Friday, October 21, 2011

The Epilogue

After prayer and consideration I have decided, at least for the present, to discontinue posting at this blog due to lack of traffic. It is my intent to re-post and continue to post the ideas presented here on my other blog Mike Erich the Mad Theologian in an attempt to present them to a larger audience. I intend to leave this blog intact and would ask anyone interested in learning more about what is presented here to visit my other blog.

Now the point of this blog was to explore the possibility of connecting Calvinism and Charisma. Based on that I would like to summarize what I have tried to say here.

We need to realize that God is in control and we can trust Him with the problems in our lives. see, see, see

Growth in Christ is a process and not the result of following a particular formula. see, see, see

God does do miracles today, but He does them according to His will. see, see, see

There is demonic influence in the world today, but it must be put in perspective. see, see, see

The miraculous spiritual gifts still exist today, but they are given according to God's will. see, see, see

I would conclude that, while the supernatural still happens today, it is dependent on God's will and is not, in the final analysis, something we can control.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Blame It on Satan

There is a tendency in some circles to blame every sin and every disease on demonic activity. There is also the opposite extreme that denies or minimizes demonic involvement in anything. Now there is a Scriptural basis for believing demonic powers are involved in leading us into sin (1 Corinthians 7:5; 2 Corinthians 2:11; 1 Timothy 3:7). But we are also informed that the primary source of our sin is our own sin nature (James 1:14,15; Romans 7:18; 8:8). Also, there are diseases in Scripture attributed to demons (Matthew 12:22; Luke 13:16; 2 Corinthians 12:7). But the fact that casting out demons is one item on the lists of things Jesus did that also include healing of various diseases suggests that all diseases are not explained this way (Matthew 4:24; Mark 1:32-34; 6:13). Now I do believe there is a place today for dealing with demonic forces (nor do I find any basis in Scripture for teaching otherwise). But I am convinced it is not the sole approach to dealing with every problem, and when used that way it can become a gimmick that leads us away from dealing with the issues on a more appropriate basis, giving full consideration to other factors.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Biblical Musings - Colossians 2:8

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. Colossians 2:8 (NIV)

What is the philosophy described here? How can we avoid it?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Biblical Musings - Isaiah 41:10

"'Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I  will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.'" Isaiah 41:10 (NASV)

What does this statement mean for our lives? Why should we live differently because of it?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

When We Are Not in Vogue

We live in a culture in which Christianity is no longer respected. How should we respond to this? We could respond in anger, demanding the respect we think we deserve. Or we could react in desperation, trying frantically to return to a place of respectability. Or we could trust God. God never promised that society would always be on our side; in fact He predicted the opposite (John 15:18-21; 16:1-4; Matthew 10:16-39). But God also tells us that He will accomplish His purpose in the world in spite of this opposition (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 2:10; 1 Corinthians 3:6,7). God also promises us that we can trust Him to face what we need to face in our lives (Proverbs 3:5,6; Psalms 127:1,2; Romans 8:28). But God never promised that we would always be admired by the world around us. That was never His intent.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Biblical Musings - John 3:18

"He who believes is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." John 3:18 (NASV)

What does this imply? How should it affect the way a believer lives?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Biblical Musings - 1 Corinthians 3:18

Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a "fool" so that he may become wise. 1 Corinthians 3:18 (NIV)

What does this statement mean for us? How do we avoid the danger spoken of ? 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Goal

What is God trying to do in our lives? And why does He bring trials into our lives to accomplish it? Part of our problem is we see God as trying to make us nice moral people. And we tend to see ourselves as perhaps not quite there, but close. Therefore, we can start to wonder why we face real difficulties in our lives. We can ask if this is really necessary. Why use the chisel when a little sandpaper will do? But God's goal is to conform us to the image of Christ (Romans 8:28-30; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Colossians 3:10). Given this, we still have a long way to go (see Matthew 5-7). Now God does work in us through His power to produce this change (Colossians 1:29; Ephesians 2:10; 2 Peter 1:3). But He also uses external circumstances to bring this about (James 1:2-4; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18; 1 Peter 1:6,7). Considering how far we have to go, is it surprising He sometimes uses the chisel?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Biblical Musings - John 15:5

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5 (NIV)

What are the implications of Jesus' statement here? How do we remain in Him?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Biblical Musings Colossians 2:19

and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God. Colossians 2:19 (NASV)

What does this tell us about the body of Christ? How does it apply to our lives?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Army

The King's army went forward, marching in line, shields locked together ready to face the foe. But there were problems. Ofttimes the leaders marched out far ahead of the column and bore the brunt of the attack. Some claimed that some leaders preferred it that way so they would get the greatest honor. Some claimed that they were not given an adequate station, given the nature of their abilities. (Others might question whether their abilities existed or were as valuable as they claimed.) And there was the continual complaint against the members of the army who refused to bear their fair share of the burden. While there might be debate in any particular case, that there were such problems seemed unquestionable. Also, the army had long been divided into different platoons, each objecting to the methods and discipline of the others. But in spite of this, the army moved forward, accomplishing the purposes of the King.

