Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saddam and Jesus

Saddam Hussein was executed last night. Imagine his thoughts as he stands before his maker who will judge him for his crimes. Then, imagine your thoughts as you do the same thing. Looking at yourself morally, are you closer to Sadam or Jesus? The answer is that it doesn't matter. Jesus says, "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." So, no matter how far off the mark we are, we are still short of the perfection that God's holiness demands.

Will we suffer the same fate as Saddam if we don't put our faith in Jesus? No and Yes.

No, because we have committed different crimes, and as such, our judgement would be different. Just as there are degrees of sin, there are degrees of punishment. Yes, because each of us must ultimately answer for our sins. Unless, of course, Jesus is allowed to answer for them.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Apathy from Armenia

Tonight was another great night witnessing in Burbank. As usual, there were plenty of Armenian teenagers out at the mall. Tonight we met a new group of kids from Hollywood who came to check out the scene in Burbank. It was nice to talk to kids we haven't met before.

While very polite, tonight the theme seemed to be apathy. I would hear kids say, "Sure, that makes a lot of sense that I'm going to Hell. Oh, by the way, did you see that movie with that guy in it?" or "Yes, I totally agree that God will judge the world, but hey, should I get a tattoo?"

I got two recordings tonight. The first one was with a new guy Jeff and I witnessing to a group of teenagers. As I explained and pleaded with them to consider their eternal destination, Jeff jumped in and tried as well to shake them out of their spiritual slumber. It is crazy how I can explain it and have them understand and repeat it back to me, then in two minutes completely forget everything we have just talked about. It is like the gospel seed that falls by the wayside and doesn't find any soil to plant itself. These kids were more interested in telling me that the cross on their neck was from the first church in Armenia than actually understanding the significance of the cross itself.

Second, Joey found a group of kids to speak with. As usual with a group of kids, there were plenty that jumped in and out of the conversation, but a couple of them that stayed and participated through the whole discussion. I pray that the Lord had the ones He wanted to hear the gospel there long enough for His Spirit to minister to their hearts.

After I left, Joey spoke with a group of kids who were scientologists. He started to ask them about Xenu. They had no idea of what he was talking about. When he said that at OT3, they will be taught about Xenu, they begged him to stop. They hadn't reached that level yet and their religion forbade them from learning things out of order. They seemed genuinely scared of hearing anything that their teachers didn't allow them to hear. Joey also said that they hadn't ever heard of the Ten Commandments, or the gospel at all. A few years ago in this country that would have been unheard of. But, the day is coming when our nation's kids will be so secularized that they won't ever have heard of the Ten Commandments, let alone understand their purpose, or how they can be reconciled to a God who will use that as the standard of perfection against which we will all be judged.

Please pray for the kids we spoke to tonight. And, please consider going out yourself and making sure the people you know have had an accurate gospel presentation and have been given a chance to accept or reject the gospel of our just and merciful God.

Monday, December 25, 2006

It's About the Cross

It’s not just about the manger where the baby laid...

It’s not all about the angels who sang for Him that day
It’s not just about the shepherds or the bright and shining star
It’s not all about the wise men who traveled from afar

It’s not just about the presents underneath the tree
It’s not all about the feeling that this season brings to me
It’s not just about coming home to be with those you love
It’s not all about the beauty in the snow I’m dreaming of

The beginning of the story is wonderful and great
But it’s the ending that can save you and that’s why we celebrate

It’s about the cross, It’s about my sin
It’s about how Jesus came to be born once
So that we could be born again
It’s about God’s love nailed to a tree
It’s about every drop of blood that flowed
From Him when it should’ve been me
It’s about the stone that was rolled away
So that you and I could have a life some day
It’s about the cross

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Comfort at Christmas

In the carol "O Holy Night" we sing "Long lay the world in sin and error pining Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth." My dad loved Christmas. He believed that Jesus was the Savior of the world. He prayed regularly. He followed me around and listened when I preached the gospel. But his soul never "felt its worth." And even though the mild Savior was born to give us second birth, my dad wasn't born again--and according to Jesus Himself my dad would therefore not go to Heaven when he died (see John chapter 3).

I strongly suspected that he wasn't born again because the Bible says that there will be certain "fruit" that will make it clear that someone has been born "from above." If I buy what I think is a peach tree, I have good reason to suspect that it's not if it never has any fruit. To believe in the Savior and not be born again is like a man who believes in a parachute, but doesn't put it on. Such a man will be okay, until he jumps out of the plane.

My dad lacked certain knowledge. He didn't understand that God was nothing like he imagined--that He is holy and perfect and that because of that fact, God's wrath was upon him because of his sins (see John 3:36). Like the rest of us, my dad had broken the Ten Commandments, God was his enemy, and only in Christ can God and sinners be reconciled.

I explained that God had seen the secret sins of his heart, and that if he had as much as lusted after a woman, he had committed adultery in his heart (see Matthew 5:27-28). I also explained that if he had told one lie, he was a liar, and the Bible warns that all liars will have their part in the lake of fire. If he had stolen anything, he was a thief, and the Scriptures warn that no thief will inherit the Kingdom of God. There would be no second chance. Because God is perfect and demands perfection (see Matthew 5:48), if my dad died in his sins, even though he professed faith in Jesus, he would go to Hell. Forever.

