Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"How To Study"

This is the last of articles that I will write for several days. Lord willing, I will return to writing on April 5.
I wish people were more devoted to studying their Bibles. I don't mean just read but a serious study. I was recently asked what to have for individual Bible study so I will address that from what I have learned over the many years.
First, you will need a Bible! Most people have their favorite versions. I hold to the New American Standard (NASB) and probably always will. It seems to hold true to the original in text and verbs while speaking in our language. I am not into bashing versions. We need to be aware that because a particular version is popular does not mean it is the best version. The New International Version (NIV) falls under this category because of it's ease of reading. However, I have found some of the translated passages off that changes the complete meaning of a verse. Those who know Hebrew and Greek much better than myself agree with me on this one. The New King James (NKJV) is fairly good. There are a few others too. Please, stay away from any paraphrase.
You need a couple of basic books for your study. First, get a good concordance to look up passages. (Young's or Strong's concordances are good.) Some concordances have the Hebrew and Greek words in the back which can be helpful. Second, get a good Bible Dictionary. I have found that a Vine's Dictionary of Biblical Words is helpful.
Take notes! Using a notebook to write down thoughts and questions you might have. As you come across truths from God's word, write them down so you won't forget.
Finally, you will need someone for guidance. This can be tricky, especially in our day and time. Always have a heart for the truth, seeking the truth and being humble and prayerful in your study. The Lord will help. Sometimes we need that person to help us understand something. We find that in Acts 8:30-31 where a man asked for guidance from another. The more you study, the more discerning you will become. The person who offers their help might hold to really strange views, views that may be fundamentally bad. If the person you seek help from is part of a little study group that is angry with everyone but themselves, please look for assistance elsewhere!
There you have it. The greatest part of study: a good and honest heart! With a good and honest heart along with the above, the Lord will grow you! I encourage! I encourage you...pray! You won't be the same.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"Victory Over Death"

In John 11, we have the vivid reality of the greatness of our Lord. When Jesus heard the news that Lazarus is sick and the love Jesus had for Lazarus and his two sisters, it makes us wonder why He deliberately delayed in going (v.4-6). I realize we have the insight to His purpose but if we know of a dear loved one sick, we would do all we could to get to them. It made his two sisters wonder why He delayed (v. 21,32). Jesus speaks and even said He was glad He was not there while His friend was dying (v.15). In all this, Jesus was knew this whole incident would end up well and to the glory of God. Jesus knew that life would and will always triumph over death! Christ did not step as everyone had expected because Jesus intended it to work for greater blessings and God's glory.
What was really happening? That day when Jesus arrived, the sisters crying, the friends weeping, Jesus realized one thing...Lazarus was not the only dead one involved! He was standing in the midst of a huge graveyard. Read it and listen as Jesus revealed who He was yet they could not believe in what He was saying. He assured Martha that Lazarus would rise again. She could only live in the past or the future and did not believe in the present (v.21-27). Mary had the same problem. As the Lord of heaven of earth went to the tomb, looking at all the weeping, He wept (v.35). Not because of passing of Lazarus but because the death of the people around Him and not able to believe in what He was saying. It moved His heart deeply! He ended up telling Martha, "Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?" (v.40) Jesus could have raised them all but he choose to only raise Lazarus to God's glory.
What do we learn? We have the promise that death will be destroyed. We are assured that God will completely obliterate death. While Jesus lived in our world, He was trying to get man to see that it will happen. Those who were raised on this earth died again but Jesus was teaching something much greater. Paul reminds us in I Cor. 15:53-58 that death will be swallowed up in victory! What assurance, what blessings we have in Jesus. We read of these things but the REAL victory is headed our way. All the raising people from the dead are not for them but for us that we might believe and rejoice while spreading the gospel of His word. We have a message of hope: victory over death!!

