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Blogs I Follow

The Presidents Club

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The Surest Defense Against Evil

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The Triumph of Grace

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Contemplating God’s Sovereignty

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How Should We Then Live?

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Not a Timid Christianity

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Finishing the Race

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Because the Time is Near

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Revelation Song (YouTube)

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Where The Wind Blows

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Doing Great Things

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Recognizing a False Prophet

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The Power of Forgiveness

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Created for Relationships

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The Only Way I Know

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Faith: The Misunderstood Doctrine

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Our True Home Address

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‘Tis the Season . . . for L-O-V-E

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The Paris Terrorist Attack and the Problem of Evil

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Cherry Picking 101

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Love Sweet Love

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So Goes The Culture

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Idols of the Heart

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Divisions Are Not Always Bad

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The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

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There’s No Such Thing As Impossible

Luke 1:37

I was driving down a major road in a suburb of Orlando this afternoon when the following song came on the major Christian radio station here in Orlando–Z88.3, also known as the “Z.” It’s a fairly new song titled, Impossible,” (as in There’s No Such Thing As Impossible,”) by Building 429 (see YouTube Video below). As I listened to it, I suddenly had this realization that I had left a big part out of my “saga” over the past six plus years that I wrote about in two very recent blog posts.

On June 13, 2015, I wrote a blog post titled, Hanging In There,” and on June 19, 2015, I wrote a post that was somewhat of a sequel to it titled, The Times They Are A-Changin.'” In the first post I wrote about some evidence I found after I was fired from my job in Houston that clearly showed there was some, shall we say, “shenanigans” going on–to say the very least–which I sent to my lawyer back then but I never got a response from her (see post for more details).

In the second post, The Times They Are A-Changin,'” I gave some background information on my aspirations when I first landed in Houston on September 25, 2008, to start that ill fated job four days later and how they went down the tube along with the job when I lost it seven months later. In that post, I also mentioned that as I progressed through these past six plus years of unemployment I became aware that some of the things I discovered actually had a starting point fifteen years ago (actually, it was almost fourteen years ago now that I stopped and did the math–you’ll understand in a moment), and also I mentioned that I came to realize that these past six plus years were, indeed, God’s will for my life even though it didn’t look like the model of “success” we often adhere to in our Christian circles today as looking like “God’s will.” Unfortunately, this is mostly due to our inability to separate our culture and its standards for success from our practice of Christianity and how “success” from a Biblical perspective is often “upside down” when viewed from its Biblical definition (see Hebrews 11, for example).

One of the difficult things about writing blog posts that nobody else “edits” is that some of the things stated in them can be misconstrued by my reading audience without me even having a clue. However, sometimes clues can come in interesting ways. Like today, for example. After I heard the song mentioned above this afternoon on my car radio, I definitely had an “Ah ha” moment. Hence, I saw the need to further explain my comments, especially in the second blog post, The Times They Are A-Changin.'”

The “fifteen years” I mentioned in that second post (which turned out to actually be almost fourteen years), is in reference to the terrorist attacks that took place on September 11, 2001. For most of us 20+ or older, we know exactly where we were on that day when terrorists hijacked our planes and hit the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, sending them crashing to the ground, as well as the hijacked plane that was flown into the Pentagon building in Washington D.C., and another hijacked plane that went down in a field in Pennsylvania. I was working at the University of Central Florida in Orlando at the time, and the campus was closed down around noon on that day, if I remember right. It was a huge shock to the nation and a wake up call to us that we were not nearly as invincible as we thought we were. Many things changed after that day over the past decade and a half (well, almost) since then, but as I listen to the news on a daily basis almost fourteen years later, with ISIS and terrorism on the march in many areas of our world including some home grown terrorist activities on our own shores, things appear to have only sped up since that fateful day in 2001.

Regarding my comment in that second post that these past six plus years since I lost my job in Houston and all that I have experienced since then, to include starting and continuing to write on this blog, is God’s will for my life is exactly as I meant it, but I should have explained a bit further and since I didn’t, I will do that now.

I’ve been a Christian since I was a very young girl. One of the major topics “back then” and going into adulthood (and it still is a popular topic) is finding God’s will for your life.” I smiled as I typed that as there is just so much confusion on this particular topic and many famous Christians have written on the subject (both living and now dead). It was almost as if once we found “God’s will,” we could relax a bit knowing we were doing what we were meant to do. It was as if “God’s will” was an occupation, in and of itself. And we often hear folks say they felt the “call of God” to go into a certain profession. Now, I’m not writing to discount any of that, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it is easier to find then we think it is, and tougher to actually do, too, if that makes sense.

yieldHere’s the answer: Yield. We must lay aside everything we want and leave it with God and let Him decide. We can’t run our own show and expect to find God’s will in the middle of it. In fact, if we run our own show, we won’t find God’s will at all. We may think we will or do, after all, Christianity’s definition of success is often the same as our American culture’s definition of success, but that doesn’t mean it’s correct. God’s will is never about the “externals” in our lives; it’s about the “internal.” Who do we belong to? Ourselves? Or God? Do we want what we want at any cost to ourselves or others while sitting in church on Sunday morning thinking it is perfectly okay to think and act like that? Many do.

The Prosperity Gospel (also referred to as the health and wealth gospel, or the gospel of success–source here) focuses on what we can get in the “here and now.” Wikipedia defines it as follows:

The Prosperity Gospel is a Christian religious doctrine that financial blessing is the will of God for Christians, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to Christian ministries will increase one’s material wealth. Based on non-traditional interpretations of the Bible, often with emphasis on the Book of Malachi, the doctrine views the Bible as a contract between God and humans: if humans have faith in God, he will deliver his promises of security and prosperity. Confessing these promises to be true is perceived as an act of faith, which God will honor.

The doctrine emphasizes the importance of personal empowerment, proposing that it is God’s will for his people to be happy. The atonement (reconciliation with God) is interpreted to include the alleviation of sickness and poverty, which are viewed as curses to be broken by faith. This is believed to be achieved through visualization and positive confession, and is often taught in mechanical and contractual terms. (Quote source here.)

Whether one attends a church that teaches this false gospel or not, greed has always been around and easily enters the hearts of all of us. Jesus had a lot to say about money, and the greatest thing he said is found in Matthew 6:24:

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

In Matthew 19:16-26 (repeated again in Mark 10:17-27), Jesus has the following conversation with a rich young man:

The Rich and the Kingdom of God

Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

“Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.”

“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Far too often we are way too concerned with this material world we live in and what we can get from it. And it doesn’t matter where we reside on the socio-economic scale in society. We are born greedy, and if Jesus makes no real difference in our lives, we will die greedy, too. And it’s amazing what we will do if something or someone crosses our path (regardless of how right or wrong it is) enabling us to acquire some of that wealth and all it can buy. Nobody is immune. And it is the one of the true tests of character, which seems to be waning on a large scale today.

So what did Jesus mean when he said it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God and that, in answer to the disciples’ question, “Who then can be saved?” He answered, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Did you get that?

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” We can’t do it, but God can do it. God can change us. And He changes us from the inside out. But do we want to change? If we aren’t willing, then what does God or Jesus Christ really mean to us?

Let’s take money out of the equation for a moment. There is another classic example in Luke 1 regarding the ability of God to do the impossible. And it contains the answer we all must reach in order to accomplish God’s will in our own lives. It is found in Luke 1:26-38:

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”

But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JesusHe will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”

And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.

Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

No plan of Yours can be thwartedThe “impossible” in this story is two-fold: Elizabeth, a relative of Mary’s, conceived a son (John the Baptist) when she was way past child bearing age, and he was the forerunner announcing the Messiah (Jesus), and Mary’s miraculous conception by the Holy Spirit was that of the very Messiah (Jesus). And what was Mary’s response? “Let it be to me according to your word.” She yielded even though at that time she was betrothed to Joseph. Imagine the slander that came her way once it was known that she was pregnant. And if it has not been for an angel announcing to Joseph that it was okay for him to marry her as the child in her was conceived by the Holy Spirit, he might have divorced  her quietly (see Matthew 1:18-24). And as we know from the little that is told to us about her in the Gospel accounts, her life was not an easy one and she lived to see her son crucified and resurrected.

Another example is Job. Throughout the 42 chapters in the Book of Job, at the end Job learned a vital lesson. After the Lord spoke to Job in Chapters 38-41, Job responded with the following statement in Job 42:1-6:

Then Job replied to the Lord:

“I know that you can do all things;
    no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
    Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
    things too wonderful for me to know.

“You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
    I will question you,
    and you shall answer me.’
My ears had heard of you
    but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
    and repent in dust and ashes.”

We live in a society that admires accomplishment, wealth, self-sufficiency, power. “Repent” is not a word that comes easy to most Americans. Yet it is by repentance and yielding that we find our way in truly knowing and obeying and yielding to God’s will. And it is done on a daily basis. It is a matter of the heart.

