Discovering God’s Word

Discovering God’s Word

When you read the Bible and come across a verse that speaks to you, do you interpret that verse the way God meant it, or do you take it and apply your own meaning? Don’t shrug it off and deny that you’ve done this, most if not all Bible readin’ Christians have done this, myself included. 

It’s been said that we discover God’s Word, we don’t determine it. What that means is when we read we aren’t supposed to read verses that talk about love, gentleness and kindness and then demand that everyone is kind, gentle and loving toward us, while we ignore the command in our own life. We don’t read about how we can do all things in Him who strengthens us, and ignore who the writer was writing to. Those verses might be directed at all people, some people, or even just one person – it depends on what the writer of those verses meant, not what we want it to mean. 

Let’s take for example the Old Testament law that forbade the consumption of pork (Leviticus 11), was Moses – through God’s divine inspiration – telling all people at all times that pork is a no-no? Or was he instructing a certain group of people that God is forbidding it because He wants them to remain separate and holy? Now, obviously most of us eat pork so we know that that law is not directed at us. 

What about the oh so controversial topic of tattoos in Leviticus 19 (“Do not cut your bodies for the dead, and do not mark your skin with tattoos. I am the Lord. Verse 28)? Most Christians nowadays take that and say that no tattoos are allowed. Period. But I have to ask, was that meant for all people, all the time? Most scholars will tell you that Leviticus was written to the Levites because the title means ‘as pertaining to the Levites’. Meaning it is not about Christians today, even though some of what it said is still applicable to us, it wasn’t about us. 

I am NOT saying you can run out and get a tattoo, the laws and restrictions in Leviticus had a purpose – to keep God’s people separate and Holy and I think, to point others towards a God that is Holy. Even the New Testament and Jesus talked about this separate-ness that is supposed to point others to a God that is different than any other (John 13:35 ). 

You might be asking “what’s the point?” The point is, reading the Bible and knowing that it’s God’s Word! Not just a book we can apply to our daily life (it is) but so much more than that as well. It is God’s story of love to His children! It’s a history book that tells us when we were made and what we did, and how we strayed and how God pursued us. It gives us a glimpse into His heart which reveals that He is a musical God, a poetic God, a just God, a loving God, a God that has not just grace or truth, but has them together in a perfectly balanced way! Our God is an Awesome God! 

Never is the Bible ABOUT us, Always is the Bible FOR us. Not to use and dissect and manipulate but to read, learn and grow. To discover God in every word, to see that Jesus was the plan from the get-go. The Bible is a love letter from a loving Father to His children. Read it, study it, learn it, know it. 

The Bible is True. The Existence of Evil Proves It.

Another Reason to Believe The Bible is True

The Existence of Evil.

I really enjoy the study of apologetics – the defense of one’s faith using logic and reason. The Bible, specifically the Apostle Peter tells us in his Epistle to always give a reason for the hope we have, and be ready to explain it (1 Peter 3:15). A teaching that flies in the face of what many Christians think, where we are only supposed to live by faith, and certainly faith is a big part of it but Peter says to give reasons for your faith – what do you believe, and why. That’s where apologetics comes in. 

I’m not suggesting you do this, but if you were to narrow the teachings of the Bible down to a list of do’s and don’t’s you would be left with a pretty good idea of what God sees as evil and what He sees as good. Now if you take that list and apply it to your life and every thought and action you took in a days time would put a mark in either the good side or the bad side most of you, myself included, would end up with more marks in the bad column than in the good column. Keep that in mind cause I’ll come back to it later.

How do we know the difference between good and evil? Suppose there is no God, nobody who determined that helping people is good and killing them is bad. Suppose the scientists are right and we evolved from slime, then we really are nothing more than an evolved species trying to survive based on our instinct and our ability. That would mean that over the course of time human beings, that is mankind, decided what was right and wrong, we would’ve done this by seeing the world we live in through the lens of the time we lived in, we would’ve determined that at times it was okay to kill off an entire race of people simply because they were a threat to ours. We would’ve determined, as would other groups of people around the world, that in order to survive we must eradicate everything and everyone that opposes us so that we would be the driving force behind world domination. Mankind would’ve ended up in a world where war is never-ending and death and destruction is everywhere. 

