When are they going to realize it’s all true?

A new find discussed in an article at Archaeology Archive offers evidence that supports the accuracy of the book of Jeremiah (surprise, surprise)  Read all about it here: Book of Jeremiah Confirmed?

Here’s a snippet:

“Austrian Assyriologist Michael Jursa recently discovered the financial record of a donation made a Babylonian chief official, Nebo-Sarsekim. The find may lend new credibility to the Book of Jeremiah, which cites Nebo-Sarsekim as a participant in the siege of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.

The tablet is dated to 595 B.C., which was during the reign of the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar II. Coming to the throne in 604 B.C., he marched to Egypt shortly thereafter, and initiated an epoch of fighting between the two nations. During the ongoing struggle, Jerusalem was captured in 597, and again in 587-6 B.C. It was at this second siege that Nebo-Sarsekim made his appearance.

He ordered Nebo-Sarsekim to look after Jeremiah: “Take him, and look well to him, and do him no harm; but do unto him even as he shall say unto thee.” (Jeremiah 39.12)

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Parents; it is your job to teach your kids about God.

I heard something on the radio today that disturbed me greatly.  What was it?  A preacher trying to tell parents the way to tell their kids about God, Jesus, and salvation.  Ugh.  No.  He was tossing words out there like “justification.”  Yeah, say that word to your three year old, and see if they understand.  The preacher was making a point in saying that you just keep telling the child the same thing over and over, and eventually, mysteriously, they’ll get it.

Any developmentalist will tell you that you don’t talk to a three year old the way you talk to a nine year old, it’s useless.  The preacher seemed to think that a child has to jump through a series of hoops in order to be well and truly saved, and that the kid needs to know everything an adult would know, and that the child needs to make sure to be old enough, etc… Well, yeah, children need to have an understanding of who Jesus is, and what He did.  But, Jesus didn’t ask how old the children were who wanted to come to Him.

Anyone, regardless of age is allowed to go to Jesus, in fact, it is encouraged.  The child isn’t going to be able to set down and write out a dissertation on sin and redemption, but that’s fine.  A child’s faith is held up as what we adults are to aim for.  A parent needs to evaluate each child and not compare them to one another.  Some will “get it” sooner than others, and that’s fine.  It is indeed your responsibility to always check along the way, for example, when your child wants to take communion, you need to make sure they do understand what it means.

Further, parents, it is your job to teach you children, not a preacher.  You need to know your own faith, and why you have it, good enough to explain that to your children.  Know faith and grace, know scripture, know Jesus.  Remember your kids are watching you and you need to make sure you realize you are their number one model.  Also, realize your child does not know what you know, you are not your child.  You may know that baptism isn’t required for salvation, and why, but your kids don’t, unless you TEACH them.

Some parents think that they can just give their children books, or have them watch cartoons, or listen to a certain preacher and that will be fine.  No, it won’t.  You are to raise your children up with the instruction that they need from you personally.  Ask questions, and then really listen to their answers.  Listen to sermons together, watch those cartoons together. Read the Bible together, and don’t water it down.

As a final thought; as you walk this road with your child, I would bet they’ll teach you a lot about God too, so be willing to learn.

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Teaching the tithe; holding the church back?

I’m continually blown away with how many preachers get the tithe completely wrong, especially in regards to the New Testament church.  I’m frustrated because I believe if giving where taught correctly, we would have a totally different attitude toward money.  I believe that the teaching of the tithe actually stifles giving.  I can “hear” myriads of preachers groaning, and rushing to claim that teaching the tithe is the only way to insure a percentage of the congregation actually gives.  Meh, that’s no reason to downplay the truth.

The tithe as a tool is fine.  The tithe as an obligation or means to a blessing isn’t.  If you need to use the tithe as an “easy” way to portion out your money, or are called by God to tithe, that’s perfectly fine, I’m not directing this article at you.  There are so many preachers out there making a certain statement that makes me grind my teeth.  What is that statement?  “How much of your income is God’s?”  What do they say the answer is?  Ten percent.  Sometimes they think they go more detailed and say the first ten percent. Wrong answer.

All of it.  ALL of it is God’s, not yours.  Further, if you are a believer, your house is His, your car is His, every minute of your day is His, your business is His, etc…  If we don’t change the way we preach this, we are limiting our understanding of God, and His relationship with us.  You may be called at any moment to utilize anything you “own” for His good.  I’m not saying this figuratively.  It is all His.  What do you think presenting yourself a living sacrifice to Him is all about?

