Tag Archives: faith

Dare to Believe and Share the Gospel

If you discovered the cure for cancer… would you share it?  Of course you would.  Are you a believer in Jesus Christ?  Do you believe the gospel of the Bible and have faith in Jesus?  If so, do you realize you have something infinitely more precious than a cure for cancer to share.  You have something of eternal consequence, of eternal power.  What you know can change people’s lives forever.  You have no power over them directly, but you do know the truth; in order to have your sins wiped out, and in order to be raised from the dead and take your place in Heaven, you need Jesus.  You need His sacrifice, His grace, His blood.

You, my dear brother or sister (in other words my fellow believers), have been given much.  I don’t care about how popular you are or how rich or how poor you are, what you own or what you eat.  The fact is you have been given much.  And, to whom much is given, much is expected.  Embrace the fact that you are watched; unbelievers are watching you.  How do you act?  How you act does not save you, this we know, but how you act shows a bit of Jesus to the world.  Don’t use His name in vain… that’s not about cursing, it is about calling yourself a believer, and then acting like the world while others watch you.

This is not about beating people about the head with a Bible; is there anything more off-putting?  What I’m talking about is a quiet faith that is shown in what we do, what we don’t do, what we say, what we don’t say… how do we control our anger, do we love our family in Christ, do we love God and love our neighbors as ourselves?  Notice that; love your neighbor as you love yourself.  Many Christians act as though you have to hate yourself, no, that’s not the answer to pride.  The answer to pride is to love God first and foremost.  A believer’s right pride comes from Jesus and what He has to offer.

Sharing your faith should be a lot like breathing, breathing is not flashy or showy, it’s natural.  The Bible is clear; a proof of God and His Son hinges on us loving each other and treating our brothers and sisters AS brothers and sisters.  Care about one another.  Pray for one another.  Pray for our country because we need it.  We don’t need a president, we need God.  Our founding fathers were, in the vast majority, Christian.  They repeatedly reminded us that our nation is a strong nation because of our moral beliefs rooted in scripture.  We know there is sin.  We know there is grace.  We share the gospel in the lives we lead, how we treat our children and other people’s kids.  We share it in the way we treat our family… we share it in the way we treat our enemies.

I heard Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame being interviewed today, and he was right as usual; the answer is not a man-made ideology, its not liberalism, it’s not conservatism, the answer is God.  The greatest story ever told is one centered on forgiveness of sin, and the power of Jesus over death, Hell, and the grave.  Before someone has correct ideology, they need the creator of all in their lives, it is the only way they can think straight. I’m dumb, God is brilliant.  I’m weak, God is strong.  I’m sinful, God is perfect.  We, and all people, need God in our lives.  Share Him, in whatever way you are called to.  Read your Bible.  Pray. Pray hard.  The world needs it.

Our country is made up of states, states are made up of counties, counties of towns, towns of families, families of individuals.  In the age of grace God deals with individuals, not with nations as in times past (that time will come again, but is not yet).  That means the individuals that make up this country need to be rooted in Christ.  If the individuals are rooted, the nation is rooted.  You can’t control anyone else, but you can work on you with God’s grace and power.  The answer to our “secular” problems are indeed sacred in nature.  Grow deed roots and help others do the same.

Grace and peace be with all of you who believe in Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God, my prayers are with you, pray for me, pray for our nation, and our family in Him.

Leave a comment

Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Prayer, Religion and Politics, Sacred Secular

Famous Last Words

When we look at the books of the New Testament (NT) chronologically, we can do something kind of interesting.  We can look at the main authors of the NT (Peter, Paul, and John), and figure out which words we can read in scripture were the “last words” of aforesaid Peter, Paul, and John.  That is what we are going to do in this article, but it is also interesting to go through and read the last sentences of the books of the Bible; it doesn’t take long and it can really make you think, so when you have some free study time, try it out.

Alright, here’s the list:

Peter: 2 Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

Paul: 2 Timothy 4:22 The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.

John: Revelation 22:21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Do you see the theme yet?  I see 3 components that are always there.  This article is inspired by a teaching by Doc Scott, and he picked one aspect to focus on so I mention that component first, and that is grace.  “Grow in grace,” “grace be with you,” and “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.”  Do you think grace is important?  Each and every last word from the heavy hitters of the NT includes grace.  What is the second?  Jesus Christ.  What is the third?  The “amen,” the affirmation to the reader of these things.  When God repeats things, they tend to be important don’t they?

