Recently, over 40,000 people answered this poll question, “If Jesus suddenly came back to earth today, would He approve or disapprove of modern Christianity?” It might surprise you to know 87% of Americans answered that Jesus would disapprove of modern Christianity. This brings a few questions to my mind.Continue Reading...
Archives For Christianity
If someone asked you, “Why are you a Christian?” how would you respond? Would you say you’re a Christian because you’ve never considered anything else? Would you say you’re a Christian because your parents were Christians? In no particular order, here are seven of my reasons:Continue Reading...
In a recent interview with author Rick Warren, interviewer Piers Morgan said the Bible was “inherently flawed” and that “it’s time for an amendment” to the Bible. Specifically, he was talking about how the Bible needs an amendment to allow for “gay rights.”
Morgan’s sentiments remind me of an e-mail I recently received from a man who believes Christianity needs to be overhauled and the Bible needs a “second version.” The e-mailer believes that it is “unfair” to expect people to follow rules that were written “2,000 years ago.” This e-mailer was also outraged by the Bible’s prohibitions on certain sexual behaviors.
These people, it seems, are okay with there being a God. They are okay with God having a book (the Bible). They are just not okay with God saying things in His book with which they disagree. So, they reason, God’s book should be changed so God agrees with them. How audacious man can be!
“If God and man do not agree,” they seem to say, “God needs to change His rules so that they reflect man’s wisdom, learning, and culture.” This, of course, is nothing new; but it is just as heartbreaking now as it ever was.
Sadly, there are many who are doing just as Piers Morgan suggest; they are amending the Bible to suit their own desires. A book has been published recently entitled The Queen James Bible. It is self-described as, “a gay Bible.” The publisher promotes it as being, “based on The King James Bible, edited to prevent homophobic misinterpretation.”
Christians must stand strong in this battle. We must be outspoken and loving. We must teach people that there is absolute truth. Scripture was absolute truth when it was written and it is absolute truth today. Scripture is not “inherently flawed,” in fact it is perfect. It is God breathed (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
The charge Paul gave to Timothy in the fourth chapter, is just as fitting today as it was then:
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
I love you and the God of the Bible loves you,
What comes to your mind when you hear the word “forgetful?” When I hear that word I think of yogurt. This past year I got in the habit of taking a yogurt to school with me so that I could have a snack to eat after chapel. While this has become routine for me, at least once a week I walk into the school building only to remember that I had forgotten to grab my yogurt.
Can you relate to this experience? Maybe you are one of those people who forget to turn off all the lights before you leave the house. Maybe you are one of those people who go into another room to do something, only to forget why you got up from your chair in the first place. While the circumstances of our forgetfulness may be different, we do still all forget and that forgetfulness is almost always a bad thing.
I say “almost always” because there are times when forgetfulness is good. In Philippians 3:13-14 the inspired writer Paul wrote:
“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (ESV; emp. added).
This “forgetting” in Paul’s mind was a good thing. Paul had a rough past (1 Timothy 1:13), but he wasn’t going to let that keep him down. Paul knew that, if he focused on the mistakes he made in the past, he was never going to be able to do anything productive for God with his life. With that in mind, Paul resolved to forget those things that were in his past and “press on toward the goal.”
I have no idea where you are in your life. If you’re like me then chances are that you’ve done things in your past that you’re not proud of. As Christians we know those mistakes are forgiven (Acts 22:16; 1 John 1:7), but the memory of those things may still haunt us.
I encourage you to become a forgetful Christian. Don’t let those mistakes continue to rule over your mind. Do as Paul did, forget those things that lie in your past, press on towards the goal and become the person God wants you to be. –Jack D.
[box] Jack Dodgen is a preaching student at the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver. He graduates in December 2012 and is looking forward to a life filled with preaching the word of God. You can follow Jack on Twitter @jack_david and read more of his great posts on his blog.[/box]
Jesus did not tell His disciples to go and make Baptists, Methodists, or Presbyterians of all nations; He told them to make disciples (Matthew 28:19). Those disciples would later be called, “Christians” (Acts 11:26). So, if the Bible teaches us to simply be disciples of Christ, or Christians, then why are there an estimated 41,000 denominations in the world?
Isn’t it time to cast off the chains of denominationalism?! Isn’t it time to be Christians only?!
Similar to the situation that exists today, many Corinthian Christians were following preachers instead of following Christ only. They were saying, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Paul responded, “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul” (1 Corinthians 1:12-13)?
I would ask the same thing today, “Did Martin Luther die for you? Or were you baptized in the name of John Wesley?” Why are you calling yourself after a man? Why are you wearing any religious label other than “Christian”?
Recently, someone told me this was a nice thought, but there was no such thing as “nameless Christianity” today. I beg to differ! There are millions of Christians around the world who wear no other religious label but “Christian.”