The OT tithes, that were in place for the Jewish people were for them specifically.  And, it was much much more than 10%.  As with the law in the OT, the tithe was to teach us, it was to foreshadow what was to come.  The tithe was so that God’s business could be carried out and that was centered on the temple and the priests.  Guess what, now you are the temple and you are the priests.

If your reaction to this is “Yes! Now I don’t have to give up anything!” then you’ve missed the entire point.  No longer are we legally required to give, now we are to pay attention to God’ guidance on a very personal level and give as we are called.  Free will, cheerful giving.  That is the model for the NT church.  The early church had to be reigned in from giving too much.  The were giving everything to the apostles and those in need and keeping nothing to live on.

I just heard one preacher say that if you tithe you’ll be amazed that you never lack for anything. Bull.  I know good believers who thought they had to tithe, doing so “religiously,” with good hearts and wind up broke and in debt.  Preachers need to preach financial accountability to their congregations.  If you need help, follow someone like Dave Ramsey’s plan in a secular way.  If you owe a debt to someone else, pay it.  If you owe bills, those ARE debt.  God wants you to be a good steward and pay your debt.  God also wants you to be a good steward and quit being a consumer driven by every want and fad.

You are to be responsible and take care of your family, and you are to be responsible so that when God calls on you to give to a cause, or a teacher, or preacher, or to help someone you will be able to do so.    Remember, you are handling His money, not yours.  Are you to give?  Yes.  There are a few examples of where money should go in the NT; to those that teach you in the faith (Galatians 6:6), to those in need (esp. to widows and orphans), and to those who ask.  How many of us really look at Matthew 5?

Matthew 5:38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

Wow.  This only makes sense and only works if we realize all that we have is God’s.  We are to be responsible with what He gives us whether it’s money, time, a house, car, land, a phone, a camera, etc…  We need to be praying to see what God would like us to do with His things, and then yield to the urge of the Holy Spirit.  Further, it is no one’s business to know how much you make, or how much you give.  That is between you and God.  But, be warned, God knows your heart, and He obviously knows what He is communicating to you.  Pray, and pay attention and ask for His help in doing as He directs.

Give generously, give cheerfully, be responsible with your money and make it serve you, don’t serve it.  The tithe is not a requirement for the church, but excuse making doesn’t work either.  As you sow, so shall you reap, and God truly loves a “hilarious” giver, for it mirrors Him and uses what He has given you to further His will.  Could you imagine the things our church could do if everyone embraced this idea?

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Jesus was not a hippie.

I can’t believe I actually have to type that.  I also have to apparently type; Jesus was not a Democrat, Jesus was not a Liberal, Jesus was not a Republican, Jesus was not a Conservative, and on and on and on.  Jesus was God made flesh, the Messiah, the Lion and the Lamb, the only perfect human who was also 100% God.

I’ve heard that phrase, “Jesus was a hippie” from several sources, and it always makes me wonder if the person saying that knows what a hippie was.  It is easy to romanticize political or societal fads and movements, but to associate Jesus with a romanticized version of a historical movement is dangerous in the extreme.  Some people do it to try to sound funny, some do it rhetorically to try to make a point as to how they would like Jesus to be.

Hippies.  What did they stand for?  One of the obvious things was “free love.”  What does that mean?  The idea of free love included an attack against monogamous marriage.  There is also a more generalized idea that a sexual relationship contains no obligation.  Sleep with who you want, whenever and wherever you want.  Does that sound like Jesus to you?

Another aspect of the hippie culture was their advocacy and use of drugs.  One of the focuses was on mind altering substances, such as LSD.  God desires us to have temperance and a sound mind.  We are never to imbibe a substance that completely alters our brain chemistry.  Even something like marijuana, despite its growing positive reputation, can trigger a psychotic episode that can in turn trigger lifelong schizophrenia.  The effects of these drugs on fallen human bodies and natures is negative in the extreme; for the individual, their families, and society.  Do you think Jesus advocates that?

How about peace?  The peace the hippies chanted about is not the peace Jesus preached to us and offers us.  We could have all the peace on this earth we desire and still lack peace in eternity.  Make love, not war.  Sure, that works in this fallen world.  The hippies could flourish here in the US where other people were putting their lives on the line to insure freedom of expression and freedom of speech.  The peace Jesus offers is grace unearned so that we can have a relationship with the creator of all.

