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.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Soul Winning

You don’t know what converts God has given to you. There are scattered up and down the world—perhaps some precious ones who owe their salvation instrumentally to you, and could they all stand before you you would blush with shame at the thought of leaving a harvest field that has really been so prolific though not in your sight. Go back again to thy work, for the Lord has blessed thee. Play not the fool by deserting the post where he will give thee honour yet.

There is somebody in the world whom you have to bring to Christ. I do not know where he is, or who he is; but you had better look out for him.

-Charles Spurgeon

Monday, November 20, 2006

I missed Friday Night

Sometimes getting up the energy to get out there and share my faith is difficult. Especially, because with three kids and a long work week, there are plenty of excuses to do other things. I was tired on Friday, and we had a birthday party the next morning that I needed to help my wife cook and clean the house. I just read a post from Tony's blog about what happened at the mall that night. Here is one paragraph that says it all.
Still sobbing, Shirley said, “I’ve been wrong all these years! I’ve been doing it wrong all these years! I’ve never shared the gospel so straightforward, the way I just saw you share it with that boy. I’ve told people about Jesus and God’s love, jumping from place to place in the conversation, but never really getting to the point. I understand, now. I understand why I have to warn people about God’s judgment.”

Lord, forgive me for my selfishness. How can I sit around when there are others out there who are perishing. And, more important than that, there are people who are eager to get help sharing their faith and need to be shown the biblical way of doing just that. I pray that I never get so wrapped up in the world that I forget the eternal perspective. If you have a minute, go read the entire story at Tony's blog.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Shepherd and His Flock

We are up to the tenth chapter of John, examining it from the perspective of someone reading it for the first time after being presented the biblical gospel.
1 "I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3 The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice." 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them.

Many people say that the Bible is all metaphor, and should not be taken literally. Well, here we are to take it that Jesus literally spoke in a metaphor, or a figure of speech. How do we know this? Well, the Bible tells us this. Literally.

7 Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

When people tell me that Jesus came not to judge and that 'good' Hindus and 'good' Buddhists will be saved as well, I simply ask them where in the Bible they found that. Usually they respond with something about never reading the Bible. Well, if you just pick it up and read it for yourself, you can see plainly what Jesus came to do. He clearly states that only by going through Him will people be saved. There is no other name under heaven that saves. All others are thieves and robbers.

11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 1213 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.

As you find out the whole story, you see here that Jesus is foretelling his crucifixion. Not only that it would happen, but that the purpose was to lay down his life for his sheep.

14 "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father."

19 At these words the Jews were again divided. 20 Many of them said, "He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?"

21 But others said, "These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?"

Before the crucifixion happened, there was a lot of speculation as to what He was speaking about. But, after Jesus laid down his life and took it up again, people still had the choice to make. Some think the idea is foolishness. To others, these are the words of life. Which choice have you made?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Praying Against Satan

Satan, take note and listen well!
We are the Church of the Living God.
We are bought with blood, charged with power, married to Jesus,
indwelt with His Spirit, destined for victory, immune from destruction.

We’re part of the company of the committed,
the crowd of the covenant,
the congregation of the courageous.
We’re a fellowship of the faithful, a battalion of believers,
a regiment of the redeemed,
a division of the devoted, an army of the approved,
a team of the triumphant, and a platoon of the powerful.

Satan, you will not conquer me.
For I am blood-washed, daily-delivered, strongly-sanctified,
Spirit-soaked, in-Word, and indwelt.
You are wasting your energy on me.
My fate is set. My victory is assured.
I am linked with a sovereign and eternal power.

You are a deceiver, but you will not deceive me.
You are a roaring lion, but I am not devourable.
You are extremely subtle, but I am on to your ways.
You parade as an angel of light, but I walk in a stronger light.
Your days of deception are over with me.
I won’t be detoured, derailed, distracted, distorted, discouraged, or disillusioned by your schemes.

I am off limits to you now. My doors are closed and locked and I've thrown away the keys.

You won’t walk in, crawl in, slither in, sneak in, pry in, or barge into my life.
I have permanent and precious friend who lives inside of me, and He will not share this temple with anyone, especially you.

His name is Jesus.

He and I know that you know your time's almost up.

You may lie, lure, linger, lurch, and laugh, but you won’t get in.
Your days are numbered; your designs are dwindling; your evil is eroding; your devilishness is dissolving; your progress is poisoned; your success has been subverted.
So get off my property; get off my porch.
Get out of my sight.
For He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world.
Leave my family alone; leave my children alone; leave my church alone; and leave my friends alone.

