Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Genesis Chapter Two

Genesis Chapter Two
Adam & Eve

Verses 1-3 The word “rested” comes from the Hebrew word “shabat” and doesn’t imply fatigue by means “ceased”. Because God had completed the work of creation He simply ceased working. Our God is not a god who grows tied. He is the true God with unlimited power and unlimited knowledge. As humans we certainly don’t have unlimited anything and need to rest. That is why God gave the provision and example for us to do so.

Verses 4-26 We are not looking at a second creation here but a second account of creation. The account in Genesis 2 is more detailed and doesn’t contradict the account of chapter 1 but instead gives us more information.

Verse 7 Life comes from God! Not only is he the creator of all but He also is the one who gives life. Not only that but He is also the one who removes the “breath of life.” Our time is literally in God’s hands and we should live that way. The bottom line is that we are not the one’s who are in control. We’d like to think we are but we just can’t ignore the evidence that proves otherwise.

Verses 15-17 Here we see free will introduced. From the beginning of time man has had to choose God’s will over his own. God doesn’t force us into love and obedience because he wants us to be genuine in our love for Him. A slave has no choice but to be obedient. There is no genuine loyalty and there certainly is no devotion in forced obedience. We would be followers of God because we have to be and not because we want to be.

Verse 24 God’s plan for marriage is clearly laid out here in this verse. A healthy marriage consists of three things found in verse 24.

I - Leaving things behind (father and mother) and devotion to one another.

Many marriages fall into trouble because they can’t leave behind past relationships and tendencies that are unhealthy to the marriage. Men and women can’t run home at the first sign of trouble and they can’t maintain a healthy marriage if they are more devoted to other things.

A good job may support a spouse but if a person is more devoted to that job than they are the spouse they are trying to provide for then they are doing more harm than good to their marriage. To be devoted to a spouse means that the majority of your attention and quality time are devoted towards them. Working long hours may make you more money but it won’t grow a marriage.

II – A man and a woman are joined together and they both love their mate above all else.

I don’t know for sure how far I want to go down this road but the bible clearly illustrates that God intended marriage, and sex for that matter, to be between a man and a woman. Remember, at this point the world is perfect and so we can say that this was God’s perfect plan for marriage with no alternatives.

The bible gives us a clear definition of what love is in 1 Corinthians 13. I had just stated previously that a person has to be fully devoted to their spouse and the only way to completely do that is to love them above all else, including yourself.

III – The two become intimate.

Notice that intimacy wasn’t first on this list. Marriages based solely on a sexual relationship are doomed from the start because at some point that initial attraction is going to wear off. Then what are you left with?

Devotion and love will always lead to greater intimacy. However intimacy very seldom leads to greater love and devotion.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Genesis Chapter 1

Genesis Chapter 1
The Beginning

You may have heard people say that it requires more faith to believe that the universe and our planet “just happened” and that we as people “evolved.” Consider this, the galaxy that we live in spins at the speed of 490,000 miles an hour and still needs 200 million years just to make one rotation. Some scientists will tell you that the number of stars in space is equal to the grains of sand on all the beaches in the world and yet it all spins with order and efficiency. The odds of something like that happening by chance are literally zero.

Understanding that God created us and the world in which we live in gives us an accurate understanding of just how valuable we are. God chose to create the universe and everything in it and he chose to create us as his masterpiece. We are the finishing touches, the centerpieces, on an amazing work of art. Just about every ancient religion has a story about how the earth came into existence but only the Bible teaches that God created it for the purpose of man’s pleasure and enjoyment and that he created man to fellowship with. That places value on every person!

But still the question remains, how did he do it? One of the secular theories out there is the Big Bang Theory in which there was some sort of cosmic explosion that resulted in the formation of our solar system and the very planet on which we live. Verse two tells us that the earth was, “formless and empty”. There was nothing there! Over the next six days God would give form to the universe and fill the earth with living things. The inertia and general energy expelled by going from nothing to everything we have in our universe would be the same as a massive explosion thus giving way to scientific evidence indicating as much.

Days of Creation
First Day: Light
Second Day: Sky and water
Third Day: Land and seas; vegetation
Fourth Day: Sun, moon and stars
Fifth Day: Fish and birds
Sixth Day: Animals, man and woman
Seventh Day: God rested

Verses 26-31 take us through the sixth day when man was created. We learn from the bible that the Spirit of God (Job 33:4, Psalm 104:30) and that Jesus (Colossians 1:16) were present at and at work in creation. This is why we find the use of the plural word, “us” in verse 26.

We aren’t made in the exact likeness of God because God has no physical body. Instead this, “image” we are created with is the character of God. We are reflections of God’s glory and we are to reflect his likeness in our relationships with other people.

