Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Homosexuality: How Should I Deal With It?

"They just can't help themselves. There is something in their genetic makeup that causes them to be that way." We've heard this excuse for alcoholism, obesity, and recently, for homosexuals.

One reason "gays" hate those who stop the practice of homosexuality is that it implies that it is a choice, and thus they are responsible for their actions. Drunks love the idea drinking is genetic for the same reason. If it is true, they can't be blamed for what they do since it is beyond their control.

A basic principle of Genetics is that the ratio of genetic traits will remain essentially equal unless some circumstance occurs to cause a change in the ratio. In the case of homosexuality, whether male or female, the practice is incapable of producing offspring, and thus would quickly cause the loss of those who carried the genes, unless they hid the tendency, and practiced heterosexual sex as well.

The percentage of homosexuals would remain stable or decline slowly in a hostile cultural environment if it were genetic. In a society where homosexuality was viewed as acceptable, Heterosexual behaviour would not be neccessary to obtain sexual gratification, or for hiding such an orientation. As a result, the percentage of homosexuals would decline rapidly, due to the sterile mating practices. The fredom to practice homosexuality has resulted in an increase, clearly revealing that it cannot be genetic.

The increase of homosexuality is a result of several factors. The focus in recent years of reducing or eliminating eating of meat has led to an increased use of soy products. Soy contains compounds closely resembling the female hormone estrogen, which has been shown to cause sexual disorientation for males which ingest those compounds. Herbivores have a somewhat different digestive system than that of humans. As a result. their body does not absorb the compounds and thus do not experience this effect, but omnivores do.

Orientals have used soy for centuries without experiencing these effects because they use fermented soy, rather than the raw soy. The fermentation process. used in producing tofu, or soy sauce, eliminates these compounds.

The unfermented soy is frequently substituted for meat as a cheaper alternative, and is prevalent in free lunch programs and among those who are short of money, making those on the poor end of the spectrum more suceptible to sexual disorientation, and thus to easily being led into homosexuality.

Sexual confusion also results from children being raised in situations where they do not have strong close relationships with both male and female role models. Studies have shown that children from single parent homes, especially when they are not close to other family are 5 times as likely to be involved in homosexual behaviour as those raised in traditional families. Both boys and girls are affected. They are also more likely to remain in abusive situations.

Sexual abuse, media coverage, pop culture, and educational programs encourage experimentation, and develop the practicing of homosexual behaviour. As a result, children are frequently involved before they are equipped to make a concious choice.

Knowing these things, and that the old Testament required the execution of those who are involved with such behaviour, how should a Christian deal with the situation? Some believe that we should kill all homosexuals. Others believe we should simply ignore such behaviour.

As Christians, our standard needs to be based on what the Bible teaches, not on our own ideas. Asking "what would Jesus do?" is only productive when we search the scripture to se what he would have done.

I Corinthians 5:9-13 gives a lot of information on this as well as other types of sin. Let's look at the passage.

"I wrote unto you in an epistle not to keep company with fornicators: yet not altogether with fornicators of this world, or with the coveteous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.

But now have I written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or coveteous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person."

Clearly, it is not our place to judge or try to change the unsaved world. Avoidance will be impossible as long as we live in this world. On the other hand, We are not to ignore the problem. When a man who claims to be a christian is involved in these sins, and the word translated fornication in this passage refers particularly to homosexual sin, we are to disassociate ourselves from that person if they refuse to stop. By doing so, we emphasize that this is unacceptable behaviour.

Paul then directs us to follow up and if the disassociation results in turning from the sin, we need to forgive, and restore our relationship to help the person grow. II Corinthians 2:6-8 advises, "Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him."

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Showing Love by Gentleness

An injured dog will nearly always find a cave or hole and crawl in, staying until healed or hunger forces them out. Attempts to get them out are usually unsuccessful because he is not as well equipped to defend himself, and he doesn't want to be killed. He will fight desparately to prevent being dragged from his lair.

In nature, injured animals are the target of predators, because of their injuries. Other dogs often take advantage of weakness and attack or kill. The only defense is to withdraw to a place where the others cannot attack until strength is regained.

By making it obvious that one has no intention of causing further injury, and showing concern, one may gain the injured dog's confidence and coax him out so that one may minister to his wounds. It will not happen easily or quickly, however, and the person who caused the injury may find it almost impossible.

