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.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

More Than Bread Devotional for 5/22/08

Galatians 1:10
Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

All of us like to be appreciated. We like approval. That isn't wrong. God made us that way. The problem comes when we seek to get that approval in the wrong ways or from the wrong place. There is only One we need to "impress" and I put that word in quotes so you won't misunderstand. God's approval isn't the same as His love. He loves us no matter what. As humans, we can have a hard time understanding that concept. His approval is the confirmation of His character in us. When we follow His ways, we automatically have His approval. But we can be tempted by the siren song of the praise of people we can hear much louder than His voice. Paul is telling us here that we have to make a choice which is more important to us.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

More Than Bread Devotional for 5/21/08

1 Corinthians 8:1-3
1 Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2 The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. 3 But the man who loves God is known by God.

This is an interesting verse. Paul says that everyone knows something about something basically. And he says that our knowledge has a tendency to puff us up. When we think we know more than our brother or sister in the Lord we can get a big head, but when we stop trying to fix them and start trying to love them instead we build them up. Paul even says that those of us who "know" something, might be too sure of ourselves. We should all focus on loving God and through Him love each other as well. We might be surprised at what we "learn" in the process.

Shifting gears a bit

Is it time to worry yet about our "freedoms"?
“Your right to your religious belief ends when it violates the law.”
- Judge Thomas Gossett

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;"
- The First Amendment

I mean, I know we no longer live in the free country that our Founding Fathers envisioned. But they must be feeling pretty cocky to be this blatant about it. This comes from the situation with the FLDS church in Texas, but it could be any other religious group on the radar next.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My Emmaus Experience

Luke 24:13-32
13Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16but they were kept from recognizing him.
17He asked them, "What are you discussing together as you walk along?"
They stood still, their faces downcast. 18One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, "Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?"
19"What things?" he asked.
"About Jesus of Nazareth," they replied. "He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23but didn't find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see."
25He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" 27And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
28As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. 29But they urged him strongly, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them.
30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"

Have you ever felt like you were walking blind? I have read this story many times before, but I have never felt more affinity with these guys than I do now. I have related here how I have been studying the Jewish roots of Christianity lately. I have been doing intensive study in the festivals in particular and it is amazing to me how Christ has been opened up in a way I had never known before. One of the men, whose studies I have been listening to, calls the Feasts of the Jewish calendar rehearsals. As I hear and understand what they have done for centuries (millenia, actually) it is as if the blinders are removed for the first time. Verse 27 is amazing to me: And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. Jesus took the Hebrew Scriptures and told them everything that it said about Him. We can know what God was trying to say about Christ before we even get into the New Testament. The New Testament is important of course, but so much of the time we make it the end all be all of faith or we insist on filtering the Old Testament through it.
God didn't change. He has never changed. A few months ago in one of my classes online for school I discussed with another student who thought that the God of the Old Testament was vengeful and would kill people at the drop of a hat so to speak and that the God revealed in the New Testament was more loving and patient. I told him then that this was bad thinking, as God has never changed His attitude toward sin. He has always been patient and longsuffering. There are plenty of OT passages that point this out. And there are times in the NT that God acted swiftly to judge. Just look at Acts 5.
Let me ask a much bigger question. I was taught and heard growing up about the age of Law and the age of Grace. It was a very dispensational thing. But I think from looking over Scripture that it was a very unScriptural thing to say. Paul talks about the Law repeatedly but many misunderstand what is being said. The so called Age of Law was a fallacy and still is. God has always operated by grace and only grace. The children of Israel were not saved by their sacrifices or their circumcision. The were saved by trust in the grace of God. Look at Romans 3:21-31:
21But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
27Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. 28For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. 29Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

Look at verse 21. A righteousness from God, apart(beside, independent of) from law(God's commands), has been made known(plainly recognised, thoroughly understood) to which the Law and the Prophets testify(see the relation to Emmaus here?). Paul is making it plain(look at chapter 4 if you don't understand yet) in Romans that God has never justified anyone by the basis of the Law in any manner shape or form. The Law had one BIG purpose: to show us God's perfection. This way, when Jesus kept the Law perfectly, we would be able to recognize Who He was and what He had done. Look at Romans 10:4-5
4 Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. 5 Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: "The man who does these things will live by them."

The word end in verse four would be better understood as goal or aim. Verse 5 is talking about Christ. He did all of those things and lived. God raised Him from the dead. It happened so we could know He is who He said He is. I am sitting here trying to understand why it is that we have taken what was laid out so that we could plainly understand and then obscured it all over again.
I have a lot more to say, but I am going to take a break and ponder and pray some more.

More Than Bread Devotional for 5/20/08

Romans 15:5-7
5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, 6 so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

Sometimes I think I get a little too preachy. There are probably a few of you reading this who are now saying AMEN! : ) I have gotten better over the years at letting things go and not arguing over every little thing I disagree with(just ask someone who has know me for a long time), but some days that is hard. But Paul makes it clear here that unity comes from a encouragement and endurance. We don't always agree with everyone, but if we can agree that all the glory and praise belongs to God our Father and Jesus Christ; we have a good starting point. As we follow Jesus and accept those who are trying to do the same with grace, we bring praise to God.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Who or What are we trying to save?

