and the One who walks with me on it.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Thought for the Day- Biblical Worldview

       Less than 1 out of 5 ‘born again’ (over 23 yrs) adults have Biblical worldview.  This means that only one in five ‘born again’ see the world through the truths of the Bible.  Is it any surprise then that the stats for kids are even worse?  For ages 18 to 23, less than one half of one percent (.5%) has a Biblical worldview.

The Barna Group defined those as having a biblical worldview if they believed:
     • that absolute moral truth exists
     • that the Bible is completely inerrant
     • that Satan is a real being, not symbolic
     • that a person cannot earn their way into the kingdom
     of God though good works
     • that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth
     • that God is the supreme Creator of the heavens
     and the earth and reigns over the whole universe today

Now, with those simple statements above reread the stats on adults and kids.

                                   *     *     *     *     *     *

       Our kids spend an average of 30 hours per week in public schools where they teach whether overtly or covertly:  moral relativism, evolution, homosexual acts as acceptable, there are no absolutes, sexual promiscuity is okay- just be careful, a fetus is not a baby, do what pleases you, you can do anything you want, etc

       Our kids spend an average of 30 hours per week in front of a TV screen watching sexually suggestive or lewd commercials, sexualized sitcoms, Christian bashing, morally brainwashing (today’s values, ethics and morals), that make bad attitudes, morals, work ethics, and speech funny and even acceptable.

       Most kids spend an additional average of 20 hours per week connecting with friends online chatting, posting, or playing video games.  In this I also include searching online for funny posters with interesting pictures and words, where they are bombarded with commercialism at its finest.

       There is also a big percentage of kids who rarely stop using their cell phones or other devices to text, often even in the middle of the night, and listening to non-Christian, sexualized, morally corrupt music, with skewed values and beliefs.

       In contrast, the average time spent by a kid (per week) under Biblical teaching in a church is 45 minutes.  Is it any wonder our kids don’t have a Biblical worldview?  Also, is it any wonder nearly 75 percent of Christian young people leave the church after high school?

       So, what are we doing about it?  

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.
You shall teach them diligently to your children,
and shall talk of them when you sit in your house,
and when you walk by the way,
and when you lie down,
and when you rise.
Dt. 6:6,7 ESV

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Squishy Shoe

       Wednesday I had to go to a meeting, but I didn’t have a car to get home so I had to ride my bike.  Unfortunately it was raining, and though I had a raincoat to keep the upper part of my body dry, I didn’t find my rain pants to protect my legs.  After 10 km, my jogging pants became saturated and the left pant leg began to drip quantities of water into my shoe.

       There was nothing I could do but press on.  It wasn’t comfortable when I had to apply heavier pressure like when I needed to start after stopping, or due to opposing wind.  The water squishing up around the top of my foot every time I pressed down was cold and felt awful.  Still, I had to continue to get home and put up with the discomfort.

       Sometimes in life we have to do the hard, uncomfortable things that we really don’t want to do.  Parenting is like that far more than I’d like it to be!  You know, we have to apply pressure even when it will make us unhappy/ the bad guy/ the mean mom etc.- and when we get the cold shoulder for doing what we believe is right.

       There are other things we need to do that make us uncomfortable.  One is confront a brother or sister over being offended or them taking offence.  First off, it is not our place to spread the issue around to anyone else (Jm. 4:11), even by hinting.  We must “Forgive each other(Eph. 4:32) and take it to the Lord in prayer, then “speaking the truth in love(Eph. 4:15) confront the person who offended or is offended.  The person may not even know we are offended.

But if your brother shall trespass* against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear you, take one or two more with you, so that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it to the church.  Mt. 18:15-17  (*miss the mark, err, sin, offend)

       It is important to approach a person in humility because often they may not know they’ve hurt us.  In the past, the people I’ve approached (a thoroughly uncomfortable time) profusely apologized to me, none meant to hurt me, and forgiveness brought restoration for all.  If it cannot be worked out, then one or two more (wise and trustworthy) witnesses may be needed.  If the shoe is on the other foot and the person who acts offended around you won’t admit to a problem, you can bring in witnesses to see that you are trying your best and the person is still denying a problem.