God is on my side. Rather, I’m on God’s side.
I have the same power that delivered Jesus from temptation and sin.
I have the same power that raised Him from the grave.
I have been promised the victory, and I have claimed that victory.
You can summon all your hosts, but you will lose the battle!

We are the Church of the Living God! Blood-washed, Spirit-filled, battle-scarred, unrelenting and indestructible. And in the blessed words of Jesus Christ, the gates of hell will not prevail against us.

In Jesus’ name.
In Jesus' name.
In Jesus' name.

Are you listening?
In Jesus' name.

Amen and Amen!

Have you heard my Pastor? He has his own podcast.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Atheist in the Woods

An atheist was taking a walk through the woods. "What majestic trees! What powerful rivers! What beautiful animals!" he said to himself. As he continued walking alongside the river he heard a rustling in the bushes. Turning to look, he saw a 7 foot grizzly charging towards him. He ran as fast as he could up the path. Looking over his shoulder he saw that the bear was closing in on him. His heart was pumping frantically and he tried to run even faster. He tripped and fell on the ground. He rolled over to pick himself up but saw the bear raising his paw to take a swipe at him.

At that instant the atheist cried out: "Oh my God!..."

Time stopped.

The bear froze.

The forest was silent.

It was then that a bright light shone upon the man and a voice came out of the sky saying: "You deny my existence for all of these years, teach others I don't exist and even credit creation to a cosmic accident. Do you expect me to help you out of this predicament? Am I to count you as a believer?"

The atheist looked directly into the light. "It would be hypocritical of me to suddenly ask you to treat me as a Christian now, but perhaps, could you make the BEAR a Christian?"

"Very well," said the voice. The light went out, and the sounds of the forest resumed.

And then the bear lowered his paw, bowed his head and spoke: "Lord, bless this food which I am about to receive and for which I am truly thankful, Amen."

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Spiritual Blindness

35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?"

36 "Who is he, sir?" the man asked. "Tell me so that I may believe in him."

37 Jesus said, "You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you."

38 Then the man said, "Lord, I believe," and he worshiped him.

39 Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind."

40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, "What? Are we blind too?"

41 Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.

Judge not, lest ye be judged. This is a favorite Bible quote from those who don't read the Bible. Jesus says right here that He came to judge. Those who are filled with themselves will be shown to be law breakers. Those who humble themselves will be shown grace. Those who sit in the front will be asked to move. Those who sit in the back will be brought up front.

Ask anyone today, "Are you a good person." Watch them tell you yes. Watch them proclaim their own goodness. Only those who admit their guilt will find forgiveness from the Savior.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Open Air in Texas

This is part 1 of 4 from Jeffrey Olver of Be sure to watch them all. The Evidence Bible has this to say...

It is obvious from Scripture that God requires us not only to preach to sinners, but also to teach them. The servant of the Lord must be “able to teach, patient, in meekness instructing” those who oppose them (2 Timothy 2:24,25). For a long while I thought I was to leap among sinners, scatter the seed, then leave. But our responsibility goes further. We are to bring the sinner to a point of understanding his need before God. Psalm 25:8 says, “Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.” Psalm 51:13 adds, “Then will I teach transgressors your ways; and sinners shall be converted to you.” The Great Commission is to teach sinners: “teach all nations ...teaching them to observe all things” (Matthew 28:19,20). The disciples obeyed the command “daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Acts 5:42, emphasis added).

The “good-soil” hearer is he who “hears ...and understands” (Matthew 13:23). Philip the evangelist saw fit to ask his potential convert, the Ethiopian, “Do you understand what you are reading?” Some preachers are like a loud gun that misses the target. It may sound effective, but if the bullet misses the target, the exercise is in vain. He may be the largest-lunged, chandelier-swinging, pulpit-pounding preacher this side of the Book of Acts. He may have great teaching on faith, and everyone he touches may fall over, but if the sinner leaves the meeting failing to understand his desperate need of God’s forgiveness, then the preacher has failed. He has missed the target, which is the understanding of the sinner. This is why the Law of God must be used in preaching. It is a “schoolmaster” to bring “the knowledge of sin.” It teaches and instructs. A sinner will come to “know His will, and approve the things that are more excellent,” if he is “instructed out of the Law” (Romans 2:18). See Acts 20:21 footnote.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Do You Believe in Miracles?

Here is an incredible story taken from the blog of one our team's leaders, Tony Miano...