I have an important question. What should we try to save, people or our "American Christian culture"? In answer to that question let me pull out a great cultural canard and twist it. What did Jesus say/do? Let's look at a couple of passages from God's Word where Jesus talked about our mission
Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place."
"You are a king, then!" said Pilate.
Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."
John 18:36-37

Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Matthew 28:18-20

Unless I misread these statements somehow, Jesus didn't tell us or His disciples to go and create a nation that follows Him. He told us to go and make disciples of all the nations. He even said that His kingdom is not of this world. But frequently we find believers, especially in America, attempting to redeem our culture and make it Christlike.
America is a unique experiment. It began with a group of men who believed in God and believed that He had led them to that place and that time in history to do something truly unique. They founded a nation on Godly principles and I believe that God truly did bless that nation like no other in history. It is a testament to the faithfulness of God that He has blessed a nation that honored Him and sought to give Him glory. Some people have gone so far as to apply the promises and warnings that were given to Israel to America, but that is not Biblical or proper. God has not changed and He will continue to deal with wickedness. So that brings me back to the original question; does God want us to save people or create a "culture" that honors Him? Let me add another piece to the puzzle for thought.
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men 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 men 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 mortal man 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 of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
Romans 1:18-32

Now let me take this into modern mainstream Christian thinking. Yesterday, the California courts declared gay marriage acceptable in the eyes of the state. What should a Christian's response be? Should we lobby to get better politicians who will appoint better judges who will overturn a decision that wasn't even a good one to begin with? Or should we weep at the plight of the millions who are still living their lives blind and unaware or worse fully aware and approving of these things? And if we can be moved to compassion for the plight of those who are facing God's wrath the same as we were; perhaps we will be willing to share with them the truth of God's standard that shows us to be guilty in His courtroom. Then we can share the Good News (Gospel), that God has done something for all of us who rightly deserve His wrath.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Romans 5:6-11

We should certainly speak the truth and be willing to call sin, sin! But if we lose our focus on making disciples(people acceptable to God) for the sake of fighting to make our culture acceptable to God, we will be fighting a losing battle, distracted from the main objective.


I have been doing a lot of thinking lately. I have been doing a lot of studying and searching in Scripture. For some time now, I have been examining the work of people in the Hebraic/Messianic Christian realm. I have been fascinated with this for any number of years now. Really, the first spark was seeing a Jews for Jesus presentation of the Passover meal and its relationship to Messiah. A while back, God brought someone into my life who was deeply passionate about this same vein of thinking and brought me closer to examining some of the things I had been curious about but not pursued or studied. I am sure that Eric gets a good chuckle these days as he realizes how much God used our time together to help us both in our journey. I kept asking him tough and thoughtful questions that gave him an avenue to flesh out his thoughts and he kept giving me answers that brought me deeper into study and searching. I have noticed more and more the goodness of God. I always told my youth that God never did anything halfway and He told us everything He was going to do before He did it. One of the most powerful things that has strengthened my faith over the years is the amazing amount of prophecy that He gave in Scripture and fulfilled in history already.
Isaiah 48:3-5 -
3 I foretold the former things long ago,
my mouth announced them and I made them known;
then suddenly I acted, and they came to pass.
4 For I knew how stubborn you were;
the sinews of your neck were iron,
your forehead was bronze.
5 Therefore I told you these things long ago;
before they happened I announced them to you
so that you could not say,
'My idols did them;
my wooden image and metal god ordained them.'

The pattern of the Passover is just scratching the surface of what God has done. But unfortunately, it is hidden from many if not most of us. The vast majority of churches don't take the time to teach and may not even be aware of the amazing things that God has done and said in His Word. I say this as a guilty party. I have been guilty in my own ignorance, but as God continues to shed the light of day I am determined to follow Him and learn and teach what I find.
Let me give you an example. Look at this passage from 1 Thessalonians 4:15-16
15According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

And also this passage - 1 Corinthians 15:51-52
51Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

Have you ever heard of the Jewish Feast of Trumpets? This is some information about the Feast of Trumpets that I found:
Because of the Diaspora it was celebrated for 2 days and was known as one long day.
Why is it 2 days long? It fell on the 1st, the new moon, and they wanted everyone to know, especially in the Diaspora. It was regarded as One Long Day. This Feast fell on the first, consequently it was known as the Feast where no one would know the day or the hour it came! It was to be a day symbolically hidden even from Satan so he would not be 100% aware of its arrival.

1Cor 2:8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

Because it’s the first day of the month, was 2 days long, and was based on the sighting of the New Moon by two witnesses it’s known as the Feast where no one knows “The Day or the Hour“ it would begin!

On the Feast of Trumpets the Shofar is blown 100 times
There are three sounds made with the shofar:
Tekiah - One long straight blast.
Shevarim - Three shorter blasts.
Teruah – 9 quick blasts in short succession
This series is blown 11 times for a total of 99 blasts and the final blast is known as
“The Last Trump” !

Do you think that Paul (a Pharisee) knew about this Jewish festival and its terminology? Have you ever heard a preacher talk about this when speaking or preaching this passage? Have you ever heard your favorite "prophecy" teacher speak about this? Is it possible, maybe even likely that God has told us what He is going to do more specifically than we ever imagined and we have simply missed it because we didn't know what we thought we knew? Have you ever wondered why the Magi showed up at the right time? They knew what to look for and when they saw it; they acted! Jesus said, "When evening comes, you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,' and in the morning, 'Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.' You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times." (Matthew 16:2-3) We are not asking God for signs. He is already giving them. In Matthew 24, He tells His disciples the signs of His return. The thing that disturbs me is that we seem unaware and undiscerning about what He has told us already in His Word. I am not going to pretend that I have all the answers(I know better than that!), but I am going to try and start asking better questions.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

More Than Bread Devotional for 5/14/08

Psalm 13
1 How long, O LORD ? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, O LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;
4 my enemy will say, "I have overcome him,"
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the LORD,
for he has been good to me.