Won’t you join us? Won’t you cast off the chains of divisive denominationalism and simply be a disciple of Christ?
I love you and God loves you,
P.S. I would also recommend that you read the post, “Is the church of Christ a denomination?”
I have been thinking a lot lately about what the Bible says about money. I want to encourage you to read these passages, let the weight of them really sink in, and then answer the four questions.
Proverbs 30:7-9 (ESV)
Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.
1 Timothy 6:8-10 (ESV)
But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
Matthew 19:21-24 (ESV)
Jesus said to him, “If you would beperfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
Based on these passages, ask yourself these four questions:
- Do you ask that God will give nothing more, and nothing less, than your family’s necessities?
- Are you truly content with food and clothing?
- Do you have a desire to be rich?
- Do you realize that in order to truly enter the kingdom of heaven you may need to completely change your way of thinking about money?
The truth is that most of us are already very rich! Most of us have much more than simple necessities. Yet, many of us continue to chase even more money and even more stuff! Are we doing so at the expense of our souls?
I can honestly say I have a long way to go in changing my attitude and my heart. I pray God will help me to see every cent, with which I have been entrusted, as a stewardship to bring Him honor and glory. I pray God will help me to let go of my love of stuff and will deepen my love for Him, my love for His kingdom, and my love for the lost!
Remember the words of Christ, my brethren, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).
I love you and God loves you,
P.S. If you have the time, I would encourage you to go and re-read these passages in their full context.
Please don’t misunderstand what I’m about to say, I love this planet and everything God put on it. I love the trees, the hills, the water, the animals, even the air; and I’m all for us keeping these things clean. But, I can honestly say, I’m not an “environmentalist.” Here’s why…
1. I Know Who is in Control
Consider this hypothetical situation, a man walks into a room and finds a chair balanced inexplicably on one leg. He walks around the chair, examines it, and carefully feels around for something that might be keeping it up. There seems to be no “natural” reason the chair is balanced so. The man decides this chair needs to be protected. It needs to be kept in this amazing state. He insists that no one touch it, breath on it, or come anywhere near it. After all, since he does not understand what is keeping the chair balanced, he has no idea what might disturb it and cause its downfall.
On the other hand, if you had received a message from God concerning this balanced chair, which stated that He was keeping it balanced, you would not be so worried about its fall. You would feel free to touch it, sit on it, and use it in appropriate ways, because you would trust that He would keep the chair balanced.
I feel the same way about this planet. I believe, because of the evidence around me and the evidence of God’s word, that this planet is in the control of ALMIGHTY God. It seems to me, those who are constantly living in fear of upsetting the “delicate balance” of our planet do not have the same faith in God. They believe they are in control of this planet and they must protect it. They believe this because they do not understand that it is God who, “hangs the earth on nothing” (Job 26:7).
I don’t want to abuse the earth, but I’m also not afraid that we’re going to accidentally mess it up. I know God is in control.
2. I Know the Purpose of the Planet
It is natural for people to search for purpose. We wonder, “What is my purpose? What is the purpose of the planet, the stars, the animals, the plants?” However, without the use of Scripture, men will always come to the wrong conclusions.
Many environmentalists seem to think that man’s purpose is the protection of the planet and the animals. But, Scripture tells us that the purpose of man is bringing glory to God (1 Corinthians 10:31). In fact, the purpose of all of God’s creation is to bring glory to Him (Psalm 19:1). Scripture tells us that animals were put under the dominion of man (Psalm 8:6-8). The purpose of animals is for man to domesticate them (James 3:7), use them for labor (Deuteronomy 25:4), and kill and eat them (Acts 10:11).
It is only when we use the earth (and all that’s in it) for its intended purpose, that we can truly be grateful and give glory and honor to the Creator!
3. I Know the Temporary Nature of the Planet
I love this world, but as the hymn goes, “This world is not my home; I’m just a passin’ through…” Paul wrote this in 2 Corinthians 4:18, “The things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (NASB). Everything we can see, is temporary; it will not last forever. Many environmentalists believe this planet was here long before man and will be here long after man; and therefore needs to be honored, cherished, and protected. They are wrong on both counts. The earth was created the same week that man was created (Genesis 1 and 2), and will be destroyed during the Day that man is judged and taken from this earth, “The present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:7, NASB).
So, in other words, I want to enjoy this earth and give thanks to God for allowing me to use it as a temporary home; but I understand that He created it, He sustains it, and He will destroy it.
I love you and the Creator loves you,
What does the Bible say about drinking? That is a question about which I wonder, do people really want the answer? Like many issues, Christians tend to pick out passages that “prove” their position, instead of allowing Scripture to dictate what their position should be. Let’s take an honest look at the Bible and see what God has to say about the issue of alcohol.
