A Biblical Potpourri

 

Introduction


Welcome to my biblical potpourri page. Here I will be putting the likes of informative and thought provoking Christian articles, both mine and others. These articles are in a simplistic form only, in order to give the reader a quick introduction, overview, and summary of the subjects covered.

Note:
Please b
ear in mind that any article appearing on this page may be added to or improved upon at any time.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ" (Philippians 1:9,10, NIV).



1. Pop Psychology Myths

By Kerby Anderson

Go into any bookstore and you will see shelves of self-help books, many of which promote a form of "pop psychology." Although these are bestsellers, they are filled with half-truths and myths. In this essay we are going to look at some of these pop psychology myths as exposed by Dr. Chris Thurman in his book Self-Help or Self-Destruction. If you would like more information or documentation for the issues we cover in these pages, I would recommend you obtain a copy of his book.
Myth 1: Human beings are basically good.
The first myth I would like to look at is the belief that people are basically good. Melody Beattie, author of the best-seller Codependent No More, says that we "suffer from that vague but penetrating affliction, low self-worth." She suggests we stop torturing ourselves and try to raise our view of ourselves. How do we do that? She says: "Right now, we can give ourselves a big emotional and mental hug. We are okay. It's wonderful to be who we are. Our thoughts are okay. Our feelings are appropriate. We're right where we're supposed to be today, this moment. There is nothing wrong with us. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with us."
In other words, Beattie is saying that we are basically good. There is nothing wrong with us. At least there is nothing fundamentally wrong with us. There isn't any flaw that needs to be corrected.
Peter McWilliams, in his best-seller Life 101, actually addresses this issue head on. This is what he says in the brief section entitled, "Are human beings fundamentally good or fundamentally evil?"
My answer: good. My proof? I could quote philosophers, psychologists, and poets, but then those who believe humans are fundamentally evil can quote just as many philosophers, psychologists, and poets. My proof, such as it is, is a simple one. It returns to the source of human life: an infant. When you look into the eyes of an infant, what do you see? I've looked into a few, and I have yet to see fundamental evil radiating from a baby's eyes. There seems to be purity, joy, brightness, splendor, sparkle, marvel, happiness--you know: good.
Before we see what the Bible says about the human condition, let me make one comment about Peter McWilliams's proof. While an infant may seem innocent to our eyes, any parent would admit that a baby is an example of the ultimate in selfishness. A baby comes into the world totally centered on his own needs and oblivious to any others.
When we look to the Bible, we get a picture radically different from that espoused by pop psychologists. Adam and Eve committed the first sin, and the human race has been born morally corrupt ever since. According to the Bible, even a seemingly innocent infant is born with a sin nature. David says in Psalm 51:5 "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me." The newborn baby already has a sin nature and begins to demonstrate that sin nature early in life. Romans 3:23 tells us that "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." We are not good as the pop psychologists teach, and we are not gods as the new age theologians teach. We are sinful and cut off from God.
Myth 2: We need more self-esteem and self-worth.
The next myth to examine is the one that claims what we really need is more self-esteem and self-worth. In the book entitled Self-Esteem, Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning state, "Self- esteem is essential for psychological survival." They believe that we need to quit judging ourselves and learn to accept ourselves as we are.
They provide a series of affirmations we need to tell ourselves in order to enhance our self-esteem. First, "I am worthwhile because I breathe and feel and am aware." Well, shouldn't that also apply to animals? And do I lose my self-esteem if I stop breathing? In a sense, this affirmation is a take off on Rene Descartes's statement, "I think, therefore I am." They seem to be saying "I am, therefore I am worthwhile."
Second they say, "I am basically all right as I am." But is that true? Is it true for Charles Manson? Don't some of us, in fact all of us, need some changing? A third affirmation is "It's all right to meet my needs as I see fit." Really? What if I meet my needs in a way that harms you? Couldn't I justify all sorts of evil in order to meet my needs?
Well, you can see the problem with pop psychology's discussion of self-esteem. Rarely is it defined, and when it is defined, it can easily lead to evil and all kinds of sin.
It should probably be as no surprise that the Bible doesn't teach anything about self-esteem. In fact, it doesn't even define the word. What about the term self-worth? Is it synonymous with self-esteem. No, there is an important distinction between the terms self-esteem and self-worth.
William James, often considered the father of American psychology, defined self-esteem as "the sum of your successes and pretensions." In other words, your self-esteem is a reflection of how you are actually performing compared to how you think you should be performing. So your self-esteem could actually fluctuate from day to day.
Self-worth, however, is different. Our worth as human beings has to do with the fact that we are created in God's image. Our worth never fluctuates because it is anchored in the fact that the Creator made us. We are spiritual as well as physical beings who have a conscience, emotions, and a will. Psalm 8 says: "You have made him [mankind] a little lower than the angels, and you have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands, you have put all things under his feet."
So the good news is that we bear God's image, but the bad news is that all of these characteristics have been tainted by sin. Our worth should not be tied up in what we do, but in who God made us to be and what He has done for us.
Myth 3: You can't love others until you love yourself.
Now I would like to look at the myth that you can't love others until you love yourself. Remember the Whitney Houston song "The Greatest Love of All?" It says, "Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all."
Peter McWilliams, author of Life 101, promotes this idea in his book Love 101 which carries the subtitle "To Love Oneself Is the Beginning of a Lifelong Romance." He asks, "Who else is more qualified to love you than you? Who else knows what you want, precisely when you want it, and is always around to supply it?" He believes that the answer to those questions is you.