Ithamar's Miracle of the Dead Sea

My friend, Chris Yarzab, and I have begun a discipleship and mutual accountability relationship. We meet once a week, spending the first hour discussing life and the great truths of Scripture, and the second hour engaging in one-to-one evangelism. Last night Chris and I spent our time at the Valencia Town Center—a mall that is part of the Westfield Corporation, where the gospel is anything but welcome.

Chris has been a follower of Jesus Christ for only four months. Yet he has already shared the Law (the Ten Commandments) and the gospel with more people than most professing Christians will in a lifetime. Although new to the faith, Chris is mature enough to realize that he has much to learn (as every Christian does) about biblically and tactically sharing his faith with others. So, our plan of attack was this. When we identified someone we wanted to talk to, I would make the initial contact, start the conversation, and swing the conversation from the natural to the spiritual. Once I made the transition, Chris would jump in and take the person through the “Good Test,” with the hope of sharing the Law and the gospel with them.

As Chris and I walked through the mall, we came across a kiosk selling a line of skin products called “Miracle of the Dead Sea.” Allegedly, the product line uses minerals and other properties from the Dead Sea in its skin care products. There was a young man working the kiosk—a young man who looked very bored. I pointed to the sign attached to the top of the kiosk and said, “Miracle of the Dead Sea?”

With an accent I could not immediately identify, the young man said, “It’s alive.”

“The Dead Sea is alive?” I asked.

“Yes.” He answered.

“But there are no fish in the Dead Sea.” I said.

“Yes, but there are bacteria and minerals.” He answered.

“Oh, I get it. You’re talking about micro-organisms.” I said. I pointed again at the sign and asked, “Do you believe in miracles?”

The young man quickly answered, with a subtle shake of his head and a smile. “No.”

Chris took this as his cue to ask the young man his name and if he had a Christian background. He said that he had no religious background, but he had read portions of the New Testament.

He said, “My name is difficult to pronounce in English. My name is Ithamar. I’m named after one of the sons of Aaron.”

Aaron, Moses’ brother, had four sons: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. God killed Nadab and Abihu for sinning against God by offering profane fire in the Lord’s Holy Place (Leviticus 10:1-7). Eleazar became High Priest and it was through him that the unique line for future high priests was designated (Numbers 25:10-13). Ithamar, the youngest and least known of the four brothers, was responsible for overseeing the assembly, dismantling, and maintenance of the Tent of Meeting (Numbers 4:21-33).

Chris effectively took Ithamar through the “Good Test,” helping Ithamar to see his true state before a holy and righteous God. Ithamar said that the thought of being found guilty of breaking God’s Law and sentenced to eternity in hell concerned him. It’s always so beautiful to see a person humbled by the Law of God.

Chris carefully, lovingly, and biblically shared the gospel with Ithamar. He listened intently, like a dry sponge absorbing fresh water. During the conversation, it appeared that Ithamar was confused about the place of good works, in salvation. At the next pregnant pause in the conversation, I asked Chris if I could join the conversation.

When witnessing with a partner, it is always best to allow one person to do the talking, while the other person listens, watches, and prays. This tactic is helpful in avoiding making the person to whom you are witnessing feel as though you are ganging-up on them. It helps to maintain a steady, forward-moving flow in the conversation and it helps to keep the person who is doing the witnessing from losing their train of thought.

I explained to Ithamar, that for the Christian, good works are acts of obedience to God that are performed as a result of one’s salvation, not acts that lead to salvation. I shared Isaiah 64:6 with Ithamar. “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind take us away.”

I shared the “parachute” analogy with Ithamar. When I got to the part where I asked him if simply looking at the parachute under his seat, and believing that the parachute was there, would save him when the plane crashed. No.” He said. “I have to put it on.”

I could tell by the look on his face that Ithamar understood the truth behind the analogy.

Ithamar asked, “Do you believe the Old Testament?”

I explained to Ithamar that together the Old and New Testaments make up the entirety of God’s Word, and that the Old Testament points to Jesus Christ. I explained that the Law of God shows mankind that God’s standard is perfection and that because every person is sinful, it is impossible for anyone to perfectly obey God’s Law. I briefly explained the sacrificial system of the Old Testament, the requirement of a blood sacrifice of a spotless lamb for the remission of sin, and how Jesus Christ is the perfect fulfillment of that system—the Lamb of God who shed his blood to atone for man’s sin and to take upon Himself God’s wrath and our place of punishment.