How about nature and flowers and rainbows? Jesus is the Word of God, it was by Him and through Him that all was made.  Hippies made the age old mistake of worshiping the creation instead of the creator.  Rainbows should remind us of fallen man, and God’s promises.  Nature and flowers? Part of creation, so are we.  We were fashioned from the ground by God Himself.

As I mentioned before, most who try to paint Jesus this way want Him to fit an agenda that they personally believe in.  It doesn’t work that way.  To portray Jesus in any way other than Biblically is presenting a false Christ.

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“10Things You Can’t Do” Response…

Recently an acquaintance of mine posted this link on Facebook (it’s not her article, just a share), clearly in support of what it says; 10 Things You Can’t Do While Following Jesus.  Please do read it. I do tend to like lists like this, as they make it easy to breakdown and talk about point by point.  First things first; why did I feel the need to review and respond to this particular blog post?  Because one of my main pet peeves is anyone who paints Jesus like a milksop weakling, and quite frankly I’m offended when someone calls God Himself a hippie (I think I have my next article right there).

Alright, lets move on to the 10 points;

10) Exclude people because they practice another religion.  That depends on the context that we are talking about.  We can surely mingle with people of other faiths, help people of other faiths, study other faiths, and respect people of other faiths, and have them as friends.  On the flip side, Jesus made it clear that faith in anything or anyone other than Himself will have a negative eternal effect.  Jesus is the only way to The Father, and no one can have a relationship with God except through Him.  So, He also called us to make sure that people of other faiths know the requirement of eternal life; faith in Jesus Christ.

9) Exclude people for what they look like, how they were born or things beyond their control.  I’m in complete agreement with the first part of this statement.  But, “how they were born” or “things beyond their control” is a bit vague.  What does that mean?  Lets assume that this is a statement on something like homosexual acts.  Well, I was born with a seemingly inborn tendency to lie.  I confess it, and I’m a wonderful liar… but that’s a no-no, in other words being a liar is not what God wants from me.  So, I turn to Him to help me not lie.  Guess what? It works 90% of the time, and I’m working on the 10%.  It has nothing to do with my salvation, but has a lot to do with my sanctification.   In short, it is true that Jesus didn’t run from sinners, but to them.  Also, look at the woman caught in adultery and who was brought to Jesus, that dialogue ended with “go and sin no more.”  No exclusion, I agree.  No calling good evil and evil good either.

As a side note, a lot of the “ism’s” of our culture are truly reprehensible, those are the things that every Christians should fight against, including sexism, ageism, and racism.  Also the churches out there harming others instead of helping them should be ashamed.  For example, if someone is a diagnosed Kleptomaniac, they are indeed a thief, but kicking them out of the church isn’t going to be doing them any good as they can’t currently control their actions.  Community, therapy, monitoring, etc… can help the person curb that behavior, even if they have to fight it the rest of their lives.

8) Withhold healthcare from people. I had to read that twice to make sure that is what the author actually wrote.  It was.  He argues that Jesus was a fan of healthcare for all because He healed people.  Um… there is a world of difference between healthcare and miraculous healing.  Jesus was clear that He was healing people to show that He was indeed the Messiah, and He healed supernaturally. He used healing to show that He had the power to forgive sins. Healthcare from the government was never meant to be a “right” or something that was granted to us without us doing our jobs.  I guess Obama really is the second coming with his “wonderful” program Obamacare.   It is the church’s job to help those who can’t help themselves, esp. widows and orphans.  Physical health in this life is not my right, and Jesus never promised me that, and it certainly isn’t the government’s job to “heal” me.

7) Exclude people.  Let me quote this on in full, “Last time. Promise. Jesus was constantly including people. It’s a little concept called love. He was pretty big on it.”  Ugh.  He includes all people as sinners, and that all are invited to learn of Him, and faithe on Him.  Yes, indeed all are welcome to the church, and the church’s job is to tell someone about Jesus and how to be saved.  You are saved by turning to God, and faithing on Jesus.  If you are faithing on man, Buddha, Krishna, the Islamic God Allah, the earth mother, etc… you are not going to be included in Heaven.  On earth we should and can mingle with everyone, as long as we are clear that there are indeed two categories of humans; the saved and the unsaved, our job is to make sure the unsaved know how to be included in the saved category, that’s love.  Jesus said He did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

6) Let people go hungry. Jesus let people go hungry, after He made the point with the loaves and the fishes.  He fed ‘em, then they started following simply to get another handout of food.  He then explained that He is real food, the bread from Heaven.  Crowds wanted their bellies filled again, and He said they were shortsighted, that faithing on Him was what would fill us, not physical food.  Don’t get me wrong, if someone is in need, it is our duty to help them as they can; IF they are in need.  If they are lazy and not working, I’m actually damaging them if I let them continue to take from others what they did not earn.