In verse 28 God tells Adam and Eve that they are to, “rule over” the creation. We recognize that ultimately God is in control and has the ultimate rule over the earth but in this delegation of responsibility we see God’s love for mankind by allowing humans to be in control of the creation.

The Christian mindset that everything belongs to God and that we are nothing more than His children in possession of His belongings is extremely accurate. Your spouse, your children, your finances, all that you have and the world that you live in all belong to God and are on loan to you for your pleasure. We stop finding pleasure in these when we lose this mindset and begin to abuse them by not honoring and treating them as God’s and not ours.

Genesis chapter one is crucial to the Christian belief for several reasons. To take the words, “In the beginning God” to heart leaves no room for any other methods of creation. It establishes God as the Supreme Being who is motivated by love. He created you and said that, “it was good.” You and I are not accidents and neither is the world that we live in. Motivated by love, God designed and created everything with a purpose. We become fulfilled when we live by that purpose and honor our creator in everything we do. Remember, you were designed to have the character of God. That is how you should live!

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Discipline of Giving

The story is told that when General Sam Houston gave his life to Christ and was baptized that the minister, Dr. Rufus Burleson, noticed that he had a watch and chain on his vest. He said, “Mr. Houston, you probably want to take that off before you’re baptized, because it will get ruined.” So he takes it off and hands it to a friend. Then Dr. Burleson adds, “You may want to take your wallet out, too, and hand it to your friend.” Sam Houston replied, “No, my wallet needs baptizing, too.”

There is an unfortunate movement in some Christian circles that says the discipline of tithing is not biblical. I say unfortunate because it couldn’t be further from the truth. Some will argue that it was a practice of the Old Testament Law and later abolished in the New Testament. Others say that it is an unfair manmade practice that is easy for the rich and difficult on the poor. Yet, others will argue that it is just ministers manipulating their congregations into providing them with luxurious lifestyles. All of these show a person’s biblical ignorance as well as the true condition of one’s heart. It was for reasons like this that Jesus warned that, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21) While just about anyone can argue with the logic of man it becomes impossible for a Christian to argue with the Word of God. So what I would like to do is address the aforementioned arguments with what the Scriptures say.

Yes, the discipline of tithing was part of the Old Testament law but it actually predates the law. We read in Malachi chapter 3 where God chastises the nation of Israel for not bringing the “full tithe” to the storehouse and accuses the people of “robbing God” for withholding their tithes. Obviously God is interested enough in the tithe to include it in the law and to discipline the people for not giving it so why would it be a practice that He’d stop? We’ll get to that in a minute but let’s look at where it started. In Genesis Chapter 14 we read that after Abram returned from victory in battle we would receive a blessing from God and then (in verse 20) give to the Lord, “a tenth of everything.” (On a quick side note the word “tithe” literally means a tenth.) Not only did this action take place long before the law would be given it also even takes place before the Abrahamic Covenant. So we know that the practice of tithing had been around for centuries before we read Malachi’s charge in the final book of the Old Testament but was it a practice condoned by Jesus in the New Testament? The answer is, ABSOLUTELY!

Keep in mind that the New Testament demands more than the Old. In the Old Testament we read, “Do not commit adultery.” Exodus 20:13-14 However, we also read that, “if you think of a woman lustfully then you have committed adultery.” Matthew 5:28 Later on Jesus would chastise the scribes and Pharisees for neglecting justice, mercy and faith but would commend them for tithing (Matthew 23:23 ). The point being made is that tithing is a practice that goes along with the other aspects of the Christian lifestyle. It just isn’t a part of the law (both Old and New Testament) it is an important part of the law. Keep in mind that Jesus didn’t come to abolish the law but to fulfill it Read Matthew 5:19-19

Now, how about it being unfair because it is easy on the rich and hard on the poor? Let me ask you which is more difficult, giving $10 or $100-1000? The great thing about the tithing principle is that for a person who is spiritually disciplined is that is isn’t really difficult. When you consider all the minimal things we send 10% or more of our paychecks on then you see where tithing is a reasonable practice instituted by God. Where the difficulty comes is when your 10% is a larger amount rather than a small one. I heard the story once of a businessman who made a covenant with his pastor to always tithe 10% of his profits to the church. When the man’s business grew into a multimillion dollar a year business he began to think of all the other things he could do with the hundreds of thousands of dollars he was tithing to the church. He went and met with the pastor and told him of the struggle and said that he was seriously considering no longer tithing 10% because the amount had grown so large. He ended by asking the pastor to pray for him to which the pastor replied he would pray that the Lord would decrease his profits back to where giving 10% was once again manageable.