What Does the Bible Say About Drinking?
First, I think we should define what “drinking” we are talking about. Obviously, God is in favor of us “drinking” liquids. Without drinking something, we’d die. The issue here is, what does the Bible say about drinking alcohol? I say this, not to be sarcastic, but to introduce the first point.
1. Not all wine in the Old Testament is “wine.”
We must understand an important point. Just because someone is said to have been drinking “wine” does not mean they were necessarily drinking alcohol. Did you know that many of the Hebrew words translated, “wine,” do not necessarily imply an alcoholic beverage? We even read in passages such as Isaiah 65:8, “the new wine is found in the cluster.”
Obviously, today we would not say “wine” is found in a cluster of grapes. We would say “juice” is found in a cluster of grapes. In Hebrew, however, their words for “wine” were more generic, applying both to intoxicating and non-intoxicating beverages made from grapes. If you are interested in further study on the words used in the Old Testament for “wine,” consider these articles: “Drinking in the Old Testament” and, “What About Social Drinking and the Old Testament” by Wayne Jackson.
So, while there are many references to wine in the Old Testament, not all of the references are to alcohol. The only way to tell whether or not an intoxicating beverage is being referenced, is by the use of context clues. Do not make the mistake of assuming a drink is alcohol just because the word “wine” is used!
2. Not all wine in the New Testament is “wine.”
In Greek, it seems even harder to tell whether or not the “wine” in question is fermented or unfermented. Again, just as with the Hebrew language, the Greek word for “wine” (oinos) is a generic term that can refer to any beverage made from grapes. Context must tell us whether the beverage contains alcohol or not.
In fact, many point to Jesus turning water into wine as “proof” that the Christian is free to indulge in the drinking of alcohol today. They quote the master of the feast, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now” (John 2:10). And explain his statement to mean that everyone at a party is usually so drunk by the end, they cannot distinguish whether the wine is good or not.
If this explanation were true, it would imply that everyone at the wedding feast in Cana was drunk, and that Jesus was providing more alcohol to already intoxicated people. In fact, He would have provided between 120-130 gallons of intoxicating wine to people who were already drunk! How contradictory that would be to New Testament teaching, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery” (Ephesians 5:18)!
Doesn’t it make more sense to understand that the “wine” of the wedding feast was not like the wine people drink today; but was more along the lines of grape juice. Furthermore, wouldn’t it make more sense to understand the master of the feast to be saying that once the people had been drinking so much juice, their sense of taste was so dulled, they could no longer distinguish good drink from poor? To understand this account any other way, is to make Jesus out to be one who contributes to the drunkenness, and thereby sin, of others!
3. Drunkenness is Condemned
We are told that drunkenness is a “work of darkness” (Romans 13:13-14) and drunkards will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:10; Galatians 5:21). What is always interesting to me, is how some Christians view the term, “drunk.” They admit it is a sin to be “drunk,” but believe moderate drinking to be acceptable. I wonder, who gets to define what it means to be, “drunk”? Does the government decide that for God? Is a blood alcohol level of .08, God’s definition of drunkenness? Are you acceptable to God when your blood alcohol level is .07, but sinning when it passes .08?
Let’s all be honest here, shall we? Drunkenness happens in degrees. There is not a line, before which there is absolutely no impairment, and after which you are suddenly “drunk.” Drunkenness comes as a result of accumulating alcohol in your body. As soon you start accumulating alcohol in your body, you begin the process of getting drunk!
4. Sobriety is Commanded
The Christian is not just commanded to, “not be drunk.” The Christian is commanded to be “sober.” And the word “nepho,” translated “sober” (1 Peter 5:8) literally means, “to abstain from wine,” according to Strong’s Dictionary of Greek Words. As soon as one begins to drink alcohol, he can no longer claim that his mind is sober. A Christian cannot fight the spiritual battle he needs to fight and resist the attacks of the evil one unless his mind is sober! Ten times in the New Testament, Christians are commanded to be sober:
- We are told to think of ourselves with, “sober judgment” (Romans 1:23).
- We are told to be “children of the day” by keeping awake and sober (1 Thessalonians 5:6).
- We are told to be sober, dressed in the armor of God (1 Thessalonians 5:8).
- Elders are told to be sober-minded (1 Timothy 3:2).
- The wives of deacons are told to be sober-minded (1 Timothy 3:11).
- Evangelists are told to be sober-minded (2 Timothy 4:5).
- Older men are told to be sober-minded and self-controlled (Titus 2:2).
- Christians are told to have their minds “prepared for action” and be sober-minded (1 Peter 1:13).
- Christians are told, for the sake of our prayers, to be sober-minded and self-controlled (1 Peter 4:7).