You’re probably thinking “well that’s exactly what we have, are you saying there is no God?” and that would be a fair question. Of course I I KNOW there is a God, but the picture I painted for you surely makes it sound like I’m a non believer. Here’s why I did that. Since Adam and Eve were forced to leave Eden, people have been denying God. When Eve took that bite, sin entered the world and we’ve been dealing with it ever since. And when mass amounts of people start living as if there is no God the result is a world that hardly knows the difference between good and evil because they don’t know the source of the Good. 

God defined what is good and what is evil and then He wrote it on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33, Romans 2:15). Everyone knows that the state of the world we live in is not great, a lot of people use the ‘hell in a bandbasket’ phrase to emphasize how bad it is. My point is HOW do we KNOW it’s bad? We know murder is bad, we know theft is bad, we know adultery is bad. If mankind is just the top of the food chain evolved from primordial soup then why is murder, theft, and adultery bad? Wouldn’t those actions be justifiable based on whatever we feel like since we’re basically just animals who’re doing what’s necessary to survive and procreate? Even those who choose to deny God know those things aren’t good. It’s what’s called a universal truth. 

That universal truth, written on our hearts by God, written down on paper by Jesus’ disciples and the fact that we have a mind that can think these things through is evidence enough for the existence of God. The problem of evil as it were, is evidence that the Bible is true and in a nutshell, here’s why: human beings are self aware, we know certain things are good and others are bad, nobody can deny that. But Christians know it’s because God defined them for us, the fact that we know evil when we see it proves there is an opposite of good, a line that divides. Without God that line wouldn’t be there, anything we do just is, no good, no bad, just is. Take a look at the world out there – the one that denies God – doesn’t it look an awful lot like the line between good and evil is being removed? You see? No God equals no line equals no morals and a world gone to hell in a bandbasket. It’s kinda hard to explain but even many of the basket’s inhabitants know this, they’re just too busy denying God to care. And that’s why the existence of evil is evidence for the Bible being true. The Bible tells us what’s right and wrong, even those who haven’t read it, know it. The presence of evil as well as the presence of good is just one way to know that the Bible is true. It’s KNOWING the difference that proves we aren’t evolved monkeys, but created by a Creator with a purpose.

There is a common rebuttal to this argument and I’m happy to get into that if there’s any interest but for now I’ll leave at that. 

Some of you might be thinking “I live by faith, why do I need these answers or arguments for God’s existence?” I would reply, you don’t need them per se, you can live by faith your whole life and end up in Heaven, it’s all good. But the people that surround us this day in age have a lot of information around them and arguments of their own that say God isn’t real. We can be prepared like Peter says and give them something to think about or we can just say that our faith is enough. Let me ask you this question if that’s the case, how do you intend to evangelize a lost world without knowing or at least thinking about some of the ways we can counter the lies they’ve been taught? 

The Apostle Paul had a good way of looking at it:

And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.
1 Corinthians 15:14‭-‬20 NLT

I wouldn’t normally quote a celebrity but this one fits, especially since it comes from someone who seemed to live apart from God, even he knew the difference between good and evil.

“If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change” 

–Michael Jackson

Pastor Dad

The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too.

Genesis 3:6 NLT

More often than not when this passage is read it’s made obvious that the woman was the one who took the fruit and ate. The part that is often left out is the fact that Adam was right there! It says he was with her. What was he doing while she was being deceived? What did he say when she ate? Nothing! What did he do when she gave some to him? He ate. What happened later when God confronted Adam about it? He blamed Eve, and God! 

Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”… the Lord God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?” The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.”
Genesis 3:9‭, ‬11‭-‬12 NLT

Notice how Adam says “it was the woman YOU gave me…” Adam blamed God for giving him a companion, and he blamed the companion and yet when God came looking for them He called on Adam for an explanation. 

Over and over again the Bible plays out this idea that the man is to be responsible for his house, it began in the garden and continues all the way to Revelation. People will misinterpret the whole thing to make it fit their agendas – blame the spouse, blame God, but never, ever take responsibility for themselves. You’ve probably also seen another extreme – the man is the ruler of the house and everyone must now to his supreme authority. Both of those examples are lies that come straight from the father of lies. 

The father is to be the pastor of the house, in the same way that Jesus came and served, is how a father should treat his household. Teach, love, and model godly living is what’s expected of a man. You might remember the book of Job, when Job thought that his children MAY have sinned, what did he do? He went and offered up a sacrifice to God just in case. That’s a good example, always being responsible for your family even if you don’t know what they’re up to. 