Brothers, if a man is overtaken in a fault, you the spiritual ones restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering yourself, lest you also be tempted.  Gal. 6:1

       Another time, there was a speaker who made a few Biblically untrue statements about the Exodus story- I thought perhaps for effect.  Afterwards I wanted to tell him, but instead decided to write a letter, yet in the end, I didn’t do anything.  It was too uncomfortable for me to confront him, and it wasn’t a doctrinal issue anyway- so I told myself.  But it is our responsibility to correct others in Biblical err (always with love and humility), for some day we might need similar correction ourselves.  I would prefer someone correcting me over teaching wrong things which later would embarrass me more.

All Scripture is God-breathed, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness… 2Tm. 3:16
(Jesus said) “You err, not knowing the Scriptures…”  Mt. 22:29

       We can all err, from the new believer to the forty year veteran.  Not one human knows the Bible perfectly or is perfect in our attitudes and actions.  That is why the Word is needed for reproof and correction.  Just because the Bible says, “love will cover a multitude of sins*...” (1Pt. 4:8) doesn’t mean we just ignore the issue; sometimes we have to press through the uncomfortable thing and get the job done (confront it), for love doesn’t leave a brother in error or offence.  We need to step up and do the tough stuff because we are all on this journey together and we are all the same body under the headship of Jesus Christ (Col. 1:18).

(*miss the mark, be mistaken, err, wander, go wrong, sin)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

“I’m Afraid”

       Many years ago when my daughter was about 7 yrs old she expressed her fear to me as I tucked her into bed that night.  I asked her what she was afraid of.  The strangest answer came out of her mouth, “because Cousin Colin might be in the tunnel and the tunnel might break and the water come in and drown him.”  I was stunned for a couple minutes not knowing what to say.

       There was no reason for her to even think of this as a possibility!  He rarely went to the states, he could always take the bridge, she was probably only in the tunnel once or twice, and none of these subjects had been freshly discussed.  Where did this irrational fear come from?  We all have fears whether rational or not.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.  Ps. 23:4

       Fear seems to enclose us: job loss, disease such as cancer, financial ruin, broken relationships, foreclosure, gangs, rape, robbery, assault, etc., but especially death.  The news helps promote fear by reminding us of all the evil that surrounds us- continually.  Our bodies are closer to dying every minute and with accidents, disease, violence and sin we live in the shadow of death every day.

       Just the other day I was a little fearful about one of my kid’s future.  Talking to the Lord about it, He asked me if I thought He feared.  After almost laughing I thought, ‘No.  You are the most powerful being in the universe.  You are more powerful than the universe and everyone/ everything in it.  Your power is immeasurable.’  The immensity of His power settled deep within me as I meditated on it.  Then I heard that still small voice whispering, “My Spirit dwells in you.” (Rom. 8:11)

       His Spirit dwells in me!  Long ago I stopped fearing death for that only affects my body, but my spirit will live on in heaven.  O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?(1Cor. 15:55)  His Spirit lives in me and there is no fear in Him- I never thought about it that way before.  If the most powerful being is my Father and His Spirit lives in me, then really, why fear?  For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption by which we cry, Abba, Father!  (Rom. 8:15).

       Years ago I realized that nothing or no one could kill me one nano-second before the Lord wanted me home- and the same goes for my family.  But other fears still poke their heads up once in a while.  {Maybe not so much anymore.}  I don’t have to be afraid of what others think of me, or can do to me (Ps. 27:1) because God Almighty is on my side walking with me through any trouble (Ps. 23:4).  He gives me His peace so I am not afraid (Jh. 14:27).  When natural disaster strikes, I do not need to fear (Ps. 46:2).