As the dog learns that one is only interested in helping, he becomes far more willing to allow you to see his hurt, and when fully convinced, will even allow you to do things that hurt because he trusts you to try to help.

Trying to force the dog out by prodding him with sticks, or grabbing and attempting to drag him out, on the other hand, merely reinforces his sense of vulnerability, increasing his determination to protect himself. He may well lash out at the one who is trying to help him.

Human beings exhibit similar behaviour, withdrawing from others when they are hurt. Emotional injuries result in an emotional withdrawing, and physical injuriesw result in physical avoidance. Trying to force them out tends to make them withdraw even more. Counselors and apparent friends who try to rush things increase anxiety, resulting in further withdrawal, and occasionally attacks on or injury even to those who are trying top help.

In my years as a pastor and husband, I have seen this happen many times. One of the most frequent areas is in the marriage. Most men appear to instinctively defend themselves physically. As a result, they tend to fight physically first. They also know how to respond to physical injury. In recent years, this instinctive behaviour has become increassingly frowned upon, leaving the male more and more defenceless.

Women on the other hand, are more likely to use verbal attacks initially, resorting to physical actions only if the verbal attack is unsuccessful. As a result, the woman is better equipped, in most cases, to deal with verbal injuries than the man is. Unfortunately, verbal attacks are held as acceptable, and in some cases even encouraged. After all the old saying is, "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me".

In a marriage, disagreements arise. Love always desires to put the other person above ones own interests. Most people have seen little or no example of love and the common idea of love is they give me what I want. Both sides want things their way. A fight results, and one is hurt.

Some men physically assault their wives, and some women physically attack their husbands. In these cases it is most often the wife who gets hurt, and begins to withdraw. The uninjured, the winner, becomes progressively more aggressive, as it gives him the advantage. Because physical abuse is taken very seriously, he will frequently apologise, and promise to not do it again, to overcome the withdrawal. If that is not successful, he may become more abusive to force the other out. He then adds insult to injury by blaming her for her injury. If she had just done as he told her, it wouldn't have happened. Now she is both physically and emotionally injured.

Some people attack their mate verbally. The horrible things that may be said are shocking. Unfortunately, society rarely views these verbal attacks as seriously as the physical attacks. The person making the attack thus may view themselves as not ahving done anything wrong. When their mate suddenly refuses to talk further, or walks out, they become quite angry and press the attack, accusing the other of not caring or lacking courage, or refusing to face the problem. They fail to understand or care that the withdrawal indicates that the other person is hurt.

It is easy to ignore the statement about the tongue in James 3:5-9. "Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents and of things in the sea is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison."

Hurts caused by the tongue are often more harmful than physical blows. A better version of the old saying would be "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words may kill my spirit." They are actually more dangerous than the blows of a physically abusive person. To let them go is more wicked than ignoring physical damage we have caused.

When the person we are in conflict with suddenly withdraws, it implies that we have inflicted serious injury. We need to stop inflicting more pain and begin to make it clear that the injury was unintentional. We also need to recognize that the conflict is an indication of an unspiritual condition according to I Corinthians 3:3 and repent of our sin. We have allowed Satan to control our tongue. We need to stop attacking and begin immediately to reduce the hurt persons stress.

Our human nature will encourage us to take advantage of the injury, but a spiritual nature will, as a result of the love the spirit produces, be more concerned with the others welfare than our victory. Frequently, we will not even understand how they were hurt by our comments.

If we are sincerely seeking what is best for them, we will be genuinely sorry for hurting them, and try to correct the hurt. Fake love will not admit doing wrong, trying to place the blame on the victim. The hurt indicates that we have gone too far. To continue to accuse or attack implies we do not really care. We need to heal the damage already done.

A charge that is frequently made against Christians is that we are the only army that shoots its wounded. All to often it is true, in direct contradiction to Gods command. Part of the fruit of the Spirit is gentleness, or a deliberate effort not to do harm. We are commanded to be filled with the Spirit. Our point can be made without hurting others if we are led by the Spirit.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

His, Hers, and Ours

"The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?