Monday, March 22, 2010


I was sitting in my vehicle with my granddaughter as we were filling up with gas. She was talking away as any six year old would do, just being her delightful self. She picked up a book and was looking at it and things went silent.
As I was sitting, I began looking around at the establishment. A sign caught my attention flashing beer emblems inviting all to drink. Another sign to the left of that saying, "Drink responsibly." In another window, a multi-colored lit sign said, "Play Lotto!" Below that it said "Win millions." As my eyes continued to look, there was a camel with a cigarette in its mouth puffing away, inviting to come in and buy tobacco products. The camel was made in a way that looked cool. There was a sign on the door that spoke of a high energy drink to "boost your day." Beside that was a sign for buying some pills that would help you get over the "drags." There was a bourbon sign encouraging a smooth and tasty drink to the last drop in a different window. My mind began to become active and God's word spoke loudly, "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." (I Pet. 5:8) The majority are not alert to any of the spiritual power that is taking so many down. My heart hurt and I realize I too had been part of all the corruption we are drawn into. I was thankful for being released from it but still the battle and pull is still there in many other ways.
In all my reflections, that little voice spoke up, "Grandpa, I love you!" The timing was wonderful. I looked at my granddaughter, the innocence, the love and care shown and realized that she too would fall into the trap of the devil one day. She would need a Savior to release her from being trapped in sin. I know my eyes teared up thinking about her purity being lost. As we talked for a few more minutes before heading to our destination, all I could think about was "...we are looking for a new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless." (II Pet. 3:13-14)
I long for heaven. I long for the day when I can be in eternity with my Lord. I long for a place where there will be no discussion, no hint and not one bit of unrighteousness. There will be no signs flashing inviting us into the poison of this world that sits in the lap of the devil (I John 5:19). But until that day, we need to have some soberness about what we involve our lives in and spend our efforts and time toward. Just look at the signs!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

"Truth and Falsehood"

We live in a world of filled with sin. Actions and statements are made which few give little thought to what is happening. "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness." (Rom. 1:18) This is a great description of our world. People suppress the truth in unrighteous behavior.
We see the truth suppressed when warnings are posted for movies and television: "adult language." It's nothing more than covering up the truth. The truth stated should be:"the following program contains vulgar, profane and filthy speech." Our sin-filled world has learned to play the great game of word deception in regard to sin. People use words and phrases to minimize what is really being said rather than the truth. It doesn't make sin look as sinful. The devil knows that. If sins description is lessened in the eyes and mind of mankind, it becomes much easier to cover up and soften.
People use the word "shrewd" rather than "dishonest" to describe their dealings. We hear the term "having an affair" rather than "fornication or adultery." We speak of "little white lies" over "lying." I heard one the other day when describing someones evil practice of stealing calling it "misdirected." Parents say their children "are basically good kids" when they are practicing rebellion. Alcoholism is called "a disease." I know there are others but all these things are used to draw our attention away from the consciousness of sin.
In the days of Isaiah, God pronounced His judgment against such: "Woe to those who drag iniquity with the cords of falsehood, and sin as if with cart ropes." "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!" (Isa. 5:18,20) As a result, God's anger burned against the people.
Let me take us back to the "adult language" idea. Someone is telling us that such language is not suitable for children but it is suitable for adults. Jesus said it this way, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 18:3) If it is not suitable for children, its not suitable for us!
Be careful in the world. We need to keep ourselves unstained by the world and their ideas. We need to hold up the cross of Jesus before their eyes so they too can see the glory of God.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"What Is the Church Missing?"