When I said in my previous post that these past six plus years of unemployment and all that has transpired during this time has been God’s will for my life, I meant it. He has changed me from the inside out, and for the better, too. I see life differently now, with a much broader stroke of the brush. It’s not just my own small world anymore, but it encompasses the globe. While my circumstances have at times been less then desirable for most people living in our culture (e.g., being unemployed for over six years and now living in hotels for the past nine months), they have opened me up to a side of society we often neglect, a side that isn’t very pretty, a side in need of redemption.

God’s will defies boundaries and human understanding, and it is not wrapped up in our preconceived images of success as we see it here in America. And as Job stated above, I know that you [God] can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”

I have no idea how much longer I will have to be living in a hotel, and I stopped looking for work a while ago (nobody has responded to my applications in over a year now anyway), yet I know that I am in the palm of God hand, and in His time He will change my circumstances. Like David said in Psalm 27:13-14:

I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

After all . . .

Nothing is impossible with God . . . .

YouTube Video: “There’s No Such Thing As Impossible,” (also known as “Impossible”), by Building 429:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here
Photo #3 credit here

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For God So Loved The World

Jesus name above every nameJohn 3:16 is probably the most familiar and most quoted verse in the Bible. Whenever I quote it, I always like to add the two verses that follow it (John 3:16-18):

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son [Jesus Christ] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

Too often, we tend to have a one-dimensional image in our mind of who Jesus Christ is to us. He is, indeed, first and foremost, Lord and Savior to those who believe in and trust in him as their Lord and Savior. But beyond that, what do we really know about the character and nature of Jesus Christ?

In answer to the question–What was Jesus like as a person?”–GotQuestions?org states the following:

Although He had “no beauty that we should desire Him…” (Isaiah 53:2), it was His “personality” that drew men to Him. He was a man of great character.

He had a COMPASSIONATE nature. He had compassion on the crowds “because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). Because of His compassion for them, He healed their diseases (Matthew 14:1420:34), and because of their hunger, He compassionately created enough food to feed more than 5000 (Matthew 15:32).

Jesus was SERIOUS and FOCUSED. He had a mission in life and never got sidetracked from it, knowing the weightiness of it and the shortness of time. His attitude was that of a SERVANT. “He did not come to be served, but to serve” (Mark 10:45). KINDNESS and SELFLESSNESS characterized His personality.

Jesus was SUBMISSIVE to His Father’s will when He came to earth and subsequently went to the cross. He knew that dying on the cross was the only payment His Father could accept for our salvation. He prayed the night of His betrayal by Judas, “O My Father, if it be possible, take this cup of suffering from Me: but let what you want be done, not what I want” (Matthew 26:39). He was a submissive son to Mary and Joseph, as well. He grew up in a normal (sinful) household, yet, “He continued in subjection to them…” (Luke 2:51). He was OBEDIENT to the Father’s will. “He learned obedience through the things that He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

Jesus had a heart of MERCY and FORGIVENESS – “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). “…If we admit that we have sinned, He will forgive us our sins…” (1 John 1:9). He was also LOVING in His relationships – “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus” (John 11:5). John was known as the disciple “whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23).

He had a reputation for being GOOD and CARING. He healed often and in most places where He went in order that they might know who He was! Truly He proved to be the Son of the living God by all the miracles He did, all the while showing concern for the afflictions of those around Him.

HONEST/TRUTHFUL – He never violated His own Word. He spoke truth wherever He went. He lived a life we could follow explicitly. “I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE…” (John 14:6). At the same time, He was PEACEABLE. He did not argue His case, nor try to bully His way into people’s hearts.

Jesus was INTIMATE with His followers. He spent quality and quantity time with them. He coveted their fellowship, taught them, and helped them focus on what was eternal. He was also intimate with His Heavenly Father. He prayed to Him regularly, listened, obeyed, and cared about God’s reputation. (Angered at the money changers who were buying and selling in the temple, He said firmly and AUTHORITATIVELY, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you have made it a robbers den!”) He was obviously a STRONG, but quiet LEADER. Everywhere He went (until the inevitable decline), the people followed Him, eager to listen to His teaching.

He was PATIENT, knowing and understanding our frailties. He was and is “patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

These are traits that all believers should desire to become a part of their “personality” and character. The things that drew people to Jesus should be the very things that draw people to us. Jesus has given those who believe in Him His Holy Spirit, who enables us to be constantly changing into His image (Romans 8:29). This will only come about as we YIELD to Him for who He truly is…LORD of the universe! We must believe that He is conforming us into His image, and not resist His will for us. Even as Jesus never drew attention to Himself, (but rather to His Father), even so, we ought to say as John the Baptist did, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). (Quote source here.)

jesus-names-word-cloudThere are over 70 questions related to Jesus Christ with links to the answers on GotQuestions?org at this link. There are also approximately 200 names and titles attributed to Jesus Christ found in the Bible. Here are a few listed on GotQuestions?org:

The Nature of Christ
Chief Cornerstone: 
(Ephesians 2:20) – Jesus is the cornerstone of the building which is His church. He cements together Jew and Gentile, male and female—all saints from all ages and places into one structure built on faith in Him which is shared by all.

Firstborn over all creation: (Colossians 1:15) – Not the first thing God created, as some incorrectly claim, because verse 16 says all things were created through and for Christ. Rather, the meaning is that Christ occupies the rank and pre-eminence of the first-born over all things, that He sustains the most exalted rank in the universe; He is pre-eminent above all others; He is at the head of all things.

Head of the Church: (Ephesians 1:224:155:23) – Jesus Christ, not a king or a pope, is the only supreme, sovereign ruler of the Church—those for whom He died and who have placed their faith in Him alone for salvation.

Holy One: (Acts 3:14Psalm 16:10) – Christ is holy, both in his divine and human nature, and the fountain of holiness to His people. By His death, we are made holy and pure before God.

Judge: (Acts 10:422 Timothy 4:8) – The Lord Jesus was appointed by God to judge the world and to dispense the rewards of eternity.

King of kings and Lord of lords: (1 Timothy 6:15Revelation 19:16) – Jesus has dominion over all authority on the earth, over all kings and rulers, and none can prevent Him from accomplishing His purposes. He directs them as He pleases.

Light of the World: (John 8:12) – Jesus came into a world darkened by sin and shed the light of life and truth through His work and His words. Those who trust in Him have their eyes opened by Him and walk in the light.

Prince of peace: (Isaiah 9:6) – Jesus came not to bring peace to the world as in the absence of war, but peace between God and man who were separated by sin. He died to reconcile sinners to a holy God.

Son of God: (Luke 1:35John 1:49) – Jesus is the “only begotten of the Father” (John 1:14). Used 42 times in the New Testament, “Son of God” affirms the deity of Christ.

Son of man: (John 5:27) – Used as a contrast to “Son of God” this phrase affirms the humanity of Christ which exists alongside His divinity.

Word: (John 1:11 John 5:7-8) – The Word is the second Person of the triune God, who said it and it was done, who spoke all things out of nothing in the first creation, who was in the beginning with God the Father, and was God, and by whom all things were created.

Word of God: (Revelation 19:12-13) – This is the name given to Christ that is unknown to all but Himself. It denotes the mystery of His divine person.

Word of Life: (1 John 1:1) – Jesus not only spoke words that lead to eternal life, but according to this verse He is the very words of life, referring to the eternal life of joy and fulfillment which He provides.

His Position in the Trinity
Alpha and Omega: 
(Revelation 1:822:13) – Jesus declared Himself to be the beginning and end of all things, a reference to no one but the true God. This statement of eternality could apply only to God.

Emmanuel: (Isaiah 9:6Matthew 1:23) – Literally “God with us.” Both Isaiah and Matthew affirm that the Christ who would be born in Bethlehem would be God Himself who came to earth in the form of a man to live among His people.

I Am: (John 8:58, with Exodus 3:14) – When Jesus ascribed to Himself this title, the Jews tried to stone Him for blasphemy. They understood that He was declaring Himself to be the eternal God, the unchanging Jehovah of the Old Testament.

Lord of All: (Acts 10:36) – Jesus is the sovereign ruler over the whole world and all things in it, of all the nations of the world, and particularly of the people of God’s choosing, Gentiles as well as Jews.

True God: (1 John 5:20) – This is a direct assertion that Jesus, being the true God, is not only divine, but is the Divine. Since the Bible teaches there is only one God, this can only be describing His nature as part of the triune God.

His Work on Earth
Author and Perfecter of our Faith: (Hebrews 12:2) – Salvation is accomplished through the faith that is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9) and Jesus is the founder of our faith and the finisher of it as well. From first to last, He is the source and sustainer of the faith that saves us.

Bread of Life: (John 6:356:48) – Just as bread sustains life in the physical sense, Jesus is the Bread that gives and sustains eternal life. God provided manna in the wilderness to feed His people and He provided Jesus to give us eternal life through His body, broken for us.

Bridegroom: (Matthew 9:15) – The picture of Christ as the Bridegroom and the Church as His Bride reveals the special relationship we have with Him. We are bound to each other in a covenant of grace that cannot be broken.