And he answered and said unto them, Have you not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wive and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." (Matthew 19:3-6)

On a farm in Kansas, a man had a serious heart attack. His coworkers carried him to the house to wait for the ambulance. His wife refused to allow them to bring him in, demanding that they take him to the barn and bathe him first. The man nearly died as a result.

The coworkers were upset and followed up after the ambulance arrived. They learned that the wife refused to allow the man to enter her house until he had taken a shower and changed clothes. After all it was her house, and she didn't want to have to clean up after him.

How many times have you heard similar possessive comments by those you know. A man or woman who speaks of their money and refuses to use theirs to help pay bills. The wife who doesn't allow her husband to have his friends in the home, or the husband who refuses to allow his wife to do the shopping all fail to live in accord with the description of marriage Jesus has given.

The term one flesh is the same as saying both your arms are one flesh. Most people use one hand to do certain things, and the other for others. For example, the right may be used to write, and the left holds the paper still. The right may be used for throwing and the left for catching.

Such specialization makes the body more adept at many jobs. Fortunately, the body doesn't separate itself. It continues to function as a unit. Rarely does a person leavew one hand outside while the other goes into the house. What belongs to one belongs to the other.

People rarely chop one hand off or put out one eye deliberately, simply because the hand or eye does not have any right to what the other hand has.

A marriage based on God's standard connot focus on individual desires to the exclusion of those of the other person. Such a focus definitely reveals an ungodly selfishness. It also indicates a rejection of God's plan. The house belongs to both of them. The money and otherbelongings also belong to both.

Just as chopping a hand off to prevent it sharing the other hands belongings would hurt the body, rejection of the mate hurts the one doing the rejection. As Ephesians 5:28 tells us, "... He that loveth his wife loveth himself." Verse 33 commands "Nevertheless let everyone of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband."

That selfishness is clearly in direct disobedience to God, and as such, is sin. It is a major factor in many marriage problems, frequently resulting in divorce. As Matthew tells us, divorce is deliberately destroying what God has done. Divorce is not pleasing to God.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Pie Melon Spirituality

When I was a child, my Grandad grew a kind of melon he called a Pie Melon. It looked like a large watermelon, but the skin was much tougher. The flesh was white and had almost no flavor of its own. He planted them closer to the road than his watermelons, and one day a bunch of guys stopped and stole several melons.

Several weeks later, a man asked what kind of melons those by the road were. Since they looked like regular melons, only the thieves could know that they were not. Confronted, he admitted to having heled steal the melons, and said they had had a difficult time breaking the melon open, then were shocked to realize it didn't taste very good.

Fruit was scarce in the area, and pie melons were used to extend fruit in pies. Its texture and lack of flavor made it a very good filler. chopped in apple slice sized pieced, and baked in an apple pie, it would absorb the spices and apple flavor, and taste almost like an apple.

Chopping it more finely, and mixed with pineapple, it tasted almost like piuneapple and could be used to extend pineapple in pies or cakes. Boiled a little before being mixed with peaches, it would make a fair extender for peaches. It could also be used for making pickles.

While the taste was only slightly different thatn that of the fruit it replaced. the food value was very different. In fact, almost all the value came from the fruit and spices just as the taste did.

People who had never had a genuine apple pie would accept the pie melon as actual apples, and never realize it was a fake. The same is true of people who have never experienced or seen genuine spirituallity. Several years ago, on the tv program "Survivor", the show was set in Africa. A woman on the show made the statement thet just being there was such a Spiritual experience. Like many others, she had been decieved into believing that intense emotional experiences are spiritual.

In the same way, I have heard religious leaders advise people to go to Israel because it would benefit them so much Spiritually. This is exactly why many religions believe a pilgrimage to some holy site is neccessary. II Timothy 2:15 Makes it clear that simply studying the scripture is sufficient.

Such incorrect beliefs cause people to accept many things that, according to the scriptures, are in fact evidence of unspirituallity, and in some cases, even Satanic. The following are some examples Paul mentions in the book of I Corinthians. Unlike mistaking pie melon for apples, the consequences are severe for mistaking unspirituality for spirituality.

It is not uncommon for those who have been trained by one program or person to believe they ar esuperior to those who have not gone therough the same program, or been taught by the same teacher, reulting in conflicts in the church. I Corinthians 1:10-12 describes this very situation, instructing us not to get involved. I Corinthians 3:3 tells us that divisions between Christians are evidence of a carnal condition.