Paul felt the daily pressure of concern for the church in each location (II Cor. 11:28). I am no where near Paul but I too have a great sense of concern for the church of our Lord. It concerns me what my children and grandchildren are going to face in the near future. I am not talking about the issues many have made and seem to keep stirred. I am speaking about the firm, real and true spiritual well being of the church.
More and more as I travel, I hear brethren speak about the "personal" experiences or about fine tuning our relationship with God. There is an endless stream of books, blogs, seminars and retreats that constantly harp on the need to experience God more intimately and find life with Him more psychologically and emotionally fulfilling. You might not hear it in those words, but that's what is being presented.
We are becoming too individualistic. It is like a plague that is sweeping through asking, "What's in it for me?" The church is the redeemed, the blood bought people who were united with Him and raised with Him in baptism. The church is the bearer of the gospel for the world and that gospel is the drawing power for God to save (Rom. 1:16). Today the church is turning into a warehouse of spiritual, emotional and social satisfaction and if we aren't meeting those needs, we are considered useless. When people go church-shopping, their question is not, "What is your gospel?" It has become, "What do you have to offer us and our children?" This kind of attitude is defended in various ways and some of the defenses have the appearance of common sense but too many are attacking the shortcomings of the church and are backing away from it because it is labeled as an enemy of true spiritual growth for "me." People speak of congregations that stifle their growth and vision of Jesus Christ. What they call stifling growth is really a blinding sense at what the church really is and our attachment to Jesus, even with all the flaws! Please listen, it isn't the church that 'drugs' people into a spirit of stupor. It's a "church mindset" and a "church culture" that is invading our thinking.
I guess the cure to all this would be to forsake that community of Christ bought people for maybe a year or two...three or four might be better or maybe a lifetime might be the best, and find ourselves personally fulfilled and blessed in our 'individual' relationships with the Lord! That seems to be what really matters to many.
On a final note, I can understand that there are congregations of our Lord that need reawakening and stirred in their hearts to the realities of Christ. I truly believe that we have that stated in Revelation 3:1-6. Christ never called those who were holding on to Him, clinging to His promises and love to jump ship! But maybe what we learn is that all these wise ones who are so capable of assessing the whole church pulse and judging it to be the instrument of their spiritual suffocation may be saying more about themselves than about the church?
Does all this mean that there is to be no personal satisfaction in the body relationship? Is life in the body to be dull and dreary, just plodding along? In the words of Paul, "God forbid!" We need not to leave the local body to find life! Life is with Jesus and those in Jesus are very much a part of Him. They may be struggling, limping along at times but they still belong to Him. Where is our sense of brotherly love? Where is our love to help? We need our elders, our preachers to major in what fills our hearts with faith and that is the life changing word of God! We need to be looking at our Savior and Lord what He wants from us not just individually but as His body! Just look at the mess at the church at Corinth and what does Paul say about them? "To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling..." (I Cor. 1:2) What are we seriously missing?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"A Word About Legalism"

Legalism is a term that many seem to define easily in others but we need to be careful with our "free labels." Paul was a man of grace but he taught plainly in I Cor. 7:19, "Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping the commandments of God." Even David of old stated, "Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all day long." (Psa. 119:97) The inspired words were spoken by a man that walked in the grace of God. (Yes, God's grace was active in the Old Testament!)
Not everything that many call legalism is legalism. Legalism is an unhealthy stress, an emphasis, on things that were not stressed. The Pharisees stressed hand washing before eating as a spiritual exercise before the Lord. That was legalism. Legalism has terrible consequences. Just as liberal thinking has terrible consequences that opens up doors to us with few restraints. Legalism taints God and makes Him look like something He is not! Legalism kills the heart devotion, a loving and warm relationship with the Lord and deprives us from the motivation to serve Him. Legalism makes people cold, calculated and rehearsed. Legalism brings God's love and kindness to those who show their worthiness by their self righteous acts. The glorious gospel shows God's kindness to those by His own gracious character despite our unworthiness.
The love of God and our Savior is filled with a longing to suffer for and redeem unholy and unworthy people while the god of legalism is pointed to those who are "good folks" with a few flaws, never knowing the depth of sin and rebellion. Legalism is where God is taken away and replaced by a code that must be followed to almost perfection. Yet on the other hand, liberalism is where there is no code but freedom to do as one pleases, what we feel is right. It too is just as destructive as legalism. One can't smile, sit down and openly talk with a code. A code can't make you feel wanted and in a relationship. It is cold, harsh, impersonal and condemning. You can't ask in legalism, you simply must follow. A code can't help you when you fail and the guilt is great in the heart and mind. You can't tell a code that you hurt and you're sorry for failing. A code is demanding and set in stone.
"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished upon us." (Eph. 1:7-8) Legalism has great difficulty expressing the rich outpouring of grace that was lavished on us. Legalism can't speak of the riches of His grace, goodness, forbearance or the riches of His glory. Legalisms code holds all this back from us. Legalism speaks of doing, demanding or condemning at all cost and grace is only explained by definition.
On a final note, those of us devoted to the grace of God, maybe we feed the fires of legalism? We become so smug toward it that we walk away in our happy praise songs while our devotion to study and "handling accurately the word of truth" falls by the way. We are so hurried to 'unshackle' ourselves from legalism, we have little time to sit still to listen to God speak through His word while we fill our minds with someones writings and thoughts away from legalism. We want to talk about what our 'felt needs' are but have little time to sit and listen to God speak from His holy Scripture. Paul and those New Testament inspired writers knew that keeping the commandments of God was their top priority because His grace to them was all sufficient. And we must learn...those dyed-in-the-wool legalists are loved by God and Jesus Christ died for them too!