Then one day there came consultants among the troops who pointed out the problems of the current system. They said if the army would listen to them, they would fix the problems. So they suggested new marching patterns that lacked the old interlocking row of shields and took much more practice to make work. And they put the leaders behind the army, where it was harder for the ranks to see where they were directing them. They issued softer and gentler weapons and shields in the hopes of doing less harm to the enemy and making it more likely that the enemy would join their side. Many started making forays on their own or with a few trusted companions, rather than staying with the army. Some even stayed at home to watch the action through a telescope. And there grew more divisions in the army, as groups fought over which of the new methods to adopt. These new methods did cause some inconveniences and the occasional unnecessary wound due to lack of a firm shield wall. But in spite of this the army moved forward, accomplishing the purposes of the King.   

Monday, September 26, 2011

Biblical Musings Romans 4:4,5

Now the one who works, his wage is not reckoned as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness.  Romans 4:4,5 (NASV)

What does this tell us about salvation? How should it affect how we live afterward?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Biblical Musings Revelation 5:12

saying with a loud voice: "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!" Revelation 5:12 (NKJV)

What things here are ascribed to Christ? What difference does this make to us?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Ebb and Flow of Miracles

One argument that has been used against the continuing of the miraculous spiritual gifts is whether the gifts exhibited at the present time stack up to the miracles at the time of the apostles. It is claimed that we do not see the same degree of blatant miracles that were seen in New Testament times. All spiritual gifts are given according to the will of God (1 Corinthians 12:11) and are used within the will of God (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Now there do seem to times that God is particularly blatant in His outpouring of miracles.  The times of the Exodus, of Elijah and Elisha, and of the New Testament are examples of these. These seem to happen at times God is instituting some new thing. But this does not mean that all miracles or miraculous gifts vanish in the times in between. There are miracles seen in those periods (Judges 15:14-19; 2 Kings 19:35; 1 Kings 13:3-5). Therefore, just because God is not working in as blatant a way does not mean He has stopped working miracles or giving miraculous gifts in the times in between. Now we do need to test a particular miracle, whether it is from God or is a coincidence or is some kind of placebo effect (1 Thessalonians 5:21,22). But we cannot say because we do not see the dead raised or the Red Sea parted that no miraculous gifts exist at this time.    

Monday, September 19, 2011

Biblical Musings Philippians 3:13,14

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13,14 (NKJV)

What things are involved in running the race? How do we carry them out?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Biblical Musings 2 Corinthians 10:4,5

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:4,5 (NIV)

What are these weapons? How do they accomplish the purposes stated?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Following Our Impulses

There is a danger in seeing all our impulses as the leading of God. We are sinners (Romans 3:23); our heart is deceitful and cannot be trusted (Jeremiah 17:9). Also, we are called to trust in God, not our understanding, (Proverbs 3:5,6) and to test whether something is from God (1 Thessalonians 5:21,22). Now the temptation here is to totally reject any impressions as being from God. But then we are left to rely totally on our human wisdom (1 Corinthians 3:18). The problem with this is we can end doing things based on what makes sense to us rather than acting in faith (Hebrews 11:13-16). Sometimes God called people to do things that did not obviously make sense from the human perspective (Joshua 6:1-5; Acts 8:26-40; 16:6-10). But there is a danger here. It is easy to jump to the conclusion that some impulse is God speaking, when it is really only us. This is not always easy to figure out. We must, of course, reject anything that is contrary to Scripture (Isaiah 8:20). The problem comes when we meet something of a serious nature where there is no clear-cut   Scriptural command. This takes careful consideration, prayer, and, ideally, seasoned experience. But we need to remember that God is in control of our lives to accomplish His purposes in  them (Romans 8:28; Ephesians 1:11; 2:10). And we need to live our lives with our trust in Him, not our impulses (Psalms 127:1,2).