       As I sleep at night, fear does not need to consume me, “When you lie down, you shall not be afraid…” (Pr. 3:24).  And when other fears creep up, I can call on Him to deliver me from them (Ps. 34:4; Jer. 1:8).  Fear is not from God but from our enemy (2Tm. 1:7) who seeks to destroy (Jh. 10:10) but Christ has given us the victory (1Cor. 15:57).

       It comes down to the same basic issue I always seem to be dealing with- trusting myself and my loved ones completely in His care.  If I do this, leave myself and loved ones in His care, then what have I to worry about or fear?  Nothing!  He is more than able to exceed all my expectations (Eph. 3:20).  “…My peace I give to youLet not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (Jh. 14:27)

          Do not fear; for I am with you;
                    be not dismayed; for I am your God. I will make you strong;
          yes, I will help you;
                    yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of My righteousness.
                                              Is. 41:10

Monday, April 22, 2013

Me Do

       Ready for bed, she looked up to her Dad with her bright smile and engaging eyes as she reached up for her big stuffed bear sitting on the table.  Trying to help his 2+ yr old, Dad went to pick the over-sized bear up and give it to her.  Her eyes became resolute and she cried out, “Me Do”.  Dad smiled and said, “Okay!  He watched her struggle to get the bear down, and fall on her bum as it came down.  She fell about five more times walking with that big bear before she finally looked up tearful and said, “Daddy?  Daddy rescued his little girl and carried her and her bear into the bedroom to go to sleep.

       At the age of 8, she grabbed more toys than she could handle to go downstairs into the rec. room with her friend to play and Dad spoke up, “Do you want any help?”  No, I can do it.  You don’t have to carry them all by yourself.  I can help.  She flashed her frustrated eyes at him to say, ‘You should know better.  I can do this on my own’ and she continued to her destination dropping toys, becoming more irritated every time she had to pick one up.  She couldn’t see the stairs, missed a step half way down, the toys flew all over and she fell down and twisted her ankle.

       At 18 she was determined to take the final load up to her dorm herself and she said her good-byes to her Dad.  Please hon, let me help, or at least let me wait here while you bring a smaller load up.  She looked at him with disdain, “Daaad!  She hugged him, strapped her laptop backpack on her back, her purse strung over one shoulder and a bag of clothes over the other, and she stooped to pick up her two heavy suitcases.  Dad watched her waddle back and forth, struggling with each step as she went toward the door, hoping and praying she’d make it safely up the three flights of stairs.

       This foolish, stubborn girl is me- only it isn’t a literal story, but a symbolic one on how obstinate I’ve been in my walk with the Lord.  The other day I remembered how often I tried to carry my own overwhelming stuff while subconsciously saying, “I can do this!” I stumbled, fell, even getting hurt, yet resisted asking the Lord for help.  ‘He’s too busy anyway, right?’ I thought.  A decade later I was still trying to carry all life’s issues on my own.  If I juggled them just right I wouldn’t stumble but things kept coming down and smashing at my feet.

       Late in 2005 I was still carrying a load, but it had become unbearable and I was buckling under the weight.  “Why, why have you given me this load?” I would cry out, “This is too much for me to bear!”  My Father watched as I sank under the weight by refusing to let go, but He kept whispering, “Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.(Mt. 11:28) It wasn’t God’s fault I was carrying such a heavy load, but mine.  I kept trying to do it on my own.  ‘Me do!’  While my stubbornness has benefited my life in certain ways, it has also nearly killed me (no exaggeration).

       Eventually I realized my need to drop it all at my Father’s feet (1Pt. 5:7) for Him to carry because He has the strongest, biggest shoulders for it all.  For he will deliver the needy when they cry out for help…” (Ps. 72:12)  There is great freedom in relying on the Lord to carry our burdens and weights in this life.  I learned that if I put my trust in Him to carry me AND my burdens, and stop trying to do it on my own, my journey is easier to walk (Pr. 3:5,6) and instead of buckling under the weight, His strength holds me up and His peace and joy remain in me (Is. 26:3; Php 4:6,7).

It’s okay now Dad…   You Do!