Monday, March 15, 2010

"A Word On Sexuality"

Upon careful reading of Romans 1:18-32, we have God proclaiming that the Gentile world is under God's just condemnation for sins. God does not take to anyone undermining His faithfulness and truth with their ungodliness and unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18). Whether anyone likes it or not, agrees or disagrees, one of the underlying teachings that God is opposed to is homosexuality. Too many are working too hard to get around Romans 1 when they insist that homosexuality is just as pleasing to God as heterosexuality. When we reduce human sexuality to a mere animal passion we have taken leave of God's holy word and His holy character.
The man entered my office asking some time with me. He had two gold crosses around his neck and well dressed. He sat down and said he had come in the name of the Lord to ask me a few questions. His first question was what do I believe about homosexuality in regard to God? Secondly he asked if I would be accepting of homosexuals in the congregation here. I replied, "Of course as long as they have repented and been washed in the blood of the Lamb!" It lead him to his conclusion to inform me that he was the "pastor" of the local homosexual church and that preachers like myself were destroying unity in our city. As his anger flared, I asked him to explain Rom. 1:24-27 to me to which he abruptly replied he owed me no explanations and left, telling me I would hear from him again.
God's trying to save people from their sins. Homosexuality is not the only sin mentioned in Romans 1 and God's wrath is poured out against all unrighteousness of man. Homosexuality is just one sinful behavior that man has embraced. However, God having it recorded helps us to understand how far from God man strays. Homosexuality is the result of man's degrading passions moving further away from God's creation and purpose (Rom. 1:26-27). God's judgment falls upon such and until each one comes to understanding the nature of God and His power to save, man will be led further down the road to being deceived about their sexuality.
Just as many homosexual people are moved by lusts to degrading passions and desires, the heterosexuals must realize they too need to abstain from the driving force of lusts in their heart that takes them into pornography and other sexual acts conceived in private. God speaks to those who have been cleansed by the blood of Christ to abstain from all sexual immorality and know how to possess their bodies in holiness and honor (I Thes. 4:3-5).
I realize that what I have written infuriates those who stand by the homosexual lifestyle. They resent being told they are acting on degrading passions because God gave them over to that. They guard that they were born this way and it's not a matter of choice. They believe it is normal just as the variation of ethnic groups. But our Creator and Sustainer of our lives, our God and Father says NO! God is trying to get mankind to turn to Him for strength, healing and cleansing. The only question left is do we trust and believe Him?

