunt of the abuse, exploitation, neglect, starvation, and murder that is purportrated on society today. By the grace of God, most of us have been spared from this horror, but we do need to be aware that everyday children in our world need our help. In the verse above we read how Jesus valued children and encouraged us to take on the innocent, humble and trusting character of a child to be able to embrace the salvation message. Jesus also gives a warning and in that warning we know that someday there will be justice for those who harm children, but in the meantime, we have to do all we can to impact the children that need our help.

There are many ministries focused on helping the less fortunate children of the world, and some of them are linked to this blog. Become involved today and start making a difference in a child's life.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Praise! - April 25, 2010

Psalm 98 (New International Version)

1 Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done marvelous things;
his right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.

2 The LORD has made his salvation known
and revealed his righteousness to the nations.

3 He has remembered his love
and his faithfulness to the house of Israel;
all the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.

4 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth,
burst into jubilant song with music;

5 make music to the LORD with the harp,
with the harp and the sound of singing,

6 with trumpets and the blast of the ram's horn—
shout for joy before the LORD, the King.

7 Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it.

8 Let the rivers clap their hands,
Let the mountains sing together for joy;

9 let them sing before the LORD,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples with equity.


After you have enjoyed a beautiful weekend and as you prepare for your new week, let us be mindful of God who has given us everything. Let us pause to give Him glory and praise. Have a great week!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Significant Worship - April 24, 2010

John 4:23-24 (New Century Version)
23 The time is coming when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, and that time is here already. You see, the Father too is actively seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."

2 Chronicles 5:13-14 (New Living Translation)
13 The trumpeters and singers performed together in unison to praise and give thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals, and other instruments, they raised their voices and praised the Lord with these words:

“He is good!
His faithful love endures forever!”

At that moment a thick cloud filled the Temple of the Lord. 14 The priests could not continue their service because of the cloud, for the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple of God.

What is the object of your worship this weekend? Is it that SALE at the mall that seems too good to pass up that you will be in the parking lot before the mall opens, just to take advantage of it? Is it that SPORTS tournament that is the culmination of the whole season, and to get the best spot to view the competition you have to arrive early and stake out your spot? Is it that WORK opportunity that you have worked on for weeks and today is the day when it all comes together and you have to be prepared to do your best?

Is it new TOY that you have to buy this weekend, because the prices are at the lowest of the year and you don't want to miss your chance to get what you have always dreamed about owning? Is it that TRIP to that place, that perfect spot you have always wanted to go to, the weather is beautiful and the time has never been more convenient?

Not that any of these things is bad and should not be enjoyed by us, but is it the your main emphasis for your attention, your WORSHIP, this weekend? Has you mind spent hours and hours thinking about this very thing that it has consummed any space left for anything else?

God desires and loves SIGNIFICANT WORSHIP! He loves spending time with His children and in turn His children taking time for Him. He wants to own their hearts and in turn care deeply for them. He is a mighty God, a gracious and merciful God who is worthy of our WORSHIP and PRAISE!

As you plan out how to spend this weekend, when you might normally focus on something else, make sure you first seek the only object of your worship that will truly SATISFY your soul and bring JOY to your heart. Be sure that JESUS is the center of your WORSHIP and God is the object of your time.

Friday, April 23, 2010

When God is Forgotten - April 23, 2010

Psalm 53 (New Living Translation)
1 Only fools say in their hearts,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and their actions are evil;
not one of them does good!

2 God looks down from heaven
on the entire human race;
he looks to see if anyone is truly wise,
if anyone seeks God.
3 But no, all have turned away;
all have become corrupt.
No one does good,
not a single one!

4 Will those who do evil never learn?
They eat up my people like bread
and wouldn’t think of praying to God.
5 Terror will grip them,
terror like they have never known before.
God will scatter the bones of your enemies.
You will put them to shame, for God has rejected them.

6 Who will come from Mount Zion to rescue Israel?
When God restores his people,
Jacob will shout with joy, and Israel will rejoice.


What does God think when He looks down us? Too many of us have placed God on a shelf along with our Bibles to gather dust and sit until absolutely needed. We go through our days and barely give Him a thought. Worse yet, our Nation has forgotten where we have come from.

It is sad to know that within a year of his inauguration Thomas Jefferson, who rode on horseback to church in the Capitol, used to attend services in the House of Representatives. Worship services in the House was a practice that continued until after the Civil War. Throughout his administration Jefferson permitted church services in executive branch buildings and the Gospel was also preached in the Supreme Court chambers. Today many in these same chambers of our government are openly hostile to anything that has to do with the God of the Bible.

Why has our Nation wandered so far away from God? Why do so many people in our country prefer to listen to the blather of those who prefer to ignore the One who helped establish this Nation? Why have we allowed them to have such influence on how we are governed and what we are allowed to do in the public square? Why do we allow our schools to teach our children half-truths about our founding fathers, and neglect the truth about the roots of our Republic? Why aren't we more involved making the dramatic changes necessary to correct the course of this Nation? What will happen if we continue to go about our daily lives and do nothing?

This Psalm of David reveals what our Father in Heaven thinks about those who care little for Him and deny His very existence. Let's be sure that we are not counted in that number.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day? - April 22, 2010

Psalm 24:1-2 (Amplified Bible)
1THE EARTH is the Lord's, and the fullness of it, the world and they who dwell in it. 2For He has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the currents and the rivers.

Romans 1:21-23,25 (New International Version)
21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
...
25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.


Okay today is Earth Day. So what! The world has gone nuts about this whole "carbon footprint", "global warming", "Gaia worship", and "Mother Earth" thing. I passed an elementary school yesterday with a big Earth Day banner on it, and no matter what you read about, it is all "colored" with being GREEN.

Everywhere you turn these days, we are constantly being bombarded by these messages, myths, about sustaining our planet. It is a very problematic situation that God is barred from the school house door, and yet this worship of the planet is being spoon-fed to our children. Along with it they are fed an anti-God, anti-U.S., anti-people, pro-environmental, pro-global socialist agenda that will have serious consequences for their futures.