Deliverer: (Romans 11:26) – Just as the Israelites needed God to deliver them from bondage to Egypt, so Christ is our Deliverer from the bondage of sin.

Good Shepherd: (John 10:1114) – In Bible times, a good shepherd was willing to risk his own life to protect his sheep from predators. Jesus laid down His life for His sheep, and He cares for and nurtures and feeds us.

High Priest: (Hebrews 2:17) – The Jewish high priest entered the Temple once a year to make atonement for the sins of the people. The Lord Jesus performed that function for His people once for all at the cross.

Lamb of God: (John 1:29) – God’s Law called for the sacrifice of a spotless, unblemished Lamb as an atonement for sin. Jesus became that Lamb led meekly to the slaughter, showing His patience in His sufferings and His readiness to die for His own.

Mediator: (1 Timothy 2:5) – A mediator is one who goes between two parties to reconcile them. Christ is the one and only Mediator who reconciles men and God. Praying to Mary or the saints is idolatry because it bypasses this most important role of Christ and ascribes the role of Mediator to another.

Rock: (1 Corinthians 10:4) – As life-giving water flowed from the rock Moses struck in the wilderness, Jesus is the Rock from which flow the living waters of eternal life. He is the Rock upon whom we build our spiritual houses, so that no storm can shake them.

Resurrection and Life: (John 11:25) – Embodied within Jesus is the means to resurrect sinners to eternal life, just as He was resurrected from the grave. Our sin is buried with Him and we are resurrected to walk in newness of life.

Savior: (Matthew 1:21Luke 2:11) – He saves His people by dying to redeem them, by giving the Holy Spirit to renew them by His power, by enabling them to overcome their spiritual enemies, by sustaining them in trials and in death, and by raising them up at the last day.

True Vine: (John 15:1) – The True Vine supplies all that the branches (believers) need to produce the fruit of the Spirit— the living water of salvation and nourishment from the Word.

Way, Truth, Life: (John 14:6) – Jesus is the only path to God, the only Truth in a world of lies, and the only true source of eternal life. He embodies all three in both a temporal and an eternal sense. (Quote source here.)

BibleGateway.com also lists a number of the titles and names of Jesus Christ (see list below) at this link (Quote source here):

Title and Names of Jesus Christ

These, in their rich variety, throw light on either the person of Jesus Christ or on some aspect of his ministry.

Titles relating to Jesus Christ’s identity

The Exact Image of God Heb 1:3; See also John 14:9; 2 Cor 4:4; Col 1:15

The First and Last, the Alpha and Omega Rev 22:13 Alpha” and “Omega” are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. See also Rev 1:17; Rev 2:8; Rev 21:6

The Word of God John 1:1; See also Mal 3:1; John 1:14; 1 John 1:1; Rev 19:13

The Last Adam 1 Cor 15:45; See also Rom 5:14

The Bright Morning Star Rev 22:16; See also 2 Peter 1:19

The Rising Sun Mal 4:2; Luke 1:78

The Living One Rev 1:18; See also John 5:26; John 11:25

The Amen Rev 3:14; See also 2 Cor 1:20

The True light John 1:3-9; See also Isaiah 9:2; Luke 2:32; John 3:19-21; John 8:12; John 12:46

The Righteous One Acts 3:14; See also Jer 23:6; Jer 33:15-16; Acts 7:52; Acts 22:14

The Lion of Judah Rev 5:5

The King of the Jews Matt 2:1-2; Matt 27:37

The “I am” sayings of John’s Gospel:

John 8:58 See also: John 6:35the Bread of Life;
John 8:12; John 9:5the Light of the World;
John 10:7-10the Gate;
John 10:11-14the Good Shepherd;
John 11:25the Resurrection and the Life;
John 14:6the Way, the Truth and the Life;
John 15:1-5the True Vine

Titles relating to Jesus Christ’s ministry

The Seed of Abraham Gal 3:16; See also Gen 12:7; Gen 13:15; Gen 24:7

The Root and Offspring of David Rev 22:16

The Faithful Witness Rev 1:5; See also Isaiah 55:4; John 18:37; Rev 3:14

Immanuel Matt 1:23; See also Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 8:8

The Capstone Matt 21:42Mark 12:10Luke 20:17; See also Psalm 118:22; Acts 4:11; Eph 2:20-21; 1 Peter 2:6-7

The Rock 1 Cor 10:4; See also Isaiah 8:14; Isaiah 28:16; Rom 9:32-33; 1 Peter 2:8

The Bridegroom John 3:29–John the Baptist describing himself as the bridegroom’s friend, and Jesus Christ as the bridegroom. See also Matt 9:15Mark 2:19-20Luke 5:34-35; Matt 25:1-10; Rev 19:7; Rev 21:2

The Firstborn among many brothers Rom 8:29

The Firstfruits 1 Cor 15:23

The Firstborn from the dead Rev 1:5

The Heir of all things Heb 1:2

Titles relating to Jesus Christ’s authority

Lord Acts 2:25 See also Matt 7:21; Luke 6:46; John 6:68; Rom 10:13; 1 Cor 3:5; Col 3:23; 1 Thes 4:16-17; 2 Peter 1:11

The Head of the Church Eph 1:22-23; Eph 4:15; Eph 5:23; Col 2:19

The Chief Shepherd 1 Peter 5:4 See also Matt 2:6; Micah 5:2; John 10:11; 1 Peter 2:25; Heb 13:20

Prince Acts 5:31

Rabbi John 1:3849; John 20:16

Titles emphasizing Jesus Christ’s saving work

Jesus: the Lord saves Matt 1:21

Man of Sorrows Isaiah 53:3

The Passover Lamb 1 Cor 5:7

A Horn of Salvation Luke 1:69

The Consolation of Israel Luke 1:68; Luke 2:2538

The Deliverer and Redeemer Rom 11:26; Isaiah 59:20

The Author and Perfecter of Salvation Heb 2:10; See also Heb 5:9; Heb 12:2

Titles stressing Jesus Christ’s mediatory status

The Mediator 1 Tim 2:5

The High Priest Heb 3:1; See also Heb 2:17; Heb 6:20

The Son of Man Luke 19:10; See also Matt 11:19; Luke 5:24; John 3:13; John 6:53; Acts 7:56; Rev 1:13

See also (click on links):

Jesus, the Christ
  Christ, Son of David
  Christ, Son of God
  Christ, Son of Man
  Christ, the Lord
  Immanuel
  Messiah, coming of
  Christ, high priest
  Christ as Lamb
  Christ as Saviour
  Christ as shepherd
  Servants of the Lord

Jesus Christ is so much more than we can ever imagine . . .

How can anyone resist a Savior like this?

YouTube Video: “At The Cross (Love Ran Red)” by Chris Tomlin:

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Photo #2 credit here

The Times They Are A-Changin’

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It’s been a while since I have written a blog post on our pop culture. And it’s due. Our past has much to say about our future. Most of the time we don’t listen (history has a remarkable way, or rather an unremarkable way, of repeating itself). However, it does make for some great songs, such as Bob Dylan’s 1964 song titled, The Times They Are A-Changin.’” It’s been 51 years now since that song was composed and made famous. For those of us who remember it (and I was a kid back then), it doesn’t seem possible that it’s been that long ago. And the times? Well, they certainly have changed since then.

This blog post would be hopelessly long if I tried to detail all of the events that have shaped America since the 1960’s, and I’ve written about some of those events in previous blog posts. The main point in all of it is that change is a constant, whether we like it or not, or even take the time to realize it is going on right before our eyes on a daily basis.

One of the blessings of long term unemployment has been that it has allowed me to take a break from the lifestyle of the working world with all of its demands and schedules and look beyond the obvious. Like an onion, it has been peeling itself, layer by layer, to reveal something I never would have noticed had I found another job shortly after I lost that one in Houston over six years ago and, hence, gotten right back into the rat race. Sometimes I wonder if that is good or bad, but nevertheless, it is what it is. It happened, and I have learned. And I have found that in the learning that some of it was making itself known at the very beginning level as far back as fifteen years ago, but working and being distracted by all that life in America affords to us didn’t make it obvious until that life was taken away from me in the form of long term unemployment.

I have a good friend who has often said, “Once you see truth, you can’t unsee it.” And he’s right. He’s probably one of the smartest people I have ever known, but I don’t think I’d want to be on his bad side. Not that he is particularly bad. Well, come to think of it, we are all bad (although our pop-psychology starting back 40-50 years ago would have us gagging all over ourselves as to how great we are once we get past all that low self-esteem stuff). I used to read a lot of that pop-psychology stuff back in my 20’s and 30’s (it was the rage back then and now it’s deeply embedded in our culture), but over the years I got sick to death of hearing folks talk about their low self-esteem.” It seemed as if there was so much “low self esteem” out there that it could keep counselors and psychologists employed for a lifetime (and it has, too). Now that I’m a lot older I know the truth. So let me put it another way. . . . We are all quite capable of evil at varying degrees. And yes, that includes all of us. And it has nothing to do with low self esteem. But it does have to do with self.