Have you ever gotten mad at God? I used to tell my youth that if they had a problem with God they should tell Him about it. The truth is He knows about it already and you aren't going to hide it from Him. David knew what it meant to be honest with God and more importantly honest with himself about how he felt when didn't go like he thought they should. Too many times, we draw back from expressing our feelings to God. He knows how you feel. He has been there before. Christ came and experienced what it is like for us to live this life. He knew lonliness and despair and rejection and betrayal and you get the picture. Do you think He had done something wrong to deserve those things? Of course He didn't. Do you think you are better than Him? Not a chance. So have a little talk with Jesus. Tell Him all about your troubles. Go ahead you know the words.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

More Than Bread Devotional for 5/13/08

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

One of the hardest parts of Scripture are these blanket statements made by Paul. It isn't that they are hard to understand really; it is that they are very hard to do. With words like always, continually and all, there isn't any room for wondering what Paul was trying to say. But don't miss the real point of these verses either. Paul isn't saying that we have to walk around perpetually smiling as we mumble words to God. He is telling us that we need to have real joy. Godly joy that isn't dependent on our circumstances or the moment, but on God's love for us. Continual prayer is an attitude of communion with God moment by moment through all of our lives. And giving thanks in all circumstances isn't some flippant thing. Remember this was written by the guy who sang from his prison cell and watched the chains break free. He might know a thing or two about the power of thanksgiving and joy.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Christianity for Sale

As if we needed any further proof that Christianity itself is becoming commercialized. Today I ran across a story that highlights a new "holy water" project.
The instructions are simple: Read the Prayer . . / Drink the Water . . . / Believe in God! / Believe in Yourself!

It's just that easy to be a "good" Christian. Make sure you use only Christian products. Make sure you drink only "Christian" water. What have we come to really? I am at a point in my life that I am trying to simplify what Christianity really is and what it means to be a Christian. God didn't intend for the Christian life to be a complicated ordeal full of lists of what you can and cannot do. He didn't seek to free us from sin so that we could chain ourselves to the next best thing - self-righteous isolation. As I sit here typing in my Christian message T-shirt, I ponder what has gotten us to this point. In countries where allegiance to the Gospel of Christ means real persecution, do believers go out of their way to display their faith on their stuff as it were? Do we in America find the need to display our Christian message on everything as a way to "be bold" about our belief? What compels us to act this way? I am not saying that you should go and cleanse your closet of all of your Christian message apparel, but have we separated things a bit too much? Now we have Christian radio stations and Christian book stores and Christian TV stations and so on. Certainly these things are helpful and can be a great boost, but are we selling God short?
Taieb, who spent several years in the pest-control business, had been thinking about a faith-based venture for more than a decade. He looked at several products through which to deliver his message of spiritual enrichment.

Wear-your-faith T-shirts already had exploded in the market, along with jewelry and candles, even candy -- all products used for evangelism and/or profit. The New Jersey firm that makes Testamints offers berry, spearmint and peppermint mints wrapped in a verse of scripture. Bible Gum promises consumers they can can chew their way to spiritual enlightenment. Each box comes with a scripture verse.

I am not going to be presumptous here (maybe it is already to late for that), but I think we need to take a step or two or three back. Maybe we should focus more of our time, efforts and money on the Kingdom of God itself and not so much on the merchandising. It is apparent that we have much bigger fish to fry in our churches than what water we are drinking. Let's work on helping people know the Truth training them to be disciples of Christ. The rest of this will take care of itself.

Friday, May 09, 2008

More Than Bread Devotional for 5/9/08

John 7:41-44
41 Others said, "He is the Christ."
Still others asked, "How can the Christ come from Galilee? 42 Does not the Scripture say that the Christ will come from David's family and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?" 43 Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. 44 Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him.

Have you ever thought you had God more or less figured out, only to end up confused and humbled? If you haven't already, you will someday. If there is a common theme in the Gospel stories of Jesus, it is one of confusion on the part of those around Him. It seems that plenty of folks thought they had Him figured out and then He went and messed up their notions alltogether. Even the disciples didn't get what they expected most of the time. Look at them again in the Gospels. They spend half the time it seems marveling or amazed at something that Jesus did or said. I find encouragement in this. We serve a God who is bigger and more incomprehensible that we can ever imagine. He keeps revealing more and more of Himself to us as we are ready for it. So get to know Him a little better each day and see what amazing things you can discover.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

More Than Bread Devotional for 5/7/08

Matthew 9:9
As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

Call me simplistic if you will, but it seems to me that sometimes we overcomplicate simple things. When Jesus called His disciples, He simply asked them to "Follow me". When we seek to be obedient and make new disciples of Jesus Christ, what do we ask them to do? Follow this set or that set of guidelines? Or do we point them to the Master and say, "Follow Him!"? I am not saying that the Christian life is simple or easy at all. I am just saying that we might be guilty sometimes of making things more difficult than they should be for others and especially ourselves.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

More Than Bread Devotional for 5/6/08

Hebrews 13:1-3
1 Keep on loving each other as brothers. 2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. 3 Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

I had the most amazing thing happen on Monday. I had a chance to put these words into practice in a very real way. I got a call on the church phone from a guy who had been given a room at a local motel and some food for the night through the help of our local ministerial association. He called me with an unusual request. He wanted to know if we would wash his clothes for him. He was out of money and had no way to wash them himself. I went to the hotel and got the clothes from him and talked with him for a few minutes. I brought the clothes home and we washed them and then I took them back along with a few other clothing items I thought he might be able to use. He had mentioned the first time I talked to him that he was a believer, and when I went back to deliver his clothes; he told me more of his life story and testimony. We talked for a half hour or so about faith and trusting God. He spoke with great passion about what God had done for him in his life. Before I left, we prayed together and thanked God for the chance to meet this side of heaven. I want to ask you who read this to pray for Nick as well. Pray that God would keep him safe and direct him to the place He has planned for him to live and minister.