Don't get me wrong, I am all about being a good and faithful steward with what God our Creator has blessed us with. In fact I am probably over zealous about re-cycling and organic gardening, but more for economic, reducing land-fill cost, and backyard bio-diversity reasons than about adhering to some Environmental Agenda.

Take a read of how extreme this agenda has gone with the study mentioned below(this was promoted on MSNBC as how to be more "green" just a couple of days ago). You may want to open the link to the story; you will be stunned by some of the follow-up comments:
"Oregon State study says having fewer children is best way to reduce your carbon footprint"By Eric Mortenson, The Oregonian: July 31, 2009, 11:27AM

Some people who are serious about wanting to reduce their "carbon footprint" on the Earth have one choice available to them that may yield a large long-term benefit - have one less child.

A recent study by statisticians at Oregon State University concluded that in the United States, the carbon legacy and greenhouse gas impact of an extra child is almost 20 times more important than some of the other environmentally sensitive practices people might employ their entire lives - things like driving a high mileage car, recycling, or using energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs.

The research also makes it clear that potential carbon impacts vary dramatically across countries. The average long-term carbon impact of a child born in the U.S. - along with all of its descendants - is more than 160 times the impact of a child born in Bangladesh.

"In discussions about climate change, we tend to focus on the carbon emissions of an individual over his or her lifetime," said Paul Murtaugh, an OSU professor of statistics. "Those are important issues and it's essential that they should be considered. But an added challenge facing us is continuing population growth and increasing global consumption of resources."

In this debate, very little attention has been given to the overwhelming importance of reproductive choice, Murtaugh said. When an individual produces a child - and that child potentially produces more descendants in the future - the effect on the environment can be many times the impact produced by a person during their lifetime.

Under current conditions in the U.S., for instance, each child ultimately adds about 9,441 metric tons of carbon dioxide to the carbon legacy of an average parent - about 5.7 times the lifetime emissions for which, on average, a person is responsible.

And even though some developing nations have much higher populations and rates of population growth than the U.S., their overall impact on the global equation is often reduced by shorter life spans and less consumption. The long-term impact of a child born to a family in China is less than one fifth the impact of a child born in the U.S., the study found.

As the developing world increases both its population and consumption levels, this may change.

"China and India right now are steadily increasing their carbon emissions and industrial development, and other developing nations may also continue to increase as they seek higher standards of living," Murtaugh said.

The study examined several scenarios of changing emission rates, the most aggressive of which was an 85 percent reduction in global carbon emissions between now and 2100. But emissions in Africa, which includes 34 of the 50 least developed countries in the world, are already more than twice that level.

The researchers make it clear they are not advocating government controls or intervention on population issues, but say they simply want to make people aware of the environmental consequences of their reproductive choices.

"Many people are unaware of the power of exponential population growth," Murtaugh said. "Future growth amplifies the consequences of people's reproductive choices today, the same way that compound interest amplifies a bank balance."

Murtaugh noted that their calculations are relevant to other environmental impacts besides carbon emissions - for example, the consumption of fresh water, which many feel is already in short supply.

--The Oregonian


Are these "scholars" aware that the very plants and trees that we seek to preserve need carbon dioxide(CO2) to grow, thrive and release oxygen for us to breathe? Any child that has taken any science or biology classes has studied the carbon cycle and photosynthesis, and they will have learned that the cycle requires CO2 to function. Without it, every member of the Plant Kingdom will die. As is usual with this agenda, the issue has been co-opted to sustain a political, socialist and financial agenda.

Bottom line is this: God created all things and His expectation is that we will be dilligent stewards of everything He has given us. Our care for the earth and the environment needs to always be mindful that we are doing it as a means of worshiping and bringing glory to God. He expects us to care and tend "the garden", sustaining it for the benefit of those that come after us, until He returns to restore the earth.

For more information about this myth about carbon dioxide emmissions you may want to link to the following:
"The CO2 Lie", Investors.com
"Debunking CO2 Myths and the Science of Climate Change", The GreenMarket

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ignoring God - April 21, 2010

Romans 1:18-22(New Living Translation)
18 But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. 19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

21 Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. 22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools.



Obama cancelled 2010 White House National Day of Prayer ceremony
April 15, 8:56 AM Salt Lake City Headlines Examiner - Marci Stone

Obama cancelled 2010 White House National Day of Prayer ceremony. The National Day of Prayer has historically been the first Thursday in May, since Harry S. Truman put it into effect in 1952, but wasn’t official until the days of Ronald Reagan.

For eight years, the White House held a celebration on the National Day of Prayer, and last year Obama cancelled the celebration, and the ceremony has been cancelled for 2010(Set for May 6, 2010). In 2009, CNN reported that Obama was toning down the National Day of Prayer by cancelling the White House ceremony, but that the official day was not cancelled.

The National Day of Prayer was created to remind people to pray for family, friends, the country, etc. It wasn’t created for a specific religion, but for anyone who wanted to participate.


Federal Judge Rules Day of Prayer Unconstitutional
Associated Press

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb reached the conclusion in a lawsuit the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Madison-based group of atheists and agnostics, brought against former President George W. Bush's administration near the end of his second term.

A federal judge in Madison has ruled the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb reached the conclusion in a lawsuit the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Madison-based group of atheists and agnostics, brought against former President George W. Bush's administration near the end of his second term. The foundation argued the day violates the separation of church and state.


I am afraid that these headlines are about to become more common place in our Nation. It is sad that a country founded on Judeo-Christian values has fallen so far. We need only to look to Great Britain and Europe to see what ultimately happens to societies that have forgotten and ignored God. Unfortunately we may be on the same path unless we wake up and get back into discovering what God warns us about in His word.

In the verses above, Paul in his letter to the Romans was faced by the same type of world as we live in, and as he sought to instruct the new underground Roman church, he tells them about a society that ignores God.

