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Showing posts from 2013

What Is True? What Is Truth?

So often in discussion with your friends over a meal, and then even in forced conversations with religionists like Latter Day Saints and Jehovah's Witnesses, what someone believes is said to be true by a person just because they believe it.

Of course this is silly, for plenty of people believe wrong things about all kinds of things.  The religionist Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe in blood transfusions, so they put their life at risk for no reason.  The religionist Latter Day Saint may believe Joseph Smith was a prophet, when really we know from both archaeology and from North American history nothing he said existed exists in Missouri.

The same goes for other areas, your friend in discussion might believe that Apple stock is going up, only to watch it go down in a moving trend for long periods of time.  You may believe a relationship will work out when really it fails.  Dallas-Fort Worth meteorologists routinely predict what will happen in West Fort Worth is what will hap…

When to Cut Out that Habit!

Yesterday in our Life Group (a small home group that studies the Bible, prays together, and serves together in a local area) we heard of the "Change of Kingdoms" from the world/self/Satan over to Jesus Christ we have through faith by grace (God's unearned mercy).  We also heard of "The Battle for Holiness" on knowing the tactics the enemy uses to trick Christians to not grow in purity for God and then the methods of growing in purity.  Both were chapters out of the great, but short book, The Pursuit of Holiness, by Jerry Bridges.  An unjustly short summary of these would be:  God makes you right with Him (righteous) by your dying with Christ (Romans 6:1-12) and being raised spiritually to a new kind of life, so that by remembering that after you are saved, you can pursue kingdom goals (like various forms of purity, Romans 6:1-12). 

In my own Bible reading, there is a powerful change passage in the Gospel of Mark 9, verses 42 to 50 that really zooms in on this …

From Valley to the Vista: How Your Being Perplexed or Your Mess IS God's Opportunity to Shine

When it comes to God growing our faith he does so in steps.  When we need something and God puts our situation so that through faith we grow and mature, that is a process called growing in holiness.  It is also a concern for God's glory, or weighty namesake, in our life.  Paul says that we have the power of God to save us and change us from the God who said "let light shine out of darkness," 2 Corinthians 4:6.  So there is no lack on God's end of things.  That's the irony, in our life and world which are so often a broken mess, as Paul explains "afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies," he is getting at a purpose in that mess.

IN your mess, God's glory shines brighter.  Whether it is the struggle to see how to honor God in this cirucmstance o…

Know Why You Know - a new book out Fall 2013 - by David Keuss

Over the past five years I have had the privilege to dig into the study of how we know what we know as Christ followers.  A lot of times your friends say to you when you share about Jesus' love for them, "well, that's your opinion and I respect that, but it's not my opinion" even after you have shared evidence for why Jesus is Savior.  Perhaps you used a Josh McDowell book on evidence for Christianity.  Perhaps you have handed out Lee Strobel's The Case for a Creator

Still, a perceptive unbeliever in Jesus will want to know:  'I see Jesus is probable, and you believe in him, but how do I know that Jesus is really Savior?'  Or perhaps a postmodern neighbor would say 'how do I know Jesus will save me?'  These are questions what is called 'epistemology' the topic of how we know what we know. 

I'll be doing some posts on this topic of how we know what we claim we know for a new book I've just published with a division of Thomas…

Parenting: Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp

If you are a parent or hopeful parent to be then a great resource to have on your shelf at home is the book by Tedd Tripp, Shepherding a Child's Heart.  Dr. David Powlison, a well known Christian counselor, says "Tedd Tripp knows what he is talking about" and "he knows children, he knows parents...and he knows the ways of God."  John MacArthur, a Christian pastor and author, says it is suprising "to see how few books are genuinely biblical" on Christian parenting, but you will not "find a more excellent guide" than this. 

The book provides great resources and tips.  One instance is how on "communication" Tripp recommends "children need communication designed to inspire and fill with hope and courage."  "Your children know the pain of failure.  They, like you, find things looking hopeless at times....  You can help them assess the reasons for disappointment.  You need to help them understand the promises of God.  You…

How Should We Live in Christ Jesus?

Sometimes we forget to factor in how Jesus has called us to different living as Christ followers.  He was unlike the world, and that requires stepping out to follow Him, not passivity even though that would be easier.  There is that inevitable pull to do just what feels right, or what our emotions tell us.  But that kind of pull all comes down to forgetting God's plan, which we must not do.  When He set up our Savior Jesus (high priest, called by God, perfect sacrifice) He also called us to a new kind of living, differing from the Old Testament servants of God, but rooted in the fact that serving Christ is higher than serving in the Old Israelite Temple system.  Check out this message from Hebrews 5:1-12 at www.fellowshipofwoodbridge.org .

God Lifts Us Up

I had one of those days where God in His providence sends along the right situation to encourage you, and I'm sharing this to encourage you!  I was out and about and some believers were discussing how God works in a situation, but from their own lives.  But it is exactly what God wanted me to hear too, and it served as an encouragement.  I hope you'll remember that God cares enough about you to bring about the timely word or the insight you need through His plan.  Know that He loves you in this and wants you to see He is active in guiding you to good things (Romans 8:28).