In order of importance:

1) Jesus.  Let’s look at the phrases used: Lord, Saviour, Christ.  Those are the titles given to Him in these three passages.  The way that the word “Lord” is used here by Jewish individuals can leave no room for debate, it means they are bestowing the honor of the word reserved for God and apply it to Jesus.  Remember Thomas’ “my Lord and my God?” Here that is underscored by the big 3.  Saviour meaning one who saves. Christ meaning Messiah.  So Jesus, our “God is with us,” Who is our Savior and Messiah is the cornerstone of the great last words of Peter, Paul, and John.  We would expect no less, but do we recognize Him in such a profound way in our speech, even in our churches in today’s world?  Should He not be included in every single last word that we have in our churches and between believers? Our Lord, Saviour, and Messiah; Jesus.

Peter even admonishes us to grow in the knowledge of Jesus.  We should learn of and be reminded of, His life, death, and resurrection.  His life including perfection, and His teachings, His death and why He had to die, and His resurrection as the sign and promise of our faith.  Study it, teach it, learn of Him because His yoke is easy and burden light.

2) Grace.  I’ve taught on here about grace.  The Greek means “unmerited favor.”  Peter received the grace of Jesus firsthand after denying Him 3 times.  Jesus forgave and forgave and forgave.  Peter never earned it.  Neither do we ever earn forgiveness.  We cannot work our way to forgiveness, there is no physical act we can do to earn forgiveness, He bestows it upon us and we are to grow in it!  This is why I decry anything that smacks of sacramentalism.  Peter, Paul and John offer the reminder of grace and the free flowing nature of it from God to us, and we don’t do anything to merit it.  The Lord and Saviour Jesus the Messiah did everything to merit the grace for us!!  What is our response? Faith.

In Galatians 2:21 Paul boldly proclaims “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”  Jesus died for the free flow of grace to us from our God!  His death was both necessary and sufficient to open the gate… to tear down the curtain dividing us from God.  Paul clearly says, “grace be with you.”  Unmerited favor be with you.  No hoops, no red tape; grace be with you.  The same comes from John, the Apostle of love; “grace be with you.”  Do you get it yet? lol Grace be with YOU.

3) Amen.  Amen translates into “so be it.”  Grace be with you, so be it.  That’s double affirmation being displayed with faith.  It is the communication that what has proceeded the “amen” is in line with God’s will, and that it shall be done because of His goodness and promises. When we have faith, which is trust, in what God has said and done, we have that ability to say amen; so be it.  Jesus is Lord, Saviour, and Messiah.  Learn about Him.  Grow in His grace. So be it!  If only our preachers and teachers reminded us of this, and underscored the meaning of it, and taught it with authority.

So, those are the things that Peter, Paul, and John believed were so fundamental that they included them at the very end of their correspondence.  Humans tend to remember the first things and the last things mentioned to them in letters and speeches. Pay attention to these things and put them in your heart, because they are fundamental to what it means to be Christians.

To my fellow believers in Jesus who have placed their trust in Him, I say; grace and peace be with you through faith in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!

Leave a comment

Filed under Christianity, The Bible, Theology, Uncategorized

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Musings, Of Interest, Reviews, Sacred Secular

“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.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Musings

The Fruit of the Spirit, pt. 7; Faith…

One of my favorite subjects to write on is faith.  Faith also happens to be an aspect to the fruit of the Spirit.  As in other occurrences of the word faith in scripture, it is “pistis” in the Greek.  The just (the righteous, who are in Christ) live by faith, according to Paul.  We are not left alone struggling to live by faith, but rather we are aided by the Spirit.

Pistis is trusting with great confidence.  When we are talking about living by faith, we are talking about living our lives relying and trusting God.  Trust has a target, and different people place their trust in different things; for some it is money, for some it is another human being, for some it is military might, etc… For a believer, the only proper target of faith is God.

Another implication of this aspect of the fruit of the Spirit is fidelity.  Staying true to the Truth in other words. This aspect also flows from the Spirit, because it is an aspect of God as well. We are told that Jesus, God the Son, also had faith, and exercised this in His faith toward the Father, and His fidelity to the plan of salvation.  Not only do we have a model of faith in Christ, but also the driving force and power of the Spirit enabling us to have the same kind of faith.