- Christians are told to be sober-minded and watchful because of the devil, who like a lion, is looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).
How is it possible to drink, even moderately, and still be “sober” as God commands us to be? Can a Christian honestly say he is having a beer or a glass of wine to better glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31)? Understanding God’s will concerning sobriety and His warnings against drunkenness, is there no better alternative for a beverage than alcohol? Just some things to think about.
I love you and God loves you,
Last night, while playing a game of chess, something occurred to me: a person wins or loses, based on how far down the road he has the ability to see. A player, before moving a piece, must be able to see the chain-of-events which a move will set into motion. The more moves in the future, a player sees, the more likely he is to win. If he is only thinking about the current move, and not the dangers to which that move opens him up, will certainly lose.
Does the Church Play Chess?
Unfortunately, it seems to me, we have too few people in the church who have strategic foresight. There are too many who simply think about what we’re doing today; they are not looking at where our actions today will lead. Too many of us don’t fully understand the concept of cause and effect. We must do our best to develop the ability to strategize, and look down the road. We must see that our engaging in a particular behavior now, might open us up to attacks from the enemy years from now.
There are many things to which this principle would apply, but let me give you just one example of what I mean. Please forgive me if I step on any toes; believe me, I am about to step on my own. Consider this question, have our VBS programs been very strategic? I understand that in the adult mind (including mine), we have justified singing “Father Abraham” by saying, “This is not a worship service.” But can our children really make that distinction? Do they realize that what we sing in VBS would be completely inappropriate during worship? Do they realize that we would never consider asking the congregation to stand, sing, move your arms, nod your head, turn around, sit down? So, there is a seeming inconsistency, which may very well be confusing our children.
And what is worse, is where a “seeming” inconsistency like this, might lead. I wonder, are we teaching our children that worship is about entertainment? I don’t know about you, but I want my children to ask, “How can we make worship more pleasing to God?” Not, “How can we make worship more entertaining?” And I wonder, are our puppet shows and “happy-clappy” song services in Vacation Bible School, the right moves, considering where they might lead? Might it be better to teach them that our singing is for pleasing God? Might it be better to teach them to worship, rather than teaching them to be entertained?
I am not promoting the idea of living in fear. I am not saying we should never do anything, because it might lead to something else. I am simply saying, let’s be strategic. Let’s look down the road. Let’s understand that our actions have positive and negative implications for future generations.
Please understand, this article is not written to chastise anyone else! I am simply thinking out-loud about my own life and inconsistencies, and the attacks to which those inconsistencies might later open me up. What are your thoughts? Please consider leaving a comment below.
I love you and a wonderful God loves you,
What wonderful and awesome things God has done for us! But how often we fail to proclaim how good He has been to us! The Psalmist begins Psalm 107 saying, “Give thanks to the Lord.” Then he says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble.” In other words, if God has saved you from trouble-then say so!
1) Let those who were hungry and thirsty thank the Lord (Psalm 107:4-9). Before you came to Christ you were starving; you were hungry and you were thirsty. Now, if you are in Christ, you have been filled. By His grace, you are feasting at His banquet table. Peter writes, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Peter 2:3-4). So if you have “tasted the goodness of the word of God” (Hebrews 6:5), then let your thanksgiving be heard; and by all means, keep hungering and thirsting for righteousness (Matthew 5:6)! “For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things” (Psalm 107:9).
2) Let those who were in bondage thank the Lord (Psalm 107:10-16). Before you came to Christ you were a slave, in bondage to sin (Romans 6). Now, if you are in Christ, you have been set free from the chains which held you! Paul wrote, “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:17-18). Let all those who have been set free from sin rejoice, “For He shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron” (Psalm 107:16).
3) Let those who were perishing thank the Lord (Psalm 107:17-22). Before you came to Christ you were dead (Ephesians 2:1-3). Now, if you are in Christ, you have been made alive through the love, mercy, and grace of God (Ephesians 1:4-5). If you have been redeemed from death, then “continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (Hebrews 13:15); or as the Psalmist said, “Let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy” (Psalm 107:22)!
4) Let those who were tossed in the stormy seas thank the Lord (Psalm 107:23-32). Before you came to Christ you were tossed to and fro by all the storms of life. Now, if you are in Christ, you have an anchor in the storms! If Christ has calmed the storms of your life, then praise Him! “Let them extol Him in the congregation of the people, and praise Him in the assembly of the elders” (Psalm 107:32).
Are you washed in His blood? If so, then are you praising Him and thanking Him for His awesome salvation? Do those around you constantly hear how grateful you are for the love, mercy, and grace of God? Let this thought be on our mind today (and everyday), “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble” (Psalm 107:2).
I love you and God loves you!