And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.  He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. And we are members of his body.
Ephesians 5:21‭-‬30 NLT

Again, much is made about the Bible saying that women should submit to their husbands. But what does it say right before that? Submit to one another. What responsibility does the Bible place on wives? Submission. What does it place on husbands? Love so great that if it were to cost him his life, he is to give it. Be responsible for her and her actions, make her holy, unblemished. Love her as he loves himself, always looking out for her best interest. 

I may be getting into theology here a bit, I hope you don’t mind but God places the family’s burdens on the shoulders of the father. The same way He placed the sins of the world on Jesus’ shoulders at Calvary. This doesn’t mean that we (husbands) have to pay for their sins but it does mean that when we give account for our lives we will be asked about our household and why they are wherever they are, whether that be in heaven or not. 

I only recently began to see myself as pastor dad of my house, and no it’s not a burden, it’s not a dictatorship where I yell and everyone scurries to please me. It’s a joy to have my family under my wing, to be the teacher, the protector, the… father. And with Jesus as my Lord, I know I have all the resources I need to accomplish what God has asked. 

The God Box

Looking at our current state of evangelism today would you be able to say that it’s effective? Here’s what I mean, as Christians we go around talking about sin and sinners more than we talk about Jesus and forgiveness of the sin and the sinner. 

I call it “The God Box” because in many ways we’ve stuffed God into a box and in order for us to introduce someone to God we make them fit into that box. But they can’t just jump right in, we make them complete a checklist of what we think makes a good Christian and if they don’t check off each item, no entry to The God Box for them. 

Think about it, have you ever walked up to that person you know who’s into drugs and tell them that Jesus can forgive you, Jesus can redeem you and Jesus can transform you? Instead we’re more likely to condemn that addict to hell because he won’t listen to our advice to go clean himself up and then go to church. 

Do you try to explain away our God to people who ask questions designed to take you off course? I do. I’ve had people mockingly ask a question only to laugh at my answer. I realize later that they already have the answer they want to that question, they’re not interested in the truth. 

There are thousands of books, podcasts, videos and CD’s out there that will tell you how to evangelize effectively, some of them are helpful, useful even, I know I’ve read some of them. But what would happen if we took the step by step out of it? If we decided to get to know a person all the while praying for them and being there? What if we decided to be like Jesus for people instead of pretending we have the power to condemn? 

Maybe if instead of making the addict fit into a box and instead of pretending that we know it all, we just got to know people, know their struggles, be there for them, be Jesus to them they would see Him through us and if the Holy Spirit is willing, they too would know the God that we know. 

Too often I see the Facebook evangelist (I’m not making fun, I’m a Facebook evangelist too) preach that hell is hot and that a lot of people are going there, instead of saying “Jesus offers forgiveness, to everyone! Including those who don’t fit into our God box. 

The Harvest

You’ve heard the line that if you don’t vote in the election you can’t complain about the result? Well, I voted and trust me, I complain about the result… Anyway, the same principle could be applied to your spiritual life, if you never take your life to God, you can’t complain about what you perceive as His absence. 

So Moses told the people, “You must be careful to obey all the commands of the Lord your God, following his instructions in every detail. Stay on the path that the Lord your God has commanded you to follow. Then you will live long and prosperous lives in the land you are about to enter and occupy.
Deuteronomy 5:32‭-‬33 NLT

If you take a look at the world through the eyes of the media you’ll see nothing but bad news – war, suicide bombings, racial tensions, death and destruction everywhere you go. But if you take a look at the world through the eyes of Jesus’ followers you should see hope, love, forgiveness, and redemption. You should also see Jesus, in every minute of every day as we take everything to Him in prayer. 

Sadly this isn’t always the case. Many Christians are only Sunday Christians, they’ll show up in church and sneak out before the final amen, J.D Greear calls them ‘ninja christians’ because nobody even knew they were there. Perhaps this is what Jesus was talking about when He said “two will be working in the field, one will be taken,, and the other left” (Matthew 24:40.41). 