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Too many have grown accustomed to religion and little in being conformed into the image of Christ. It is easy to follow religious rote, talk about religious themes and even write religious things. That's not the same as being conformed to the image of Christ. What true believers have is not religion, it's life!
People become bored with Christ, bored with the message about Him and bored with people that represent Him. It seems many think there is too much life to live. We have our little social drinking that we defend and involving ourselves in things that really peak our attention. If Jesus would only offer us life as we see it, why we would enjoy talking about Him and even talk with Him! If we were to listen carefully to some who claim to be believers, Jesus is melancholy at best. We've been shaped by our desires and our experiences rather than life.
Take people who are unhappy in their lives as they can't grasp what it means to be happy. A hoarder of things cannot know what it means to help someone in need because they know only one thing. Unless we are changed and grow into the life of Jesus, we can never know the joy and pleasure in the possibilities of God. If we don't surrender and change by grasping the life of Jesus, we may forever shut doors that could lead us into a world of inexpressible joy!
Sin is brutal to all of us. The last stage of brutality is our flinging away and standing off from Jesus. That's utter madness. There was a point in the life of Judas when he looked carefully at the thirty pieces of silver and hating himself for the stupidity and treachery he had committed. He walked away into the night ending his life. I realize it doesn't end that dramatic for most of us, but some of us go silently to our graves knowing we missed something. The time will come for all of us that we will look our lives, our involvements, our desires and we will see dry, empty and lifeless lives with little joy and little to be proud of. We will find ourselves sitting in our unbelief stating, "This? It was for this I gave up God and His life?"
"In Him was life, and the life was the light of men." (John 1:4) Life...what so many long for but end up exchanging because of what we think is better. If we would only pause, look carefully and see that we have the fullness and abundance of life through Jesus. Joy comes with life and that life will never disappoint. What are we missing?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"Give Me - Make Me"

I'm not real sure where this is headed. It is one of those mornings when my thought process is lacking. (Maybe I have more of those than I really realize!) I tire very easily of all the different writings of those who offer us these "ten-step" or however many steps for curing people trapped in sin. Sin and selfishness go hand in hand and there are no "step cures" to overcoming. I wish people could understand that. What most people write, if one would carefully examine, many times requires things that are extremely difficult. The reason people flee to these writings, programs or books is because they are in a dark state of pity and hurt. They want what many writers call "enablement"! No one denies what needs to be done but the power to do what is needed is lacking and there are no "step" programs to give them the power! The power does not lay within us and our efforts!!
If one would read the struggle of Paul in Romans 7, the man who wanted to do the right thing found himself unable. The good he wanted to do, he did not do but practiced the very evil he hated (Rom. 7:19). Paul realized that this power called sin worked through God's holy commandment and killed him spiritually. That spiritual darkness called sin and death is what everyone gets involved in and they need the real answers on how to overcome and no amount of "self help" or our pulling ourselves together holds the answer.
In reading Luke 15 about the prodigal, as he left the house of his father, he demanded, "give me." (Luke 15:12) As his life took a downward spiral, he realized where true help lay. It wasn't in his power. He came to his senses and asked his father (who represents God) "make me" (Luke 15:19). There was the answer. Both the "give me" and "make me" are attitudes and desires of the heart. But "make me" is an appeal and not a demand! It is asking for a gift, help that only could come from the father.
Paul saw the same thing in Romans 7. He saw his condition as a wretched man, worn and frazzled (that's what the word wretched means) (Rom. 7:24) and in spiritual death it caused him physical anguish. His answer was found in Jesus and Him alone. It was yielding and coming to Jesus on His terms where Paul found Christ to "make him." "By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove in vain." (I Cor. 15:10)
To the sensitive and contrite of heart, they can approach a heavenly Father, full of compassion, mercy and power yielding to His will. He alone is the ONLY One that can grant power to overcome. In making the request from a weak and sinful person that is awakened by their failures, they aren't looking for some "magic formula of steps" from their own doing, but allowing God to work His transforming power to "make me."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

"An ICU Observation"

While recently sitting in the ICU with a family, I observed something that seemed rather unique to me. The ICU waiting room is, well...unique. I sat and observed the different people there. Each and every one was sitting, waiting on news about the well-being of a loved one. There isn't a lot of empty chit-chat but it seemed the conversations were meaningful.
Some you can tell were tense, waiting anxiously for a report. Questions are asked to one another if they think a loved one will make it. Others just want to speak with one of the health officials just to find some comfort for the moment. As I sat and listened, one man spoke with tears, "I don't know what I am going to do without her. We have been married for 54 years." Those sitting around reached out in silence.
This place is different than another other places in our society. The people that are there are different too. They comfort one another, reaching out trying to do something for the other. No one is rude. There are no race issues. You will find the multi-millionaire has the same level of concern as the one who picks up garbage. Each and everyone there knows that loving someone is what life is all about. You hear some say this really brings home what is most important in life. People are focused and humbled.
It made my mind shift to God and His word. The saved, the church came into focus while I listened to God: "But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another." (I Cor. 12:24-25) What are we missing?