Today we are faced with the same mindset. Although it is very easy to see the wonder of God's hand in our lives and our world, mankind has chosen to ignore their Creator and have surrendered themselves to their own devices. The result is a culture that battles against anything religious and especially anything Christian. When will we who disagree with this agenda start standing up and confront this slide into the secular abyss? When will we engage our world and turn people's hearts towards the God of the Bible?

It doesn't take guns or bullets, protests or arguments; what will make the change happen will be the one-on-one witness of what Jesus Christ has done in each one of our lives, sharing the love of God to those that hunger for what the world cannot offer. As you read the headlines, don't dwell on what is being taken away, instead ask yourself what can you give back. It will be the testimony of engaged Christians, living out their lives for those they come in contact with, that will ultimately win out and make true change happen.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Time for Praise - April 20, 2010

Psalm 148 (New Living Translation)
1 Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord from the heavens!
Praise him from the skies!
2 Praise him, all his angels!
Praise him, all the armies of heaven!
3 Praise him, sun and moon!
Praise him, all you twinkling stars!
4 Praise him, skies above!
Praise him, vapors high above the clouds!
5 Let every created thing give praise to the Lord,
for he issued his command, and they came into being.
6 He set them in place forever and ever.
His decree will never be revoked.

7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
you creatures of the ocean depths,
8 fire and hail, snow and clouds,
wind and weather that obey him,
9 mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,
10 wild animals and all livestock,
small scurrying animals and birds,
11 kings of the earth and all people,
rulers and judges of the earth,
12 young men and young women,
old men and children.

13 Let them all praise the name of the Lord.
For his name is very great;
his glory towers over the earth and heaven!
14 He has made his people strong,
honoring his faithful ones—
the people of Israel who are close to him.

Praise the Lord!

In the midst of our study of "What Do You Believe", I felt it was appropriate that we offered up this praise to our God. It its always important that everyday and in everything we do that it is done to worship and bring glory to our Creator and God. If you will meditate on the Psalm above, you will notice that it is the lifting of praise to the Lord from all things that God has created. All creation is a reflection of His glory, and in turn it should bring Him praise.

This is one a a series of "praise" psalms offered by David to God. Although David had a life that was not always praiseworthy, he ultimately pursued God's heart and he sought to surrender his entire being to his Lord. When you have time, spend time in the Psalms. They will bring uplift you and bring you peace.

God bless you as you praise His glorious name!

Monday, April 19, 2010

What Do You Believe? Skeptics, Scoffers, and Doubters - April 19, 2010

2 Peter 3:3-5 (New International Reader's Version)
3 First of all, here is what you must understand. In the last days people will make fun of the truth. They will laugh at it. They will follow their own evil longings. 4 They will say, "Where is this 'return' he promised? Everything goes on in the same way it has since our people of long ago died. In fact, it has continued that way since God first created everything."

5 Long ago, God's word brought the heavens into being. His word separated the earth from the waters. And the waters surrounded it. But those people forget things like that on purpose.

Think about it. Why do you think that anything about Christianity is constantly under attack? Why is it that every Christmas and Easter season, especially in the United States the belief in the God of the Bible and the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross is always under attack? This past Easter season the Discovery Channel aired a program questioning the validity and accuracy of the events of the crucifixion and resurrection, and you can count on Newsweek and other magazines to have a cover story that seeks to diminish or criticize our belief.

Last night I watched again on the National Geographic as skeptics and very "learned" men studied and speculated the validity of the Shroud of Turin. Right after that program was one stating that the story of Noah's Ark was a myth. Programs like this disputing something concerning our faith can be seen almost daily on television and the assault on Christianity does not let up. Then there are the movies such as the Da Vinci Code, The Last Temptation of Christ, The Golden Compass, Religulous, Jesus Camp, Dogma, and many others. It seems at every turn anything Christian is ridiculed, slandered and discounted.

Why do other major religions, such as Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism get a pass? Have you seen any program doubting the prophetic visions of Mohammed, or that he traveled to and from Heaven from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem? Have you seen anything criticizing the Buddhist belief of re-incarnation and the endless cycle of suffering and rebirth? Did you see any program that called into question the Hindu moral law of cause and effect called karma? The many programs about these faiths tend to lift them up, venerate and revere them, and yet anything having to do with Christianity unless its produced by Christians is always presented in a negative light.

I see it like this...the reason Christianity is always under attack is because it must be true. Our faith believes that we are all fallen sinners in need of a personal Savior. God hates sin and we cannot have any hope of being reconciled to Him on our own efforts( if you study all of the other religions, they are about how you have to do something to be made right with God, or you get numerous do-overs until you get it right). Jesus Christ, became a man and led a sinless life preaching, teaching and healing, and although he was innocent of any crime, he was executed on a cross on our behalf(of course this does not make sense, because how could anyone give up their own life to save the lives of others?) Then proving that He was God, he stepped out of the grave and appeared to over 500 of his followers before returning to Heaven. And if we put our faith, hope and trust in Him for our eternal salvation our lives will be radically changed here on earth and for eternity. Wow! Now that is something wild to believe in!

John 15:18-25 (New International Reader's Version)
18 "Does the world hate you? Remember that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you like one of its own. But you do not belong to the world. I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
20 "Remember the words I spoke to you. I said, 'A servant is not more important than his master.'—(John 13:16) If people hated me and tried to hurt me, they will do the same to you. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you like that because of my name. They do not know the One who sent me.

22 "If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Those who hate me hate my Father also.

24 "I did miracles among them that no one else did. If I hadn't, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen those miracles. And still they have hated both me and my Father. 25 This has happened so that what is written in their Law would come true. It says, 'They hated me without any reason.'—(Psalms 35:19; 69:4)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

After God's Heart - April 18, 2010

Psalm 15 (New Living Translation)
A psalm of David.

1 Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord?

Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?

2 Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right,

speaking the truth from sincere hearts.

3 Those who refuse to gossip

or harm their neighbors

or speak evil of their friends.

4 Those who despise flagrant sinners,

and honor the faithful followers of the Lord,

and keep their promises even when it hurts.