One day he had a very serious heart attack. Two weeks later he was dead. But sometime during those two weeks he was born again . . . and there was evident fruit. He prayed that God would cast out his sin and enter in. He cried "be born in me today."

It took a heart attack to awaken him to the truth of the gospel. He finally understood why the Savior was born--to suffer for the sin of the world (for his sins), and rise again on the third day, defeating death. Jesus was born that man no more may die, and because of the cross, God can now grant dying humanity the gift of everlasting life. God and sinners can be reconciled. We can be made righteous in the sight of a holy and prefect God by His amazing grace.

In one moment during those two weeks my dad simply repented and surrendered his life to God, and trusted in Jesus alone for his eternal salvation. Have you done that? Will you prepare Him room? Does your soul feel the gospel's worth? Be reconciled to God. I'm concerned that perhaps you haven't repented and trusted the Savior. Why? Because I know that like my dad, millions believe, but there's no biblical fruit. Please, do what the Bible says, "Make your calling and election sure." Pray something like this: "Dear God, I have sinned against you. I have broken your Commandments and if you judge me according to your perfect standard, I will justly end up in Hell forever. Thank you that Jesus once and for all took my punishment. He suffered for me and rose again. I trust in Him alone as my Savior and my Lord. In His wonderful name I pray."

I hope and pray that you have truly repented and been born again. If you have, Christmas will never be the same. If your sins are forgiven, you will find comfort in the Scriptures. You will find comfort through the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. And you will have great comfort on your death bed. Instead of death being a terrifying dark door to the unknown, the moment of your passing will become the most incredible moment of your life--the entrance into everlasting joy, and pleasure forevermore.

The Bible says the Kingdom of Heaven is coming to this earth. Can you imagine how wonderful it will be? Actually, you can't. We have never seen or heard or imagined anything as wonderful as what God has in store for those who love Him. Think of the most beautiful rose, the cutest puppy, the most breathtaking sunset, or the magnificence of a snow-covered mountain. Imagine now that you were there before God created those things. There would be no way you could have predicted such a creation; and even though we can see how unspeakably great God is through the creation we see, He says, "Behold, I make all things new." So, never think of Heaven as a kind of spooky home of "departed spirits." It's down to earth, new bodies, utter perfection, and pleasure forevermore. No more pain. No more suffering. No more death. So, feed yourself daily--read your Bible every day without fail. And make sure you obey what you read, and you will never look back. God will keep you in His mighty hand.

Thank you for reading this.

God bless you,
Ray Comfort

Please feel free to go to and click on the top right corner "Save Yourself Some Pain." There you will find important principles to help you grow in your Christian walk.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Jews Continue in Their Unbelief

37 Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet:
"Lord, who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?"

39 For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:
40 "He has blinded their eyes
and deadened their hearts,
so they can neither see with their eyes,
nor understand with their hearts,
nor turn—and I would heal them." 41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him.

42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.

Without an eternal perspective, the cares of this world can overshadow the things that really matter.

44 Then Jesus cried out, "When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

47 "As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. 48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. 49 For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. 50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say."

This is an example of the Son and the Father being One, and yet being distinct. If you see the Son, you have seen the Father. Yet, the Son does not condemn, but saves from the wrath of the Father.

Friday, December 22, 2006

DWP Light Festival

Tonight we stumbled upon a great event for witnessing. Each year I drive my family in the minivan through the DWP Light Festival. This year, I noticed a distinct lack of Christmas. I mean, it was always gone, but this year I really noticed it. Sure, there were elves and snowmen, and trees and snowflakes and maybe even a Santa. But, I didn't see anything relating to the true meaning of Christmas: Christ Himself.

I know this is put on by a public facility and leans toward the secular. But, I saw an opportunity for our team to spread the gospel. In addition to the normal Burbank Town Center open air preaching, we took about six of us to Griffith Park Zoo early and headed down the walking path passing out Santa bucks to passers by. We watched hundreds of cars driving at two miles per hour right past us. Eventually we got bold and stood in the oncoming traffic handing out tracts to each car. This lasted for a few minutes till the security told us we couldn't cross the barrier to the street. So, we walked a bit further down the path to the entrance where there wasn't a barrier. The guards at the front told us we could not pass out fliers. I told him that this was actually a public street and if he could show me a rule that I was breaking, I would be happy to comply. He didn't have one but called the Park Ranger to discuss it with us.

We decided to move a bit further up the line so that we wouldn't be anywhere near anyone with any aspirations of authority. The road was definitely one-way and was packed with cars, so there was no way a Park Ranger was going to just drive up to us. In fact, we saw his truck circling the area trying to figure out how to get down to us. In the meantime, we had found the perfect spot. The traffic was so slow, we could stand at the side and every single car pulled up to grab thier tract. I passed out a hundred to one hundred cars in about ten minutes.

By this time, the Ranger had figured out he was going to have to walk up to us, and did. He spoke with Chris and I and asked what we were doing. When he found out we were passing out gospel tracts, he said, "I guess I can't stop you." He said he was worried about two things. First, our safety. He made up promise not to stand in the middle of the street. We were fine on the side. Second, he was worried about slowing up traffic. I said, it couldn't go much slower than two miles per hour. But, he mainly wanted to make sure that we wouldn't get into indepth converstaions with people as they drove. We assured him we wouldn't, placed a Tony Miano tract in his hand and wished him a Merry Christmas. What a great country we live in where the police allow us to share the gospel and are concerned for our safety.