The thing is that 10% is manageable to anyone and when you develop the attitude that you are returning 10% of the 100% God has blessed you with back to Him then it also becomes reasonable. The issue of tithing has nothing to do with the pastor of your church, the size of the congregation, the worship style or the ministry plans. It has everything to do with the condition of a person’s heart. The assumption that failing to tithe is a sin and shows a lack of faith is a correct one. That was the whole point that God was making in Malachi chapter 3 when God said that the people were robbing him. Rather than getting offended get your heart right by trusting completely in Christ and living by faith. It isn’t about manipulation it’s about salvation! A person who is a Christian should show a strong desire to live by the principles and disciplines of the Christian lifestyle.

Unfortunately scandal has hit the church just as it has in the business world, the sports world and even in politics. However people still invest in Fortune 500 companies, they still pay hundreds of dollars to attend sporting events and they still vote. I find it ironic that they choose the church to single out because of scandal. You can’t judge all of Christianity based on the unfortunate decisions of some ministers who lost sight of their calling. Just like you can’t judge the entire sports and business world as well as all politicians based on the mistakes of a minority of the people in those professions.

Just keep in mind that your giving to the work of the Lord has everything to do with your relationship to Him and nothing else. We live in a society that excuses almost everything and makes excuses for not doing the right thing. I hope and pray that the tithe isn’t the next thing on the list.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Just the Facts

Did you know that 13 people die a year from a vending machine falling on them, 40% of women have hurled foot ware at men, 50% of bank robberies take place on a Friday, 90% of boats sold are used for fishing, 90% of women who walk into a department store turn right, a car is stolen every 30 sec in the US, 200 babies are born every minute, approx 97.3978271128 of statistics are made up, assuming Rudolph was in front there are 40,320 ways to rearrange the other 8 reindeer, August is the most popular moth to have a baby, the average 4 year old asks 400 questions a day, adults spend approx. 14 minutes in the shower a day, average person speaks 31,500 words a day, average female spends 2 years of her life on the phone, average person spends 2 years of life waiting for traffic lights to change? Did you know that I may have just constructed the longest run on sentence, ever?

It’s amazing how many useless facts we keep track of. They are interesting to read and usually fun to look at but really they aren’t good for anything at all. If you memorize them they just become useless information stored in our brain that we do nothing with.

Here’s one for you. Did you know that 89% of the population of Nigeria attends a church of some kind as opposed to 44% of the population here in the United States ? In fact the U.S. is 11th among all the nations in church attendance percentage but is third in the world in population with 301,139,947 people. Last one, I promise. A recent survey showed that over 90% of unchurched people would go if someone would just ask them.

What’s the point? As believers in Christ we have an obligation to share with other people what we know about love, joy, peace, forgiveness, acceptance, heaven, hell, eternity, salvation, purpose and invite them to the church where you learned those things. Otherwise we are just retaining useless information.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ben Stein Making the Debate Interesting Again!

Let’s be honest. The Creationism/Darwinism debate isn’t going away any time soon but Ben Stein’s new film “Exposed” sheds some new light on the debate. Not from the “God created” vs. “nothing created” perspective but from the freedom of speech perspective. Creationists are labeled to be narrow minded judgmental people but that couldn’t be more false. In fact, as this film exposes, it is the Darwinist who could be tagged with that label for their aggressive and hateful attacks on creationists simply for questioning a theory that isn’t backed by any hard evidence. (For great examples of this just look at the videos posted on YouTube in response to the trailer for Stein’s film.)

Darwinist are still frantically looking for the evidence that has been missing from the very beginning in order to validate their theory while Creationists have the evidence that all of creation points to a designer backed by the validity and historical accuracy of the bible. However it is Darwinism that is taught and regarded as actual fact and Creationism as some far out theory with no evidence that only the ignorant hold on to.

The debate will continue to rage on but as this film exposes the labels need to be swapped.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Is Capital Punishment a Sin?

There has been some talk in the news recently about the death penalty and whether it is constitutional or not. As the nationwide halt on executions is expiring I have to admit that my initial thought was disgust. Not in the fact that death row inmates will soon be facing the consequences of their actions but rather in the fact that there is such a huge battle to protect convicted killers but not unborn children. I don’t want to turn this post into an abortion debate but I do want to say that this issue speaks volumes to how backwards our society has become.

There is a biblically ignorant argument out there where people will tell you that the bible says, “Thou shall not kill.” The reason I say this is ignorant is because the bible doesn’t say that at all. In Exodus chapter 20, where God is delivering the 10 Commandments, we find that it actually says not to commit “murder.” Now, simple logic tells us that there is a huge difference between the two. Is a soldier engaged in battle or a man who is protecting is family guilty of murder if their actions result in someone’s death? Well…no! However, a person who commits a crime which results in the death of another person is and those are the men and women who we find on death row.

