Wednesday, July 02, 2008

More Than Bread Devotional for 7/2/08

Isaiah 66:1-2
1 This is what the LORD says:
Heaven is My throne,
and earth is My footstool.
What house could you possibly build for Me?
And what place could be My home?
2 My hand made all these things,
and so they all came into being.
[This is] the LORD's declaration.
I will look favorably on this kind of person:
one who is humble, submissive in spirit,
and who trembles at My word.

I have been thinking lately about the human desire to take God's place. It is what started the trouble in the Garden of Eden, and it continued the trouble that man got into at every turn in the Bible and beyond. We have all heard the two great truths: There is a God and I am not Him. Yet, I think we all find ourselves at times trying to do something for God. God isn't looking for people who can accomplish great things. God is looking for people who cherish His great things. People whose hearts mirror His own.

Friday, June 20, 2008


It is official. I much prefer the editing capabilities at WordPress for my blog there. I will keep both of my blogs on Blogger active however. This one is going to be adapted for Podcasting. I have almost convinced Shon to do some podcasting with me and he is a contributor here already, so it makes perfect sense. In the meantime, you can still catch all of my other family posts at my other blogger blog. And you can catch all of the other stuff at the new wordpress blog. Both are linked on the right hand side here. I may yet change the name of the blog again. We will see.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Change of address

I am going to move my blog posting over to Wordpress as a trial. I have made a couple of posts over there already and really like some of the features and things. I may repost them here as well, but for the time being if you are curious to see what I am writing check it out at this link.

Monday, May 26, 2008

More Than Bread Devotional for 5/26/08

Psalm 116:5-11
5 Adonai is merciful and righeous;
yes our God is compassionate.
6 Adonai preserves the thoughtless;
when I was brought low, He saved me.
7 My soul, return to your rest!
for Adonai has been generous toward you.
8 Yes, you have rescued me from death,
my eyes from tears and my feet from falling
9 I will go on walking in the presence of Adonai
in the lands of the living
10 I will keep on trusting even when I say,
"I am utterly miserable,"
11 even when, in my panic, I declare,
"Everything human is deceptive."

The Psalms are some of the best known and probably most appreciated Scriptures. There is a genuineness in them that touches us at any point of our life. Whether we be in the midst of joy and happiness or grief and sorrow, God's Word in the Psalms speaks to our hearts. The Lord (Adonai in Hebrew) preserves us even when we have no thought about Him. He is our rest and our comfort and we can always trust in Him. In the good times and the bad.

P.S. I used a different translation for this passage. This is the Complete Jewish Translation of the Bible. I have been reading it for a couple of weeks and really enjoy it.

Equal Opportunity Criticism

Lest anyone should think upon stumbling into this blog that I am a Catholic basher; I would like to take this opportunity to take a critical look at the teachings of the Southern Baptist Convention regarding the issue of the Sabbath and "The Lord's Day". The following is from the 2000 edition of the Baptist Faith and Message.
VIII. The Lord's Day
The first day of the week is the Lord's Day. It is a Christian institution for regular observance. It commemorates the resurrection of Christ from the dead and should include exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private. Activities on the Lord's Day should be commensurate with the Christian's conscience under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Exodus 20:8-11; Matthew 12:1-12; 28:1ff.; Mark 2:27-28; 16:1-7; Luke 24:1-3,33-36; John 4:21-24; 20:1,19-28; Acts 20:7; Romans 14:5-10; I Corinthians 16:1-2; Colossians 2:16; 3:16; Revelation 1:10.