“Ithamar,” I said, “The wages of sin is death. The just punishment for your sins against God is either going to be your blood or the blood of Jesus Christ, which He shed on the cross. But not only did Jesus die on the cross. He rose again and He is alive today.”

Ithamar’s eyes opened wide. The look on his face was that of a man who just heard something amazing, for the first time. Then he asked, “You mean Jesus is alive? How can that be? He died.”

I was taken aback by Ithamar’s expressions and questions. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Here we were, in Southern California, in the United States of America, talking to a young man who had never heard about the resurrection of Jesus Christ! I thought back to Ithamar’s statement at the beginning of the conversation, in which he denied the existence of miracles.

I leaned forward and whispered, “It’s a miracle.”

I spent the next few moments explaining the resurrection of Christ. Eventually I came to a point where I shared John 14:6. “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’”

Now it was Ithamar leaning forward and whispering. “Say it again.” He said.

I repeated the verse, a bit slower this time. I was under the impression that Ithamar didn’t understand the verse. I was wrong. Because as I recited the verse again, this time breaking up the verse into phrases, Ithamar repeated each phrase after me. He was trying to memorize the verse! When we finished saying the verse together, Ithamar tried to recite it on his own. When I saw that he was struggling to remember the entirety of the verse, I reached into my pack and removed a copy of “How To Live Forever Without Being Religious,” which contains the Gospel of John.

The book was one of several brand new, never opened copies I had in my pack. I opened the book to John 14:6. (Since my conversation with Ithamar, I’ve tried several times to open other copies of the book directly to John 14:6. I haven’t been able to do it.) Ithamar and I reacted the same way, simultaneously. “Whoa!” We said.

“You opened the book right to the verse!” Ithamar said.

“I know.” I replied. “It amazes me, too.”

Ithamar followed along as I read the verse aloud. He took a step back, nodding his head. When I tried to give Ithamar the book, he lifted his hand in front of him and said, “Oh, no. I can’t take it. It is your book.”

“It’s okay.” I explained. “I have many copies. And I brought it with me so I could give it to people I talk to—people like you, Ithamar. Please take it. It is my gift to you.”

Ithamar took the book from my hand. Handling the little book ever so gently, he placed the book in his shirt pocket. What he did next was beautiful. He slowly placed his hand over the book and his heart. “Thank you.” He said.

I told Ithamar that I might not ever see him again. I told him that Chris and I cared about him and that we cared about where he would spend eternity. Without a hint of sarcasm, Ithamar asked, “Why? Why do the two of you care so much?”

“If I know that God has saved me from the just punishment for my sins against Him,” I said, “and I know that so great a salvation is only received by those who repent of their sin and, by faith, put their trust in Jesus Christ alone for their salvation, then how can I not tell people? If I don’t warn people about what will happen to them if they stand as guilty sinners before God, on the Day of Judgment, and if I don’t share with them the good news of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ alone, then I don’t really care about them.”

Ithamar nodded his head in agreement. “May I ask you something?” He asked.

“Absolutely.” I answered.

“Christianity is the largest religion in the world.” He began. “With so many Christians in the world, why aren’t there more people like the two of you doing this? Why aren’t there more people saying the things you are saying to me?”

I found it difficult to hold back the tears. There were no excuses I could make. There were no excuses I wanted to make. So I told Ithamar the truth. “Sadly, many of the people who claim to be Christians are not Christians. They might be religious, but they do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. There’s a difference between knowing about Jesus and knowing Him as Lord.

“In fact, if you read the gospels, you will find that more often than not, when Jesus talked about religion and religious people, He referred to them in a negative way. Many times He referred to them as hypocrites. In fact, Jesus said this, ‘Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you, depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness”’” (Matthew 7:21-23).

I asked Ithamar if he understood everything I had shared with him. He said that he did. I asked him if he believed what I was sharing with him was true. He again answered in the affirmative.

“Ithamar, do you understand if you died in your sins, God will judge you and find you guilty of breaking His Law?” I asked.

“Yes.” He answered.

“Do you understand that if He finds you guilty He will sentence you to eternity in hell?” I asked.

“Yes.” He answered.

“I assume you don’t want to spend eternity in hell.” I said.

Ithamar shook his head.

“Ithamar, is there any reason why you wouldn’t repent of your sin and put your trust in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation?” I asked.

“No.” He answered.

“Is that something you would like to do?” I asked.

“Yes.” He answered.