Monday, May 05, 2008

How many doctrinal discussions does it take to light our world?

I enjoy reading other's opinions. I like being challenged in my beliefs and taking those challenges back to God's Word to find the truth for myself. In some ways the Bereans are my heros I suppose. But I have honestly scaled back in the last few years and not sought out a lot of discussions online. Maybe it was because I was getting some good discussions from my classes at Liberty Online or maybe I was just tired of getting into arguments over things that increasingly seemed trivial at times. This week, I found myself drawn into a discussion over at the Internet Monk website regarding the Lord's Supper. Actually, it has been somewhat ranging and the discussion I have really gotten into involves some questions about baptism, but in a real sense these two things are tied together. Much of what separates the Body of Christ universal is division(s) on how to handle these two subjects. You can see my posts on the subject in the comment thread, mostly in the later comments since I didn't really get involved in the discussion until 5/3.
If you have any thoughts to share, let me know what you think. I am curious. At some point I am going to rework the ideas I get from this discussion into a post of my own here.

More Than Bread Devotional for 5/5/08

John 8:54-56
54 Jesus replied, "If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 55 Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad."

I find it amazing that most people I talk to speak of how loving and kind Jesus was. And truth be told, He was loving. He loved everyone, but that didn't keep Him from saying some things that weren't what we would consider nice. Most of the really harsh words went toward the Pharisees and the other hyper-religious people of His day. Many of the times He speaks harshly to try and get through the callous and hardened religious exterior of the self-righteous. And while we should certainly be imitators of Christ, I don't know that I would recommend this harsh approach to the average person. I have tried it in the past, and it is hard to come off as loving when you are admonishing someone. I know this because I have usually failed at it spectacularly when I have tried it in the past. If you have to admonish someone, try to stick to the Word of God and add little or nothing to it. God's Word is the best remedy for a hardened heart.

Friday, May 02, 2008

More Than Bread Devotional for 5/2/08

Galatians 6:2
Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

I saw the neatest film clip today. It was from a college softball game out west. A girl hit a home run to win the game, but when she got to first base, she blew out her knee and couldn't keep running. By rule, she had to circle the bases for the winning run to count, but her teammates weren't allowed to help her or even touch her or she would be out. Two girls from the other team came over and carried this girl around the bases, costing themselves the game and a chance for the playoffs. In the process, they aptly demonstated the heart of this verse. They fulfilled the "law" of the game by carrying another person (literally in this case). What burden can you carry for another today?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

More Than Bread Devotional for 5/1/08

Ephesians 4:31-32
31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Compassion is an important part of love. In fact, some people think the term synonymous with love. When true compassion is demonstrated, it is felt as love. Compassion is the sharing of another's suffering and hurt. I was reading a story about Steven Covey in a book. One Sunday morning, he was riding the subway in New York. It was a quiet and peaceful morning on the train, until one stop where a man boarded with three young children. The children immediately transformed the peace and quiet into chaos and noise, yet the father seemed to not notice and made no move to correct the kids. The other passengers were getting pretty annoyed and Covey was as well. Finally, he leaned over and asked the man if he was going to do something with his kids to restore order in the car. The man replied, "I know I should do something. We just came from the hospital. Their mother died an hour ago. I just don't know what to do." When we have compassion on someone and understand where they are hurting, forgiveness and grace follow naturally behind. This isn't always easy, but it is always Christlike.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

More Than Bread Devotional for 4/30/08

Romans 5:6-8
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Several years ago, one of my favorite songwriters/singers had a song that referred to the "reckless, raging fury that they call the love of God". There were quite a few people at the time that took exception to characterizing God's love as reckless. For many it seems the idea of recklessness goes against what we think God's character should be like. But in reflection, it is a wonderful way to picture the love that God lavished on us. Think about it. Who in their "right mind" if you will would be willing to die for their worst enemy. Yet, God willingly sent His Son and His Son willingly laid down His life for you and for me, "while we were still sinners". Even those who choose to spit in God's face and curse His name, like the Roman soldiers and those who crucified Him, experienced the depth of this reckless love when He said from the cross, "Father, forgive them."

Monday, April 28, 2008

More Than Bread Devotional for 4/29/08

1 John 4:7-8
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Did you know that we were given a litmus test for ourselves? This is not the only place in Scripture that tells us this, but we are defined primarily by our loving attitude and behavior. The world has even been given permission by Jesus Christ to judge our Christianity by the way we show love. You know that song that goes, "they will know we are Christians by our love"? There is a lot of truth in that statement. God loved us, and that in turn enables us to love others. First our brothers and sisters in Christ and then the rest of the world.

More Than Bread Devotional 4/28/08

1 John 4:10-12
10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

I have been doing a lot of thinking the past few days about God's love. I have a feeling that we really never have a very firm grasp on the love that God has for us and what it does in our life. Sometimes I think I have it, and I know I am continuing to grow in this, but then I see that there is so much more to learn and to understand. I asked my son, Jonathan, about 1 John 4:10 Sunday morning before church. It is his favorite verse and I asked him why that was. He told me that it was because this is the verse that led him to want to ask Jesus into his heart. Imagine that. As a four year old kid, he heard about the love of God and responded to it. Jesus said we have to come to Him as little children ourselves. Could it be that sometimes we just need to hear and understand the love of God and respond to it?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

More Than Bread Devotional 4/22/08

John 5:19-20
19 Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.