I am going to take the passages one by one. First let me point out that the use of the term the Lord's Day is taken from the passage in Revelation 1:10 and may not be the best way to translate the phrase. It is the only time it is used in Scripture in this manner. Since this one by itself is not conclusive, let's put it on the table to consider with the other support verses.
Exodus 20:8-11 is an odd choice here since it specifically is the command to keep God's Sabbath(specifically the Seventh Day or Saturday for those of us on the Gregorian calendar). These verses actually oppose the viewpoint of Sunday as a special day.
Matthew 12:1-12 is a similar issue. Here Jesus is talking about the Sabbath again and more specifically, He was condemning the Pharisees efforts to add to or outright change what God had commanded regarding the Sabbath.
Matthew 28:1ff does in fact tell us that Jesus was raised from the dead on the first day of the week, but it contains no injunction to celebrate that day for that reason. It's only purpose here can be to confirm that Jesus' resurrection was in fact on Sunday.
Mark 2:27-28 is another point of view for Matthew 12 and the same comments apply.
Mark 16:1-7 is similarly in line with Matthew 28 and those comments apply to it.
Luke 24:1-3;33-36 also establishes the fact that Messiah rose on the day after the Sabbath, but again contains no injunction or command to venerate that day of the week.
John 4:21-24 is a strange passage to include in this discussion. It is Yeshua speaking of the fact that true worship is done spiritually, not bound by location. Date or day of the week doesn't enter the discussion in this passage.
John 20:1,19-28 does not mention the "Lord's Day" but does confirm that the resurrection occured on the first day of the week. Verses 19-28 speak of Jesus appearing to the disciples in the evening of that first day(which in Jewish tradition is actually the next day, but who is nitpicking :P) and again a week later presumably meaning on the first day of the week again. There is no command here to meet on this day instead of any other day.
Acts 20:7 is a good one, since it is quite possible that this actually refers to the evening of the Sabbath. Remember that a Jewish day starts at sundown, so this is likely referring to Saturday night. This actually contradicts the notion that the early church only met on Sunday.
Romans 14:5-10 is a great addition to the discussion since Paul here tells us that no one day is necessarily better than another. If we celebrate any day we should do so unto the Lord. This is an important point to make. There is nothing here so far that would suggest the conversion of Sabbath ideas to Sunday as the RCC church had suggested and there is nothing here to support the first day either. In fact, this is a good time to point out that the good folks who wrote this conveniently left out Acts 2:42-47 which talks of the early church meeting daily(as in every day). This certainly deflates the idea of promoting a "set day" as the "Lord's Day".
1 Corinthians 16:1-2 uses the same phrase that was used in Acts 20:7. We know that the event in Acts was at nighttime and remember that Jewish days began at sundown the day before. This could again refer to Saturday night and there is good reason to think so.
Colossians 2:16 and 3:16. I have dealt with Colossians 2:16 in my previous post. Paul is highlighting the fact that the Jewish celebrations that were instituted by God were a shadow(a picture if you will) of the working of His plan and the things to come. 3:16 deals with worship again, and doesn't apply to the discussion of the day of the week.
In conclusion I would like to quote some wise words that I found in the Jewish New Testament Commentary by David H. Stern:
While the New Testament does not abrogate Shabbat as the holy day of rest for the Jews stipulated in the Fourth Commandment, it also contains no command concerning a proper day for Messianic worship. At the founding of the Messianic Community[Church] the believers met together every day(Ac 2:46). In conclusion, what makes sense to me is that a Messianic Jewish congregation can choose any day (or days) of the week for Messianic worship, bu worship elements specific to Shabbat should be included only on Shabbat(Friday sundown to Saturday sundown).

To this end I wish to add a word of clarification. The Church as a whole body should strive to follow the words of Paul in Romans 14 that we covered earlier. Whatever day you choose to worship on, worship unto the Lord. And do not be judgemental of your brother or sister who sees things differently. It has not been my aim in these posts to pass judgment on any group or denomination or person, but rather my desire has been to ask some tough questions of ourselves and our faith. After all, if we can be so easily confused over a small thing like the time we choose to worship corporately and can elevate it to a major issue; what other blind spots or hurdles may we have to overcome?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Why did the Church ditch the Sabbath and the Lord's Feasts?

In my previous post I tackled some issues stemming from the Roman Catholic Church's decision to alter God's calendar. Now I want to look at the Sabbath and the Lord's Feasts in a little more detail.
The Catholic Encyclopedia says this about the Sabbath:
St. Paul enumerates the Sabbath among the Jewish observances which are not obligatory on Christians (Colossians 2:16; Galatians 4:9-10; Romans 14:5). The gentile converts held their religious meetings on Sunday (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2) and with the disappearance of the Jewish Christian churches this day was exclusively observed as the Lord's Day.

This is a terrible abuse of Scripture. Paul is not telling Christians to not celebrate the Sabbath or the Lord's Feasts as celebrated by the Jews. In Colossians 2:16 he is telling the readers not to let anyone pass judgement on anyone else regarding eating or drinking or the keeping of the Festivals. In verse 17, he states that those same festivals are a shadow of things that are coming which seems to indicate that they still have some relevance. And in verse 18 he begins an admonition against following man-made rules and teachings(see previous post on the Magesterium); things like self-mortification(many orders of monks have been big on this) and verse 21 sounds like a direct contradiction of Catholic teachings about avoiding meat on certain days, ect.!
Next, let's look at Galatians 4. But to get the meaning, we need to back up a verse.
8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? 10 You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11 I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.