“Then cry out to God.” I said. “Ask Him to forgive your sins and tell Him that you want to turn away from your sins. Ask Him to be your Lord and Savior. Believe, by faith, that He can and will save you from His wrath to come. Commit your whole life to Him. Serve Him and follow Him all the days of your life.”

Ithamar smiled. Although I could not read his mind or his heart, I believe what I saw in his eyes and in his smile was the miraculous working of the Holy Spirit, drawing a sinner to repentance and faith. “May I ask you one more question?” He asked.

“Sure.” I said.

“What does it mean to be a fisher of men?” He asked.

What a remarkable question from a young man who, only minutes earlier, was amazed at hearing about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, for the first time. “Among Jesus’ disciples were several fishermen—men who worked hard to catch fish, to make a living and feed their families.” I said. “Jesus taught them that more important than meeting their own physical needs was devoting their lives, in obedience to God, to the work of reaching people with the gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s what it means to be a fisher of men. And that’s why Chris and I are here tonight.”

Ithamar shook our hands and thanked us for talking to him. We said our good-byes. Chris and I made our way toward the exit, but we had to sit down on a bench and take a moment to catch our breath and debrief. Before heading home, we spent some time in prayer praising God for what He allowed us to do, and for allowing us to watch Him work. We also prayed that Ithamar would not pass a restful night until he did, in fact, repent before God and put his faith in Jesus Christ alone.

What started out as a conversation with a young man who didn’t believe in miracles, ended with what appeared to be a miracle in the making. It wasn’t the miracle of the Dead Sea. But maybe it was the miracle of a sinner being drawn to repentance and faith. I pray that it was.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Seeker-Friendly Churches

Many in the church today believe that the only way to reach the world is to give the unchurched multitudes what they want. Hundreds of churches have followed precisely that theory, actually surveying unbelievers to learn what it would take to get them to attend.

Subtly the overriding goal is church attendance and worldly acceptability rather than a transformed life. Preaching the Word and boldly confronting sin are seen as archaic, ineffectual means of winning the world. After all, those things actually drive most people away. Why not entice people into the fold by offering what they want, creating a friendly, comfortable environment, and catering to the very desires that constitute their strongest urges? As if we might get them to accept Jesus by somehow making Him more likable or making His message less offensive.

That kind of thinking badly skews the mission of the church. The Great Commission is not a marketing manifesto. Evangelism does not require salesmen, but prophets. It is the Word of God, not any earthly enticement, that plants the seed for the new birth (1 Peter 1:23). We gain nothing but God’s displeasure if we seek to remove the offense of the cross.

My complaint is with a philosophy that relegates God and His Word to a subordinate role in the church. I believe it is unbiblical to elevate entertainment over biblical preaching and worship in the church service. And I stand in opposition to those who believe salesmanship can bring people into the kingdom more effectively than a sovereign God. That philosophy has opened the door to worldliness in the church.

Adapted from Ashamed of the Gospel, © by John MacArthur. All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The sin and doom of Godless men

Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: "See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him." These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.

But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, "In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires." These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.

But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Burbank Fishing

Tonight, Tony took the night off so we had no open air preaching. We paired up and went back to our roots of just finding people to talk to and engaging them in spiritual conversations. With the luxury of a crowd gathering to talk gone, we had to actually work again. But, the Lord was faithful and gave us many people to talk to .

I found another group of Armenian teenagers willing to talk. This time, the girls were very willing to tell me about how they were such good people because they went to church and gave money to the poor. After a few questions about lying, and explaining that taking music from the Internet that you didn't pay for is stealing, and asking about blasphemy we didn't have to go much further. The few in the group that were actually paying attention to me were stopped by the Law. They realized that just growing up in a Christian household did not make them right with God. They wanted to find out about how to get forgiven.

I asked them what happened two thousand years ago... What did God do so they don't have to go to hell? They said, "He built a church for us to go to?" Well, He built His church upon His Son, Jesus. It's scary how many times I talk to people who are being raised in a church who have no idea why Christ died on the cross. After explaining it, they really understood and wanted me to make sure to tell their friends. I spoke with another two of their friends who they were sure wouldn't sit still for an explanation of God's Law and grace. I was surprised, but they sat through the whole thing and had many questions for me. God is good. I know it is tough to sit still and listen to some guy talking about spiritual things when you are at the mall with your friends. But, I pray that the seeds I planted tonight are watered and ultimately bring forth fruit for His glory.