Did you ever stop to consider what Jesus said here? He said that He did nothing by Himself; He did only what the Father did. The funny thing is a lot of times, I have convinced myself that I can do this small little thing that I know would please God on my own. I mean it is just a little thing. But then I remember that Jesus said He could do nothing by Himself. You know nothing as in no thing. Makes you stop in your tracks when you think about it. If you are trying to do something, even something small, for God on your own, it is destined to fall short.

Monday, April 21, 2008

More Than Bread Devotional for 4/21/08

Isaiah 59:16-17
16 He saw that there was no one,
he was appalled that there was no one to intervene;
so his own arm worked salvation for him,
and his own righteousness sustained him.
17 He put on righteousness as his breastplate,
and the helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on the garments of vengeance
and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.

This passage speaks of Christ and what He did for us. Does the language look familiar? Paul used some of this same imagery when he wrote about the armor of God that we are to use each day. This passage tells us what Christ did and shows us that we are to fight our spiritual battle in the same way that He did. He set a pattern for us to follow. So today, as the old song says, put on the gospel armor; each piece put on with prayer. See what the Lord does in your life when you are ready for the battle.

Friday, April 18, 2008

More Than Bread Devotional 4/18/08

Romans 3:19-20
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

Have you ever been around someone that wouldn't stop talking? You find yourself thinking that you would give almost anything just to get a break from the incessant babble. This isn't quite the same thing, but this passage says that God's Word, specifically His law, can stop the mouth. I have actually seen this in practice a few times. God's Law is able to work in a person's life to stop them from justifying themselves and helping them to understand where they truly stood before God. His Word is like that in all of our lives. It shines a beacon of light inside to help us see our true self, the way God sees us.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

More Than Bread Devotional 4/17/08

Isaiah 26:3-4
3 You will keep in perfect peace
him whose mind is steadfast,
because he trusts in you.
4 Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.

I have written before about our need for something unshakeable to place our trust in. This passage from Isaiah speaks to that as well. We can experience peace when we trust in the Lord. Jesus Christ is the Rock of Ages and He is steady when all around us may be shaking. Hebrews says He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Place your trust in Him today and forever.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

More Than Bread Devotional 4/16/08

Matthew 20:9-16
9 "The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 'These men who were hired last worked only one hour,' they said, 'and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.
13 "But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?'
16 "So the last will be first, and the first will be last."

Have you ever gotten a little bit jealous or upset because you felt you didn't get your fair share? When Jesus told this parable, He hit on an attitude that occurs all too often in our lives. I know that the quickest way to get me angry is to show me an unfair situation. Here the workers who came and worked all day suddenly raised their expectations based on the pay given to someone else. Jesus quickly corrects them and tells them that they are getting exactly what they agreed to work for that day. This parable is a tough one for many to understand and I can understand why. We all feel slighted when we think we deserve more. But the point of the Gospel flies against our self-deserving notions. The good news of the Gospel is that we don't get what we really deserve from God. Instead, we get a whole lot of good that we could never earn on our own.

More Than Bread Devotional 4/15/08

Luke 12:47-48
47 "That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

I have found a recurring theme in my life lately. Many of us are unaware just how blessed we are and just how much we have been given. I sometimes think I get it and understand, and then God shows me anew how much I have been gifted. This passage tells us that from those of us who have been given much, much will be demanded. It seems funny but this idea was actually incorporated into the tale of Spiderman (with great power comes great responsibility). As a follower of Christ we automatically fall into the category of those who have been entrusted with and given much. Another thing to consider is the words of the book of James when he tells us that if we know the good to do and don't do it it is a sin for us. If God is speaking to you and has shown you something that He wants you to do, the time to do it is now.

Monday, April 14, 2008

More Than Bread Devotional 4/14/08

Ezekiel 13:1-3
1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 "Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who are now prophesying. Say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination: 'Hear the word of the LORD! 3 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!

I have been thinking about how many false messages there are out there these days. There are many people, some very popular, who teach what they call a Christian message, but who contradict the Bible itself. They use a piece of a single verse from the Bible but twist it to mean something that fits their message. Be very careful who you listen to and be sure to filter every message you hear through the truth of God's Word; from your local church to that hugely popular television preacher, even to that hugely popular TV talk show host telling you how to live. If it doesn't agree with the whole of Scripture, then it is just their imagination talking. Later in chapter 13 we see one of the identifying marks of a false teacher or teaching. In verses 22-23 it says, "Because you disheartened the righteous with your lies, when I had brought them no grief, and because you encouraged the wicked not to turn from their evil ways and so save their lives, therefore you will no longer see false visions or practice divination. I will save my people from your hands. And then you will know that I am the LORD."
When someone has a hard time speaking about sin or even condemning sinfulness and sinful behavior, you can rest assured that they are not speaking a message from God. We need to always be prepared to offer the full counsel of Scripture. An important part of the good news of the Gospel is identifying what God has saved us from.

Friday, April 11, 2008

More Than Bread Devotional 4/11/08

Matthew 9:35-38
35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."

Christianity is a call to a life of work. We don't work for our salvation as if we could earn it, but consider this. Jesus' call to his disciples wasn't to make a confession; it was to follow Him and He would make them fishers of men. I think it is important for us to remember that we can't serve Christ sitting on the sidelines. There are no bench players in the Christian life. The amazing thing about this passage is the request His disciples were told to make and consequently us as well. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers for the harvest, but don't be surprised if one of the first workers He wants is you.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

More Than Bread Devotional 4/10/08

Luke 8:24-25
24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Master, Master, we're going to drown!"
He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25 "Where is your faith?" he asked his disciples.
In fear and amazement they asked one another, "Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him."