I Corinthians 5:1-2 teaches us that ignoring overt sin is not spiritual, but rather proves a prideful attitude. Many believe that toleration of such sin is evidence of spiritual maturity. Dealing with it in any way other than as the Bible instructs is also evidence of an unspiritual attitude.

I Corinthians 11: 1-15 discusses the subject of a man wearing long hair, or a woman wearing short hair. This issue became a standard that many used as indicating a spiritual or un spiritual condition. Verse 16 says " but if any man be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God. The verse makes it clear that the Apostles did not demand such a standard, nor do God's churches. Those who hold such standards are not under God's control. Paul goes on to condemn the church for their stance in verse 17.

Many believe that speaking in tongues is evidence of spirituallity. Paul gives guidelines for speaking in tongues in the church in ! Corinthians 14:26-28. Everything done in the Church is to be for the purpose of building up others. Thus, no more than 2 or 3 are to speak in tongues during a single service. They are to speak one at a time, and if no interpreter is available, they are not to speak at all. I Corinthians 14:37 tells us that a spiritual person will recognize these commands as coming from God. One who does not is ignorant of spiritual matters.

Mistaking these or other imitations for spirituality exposes the church, and the individual to serious risks. "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: ..." (John 6:63). Without the spirit, there is no life, no power. Defeat is inevitable.

This is probably the primary reason the church has such a small impact in today's world. Learn to identify true spirituality. Jesus tells us "by their fruit ye shall know them." Galatians 5:22-23 describes the fruit of the spirit. "But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." The Spirit will produce all of these if he is in control.

The passages dealing with qualifications for bishops in I Timothy 3:1-9 and Titus 1:5-9 are written to help the church determine who are spiritual men and who are not. It is critical, if the church is to please God, that leaders be spiritual. It is impossible to teach othere what one does not know himself.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dealing With Those Who Do Wrong

"Brethern, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." Galatians 6:1

Paul leaves no doubt that some Christians will get caught up in sin with this verse. Truly spiritual men will recognize their susceptibility to temptation themselves. As a result, their method of dealing with him will not be from a position of superiority, but in humility.

He instructs Timothy about the same thing in II Timothy 2:24-26. "And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will."

The previous verses deal with both doctrinal error and physical sin. As a servant of God, we are not to be pugnacious. I remember those who used to brag of being fighting fundamentalists. Paul specifically forbids such an attitude.

When I was in High School, Dad bought an old donkey named Jenny. Jenny was some what slow moving, but amazingly careful to protect us kids. Other mounts would charge through gates and around corners and I had had my knee banged very badly by a horse cutting too close to a tree at a run. The knee still causes me trouble.

Whenever she thought there was danger of a leg or pack hitting something, Jenny would stop and very carefully work her way through, making sure that no contact was made, even when it caused her pain.

This is the meaning of the word gentle when Paul says a man of God must be gentle unto all men. We must go out of our way to prevent hurt to others, even if it causes ourselves to suffer distress to do so. To thrust them out of the church immediately, or publicly rebuke or humiliate them, rather than trying to restore them is deliberate disobedience to God's command. Many times those who err are hotly condemned, even though God forbids such an approach.

The goal is to teach them the proper way, patiently and meekly instructing them. Not in pride attacking them or offending them by our way of handling the situation. Many times Church discipline is used as a way of getting rid of those who have done wrong either as a way to prove our adherence to the scripture, or to demonstrate our power. It is wrong in either case.

To obey God in this matter is to give a possibility that they may repent, and escape Satans trap.
To disobey will almost certainly drive them more deeply into his power, as I have observed on several occasions.

This is exactly what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 18:15-17. "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not heart thee, then take with tee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican."

The goal is not to get the person out, but rather to bring him more closely in. If the person refuses to listen then it is deliberate sin and I Timothy 5:20 tells us, "Them that sin rebuke before all that others also may fear."

Scripturally, The authority to put a person out rests in the church, not in the pastor, and in I Corinthians 5:4-5, this is clearly expressed. "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


"In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus conerning you." (I Thessalonians 5:18)

It is fairly easy to give thanks when things we think are good happen. It is more difficult when things we percieve as bad happen. In fact, we usually find ourselves complaining instead. Nevertheless, the verse commands us to give thanks in everything, good or bad.