Please pray for these kids and for everyone that we witnessed to tonight. I might never meet them again in this life. But, I would love to meet them in Heaven and hear of the great things they did for the Lord while they were here on Earth.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Sophisticated Folly

You don't come to the true knowledge of God without the Bible. You don't come to the true knowledge of God without the gospel of Jesus Christ. Just the opposite is true, you end up a fool. You end up not understanding. You end up in ignorance. And the best that human wisdom can produce is sophisticated ignorance, sophisticated folly.

-John MacArthur

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Inclusivism in the Vatican

"That all who live a just life will be saved, even if they do not believe in Jesus Christ and the Roman Catholic Church."
-Pope John Paul II

The Pope went on to say, quote: "The gospel teaches us that those who live in accordance with the Beatitudes, poor in spirit, the pure in heart, those who bear lovingly the sufferings of life, will enter God's Kingdom," end quote. The Pope is taking an inclusive view of salvation. The biblical teaching that salvation only comes in response to faith in Jesus Christ is rejected as unreasonable and cruel by people who believe this. The heathen are saved if they just live good lives, if they're just poor in spirit, if they are pure in heart and if they pursue what is right. They live good lives and they are sincere. It doesn't really matter what they believe.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Pharisees Investigate the Healing

13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man's eyes was a Sabbath. 15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. "He put mud on my eyes," the man replied, "and I washed, and now I see."

16 Some of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath."
But others asked, "How can a sinner do such miraculous signs?" So they were divided.

17 Finally they turned again to the blind man, "What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened."
The man replied, "He is a prophet."

18 The Jews still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man's parents. 19 "Is this your son?" they asked. "Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?"

20 "We know he is our son," the parents answered, "and we know he was born blind. 21 But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don't know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself." 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for already the Jews had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ would be put out of the synagogue. 23 That was why his parents said, "He is of age; ask him."

It is sad to me that not much has changed to this very day. "Anyone who acknowledges that Jesus is the Christ is put out of the synagogue." I speak with many Jewish people who have this same fear. They think that to acknowledge Christ, they will lose their Jewishness. First, I say, if you have to lose your Jewishness to gain salvation, there isn't really much of a choice. But, more importantly, it is not true. Jesus did not lose his Jewishness. Paul did not lose his Jewishness. Matthew, Mark, John and any other Jew that followed Jesus and wrote the New Testament did not lose their Jewishness. Christ came "first for the Jews, second for the gentiles". It is the gentile that has to be grafted to the vine.

24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. "Give glory to God," they said. "We know this man is a sinner."

25 He replied, "Whether he is a sinner or not, I don't know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!"

26 Then they asked him, "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?"

27 He answered, "I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?"

28 Then they hurled insults at him and said, "You are this fellow's disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don't even know where he comes from."

30 The man answered, "Now that is remarkable! You don't know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing."

34 To this they replied, "You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!" And they threw him out.

The conversation was touching a little close to home for the religious leaders. As self-described 'disciples of Moses', they were intimately familiar with the Law of Moses. When the man insinuated that they were sinners, they lashed out at him. Confronting people with their own reflection in the mirror of the Law, they tend to move from the general to the specific and personal and when confronted with the truth of the Gospel, there are only two responses. Do you choose the response of the Pharisees? Or, the response of the man whose sight has been restored? It is not coincidence that God chose the metaphor of 'restored sight' to be the correct answer. Are you seeing clearly? Or, has your sin clouded your vision?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind

Continuing in our look at the Gospel of John, we are now in the ninth chapter.
1 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

3 "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

A big question, when not used as a deflection of the Gospel, is why suffering is allowed in this world. Even when we repent and put our faith in Jesus, not all questions are answered immediately. This is a question that many of us still have. The Bible gives some clues here, and basically says that even though we suffer, God allows it so His glory can be displayed in us. Even with our shortcomings, God is able to achieve His goals, and that way He gets the glory, as He deserves, and not us. We learn to lean on Him, and not our own strengths.

6 Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man's eyes. 7 "Go," he told him, "wash in the Pool of Siloam" (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

8 His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, "Isn't this the same man who used to sit and beg?" 9 Some claimed that he was.
Others said, "No, he only looks like him."
But he himself insisted, "I am the man."

10 "How then were your eyes opened?" they demanded.

11 He replied, "The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see."

12 "Where is this man?" they asked him.
"I don't know," he said.