This past evening I was praying for many friends who were in the path of severe storms and frightening weather. In the midst of that, these verses came to me. This same story with almost these exact words are recorded in three of the Gospel accounts. I can see why this would make a lasting impression on all who were there. No matter what storms come into our lives, physical or otherwise, we serve a God who commands the obedience of the storms and the turbulence. He can calm the storms in our life as well.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

More Than Bread Devotional 4/9/08

Luke 16:27-31
27 "He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, 28for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.'
29"Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.'
30" 'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'
31"He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.' "

Have you ever tried arguing with someone who just doesn't agree with you? I did this for years myself over a variety of topics. I was sure that I could convince people of the truth of if I just showed them enough evidence. It took me a long time to understand human nature. I am not saying that we shouldn't point out the truth. I am certainly quick to correct or at least try to if I feel that someone can benefit from the knowledge. But if that correction falls on deaf ears, then I am not going to keep on arguing anymore. So do what you can do. Speak the truth in love and let God do the rest. After all, if they won't listen to One who rose from the dead, what makes you think they will listen to you?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

More Than Bread Devotional 4/8/08

Jeremiah 1:17-19
17 "Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. 18 Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. 19 They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the LORD.

Have you ever been afraid to speak up for Christ? It isn't unusual. I was reading Ray Comfort's book "Out of the Comfort Zone" and he was relating how he had fear everytime he went to hand out a tract. I still find that hard to believe after seeing him preach open air in the street on so many videos. Part of the key to overcoming that fear is just pushing on through. I will tell you that I also find myself in chicken mode far more than I would like to admit. But we have a word to share that gives life to those who hear it. So, don't be terrified; God is with you.

Monday, April 07, 2008

From the Pastor's Desk column for 3/30/08

The idea of humility is often foreign to today's society. I read a story of a pastor in Chicago, who related to an elder friend his struggles with humility. The friend told him to make a sandwich board with the Gospel message on it and to wear it for an entire day everywhere he walked through the downtown and other areas of Chicago. The pastor took the advice to heart and did just that. At the end of the day as he reflected on the humiliation that he had indeed experienced another thought came into his mind. He found himself patting himself on the back mentally as the only "person in Chicago who would be willing to do something like that." Or there was an old joke about humility, they gave me a humble button as a token of my achievement. But they took it back because I wore it. The teaching of Scripture regarding humility is one of the most challenging. It leaves no doubt about a calling of service that Jesus exemplified in his life. There is no doubt about the fact that the Bible calls Christians to a level of commitment in humility and service that can make many downright uncomfortable. Look at the passages in Philippians 2 and John 13 for a couple of radical examples of humility and service. What does this mean in practical terms? It isn't about me. Selfishness is a path that leads nowhere. Jesus Christ displayed a life that was selfless and powerful. We must equip ourselves with this same attitude.
On the opposite side we find pride. Most of us are very acquainted with pride, even if we don't realize or admit it. If we were to do an honest assessment of our lives we would be the first to admit that selfishness is much more abundant that selflessness. In fact, pride is the number one obstacle to a relationship with God. Many people understand the truth of God's Word and the essence of what He desires from them, but they are unwilling to humble themselves to His will and His way. The first sin in history was the sin of pride, when Satan attempted to exalt himself above God. And it continues to be at the root of most if not all of our problems in this life. Take a self-test of your life and see which is the dominant factor. Take an inventory of your spiritual life and see whose will wins out more often. You have a choice to make in life. Will you choose your own way or will you choose God's way?
If you have comments or questions, you can email me at

More Than Bread Devotional 4/7/08

1 Timothy 2:20-21
20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. 21 If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

Most of us would probably prefer to be the instruments of gold and silver in the Lord's hands. Those are the places of honor and the high profile services. But there is a need for everyone and everything. Sometimes the dirty work of ministry is overlooked as people strive to do that which is more rewarding or appealing. But did you see the end of verse 21? When we are ready to be used, we are ready for "any good work". If we submit to God and His direction, we give up the right to choose how we are used by Him. It isn't an easy thing to do, because sometimes He may choose to use us for work that we wouldn't pick on our own. And sometimes He may choose to use us in a way that is beyond our wildest dreams. But no matter what, we must be willing to be used by Him.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Harpo the Harpy

My sister sent me an email with a link to a You Tube video of Oprah's new "religion".

I have heard about this stuff she is doing now, but I have ignored her for so long that I didn't pay much attention. But two quotes from this guy stood out to me. He quoted Christ who said, "You are the light of the world" but he neglected the rest of that quote. Here it is from Matt. 5:14-16 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
In other words, the point of the statement isn't to lift us up or promote our status as "lights". It is to tell us that the way we act as "light" is a reflection of our Father (that would be God) and that those who see our "light" would then praise Him

Additionally, regarding life after death he, in his own words, "doesn't give it any thought". It appears he likes to pick and choose his sayings of Jesus, because Jesus gave a lot of thought and teaching about life after death. Including his admonition to us in Luke 12:4-5 - "I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.

This guy is one of those that will deceive many with a false religion and a false sense of security. If you wish to see the video clip I am referencing from you can watch it below. P.S. If the harpy reference above bothers you, please understand that I used it deliberately because it is appropriate and catchy. One of the definitions of a harpy is snatcher. Oprah is attempting to snatch away people who might believe in Christ as Savior and convince them that he is just this guy you know.