5 Those who lend money without charging interest,

and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent.

Such people will stand firm forever.


In the verses above, David asked of God what kind of person could worship God and be in His presence? Here is the reflection of what God revealed to him. These are great character qualities with which to conduct our daily lives. From cover to cover this is the common theme in God's word, living good and righteous lives and treating others better than ourselves. This is right conduct and His pattern for how best to honor Him and bring Him glory.

But in the course of daily living it is not easy to always keep God's rules. I thank Him that He has provided us a way to always be right with Him; accept the truth of the gift of Jesus as the author of our forgiveness and hope. As we pattern our lives after Him, it will make it a lot easier.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

What Do You Believe?: The Trinity - April 17, 2010

Genesis 1:26 (New American Standard Bible)
26Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."

Genesis 3:22 (New American Standard Bible)
22Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever"--

Matthew 28:18-20 (New International Version)
18Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."


Now this is a hard one to wrap my head around, but it is essentially the most important doctrine that defines Christianity. Essential, because how you treat this subject determines whether you believe in truth or a heresy.
Understanding this esential of Christianity determines whether or not you are following the truth that saves you, or an inerrant doctrine that condemns you. Wow! That is pretty strong, but it is so important that know the difference between truth and error when it comes to the nature of God.

What I am talking about is the doctrine of the Trinity or Tri-unity of God. For Christians this is probably a term you have heard about, and you may have a limited understanding of the concept. Since I have complete confidence in the inerrant and in fallible word of God found in the Bible, the verses I give above settles the question for me. In every translation and the original languages the contexts are the same. Our Triune God was present at Creation, and Jesus as the second person of the Trinity commanded all disciples top baptize in the names of all three persons of the Godhead.

In trying to explain how the Trinity exists, and I hope you will excuse me in noting this, but I have always used the very weak and simplistic analogy of a chicken's egg (How can you really explain the complex and inexplicable nature of our awesome God?). A chicken egg has three distinct components (actually you might divide an egg even further, but hang with me on this one), the outer covering of shell and shell membrane, the egg's white, and the egg's yolk. Each of these components are separate and essential to the egg. All co-exist together and together they are the egg.

Ben Rast with Contender Ministries puts it this way in an article he writes on the ministry's website,"We may never fully understand the nature of God until we get into heaven. God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and eternal. Our finite created minds are unable to fully grasp these characteristics of God." He further states, "The doctrine of the Trinity can be summed up as follows: Within the one Being that is God, there exist eternally three coequal and coeternal Persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In order to prove this doctrine we must prove the following, there is only one God, the Father is God, Jesus is God, the Holy Spirit is God, and the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct Persons."

This doctrine is upheld in the Nicene Creed which we studied a few days ago, and you may want to take a look at the creed and study it further. I have also provided the links to study further the proofs for the Trinity. You will also find information on various cults that call themselves Christian, but do not believe in the same nature of God as we do. These include Mormonism, Unitarians, Jehovah’s Witness, and what I believe is the very dangerous Oneness Pentacostalism, Jesus Only or Holiness Churches.

In fact many well-intentioned evangelical pastors today embrace Oneness pastors, which has been the criticism of T.D.Jakes, and I am concerned that many new Christians may be led astray if they do not fully understand the differences. Before embracing the teaching of any pastor or church, you need to examine their beliefs in reference to orthodox Chritain theology. If you have any questions, please be sure to study the links and to send me any questions that you might have.

Bottom line is this, to be a true Christian, you need to believe that our God is a Triune God, and within the one Being that is God, there exist eternally three coequal and coeternal Persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Any other doctrine out there should be considered as incorrect.

Friday, April 16, 2010

What Do You Believe?: Blinded from the Truth - April 16, 2010

2 Corinthians 4:1-5 (New Living Translation)
1 Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up. 2 We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this.

3 If the Good News (The Gospel) we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. 4 Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.

5 You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake.


This is not an easy subject. Sometime it is really difficult. What I am saying is as much as people try to believe in the God of the Bible, and to accept the gift of Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross for mankind's sins, it is a tall order for people who are unbelievers to suddenly give up their skepticism and become believers. Why is this?

The main reason is that the lifestyle that is promoted by the world and the values it espouses blinds people to the wickedness in which they are trapped in. That is what is meant by "Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe". Our world has been so blinded by what is called "relativism"("what is right for one person may not necessarily be right for another", "that's true for you but not for me"),that absolute truth and what is morally right and wrong has been distorted, "veiled", from those who are perishing, dying in their sins.

My making the statement that people are "dying in their sins" is considered very controversial in our culture today. Why? Just a few decades ago, especially in the United States, moral absolutes were very easy to identify, and everyone was measured against a Judeo-Christian standard of right and wrong. But because of the failure of Christians to become engaged in the culture during the last several decades, this worship of relativism slowly crept in and the belief in God's absolute truth began to be diminished, until today these Judeo-Christian values are in danger of being eliminated from our culture. We may even see a day when upholding and speaking out for these values in our country will be considered a crime, as it is in many countries in this world.

A good way to test this theory about the erosion of values can be found by watching the Turner Movie Channel. On it you will find screenings of movies from the 1930's,1940's and 1950's. Compare those movies to those made today. The values portrayed by Hollywood then are not the values portrayed by Hollywood today.

And you need only look into the lives of most popular actors of today, and you will see the "fall-out" this has caused in their lives. It has also caused massive fall-out in the lives of those who mimic their lifestyle. Today you also see these same problems creeping into the lives of our politicians, professional atheletes, and other "famous" people that the culture idolizes.

I would probably be safe in saying that the majority of people would not want to see their children or grandchildren exhibiting these lifestyles or behaviors, whether they are believers or not. Today's cultural values, exhibited on television and in the movies, in our schools and halls of government, are not those that will ulitmately sustain our culture.

This is my message. If you are a Christian and you believe in the plan of God, you need to become engaged first in what you believe and then get engaged in the culture. Take this research and study into "What Do You Believe" and answer that question for yourself. Pick up the references and your Bible and become solid in your faith. Know what you should know.