Now, with our new found freedom, we boldly passed out another 4-500 tracts each as the cars just marched by. It was great. As we ran out of tracts, we headed back up to our car and made sure to thank all the security we met for being so safety conscious and handed them all tracts as well.

This night was incredible. Every time I said, "Merry Christmas" to someone, their face lit up, as if to say, that's right, we don't have to just say Happy Holidays to people. With so much restriction in the stores, people sometimes forget that we can still freely wish people a Merry Christmas this time of year. Anyone who asked what I was giving them, I told them it was a gospel tract. They inevitably said, "Thank you!" or "God Bless You". I hope I encouraged at least a few to do something similar themselves.

The regular Burbank preaching went on as well, but tonight should serve as an example that we should always be on the lookout for new and creative ways to share our faith. Let's pray that God uses our efforts to bring some people across to a saving relationship with the 'reason for the season' himself, Jesus Christ.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Hell's Best Kept Secret

Download the Audio and Sermon Notes

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Merry Xmas

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, our best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice
not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.

We also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated
recognition of the generally accepted calendar year 2007, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere . And without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishes.

By accepting these greetings you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for herself or himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the
usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Jesus Predicts His Death

20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. "Sir," they said, "we would like to see Jesus." 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.

23 Jesus replied, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 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. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

27 "Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!"

Ask 100 people why Jesus came. 100 answers. The answer is right here. There is no, "What most scholars believe..." nor "well, my personal belief is..." Jesus very clearly tells us that the reason He came was to die.

Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and will glorify it again." 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.

30 Jesus said, "This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.

You can tell people who actually read the Bible from people who just speak out against Christianity. People who read it are able to see the very clear message presented in passages such as this.

34 The crowd spoke up, "We have heard from the Law that the Christ will remain forever, so how can you say, 'The Son of Man must be lifted up'? Who is this 'Son of Man'?"

35 Then Jesus told them, "You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. 36 Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light." When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.

Jesus loved to speak in parables. Mostly to confound the unbelievers, but also so that his points had all the more kick when you realized what He was actually saying. Many things pointed towards His atoning death, and they all made sense only after people realized He was crucified.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Triumphal Entry

12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
"Blessed is the King of Israel!" 14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written,
15 "Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion;
see, your king is coming,
seated on a donkey's colt."

16At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.

The nice thing about a Bible you can pick up today is that when the New Testament makes a reference to the Old Testament, especially when a prophecy is being fulfilled, they give you the book, chapter and verse so you can look it up. Here they are referencing Psalm 118 and Zechariah 9.

17 Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. 18 Many people, because they had heard that he had given this miraculous sign, went out to meet him. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, "See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!"

It is usually the religious establishment that goes after Jesus the hardest. I get the most resistance to witnessing to people from those inside the church. Well, that is to say, those inside the walls of the church building. True followers of Christ continue to spread the word.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Jesus Anointed at Bethany

1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus' honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 "Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages." 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

A great example of a story in the Bible that might have been misunderstood, and the next line explains what happens. In case you thought Judas was really concerned about the poor just because he said so, the true state of his heart is shown here.

Watch out for people who have the outward signs of piety. But, inside they are wicked. Judas was in the inner circle of Jesus, and to everyone he appeared to be the height of religious righteousness. But, God knows the heart, and there is coming a day when He will separate the sheep from the goats.

7 "Leave her alone," Jesus replied. " It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me."

9 Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 1011 for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him. So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well,

The devil does not like it when people are moved to put their faith in Jesus Christ. Look out the next time you are sharing your faith with people. Watch for the snares of the enemy to get in your way.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Borat: Spiritual Learnings of Gospel for Make Benefit Glorious Kingdom of Heaven

Tonight, Tony did some more open air preaching. The person he is speaking to in this picture was named Borat. Borat was from India and sounded like he had at least some Hindu education. He did say that he went to church and believed in God and Jesus. Of course, the Devil and his demons "believe" in Jesus. That doesn't save anyone. Upon further questioning, Borat said that in addition to Jesus, he has made his own personal god. That is probably a sign that you are not a Christian. Tonight the gospel was preached to Borat and the crowd that gathered to listen. High Five!

As I walked around with some of the new people and found situations for some one to one witnessing, I noticed a trend. Tonight was the night of the Jehovah's witnesses. I had some teenagers who didn't want my million dollar bill, as though they knew what it was. As I pressed, they told me that they were Jehovah's witnesses. They were very nice boys, but headstrong in their convictions that to be saved, you need to walk in Jesus' footsteps, knocking on doors. I asked them how to get to Heaven, or Paradise on Earth as they refer to it, and they told me I needed to get into a yearlong Bible study. I said that if I didn't have time for that, was there any hope for me. They said, God knows your heart, and he will be able to see if you are worthy of Heaven. I agreed with him. God DOES know your heart. That is the scary thing. I showed him that we are all wicked on the inside, and we need the blood of Jesus to wash us clean before we can approach a holy, pure, perfect God. I don't think I ever got through to him, but I plead with him to read the whole Bible, and not just the parts written in the Watchtower publication. He said that the Watchtower was part of the Bible.