More Than Bread Devotional 4/4/08

Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Life is full of changes. Things that we thought would always last may be gone tomorrow. But there is one thing we can count on to always stay the same; Jesus Christ. His love never changes and He is always there for us. The writer in Hebrews was telling us that Jesus will do the same things for us in our life of faith that He did for all of those who came before us in the faith. He is our Solid Rock when all around us is sinking sand. Lean on Him today, and tomorrow, and the next day.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

More Than Bread Devotional 4/3/08

Matthew 12:50
"For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."

I was talking with a girl at AWANA about the fact that she was my sister in Christ. She is nine and had a hard time getting her mind around the concept judging from the reaction I got. But we had a good talk about it. This statement from Jesus is a plain truth for us. We who confess His name and do His will are brothers and sisters of Christ and of each other. This is a great comfort when we may be far away from our flesh and blood family. We are never far away from the family of God. And that family links us all together, no matter where we go.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

More Than Bread Devotional 4/2/08

Jeremiah 15:19
19 Therefore this is what the LORD says:
"If you repent, I will restore you
that you may serve me;
if you utter worthy, not worthless, words,
you will be my spokesman.
Let this people turn to you,
but you must not turn to them.

We have a duty as believers to speak the truth and to walk worthy of our calling. Jeremiah was struggling here with the difficulty of standing for the truth when all others around him did what they pleased. I think the word here from the Lord applies to us in our day and time as well. We cannot change our message to what people want to hear. We must continue to speak worthy of the Lord and His message and allow people to turn to Him.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

More Than Bread Devotional 4/1/08

Psalm 137:8-9
8 O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction,
happy is he who repays you
for what you have done to us-
9 he who seizes your infants
and dashes them against the rocks.

Have you ever gotten really angry over something? You know that it is wrong but you just can't seem to help yourself. I think it helps if we express that anger by telling God how we feel. I am not suggesting taking your anger out on Him. I am saying that you should share your thoughts out loud with Him in prayer. Sure He already knows what you are thinking, but it can be good to just get it out sometimes. And it is certainly better than taking it out on someone unsuspecting. Here, the Psalmist is pouring out his anger and hurt. It is best to let it go. After all, sometimes there just aren't enough rocks. : )

Monday, March 31, 2008

More Than Bread Devotional 3/31/08

Acts 20:36-38
36 When he had said this, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. 37 They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. 38 What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship.

I always thought that Paul has gotten a bit of a bad rap sometimes. A lot of people, particularly those who are not Christians think of him as a harsh, judgmental kind of guy. But there are some real heartwarming and affectionate glimpses of Paul in his life. This scene as he leaves Ephesus is a good picture of that. Wherever he went, the people he served grew to love him very much. And really that should be the case for all of us. While it is impossible to please everyone or be liked by everyone, it is still our goal to live peacefully with all. We should always be developing those relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ that will bridge the gap and hold us together, no matter where we go.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

More Than Bread Devotional 3/27/08

Acts 19:8-10
8 Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. 9 But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10 This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.

Have you ever talked to someone about God or spiritual things and felt like you were talking to a brick wall? Take heart from the example of Paul. He spent three months speaking in the synagogue and there were people there that just refused to get it. They started talking badly about him and the people who believed his message as well. But Paul continued to speak and to share for two years in the area until all had the message of the Gospel. We are not responsible to make people believe the truth, but we are responsible to share the truth with any who haven't heard.

From the Pastor's Desk Column for 3/24/08

What is the most important thing in your life? Is it your family? Is it your health? Is it a prized possession? The Bible asks us all the question, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and yet loses his soul?” So I ask you again, what is the most important thing in your life?
I have a shirt that says, “The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.” Which is a really confusing way of saying that we should keep our priorities straight. Last week I mentioned that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. In other words, it is the “main thing” in Christianity. Paul put it this way in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”
Yesterday, lots of people celebrated Easter, or as my kids have come to call it “Resurrection Day”. When Christ rose from the dead, it confirmed His message, His ministry and His mission. Because of the truth of the resurrection, we don't have the option of thinking of Christ as just a great teacher or a great man or a good example to follow. He has to be the main thing. Anything less is an insult to Him and to all that He said and did. He said, “The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”(John 12:25-26)
Back to our original question of the most important thing. I hope you see that the most important thing in life isn't our family or our health or our things at all; it is following Christ.

More Than Bread Devotional 3/26/08

Phillipians 3:15-16
15 All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

I was reading these verses and it reminded me of my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Rogers. She managed to do something that amazed us even to this day. For that one year of my academic life, I made all "A's" in school. She had a way of motivating and drawing out potential in me that I never really understood at the time and never managed to duplicate at that level in school again(much to my Mom's dismay). Here Paul is encouraging us to live up to what we already have. This seems kind of strange until you realize the implications of it. Just like my teacher was able to get the most out of me by expecting and encouraging the best. Paul is looking to help us get the most we can by encouraging us to do the best we can. Look at his earlier admonition to press toward the goal. And in the next chapter he tells us we can do all things through Christ. Be encouraged. You can do it.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

More Than Bread Devotional 3/25/08

Isaiah 58:2-10
2 For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.
3 'Why have we fasted,' they say,
'and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?'
"Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed
and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD ?
6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
"If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

I know this is a long one, but hang with me here. I was listening to a sermon by another pastor tonight and this thought struck me. Why is there such a disconnect in our culture between our professed love for God and our obedience of His ways? Or to put it another way, how can we say we love God when we don't keep His commandments? I spent several days witnessing to people at the Sturgis Bike Rally one year. After I shared the gospel with them, many would say, "Oh, yeah I already know that" or "Yeah I have done that"(referring to praying to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord). But the observable lifestyle of the people I was talking to led me to ask one more question. Jesus said, "If you love me you will keep my commandments"; do you keep His commandments? This usually started a great list of excuses on the part of most individuals and a list of unrealized intentions from others. But it gets to the heart of our relationship with God. I heard it said once that people will always find time to do exactly what they want to do, and I have found the same to be true in my life. What about you?