Side note; the author says that world hunger could be solved, “There is not a food shortage in the world — there is enough for everyone. There is not a problem with having a distribution system capable of handling it; I can eat lobster from Maine while looking over the Pacific ocean. The problem is that we aren’t very good at sharing.”  That is not a true statement.  We are actually very good at sharing it, but there are leaders intent on stealing it in foreign countries.  They are starving their own people on purpose.

5) Make money more important than God (and the children of God). I agree with this simple statement, but not his following points.  The love of money is indeed the root of all evil, but going to shop somewhere like WalMart isn’t a sin.  When we serve money instead of it serving us (and by extension, God) that is when things sour.  Further, it is not the Government’s job to do the job of the church.  I don’t mind paying taxes for things that are the proper realm of the government, things like the roads and the military.  I do mind paying taxes for things that are not biblical, and no business of the government.

4) Judge others. Yes and no.  The context is never to judge another when it comes to salvation, and we are not allowed to make up sins to pick on.  We are also no longer allowed, religiously, to judge another person as being righteous or unrighteous.  We are to judge whether someone could harm us, or cause a brother or sister to stumble.  If we do judge someone else as a stumblingblock, that isn’t a judgment on salvation.  If you have a sheep biting and harming the other sheep, and that little flock is under your care as an under-shepherd, you don’t allow that sheep to hurt the rest.  It’s still a sheep, but you provide some distance between him and the rest of the flock.

3)Be physically aggressive or violent. Again, yes and no.  The author rightly tries to catch himself; Jesus did indeed become aggressive in a righteous way.  That shows it is indeed possible.  Jesus didn’t just drive the money changers out, He made the whip He used.  Let me repeat; He made the whip.  Also, it is true that later, He told Peter to put up his sword, but why?  Because Jesus was allowing history to unfold as it had to.  It wasn’t time for the apostles to fight, it was time for Jesus to be arrested.

Physical aggression and violence, for a Christian, should be extraordinarily limited.  Self defense, or defense of the innocent.  That can take the form of a just war if need be.  Attacking Nazi soldiers to free the Jews, for example, was a righteous use of force.

2) Use the church to hurt people. The church is “merely” those people that are “out-called ones.”  We are a group of people faithing on Jesus.  Of course the church shouldn’t be hurting people, quite the opposite.  We are taught to love God, each other, and even our enemies.  But, this is where the author calls Jesus a hippie.  Sorry, no.  He is lamb and lion.  To ignore that aspect of Jesus that we clearly see in Revelation is to preach a false Christ.  The church is to spread the good news and to be a community of like-minded believers.

1)  Hate. Not so fast.  Hating another human is a no-no; however, hate in and of itself is not a sin.  God hates.  We are to hate what God hates.  Do you love sin?  Do you love the fallen world?  Not if you are in tune with God.

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The Fast and the Furious Series Review

This is going to be the first time for some of you to read one of my more “secular” posts, but as always I believe you can often find the sacred in the secular.  I admit it, I’m a Fast and Furious fan.  I fell in love with the first movie when it came out, and have followed it ever since.

If you find cussing, violence, and scantily clad women offensive, or if you’ve been led away from those things, avoid these movies.  So, why am I writing this review?  Because I believe most people are missing the main point and feature of the movies in this series.  I also believe that Vin Diesel is trying, in his own way, to get people to realize several key themes.

First, that the world is now connected in ways that it never has been in the past.  Culture is bleeding over political borders, and with it the good and the bad.  Crime, and crime bosses can now go global.  They can do so digitally or physically, and this is one lesson that we all need to learn in a very real way.  Two examples spring to mind; the recent reports of Chinese hackers invading US systems, and the violence on our Southern border.  We all now owe it to our society to start thinking more and more globally, and our news organizations will hopefully wake up and begin providing us with global coverage.