We notice that each time Jesus performed a miracle, He didn't perform a ritual or do it the same way twice. The miracle is in Jesus, and not in the ritual.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Claims of Others About Jesus

I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creation of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him. –Napoleon

No one else holds or has held the place in the heart of the world which Jesus holds. Other gods have been as devoutly worshipped; no other man has been so devoutly loved. --John Knox

Even those who have renounced Christianity and attack it, in their inmost being still follow the Christian ideal, for hitherto neither their subtlety nor the ardour of their hearts has been able to create a higher ideal of man and of virtue than the ideal given by Christ of old. --Fyodor Dostoyevsky

A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act. --Mahatma Gandhi

Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander the Great, Caesar, Mohammed, and Napoleon; without science and learning, he shed more light on things human and divine than all philosophers and scholars combined; without the eloquence of school, he spoke such words of life as were never spoken before or since, and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator or poet; without writing a single line, he set more pens in motion, and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned volumes, works of art, and songs of praise than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times. –Philip Schaff

I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.--H.G. Wells

As the centuries pass, the evidence is accumulating that, measured by His effect on history, Jesus is the most influential life ever lived on this planet. -- Historian Kenneth Scott Latourette

Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the Child of a peasant woman. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty, and then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never owned a home. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself. He had nothing to do with this world except the naked power of His Divine manhood. While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a Cross between two thieves. His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth while He was dying—and that was His coat. When He was dead He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. Such was His human life—He rises from the dead. Nineteen wide centuries have come and gone and today He is the Centerpiece of the human race and the Leader of the column of progress. I am within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever were built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that One Solitary Life. --James C. Hefley

Socrates taught for 40 years, Plato for 50, Aristotle for 40, and Jesus for only 3. Yet the influence of Christ's 3-year ministry infinitely transcends the impact left by the combined 130 years of teaching from these men who were among the greatest philosophers of all antiquity. –Unknown

I have read in Plato and Cicero sayings that are very wise and very beautiful; but I never read in either of them: "Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden." --Augustine

Buddha never claimed to be God. Moses never claimed to be Jehovah. Mohammed never claimed to be Allah. Yet Jesus Christ claimed to be the true and living God. Buddha simply said, "I am a teacher in search of the truth." Jesus said, "I am the Truth." Confucius said, "I never claimed to be holy." Jesus said, "Who convicts me of sin?" Mohammed said, "Unless God throws his cloak of mercy over me, I have no hope." Jesus said, "Unless you believe in me, you will die in your sins." --Unknown

Fundamentally, our Lord's message was Himself. He did not come merely to preach a Gospel; He himself is that Gospel. He did not come merely to give bread; He said, "I am the bread." He did not come merely to shed light; He said, "I am the light." He did not come merely to show the door; He said, "I am the door." He did not come merely to name a shepherd; He said, "I am the shepherd." He did not come merely to point the way; He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." --J. Sidlow Baxter

Jesus is the God whom we can approach without pride and before whom we can humble ourselves without despair. –Blaise Pascal

As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene....No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life. --Albert Einstein

An unsurpassed master of the art of laying bare the inmost core of spiritual truth. --Geza Vermes

Jesus was the greatest religious genius that ever lived. -- Ernest Renan

There is something so pure and frank and noble about Him that to doubt His sincerity would be like doubting the brightness of the sun. -- Charles Edward Jefferson

A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.--C.S. Lewis

Jesus Christ is to me the outstanding personality of all time, all history, both as Son of God and as Son of Man. Everything he ever said or did has value for us today and that is something you can say of no other man, dead or alive. There is no easy middle ground to stroll upon. You either accept Jesus or reject him. --Sholem Asch

Jesus is God spelling Himself out in language that men can understand. --S.D. Gordon

Only Christ could have conceived Christ. -- Joseph Parker

In Jesus, God wills to be true God not only in the height but also in the depth – in the depth of human creatureliness, sinfulness and mortality. --Karl Barth

It was this same Jesus, the Christ who, among many other remarkable things, said and repeated something which, proceeding from any other being would have condemned him at once as either a bloated egotist or a dangerously unbalanced person...when He said He himself would rise again from the dead, the third day after He was crucified, He said something that only a fool would dare say, if he expected longer the devotion of any disciples—unless He was sure He was going to rise. No founder of any world religion known to men ever dared say a thing like that! --Wilbur Smith

I accept the resurrection of Easter Sunday not as an invention of the community of disciples, but as a historical event. If the resurrection of Jesus from the dead on that Easter Sunday were a public event which had been made known...not only to the 530 Jewish witnesses but to the entire population, all Jews would have become followers of Jesus. --Pinchas Lapide, Orthodox Jewish scholar, Germany (born 1922)