Now the Catholic Encyclopedia is saying that this is referring to the Jewish Feasts. But who was this written to? GENTILES!!! Who were the Galatians serving before they believed? Other gods!!! So, what is Paul talking about them "turning back" to? It certainly isn't Jewish Feasts! Do you think that Paul would call Jewish Feasts weak and miserable principles?!? Do not forget that pagan culture had its own "special days and months and seasons and years" I don't think Paul was worried about Gentiles being enslaved to Jewish Feasts "all over again"!
Lastly, there is Romans 14. The entry above cites verse 5, but for some reason they don't go on to the rest of the passage. You all know the first rule of Bible study and interpretation: context, context, context!!! Romans 14:6 says, "He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God." So it is possible to go ahead and celebrate the Feasts to the Lord, or to not celebrate. But this certainly isn't an injunction to dump them or not celebrate them at all. Later he says in verse 17 that the Kingdom of God is not about eating and drinking but about righteousness. God's Feasts were never about saving anyone (Jew or Gentile); they were a demonstration, a dress rehearsal if you will, of His perfect plan. And they still are.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Magesterium and Infallibility?!?

I have plenty of problems with Roman Catholic teachings and traditions. Particularly with the traditions. I have spent many hours in the past studying Catholic doctrines in the light of the Scripture and seeing things that didn't wash in the Truth. Recently as I have studied more in the Hebraic roots vein, I am finding more things that simply blow my mind. I know that it was a Catholic Pope(Gregory XIII) who handed us the currently dominant calendar, which is a warmed over version of an earlier pagan calendar. The RCC systematically eradicated the timekeeping method that God had given us. Rather than use the timekeeping method of the one that created time, the RCC saw fit to make their own. In doing so, they also did away with God's appointed times and seasons. But since legalism is a tricky thing and seems to be ingrained in human nature, they found a way to retain the legalistic thinking of our earlier Jewish brothers. They moved the Sabbath to Sunday, which isn't possible when you think about it. How arrogant is it to change God's Sabbath? But notice this from the Catholic Encyclopedia:
The express teaching of Christ and St. Paul prevented the early Christians from falling into the excesses of Jewish Sabbatarianism in the observance of the Sunday, and yet we find St. Cæsarius of Arles in the sixth century teaching that the holy Doctors of the Church had decreed that the whole glory of the Jewish Sabbath had been transferred to the Sunday, and that Christians must keep the Sunday holy in the same way as the Jews had been commanded to keep holy the Sabbath Day. He especially insisted on the people hearing the whole of the Mass and not leaving the church after the Epistle and the Gospel had been read. He taught them that they should come to Vespers and spend the rest of the day in pious reading and prayer. As with the Jewish Sabbath, the observance of the Christian Sunday began with sundown on Saturday and lasted till the same time on Sunday. Until quite recent times some theologians taught that there was an obligation under pain of venial sin of assisting at vespers as well as of hearing Mass, but the opinion rests on no certain foundation and is now commonly abandoned. . .
. . .The obligation of rest from work on Sunday remained somewhat indefinite for several centuries. A Council of Laodicea, held toward the end of the fourth century, was content to prescribe that on the Lord's Day the faithful were to abstain from work as far as possible. At the beginning of the sixth century St. Caesarius, as we have seen, and others showed an inclination to apply the law of the Jewish Sabbath to the observance of the Christian Sunday. The Council held at Orléans in 538 reprobated this tendency as Jewish and non-Christian. From the eight century the law began to be formulated as it exists at eh present day, and the local councils forbade servile work, public buying and selling, pleading in the law courts, and the public and solemn taking of oaths. There is a large body of civil legislation on the Sunday rest side by side with the ecclesiastical. It begins with an Edict of Constantine, the first Christian emperor, who forbade judges to sit and townspeople to work on Sunday. He made an exception in favour of agriculture. The breaking of the law of Sunday rest was punished by the Anglo-Saxon legislation in England like other crimes and misdemeanours. After the Reformation, under Puritan influence, many laws were passed in England whose effect is still visible in the stringency of the English Sabbath. Still more is this the case in Scotland. There is no federal legislation in the United States on the observance of the Sunday, but nearly all the states of the Union have statues tending to repress unnecessary labour and to restrain the liquor traffic. In other respects the legislation of the different states on this matter exhibits considerable variety. On the continent of Europe in recent years there have been several laws passed in direction of enforcing the observance of Sunday rest for the benefit of workmen.