That verse is often interpreted as one of those men was a Christian and the other was not. I wonder if it means that both were Christian at least by title but only one was a true Christian. In Matthew 9:37 and again in Luke 10:2 Jesus says “the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few” and if of the two workers only one will be taken and the other left because only one was a true Christian but both were there because Jesus called them there… 

This might be a stretch but if I look at the amount of people who attend church and if I could see the amount of people who are truly Christian I think we would see that played out right before our eyes. The harvest is there and plentiful but only some of the workers there are truly there for Jesus. 

I don’t know, I might be way off and I certainly do not want to misinterpret scripture, I hope you will tell me if I am. At the very least I hope we take those verses seriously and be the workers Jesus called us to be. 

Have a great Friday!

The Road to Damascus

If you’re a Christian you probably know of the story of Paul on the road to Damascus, he was on his way to hunt down more followers of ‘The Way’ when Jesus knocked him down and confronted him face to face. 

As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?”

Acts of the Apostles 9:3‭-‬4 NLT

Paul was on his way to committing sin but Jesus prevented it. In the same way we are often on our way to committing sin but Jesus doesn’t step in and stop us, naturally this could lead to the ‘free will’ debate and I’m open to having it but today I want to talk instead about our sin and our state of mind when we decide to sin. 

Take the plight of the porn addict for example, if he’s a Christian he knows that it’s wrong, and yet there is a split second decision that’s made and he’s right back in the middle of it. Alcohol, drugs, and sex can all be characterized in much the same way – users almost always know that it’s wrong, that it’s a path that leads to destruction (here’s the counter argument to the free will debate) but in the moment it’s like they can’t help it, it – the addiction – has control over them, instead of Jesus. 

I think Paul had a similar addiction, not to drugs or alcohol or porn, but to power and I also believe he had an insatiable desire to do what he was convinced was right. It literally took Jesus Christ to knock him down for him to see the error in his ways. The result of which is the Apostle Paul – the guy who penned more than half of the New Testament! 

Jesus doesn’t show up for us the same way He did for Paul, He chose instead to send us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit may not show up in such a dramatic way but He is there. He is the voice that reminds you as you are about to do that thing that you know is wrong that it is indeed wrong and you shouldn’t do it. 

The Holy Spirit is the one who gives you that thought right before you open your mouth to gossip, He’s the one who makes you hesitate right before you open that book, talk to that person, open that door, turn on that screen. He is the one who when you are on your own road to Damascus shows up and urges you to stop what you’re doing, turn around and go back. 

We’ve all been on that road, about to commit that sin we know is a sin and instead of listening to the Holy Spirit we make a choice to go ahead. The next time you are on that road visualize Jesus standing there in your way, block out everything else and fall at His feet, you know what the amazing thing is? Jesus could condemn you in that moment but if it’s forgiveness you seek He won’t do that, instead He’ll pick you up and take your hand and lead you back to the way you should go. 

That’s how awesome our God is! 

The Catch

The Catch

Imagine if you could watch your life unfold from above, how cool would that be? What if you could see your life as it happens, after it happened and before it happened? God can! He knows what’s coming down the pike for you, He knows what happened and what’s going to happen. 

We often think that God sees us in our present self the way we see it and that’s it, but He sees so much more. We look at the happenings in our life and question why God would allow it. God saw these very same happenings years before we even thought about them and He was preparing us for them. 

Like a perfectly choreographed symphony, with hundreds of different elements at play God saw your hardest moment and planned for it long before it came. Think of it like those dance routines you see on talent shows, a dozen dancers moving around the stage in what seems like random movements are all planning their big finale when one of them will be thrown into the air only to be caught by his friends on the other side of the stage and placed safely on his own two feet. Long before that finale dancers are taking careful steps to get into position for the big moment when they need to catch their friend. 

God choreographed your life, from your first steps to the current struggles and all the way to your big finale when He hopes you’ll let Him catch you, if you haven’t already. I can’t think of anyone I would rather have planning my life than God. He sees our past, present and future all at the same time, He knows you right down to how many hairs are on your head! Right now may be a hard time for you, but God is there planning and moving things around so that He can catch you should you choose to trust Him. 

Maybe you’re already someone who trusts Him but are going through a tough time and you’re wondering where He is, why hasn’t He stopped it, why didn’t He prevent it? This moment, this hard time that’s got you down, God saw it the day you were born and has been carefully planning it ever since, He knew that He had to be there in a specific place to catch you, the only thing He didn’t plan was what choice you’d make, He left that up to you. 

Let God catch you today, He is there ready and waiting.