Another boy of thirteen came up to me after I witnessed to a group of kids who were mostly joking around. He came up afterwards and asked me to go over the gospel again. He told me that he was also a Jehovah's witness. I don't know how much effect a guy on the street in ten minutes can have over a kid being raised by JW parents, but I told him to try to remember one thing. Don't trust me. Don't trust your parents. Don't trust your priest. Trust in God's Word. Trust the Bible. I told him to compare anything he is told to what God says in the Bible. And, even if an angel comes with a different gospel, don't believe him.

Please join with me in prayer for all of these people we witnessed to tonight. As much as we are all responsible for our own choices, all three of these groups are starting off with a huge handicap by being raised in a faith that actively contradicts God's true gospel. I know that on our own, we are slaves to sin, and have no ability to pull ourselves out of the wickedness. But, the Holy Spirit can change their hearts and bring them to a saving relationship with God through His son, Jesus Christ. I pray that the seeds we planted tonight will find good soil.

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Wonders of Christmas

staring thru the frosted window pane
searching a desolate snow-covered lane
I spot the lonely amber glow
from an old rusted-out streetlight
this cold and black December night
oh the beauty! of this frozen sea of white
not a single footprint
as far as the eye can see
I hum a quiet jubilee
my mind wanders as I wonder
what really is the true meaning of Christmas,
this Christmas eve?
please search deep within my heart and soul
purify me white as snow
pray I won’t be distracted
from all the clutter and clang
the hustle and bustle and bang
gifts and presents
shopping malls and Christmas trees
hot apple cider and frosted, sprinkled cookies
but still I wonder
what was it like through the eyes of Mary,
Jesus’ mother?
her fear and trembling and sacred honor
when the Angel proclaimed to her she would conceive
a Savior for all the world to believe
her journey with Joseph to Bethlehem
where a dirty, dusty stable
welcomed this humble houseguest
to a quiet night of rest
her pain during the delivery
giving birth to heaven’s royal majesty
yet still I wonder
the moment she laid the tiny Emmanuel to rest
in a straw manger snug like a baby bird in a nest
and especially the moment she first looked into his small, little eyes
and wondered
what kind of man will He be?
what truths will He unfold?
what proverbs will He teach us?
how will He lead the sheep of Israel?
Who will this Jesus,
the precious Son of God truly be?
what did she really see?
looking into the eyes of God,
I still wonder,

By Daniel Miller
December 2006

Thursday, December 07, 2006

At Dawn We Slept

(from Dudley Rutherford)
Sixty-five years ago today, in 1941, the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, was attacked. The bombing killed 2,388 Americans, put much of the Pacific fleet out of commission, and came while the Japanese ambassador in Washington was preparing for a diplomatic appointment at the State Department. Among the losses was the battleship Arizona, which went down with nearly all hands on board. It is still there as a national shrine.

In President Roosevelt's speech to Congress the next day asking for a declaration of war, he called Dec. 7 "a date which will live in infamy." Congress responded promptly with a declaration of war against Japan. It followed up on Dec. 11 with retaliatory declarations of war against Germany and Italy. World War II was the last time the United States has declared war, though it has fought three major wars (Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan-Iraq) and numerous minor ones. Not many Americans are old enough to remember the events of 65 years ago.

One of the best books ever written that explains the details of that day is a book entitled "At Dawn We Slept". I purchased my copy when I visited Hawaii many years ago. The name of that book explains it all. We were sleeping when Japan initiated a surprise attack on that December day.

I've always felt that title "At Dawn We Slept" would be a good moniker for the Church. So many people lost and dying without Jesus and the Church just sleeps, not realizing that Satan is trying to destroy as many as possible. We need to wake up and rally the troops. All hands on deck. This is not a time to be asleep at the wheel. God has called the Church to sound the trumpet to reach a dying world with the saving message of Jesus Christ.

My question to you are as follows.

Have you ever led someone into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ?
When was the last time you shared your faith?
When was the last time you brought a visitor to church?
When was the last time you bought a Bible for an unsaved acquaintance?
When was the last time you parked in the off site area and rode the shuttle?
When was the last time you fasted for a lost friend?
When was the last time you gave a sermon CD to a fellow employee?
When was the last time you thought about moving to Saturday night to free up more room for visitors who usually attend on Sunday morning.
When was the last time you cried over someone being lost?
When was the last time you wept over a soul?
When was the last time you invited your neighbor to church?

If Jesus came today...
If Jesus came tonight...
If Jesus came in the morning...

Could they say of the church?
Could they say of you?
Could they say of me?

At Dawn We Slept.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Plot to Kill Jesus

45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.

"What are we accomplishing?" they asked. "Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation."

This reminds me of some modern church methods. "Hey, if do things the way Christ did, we'll lose our congregation. We better not mention repentence and faith. Let's just play up our coffee and our music." Seems like the established religion hasn't changed much.

49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, "You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish."

51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. 53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life.

Read that one again. Seriously. Do you see how God can use anything for His own purposes. Jesus did die for the Jewish nation, and for everyone else. But, not in the way that Caiaphas envisioned. The bible is so full of great stuff like this.

54 Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the Jews. Instead he withdrew to a region near the desert, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples.

55 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover. 56 They kept looking for Jesus, and as they stood in the temple area they asked one another, "What do you think? Isn't he coming to the Feast at all?" 57 But the chief priests and Pharisees had given orders that if anyone found out where Jesus was, he should report it so that they might arrest him.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Jesus Raises Lazarus From the Dead

38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 "Take away the stone," he said.
"But, Lord," said Martha, the sister of the dead man, "by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days."