In our day and age, faith is a valuable commodity.  There is so much happening in the world and even in the US, economically speaking.  People are being beset with illness, disease, natural disasters, economic woes, etc… but the Truth holds firm.  We are to have faith in the operation of God and all that implies; not worrying unduly, resting in Him and trusting that He will keep His promises toward us.

Colossians 2:12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

Our evidence for the “rightness” of our faith is Jesus’ resurrection.  As Paul has said, if Christ be not raised, our faith is in vain.  God draws attention to the resurrection of His Son to show us His fidelity, and in turn, that inspires ours.  With the evidence before us of the empty tomb, and the Spirit working on us from the inside, we can indeed be sure that faith will see us through.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christianity, Musings

Quit mourning your faith…

I’ve found that where there is a group of Christians who are gathered together to discuss things such as salvation, sanctification, etc… with outsiders to the faith, that there is a tendency to grow very very serious indeed, not just over the subject matter (which is indeed serious), but also in manner, and word, and countenance.  I think that can very easily give outsiders the wrong impression of what it is like to be a Christian.  After all, Christ came so that we may have life, and have it more abundantly.

When there is a group of believers that have become used to singing the old tried and true hymns, but have…grown old with them, oftentimes the singing becomes more of a dirge.  There remains no overflowing of joy or even realization of what the words are actually saying, or their implications of the GOOD NEWS of the gospel.

Why do Christians tend this way, when it is a very very joyous thing to be a Christian?  God is not some cosmic killjoy, nor do we earn extra brownie points the more we walk around with a frown on our faces.  To many outsiders this is a poor witness.  I don’t mean to imply we should be walking around with big silly grins on our faces (if that calls to mind a certain highly popular motivational speaker in the Christian world *cough*Osteen*cough* it is unintentional), however, one of the fruits of the Spirit is Joy.

One problem is that there is a certain fringe segment of the Christian population who has perverted that aspect of the Spirit into some dog and pony show with people laughing and rolling around on the ground/in between the pews.  The joy that scripture speaks of is a calm assured hope and happiness, not some flashy, extremely weird, occurrence.

So, that being said…lighten up people.  If you are a believer, your sins have been forgiven you, you have a whole eternity of joy and peace and fellowship in front of you, Jesus has freed us from the law, we are now enjoying a personal relationship with God Himself.  Smile a little.  There is a time and place for solemnity and also mourning, but there is ALSO a time and place for joy, laughter, hugs, praising with happy, excited voices, jokes, and just flat out enjoying the life that God gives us, not in a worldly way, but in a way full of grace and peace.

Often atheists especially have a dim view of what it must be like being a Christian, well, let me tell you about my life.  I’m surrounded by friends and family who I know will be with me through eternity, I laugh, watch TV, watch movies, lift the occasional glass of alcohol of my choice, eat what I want, listen to what I want, dance, sing, live my life with the assurance that I’m loved by the Creator of the world, not only that, I have a personal relationship with Him that is very fulfilling and life-giving, esp. when I get to work for Him in some capacity here on Earth.  I go hiking, admiring the work of His hands, I make jokes, and use Facebook, I play XBOX, and write science fiction, and on and on and on.

This world is indeed corrupt and flawed, there are rough times and times to mourn and cry…my family and friends, and God Himself are there for that too.  However, God is truly good, and the news of the gospel is truly good…let’s not be so slow to show the relief and joy and happiness that God brings.

2 Comments

Filed under Apologetics, Atheism, Christianity, Humor, Uncategorized

Sacramentalism vs. Faith

I’m going to go into a pretty deep subject here, and it is always good to define terms and look to scripture before discussion.  The main themes in this article are sacramentalism, faith, and grace.

What is sacramentalism? First, an attempt at a neutral, secular, definition: Dictionary.com gives these two definitions for “sacramentalism:” 1) a belief in or emphasis on the importance and efficacy of the sacraments for achieving salvation and conferring grace. 2) emphasis on the importance of sacramental objects and ritual actions. Sacramentalism, in church terms, is usually defined also by example.  Those denominations that practice and believe in sacramentalism have various sacraments that are used within their churches. Examples include baptism, communion, marriage, confession/penance, confirmation, ordination, last rites, foot washing, etc… etc… Sacramentalism, as defined in the earliest tradition is indeed a vehicle for grace; a “special” way of receiving the grace of God through action.