How Do We Know Something Is True - aka Knowledge?

When someone asks you at work or out and about, "I know that's what you believe, but how do you know it is true?," they are asking a question easier to answer if you can see the whole range of options.  Most of us Christ followers would say, "well, God has changed my life," or "I had a life changing experience."  That is fine and well, it is true.  But if a person has not had that yet, what would you say to them next if they still ask, and they have not had your experience? 

There are several ways to go.  When you care about your friend, and love them, you want them to know God personally through faith in Jesus and to trust His Word to them in the gospel message.

One option is to bring in testimony of others, to show that you are not the only one with that experience.  But this is again still the area of experience.

You can talk about self-evident truths, such as that there are other minds out there, even though you have not seen them in action in pe…

Jesus Higher Than What?

As we have been studying through Hebrews in our church messages, a common theme emerges for our time (chapters 1-2):  look into what it might be that is replacing faithfulness to Jesus, and look instead to Christ Jesus for fulfillment.  For the Jewish Christians Hebrews was intended to go to, they were in a time when (Colossians 2) Jews and many Romans too were tempted to worship angels.  How they did this is not expressly stated.  But we do know that attention and devotion and probably more than likely, refuge and deliverance in, angels was a real problem in the outlook in many's hearts and minds, Hebrews 1.  The author of Hebrews (whether it was Paul or Barnabas, etc) has a goal, it is to help people put Jesus back into the center of their attention and focus.  Probably today you and I are not tempted to directly worship angels as they were.  Even in the years before the 1st century AD, many Jews in the intertestamental period were involved with this wrongly directed worship, pl…

Mothers Day 2013

This is a good summary of the situations of many biblical women, some who were biological mothers and some who were not.  It addresses temporary and long-term infertility as well.  If nothing else, it provides a Bible study idea on some of these topics.
http://www.infertilitysurvivalguide.com/issues/chapter13.htm

Depression Rate and Church Attendance in Solidly Adult Population

This study shows an incidence of major depression is less likely over time in those who consistently attend church, in their advanced adult years. 
http://www.reasons.org/articles/religion-and-mental-health-going-to-church-is-good-for-you

I'm assuming from the study that the benefit from attending appears after several years, rather than in just a "pop," I'm going now effect, in adults.  Interesting stuff.  This also could be related to the social benefits of not isolating oneself, such as in the NACS study, plus the worship benefits from peace with God and others.

The Church Is a Team

One of the most best things for Christ-followers is realizing a passage like I Corinthians chapter twelve records Paul teaching the ability of God's people to use their spiritual gifts to encourage others.  In our mutual faith in Jesus, practically, when we go to church we together are actually getting stronger.  If you bring that gift and I bring this other one, even the meeting up is a very gift of God to encourage, teach, show mercy, pray for, etc another!  This helps us to put aside the belief (a morally wrong one we all have at times in the Western tradition) that church attendance is optional.

As a group of people, every local church congregation is gifted of God in different ways.  God in His goodness plans for these individual gifts coming together to make a stronger community.  Why is that?  It is for His glory, so it's not even about us at the end of the day, but we benefit as a part of the good plan :). 

Here's what it looks like in real life:  If one person is…

Bible Reading Plans 2013

Now is a great time to choose a Bible Reading plan for the year ahead.  There are some great choices that allow several options.  A source website like this one from the English Standard Version Bible translator company offers you ways to do this at your preference.  You can read chronologically through the Bible, or one Old Testament, one New Testament, and one Psalm reading set of verses per day.  It's really a good idea to think over how your schedule works too and include that factor into the decision.  As an encouragement, some plans offer one day off a week and if you are a doctor or nurse who has those one or two really long days, this could be very useful stuff one of them.  I pray that God blesses you as you choose a strategy to hear and read God's Word in 2013, you will definitely be investing wisely in your spiritual walk with Jesus Christ.

Not Tricking Ourselves on Knowing God Personally...

In 1st Samuel 23, around verses 19 to 22, King Saul of Israel, who earlier chapters tell us was rejected by God, and which 23:7 shows us was self-deceived about his relationship with God, thinks that he can use religious sounding language about the LORD God of Israel to bless someone.

It is not entirely clear that Saul knows he has been rejected.  He may have assumed it in the future, but not at the present; 23:17.  Saul tries to go after and destroy an innocent man, and cloaks his evil heart desire in religious language, 23:21.  Maybe the Ziphites who were supposedly thinking they were "blessed" actually believed that Saul could offer that.  But Saul no longer served or listened to the LORD (doubtful he ever did), just used the right language of a religious person with a relationship.

It is important to know if we have a saving and walking with the LORD relationship today.  Do you have this relationship?  1st John 1:9 says this about it:  "If we confess our sins, he [t…