Monday, September 12, 2011

Biblical Musings John 3:18

"Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." John 3:18 (NIV)

What are the implications of this statement? How should it affect how we live?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Biblical Musings 2 Timothy 2:3,4

Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. 2 Timothy 2:3,4 (NASV)

What do these verses say about how we should live? What does it mean to live as a soldier?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

To Those in Authority

We are told to be subject to those in authority over us in the church (Hebrews 13:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:12,13; 1 Timothy 5:17). But it also says that those who are in charge should not lord it over others but be servants (1 Peter 5:1-4; Luke 22:24-27; John 13:3-11). But too often the leadership of the church can be seen as salesmen set in place to meet the congregations' needs, and the leadership can see the congregation as subordinates to carry out their programs. They can end up seeing each other as hired hands. But we need to see that Christ is the one who is really in charge of His church (Colossians 1:18; 2:19; Matthew 16:18). And it is only as we see ourselves in relation to Him that we can find the right balance in terms of human leadership. Then we can be subject, though not mindlessly subject, to authority, recognizing the higher authority. And we can avoid being more concerned about upholding our authority than what is right.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Biblical Musings Matthew 16:18

"And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it." Matthew 16:18 (NASV)

 Who will build Christ's church? What is that church? What does this mean for us today?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Biblical Musings Isaiah 44:6-8

"Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God. And who can proclaim as I do? Then let him declare it and set it in order for Me, since I appointed the ancient people. And the things that are coming and shall come, let them show these to them. Do not fear, nor be afraid; have I not told you from that time, and declared it? You are my witnesses. Is there a God besides Me? Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one.  Isaiah 44:6-8 (NKJV)

What does this tell us about God? How should it affect how we live?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Other World

We live in a supernatural world. But it is easy to forget this. But we are told as Christians that our real battles are on the supernatural plane (Ephesians 6:10-13; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6; 2 Kings 6:15-23). Now it is possible to exaggerate this aspect of life. To see demonic forces behind every event and as the cause of all our sins. But it is much easier in this present age to be lulled to sleep and to deal with everything on a purely pragmatic basis, and to ignore spiritual realities. And this can lead to our approaching our problems based on a purely naturalistic basis and not recognizing the spiritual dimension. There is no one in more danger in a battlefield then an innocent who stumbles into it and does not realize there is a war going on.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Biblical Musings Romans 8:38,39

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:38,39 (NKJV)

What are the implications of these verses for our life? How might we live differently if we are convinced of them?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Biblical Musings 2 Corinthians 3:18

But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NASV)

What is involved in this verse? Who does it apply to?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

On or Off

Sometimes God's power is pictured like a light switch; it is either all there or totally absent. But Scripture pictures God giving new supplies to meet new situations. At the time of Pentecost the disciples were filled with the Spirit (Acts 2:4). But later Peter was filled to stand firm against opposition (Acts 4:8). After this the disciples prayed for boldness and were filled with the Spirit in answer (Acts 4:31). Paul (then called Saul) was filled with the Spirit soon after his conversion (Acts 9:17). But later he was filled again to deal with a magician (Acts 13:9). There is no indication that any of these individuals became carnal and had to be restored to a condition where they were spiritual again. Rather, God filled them in a new and fresh way to meet new circumstances. God gives us what we need to accomplish His purpose (2 Corinthians 3:5,6; Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 1:28,29). Therefore, we should trust in Him to provide us with the power we need when we need it (Proverbs 3:5,6; Psalms 127:1,2; 1 Corinthians 3:6-9).

Monday, August 22, 2011

Biblical Musings Hebrews 12:1,2

Therefore, since we have so great a crowd of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down on the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:1,2 (NASV)

What is required to run the race? What kind of things can hinder us?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Biblical Musings Matthew 8:8-10

Ruins of Capernaum
The centurion replied, "Lord I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it." When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith."  Matthew 8:8-10 (NIV)

What was so significant about the centurion's faith? How might it be relevant to us today?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Facing Opposition

How should a Christian face opposition? We should face it boldly (Ephesians 6:19,20; Philippians 2:15,16; Hebrews 13:6), but with love and gentleness (1 Peter 3:15; 2 Timothy 2:24-26; Colossians 4:5,6). How do we achieve this combination? We need to have confidence in God (Proverbs 3:5,6; Psalms 127:1,2; 2 Corinthians 2:14), but an awareness of our own inadequacy (2 Corinthians 3:5,6; Romans 12:3; John 15:5). But it also helps not to be surprised by the existence of opposition, as Scripture promises it will occur (John 15:18-21; 16:1-4; 2 Timothy 3:12). Therefore, we should not react in shock, but in firm and loving admonishment. Being confident in God, who will win in the end.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Biblical Musings Jonah 1:1-3

