Saturday, September 04, 2010

A Different Appetite

Why are vegetables so good for digestion? Simply because the body cannot digest them.

Long ago a the team of engineers was entrusted with keeping the land of Atlantis safe. One day a visitor came and noted that the smallest grain of sand could destroy the grandest of systems in the world. Some of the engineers talked about the greatness of the machinery. Some of the engineers laughed, but in a single day the island was destroyed.

but just as it is written,
1 Corinthians 2:9

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Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Idolatry And Books

Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices.

And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.

So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.

Acts 19:18-20

This passage simply amazes me.

How would the newspapers describe such an event today?

I'm sure most of them would be beside themselves with glee, as if they had just been given the power to create an uprising against Christianity.

The headlines would say things like, "Religious Fanatics Burn Books" And "Analysis: Christians Tend To Be Anti-Intellectuals" And "Christians Bring Civilization To The Brink".

Of course, some reporters would be scornful. "Perhaps the book burnings go to show that human beings fear what they do not understand, and these Christians do not understand the power knowledge gives to the educated."

Others would frame their disgust in socio-economic terms: "To most experts it is clear the Christians are attempting to keep people uneducated so it can collect more in the offering plate."

Needless to say there would be a lot of theater going on, and -make no mistake- theater is all the world has going on.

Of course, nearly all reporters let on like there are deep, inner concerns brewing inside their articles, but this is a lie. If anything is going on under the surface at all, it is the secret envy the world has against those who devote their lives to Christ. This is a secret they feel they must hide from all eyes -even their own.

To the world, radical-sounding headlines are necessary to distract from the actions of the Church which -unlike the actions of the world- are actually radical.

Better to enter life without your books,
Than to be thrown into hell with all your books.

The believers understood the power of knowledge. That's why they were throwing their books away! They saw their books as part of their well manicured facade that only served to fill their hearts with more emptiness.

In a sense, the believers were not burning their books as much as they were burning their facades.

They were giving up their well-positioned appearances to say, "My life had no meaning to me! Do not follow my old ways, because I have found life!"

Before these people found Jesus, their accomplishments and victories were built on the underlying power of their self-loathing and disgust with their own lives. They were trying to build the success of their lives upon a foundation which they fundamentally viewed as a failure. They were trying to make something worthwhile by hiding something totally worthless.

When these people found Jesus they found new meaning. They found that their lives were hidden in Christ. They felt something empty was transformed into something that was full.

Inwardly speaking these people had passed from death to life, and the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.

As encouraging and uplifting as this passage may be, I shudder to consider the way the people who claim to be Christians would respond to such a book burning in these days.

"Christianity is based on the truth, so we should welcome knowledge." I can hear people saying. "The books were bad because they were magic books, whereas our books today are based on science, math, economics, political science, comedy, celebrity gossip ..."

But, of course, many people display all these books as if they had magically given their lives meaning while the dark truth lurks under the surface.

And -just like the magic books of the Bible times- people display their learning to be seen by others so they can lord it over them.

Jesus praised the Father because he had hidden his best things from the wise and learned and revealed them to infants. However unhappy an infant may seem at times -even though the child may cry and sometimes scream- the infant is far happier than the buffoons who make a big show of their learning to impress other people.

My friends, I am not challenging you to burn your books. I am not asking you to avoid education. I am simply asking you to examine your heart and flee from idolatry.

Just as God revealed the fullness of joy through his word in the earliest days of the church, he is ready to reveal his joy today through his word.

These days it is not hard to find a person who has had a little education. It is not even hard to find people who can read and write. What is uncommon is finding a person with ears to hear, and a heart to receive.

May the Lord write all the laws of his new covenant on the hearts of those who trust in him. May they grow in the joy of knowing him. May they find rest in their company of a Shepherd who will never leave them.

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Different Spirit

But My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it.
Numbers 14:24

Question: what is the relationship between choices and circumstances?

Should our circumstances dictate our choices? Or should our choices dictate our circumstances?

In the book of Numbers we are told about twelve spies who entered the land promised to Israel. Two of the spies went in with their minds already made up about who the land would belong to and ten of the spies were not so sure.

Joshua and Caleb had decided the promised land would fall into the hands of Israel. The other spies claimed the military power of the occupants would never allow them to take the land -that they had no choice but to leave.

Joshua and Caleb did not let their eyes make their decisions for them. Instead, they controlled their eyes to look for ways to seize the land. The ten spies allowed their eyes to make their decisions for them, and they never entered the promised land.

So we return to the question: should our surroundings make our decisions, or should our decisions make our surroundings?

The Bible has a firm and unwavering answer to this question: our choices should determine our actions. With faith all things are possible.