Jesus never, ever talked about low self esteem. Not once . . . . So that should tell us something about it. He didn’t say, “Follow me and I will cure your low self esteem.” Not that it can’t be cured by following Jesus. It can. But as long as we keep life focused on ourselves and what we do or do not have (whether in self esteem or anything else) we miss the boat by a mile. Following Jesus doesn’t have anything to do with what we want or a focus on ourselves. It’s about what He wants and why He came and died and rose again, and it wasn’t so we can tiptoe through the tulips and have a better life in the here and now. It’s not about the “outward trappings of life” at all. It’s about the internal, not the external. And it’s amazing how once we can learn to put our own “wants” aside and focus on Him, how life can change. Truly amazing . . . . 

From whose point do you view lifeThe outward trappings of life, especially here in America, tend to trap every single one of us. We all want the American Dream,” and people from all over the world come to America with the hope of acquiring a piece of it for themselves, but that American Dream has been significantly eroding in the past several decades, and especially since the burst of the housing bubble that lead to the worst Wall Street crash in history in September 2008. And it is not available to everybody and there are plenty of folks out there struggling to make ends meet as evidence to that very clear fact. Maybe the rich among us have acquired that dream (and hence some of them write books and conduct seminars to tell the rest of us how we can do it, too, thus making themselves richer and us poorer by buying into it), but the rest of us? Not so much . . . .

Luck, connections, the right parents, the right degrees–there are a thousand things out of our control that fall into the laps of some folks and make it possible for them. Of course, there are also plenty of “hard work” success stories out there, too. However, most of us will never acquire what the One Percenters (a member of the top one percent of a population by wealth, ability, etc.) have no matter how hard we work at it. And buying their books, for the most part, will help keep them in the one percent and keep us in the ninety-nine percent.

I believe the same challenges exist in our ultra modern, tech-savvy culture with all of its 24/7 excesses and access that existed in the culture in Jesus’ day. Read 1 and 2 Corinthians if you don’t think there was a culture back then that rivaled us today (see summary on 1 Corinthians at this link and on 2 Corinthians at this link). Sure, they didn’t have our technological wonders, but human nature hasn’t changed. Greed is ever present wherever we find humans. So is lust and seeking after power, fame, fortune, yada yada yada.

I have never been particularly materialistic, and by that I mean that I have never had dreams of living in a big, fancy house with an assortment of cool cars to drive, or living the life of millionaires or now that we have a bunch of them–billionaires. However, the pull to want to be thought well of by others and carve out my own niche in the world was still there. And when I first got that job in Houston I thought it was the beginning of seeing that dream come to fruition. There’s a lot out there in our churches today that tells us to go after our “dreams.” Now I don’t think there is anything wrong with having dreams, but too much of the time the dreams are centered around us and what we want, and we convince ourselves that it is what God wants for us, too. It’s not that our dreams can’t have a basis in reality, but the reality might not look like anything we hoped it might look like. Our dreams need to be given back to God and left there instead of us taking the lead and asking God for His blessing. If we can learn to do that, He does what He wants with it and with us, and that might not look like anything that we define as “success” in America.

I have always had a creative bent since I was a very young child, and I have loved writing for as long as I can remember; however, in my younger years, that bent was more in the field of art. In fact, I have a bachelor’s degree in art and design, and I loved the whole creative process. But as time moved on I found that I preferred writing as a creative outlet to art work (although I still love art), and I hoped to be inspired even further along these lines when I found myself attending Joel Osteen’s church, Lakewood Church, in Houston, after I started that ill-fated job in Houston that ended seven months later. I wanted to create a small business on the side and I had already picked a name for it using my last name (you’ll understand why as soon as I write it). I was inspired by Joel’s sermons and thought it would be fun to try to start a small business using my writing skills, and I was going to call it “Devine Detours.” I was hoping it would develop into helping people who might be interested in looking at life in a different and more creative way. Unfortunately, due to the job I had when I was there and then lost it, I was not able to do much with it, so the dream essentially died when the job died, and I forgot about it.

I spent the better part of the first two plus years of unemployment in a full-time job search–the magnitude of which I never in my wildest imagination ever thought I’d have to go through in my lifetime. And it wasn’t until I interviewed for a job as an Associate Registrar at a small “for-profit” college in Largo, Florida, in September 2011 (September 29, 2011, to be precise, which was exactly three years to the day that I started that ill-fated job in Houston in 2008) that I realized this massive job search was going nowhere, and at that point I knew there had to be something bigger going on. A year earlier, in July 2010, because of my frustration with the job search after over a year at that time of being unemployed, I began this blog as a creative outlet to express what it was like to go through this experience of long-term unemployment. That first few months of writing on it was as frustrating as my job search, so I deleted everything I had written at that point in time in April 2011 and forgot about the blog.

It wasn’t until July 2011 that I fired my blog back up and it just took on a life of it’s own. I can’t explain why that happened, but everything just seemed to start coming together as I kept (or rather was compelled to keep) writing those blog posts. And, here it is, four years later, and I am writing my 384th blog post right now. My dream of writing all of these years has come true, but not in a way that I ever would have expected. Like many writers out there, I was hoping to at least get published (and it’s heady stuff to dream of being a New York Times best selling author). Instead, I started a blog five years ago without any thought as to what it might eventually grow into. I just wrote them one blog post at a time when I felt compelled to write them.

I guess what I am trying to say is that God gives us the talents He wants us to have, but then He wants us to use them in His way, and not just our own way. That is not to say there is anything wrong with being famous or a “New York Times” best selling author–after all, God uses everyone who is willing to be used in every walk of life from the lowest positions to the highest. However, the key is in doing it His way, and leaving it up to Him as to what that way looks like. And I didn’t find it until I lost that job in Houston over six years ago and discovered just how much that I really did have to depend on God for everything that I had and for everything that I needed according to Him and His will and not according to mine.

As I look back on these years since I lost that job in Houston, I have to laugh in that it was me who ended up taking a “Devine Detour,” the type of which I certainly never planned for. Yet, without a doubt I now know that this was God’s will for me. It certainly doesn’t look like the “American Dream,” but I’ve never really been looking for that dream in particular. I’ve been looking to find God at work in our American culture, a culture that so often is so full of stuff that we can easily miss some of the most important stuff He would have us to know and to do.

To say that God is full of surprises is an understatement of major proportions. . . .

John 3v3In John 3:5-8 Jesus answered a question put to him by a Pharisee named Nicodemus, who asked Jesus how someone can be born again who is old. And Jesus answered with the following statement:

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. Our flesh sees everything our culture has to offer and wants so much of it, but the Spirit sees beyond our culture–beyond ANY culture–to see what God wants. And often, it doesn’t look like anything we may have perceived or conceived for it to look like.

As Isaiah 55:8-9 states:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

We often look for the obvious, and God looks way beyond it. His mission statement is clearly stated in 2 Peter 3:8-9:

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

This life is not about acquiring “the Good Life” or the “American Dream.” It’s about God not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. And if we are too busy chasing after the “American Dream,” we are going to miss it. “Flesh gives birth to flesh, and Spirit give birth to spirit.” Only the Spirit can give us hearts to see from His perspective, and to follow His will and not our own . . . .

Don’t miss it by chasing after the wrong things . . .

As “the times they are a-changin’”. . . .

YouTube Video: “The Times They Are A-Changin’” sung by Phil Collins:

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The Conclusion of the Matter

quote-let-us-hear-the-conclusion-of-the-whole-matter-fear-god-and-keep-his-commandments-for-this-is-solomon-267899

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 NKJV

While the Bible makes it plain that we should not fear, there is one fear that is very good for us. That is the fear of God (see link at GotQuestions?org). For one thing, it keeps us humble, and hopefully honest, too. Unfortunately, there’s not much of either of those two attributes in our world today, and that speaks loudly to the issue of what we really think of God, and of ourselves, too.

Proverbs 1:7 states the following:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

And Psalm 14:1, which is repeated again in Psalm 53:1, states:

The fool says in his heart,
“There is no God.”

They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
there is no one who does good.

In answer to those who say there is no God, GotQuestions?org makes the following statement:

It is not intelligence, or a lack thereof, that leads a person to reject belief in God. It is a lack of righteousness that leads a person to reject belief in God. Many people do not object to the idea of a Creator, as long as that Creator minds His own business and leaves them alone. What people reject is the idea of a Creator who demands morality from His creation. Rather than struggle against a guilty conscience, some people reject the idea of God altogether. Psalm 14:1 calls this type of person a “fool.” (Quote source here.)

This goes along with a statement made by the apostle Paul in Romans 1:18-25:

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

There is a field of study known as Christian Apologetics that goes into this subject (e.g., the existence of God) in great detail, and there are many excellent books written by many well known authors and scholars, both living and dead, on this topic (see list at this link). I recently wrote a blog post titled, Faith: The Evidence of Things Not Seen (May 28, 2015), that included some information from one such author/scholar and I mentioned two of her books. She is Nancy PearceyProfessor of Apologetics, Scholar in Residence, and Director of the Francis Schaeffer Center for Worldview and Culture at Houston Baptist UniversityThe two books are titled, Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes (2015), and Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity” (2004, 2005); the latter was mentioned in two previous blog posts: So Goes The Culture(February 19, 2015) and Idols of the Heart(February 24, 2015).