I find it interesting that the Catholic Encyclopedia has this in its entry about Judaism:
The high-priest, a person most sacred, stood at the head of the hierarchy, and acted as final arbiter of all religious controversies. The Sanhedrin of Jerusalem, or supreme tribunal of Judaism, watched zealously over the strict fulfilment of the Law and issued decrees readily obeyed by the Jews dispersed throughout the world. In the Holy Land, and far and wide beyond its boundaries, besides local Sanhedrins, there were synagogues supplying the ordinary religious and educational needs of the people, and wielding the power of excommunication against breakers of the Law, oral and written. A learned class, that of the Scribes, not only read and interpreted the text of the Law in the synagogue meetings, but sedulously proclaimed the "Traditions of the Elders", the collection of which formed a "fence to the Law", because whoever observed them was sure not to trespass in any way against the Law itself. Legal righteousness was the watchword of Judaism, and its attainment by separation from Gentiles and sinners, by purifications, fasts, almsgiving, etc., in a word by the fulfilment of traditional enactments which applied the Law to each and every walk of life and to all imaginable circumstances, was the one concern of pious Jews wherever found.

What is it that keeps them from seeing the parallels with this situation in Jesus' first coming with the RCC vision of themselves as the one true church? In place of the High Priest they have a Holy Father or Pope who is the final arbiter of all doctrine. He is in fact considered infallible and must be obeyed. The RCC is the only correct group and excommunicates those who are breakers of the "law" either Scriptural or tradition. I love my Catholic brothers and sisters in the faith and I am not hostile to the Church despite what this post may indicate. I wish to see the RCC come to a realization of where she is at and I pray that it happens. When Luther attempted to reform the Church, he was booted out and his life was threatened. Times are different now as the RCC has recently acknowledged that Luther's desire for reform was correct and good and well-meaning. They have even said that he might have been right about a few things.
I have more to say but this post is already quite long. I will post another discussion of the Sabbath and the Feasts of the Lord next time, but let me leave you with one other comment about the primacy of Rome that fits this discussion. In the debate over the celebration of Easter, the churches were not all in agreement.
At the end of the Second Century, Victor, the bishop of Rome began to threaten other Church leaders in an attempt to get them to abandon Passover in favor of the Roman Easter celebration as a means to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. Polycrates, the bishop of Ephesus, wrote to Victor his response to these threats.
“We for our part keep the day [14th of Nisan = Passover] scrupulously, without addition or subtraction. For in Asia great luminaries sleep who shall rise again on the day of the Lord's advent, when He is coming with glory from heaven and shall search out all His saints – such as Philip... there is John, who lent back on the Lord's breast… there is Polycarp, bishop and martyr… All these kept the fourteenth day of the month as the beginning of the Paschal Festival [Passover], in accordance with the Gospel, not deviating in the least but following the rule of the Faith. Last of all, I too, Polycrates, the least of you all… and my family has always kept the day when the people put away the leaven [Feast of Unleavened Bread]. So I, my friends, after spending sixty-five years in the Lord's service and conversing with Christians from all parts of the world, and going carefully through all Holy Scripture, and not scared of threats. Better people than I have said: 'We must obey God rather than men'."
-Eusebius, The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine, p.231
Despite what the Catholic church teaches, there has not always been a deference to the opinions of Rome. In fact, this recognizable quote of obeying God rather than men was first uttered by Peter and here used to denounce the so-called Petrine authority of Rome.

Friday, May 23, 2008

More Than Bread Devotional 5/23/08

Lamentations 3:18-23
18 So I say, "My splendor is gone
and all that I had hoped from the LORD."
19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

Many of you probably heard the tragic news about Steven Curtis Chapman's youngest daughter recently. Or maybe you heard the story of the pastor and his teenage son who died in a plane crash a short time back. Life is full of unexplainable and seemingly senseless tragedy. If you haven't been touched by it recently, then you will be someday. Christ never promised us an easy road, despite what some preachers would have you believe. There are times in any believer's life that are more suited to mourning than to dancing. In those times, we must be honest. And if we are not going through it personally, we must allow those who are to be honest. It is okay to be sad. It is okay to lament. And it is good to remember that the Lord's compassions never fail. He meets us in the darkest moments and loves us even still.