Mediterranean Sea (near Caesarea, North of Joppa) 
The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: "Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me." But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.  Jonah 1:1-3 (NIV)

Have you ever run from God? I have tried it and would not recommend it. What can motivate a person to run from God?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Biblical Musings 16

Ruins of the Pool of Bethesda, Jerusalem
When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, "Do you wish to get well?" The sick man answered Him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me." Jesus said to him, "Arise, take up your pallet, and walk." And immediately the man became well, and took up his pallet and began to walk. John 5:6-9 (NASV)

Why did Jesus heal only one man out of the large number of sick who were there? What does this say about God's healing people today?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

One Step at a Time

We often want God to show us what His will for our lives is in detail ahead of time. But I have found that God leads us one step at a time. Philip was involved in a great revival in Samaria when God sent him out into the desert to meet one man, the Ethiopian eunuch who God had prepared to hear the gospel  (Acts 8:26-40).  God led Paul through various places and forbade him to preach there until He finally told him he was to go to Macedonia (Acts 16:6-10). But later God led Paul back to one of the places He had originally forbidden him to go, and he stayed there two years (Acts 19:8-10). God often leads us in ways we do not expect, and sometimes it is not clear what He wants us to do. I know in my own life, while there have been times when I have experienced definite leading from the Lord, there have been many other times I was not sure what He wanted me to do next. Many times we need to simply trust God and wait on Him until He shows us where He wants us to go next (Proverbs 3:5,6; Isaiah 40:31; Psalms 25:5).

Monday, August 8, 2011

Biblical Musings 15

Camel at a Convenience Store on the Road Between Jericho  and Jerusalem
And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." Luke 19:9,10 (NASV)

What does mean to seek and to save that which was lost? The man Jesus spoke this to in Jericho was Zaccheus, a traitor and a thief (what tax collectors were in those days). What kinds of people can we write off?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Biblical Musings 14

View Down from Masada
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Selah  Psalms 46:1-3 (NIV)

What does it mean that God is our refuge? Does this mean we will not have any problems?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Bride for the Prince

The Prince was given the task of interviewing various eligible women in the kingdom, that he might pick a bride. He did not really understand this, as he had thought his bride had been chosen for him already by his Father. But since he always did the will of his Father he proceeded with the process.

The first woman was elegantly dressed, with raven black hair. Her name was Pistos. She was quite formal, and well-versed in all matters of protocol and in the history and customs of the kingdom. (In fact, she seemed to know customs of the kingdom of which the Prince was unaware.) She was very exacting in carrying out and explaining these customs. But she did seem to the Prince to be somewhat rigid and demanding.

The next woman, named Chara, was very different. She rushed into the Prince's presence in casual clothes, with loose, flowing blonde hair. She was vivacious and enthusiastic, constantly cheerful and on the move. There did seem to be a problem, though, in getting her to slow down and stop talking. She seemed to follow every impulse without pause or consideration. And the Prince had to wonder how well she would hold up to the serious business of ruling.

Then entered a woman named Enkrateia, with subdued brown hair and simple, though slightly formal dress. She was efficient but commonsensical and seemed in control of herself and the situation. She believed in organization and rules, but only practical rules, none of those outmoded customs. Also, she opposed all whimsy and foolishness and preferred to get on with the practical aspects of life. But the Prince felt she might be too severe and controlled and might be lacking in compassion to those who did not meet her standards.

The Prince sat and contemplated the three women and wondered which to choose and wished He might have a mixture of the three. He also wondered if any of them might be the one his Father had chosen for him.

Then his Vicar, Pneuma, enters the throne-room and speaks, "There is something you must know about the women you have seen."

"What is it? " asked the Prince.

"They are all the same woman. She has worn different clothes and wigs and acted differently, but she is the same person."

"Is she insane?"

"No, but she is afraid of being rejected by you, so she has tried different ways to please you, hoping you will accept one of her guises. I believe with love and patience she can be healed."

"Is she the woman my Father chose for me?"

"Yes she is," the Vicar replied.

"Then I will exert all my love and patience to heal her," the Prince replied. "But tell her to dump the wigs."