Caleb was a man who was set apart because his choice about entering the land was one thing. His plan was simple: enter the land, conquer it, drink the milk, and eat the honey. The plan of the ten spies was more complex: they liked the fruit of the land, but they did not believe it could be theirs.

And God called Caleb a man with a "different spirit" because Caleb followed the Lord "fully".

The hearts of the ten men were not different. They did not follow the Lord fully. They wanted to notice the rewards of the land as gifts promised by God, but they did not want act in a way so as to have these rewards.

Despite all the battles that took place, the largest battles -the battles with the biggest outcomes- were the battles that took place in their hearts of the Israelites.

Consider your own life. Do you want your heart to fully belong to the Lord? Do you want to taste the good things the Lord has promised His children? Do you have the faith to believe He is ready to give these things to you? Do you have the faith to confront the obstacles you see before you?

Consider your choices carefully. Make sure you examine all your ways, because the pagans in the land had an appearance of happiness before they were destroyed by the host of Israel. The doubting spies, on the other hand, died in the wilderness. In the same way it is better to be frozen cold than to be luke warm.

If the answer on your lips, if the desire of your heart, if your hunger and thirst is to fully obey the Lord, then obey Him fully and do not doubt. The milk was refreshing, and the honey tasted sweet, but the ingredient that made their victory so delicious was there before Joshua and Caleb set foot on the battlefield.

In the same way, do not let the circumstances of this world make your choices for you.

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Friday, May 07, 2010

Study And Research

Earlier Episodes:
Episodes 1, 2, 3
Episodes 4, 5, 6
Episodes 7, 8, 9
Episodes 10, 11, 12
Episodes 13, 14, 15
Episode 16
Episode 17
Episode 18


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Friday, April 30, 2010

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Sunday, April 04, 2010

Final Considerations

Then he told me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near. Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy."

Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

"I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star."

Revelation 22:12-16

John details to us in the final portion of his revelation some promises and warnings from Jesus. These are not only some of the final words from John's book but also from the New Testament and the Bible itself.

Although all of Scripture is inspired by God, perhaps we should read these words as a closing statement -like something John wants to leave us with.

Suppose you had read the entire Bible and at the end you found this passage written on a sticky. Perhaps you could read the note (with whatever questions or uncertainty you had about it) as a bottom line.

Human beings travel many avenues of deception. One of the more common paths by which people go astray is through doubt concerning the payoff or the cost of a decision.

If the payoff of a decision is in question, the decision will be much harder to make. If a person believes a choice has absolutely nothing for him, he will not make that choice.

Jesus promises the right to eat at the tree of life and the possibility of entering in through the gates and going into the city. He describes the payoff he is carrying as being with him. The reward is very real to Jesus, but everyone who hears the gospel must ask themselves how real that reward is to them. Do they believe the rewards Jesus has to hand out are real? Real enough to change the way we live?

Costs affect a decision just like payoffs do. If a person wants to buy something and discovers it may cost more than he wanted to pay, the decision to purchase is brought into question.

Jesus reminds his disciples that following him will cost them something. They will have to give up their magic arts, their sexual immorality, their murder, idolatry, and their love and practice of falsehood.

Many people live as though the gospel does not require any change in the way they live. In some churches this false non-requirement is the gospel! Jesus wants you to understand that any real following of him will mean giving up certain ways of living.

Salvation is not a matter of personal achievement (it was purchased with the blood of Jesus), but we are told by Christ that some people who do certain things will not see the same reward as those who wash their robes.

As decision makers, we should remember the reward Christ has promised to those who believe and follow him. We must also remember to count the cost and remove all the evil practices from our lives that are involved in.

Christ is coming soon! Just as he left the earth, he will return to it.

May his chosen ones prepare their hearts, their souls, their minds, and their strength for his return.


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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Now Is The Time

The young woman looked down at her ruby red shoes trying to understand what might have happened. "I could have gone home at any moment. I only needed the time to click my heels together!"

Therefore His brothers said to Him, "Leave here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples also may see Your works which You are doing. "For no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world."
For not even His brothers were believing in Him.
So Jesus said to them, "My time is not yet here, but your time is always opportune."
John 7:3-6

The day came when hostile aliens landed on earth and began to subdue all the humans. Most people panicked, but a computer engineer became very excited. "Think of all the information systems these aliens have developed totally independent of our own technologies! Do they have some version of the internet? What do their communications layers look like? How fast do their processors go?" One of the aliens found out about this engineer and agreed to answer all his questions if he would surrender himself, and he agreed. The engineer learned the aliens had something like the internet, some of the communications layers were combined and some protocols were totally absent. While the alien was still explaining the details the engineer thought to himself, "I suppose I could have guessed most of this would be true. To be honest I don't really care about any of this." In his final moments he regretted surrendering to the alien.

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