40 Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"

41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me."

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, "Take off the grave clothes and let him go."

Many of the miracles Jesus performed, He did so to give credibility to His claims of Deity. All of the events in the gospels were performed in front of witnesses, and recorded within thier lifetime, or within a generation. If they had not occurred, then it would be very difficult to have people take the Bible seriously. Because people knew the stories were true, they treated them as such and the Bible is with us to this day. Picture writing a book about John Kennedy raising someone from the dead. People would know that it was not true, as there are still people alive today who were around to dispute that claim.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Jesus Comforts the Sisters

17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

21 "Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask."

23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."

24 Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."

25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

27 "Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world."

I think this question can be asked of us, as well. Do you believe this? Jesus says that whosoever believes will live.

28 And after she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. "The Teacher is here," she said, "and is asking for you." 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 "Where have you laid him?" he asked.
"Come and see, Lord," they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, "See how he loved him!"

37 But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?"

One thing that is great about Jesus is that although He is the God of everything, he still feels deeply for each of us. One person dies and the Creator of the Universe weeps.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Biblical Prooftexting

A visual example of taking something out of context to make it say what you want it to.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Maybe Elvis Was Just a Carnal Christian

(From Way of the Master Radio)
Imagine trying to lovingly confront a high profile evangelical to share your concern that his Gospel presentation wasn’t Biblical. Gulp. That is precisely what I did with Luis Palau several years ago prior to one of his mega-events.

I suggested he was giving the cure without explaining the disease of sin. Mr. Palau informed me that everyone has an overwhelming burden of guilt and it is not necessary for him to preach about their need for forgiveness.

Suspecting he might say that, I handed him a c.d. with a montage of people we interviewed on the street. We asked strangers, “Do you have an overwhelming burden of guilt?” The responses ranged from condescending disdain to outright laughter.

While Mr. Palau was very nice to me, he ultimately patted me on the head and said, “Be careful that you don’t fall into that Lordship salvation trap. Christians can be carnal.”

Carnal Christianity is the concept that says: you can live like the world and still be a Christian. It also teaches that sanctification can come some time after a person signs a car…er…asks Jesus into his hea…I mean gets saved.

Later that night at the festival, Mr. Palau’s message included two profanities and proclamations like, “If Elvis had become a Christian, he would have been a rock star, but his life wouldn’t have turned out so bad.” He also informed the audience that if they would simply ask Jesus into their hearts, “The party starts right now.” A woman from my church who just buried her seven year old son almost rushed the stage…and not to sign a card.

His Gospel presentation, as our British friends would say, was “a complete dog’s breakfast.”

It is no surprise that the follow up statistics to crusades are so tragic. The backslider rate (or Carnal Christian rate) hovers around 90%. It seems that Carnal Christianity and Gospel presentations that don’t include sin, righteousness and judgment go hand and hand. In order to explain those statistics, the minister must:

1. Admit the preaching is inadequate and without Holy Spirit power.

2. Alter theology to explain how a decision-maker can name the name of Christ but live like the devil.

Option one is out of the picture. And so it is, since the early 20th century, modern day evangelicalism (thanks to Lewis Sperry Chafer and the Scofield Bible) has been proclaiming the oxymoron known as Carnal Christianity.

The support text for Carnal Christianity is I Cor.3:1-5. “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?

Paul was warning the ignorant, sectarian Corinthians that they should not be divided into cliques. That’s it. This text does not suggest that born-again believers can live like pagans. Paul was introducing them to new theology, not giving them license to sin.

With all credit to Ernest C. Reisinger’s “A Carnal Christian,” here are eight reasons why Carnal Christianity should be rejected.

1. In I Cor.1:2-5, Paul addressed his audience as “sanctified in Christ”. So are they sanctified or carnal? In I Cor.2, Paul divides men into “natural” and “spiritual,” i.e. un-saved and saved. By labeling some Christians as “carnal,” Paul would be introducing a third classification of humans. Furthermore, this would violate every other presentation in Scripture that there are only two classes of people: children of God or children of wrath.
2. The new covenant of salvation includes two inseparable blessings at salvation: justification and sanctification. Carnal Christianity teaches you will be justified upon conversion, but sanctification is optional.
3. The Bible presents two types of faith: saving faith and spurious (false) faith (Lk. 8:13). Carnal Christianity does not recognize spurious faith. What a false assurance we allow the unregenerate to possess if we allow them to think their faith is valid when the Bible teaches it might be a false conversion.
4. Carnal Christianity excludes a necessary component of salvation: repentance. The unconverted sinner can just “ask Jesus into his heart” with no requirement to forsake sin.
5. How does a person know he is saved? Fruit in keeping with repentance. We are told to examine ourselves to see if we are in the truth. What a beautiful gift to the believer. If we can be carnal, how can we know we are saved? Carnal Christianity robs us of assurance.
6. Carnal Christianity may be a relatively new name, but it is merely a new moniker for an old false teaching: anti-nomianism. “Should we go on sinning that grace might more abound?” Carnal Christianity says, “Sure.”
7. “Carnal Christian teaching is the mother of many second work-of –grace errors in that it depreciates the Biblical conversion experience by implying that the change in the converted sinner may amount to little or nothing.” Dr. Reisinger goes on to point out that a second step is required to make a man a “spiritual Christian.”
8. Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, right? (Lk.2:11) Carnal Christianity divides Jesus and allows Him to be Savior but not Lord.