If you are a non-believer, you need to take a close look at yourself and see if the life you are leading is really one that you can be proud of on your deathbed. Hate to sound morbid, but a hundred years from now everyone reading this will physically be in the same place. You have an opportunity to get your life on the right path; the path God has laid out first for your salvation and then for your lifestyle. As Paul says it in his letter to the Corinthians,"You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake." Turn your life over to Jesus Christ today.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Render Unto Caesar! - April 15, 2010

Mark 12:13-17 (New International Version)
13Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. 14They came to him and said, "Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? 15Should we pay or shouldn't we?"

But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. "Why are you trying to trap me?" he asked. "Bring me a denarius and let me look at it." 16They brought the coin, and he asked them, "Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?" "Caesar's," they replied.

17Then Jesus said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's." And they were amazed at him.

Romans 13:1,6-7 (New International Version)
1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
...
6This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. 7Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Well, I am taking a break from our study of "What Do You Believe", to recognize that today in the United States it is Tax Day! That wonderful time of year that we bow to the national authorities and we settle our affairs with them when it comes to income taxes. Now remember many of us just completed paying our property taxes, and every day we pay an additional array of taxes in the form of federal excise taxes, energy taxes, communication taxes, sales taxes, and the list goes on. Now they are talking about adding a "value added tax", which will tax on top of tax every service and thing we use. It seems that there is no end to taxes!

Jesus was asked about this matter, and this time of year this section of Scripture becomes very popular with those who collect taxes. What I believe Jesus was getting at was that the focus of the Jewish leaders was wrongly placed. In an attempt to trap him into saying something that would go against the Roman government of the time, they sought to get rid of the One who was pressing them on the spiritual issue. Jesus answers that when it pertains to the secular government, you need to obey the laws under which you are being governed, as long as it does not disobey God's law.

In Romans we learn that our leaders are appointed over us for a specific purpose, and we owe them the respect of the authority they hold. But, I do believe that if they disobey God's laws, we are obligated to correct their disobedience through the power of our vote. Too many Christians bemoan the problems in our country, and yet they have failed to exercise their God given and civic duty to vote in local, state and national elections. I believe that we have the elected officials and national problems we have today because many Christians followed their own "separation of church and state" and failed to fulfill their obligation to participate in their own government.

We are fortunate that we still have a choice to vote and correct the wrongs which our leaders excercise over us in the form of laws and punitive levies. So, just as we fulfill our obligation to file and pay our taxes to the governments we have, we need to also excercise our civic obligation to vote and elect those leaders over us that follow the will of God. This year marks and important time in our nation's history. We will either fall deeper into the abyss of socialism and secularism, or we will rise up as our godly founding fathers did and right the course of our God blessed history.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What Do You Believe?: The Nicene Creed - April 14, 2010

John 12:44-50 (New Century Version)
44 Then Jesus cried out, "Whoever believes in me is really believing in the One who sent me. 45 Whoever sees me sees the One who sent me. 46 I have come as light into the world so that whoever believes in me would not stay in darkness.

47 "Anyone who hears my words and does not obey them, I do not judge, because I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 There is a judge for those who refuse to believe in me and do not accept my words. The word I have taught will be their judge on the last day.49 The things I taught were not from myself. The Father who sent me told me what to say and what to teach. 50 And I know that eternal life comes from what the Father commands. So whatever I say is what the Father told me to say."



On most Sundays in churches around the world, countless Christians make a profession of their faith using the words of the Nicene Creed. As a teenager I went through the "rigors" of confirmation and had to memorize this an other creeds. Did I understand what I was stating? Probably not; it was just one of those things that young people that attended denominational churches were required to do to be considered a "member" and professing Christian. Unfortunately, many who recite this creed do not clearly understand what they are saying, and it has become so ingrained into the memories of church members, that it has lost much of its meaning in the hearts of prophesing Christians.

In the face of heresies that began to arise in the young Christian church, there arose a need for the leaders of the church to come together and commit to writing what Christians believed. A council of bishops, the Council of Nicea, was called by the Emperor Constantine in the year 325 A.D. and served to repudiate the heresy that had arisen and confirm the nature of God, and the relationship of the Trinity.

Immediately after this council, additional challenges arose and necessitated more definative additions to the creed at the First Council of Constantinople in 381 A.D. This has given us in essence the creed many denominational Christians profess today. While not necessarily rejecting the Nicene Creed as erroneous, some evangelical and other Christians, on the basis of their "by scripture alone" view, consider it as in no way authoritative because it is not part of the Bible, and do not recite it in their services.

Over the next few days, as we dig more deeply into what we believe, we will dissect this creed along with other believer's creeds and look into biblical support of what these creeds state. Here is the text of the modern version of the Nicene Creed:

We believe in one God,the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,the only son of God, eternally begotten of the Father,God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God,begotten, not made,of one being with the Father. Through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]. With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. AMEN.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What Do You Believe?: Is the Bible Reliable? - April 13, 2010

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (New International Version)
16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Do you believe the Bible verse above? Originally I intended to go through a long discourse in order to present the proof texts and historical evidences for the reliablity and validity of the Bible. This can be easily found through careful study of books on the subject. But, if you call your self a Christian and you truly are a believer, the truth is easier to discern because of your personal experience, and the confirmation you receive from the truth that lives in you.

"All Scripture is God-breathed." - This statement is true for me because I have experienced a whole new life that can be found in Bible. During my many years, I studied the world's religions and surveyed a number of religious texts, and none of them had "life" in their words as the Bible did. I would challenge anyone seeking the truth to go to the library or bookstore and study the other religious texts. You will understand what I mean.

When you have reached out and surrendered yourself to God, and you have asked for Him to reveal Himself to you, the Bible takes on a whole new character. Rather than just being words on a page or historical text, it "comes alive" and reveals things to your spirit that you never knew. And each time you read a particular verse or passage, it can take on a whole new, deeper meaning. To me, that confirms that the Bible is "God-breathed".