Monday, March 8, 2010

"Who Is Running The Show?"

It's too easy for people to be swept away by elementary principles of the world or philosophy rather than according to Christ (Col. 2:8). I really enjoy the old shows I guess because I grew up on them. I was watching a "Leave It To Beaver" episode and the Cleaver's had a litter of rabbits. Ward, the father, explains how the mother rabbit cares for the babies. Beaver turns to Wally (his older brother) and asks, "Is that right, Wally?" It struck me here was the father explaining things and one turns to another source that is lessor in authority for guidance. Who is running the show?
I have known people over the years that go from one person to another, seeking answers to their problems. What they are doing is looking for someone to tell them what they want to hear rather than seek the true answers that are needed. Who is running the show?
There are many who are trying to manipulate outcomes in situations or get people to side with their ideas and thinking. They pry and prod until they get their desired result. Who is running the show?
Jesus always kept His proper place and understood His limitations while on earth. In Luke 12:13-14, someone calls out to Jesus to make a judicial decision about a family inheritance. Jesus responds that He is not a judge or an arbiter in these matters. Jesus knew His place and had a single mind set and being a judge or arbiter was not His business! Why do we try to do things that are not our business? Why are many lives so worn out and frazzled? Because we don't realize who is running the show and we try to run it! Jesus used this opportunity to teach a major lesson.
Jesus realized that the problem of the family inheritance was spiritual! It was called greed and He showed the bigger issue at hand (Luke 12:15). If they would not heed, they would be left fighting and wanting, only to be left in darkness.
In Matthew 20, we see Jesus in a great struggle to get His own disciples to stop trying to run everything, controlling outcomes and settle down on the One who was really running the show. The mother of the two sons of Zebedee came to make a request of Jesus. She bowed, showing reverence toward Him (Matt. 20:20). Jesus was patient while listening to her request that her two sons be better off than anyone else in His kingdom (Matt. 20:21). Jesus was very aware she did not know what she was asking for and her ignorance was revealed before Him (Mat. 20:22-23). But once again, we find Jesus understood His limitations and who ran the show. IT WAS GOD THE FATHER! God will decide who is approved or disapproved in all matters. The other ten became indignant toward the two because they wanted the same thing! Then Jesus turns His attention to them all trying to get them to understand the big picture (Matt. 20:24-28). Jesus would not allow His disciples to act like the Gentiles, the outsiders. When are we going to learn this in the church? We are to have a different spirit about us and realize that Jesus is the head of His body. That means that He runs the show yet so many preachers, elders or members take it upon themselves to take things in a different direction because that's what they want. The greatest in the eyes of the Lord are those who work at serving, willing to sacrifice for others so others will be better off. We have too many trying to be 'lords' while not recognizing who is running the show! Too many are trying to control things only to mess things up because they want something done a certain way.
While on earth, Jesus understood His role and limitations. What about us? Jesus was focused on the will of His Father. What about us? Who is really running the show?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

"A Return To The Body...Again"

