An Echo of Adam

An Echo of Adam

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth (Genesis 1:27; 5:3).

The story was publicized in 2014 of a Washington State couple who decided not to corrupt their son by telling him that he is a human.

“If Echo wants to be a human, that’s fine, but it’s not my job as a parent to tell it that it is,” said the boy’s father. “My parents told me I was human and they were told the same by their parents … it’s time to break the cycle.”

What Echo has decided is unknown, but if he concluded that he is a girl, or a spoon, or a potato, or a monster, who in his life will have the ability to inform him of the truth? When a self-identified monster acts like a monster, who will have the moral authority to correct him, or will society be forced to accommodate his perverted ideas and behavior?

This is an example of what we are witnessing as America reaps the harvest of Biblical defiance and rejection of the God of the Bible.

Pointing the Finger

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The easiest sin to spot in others is often the sin we struggle with ourselves. The sin we most harshly criticize in others is often the sin we most despise in our own lives.

Our personal standard of right and wrong isn’t a valid point of reference because our knowledge isn’t complete and our lives are riddled with sin. The God who knows all things judges righteously according to absolute truth. And He knows truth because He is Truth.

I proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God. He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He (Deuteronomy 32:3-4).

The Bible Tells Me So

The Bible 11 2015

I grew up nearly 50 years ago in a traditional Pentecostal congregation. As a child, each Sunday morning we’d head off to our classrooms and do a craft, hear Bible stories, and sing songs. We’d sing:

Jesus loves me! This I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong; they are weak, but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.

And

The B – I -B – L – E. Yes! that’s the Book for me.           I stand alone on the Word of God, the B – I – B – L – E.

I knew that God loved me because the Bible tells me so. I knew that I stood alone on the Word of God – not that I stood by myself, but that the Scriptures were my only authority for faith and practice.

Oh! For the ‘good old days’ when the Bible was our foundation and not our feelings, experiences, and thoughts.

I trust in Your word (Psalm 119:42).

Ingratitude, a Lunch Lady, and Butter Sandwiches

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Not long ago a lunch lady named Dalen Bowden, in a Pocatello, Idaho middle school was fired (here).

Day before Christmas, a school child was denied lunch because her parent was behind in paying the lunch bill. Rather than see the child go hungry, Mrs Bowden gave the child a $1.70 lunch and was then fired despite her willingness to repay the district.

We might talk about a lack of parental responsibility, fairness of a policy leading to Mrs Bowden being fired (and later re-hired), or the need for more services for the poor; I wish to say something about ingratitude.

A parent on Facebook complained that when she fell behind paying for her child’s lunch, the school gave the child a free cheese sandwich. Another mother wrote about being “appalled” that her child was given a free “butter sandwich.”

I spent 2 weeks in a rural Kenyan village in 2014. Kenyan custom is to feed a guest. The first church I preached in served me butter sandwiches and some fruit for lunch. I was grateful for the kindness, knowing that for many Kenyans a single slice of bread with butter may be all the breakfast or lunch that can be afforded!

Americans live spoiled and ungrateful lives. As a child, my grandmother ate bread and lard. Thirty years ago we learned of our own elderly eating cat food for a lack of money. As a nation, Americans are completely disconnected from our own recent history and our place in the world.

Rather than giving thanks to God for our amazing bounty, we grumble and complain at receiving less than we feel we deserve. “Well, I don’t live in Kenya,” I can hear some retort. “I live in America.” Yes, you do, so be thankful. One day, as hard as it is to imagine, bread and butter may be all this nation has too.

It is not a sin to be rich, even by the standards of others, but it is a sin to be ungrateful for what God provides.

We have brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content (1 Timothy 6:7-8).

A One-World Language

A Pure Language

For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one accord (Zephaniah 3:9).

The United Nations was founded in 1945 to create a world-governing body to unite mankind and promote peace. It has failed miserably.

The Bible says that there is coming a day when Jesus will return and establish His kingdom over the whole earth. The prophet Zephaniah writes that at that time God will restore to humanity a single pure language. That language was splintered at the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11 when God denied a world empire to a dictator named Nimrod.

There are many suggestions about what language everyone on earth will speak, but personally, I’m thinking Australian English or American English with a Southern accent.

The words we speak (as well as our actions) flow from our hearts, so a pure language requires a pure heart. Jesus said that From within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man (Mark 7:21-23).

A changed heart always results in changed speech, but God won’t give men pure hearts and pure words so they can conduct commerce more easily. His purpose is so they will call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one accord. Brought together in Jesus, people of every nation will speak the same language to serve the living God together as one.

Rest for the People of God – Hebrews

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There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from the works as God did from His (Hebrews 4:9-10).

Some people are hard to please; others are impossible to please. I’ve been in relationships with both kinds of people. And sometimes the hardest person to please is yourself. Trying to gain favor by living to a difficult or impossible standard is wearisome. Never meeting those expectations and demands is full of despair and death.

It’s impossible to live up to the law of God. The 613 commandments of the Old Testament law God gave to Israel are beyond any human ability to follow perfectly. Even the greatest commandment, to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength (Mark 12:30) results in absolute failure a thousand times each day.

Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).

The rest Jesus offers isn’t from shoveling snow, doing laundry, or going to the office five days a week. It’s a rest from the labor of trying to live up the impossible standard of the law of Moses to gain God’s favor. Jesus offers grace over commandments. He offers a right relationship (righteousness) with God apart from the law … through faith in Him (Romans 3:21-22). No more striving to please. No more labor resulting in failure. No more impossible standard to reach. Faith in Jesus is rest.