Monday, August 1, 2011

Biblical Musings 13

Nazareth from Below

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)

In what way are we a city on a hill? What is involved in letting our light shine?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Biblical Musings 12

Hill with Caves Near Kursi, Traditional Dwelling of the Gadarene Demoniac
"You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil; for God was with Him. Acts 10:38 (NASV)

Are there there those who are oppressed by the devil today? How should we approach this subject?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Real Evil

One of the reasons that we as a society have moved from a black-and-white view of morality to the idea that morality is various shades of gray is the reliance on human beings as the standards of good and evil. But human beings are sinners (Romans 3:23; Jeremiah 17:9; Isaiah 64:6) and therefore cannot perfectly reflect real good. But they are also not perfectly evil, but still reflect some of the original moral character God created them with (Romans 2:14,15; James 1:17; Ecclesiastes 7:29). This means there is a danger for those who do hold to a black-and-white view of morality and who are in search of real good and real evil to glorify or vilify certain individuals or groups beyond what is justified by the circumstances. Now God is the source and standard for real good (Psalms 25:8; Mark 10:18; Nahum 1:7). Evil cannot have a source in the same sense because evil is a corruption of and a rebellion against good. But the chief instigators of evil in our world are in the spiritual realm (2 Corinthians 4:3,4; Hebrews 2:14,15; Ephesians 2:1,2), and they are the ones we battle (Ephesians 6:10-13; 1 Peter 5:8,9; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6). Therefore, we can put human beings in perspective, for they are all knowingly or unknowingly serving something beyond themselves. We need to look elsewhere to find the real standard and the real enemy. And we need to deal with other human beings in the light of those facts.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Biblical Musings 11

The Garden of Gethsemane, Where Jesus Prayed
And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NASV)

If the Lord Jesus and the Apostle Paul prayed and were refused, what does it say about our prayers? How should this affect our approach to prayer?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Biblical Musings 10

Catapult Stones from Maccabean Times, Tower of David Museum, Jerusalem
"And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."  Matthew 16:18,19 (NASV)

What are the implications of this statement? What is the power of binding and loosing? Who has this power?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Who Is in Control?

Does the world sometimes seem out of control? Does your life sometimes seem out of control? But more importantly, who should really be in control? Too often the answer we would prefer, if we really examine ourselves, is that we want to be in control ourselves. But as we look at the world around us, especially from the Christian point of view, it seems to be careening out of control. But God says that He is in control (Ephesians 1:11; Romans 8:28; Isaiah 46:10). Further, He says He is at work building His church (Matthew 16:18; 1 Corinthians 3:6,7; Colossians 2:19). He is also at work in our lives to accomplish His purposes (Ephesians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 3:5,6; Colossians 1:28,29). The problem is that this does not always involve what we want and what makes us comfortable. Sometimes it means going through times of hardship (John 16:33; Acts 14:22; 2 Corinthians 4:17,18). But we need to trust Christ to bring us through the difficulties, both in ourselves and in the world around us. Even if what happens is not what we want.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Biblical Musings 9

Church on the Traditional Site of the Sermon on the Mount
"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye and tooth for tooth,' but I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." Matthew 5:38-42 (NIV)

What does this passage mean? How should we apply it today?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Biblical Musings 8

The Sea of Galilee Looking Toward the Golan Heights.
Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth.  But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.  Luke 8:22-25 (KJV)

What are the implications of the fact Jesus told His disciples to row to the other side of the lake? How might they be relevant to our lives today?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What Is on the Agenda?

Christian leaders often say they do not want people in their congregation who have an agenda. What is an agenda, and is it a good or a bad thing? Now it needs to be noted from the outset that it is unreasonable for leaders to expect their followers to be totally plasticine and to conform to everything they hold. Also, the closest approach to this is to have only immature believers who remain immature. Once an individual becomes rooted in the Word of God and tests things by it, they are bound to develop some of their own opinions (Acts 17:11; Hebrews 5:13,14; 2 Timothy 3:16,17). The issue is, how do we make this work? The Biblical picture is that of unity in diversity (1 Corinthians 12:12-26; Ephesians 4:11-16; Philippians 2:1-11). This does not include the acceptance of genuine Biblical error in teaching and practice (Romans 16:17; Jude 3; 2 Timothy 4:1-4). But there does need to be an incorporation of different approaches. The problem comes when someone takes a minor issue and blows it so out of proportion that it becomes their whole focus. This can happen to leaders as well as followers, and for the leaders with this type of narrow point of view, everyone not in agreement with them has an agenda. But there are followers with their pet idea that they emphasize to the degree it becomes the cause of disruption. So one thing we need to do is ask ourselves, what are the things we are going to hold and promote, even if it means alienating others? And it is useful for both leaders and followers to try to synchronize their agendas, and if they cannot, someone may need to seek another place of fellowship. But we must be careful of promoting our pet ideas beyond the degree they really deserve to be defended.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Biblical Musings 7