We are reminded by the Spirit through Paul that the body, the church, is one unit made up of many parts (I Cor. 12). One part, each individual member, is just as important to Jesus and His body as another. Some parts of the body can suffer while others may not suffer much. It is most important to remember that no individual Christian, no congregation where the body assembles, exists as an independent unit, as if they were not a part of the community of faith.
The eyes don't do the walking, the ears do not do the seeing but these are not isolated from the rest of the body, individual workings. Seeing is a function of the body and not merely the eyes! When are some going to learn that?
The body of Christ is not a lot of isolated parts that functions independently of the rest of the body. A hand has NO existence without the body. It can only be understood as a hand because there is a body to which it is attached. But it goes a little further than that. There is diversity within the parts of the body and the parts must NEVER lay the burden of its function on the another part. Each one must bear his or her own burden, fulfilling their own part as they will be held accountable for that. "From whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love." (Eph. 4:16) If a part of the body does not fulfill its individual part, it will have a great effect on the whole. It will cause the growth toward love or it will destroy the growth away from love. That's serious in the eyes of the Lord!
There is one more aspect of the body we need to consider. The church serves its wives via the husbands and the husbands via its wives. There are families within this body and those families are instructed to care for their own needy widows so that the church should not be burdened (I Tim. 5:16). That is a doctrine of specificity of responsibility (I Tim. 5:8). When these individual parts of the body care for their own, this is the body at work and how it does some of its work!
The body, each individual, is to be connected to the head, holding to the head...Christ. When Christ told Paul in Acts 9 he was harming the people called the church he was harming the head...Himself! You don't harm the people of God, mistreat the people of God without paying a price. What do we learn? It is nonsense for any of us to think we exist independently of the rest of the people of God!!!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

"Satanic Angels in Genesis 6:1-4?"

Today is going to require a little work on my part and careful reading on your part. I was asked to address Gen. 6:1-4, which the one who asked me was reading that someone had taught that "satanic angels had sex with women." Whatever these verses deal with, they do not teach us that anyone "had sex with women." Too many books and ideas are floating around out there. The verses speak of "sons of God" married women and had children by them. This is a far cry from painting a picture of satanic angels manufacturing human bodies and doing whatever with women. Just as a side thought, if these were satanic angels as some teach, it seems they had more virtue than a host of humans today since they had the decency to get married!
The phrase "sons of God" is a reference to godly people giving way to ungodly ways. It is a Jewish phrase. There is a possibility there was polygamy practiced looking all the way back to Gen. 4:23. In Psa. 82:6, there is an equivalent expression "and all of you are sons of the Most High" which refers to human judges and rulers. They were wicked human rulers if one will take note but referred to as "sons of the Most High". In Luke 3:38 it has the Greek equivalent used of Adam who was "the son of God." There are many more references to "sons of God" but these are a few that will do.
No one is sure about the derivation of "Nephilim" in Gen. 6. Some say it is "the fallen ones" and they put that to mean fallen angels. I don't understand all this talk about fallen angels and the "sons of God." The passage doesn't call the "Nephilim sons of God." They are called the "mighty men who were of old, men of renown." (Gen. 6:4) Maybe I am a little too cautious but we can't really put names with people that God's word does not address. Moses wrote the book and they would have a better understanding as to who all these men were.
The bottom line is all this was the build up to the flood and the behavior of mankind. Godliness was exiting the lives of people. All humans died except eight, including those mentioned above. Later Israel came across the Nephilim again in Numbers 13:33 when spying out Canaan. They had to have come from the offspring of Noah. If we are going to take a stance that the Nephilim and satanic angels married women, it leads us down a road that those born were half satanic angels and half men! That just does not make sense. In fact, whatever truth we draw from Gen. 6:2 about "sons of God" and making them angels at all is a misrepresentation. I will admit it is a difficult section and I am not sure I completely understand it but one thing is evident it is far reaching to tie this section to any type of angel period. It explains the evil intention and heart of man and why God had to start over from the flood.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

"Jesus Deals With The Powerful"