Cast on the LORD whatever he sends your way, and he will sustain you.
He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.
Ps. 55:22 (all ISV)

Even until your old age, I am the one, and I'll carry you even until your gray hairs come. It is I who have created, and I who will carry, and it is I who will bear and save.
Is. 46:4

Blessed be the Lord who daily carries us. God is our deliverer.
Ps. 68:19

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Mark 16 Controversy- Part 3

-The Great Commission

       While some scholars do not include Mark 16:9-20 as part of the gospel, I do, for the reasons that follow.  All but one verse have comparable verses elsewhere.  Jesus speaks of believers who will also do the works He did- many of which were very miraculous.  V.8 would end Mark’s gospel negatively- unlike the other 3 gospels, but v.19,20 as the ending are similar to the others in style.  As well, early church fathers quoted it as did at least one historian at that time.  But whether or not we accept it as legitimate, we’ve got to decide on all the other corresponding Scriptures.

Remember Jesus said:
"Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works* that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.  Jh. 14:12 ESV 
(for further meaning read Friday’s post)
So what works did Jesus do?  This list is not a complete list, but He said to tell John what ‘you hear and see’:
*the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear; the dead are raised, and the poor have the gospel proclaimed to them.  Mt. 11:4,5

       Should there be signs today?  I don’t see where God put a time limit on it, except for 1Cor. 13:8-10 YLT, “…and whether there be prophecies, they shall become useless; whether tongues, they shall cease; whether knowledge, it shall become useless; for in part we know, and in part we prophecy; and when that which is perfect may come, then that which is in part shall become useless.  Who or what is perfect?  Only Jesus and/or Heaven, so at the time He comes or Heaven is ours, these other things won’t be needed anymore.  (No more healings for we’ll all be in perfect health, no dead people raised as death is no more, etc.)

       Others think only the apostles or disciples could do these things, or just someone specially anointed nowadays.  Jh. 14 says, “whoever believes” and Mk. 16:17 says, “those believing”.  Scriptures- signs, miracles, wonders done through:
        -12 disciples (including Judas!) Mt. 10:1-11:1 (then as apostles in Acts)
        -70 disciples Lk. 10:9-17
        -Stephen Ac. 6:8; Ananias Ac. 9:17,18; Barnabas Ac. 14:3
        -the Galatians Gal. 3:5   (these are only the ones found in the Bible)

       While I don’t think we should ‘look’ for signs to prove anything, there is nothing wrong with desiring all God has for us.  1Cor. 12:31 says, “…zealously strive after the better gifts…” and 1Cor. 14:1 includes, “…desire spiritual things…” and these gifts include Holy Spirit workings- words of wisdom or knowledge, faith, healings, power of miracles, prophesies, discerning of spirits, tongues and interpretation (1Cor. 12:8-10).  The apostles earnestly prayed for boldness to speak, and that God would heal, do miracles and wonders (Ac. 4:29-30)Were they wrong to pray for this?

Why signs, wonders and such?  Mk. 16:17, “…signs* will follow to those believing…”  Paul spoke of ministering the gospel (Rom. 15:16) through signs and wonders (v.19) to confirm what he spoke (Heb. 2:3,4). (*miracle, sign, token, wonder)
        -to prove minister is sent by God (Ac. 2:43; 2Cor. 12:12)
        -to prove the message is from God (Ac. 8:6)
        -to meet our needs (Mt. 16:8-10; Lk. 8:22-25)
        -as judgment (Ac. 5:1-10)
        -to bring glory to God (Ac. 2:7,12; 3:10; 11:8; 12:10)
        -to bring fear of the Lord or conviction (Ac. 5:11; 7:57; 16:29; 19:17)
        -that they might believe (Ac. 9:35,42; 13:12)
        -to know who Jesus is (Mt. 14:33; Ac. 9:34,35)
        -the gentiles at Caesarea (Ac. 10:45)

So, one question always remains for me.  Where are the signs in conjunction with the gospel preaching?