View Down onto the Jezreel Valley from the Mound of Megiddo (Armageddon).
"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.  It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming -- in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning -- lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping.And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!" Mark 13:32-37 (NKJ)

What are the implications of this statement? How important are they to how we live our lives?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Biblical Musings 6

Remains of the Synagogue in Capernaum; Floor Is from Jesus' Time.
And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days. And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power. And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not. Luke 4:31-35(KJV)

We have here a manifestation of demonic influence in the house where God was worshiped.  Is this possible today? What would it look like?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

In Times of Trouble

How do we respond to people in times of suffering? We must start by avoiding jumping to the conclusion that their suffering must be due to sin on their part. Scripture clearly rebukes this idea (John 9:1-3; Job 1,2; Luke 13:1-5). Now there are cases where suffering may be the results of God's discipline in the person's life (Hebrews 12:5-11; 1 Corinthians 11:29-32; 2 Samuel 12:7-14). But we must be very careful of reaching the conclusion that this is what is happening without strong evidence (remember the rebuke of Job's comforters, Job 42:7-9). And if someone is involved in sin we need to correct them with care, following the Scriptural requirements (Galatians 6:1; 2 Timothy 2:24-26; Hebrews 12:12,13).

The Scripture further says we are to be genuinely concerned about the suffering of others (1 Corinthians 12:26,27; Romans 12:15; Galatians 6:2). This is hard because when you sympathize with others, you end up hurting with them. It seems easier (if less Scriptural) to keep them at arm's length. One way to do this is to just spout platitudes (it is unfortunately possible to turn Scripture into a platitude) to avoid actually becoming engaged in people's problems. There has been much said about listening versus speaking. I believe there can a place for speaking, but it is hard to be really concerned unless you listen. There has also been much said about whether or not to quote Bible verses. I also believe there is a place to use Bible verses, but not as a quick answer to avoid listening to and sympathizing with the person. Bible verses thoughtlessly quoted to a hurting person can come off as condemning rather then comforting. (As saying, surely you should have already known this.) But the main issue starts with the heart. If you are genuinely concerned with the person and their pain, it will help keep you away from pitfalls.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Biblical Musings 5

Replica of Sign Warning Gentiles out of Jewish Area of the Temple, Tower of David Museum, Jerusalem
Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh -- who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands -- that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. Ephesians 2:11-16 (NKJ)

How might this apply today? Are there walls we have built in the Christian church that need to come down? What are they and how do we do it?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Biblical Musings 4

Statue of Elijah at Traditional Site on Mt Carmel
Elijah went before the people and said, "How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him." But the people said nothing. I King 18:21 (NIV)

What does it mean to waver between two opinions? How might it be found manifesting itself today? How can we avoid it?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Evangelism and God's Choice

What effect does a belief in God's election (Ephesians 1:4; Romans 9:19-24; Acts 13:48) have on evangelism? The effect it should not have is discouraging us from doing it. God has called us to be the instruments He will use to spread His truth (Romans 10:14,15; Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Timothy 2:10). God uses means to produce His ends, and I am one of the means He uses. If  I refuse, God will still find a way to accomplish His purposes, but I am guilty of disobedience to His commands. What God's election does is help me avoid trusting in my abilities or even engaging in manipulation when it comes to evangelism (1 Corinthians 2:1-5; 1 Thessalonians 2:3,4; 2 Timothy 4:3,4). If I believe that only the work of God can bring someone to Christ (John 6:44,45; 1:12,13; Romans 8:29,30), then while I should work to do things well, I should not trust in my ability or methods. Also, if I believe that only God can bring someone to Himself, I am less likely to be discouraged or even angry when I am rebuffed or my overtures are rejected. It therefore makes it easier to approach the situation with the gentleness required by Scripture (1 Peter 3:15; 2 Timothy 2:24-26; Colossians 4:6). It also helps to prevent discouragement if there is a lack of immediate results. If it is God who produces the results, I can persevere, trusting that God is in control of the situation (1 Corinthians 3:6,7; Matthew 16:18; 2 Corinthians 3:5,6). I would therefore conclude that God's election, properly understood, is an aid to evangelism rather then a hindrance.