Too many think of sin mainly in terms of sexual immorality, drunkenness, non-attendance for worship, gossip, lying and the such. Listen carefully, sin is bigger than these things, much bigger! The Scriptures speaks of sin as a "king" that reigns over people, a law-giver with a law, a slave owner with slaves (Rom. 7). Sin hits the lives of every single person on this planet and makes us sick to the very fiber of our souls while we spread this death that pollutes the world around us. This is the power of sin...not sins!
The Scriptures make it clear that God establishes governments, gives them their power and holds them responsible for using that power. Governments are to be used as His minister to help for the good. But one day, those in power will succumb to the power of God and meet Him face to face. Abusers of power will be brought low.
God brought Sodom down, not just because of their immorality but its arrogance by not taking care of the needy and poor (Eze. 16:48-50). Babylon the world ruler was brought down in part because it took advantage of the needy and vulnerable (Dan. 4:27). God sent Israel into exile being plundered and hurt because they too oppressed the poor and needy (Amos 4:1). Using position and power to hurt others is sin at its height, especially against those needy and weak.
One day Jesus Christ will return and will right all wrongs, holding accountable those who use their power to hurt the vulnerable. Those who manipulate their way to gain an advantage of personal treasure so they can live in more luxury and do it at the expense of others, even in the church! Jesus will call into account those who are are not what we think of as sleazy in their lives but those of reputation, of high degrees, highly-respected people who secretly do their dealings behind closed doors.
In the church we have watched elderships try to rule with an iron fist, running over those who cannot do anything about it. They believe themselves above. Preachers who toss aside the older, because they are "old school" and new directions need to come, so these become expendable because they have the power to do it! Members who use their position in the community to try to lord and rule others. Sin shows itself in all these areas too!
Here's the conclusion: there is a day coming when those who have been crushed, walked over, mistreated because they are older or less fortunate will find themselves cared for and allowed to breath free and live in honor. There's a day coming when the powerful will be brought low, when the oily tongued people will be silenced. They will not be speaking to people who they feel superior over, whom they have taken advantage of, whom they have hurt and all the while not realize what they are saying. They will not be talking and dealing with people who can't answer them back, who cannot do one thing about their position. They will be talking to JESUS!

Monday, March 1, 2010


It amazes me sometimes how little we allow the word of God to affect our lives and thinking. There is name calling, some are legalists, others are liberals and we use those words to try to bring people into our way of thinking. Recently, while dealing with a couple going through a divorce, the husband was asking what made his wife get so far off base concerning spiritual things. It didn't take long to get his explanation, but it didn't come from me.
His wife had gone head-over-heels over a "woman pastor." In the discussion between the husband and wife, the question was asked what is a "woman pastor"? First, the term 'pastor' is used only once in the Bible. Ephesians 4:11 speaks of those the Lord gave in the church to equip the saints for the work of service, building up the body and helping it attain to the unity of the faith (Eph. 4:12-13.) Jesus being the head of His body had specific instructions on what He wanted to accomplish through certain men. The term 'pastor' has become in our day and society THE preacher in the local congregation. It is a title taken by themselves with little regard to what the Lord intended and in some religious groups, a woman wears that title. First, the word 'pastor' is masculine in the Greek! Secondly, the term is from the Greek word 'poimen' which is the word translated 'shepherd' referring to the eldership. The term 'pastor' is the noun form of the word 'shepherd.' Shepherds, pastors, elders are always in the plural. They were never a title given as a title to one man.
The result of the difference between the husband and wife? After showing the meaning and verses, the wife tells the husband, "Why don't you come with me and listen to her. She is powerful and always has a life changing message." It didn't matter what the word of the Lord said about matters, what mattered was what she wanted. It struck me that is exactly what the children of Israel did. In the book of Judges, they intermingled with the other nations and their religious ideas and it cost them dearly. God called them playing the part of a harlot because they had forsaken the word of the Lord for a false god. That seems to be the path of many today. "Come on over and listen!" seems to be the battle cry. God is tossed behind and the ideas of individuals take precedent. Israel was taken into ruin and plunder because God was not heeded with a whole heart.
Those of you who know me personally know I am not an attacking person but I am a man who tries to hold to the word of the Lord in honesty. I want heaven and want others there to. Seeing heaven is a place in the presence of God, shouldn't we be concerned that He is the ONLY one to have a say about who is there and who is rejected? Because of that, I want to stick with God and His word. What about you?