Listen to the words of A.A. Hodge. “Think of a sinner coming to Christ and saying, ‘I do not want to be holy; I do not want to be saved from sin; I would like to be saved in my sins; do not sanctify me now, but justify me now.’”

That is ridiculous, isn’t it? And so is Carnal Christianity. Even Elvis would agree with that.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Children Have No Fear

Tonight was a little light, as many on the team had other commitments. But, it was still a great night. The city of Burbank had a Christmas parade, and there were hundreds of people out on the street. It was the opening of the Nativity movie and we had some gospel tracts with that theme at the ready. Also, we got to spend some good time with a regular at Burbank, a guy who sells friendship bracelets for a living. It is great that we are building relationships with people we see every week.

Tonight, I had to take the lead, as my co leaders were not there. And, I must admit, I was scared. I felt like anyone I would walk up to and start talking with would get angry with me. I was imagining them as monsters. As a coincidence, my wife brought the kids out tonight. I met up with them, and my daughter asked if she could pass out some gospel tracts to people. As I watched this seven year old boldly go up and hand strangers million dollar bills telling them that they should read the back to find out about Jesus, I suddenly got my courage back. We walked all around and passed out about one hundred tracts and had some great conversations.

Another important step is to make sure you 'pray up' before you start. When I feel fear, and stress from the week, I have to remember to stop what I am doing and pray. I need to clear my conscience by confessing my own sin and allowing me to decrease while He increases. I want people to hear His words, and not mine. When I take my ego out of sharing the gospel, then it is not my success or my failure. It is all His divine plan. Remember, we are all called to plant seeds. God will make sure they are watered and will ultimately bring them to fruition, if it is His will.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Death of Lazarus

1 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, "Lord, the one you love is sick."

4 When he heard this, Jesus said, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it." 5 Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.

7 Then he said to his disciples, "Let us go back to Judea."

8 "But Rabbi," they said, "a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there?"

9 Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world's light. 10 It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light."

11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up."

12 His disciples replied, "Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better." 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.

14 So then he told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him."

16 Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."

One thing stands out to me in this section. "For God's Glory". Sometimes we don't always understand why bad things happen. We find it difficult to have an eternal perspective when trapped in time and are not holding a playbook. But, though God allows bad things to happen to people, He promises that He will work all things out for good for those that believe in Him. All things can He use for His glory. And, that is much more comforting to me than knowing that I will get my way all the time.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Santa and Jesus

I'm having trouble with Santa this year. My seven year old daughter was telling me about Santa, and how he knows everything. This was in the middle of a Power Puff Girls show, called The Fight Before Christmas. In this episode, Princess, the spoiled rich girl switched Santa's lists. Now, everyone who was on the 'nice' list was moved to the 'naughty' and Princess, the only one on the 'naughty' list was now the only one on the 'nice' list. My daughter said, "Hey, Santa knows everything. He wouldn't be fooled by a trick like that."

This got me thinking. More than just a nice tradition at this time of year, where we celebrate Jesus' birth by giving presents to each other, she really thinks that there is an omniscient being checking up on people's behavior. This is true, but it is not Santa.

She also told me about a boy in school who doesn't believe Santa is real. He said, there is only Jesus. (Yes, it's a Christian school) She told the boy that they are both real. I asked her how they relate to each other. And, she said that Jesus is the boss, but He sends Santa out to give presents to people because there are other things He needs to do on His birthday.

There is also an assignment at her school to bring in a traditional Christmas food from another culture. We were looking up "Christmas around the world" in google and found a bunch of stuff. Santa is slightly different in other countries. In Italy, he is accompanied by a witch who flies on a broom who puts coal in the stockings of the bad kids. She said, "Hey, witches aren't real." In Australia, his sleigh is pulled by kangaroos. I also remember in Hawaii, when I was a kid, Santa came on a surfboard and a red bathing suit.

I am waiting for the time when she puts together the apparent inconsistencies in the stories and figures out the real story. My wife loves Christmas and would hate it if I just came out and told her the truth. She feels that a kids needs a little bit of magic and wonder and innocence before the realities of the world hit them as adults. I am mostly OK with letting it go, and making sure that Jesus is the focus. But, it worries me that when she finds out that Santa is a myth, that Jesus will fall into that same category. The most eye opening thing for me is that kids consider Santa omniscient, like God. I found the following article from The Bible Answer Man, Hank Hanegraaff.
Perhaps the thing about Christmas that bothers Christians more than anything else is Santa Claus. Is Santa a hopelessly pagan idea, or can Santa Claus be saved?

Santa Claus is not essential or even very important to Christmas. I mean you can take Santa out of Christmas and Christmas remains intact. However, you cannot take Christ out of Christmas, because all that you would have left is a pagan festival. So, whatever else we might say about Santa Claus, let’s remember that he is not what Christmas is all about.

Now, while Santa Claus in its present form is a fairy tale, there really was a Santa Claus. His name, “Santa Claus” is an Anglicized form of the Dutch Sinter Klaas, which in turn means “Saint Nicholas.” Nicholas was a Christian bishop in the fourth century who apparently attended the Council of Nicea and supported the doctrine of the Trinity. The tradition that he was especially kind toward children, even giving them gifts, is very likely based on fact. Thus Christians might justifiably look to the real Saint Nicholas as a hero of the Christian faith.