For we who have believed do enter that rest (Hebrews 4:3).

A Hidden Bible Healing Cure

Hidden Secret Cure

I heard it again today; the discovery of a “secret” Bible cure to all diseases from cancer and diabetes, toothaches and hair loss, skin ailments and back pain.

The radio advertisement quoted John 7:38 from the Bible. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.  The expert said that Jesus pronounced the secret to a long life and perfect wholeness by – – –  ta-da – – –  drinking your own urine! Yes! It’s called urine therapy and it’s in the Bible they say.

Urine therapy has be a practice of Yoga for millennia, prescribed as a cure-all by the chief Hindu god. Now, after 2000 years, this all-natural healing medicine has been found in the Bible (here, here, and here). Several verses of the Bible teach urine therapy (Leviticus 17:11 and Proverbs 5:15) these pee-believers say.

Never heard that Jesus preached urine therapy? Welcome to the age when the Bible means a thousand different things to a thousand different people. It’s the day when history, grammar, and context don’t matter. It a time when God is giving new revelations to prophets for profit all the time.

No, there are no secret medical cures in the Bible. No, Jesus was not a urine therapist. In fact, if you read the sentences before John 7:38, and the sentences after, it’s clear what Jesus is saying: But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive … (John 7:39). Jesus spoke metaphorically that those who drank from Him would receive eternal life by the Holy Spirit.

Be diligent to show yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

Just Ity

Just Ity 10.1.15

Many years ago the church I attended got a new pastor. He was young, hip, and had run headlong into the fad of the Toronto Blessing or Laughing Revival. On his first Sunday as pastor, he announced that the church had been too concerned with theology and doctrine. From that point forward, the focus of the church would be on practical living.

Since then, I’ve heard lots of people say, “I don’t need doctrine” and “I don’t care about theology.” There is a mindset that both are cold and old fashioned. Okay, let’s say they are, and Christians need to work more on practical stuff. Here’s the problem: Christianity depends on the identity of Jesus. Christianity is more than a feeling. Without Jesus, Christianity is just … “ity.”

Is Jesus a man upon whom the Christ-spirit rested for three years? a prophet? a lunatic? an historical figure who taught an enlightened way of humanity? or God in human flesh? H-E-L-L-O! Answering this question is called theology.

What was the mission of Jesus? To reveal the god in each of us? To teach us how to love? To show us the way to good deeds? To die for the sins of everyone yet saving only a few? To give His life as a ransom for God’s elect and redeem each one of them? H-E-L-L-O! Your conclusion is called doctrine.

You cannot have practical Christian living without doctrine. You cannot have meaningful relationships around confused amorphous theology. What you believe about spiritual things is doctrine; and the study of the God who ordains that doctrine is called theology. Everyone has both.

Within a few years, my pastor was gone, the congregation dispersed, and the property sold to pay the debts. Without sound doctrine and theology, it was no longer a local church.

Hold fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict … speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine (Titus 1:9 & 2:1).

It’s Been a Long Road

Been a Long Road

 

 

American rock music icon David Bowie died in mid-January 2016, of cancer. His death came only three days after the release of his latest album and his 69th birthday.

In the lyrics of one of his new songs, Lazarus, he envisioned his own death and being in Heaven.

Look up here, I’m in heaven / I’ve got scars that can’t be seen / I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen / Everybody knows me now

In 2004, Bowie said that he had “experimented” with Christianity, which “didn’t stick.”

I was young, fancy free and Tibetan Buddhism appealed to me at that time. I thought, ‘There’s salvation.’ It didn’t really work. Then I went through Nietzsche, Satanism, Christianity … pottery, and ended up singing. It’s been a long road.

Bowie is known for making his own way through the glitz and glamor of the music business. He became very successful by worldly standards. He followed the advice of Frank Sinatra and did it his way. Even churches in the US are called upon to follow Bowie’s fashion, art, music, and sexually vivid example in performing Sunday morning music.

Rock has always been the devil’s music, you can’t convince me that it isn’t. I honestly believe everything I’ve said—I believe rock and roll is dangerous. … I feel that we’re only heralding something even darker than ourselves” (David Bowie in Rolling Stone, February 12, 1976)

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death (Proverbs 16:25).

Disabled

Ann Njoki

Ann Njoki

God told Moses to return to Egypt and relay a message to the most powerful man on earth: Let My people go. There was one problem. Moses was not eloquent. He was slow of speech and slow of tongue (Exodus 4:10). Most Bible teachers understand this to mean that Moses had a speech impediment. He likely stuttered. That’s a real disability for a public speaker.

Most of us have something we count a disability. I have very poor eyesight and have lost most of the grip in my left hand. I’m careful not to carry anything breakable with my left hand. Some disabilities are more difficult to work with than others.

Consider God’s answer to Moses. So the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? (Exodus 4:11). God says that He makes the disabled!

At this point many Christians would argue with God. They don’t believe that He makes people with disabilities or gives them sicknesses. To them, every disability is the direct work of Satan, chance, an accident, or a sinful lifestyle.

Moses tried to use his disability or inability as an excuse to disobey God; but God had made his mouth. The real disability Moses had wasn’t that he stuttered, but that he didn’t believe God could use him.

So often we compare ourselves to the things society adores. The perfect nose. A radio voice. A great mind. An education. Wealth. Then we use those comparisons as reasons not to obey the Bible. God, however, made Moses as He did, so that He could work His purpose, power, and glory through that weakness. Go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say (Exodus 4:12).

Jesus said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

** Dedicated to my Kenyan friend, Ann Njoki, who doesn’t let her disability stop her from serving Jesus.