"Is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness"- As you open up the pages of the Bible, and as you prayerfully read with and open mind and an open heart, the Spirit of God will reveal things to you in the verses that are useful and helpful for daily living.

For those of you who believe yourselves to be a Christian, have you ever had a problem that really bothered you, and as you read through your Bible, you suddenly found the answer you needed to resolve that problem? This has been the case for me on countless occassions. To me, that confirms that the Bible is "useful".

"So that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."- As I try to live out my Christian life in this world, I need to know that help is their when I need it. I need to know that I can count not only on knowing the rules, the do's and the don'ts, but I need to know that I can find the stuff that really matters. The stuff that changes lives and helps other people.

I need to be able to rely on something to help me find the right answers. The word of God found in the Bible does that for me; it "equips" me for each and everything I do as I try to pattern my life after the life of Jesus Christ. It teaches me how to love and how to live. To me, that confirms that the Bible is "reliable"

Those who have a difficult time understanding the Bible need to do two things. First, approach God in prayer and surrender yourself completely to Him; give up your selfishness, your arrogance and your stubbornness. Then pour your heart out to Him, and "clean yourself up", leaving all your junk with Him. Admit that you can't live this life by yourself. Second, ask God to reveal Himself to you; ask for his Holy Spirit to open your mind to how He wants you to lead your life. Ask Him to give you direction through His word. I know for a fact that He will do this for you.

As we seek to understand what we believe, we will need to rely on the solid, truthful, word of God found in the Bible as our most treasured proof text. You have to be confident that you believe what it says completely. You can't pick or chose just because some of what it says may be "convicting". Yes, as you dig deeper in the Bible, it will make you uncomfortable, and it may even annoy you. But this revelation is for your benefit. It is God's Spirit telling you what is right or wrong for your life. Once you have this firm foundation, understanding what you believe will be much easier to know.

Monday, April 12, 2010

What Do You Believe?: Why bother? - April 12, 2010

1 Peter 3:14-16 (New King James Version)
14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.”[Isaiah 8:12]

15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.

You may be wondering why I am focusing on the topic of "what do you believe", rather than on other things in this blog. You might find this a little boring, and it might not be that important to you. The reason I chose to spend time on this is due to a prompting I received by the Holy Spirit. You know, those thoughts or impressions that you feel are from God about what you should do. I learned long ago that when I have those, I need to pay attention and listen to what God is trying to tell me.

Over the Good Friday and Easter weekend I became aware that many people were going through the motions of celebrating the most important event for a Christian. The secular world likes to enjoy this time by emphasizing the Easter Bunny, baby chicks, baby ducks, Easter baskets and egg hunts, and if they had their way, we would be calling it the Spring Holiday, as the city of Davenport, Iowa tried to do to Good Friday on thier municipal calendar.

Taking a recommendation by the Davenport Civil Rights Commission to change the holiday's name to something more ecumenical, the City Administrator unilaterally sent a memo to municipal employees announcing Good Friday would officially be known as "Spring Holiday", setting off a storm of complaints from Christians and union members whose contracts give them that day off.

"The city council didn't know anything about the change. We were blind sided and now we've got to clean this mess up. How do you tell people the city renamed a 2,000 year old holiday?" said Bill Edmond, City Alderman. "People are genuinely upset because this is nothing but political correctness run amok."

It didn't take long for the city the resurrect the name Good Friday. The City Administrator was overruled and the words "Spring Holiday" disappeared. The Civil Rights Commission said it recommended changing the name to better reflect the city's diversity and maintain a separation of church and state when it came to official municipal holidays. The commission discussed changing Christmas, but decided enough other religions celebrate Christmas too, however, the spokesman could not name one. (From March 29, 2010,abcnews.com, Russell Goldman)

The world around us would chose to ignore and fight Christianity at any cost. Each and everyday our Judeo-Christian heritage comes under assault and in many cases is removed from public places by the secular and politically correct activists. In many churches today, people go thorugh the motions, but because of lack of knowledge of what it truly means to be a Christian, they succumb to false doctrines and liberal interpretations of scripture. These many believers are ill-equipped to carry on an intelligent defense of the hope that is in them. There are people who may read this blog that do not have a clear understanding of what they believe either, and this uncertainty can lead dangerous consequences when faced with a growing and oppressive opposition.

My goal is to provide information that will help confirm your faith and equip you to be able to handle yourself when faced with questions from skeptics, or to assist you when you share your faith. After we take a look at the basis for the truth of Christianity and we examine the doctrines we need to believe and uphold, my hope is that you will have a more solid foundation with which to face the future and defend what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What Do You Believe?: The Manuscript Evidence - April 11, 2010

Psalm 33:4 (New International Version)
4 For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.

If you are going to base your belief in a faith, what better way to do it than to trust in the manuscripts and texts that contain the narrative about the faith you believe in. Many skeptics discount the Bible based on things they have heard or the rantings of professors in schools and universities, but very few have taken on the task of investigating for themselves the validity of the Bible. I bet if you have someone who criticizes your faith in Christianity and the Bible, they most likely have never studied the Bible, much less even taken the time to read it.

A criticism that arises about the Bible from skeptics and many evangelicals of other faiths is that the Bible is unreliable as a text. They claim that it has been "corrupted" over the centuries, and translated so many times that what we have today is far from the original text. Did you know that there are more surviving manuscript copies of the Bible than any other ancient book in history?

Principle to this is the New Testament which was originally written in Greek. Although it has not been shown that any originals have survived the almost 2000 years since its writing, it has over 5,656 surviving manuscript copies in Greek, and over 19,284+ in 14 other languages. The first fragments of copies have been dated to 114 AD, just 50+ years after the original was written. When you study the copies for the accuracy of the translation for meaning, context and doctrine, they are essentially the same.

In comparison the closest other writing of antiquity with the greatest number of surviving manuscript copies is the Roman author Homer's Iliad which has 683 surviving copies, the first having been written 400 years after the original was written. (There is more historical manuscript evidence for the people of the Bible than there is evidence for the existence of Julius Caesar, and yet I have never heard of anyone that disputes that he was a historical figure?)