Micah 6v8This blog post is not written to try to prove the existence of God. I’ll leave that to the scholars. It is written regarding the evil that we do to each other with the thought that there are no consequences to us personally, and I’m speaking to those of us who claim to believe in God. We often justify the evil we do to others (mostly for personal gain of some sort or to make ourselves look good) in all kinds of ways, but God is not fooled, and it is God who will be our ultimate judge. Nobody else’s opinion even matters. And that includes our own opinion. People who live for the accolades of the public live on a slippery slope. They care more about what others think of them then what God thinks of them. Or what they think of God. The proof is in how we live our lives on a daily and hourly basis and how we treat others (as in all others). That speaks far more about us and what or who we say we really believe in. We can show up for church on Sunday, but that doesn’t prove a thing. Even the Pharisees were good at putting on a show for others.

Let’s take a look at what it means to fear God. GotQuestions?org states the following:

In the Bible, the word translated “fear” can mean several things. It can refer to the terror one feels in a frightening situation (Deuteronomy 2:25). It can mean “respect” in the way a servant fears his master and serves him faithfully (Joshua 24:14). Fear can also denote the reverence or awe a person feels in the presence of greatness (Isaiah 6:5). The fear of the Lord is a combination of all of these.

Fear of the Lord can be defined as “the continual awareness that our loving heavenly Father is watching and evaluating everything we think, say, and do” (Matthew 12:36Psalm 139:2Jeremiah 12:3). As Jesus told each of the seven churches in Revelation 1—2, “I know your works.” Nothing escapes His attention.

In order to develop the fear of the Lord, we must recognize God for who He is. We must glimpse with our spirits the power, might, beauty, and brilliance of the Lord God Almighty (Revelation 11:17Hosea 12:5Isaiah 6:1–5). Those who fear the Lord have a continual awareness of Him, a deep reverence for Him, and sincere commitment to obey Him.

Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” This verse gives us some added insight with its antithetical parallelism—there is a sharp contrast between the wise life and the foolish life. A wise person fears/reverences/obeys the Lord; a fool despises God’s instruction and cannot be told what to do. The wise person is wise because he has started at the starting place; the fool has no foundation on which to build wisdom.

Romans 1:21–22 speaks of those who “neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.” This is a description of people who try to obtain wisdom while ignoring God—it cannot be done for the simple reason that God is the source of wisdom.

The link between the fear of God and wisdom means we cannot possess wisdom if we recreate God in our own image. Too many people want to “tame” God into a non-threatening nobody. But, if we redefine the Lord as a god that makes us feel comfortable, a permissive “buddy” who exists simply to bless us and give us what we want, we will not fear Him in the way He deserves to be feared. The Lord God Almighty is far greater than that, and the fear of the Lord begins when we see Him in His majesty and power (Revelation 4:11Job 42:1–2). The Lord shows Job (and us) a glimpse of His power in Job 38—41 when He describes His absolute sovereignty over everything.

When the reality of God’s true nature has caused us to fall down in worship, we are then in the right position to gain wisdom. Wisdom is merely seeing life from God’s perspective and responding accordingly. Wisdom is a priority, and we are told to seek it above all else (Proverbs 3:1316:16). Proverbs is known as the wisdom book, and the entire second chapter gives a detailed explanation of the value of gaining wisdom.

Until our hearts are in a right relationship with God, we are unable to have the “wisdom that comes from heaven” (James 3:17). Without the fear of the Lord, we may gain knowledge of earthly things and make some practical choices for this life, but we are missing the one ingredient that defines a wise person (Psalm 14:1Exodus 20:334:14Jeremiah 25:6Matthew 22:37). In the parable of the rich farmer, the rich man had a “wise” and practical plan for his profits, but God said to him, “You fool!” because the farmer’s plans were made with no thought of God and eternity (Luke 12:16–21).

Without the fear of the Lord, we make final decisions based on our faulty human understanding (Proverbs 3:5–6). When we incorporate the fear of the Lord into every moment of our lives, we make decisions based upon His approval. We live with the knowledge that the Creator of the universe is intimately involved in our every move. He sees, knows, and evaluates all our choices, and we will answer to Him (Psalm 139:1–4). (Quote source here.)

Far too often in our daily lives we pretty much live and do what we want with little regard to the consequences. A common theme in our not-so-enlightened form of Christianity is that “Jesus covers it all” so it doesn’t really matter what we think or how we live and especially in regard to how we treat each other and those we don’t like or even know. Gossip is one of the major areas of abuse in the church and it is evil at it’s very ugly core:

“A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue. A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret” (Proverbs 11:12-13). “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends” (Proverbs 16:28).

GotQuestions?org defines gossip as follows:

The Hebrew word translated “gossip” in the Old Testament is defined as “one who reveals secrets, one who goes about as a talebearer or scandal-monger.” A gossiper is a person who has privileged information about people and proceeds to reveal that information to those who have no business knowing it. Gossip is distinguished from sharing information in two ways:

1. Intent. Gossipers often have the goal of building themselves up by making others look bad and exalting themselves as some kind of repositories of knowledge.

2. The type of information shared. Gossipers speak of the faults and failings of others, or reveal potentially embarrassing or shameful details regarding the lives of others without their knowledge or approval. Even if they mean no harm, it is still gossip.

In the book of Romans, Paul reveals the sinful nature and lawlessness of mankind, stating how God poured out His wrath on those who rejected His laws. Because they had turned away from God’s instruction and guidance, He gave them over to their sinful natures. The list of sins includes gossips and slanderers (Romans 1:29b-32). We see from this passage how serious the sin of gossip is and that it characterizes those who are under God’s wrath. (Quote source here.)

As stated above, people who gossip often have the goal of building themselves up by making others look bad and exalting themselves, but I’d also like to add that it is often used as a disguise for personal gain of some type, too (e.g., promotion in the work place; getting rid of a perceived enemy; or even for monetary gain). 2 Timothy 3:2-3 states the following:

People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. . . .

Catch that last phrase . . . “having a form of godliness but denying its power.” 

renew your mind ii-1The Pharisees had a form of godliness but rejected the Truth standing right before them . . . Jesus. When we want to do our own thing in our own way we are no better then the Pharisees were in Jesus’ day. We exalt ourselves and what we want over Jesus and what He wants us to be and to do. There is much ado in Christendom today that basically tells us that if we’ve said a “Jesus prayer” to accept Christ but we just can’t seem to get over doing all the bad stuff we continue to do (mostly because we like doing it) Jesus will understand and pretty much turn a blind eye. And how we treat others (for example, our gossip and slander) doesn’t really matter.

As a statement a friend of mine likes to say, “That smells like smoke and comes from the pit of hell.”

Read Romans 1:18-25 (see above) again. It is that very type of behavior that brings on the wrath of God. And as I Peter 4:17-18 states:

For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

That’s pretty clear, isn’t it? Salvation is free to those who believe, but it’s not easy. And we don’t get to live life on our own terms, either. That’s the way we lived before we came to Jesus Christ. And if we are still living that way, then we really don’t know Jesus at all. Romans 12:2-3 states:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

I’ll end this post with the words of King Solomon (considered to be the wisest man who ever lived) stated at the end of the book of Ecclesiastes (12:11-14):

The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by One Shepherd. Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.

Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.

Now all has been heard;
    here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
    for this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
    including every hidden thing,
    whether it is good or evil.

And you can take that to the bank . . . .

YouTube Video: “Gotta Serve Somebody” sung by Shirley Caesar:

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Hanging In There

God's encouragement to Paul (Acts 18:9-10)

God’s encouragement to Paul (Acts 18:9-10)

It’s funny (but I haven’t quite decided if it is in a humorous way) how often life doesn’t turn out like we thought it might turn out. I sure didn’t think over six years ago when I lost my job in April 2009 in Houston that I would still be unemployed at this point in time and now drawing Social Security because it is my only income (which is far less then I could make if I was working). And, I was forced to take Social Security at 62 in order to have an income again since my unemployment benefits had long since run out back at the end of May 2011 (and I never expected to be unemployed even that long, and that was four years ago now).

The journey I’ve been on all during this time is far from what I ever expected it to be, and I have come to not expect anymore what I was hoping to expect. And if that doesn’t make sense to you, that’s okay. Neither does life a lot of the time. However, I have not lost hope. I have just lost hope in expectations from my human perspective. God’s perspective is always much bigger and it extends out into eternity. We’re lucky just to get through each year as it progresses from our own perspectives.