Faith. I won’t spend too much time here on faith, as I’ve defined it previously in another article here: What is Faith? The important points that pertain to this current conversation is that it is by grace we are saved through faith.  Faith is trusting with great confidence, not just a head belief, but an actual trusting with confidence.  Of course, when Christians talk about faith, we mean faith in God.

Grace. I’ve also defined and discussed grace in a previous article here: What is Grace? Grace is unmerited or unearned favor.  Again grace is God’s to bestow.  God’s grace is a marvelous thing, and we should desire it in our lives, in fact, God’s grace is necessary for salvation, and for forgiveness.  It should be no wonder that the topics of sacramentalism, grace, and faith are so important in Christendom, and rightfully so.

The main area of debate surrounds the idea of the sacraments as vehicles of God’s grace.  Do the “sacraments” literally convey God’s grace to us in a special, or mysterious way that is unattainable any other way?  Do the sacraments contribute to our salvation?  What does scripture reveal to us about these things? (I’m not debating whether these actions are good or bad; obviously the ones called for in scripture serve their purpose and are a good thing.)

Well, there are no references to “sacraments” or sacramentalism in scripture.  I mean that in the sense that those words never appear there.  Now, of course baptism is mentioned, and taking the bread and wine, foot washing, marriage, etc… However, go to a search engine and do a search on “grace.”  Grace is not seen in connection with these acts.  When these acts are described, grace isn’t connected to them.  Grace and faith, on the other hand are clearly connected by the writers of scripture and these are both rooted in and spring from Christ.  Bear with me:

John 1:16-17 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

Acts 20:32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

Romans 1:3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; 4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: 5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience  to the faith among all nations, for his name: 6 Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ: 7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 3:22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Romans 5:20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Ephesians 6:24 Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.  Amen.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

What’s my point?  There are certain denominations, such as the Roman catholic church, the United Methodist church, and others, that still, in the face of scriptures on grace, insist that grace is tied into the sacraments, instead of being unmerited favor from God.  Notice that, in the case of salvation, that we are saved by grace through faith, not a sacrament.  That instantly defeats any notion put forth that we must be baptized in water in order to be saved.  Also, note that the common benediction when you look up grace scripture, like in Ephesians 6:24 Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. There’s no jumping through hoops, no need of an intercessor or mediator between you and God; we’ve already got one: Jesus Christ.

In Christ, grace is ours and we already have direct access to the throne of grace.  When Christ died for us the veil in the temple was rent from top to bottom giving us direct access to God.  God gives us grace, and it is connected with faith in Christ.  All these churches peddling the idea that sacraments convey grace, or are used as a vehicle for grace, are muddying the waters with something not to be found in scripture.  What leaps to mind, as my brother pointed out, is the quote by Kirk in one of the Star Trek movies; “What does God need with a Starship?”  God does not need a vehicle to convey Grace; God Himself is that vehicle.  For those in Christ, a huge victory was won when we could go directly to the throne of grace with no need of any vehicle, and salvation is by grace through faith.

Notice too, that one of the early apostasies was that one of the vehicles of grace is sinning.  Romans 5:20 listed above speaks to that.  Should we sin in order to get more of God’s grace; of course not!  How many times do we also need to be told that grace doesn’t come through works?  Grace, remember, is unmerited favor.  Those that believe in the sacraments are actually advocating grace comes through action, instead of faith, which is completely contradicted by scripture.  Now, am I saying that we should not take communion or be baptized?  Not at all.  If you want to call these “symbols” of faith, I’m all for it.  The term “ordinances” is often used to show that particular churches do NOT see these actions as sacramental, but rather acts that show forth the faith that is already there.  In the case of communion, it is clear in scripture that we are doing the act in remembrance and are showing forth Christ by performing the act.

In the near future I hope to write more articles touching upon these things, and bringing some of this to light that believers sitting in different denominational pews may not realize their denominations are pushing and preaching.  These things also are connected with church “hierarchy” which, if defined by things like “ordination,” can split the body of Christ into those supposedly gifted in some way above and beyond the rest of us when it comes to administering the “sacraments.”  It also has implications for the oft repeated phrase; Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship.  The idea of “sacraments” makes Christianity into religion once more, and constrains our relationship with God, which is a no-no. More to come…

7 Comments

Filed under Catholicism, Christianity, Communion, Theology, Uncategorized