God does value human life and He does love each and every human on the face of the earth but the bible over and again teaches accountability. We are responsible for our actions! Newton’s third law teaches that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. We know that the consequence for murder could be the death penalty. If that isn’t enough to deter a person from committing the act then they should be prepared to deal with the reaction.

Since the beginning of civilization cultures have reserved the most severe penalties for the most severe crimes. Even among God’s chosen people, the Israelites, murder was dealt with swiftly and justly. Even living under God’s grace we must face the consequences of our actions. We can find forgiveness in Christ but the consequences for our actions against others remains.
Add to the discussion: Share your thoughts and views on Capital Punishment and vote on the opinion poll in the forum.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Oprah Cult

This video should be a startling revelation to Christians all over the world regardless of denomination or location. Oprah is a world known figure and she is leading millions of people astray from the truth of the Gospel with a watered down humanistic view of God. Here are just a few of my responses to her contradictions of God.

Yes, there is only one way. Jesus made that very clear in John 14:6 when he declared, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Just because a person can’t fathom the reality of this statement doesn’t make it any less true. Jesus warned of false prophets and people who would attempt to lead others astray and that is exactly what Oprah is attempting to do. Regardless of how you feel about her show and the millions of dollars that she gives to charity the idea that there are other ways to get to heaven other than through a relationship with Jesus Christ is a lie that has severe eternal consequences.

Yes, God is a jealous God. He is everything that Oprah describes Him to be. He is all powerful, all present, all knowing and all loving but He’s also a jealous God. The Old Testament refers to God as being jealous 10 times. Here’s what many people don’t understand about God’s jealousy. It is motivated by love. You see we are all creations of a Holy God. He is an artist and we are His masterpieces. Of all his created beings we are the only ones that He loves enough to sacrifice himself on the cross for. Because of His amazing love for us He desires that we worship Him and Him alone. When we refuse to believe in Him or live a lifestyle that does not honor Him he becomes jealous of the attention that we are not giving to Him. This isn’t doctrinal its biblical.

10 Then the LORD said: "I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the LORD, will do for you. 11 Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 12 Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you. 13 Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles. 14 Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. Exodus 34:10-14

Rather than make an attempt to understand this concept Oprah is moving away from it because it is easier to serve and please ourselves than it is God. She is instead teaching that we can worship ourselves and find satisfaction it that. However, the worship of self is also what the Church of Satan teaches.

God wasn’t made in man’s image. Rather man was made in God’s image. Again what we are dealing with is a person’s inability to understand and live by biblical principles. To accept the biblical God a person has to accept the lifestyle that goes with it. Because people would rather create their own standard of holiness than the way the bible says we should live we try to “logically” say that is a religious law or doctrine made by man so in turn they actually do create their own man made religious laws and doctrines and follow them.

Yes, Christians are to be the light of the world and here is the full text of what Eckhart is trying to quote.

13"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

14"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither 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. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:13-16

What Jesus is saying is that Christians (people who actually believe in Him) should live a lifestyle that benefits those around them through sharing the love, joy and peace of Christ and ultimately bring glory to God. This passage in no way indicates that because we are the “conscious of the world” that we should create a new image of God where the standard of holiness is different from what is lined out in the bible.

How ironic is it though that two people who are trying to deny the biblical view of God will actually use a quote from Jesus to try lure people away from the Gospel. Talk about a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The other thing is that he (Eckhart) says that he doesn’t think about eternity (life after death) but will quote the teachings of Jesus. What kind of hope is there if this world is all we get? What kind of religion teaches that you have your human existence (75 years) and that is it? Here’s the truth, you can’t have Jesus without an afterlife. You can’t quote one passage from the teachings of Christ and then deny the biblical view of God. It is all or nothing and regardless of your view of God there will be an eternity for everyone. Refusing to believe that and attempting to explain to millions of people why it isn’t logical to you doesn’t make is any less true.

By the way I don’t believe him that he doesn’t think of what happens after death simply because every person who has ever lived does. The difference is that this cult that they are trying to get people to buy into doesn’t answer the questions about eternity and therefore can’t be discussed because it leaves a big open hole in their belief system. That hole is called hope and discussing eternity would cause millions of people to realize that the Oprah Cult leaves you without any.
God is very much about a belief. Again we find humanistic logic that says we have to see (or in Oprah’s case feel) to believe. The requirement for a Christian lifestyle is that we believe in God and in Jesus Christ his son as our Lord and Savior.

9That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. Romans 10:9-10

You are not a God and you never will be! You aren’t holy on your own account and you can’t be! Our natural inclination is to be rebellious towards the things of God putting each and every one of us in the need to be reconciled to God. Because of God’s love for us we can become reconciled to Him and made holy but make no mistake it will be totally because of God and not of ourselves. Submission to Christ doesn’t make you a God but it will make you a child of God.

26You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26

You can see more videos on Operah's beliefs on the message board.