Remembering Romans 8:28 makes it far easier. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." Though the things may be bad, they will result in good things. God will cause them to do so for his children.

For example. I couldn't see the good when my wife left, but it resulted in a much closer relationship with God, and a much stronger level of confidence, in myself, and in God. When one loses a job, it is difficult to give thanks, but the result was better hours, and more money when it happened to me.

There are a couple of conditions in Romans 8:28. "To them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. This clearly indicates that the promise does not apply to those who do not love God, or those who are not called of him.

Obedience to God indicates our love and disobedience demonstrates a lack of love according to John 14:23-24. "Jesus answered and said unto him, 'if a man love me, he will keep my words: ... He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings:' ..."

Romans 8:29-30 makes it clear that God knew who would recieve him and predestinated and called them. Those who have not recieved Christ have no claim on this promise.

An unthankful attitude is typical of those who rebel against God as Romans 1:21 tells us, "Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful." Unthankfulnes is an attribute of the wicked as II Timothy 3:2 makes very clear.

If you wish to please God you must learn to give thanks.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Subject as the Church is to Christ

"Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, even as Christ is head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing." (Ephesians 5:22-24)

"Shes my wife and she has to do what I say." I wonder how many times I've heard comments like this, often accompanied with a quote of the first sentence above. "She is to treat me as her Lord, because verse 33 says she is to reverence her husband."

It is not hard to understand why many women rebel against such an attitude. Even many who appear to go along are frustrated with the way they are treated. we ought to look more closely at this passage to understand what it actually says.

The husband's relationship to his wife is be the same as Christ's is to the Church. He is the saviour of the body. Christ died for us, (the Church), while we were his enemies. "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life,"(Romans 5:10).

Husbands are to love their wives the same way. Ephesians 5:24 instructs "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church and gave himself for it;" Most husbands do not appear to be willing to go that far in todays society.

Many husbands accuse their wife of not submitting because she doesn't do everything he says. Note that the wife is to be in subjection to her husband like the Church is to Christ. Many times, even a rebellious wife is still more in subjection than the husband is to Christ.

Hebrews 10:25 tells us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. A husband who does not go to church has no right to complain of a wife who doesn't do what he tells her, because she is bing subject to him in the same way he is to the Lord. That is what the verse says. If he expects her to obey him, he needs to obey God.

Christ is the example. How often is he bossy, or abusive when we do not do his will? Every demanding husband is stepping beyond his authority, and is in sin.

Some teach that the woman is to worship her husband, using Ephesians 5:33 as their basis. The Bible is very clear that we are to worsip no one but God. That idea is idolatry. The Greek word translated reverence, 'phobeo', is a form of the word we get phobia from and means 'to fear, to be in awe of', i.e. to have respect for. It does not imply worship.

As verses 32 and 33 tell us, Paul is primarily teaching about the Church's relationship to Christ, but we are to apply these things in our daily life as well.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dead or Alive?

"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23)

Death is the proper reward for sin. That is not a pleasant thought, especially when Romans 3:23 tells us, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." All of us deserve death.

Adam sinned, in Genesis 3, opening the door for sin to enter the world, and thus giving death power in the world. Romans 5;12 describes it thus, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." While Adam made us susceptible, we die because of our sin, not because of his sin.

Many people believe that death is the end of all things. Hebrews 9:27 warns us, "And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement." We are all subject to death, and we all will be judged after that death.

II Corinthians 5:10 states, "For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ; that every one may recieve the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." Not only death, but judgement is based on what we have done.

Fortunately, Romans 6:23 doesn't stop with death, or there would be no hope for any of us. It continues "...but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." A gift is something you recieve without any cost to yourself. You do not have to earn a gift.

Nearly everyone is familiar with John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perrish, but have everlasting life. Romans 5:8 explains it. "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

Christ did not die for us when we got our lives straightened out, but while we were still sinners. We were given it as a gift. It is true that there is no free lunch. Sin still costs death, but Christ paid our penalty for us.

I John 5:13 tells us "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. We can be certain about our destination!

Are you eternally alive? Have you recieved that Gift?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Where's Your Treasure?

Are you shocked by the sudden decline in the Economy?