Of course, there are good things coming from this blending of cultures as well.  New styles, new food, new friends, new conversations to have.  And I think that this connects to Vin’s other main theme in these movies; faith and family.

The latest F&F installment, Fast and Furious 6 kinds slaps you upside the head with it, but apparently many reviewers are missing the point.  Faith and family.  Each installment in the main series always has a moment or two of Dom’s running rule; when you sit down to eat, whoever eats first (or tries to) has to say grace.  Some do it with more learning and style, and some try their best.  Dom’s cross also becomes a continuing plot device.

This lesson wasn’t something that was full-force in the first movie; Dom cared more for his own feeling of freedom than for his team, but that quickly changed as one-by-one his family was either hurt, or killed.  Over the course of the series we’ve seen Dom’s family grow, and with it, his loyalty.

Family.  This is where the “sacred” comes in.  This string of movies does a very good job of showing how those people that are not directly related to us can become our family.  In fact, each person that is a born again believer in Jesus is our family.  How often do we really truly see that in our church communities?  It’s rare.  If we truly wake up to what Jesus is telling us, we should help and protect our fellow believers, because they ARE our family.  They are not “like” family they are true family.

I believe this series does a superb job showing us this, in a secular sense of course… annnddd, you really do have to sit through a bunch of racing scenes to get there, but I do believe Vin Diesel is purposefully communicating that idea of family across all borders; language, culture, background, etc… And, yes, Vin isn’t technically a writer, but I hear him and Paul Walker have input into the series, especially when it comes to things the fans demand.

What else do I love about the series?  I love the cars.  I love the humor.  I love the way it self-deprecates.  I love the characters, and their interplay.  There is also ideas such as self-control and forgiveness taught throughout.  The series has become a huge blockbuster and the special effects are there to prove it, but at the heart of it, this series is still about family.  Sure, there are now over-the-top explosions, and cheesy physics defying crashes, but the film never takes itself to seriously on that score.

These movies are definitely not for everyone, but I can’t wait til the 7th installment!

Oh, and if you are interested, here’s the watch order if you’d like to see the whole series chronologically and, Han’s first appearance was not in the F&F series, but in a movie called “Better Luck Tomorrow” it would come before Los Bandoleros):

  • The Fast and the Furious
  • Turbo-Charged Prelude {short}
  • 2 Fast 2 Furious
  • Los Bandoleros {short}
  • Fast & Furious
  • Fast Five
  • Fast & Furious 6
  • The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

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“Sacrificial” giving of money; not biblical for the church…

Over and over I’ve heard preachers try to teach about “sacrificial” giving.  Unfortunately that is not a biblical principle, since the word sacrifice is very specific in scripture, and is abused in this context.  Now, before some readers get their knickers all in a twist, let me clarify; free will giving is biblical, and we’ll talk about that, but this idea of sacrificial giving is another offhanded term that does not appear in scripture.

“You’ve got to give until it hurts,” that is the refrain that you can hear from many pulpits both in person and on the radio.  No, you don’t.  The idea of a sacrifice is glossed over when the term is used in connection with monetary giving.  A sacrifice in the bible is very very specific; it is about killing and offering up an organism to God. Sacrifice was to do many things, one of which was to remind us that for sin comes death.

To underscore this, notice what Paul said, “present yourselves a living sacrifice to God.”  He had to include and underscore the word “living” there; no longer do we offer sacrifice to God in the old way of death, but rather we are living organisms and we offer ourselves.  This is only possible because Jesus became a sacrifice for us, and now, that older system is done away with.

Giving money is not technically sacrificial.  You aren’t ritually killing anything.  We muddy the waters of the gospel by referring to a free will gift offering as sacrificial giving.  We are indeed to give money as directed by the Holy Spirit, and we are to do so cheerfully.  The term “sacrificial giving” is apparently another dysphemism adopted by teachers and preachers to try to lay a charge upon believers that just is not there.

The once and for all sacrifice is done, I don’t have to sacrifice “things” or “animals” anymore, but rather I’m to realize that all I have and all I am is God’s to do with as He please.  Then, it is a matter of being smart with my money, compassionate with my money, and generous with my money (and time, possessions, land, etc…) because they are His, not mine.  He promises to guide us, and we are expected to yield because we trust Him.  That’s faith.

 

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