Of course, the story that Santa Claus lives at the North Pole in a toy factory, that he sees children at all times and knows whether they’ve been bad or good, and that he flies in a sled pulled by flying reindeer, is of course, a myth and should be treated as such. Christian parents can take two approaches to this Santa Claus story. As a make-believe story with a moral they can tell their small children the parts of the story that are harmless (such as the flying reindeer) and reject the other parts that are objectionable (such as Santa being all-knowing, or Santa being omniscient). Or parents can reject the whole story and have absolutely nothing to do with it. In any case, Christians should not allow Santa Claus to eclipse Christ as the reason for the season.

On Santa Claus, that’s the CRI Perspective. I’m Hank Hanegraaff.
I think tonight is going to be a discussion about how Santa is not God. There is only one who is good. There is only one who is all powerful. There is only one who is all knowing. Evidently, Santa Claus was a real man. But, like all men, he fell short of the Glory of God. I don't know the best way to handle the Christmas issue, but I do know one thing for sure. If Santa Claus examined himself in the mirror of God's Law, he would find he comes up short. But, also, if he humbles himself and repents of his sin - If he places his faith in Jesus Christ alone for his salvation, then we'll see him in heaven and we can have a great time glorifying God together.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Christmas Cash

He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice... he’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice! If Santa used the Ten Commandments for his standard, how would you do? Let's find out... Have you ever lied? Have you ever stolen anything? (No matter the value.) Ever used God's name in vain? Ever looked with lust? Jesus said, "Whosoever looks upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart."

If you are guilty of these things that makes you a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer-at-heart. Many people don't know that God will use the Ten Commandments to judge the world. Forget about Santa, "naughty" and "nice"... how will you do on Judgment Day? If you are found guilty, that means an eternity in Hell... 2,000 years ago, God sent Jesus to the earth to pay for your sins. When Jesus died on the cross, He took the punishment that you deserve for breaking His Law (The Ten Commandments). God's wrath came down on Jesus, instead of on you. The Bible says, "God commands all men everywhere to repent, because God has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness."

Remember if you try to get to Heaven on your own, you must keep every Commandment in thought, word, and deed! Jesus paid the penalty for your sins on the cross. Then He defeated the power of sin and death when He rose from the grave. Confess and turn away from your sins. Place your faith in Jesus Christ alone and God will grant you eternal life. Read your Bible daily and obey what you read.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Christmas; Holy or Wholly Idolatry?

I got an email from John McGlone, the local leader for GNN in Hawaii. He had this to say...

I watched in amazement the shift from the "halloween holiday" to the "Christmas holiday" and I wondered, "What is the difference between these two holidays?" The lights have changed color, the blow up lawn characters have changed, and the date has changed. But, has Christmas become another day of idolatry or is it a holy day?

We as Christians should carefully examine what we teach our children, unsaved family and friends when we observe these rituals of the season. A few items of interest: 1. Santa Clause or St. Nick is a jovial character with supernatural powers, he flies in a sled, knows everyone, keeps tabs on who is naughty or nice, and checks this 6.25 billion member list twice in one season! 2. The origins of this "holiday" are with Constantine who is supposed to be Christian but was more apparently a pagan who wanted to use the church for his own ends. 3. In America especially, we consume more time, patience, and money during this season than any other. This to gratify our sinful desires for objects. Actually, we should remember the greatest gift of all time, Jesus Christ. God the Father, gave His Son that we might have eternal life if we believe in Him. This gift is worthy to share with others. Saints the time is short, don't let another season pass without getting equipped in the Holy Spirit to seek and save that which is lost. This is the primary purpose of the church on earth; let us determine to neglect it no further. To your Bibles and to your knees, seek the Lord and He will be found. Amen.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Grace for Children

Its hard to say grace,
When you are as hungry as a bear,
but everything tastes better
when you say a little thank you prayer.

Thank you for the world so sweet
Thank you for this food we eat.
Thank you for the birds that sing.
Thank you God for everything.

God is Great
God is good
Thank you for this food
By His hand
Must all be fed
Thanks be to God
For this daily bread.

To God, who gives ud daily bread
A thankful song we raise
and pray that He who sends us food
Will fill our hearts with praise.

Dear God,
I gratefully bow my head
To thank you for this daily bread
and may there be a goodly share
On every table everywhere.

Bless the food on our table
Keep us healthy
Strong and able

Come Lord Jesus, be our guest
and let thy gifts to us be blessed.

Be present at our table,Lord
Be here and everywhere adored.
These morsels bless, and grant that we
may feast in Paradise with Thee.

Thank you God
for milk and bread
and other things so good.
Thank you God
for those who help
to grow and cook my food.

For health and food,
for love and friends,
for everything
Thy goodness sends
Father in Heaven
We thank thee

God bless the master of
this house.
God bless the mistress too
and all the little children
That round the table go
Old English

Bless us,O Lord
and these, thy gifts
Which we are about to receive
from Thy bounty
through Christ our Lord

We thank Thee, Lord
for happy hearts,
For rain and sunny weather
We thank Thee, Lord
for this our food
And that we are together

Thou openest
Thy hand, O Lord
The earth is filled with good
Teach us with grateful
hearts to take
From Thee, our daily food.

Heavenly Father,
Bless this food
To Thy glory
and our good.

Father, as I come to eat
Bless me and the milk and meat
Give me an appetite
and then strength to do Your work.