We are very fortunate that Josh McDowell and other researchers took the time to document and investigate the Bible. He has carefully documented many of the historical sources for the manuscript evidence. Please take the time to pick up his book, The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Lee Strobel also covers his investigative study of the documentary evidence in his book, The Case for Christ. You will benefit from these two books for the references that they provide.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

What Do You Believe?: The Bible is Unique in Its Continuity - April 10, 2010

Psalm 119:105 (New Century Version)
105 Your word is like a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.

I approached this subject earlier in the year, but it is important that we take a look at it again. The Bible is truly superior to all and any books of religious text. Drawing from Josh McDowell's compilation of evidences, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict,pgs 4-7, here is why the Bible is truly unique in its continuity:

1. It was written over an approximate 1500 year span.

2. It was written by over 40 authors from many walks of life, from kings to peasants.

3. It was written in many different places, from palaces to prisons.

4. It was written at different times, from times of war to times of peace.

5. It was written during different moods, from the heights of joy to the depths of sorrow and despair, from certainty and conviction, to confusion and doubt.

6. It was written on 3 different continents, Asia, Africa and Europe.

7. It was written in 3 different languages, Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.

8. It was written in a wide variety of literary style, some of which are poetry, historical narrative, song, romance, memoirs, satire, biography, law, prophecy, parable and allegory.

9. It addresses hundreds of controversial subjects, that create opposing opinions when mentioned or discussed (such as marriage, divorce, remarriage, adultrey, obedience to authority, lying, truth, parenting, etc.), yet the writers addressed them with amazing continuity.

10. Despite its diversity, the Bible presents a single unfolding story: the redemption of human beings to God.

11. The leading and most important character is the One, true, living God, made known to man through Jesus Christ. The entire compilation of scriptures point to Christ, from the Old Testament Law that provides the foundation and need for Christ, to the New Testament Gospels that record the historical manifestation of Christ, to Revelation that gives the consummation of all things in Christ(from Geisler/Nix, GIB'86).

To have these many books and many authors writing in their many times, their different frames of reference, in different places and moods, on different continents, different languages, different literary styles, presenting a single unfolding story of God and His relationship to man through Jesus Christ, and showing through its continuity that it is one book, truly demonstrates that the Bible is unique and exceptional.

I agree with what Josh McDowell says, "The uniqueness of the Bible as shown above does not prove that it is inspired. It does , however, challenge any person sincerely seeking truth to consider seriously its unique quality in terms of continuity."

What do you believe? Please feel free to give me your comments to what I present here.

Friday, April 9, 2010

What Do You Believe?: The Sources (Cont.) - April 9, 2010

Titus 2:7 (New Living Translation)
7 And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching.

2 Timothy 2:25 (New Living Translation)
25 Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.

There is nothing better than the example of a changed heart and life to act as a witness to the truth and validity of Christianity. For many of us it was a wonderful Christian witness, whose life and example led us to embrace and follow Jesus. As we study the truth of Christianity, we will also look to a source whose desire to examine these truths were due to a close personal example.

"For much of my life I was a skeptic. In fact, I considered myself an atheist. To me, there was far too much evidence that God was merely a product of wishful thinking, of ancient mythology, of primitive superstition."
"Let's face it: even a cursory examination of the evidence demonstrates convincingly that Jesus had only been a human being just like you and me, although with unusual gifts of kindness and wisdom.

But that's all I had ever really given the evidence: a cursory look. I had read just enough philosophy and history to find support for my skepticism- a fact here, a scientific theory there, a pithy quote, a clever argument. Sure, I could see some gaps and inconsistencies, but I had strong motivation to ignore them: a self-serving and immoral lifestyle that I would be compelled to abandon if I were ever to change my views and become a follower of Jesus."

"It wasn't a phone call from an informant(reference to an earlier story)that prompted me to re-examine the case for Christ. It was my wife.

Leslie stunned me in the autumn of 1979 by announcing that she had become a Christian. I rolled my eyes and braced for the worst, feeling like the victim of a bait-and-switch scam. I had married one Leslie- the fun Leslie, the carefree Leslie, the risk-taking Leslie and now I feared she was going to turn into some sort of ...repressed prude who would trade our upwardly mobile lifestyle for all-night prayer vigils and volunteer work in grimy soup kitchens.

Instead I was pleasantly surprised- even fascinated- by the fundamental changes in her character, her integrity, and her personal confidence. Eventually I wanted to get to the bottom of what was prompting these subtle but significant shifts in my wife's attitudes, so I launched an all-out investigation into the facts surrounding the case for Christianity." - Lee Strobel(Excerpts from The Case for Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus)

Atheist-turned-Christian Lee Strobel, is a former award-winning legal editor of The Chicago Tribune, is a New York Times best-selling author of nearly twenty books and has been interviewed on numerous national television programs, including ABC’s 20/20, Fox News, and CNN.

Lee was educated at the University of Missouri (Bachelor of Journalism degree, 1974) and Yale Law School (Master of Studies in Law degree, 1979). He was a professional journalist for 14 years at The Chicago Tribune and other newspapers, winning Illinois’ top honors for investigative reporting (which he shared with a team he led) and public service journalism from United Press International.

After a nearly two-year investigation of the evidence for Jesus, Lee received Christ as his forgiver and leader in 1981. He joined the staff of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, IL, in 1987, and later became a teaching pastor there. He joined Saddleback Valley Community Church in Lake Forest, CA, as a teaching pastor in 2000. He left Saddleback’s staff in mid-2002 to focus on writing. He is also a contributing editor and columnist for Outreach magazine. (Bio from www.leestrobel.com)

From the above noted and other books by Lee, we will gain the benefit of his journalistic approach in examining the truths for what we believe.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

What Do You Believe?: My Sources - April 8, 2010

Revelation 3:20 (New International Version)
20Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

If you are like me, wouldn't you like to be more solid in your faith? Wouldn't you like to be able to have answers when skeptics attack you for it? Or if you are like a few of those around me, wouldn't you like to know whether or not what these Christians are telling you is true or not?