Sunday, March 23, 2008


I tried to watch the Razorbacks play today against North Carolina but it was no use. CBS here wasn't going to switch to the game and the internet feed was worthless. In fact, judging by what little I did see in the stops and starts, the feed was much like the Razorback's play in the game. Spotty and frustrating and frequently frozen in place. The audio stream part of the feed held up a little better, but the only thing more frustrating than watching the Hogs lose is having to listen to Billy Packer chime in on the whole thing. For pete's sake, can't CBS find someone better for their "A-list" team? I would rather listen to Dick Vitale yell for 40 minutes of ACC kissing up than to hear Packer do it. Ah well, perhaps next year will be better. It certainly seems like it could be.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Climate change hysteria

Last week I ranted about the Southern Baptist statement on climate change. Today I found more evidence why there is no need to talk about climate change as a human induced phenomena.
Duffy: "Can you tell us about NASA's Aqua satellite, because I understand some of the data we're now getting is quite important in our understanding of how climate works?"

Marohasy: "That's right. The satellite was only launched in 2002 and it enabled the collection of data, not just on temperature but also on cloud formation and water vapour. What all the climate models suggest is that, when you've got warming from additional carbon dioxide, this will result in increased water vapour, so you're going to get a positive feedback. That's what the models have been indicating. What this great data from the NASA Aqua satellite ... (is) actually showing is just the opposite, that with a little bit of warming, weather processes are compensating, so they're actually limiting the greenhouse effect and you're getting a negative rather than a positive feedback."

There are more statements like this one in the article, but I find it fascinating that the base result of the article is this. People who fly off at the handle with minimal facts are usually found to be unintelligent. The global warming crowd hasn't needed a lot of facts and when the facts do show up the reaction is predictable like this quote shows:
Duffy: "The climate is actually, in one way anyway, more robust than was assumed in the climate models?"

Marohasy: "That's right ... These findings actually aren't being disputed by the meteorological community. They're having trouble digesting the findings, they're acknowledging the findings, they're acknowledging that the data from NASA's Aqua satellite is not how the models predict, and I think they're about to recognise that the models really do need to be overhauled and that when they are overhauled they will probably show greatly reduced future warming projected as a consequence of carbon dioxide."

Duffy: "From what you're saying, it sounds like the implications of this could beconsiderable ..."

Marohasy: "That's right, very much so. The policy implications are enormous. The meteorological community at the moment is really just coming to terms with the output from this NASA Aqua satellite and (climate scientist) Roy Spencer's interpretation of them. His work is published, his work is accepted, but I think people are still in shock at this point."

Score one for common sense and level-headed thinking.

From the Pastor's Desk column for 3/17

I heard a joke a couple of weeks ago that the surest way to convert an atheist to Christianity was to challenge him/her to write a book disproving the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some of my favorite writers have actually come to know Christ as Savior and Lord this very way. It is amazing, but not surprising when you think about it, that the evidence in support of Christ's resurrection is so overwhelming. After all, the very truth and credibility of Christianity itself hinges on this event in human history. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:14-15, “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead.”
So in a real sense, if one could disprove the resurrection of Christ, the whole of Christianity would be proved to be a lie. But be careful. As I said before, many have attempted just such a thing and have found themselves instead changed by the truth. I recently took a college course where the instructor had previously been a skeptic of the resurrection. He mentioned that there are certain facts about the death and resurrection of Christ that most anyone, even skeptics can agree upon. For example, most would agree that Jesus indeed was put to death by the Romans by crucifixion. They would further agree that his disciples claimed to have Christ alive afterwards and spread this message in Jerusalem, which is where the death took place. Most critics will also allow that Paul(Saul) and James, the brother of Jesus who had doubted Him, both started out as antagonists of the teaching of Jesus' resurrection, but were later found to be among the most vocal advocates. Paul, in fact, wrote much of the New Testament that bears witness to Christ's identity and teaching and resurrection. It is Paul who gives us much of the best evidence for Christ's resurrection in his earlier writings, like 1 Corinthians. The other thing that is important to note is those who have attempted to explain away the truth of the resurrection of Christ have been unable to do so(remember what I said at the start of this article?). As I said before, many who have tried instead become convinced that the only reasonable conclusion is that the resurrection did in fact happen. You don't have to take my word for it however. Look into it yourself. God didn't intend for us to believe in Him blindly. You don't need to make a “leap of faith” to know Him. God is big enough to withstand a little scrutiny, if you are willing to consider the fact that He is in fact who He says He is.
As we get ready to celebrate the resurrection this Easter, I encourage you to look into it for yourself if you never have before. If you want to read more, I encourage you to check out some excellent resources online from authors such as Josh McDowell or Lee Strobel or Gary Habermas. These men have done all the hard work of research as skeptics who became believers. If you want to know more or have questions, I am always willing to talk further.

Friday, March 21, 2008

More Than Bread Devotional 3/21/08

Isaiah 53:5-6
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

Hundreds of years before Jesus made His long walk to the cross and suffered and died there for us, the prophet Isaiah recorded this message. This entire section of Isaiah tells the story of God's Suffering Servant, whom we have the benefit of knowing as our Lord Jesus Christ. As this weekend brings us a chance to focus on the death and resurrection of Christ, it is good to remember all that He did for us. Through Him we can have peace with God and healing of the relationship that we tear apart with our own choices and actions. We have a message to tell the world. Turn from your own way and follow Jesus.