Bless Thou the work
that we have done
Be it great or small
On this, our food
On us, each one
Let now Thy blessing fall.

For this our daily food,
for health and happiness
Give us a thankful heart
A thankful heart,dear Lord.

Father in Heaven
we ask of Thee
A blessing on each
plant and tree
Bless Thou each fruit
and bless each seed
and let them bear
the food we need.
Then bless the food
before we eat
Bless Thou the bread
and bless the meat
May all who share
these gifts today
Be blessed by Thee
we humbly pray.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Puritan's Prayer

Thou hast imputed my sin to my substitute,and hast imputed his righteousness to my soul,clothing me with a bridegroom's robe,
decking me with jewels of holiness.
But in my Christian walk I am still in rags;
my best prayers are stained with sin;
my penitential tears are so much impurity;
my confessions of wrong are so many aggravations of sin;
my receiving the Spirit is tinctured with selfishness.
I need to repent of my repentance;
I need my tears to be washed;
I have no robe to bring to cover my sins,
no loom to weave my own righteousness;
I am always standing in filthy garments,
and by grace am always receiving change of raiment,
for thou dost always justify the ungodly;
I am always going into the far country,
and always returning home as a prodigal,
always saying, Father, forgive me,
and thou art always bring forth the best robe.
Every morning let me wear it,
every evening return in it,
go out to the day's work in it,
be married in it,
be wound in death in it,
stand before the great white throne in it,
enter heaven in it shining as the sun.
Grant me never to lose sight of
the exceeding sinfulness of sin,
the exceeding righteousness of salvation,
the exceeding glory of Christ,
the exceeding beauty of holiness,
the exceeding wonder of grace.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Graces for Thanksgiving

Our Father in Heaven,
We give thanks for the pleasure
of gathering together for this occasion.
We give thanks for this food
prepared by loving hands.
We give thanks for life, the freedom
to enjoy it all and all other blessings.
As we partake of this food,
We pray for health and strength to carry on and try to live as You would have us.
This we ask in the name of Christ
Our Heavenly Father.
-Harry Jewell, mid-1900s

Father of all -- God!
What we have here is of Thee;
Take our thanks and bless us,
That we may continue to do Thy will.
-Lew Wallace

Father we thank Thee for this food,
for health and strength and all things good.
May others all these blessings share,
and hearts be grateful everywhere.
-(Traditional, circa 1800s)

October 3, 1863

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Unbelief of the Jews

22 Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon's Colonnade. 24 The Jews gathered around him, saying, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly."

25 Jesus answered, "I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one."

31 Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, "I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?"

33 "We are not stoning you for any of these," replied the Jews, "but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God."

34 Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your Law, 'I have said you are gods'? 35 If he called them 'gods,' to whom the word of God came—and the Scripture cannot be broken— 36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, 'I am God's Son'? 37 Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. 38 But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father." 39 Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.

40 Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. Here he stayed 41 and many people came to him. They said, "Though John never performed a miraculous sign, all that John said about this man was true." 42 And in that place many believed in Jesus.

I started looking around at some commentaries for this chapter. is where I pull the text for these verses and they have many commentaries for each chapter. John MacArthur has a whole study bible written to help with difficult verses. I found a few things for this chapter...
In these passages God shepherds through his designated leaders. Jesus is claiming such a role for himself, but in a way unlike anything seen before. He has made clear claims to divinity and messiahship, which will be repeated shortly (Jn 10:22-39). So when he claims to be the shepherd he is claiming that Messiah has come and in him God himself has come to shepherd his people.

And, relating specifically to Jesus speaking of 'gods'...
Jesus defends his claim using language they should be able to understand, through an appeal to the law. He cites a text that uses the word god of those who are not God: Is it not written in your Law, "I have said you are gods"? (v. 34). It is unclear who is being referred to in Psalm 82:6. Of the several proposals made by scholars (cf. Beasley-Murray 1987:176-77), the most likely takes this as a reference either to Israel's judges or to the people of Israel as they receive the law. The latter is a common understanding among the rabbis (for example, b. 'Aboda Zara 5a; Exodus Rabbah 32:7), but the former is also represented in Jewish interpretation (Midrash Psalms; b. Sanhedrin 6b; 7a; b. Sota 47b). Jesus' explanation that these gods are those to whom the word of God came (v. 35) might point to the Israelites receiving the law. In this case the contrast between these gods and Jesus would be that Jesus is the one who both fulfills the law and is greater than the law. But this expression to whom the word of God came could also refer to the judges (as suggested by the rest of Ps 82) who have received a commission from God to exercise the divine prerogative of judgment on his behalf. The psalm is actually a condemnation of the judges for not exercising their responsibility faithfully, thus corresponding both to the condemnation of these Jewish leaders in John and to Jesus as the true judge.

Many times the New Testament only makes sense when viewed through the eyes of a first century Jew. Living in Southern California in the twenty first century as a gentile, I need some help sometimes. Thankfully, this book has been dissected word by word for two thousand years and there is a lot of great wisdom out there. We can stand on the shoulders of giants and not have to guess what is being said. Remember, only the bible is inspired by God, and not anyone's commentary. But, you can get some good insight by reading what scholars have to say. Keep in mind that at no time does scripture contradict itself and anyone who would tell you that something in scripture goes against what has plainly been revealed elsewhere in the bible should probably be avoided.