Four days ago I wrote the following in an email to a friend of mine who lives nearby. In it, I made the following statement:

I’m in your neck of the woods sitting outside at a Wawa. As I was heading here I got to thinking how, well, here I am with three degrees: an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree, and a master’s degree, and I was only shy of receiving a doctorate by a dissertation. I’ve worked most of my life starting in junior high school (middle school now) by babysitting (and I hated babysitting), then at a grocery store in high school. I worked for three years after high school and then I joined the military (U.S. Army). When I got out of the army I started college on the G.I. Bill. I first earned an A.A. degree, than B.A. degree and I worked the whole time I was in college, between college, and after college until a few years later when I went back to Iowa State and earned a master’s degree while working in a graduate assistantship as the Graduate Student Orientation Coordinator. I applied for and ended up becoming one of two annual recipients of a one-year doctoral fellowship which brought me to Florida in 1992. And I have worked all of these years in higher education until I was hired at the age of 56 for that director position in Houston at a for-profit institute and lost that job seven months later through no fault of my own when I was just one month shy of my 57th birthday. And I’ve been unemployed all this time and I’m now 63.

I could speculate a bit as I know a lot more about my former employer in Houston now than I ever knew about them back when I was working there, especially since their stock has hit rock bottom at 20+ cents a share today from the $20+ a share when I was working there for seven months in 2008-2009. They have also had several major layoffs starting in 2012 (at the beginning of that year their stock took a nosedive and has never recovered), and layoffs continue through to today with the recent announcement of the closing of several campuses they own/manage over the next two to three years. (See article titled,Vanishing Profit, and Campusespublished on May 7, 2015, regarding an alarming trend in the “for-profit” education sector.) In fact, my old position and most of the division I worked for no longer exists, and the long term employee who got my job after I was fired ended up losing it in the first major round of layoffs in September 2012.

So why would a job that only lasted seven months seem to have ended my 20+ year career in higher education and derail me from finding employment when I undertook a massive employment search starting the day after I was fired, and I hit it really hard in the first two plus years that I was unemployed after losing that job in Houston. And I had a number of very good interviews and was a top candidate in several of them when something always stopped it from coming through for me. Never before until that job in Houston had I encountered this problem of not being able to find work, and it was perplexing to say the least. And I needed a job as they had left me unemployed in a city and state I was totally unfamiliar with after I moved one thousand miles for that job.

I found some evidence three months after I was fired from that job in Houston that proved something I thought was going on while I was working there which was–at the very least–unethical, and at the very worst–illegal. I knew without a doubt that it was going on during my last three months of employment, but I had no actual proof, and without proof I figured it was worthless to talk to a lawyer.

Due to a document I received at the time of my termination, I was told I needed to consult with a lawyer before signing and returning it to them, so I did. I met with a lawyer on May 1, 2009, nine days after I was fired, but I did not bring up any of the issues I knew were going on because I had no proof at that point in time, and my appointment to see her was strictly to have her review the document and since lawyers aren’t cheap, I wanted to spend as little time as possible with her to keep the bill low. She was aware of the company that had fired me and stated to me that they were not very nice people and that I should be glad I was no longer working there, and I said to her that I was glad as I had never worked in a place like that before (a “for-profit”) but that I was now unemployed in a city and state that was brand new to me without a network and I needed a job. She reviewed the document and we discussed it and she advised me to go ahead and sign it, and she also signed it. And she encouraged me by saying she was sure I’d find another job soon and she only charged me $100 when her normal fee was $350/hr (and I spent an hour with her).

Evidence that demands a verdictWhen I found the evidence three months later that I needed as proof of what was happening when I worked there, I thought it was too late to say anything to her and at that point I was thinking about leaving Houston as I had not found another job, and a friend in Florida offered me her spare bedroom to stay in while continuing to look for work. However, after returning to Florida I decided to write and mail a four-page letter to this lawyer I met with on May 1, 2009, explaining the details of what had happened to me while working there along with the proof I found, and I sent it to her by certified mail, return receipt requested. I received the return receipt, but I never heard from her even though I know she received the letter I sent with the evidence clearly stated in the letter. This evidence, if it was investigated, could have proved what I knew was going on while I worked there, and it could have been the basis for a major lawsuit.

During these past five and a half years since I mailed that letter to the lawyer I met with over six years ago, I have done everything I know to do to find work in my profession, and outside of it, too. I can’t even find part-time work as even when I have applied for it I never hear back from anyone. I have a 40+ page document I started the day after I was fired that lists every single job I’ve applied for over these past several years and highlighting those jobs I was interviewed for and the results. I stopped counting the number of jobs I had applied for when it hit 500 in 2011.

At this point in time I think there is far more to this story then the fact that I haven’t been able to find a job after losing that job in Houston. It is also about why I haven’t been able to move forward in my life for the past six plus years now, and also about what happened to me when I did work there. And I doubt very much that I’m the first employee that it happened to, but something big made my situation different, and I believe it was the evidence I found and sent to my lawyer back then with a four-page letter explaining what had happened to me while I was working there. And I’m convinced that it has happened to others who worked in that environment, too. I’m not saying that everyone who worked there was a bad egg (I still keep in contact through Linkedin.com with a bunch of people I knew when I worked there), but there were definitely a few. And a few bad eggs apparently controlled the culture there.

Five years ago this July I started this blog. My introductory page to this blog explains why I started it. It actually took off four years ago this July, as the first year was sort of a “trial and error” experiment in blogging which began as an effort to write about my own personal experience with long term unemployment, with a three-month hiatus toward the end of that first year. When I fired it back up in July 2011, it took on a life of its own and a different direction, too. If you’ve been reading it regularly, you know what it is about. And if you haven’t been reading it, it’s too long to explain in this blog post (see the introductory page). There are currently 382 blog posts on it, and it has grown into a real passion of mine.

From time to time I get a bit weary of the long struggle I’ve been through with long-term unemployment, and then the housing issue was added to it last September and there has been no resolution to it, either (e.g., trying to find affordable housing on a Social Security income isn’t easy and waiting lists are very long, so what is one supposed to do in the interim?). Anyway, I think it’s all connected to a bigger picture. And in the past few weeks I’ve been weary from the housing search that is just going nowhere after living in hotels I can’t afford after almost nine months. Even my blog post writing has ebbed a bit lately–mainly because I’ve had a wifi issue going on in the latest hotel I’m staying at that has caused me a lot of online problems on my laptop. So, I haven’t been writing as often because of it until I absolutely reach the point where I must write something–like now, for example.

Anyway, this morning I read a blog post on another blog I read almost daily (and I’ve reblogged a few of their posts, too, over the years). The post I read this morning is the same post they posted three years ago on this same exact date from The Daily Way titled, Hang In There (and I reblogged it back then). It was a good reminder back then and it is a great reminder now. Since it was posted again today on The Daily Way,” the timing of it couldn’t have been better (at least in my own case and quite possibly in yours, too). You can go directly to that blog post by clicking on this link. I am also including it below:

Hang In There
by
The Daily Way

In Athens, the Spirit of God empowered Paul to present the truth of God to an unbelieving audience of Greek philosophers. Standing on Mars Hill in the Areopagus—which was viewed as the seat of worldly wisdom—he brilliantly proclaimed God’s Word.

However, after his proclamation, he became emotionally shaken. He had prayed that the hearts of those who heard his words would be changed, but his message had received only a lukewarm reception. By the time he sailed for Corinth (Acts 18), he was struggling with discouragement, and God knew it. Therefore, He spoke words of encouragement to His servant:

Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city (Acts 18:9-10).

In other words, “Paul, you are not alone. I am aware of your circumstances. I am with you, and others who know Me are with you, too.”

Paul realized the key to success was not human strength or ability but faith in an unshakeable God. His responsibility was to do what God had called him to do. God’s responsibility was to bring the right results from Paul’s ministry at the right time.

Though he may have fought feelings of fear and discouragement, Paul knew God was faithful and the work he had been given to do would be accomplished. The message he had been called to preach would bear fruit at the proper time. Worry, doubt, and fear about the future only lead to sorrow and disappointment. Trust God right where you are and He will bless you as you praise Him.

Prayer: Lord, I give all that I am to you—all my work and all my talents belong to You.

The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

I can honestly say after this much time has passed that I don’t know what the Lord has planned for me (you might be feeling the same way right now, too). But I will say this much–I have learned much over these past six plus years that I never would have learned and experienced if I had been working a full time job and living life as I had been living it involved in work, activities, church, etc., before I lost that job. Proverbs 16:9 states:

In their hearts humans plan their course
but the Lord establishes their steps.

God is faithfulGod has been faithful to me through many trials and a pretty interesting set of circumstances, and He has provided for my needs and guided me in some amazing ways. And while it hasn’t been in the way I had hoped for, it is in the way He has for me–through these years of unemployment and even now “hotel” living. My most permanent place of residence on this earth right now is my 10 1/2 year old car when I’m not staying in a hotel. While I’ve made some blunders (and who doesn’t in life), I’ve learned a lot of really cool stuff on how to survive on very little and in other ways, too. And, I’ve kept my sense of humor, and given God my all. He’ll do what He wants with it, too. Like my blog posts, for example.