Because Christianity’s influence is so pervasive throughout much of the world, it is easy to forget how radical its beliefs once were. Jesus’ resurrection forever changed Christians’ view of death. Rodney Stark, sociologist at the University of Washington, points out that when a major plague hit the ancient Roman Empire, Christians had surprisingly high survival rates. Why? Most Roman citizens would banish any plague-stricken person from their household. But because Christians had no fear of death, they nursed their sick instead of throwing them out on the streets. Therefore, many Christians survived the plague. --“2000 Years of Jesus” by Kenneth L. Woodward, NEWSWEEK, March 29, 1999, p. 55.

Despite our efforts to keep him out, God intrudes. The life of Jesus is bracketed by two impossibilities: "a virgin's womb and an empty tomb". Jesus entered our world through a door marked,"No Entrance" and left through a door marked "No Exit." --Peter Larson

I would like to ask Him if He was indeed virgin born, because the answer to that question would define history. –Larry King

The most pressing question on the problem of faith is whether a man as a civilized being can believe in the divinity of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, for therein rests the whole of our faith. --Fyodor Dostoevski

The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the crowning proof of Christianity. If the resurrection did not take place, then Christianity is a false religion. If it did take place, then Christ is God and the Christian faith is absolute truth. --Henry Morris

If I might comprehend Jesus Christ, I could not believe on Him. He would be no greater than myself. Such is my consciousness of sin and inability that I must have a superhuman Saviour. --Daniel Webster

Our problem is this: we usually discover him within some denominational or Christian ghetto. We meet him in a province and, having caught some little view, we paint him in smaller strokes. The Lion of Judah is reduced to something kittenish because our understanding cannot, at first, write larger definitions.--Calvin Miller

People talk about imitating Christ, and imitate Him in the little trifling formal things, such as washing the feet, saying His prayer, and so on; but if anyone attempts the real imitation of Him, there are no bounds to the outcry with which the presumption of that person is condemned. --Florence Nightingale

Even Christ pleased not Himself. He was utterly consumed in the zeal of His Father’s house. As man He ever moved for God. As God He ever moved for man.--Geoffrey T.Bull

There was no identity crisis in the life of Jesus Christ. He knew who He was. He knew where He had come from, and why he was here. And he knew where He was going. And when you are that liberated, then you can serve. --Howard Hendricks

The Lord ate from a common bowl, and asked the disciples to sit on the grass. He washed their feet, with a towel wrapped around His waist - He, who is the Lord of the universe! --Clement of Alexandria

How was it that, even in the common tasks of an ordinary life, Jesus drew the praise of heaven? At the core of His being, He only did those things which pleased the Father. In everything, He stayed true, heartbeat to heartbeat, with the Father's desires. Jesus lived for God alone; God was enough for Him. Thus, even in its simplicity and moment-to-moment faithfulness, Christ's life was an unending fragrance, a perfect offering of incomparable love to God. --Francis Frangipane

Jesus Christ: The meeting place of eternity and time, the blending of deity and humanity, the junction of heaven and earth – Anonymous

You cannot go outside of A and Z in the realm of literature; likewise Christ Jesus is First and Last of God's new creation, and all that is in between; you cannot get outside of that. --T. Austin Sparks

It is as if God the Father is saying to us: "Since I have told you everything in My Word, Who is My Son, I have no other words that can at present say anything or reveal anything to you beyond this. Fix your eyes on Him alone, for in Him I have told you all, revealed all, and in Him you will find more than you desire or ask. If you fix your eyes on Him, you will find everything, for He is My whole word and My reply, He is My whole vision and My whole revelation. --Anthony M. Coniaris

Whenever the method of worship becomes more important than the Person of worship, we have already prostituted our worship. There are entire congregations who worship praise and praise worship but who have not yet learned to praise and worship God in Jesus Christ. --Judson Cornwall

The message of Christ is not Christianity. The message of Christ is Christ. --Gary Amirault

To holy people the very name of Jesus is a name to feed upon, a name to transport. His name can raise the dead and transfigure and beautify the living. --John Henry Newman

God will answer all our questions in one way and one way only. Namely, by showing us more of his Son. -- Watchman Nee

Christianity is not a doctrine, not truth as truth, but the knowledge of a Person; it is knowing the Lord Jesus. You cannot be educated into being a Christian. --T. Austin-Sparks

I have one passion. It is He, only He. --Count Zinzendorf