As we set out to look at what Christians believe and look at the claims that they present as truth, we will examine proofs offered by a number of sources. One of the people and sources I will be quoting from is noted below. As we study these things together, I would encourage you to purchase the books mentioned throughout this study. I will barely touch the surface of what these sources offer, and the books will serve as tremendous resource for you in the future.

"You can laugh at Christianity. You can mock and ridicule it. But it works. If you trust Christ, start watching you attitudes and actions-Jesus Christ is in the business of changing lives." Josh McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict

This is a statement from an agnostic who set out to disprove the authenticity of the Bible. As a university student, he took on a challenge to intellectually examine the claim that Jesus Christ is God's Son. He set out and traveled throughout the United States and Europe to gather evidence to prove that Christianity was a sham. He sought to gather all that he could to refute Christian claims.

Instead, Josh McDowell found out and gathered historical and academic proof that it was all true, and in the process his life was radically changed. He became a believer, follower and apologist for Jesus Christ. We will use his book, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, that documents historical evidences to assist us in our study.

After studying at Kellogg College, Josh completed his college degree at Wheaton College and then attended Talbot Theological Seminary, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Master of Divinity degree. In 1961 Josh joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ International.

Not long after, he started the Josh McDowell Ministry to reach young people worldwide with the truth and love of Jesus. Well known as an articulate speaker, Josh has addressed more than 10 million young people, giving over 24,000 talks in 118 countries.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What Do You Believe?: Introduction - April 7, 2010

2 Timothy 1:8-10;12 (New International Version)
8So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, 9who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
...
12That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.


Do you know what you believe in? There are many here in our Facebook community that have different faiths and beliefs. There are many that call themselves Christian, such as Protestants and Catholics, Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. There are those who agree that Jesus existed, such as Muslims and Jews, and there are those who believe that God reveals Himself in all kinds of faiths. There are Bahai, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Daoists and Hindus. There are also those who are Agnostics, Atheists, Pagans, Satinists, Naturalists and Universalists.

So with all these different beliefs, who is right? Is there such as thing as absolute truth? How can you know what is true and what is not? Do you have a clear understanding in whom or what you have placed your trust? Over these next few weeks I would like to open up this discussion. We will look at what Christians present as the truth, and we will learn why they believe what they do, and you can stand on the solid foundation of what you believe. Now is the time for you to be sure of what you believe in, because it will make a difference for now, your future and your eternity.

If you have questions while we examine these things together, please be sure to e-mail me at myarrito@verizon.net, or post your comments on this blog.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

His Story: The Great Commission - April 6, 2010

Matthew 28:18-20 (New International Reader's Version)
18 Then Jesus came to them. He said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 So you must go and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And you can be sure that I am always with you, to the very end."

Acts 1:1-5,7-9(New Living Translation)
1 In my first book I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit. 3 During the forty days after his crucifixion, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.
4 Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. 5 John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
...
7 He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

9 After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him.


Now that we have been blessed by a gracious and merciful God, what should we be doing? How do we show our thankfulness for what has been done one our behalf? The answer is that it is our responsibility to tell others about salvation in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone. This is not a suggestion, or an "if you have time", it is a command. Jesus said,"So you must go and make disciples of all nations". Go means to go and do it.

This is probably the hardest of any of God's commands to follow, because often it is hard to tell others about Christ. We get stuck with wondering what other people might think about us. But I say it is more important to please God. This is what Jesus had to say about it:

Matthew 10:32-34 (New King James Version)
32 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.


That is a serious statement, and it carries with it serious consequences. But to be able to speak about your faith, you need to be rock solid in what you believe. Over the next several days we will review what it means to be a follower of Christ and what you should believe.

Monday, April 5, 2010

His Story: The Choice - April 6, 2010

Acts 10:34-43 (New International Version)
34Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. 36You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— 38how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

39"We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, 40but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."

1 Corinthians 15:19-26 (New Living Translation)
19 And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.

20 But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.

21 So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. 22 Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. 23 But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back.

24 After that the end will come, when he will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, having destroyed every ruler and authority and power. 25 For Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet. 26 And the last enemy to be destroyed is death.


It's interesting that as I have been posting verses from the Bible depicting the path that Jesus took to the cross over the last several days, there have been those that have had their doubts about the validity of the Scriptures. There are those out there that even when presented with the facts about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, they refuse the believe that it is true, and they have a hard time believing that it makes any difference in their lives. There are those scoffers and skeptics that ridicule what Christians do, demean what they do and believe in, choose to make fun of the real reason for Easter, and discount anything having to do with Christianity.

If you don't believe that Jesus' sacrifice on your behalf means anything and it is really not that important to you, there is a whole world out there that hopes that you will always believe that. They would rather have you believe that you arose from a primordial soup and after millions of years and countless forms, you somehow ended up being born. They would rather have you believe that any religion out there leads everyone one to the same thing. They would rather have you believe that you are responsible to yourself alone and you can do whatever you like. There is though one fact that no one can dispute. Someday you will die; and on that day you had better be on the right side of the truth.

That leaves us all with a choice: Do you believe that God created it all, and because of the fall of man, in His grace and mercy He sent His son Jesus Christ into the world, to give up His life as a sacrifice for our sins? Do you believe Jesus lived and ministered to those around Him, telling all those who would listen about God's love and the kingdom to come? Do you believe that He suffered at the hands of evil men, was condemned to death, although He did nothing wrong, and was executed by crucifixion on a Roman cross? Do you believe that He was buried in a well-guarded tomb, but rose again three days later confounding those who killed Him, and that He was seen by over 500 people before ascending into Heaven? Do you believe that as a result, those who witnessed His death and resurrection believed that what they saw was true enough to have died a martyrs death for that truth? Do you believe that if you will surrender your will to God, accept His provision on your behalf that you will live with Him for eternity?

The choice is yours.