I was interested by an article in Money and Markets. Larry Edelson Speaks of the G-20 possibly Considering a program to redo the entire world currency. It would be an extension of what FDR did when he took office after the great Depression.

It is exciting to me because it is another step toward the one world gocvernment described in Daniel and Revelation. What is described, while not the actual world government, is significant as it is the first time that this has been seriouslly discussed that I am aware of.

Coupled with another article on the efforts of radical Moslems to take control of the Mideast, It is easy to see how things could easily turn into the Government described in the Bible. I will make no predictions, but intend to watch very closely what happens in the next few months.

I can only imagine the stress those who do not know the Lord experience in a time like this. If your future depends on your savings and investments, you find yourself much like the very wealthy relative I had. Everytime the stock market moved against his position, he would get violently ill.

The Stock Market has dropped more than 40% in the last year. Those who have made their wealth their security, have laid up their treasures on earth where moth and rust corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.

Matthew 6:19-21 instructs "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Procuring and keeping money is the primary focus of many people today, and they are missing the greatest rewards possible in the pursuit of the dollar. "He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch." (Proverbs 11:28) The current economy emphasizes the transitory nature of riches. The efforts to make every possible penny is the primary cause of our present crisis, and as Proverbs 11:24 tells us. "there is that scattereth and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty."

Charity giving is down by a large percentage because people do not understand that 'He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given willhe repay him again." (Proverbs 19:17) You better lend it to the Lord, its a better investment than anything else, especially right now.

This is the ideal time to follow the advice in Matthew 6:31-34. "Therefore take no thought,saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink?, or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (for after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these thinggs shall be added unto you. Take no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It's not My Fault

"If we say that we have no sin, we decieve ourselves, and the truth is not in us." (I John 1:8)

It is human nature to deny guilt. We do not like to admit wrong doing. A little child will deny any guilt even when it is obvious he was the only possible culprit. Bill Clinton denied sexual sin right to the last moment. Former New Mexico House speaker Manny Aragon continued to deny any wrong doing in a corruption scandal until all his co-conspirators confessed or were convicted and agreed to testify to his involvement.

As long as we deny guilt, we can excuse a lack of effort to rectify the problem. This is one reason why people would rather blame George Bush for the econonic situation than admit they contributed to the problem. Bush could only sign or veto the bills presented. Financial bills must be supmitted by the House of Representatives, and approved by both the House and the Senate before he can take any action. Congress must take responsibility for the economic situation.

Bailing out the banks will accomplish nothing if they do not accept that their lending practices have been a major part of the problem, because they will continue to do the same thing.

Consumers will need to recognize that the banks could not have loaned them the money unless they took it, so their actions were crucial to the problem developing. Clearly all are guilty of causing the problem, and it will never be completely resolved until all accept their responsibility.

Every situation where there were problems in a marriage has involved one or both parties denying that they contributed to the problem. Until they acknowledged their responsibility, no resolution was attained. They made no effort to rectify their harmful actions, demanding that their mate make all changes.

Alcoholics and drug addicts refuse help and counseling until they acknowledge that there is a problem. They don't have a problem. As more than one has said, the ones complaining have a problem with me. It's gotten so that when I hear "he has a problem with me", I wonder what they're doing to cause the problem.

As long as we deny any sin, we will not seek reconciliation with God. We convince ourselves that we are good enough. We don't see any need for change on our part.

By contrast, Romans 3:10-12 tells us, "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one. There is none that undersatandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable: There is none that doeth good, no, not one." 3:23 says, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."

Until we acknowledge our sin, we cannot and will not recieve God's forgiveness, which is the essential first step in being Christian.

According to I John 1:10, "If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." In other words, we accuse him of lying, and we have no part in his promises.

This principle of personal responsibility is key in every aspect of being Christian. We cannot abdicate our responsibility, nor can any one take it for us.

Friday, November 7, 2008

What is a Christian?

"And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." (Acts 11:26)

Many people are called Christians in our day. Some are like the lady who recieved her citizen ship and said she was glad to finally be a Christian. Unfortunately, being an American doesn't make you a Christian.