I don’t know the “facts” of what happened in Houston, and if I had known what these past six plus years would have been like and all that I have gone through, I’m not sure I would have gone down this road. In fact, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have if I had been given a choice. However, I have no regrets, and I’m glad He takes me through it one day at a time. And He’ll do the same for you (but He’ll do it His way) . . . .

After all, we may make our own plans . . .

But the Lord establishes our steps . . . .

YouTube Video: “Walk by Faith” sung by Jeremy Camp:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here
Photo #3 credit here

What’s In The Bible?

The-Mission-Genesis-to-Revelation-v2.0The other day I ventured out to the Heathrow/Sanford/Lake Mary areas which are northern suburbs of Orlando, Florida, and are located right next to each other. In fact, it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. It was a year ago this June that I went to St. Andrew’s Conservatory of Music in Sanford to interview for a part time administrative assistant position which is also where St. Andrew’s Chapel is located. The buildings and grounds surrounding St. Andrew’s Chapel are breathtakingly beautiful and it is also home to Ligioner Ministries, the teaching fellowship of Dr. R.C. Sproul, who is the founder and chairman.

St. Andrews Outside2

Main Entrance to St. Andrew’s Chapel

While I didn’t get the part time administrative assistant position I interviewed for back then, I never forgot how beautiful the buildings and grounds were and I decided that since I was in the area I wanted to stop and visit them again. I had been familiar with Dr. Sproul’s Ligioner Ministries for many years even before I moved to Florida back in 1992, although until the time of my interview a year ago I was unaware that the music conservatory, chapel and Ligonier Ministries were all located at the same location. The St. Andrew’s Congregation in Sanford was founded in 1997.

This time around I had a smartphone–my first smartphone which is an inexpensive android which I had purchased in July 2014–so I got it out to take some pictures of St. Andrew’s Chapel and surrounding area while I was there. I ended up with 75 pics total and I’m including a few of them on this post. The links above to the chapel, music conservatory and Ligioner Ministries include much better pictures of the beautiful buildings and landscaping on their websites.

So are you wondering what all of this has to do with the question put forth in the title of this blog post? Well, I’m glad you asked! After I left the Sanford area I went back down to Colonial (Hwy 50) in Orlando which is the main drag east to west (or west to east if you prefer) going through the middle section of Orlando, unless, of course, you want to take the toll road (which I don’t). At one of large shopping areas along the many miles that make up Colonial–this one in particular is not far from the downtown area–there is a LifeWay Christian Bookstore that I frequent and I decided to stop there while I was out and about. They were having some really good sales on books by many well known Christian authors, and there was a book that looked interesting on sale for $5.00 (regular price $14.99), but I decided to wait.

Well, I went back last night and purchased it for $5.00. The book is titled, What’s In The Bible? A Tour of Scripture from the Dust of Creation to the Glory of Revelation,” (2011), and it’s by R.C. Sproul and Robert Woldemuth. The following is taken from the back cover:

When a theologian (Sproul) and a businessman (Woldemuth) collaborate on an overview of the Bible the result is a treasure that is doctrinally sound, wonderfully interesting, and thoroughly understandable!

What’s in the Bible is a one-volume guidebook to God’s Word that will help you comprehend its message as never before. A brand new index helps you search for themes, stories, and important people where they appear throughout the Bible.

Explore the most monumental story ever recorded; a story filled with intrigue, drama, and real-life accounts of God at work in the universe. Theologial R.C. Sproul and best-selling author Robert Wolgemuth highlight the essence of God’s voice, activity, and purpose throughout the Old and New Testaments in a thoroughly readable form. What’s in the Bible is a road map that will help you better comprehend the whole of Scripture. It is a complete guide to God’s Word (the Bible) and indexed for easy study.

While there are been plenty of books written over the past several decades on the same subject and usually in one volume as an overview of the entire Bible (and to be quite honest I almost walked past it for that very reason), when I picked it up and started looking through it I knew this was one book worth reading. It’s engaging and it pulls the reader right into the middle of the action, page after page. It’s not just another a dry thesis on what the Bible is all about. It makes us, the readers, a very real part of that action in a way we can understand and, yes, even assimilate into our own lives.

As I was looking for examples from the book to include in this blog post, I kept finding too many to be able to put into one blog post. However, I have to tell you that this is a wonderful book for anyone wanting to find out what’s in the Bible and why it should matter to us. Since I can’t find just one story to focus on without wanting to add more (which would make this blog post unbearably long), I’ve included information from the “Introduction” and the “Authors’ Preface,” at the beginning of the book with the hope that it will whet your appetite for more . . . much, much more. So without further ado, here are the two authors’ words:

From the Introduction:

The Bible can look like quite an ominous tome–sixty-six different books, penned by forty-five writers over a period of time spanning fifteen hundred years, and packed into a single volume of almost two thousand pages. Like we said, “ominous.”

Because it’s been around for so long, nearly everyone knows something about the Bible, but very few people actually know it in its entirety. As history’s all-time best-selling book, nearly everyone owns a copy, but most of these copies have never been read as a whole. Maybe this describes the Bible on your shelf.

This book is an overview. R.C. Sproul and Robert Wolgemuth have highlighted the essence of God’s voice, activity, and purpose throughout the Old and New Testaments. And they’ve done their best to deliver this to you in an interesting and thoroughly readable form.

The book is divided into seventeen chapters, which cover major groupings of Bible books. Each chapter is broken down into smaller sections, focusing on a more specific period of time, a pivotal theme, or a major Bible character.

At the close of each chapter you’ll find a brief summary so you can look back and get an overview of what you’ve just read.

You may choose to read What’s in the Bible from cover to cover, or you may want to study it a section at a time. Either way, R.C. and Robert’s hope is that the book will provide you with a road map that will help you to better comprehend the whole of Scripture and to begin–or enhance–your daily walk with its Author, the Sovereign God of the universe.

God bless you.

And from the Authors’ Preface:

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN LOST?

Inside the sanctuary looking toward the back area

Inside the sanctuary looking toward the back area

Because you have been lost, you know it’s not an enjoyable experience. If you’re in your car, you know how it feels when your stomach tightens and your hands grip the steering wheel until your knuckles are white. You’re moving down the road but you have no idea where you are.

Over the years we both (R.C. and Robert) have experienced this very uncomfortable thing. Of course, the stress of the situation has been intensified when we’ve been late for a meeting or when our wives have been in the car with us and encouraged us (begged us) to stop and ask for directions.

Being lost is no fun at all.

In the late eighties, I (Robert) was in Phoenix on a business trip. Because I had the evening free, I decided to visit one of Arizona’s largest shopping malls. Once inside the mall I walked straight to the big colorful lighted box that had the world “Directory” plainly printed on the top. I was looking for a bookstore and knew this was the best way to find it.

Scanning the list of stores, I found the one I was looking for–in the blue section of the mall. Based on the size of the store on the map, I knew I was in for a treat . . . a nice big bookstore.

All I needed to do was to get from where I was to where the store was. But I had a problem. Someone had peeled the “You Are Here” sticker off the face of the Directory. I knew where I was going but I had no idea where I was.

Frustrated and muttering under my breath, I started walking the mall, hoping to accidentally stumble across my bookstore. As I said, being lost is no fun at all.

THE BIBLE

If we were to scan the faces of the many people who regularly attend church–almost fifty million of them in the United States alone–we would find lots of “lost” people.

Now we’re not necessarily talking about people who are lost because they have no personal faith. We’re referring to those people who are unsuccessfully trying to keep up with the reading of the Scripture and the context of the sermon. But, because they don’t have an understanding of the whole story of the Bible, their faces are telling us that they’re wandering the corridors of biblical illiteracy, hoping to bump into something they recognize . . . like trying to find the illusive bookstore in the blue section of the Phoenix Mall.

Maybe this lost person is you?

If so, we think you’re in for a treat. We have written a book to help you find your way–directions to help you get “un-lost” in the sometimes confusing maze of historical records, poetry, prophecy, and stories that make up the Holy Bible.

BUT WHY? . . . WHAT’S THE POINT?

“Okay,” you might be saying, “I admit it. I’m the one with the blank look in church. When the minister refers to ‘the Patriarchs’ or ‘the Exile’ or ‘the Incarnation’ or ‘the messianic secret,’ I really don’t understand what he’s talking about. But what difference does it make? Why do I need to know any more about the Bible than I already know?”

That’s a good question because if you don’t know why you need to know more, although this book may be interesting to read, it’s probably going to be a waste of your time.

First, we have a confession to make. There was a time in our lives when we felt just like this. We knew that our ministers, our professors, and the authors of some of the books on our shelves knew all about the Bible. And as long as they knew, we really didn’t need to know.

So, what changed our minds? Why did we decide to get to know the whole Bible for ourselves? Here are some of the reasons. Maybe they’ll be helpful for you.

THE BEST-SELLING BOOK OF ALL TIME

When a book reaches the “New York Times” Bestseller List, authors and publishers celebrate. In order to reach this list–depending on what other titles are there and how well they are selling–a book usually sells around 100,000 copies. And when a particular book sits on that list for a long time, sales may reach a million copies.

On a very rare occasion, a book reaches multiple millions in sales. When it does, nearly everyone knows about it. You’ll overhear people at lunch chatting about it. Book reviewers of every stripe will write about this book. Teachers, professional speakers, writers, and ministers will quote from this book. When millions of copies of a book are sold, it cannot be overlooked.

From the time of the scribes in the first century–tediously duplicating copies of the original biblical manuscripts by hand–until the present day, where we can log on to a website and download an entire book in seconds, billions of copies of the Bible have been distributed. Yes, we said “billions.”

Not only has the Bible been printed and distributed millions of times, it has been printed millions of millions of times.

The sheer fact of this massive distribution of a single book should at least raises our level of interest, if for no reason other than mere curiosity.

THE MARTYRS

St. Andrews portion of roof

St. Andrew’s Chapel portion of roof

We know this sounds preposterous, but down through the centuries, people were willing to sacrifice everything–even their own lives and the lives of their children–rather than deny the truth of the Bible. Imagine being able to avoid burning at a stake or having your family ripped apart by lions simply by saying that the whole Bible is not truth. Not only did these heroes refuse to deny the perfection of the Scripture, they dared to stand nose to nose with those who denied its infallibility. It was the combination of these two steadfast positions that cost so many so much.

For example, one of the pivotal truths of the Christian faith that these brave people surely believed is found in both the Old and New Testaments.The just shall live by faith. [See this link at GotQuestions?org].

This is a straightforward statement. There should be no confusion about its meaning. Being right in God’s eyes–“just-ness”–only comes by faith. It does not come by way of anything we can do apart from confession and complete trust in God’s work of grace in Jesus Christ. No other effort on our part is sufficient.

Now suppose that some evening while you were scanning the available channels on your television you came across a preacher. He was looking directly into the camera and unabashedly declaring that if you sent a check to him, he would have the power to forgive your sin. And then he posted a price list. The greater the sin the more you had to pay to be forgiven. He declared that as God’s emissary he had the right to strike this deal with you.

You’d probably come out of your chair in utter shock and disbelief. We can imagine you might even call your spouse in from the other room and tell them what you had heard. If you have any understanding of the bible at all, you’d be thoroughly scandalized by this horrific claim.

Well, listen to this.

In the early sixteenth century, during the reign of Pope Leo X, a man by the name of Tetzel published a list of indulgences. This was literally a pay-as-you-sin price list. For example, Tetzel claimed that if you committed fornication, you could be forgiven by dropping an extra nine shillings into the offering plate. If you killed a commoner, paying seven shillings and a sixpence could erase the consequences of your crime. If you murdered your wife or your parents, the cost was ten shillings and a sixpence. Anyone, including a priest, could keep a mistress in exchange for the same price. Once you paid this fee, you were declared clean.

If the face of this incredible fund-raising scam, using the Bible as their only authority, courageous people stepped forward and challenged this practice. What gave them the right to challenge it? Who or what was their witness? It was the Bible, pure and simple.

These staunch believers distributed a list of twenty truths, called “Certain Principles Founded upon the Truth of God’s Word.” Truth by truth, the activities of a corrupt church were exposed by this list. (Number 14 was “A man is justified by faith, without works, freely by grace, nor of ourselves.”)

And for this, people were dragged from their homes and given an opportunity to apologize and recant–or lose their lives. Hundreds chose execution. The Bible’s accuracy was not to be questioned, no matter what the cost.

Again, remember that these people–let’s call them saints–were willing to lose everything because of something they believed: The Bible, God’s Word, is truth.

We believe that getting to know more about a book that people were willing to die for is a very good idea.

GOD

As you will see in the pages that follow, the Bible is the source of information about God, the Sovereign and Holy Creator of the universe. No other book gives us more information about Him than Scripture.

“But why is this important?” you might ask.

Our culture is fascinated with entrepreneurs and leaders. Almost every day there’s a story in the newspaper about Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, or Jack Welch, the CEO of General Electric. Who are these people? What are they like? How did they get to be so powerful?

From the first time we peeked into a microscope to the last time we went for an evening walk under a crystal sky, we have been filled with wonder. Who made all of this? What is He like? What does He do with all His power?

Beginning with the dust of creation and concluding with His promise of our joining Him in heaven’s glory, the Bible tells us about God. It tells of His creativity and His sustaining might, His judgment and His mercy, His holiness and His grace, our rebellion and His redemptive plan.

Why wouldn’t we want to read the story about this One?

WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT ITSELF

Stained glass window inside the main entrance

Stained glass window inside the main entrance

One of the most interesting features of the Bible is what it says about itself. Here are a few examples. Notice how many of these characteristics speak to Scripture’s impact on us, the readers.

All Scripture is given
by inspiration of God,
and is profitable for doctrine,
for reproof, 
for correction,
for instruction in righteousness,

that the man of God
may be complete,

thoroughly equipped
for every good work.

~2 Timothy 3:16-17

Doctrine

The Bible is truth. Like any authoritative document, the Scripture is unequivocal about good and evil, right and wrong. and with the skill of a master teacher, through historical accounts and parables, the Bible skillfully connects with those of us who read it.

Reproof

When we were youngsters, our mothers used to get our attention by loudly calling our names. From any location in our homes, we could hear that voice and know we were in for a serious bout with reality. Throughout its pages, the bible does the same thing. As powerfully as our mother’s voices, the Scripture calls our names. “Listen up,” it says. “I’m talking to you.” That’s reproof.

Correction

Once our mothers had our attention and we were in their presence, they made it painfully clear what we had done to deserve this interruption to our complacency or disobedience. The Bible does this as well. It clearly spells out the nature of our infractions–often through the real-life examples of folks just like us–and the predictable consequences.

Instruction in Righteousness

Once the Bible has our attention and has clarified the truth of our failure and its aftereffect, then the Scripture tells us what to do–how to act, how to speak, how to think.

A Harvest of Right Living

Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.
~Psalm 119:11

Time and time again the men and women of the Bible found themselves steeped in self-inflicted trouble. We all can relate. So what can be done about this? The Scripture encourages us to take it’s truth and plant it into our hearts like seeds. The crop will be a harvest of right acting, right speaking, and right thinking. Sheer force and discipline cannot achieve these things. They are by-products–the Bible calls them “fruits”–of having planted good seed. God’s Word is good seed.

Lost and Found

Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.
~Psalm 119:105

The Bible keeps us from stumbling, from falling, and from getting lost. If you have ever tried to walk on an unfamiliar trail in the dark of night, you know what comfort there is in having a working flashlight. Without it you’re sure to get in trouble. God’s Word is exactly that–a wonderfully reliable light source to keep us on the right track. The Bible is light.

Who wouldn’t want to understand the Bible and experience all of these things?

DECADES OF “AHAS”

Area leading into the sanctuary

Area leading into the sanctuary

Both of us (R.C. and Robert) have stood before groups of people, large and small. We have done this hundreds of times from coast to coast and around the world. We have had the privilege of opening the Bible and talking about the integrity of its message. And, as we have looked out into the audience, we have seen the lights go on–the unmistakable “ahas” on people’s faces. We readily admit that our communication prowess has nothing to do with this dawning look of understanding. God–through His Holy Spirit–changes people through the power of His Word. We have seen this happen in many people. And we have experiences this ourselves.

There just something about the Bible that compels people . . . and changes them.

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And so, because we believe that the Bible is worth knowing about, we have written this book. If you have spent a lifetime in church, we hope there will be things that will be helpful to you in gaining the larger picture of Scripture. And if you’re a beginner, we believe that you’ll find this book to be extremely helpful in gaining a new and deeper understanding of God’s story.

ONE MORE THING . . .

When a book is written by more than one writer, sometimes there’s confusion as to who is doing the speaking. So we have decided to write the remainder of this book using only R.C.’s voice throughout. Even though many of the illustrations are Robert’s, it was our decision to tuck all the words into one writer’s pen. This way there should be no confusion as to who is “talking.”

This book is, in every sense, a collaboration between two friends. And our goal is to have you join us as our companion in this adventure of gaining a deeper understanding of what’s in the Bible.

Welcome.

That ends the “Authors’ Preface” and it is where the book begins. It is my hope that this information has whetted your appetite to go beyond the daily grind of life and not put off one more day in getting to know this great God of ours through His Son Jesus Christ through a personal relationship with Him that you will never regret. Nothing else compares to it.

Not . . . even . . . close . . . .

The book, What’s In The Bible? A Tour of Scripture From the Dust of Creation to the Glory of Revelation,” by R.C. Sproul and Robert Wolgemuth is available through online and regular bookstores everywhere. Just Google the title and you’re on your way!

But don’t wait . . . .

Start now . . . . 

YouTube Video: “Holy Is The Lord God Almighty,” by Chris Tomlin:

Top photo credit here
Remaining photos taken by “Sara’s Musings” blogger (me) . . . 😉

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