The word translated 'Christian', 'christianos' means 'follower of Christ'. It is sometimes defined as 'little Christs'. The idea is of conciously and actively following as closely as possible, not merely moving in a roughly parallel direction. The word translated 'disciple' means in the noun form, 'a student of'.

In Luke 14:26, we find that to be his disciples, we must be willing to place Christ above our family or our own desires and goals. Verse 27 stresses that we cannot be his disciples if we are not willing to take up our cross, while verse 33 makes it clear we must also be willing to give up our possessions. If we are not, we connot be his disciples.

From Acts 11: 26 it is clear that one must be a disciple to be called a Christian.

Jesus said, "it is enough for the disciple that he be as his master," (Matthew 10:25). The disciples goal is to be like his teacher. He describes himself thus, "my judgement is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. If we are truly his disciples, that will be our attitude as well.

In Jophn 14:21, we read "he that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me:". Verse 24 says, "He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings:".

To act like a Christian is to pretend to be one. To be one is a great deal different than to act like one. Are you one or are you just acting like one? Do you know what God wants us to do? Are you doing it?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thank God for our Leaders

"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty." (I Timothy 2:1-2)

The election is finally over. Some are very upset about the results, while others are ecstatic. As Christians, we must put aside any rancor, regardless of our personal opinions, and focus on Pauls direction in this passage. President Obama will need these prayers as much, or more than any president in history to face the problems ahead of him. Without those prayers, he may well preside over one of the worst periods in American history. If so, it will not be his fault, but he may well get the blame.

We are to make supplications, or requests for all men. Ernest or sincere prayers are required, not the superficial and insincere prayers we so often are guilty of. Intercessions are literally praying on behalf of another. You cannot pray against one in intercessions.

Finally, whether you supported or opposed Obama, or other candidates that were elected, we are to give thanks for them. That does not mean we always agree with them, but that we are to give sincere thanks.

There is a promise accompanying these directions. Specifically, that we may experience a quiet and peaceable life, in godliness and honesty. This is God's desire, regardless of what occurs in the world around us. Obedience will be beneficial.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Study to Shew Thyself Approved

"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (II Timothy 2:15).

As this verse points out, If we are going to be pleasing to God, we are going to need to study. From II Timothy 3:16-17, it is clear that the subject is to be the scriptures. They provide everything we need to be perfect and throughly equipped fo every good work.

A man has no reason to be ashamed if he is properly dividing (understanding), the word of God. We find that herisies identify those who are approved and those who are not according to ! Corinthians 11:19. What we believe is critical to our relationship to God.

There are several things one can do to aid in understanding what we read. First, simply reading the entire passage repeatedly will help to establish an overall understanding, preparing for more indepth learning.

Getting the entire context helps prevent distorting understanding. Isolating small passages opens the door for misunderstanding.

Using other passages to help understand the one being studied is important, as they frequently modify our understanding of a passage.

Getting definitions of words as they were originally used clarifies what passages mean. Since the Bible was not originally written in English, It is occasionally helpful to research the exact meanings of the original language.

Observing punctuation can significantly change understanding by clarifying how the sentences were assembled. Frequently verses start in the middle of a sentence and reading the entire sentence changes the meaning.

Recognizing that, as I Corinthians 2:14 tells us, "The natural man recieveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned", we understand that we must alow the Spirit to teach us. He will do so in his time. Don't try to force understanding.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Adequacy of the Scriptures

We are bombarded with the idea that we need someone elses materials to learn to function proprly as a Christian.

II Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

In other words, God gave us every bit of the Bible, not just part of it. I don't have to try to determine which parts are the word of God, and which are not. It can all be depended on. This greatly simplifies knowing what I should do.

All of the Bible is beneficial for doctrine. The word doctrine means literally teaching. Many today hold that the Old Testament has no value in the New Testament Era. I Corinthians 10:11 says that, "all these things happened unto them fo ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

They were written to teach us what the truth is. They are also useful to point out things that are wrong, i.e. for reproof, and finally they give instruction, both in statements, and by example, in how to do what is right.

They are given so that Christians may be perfect, or fully developed, and throughly or completely prepared for every good work. No other material is required. No training program, no Book, no lecture program, nothing other than the Bible is neccessary.

False doctrine, heresy, and conflicts arise because we have accepted other men's ideas, rather than the scriptures as our final authority. Let's get back to the scripture.