He continues by saying, "If, on the other hand, you have been gradually coming to the seemingly forbidden conclusion that before we can truly love another, or allow another to properly love us, we must first learn to love ourselves--then this book is for you." Notice that he not only is saying that you cannot love others until you love yourself, but that you can't love you until you learn to love yourself.
Melody Beattie, author of CoDependent No More, believes the same thing. One of the chapters in her book is entitled, "Have a Love Affair With Yourself." Jackie Schwartz, in her book Letting Go of Stress, even suggests that you write a love letter and "tell yourself all the attributes you cherish about yourself, the things that really please, comfort, and excite you."
Does the Bible teach self-love? No, it does not. If anything, the Bible warns us against such a love affair with self. Consider Paul's admonition to Timothy: "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!" (2 Tim. 3:1-5).
The Bible discourages love of self and actually begins with the assumption we already love ourselves too much and must learn to show sacrificial love (agape love) to others. It also teaches that love is an act of the will. We can choose to love someone whether the feelings are there or not.
We read in 1 John 4, "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him." The biblical pattern is this: God loves us, and we receive God's love and are able to love others.
Myth 4: You shouldn't judge anyone.
Let's discuss the myth that you shouldn't judge anyone. No doubt you have heard people say, "You're just being judgmental" or "Who are you to judge me?" You may have even said something like this.
Many pop psychologists certainly believe that you shouldn't judge anyone. In their book entitled Self-Esteem, Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning argue that moral judgments about people are unacceptable. They write: "Hard as it sounds, you must give up moral opinions about the actions of others. Cultivate instead the attitude that they have made the best choice available, given their awareness and needs at the time. Be clear that while their behavior may not feel or be good for you, it is not bad."
So moral judgments are not allowed. You cannot judge another person's actions, even if you feel that it is wrong. McKay and Fanning go on to say why: "What does it mean that people choose the highest good? It means that you are doing the best you can at any given time. It means that people always act according to their prevailing awareness, needs, and values. Even the terrorist planting bombs to hurt the innocent is making a decision based on his or her highest good. It means you cannot blame people for what they do. Nor can you blame yourself. No matter how distorted or mistaken a person's awareness is, he or she is innocent and blameless."
As with many of these pop psychology myths, there is a kernel of truth. True we should be very careful to avoid a judgmental spirit or quickly criticize an individual's actions when we do not possess all the facts. But the Bible does allow and even encourages us to make judgments and be discerning. In fact, the Bible should be our ultimate standard of right and wrong. If the Bible says murder is wrong, it is wrong. God's objective standards as revealed in the Scriptures are our standard of behaviour.
How do we apply these standards? Very humbly. We are warned in the gospels "Judge not, that you be not judged." Jesus was warning us of a self-righteous attitude that could develop from pride and a hypocritical spirit. Jesus also admonished us to "take the plank out of [our] own eye" so that we would be able to "remove the speck from [our] brother's eye" (Matt. 7:1-5).
Finally, we should acknowledge that Jesus judged people's actions all the time, yet He never sinned. He offered moral opinions wherever He went. He said, "I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me" (John 5:30). Judging is not wrong, but we should be careful to do it humbly and from a biblical perspective.
Myth 5: All guilt is bad.
Finally, I would like to look at the myth that all guilt is bad. In his best-seller, Your Erroneous Zones, Wayne Dyer tackles what he believes are two useless emotions: guilt and worry. Now it is true that worry is probably a useless emotion, but it is another story with guilt. Let's begin by understanding why he calls guilt "the most useless of all erroneous zone behaviors."
Wayne Dyer believes that guilt originates from two sources: childhood memories and current misbehaviour. He says, "Thus you can look at all of your guilt either as reactions to leftover imposed standards in which you are still trying to please an absent authority figure, or as the result of trying to live up to self- imposed standards which you really don't buy, but for some reason pay lip service to. In either case, it is stupid, and more important, useless behavior."
He goes on to say that "guilt is not natural behavior" and that our "guilt zones" must be "exterminated, spray-cleaned and sterilized forever." So how do you exterminate your "guilt zones"? He proposed that you "do something you know is bound to result in feelings of guilt" and then fight those feelings off.
Dyer believes that guilt is "a convenient tool for manipulation" and a "futile waste of time." And while that is often true, he paints with too large of a brush. Some guilt can be helpful and productive. Some kinds of guilt can be a significant agent of change.
The Bible makes a distinction between two kinds of guilt: true guilt and false guilt. Notice in 2 Corinthians 7:10 that the Apostle Paul says, "Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death."
Worldly sorrow (often called false guilt) causes us to focus on ourselves, while godly sorrow (true guilt) leads us to focus on the person or persons we have offended. Worldly sorrow (or false guilt) causes us to focus on what we have done in the past, whereas godly sorrow (or true guilt) causes us to focus on what we can do in the present to correct what we've done. Corrective actions that come out of worldly sorrow are motivated by the desire to stop feeling bad. Actions that come out of godly sorrow are motivated by the desire to help the offended person or to please God or to promote personal growth. Finally, the results of worldly and godly sorrow differ. Worldly sorrow results in temporary change. Godly sorrow results in true change and growth.
Pop psychology books are half right. False guilt (or worldly sorrow) is not a productive emotion, but true guilt (or godly sorrow) is an emotion God can use to bring about positive change in our lives as we recognize our guilt, ask for forgiveness, and begin to change.

©2010 Probe Ministries, www.probe.org


2. Thinking Positively Verses Positive Thinking


What you need to know regarding ‘thinking positively’ and ‘positive thinking.’

1) Thinking Positively

- Basis Godly.
- Focus outward/upward.
- Reality based constructive thinking, mature self-talk/reasoning

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13, ESV).
“Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of His own accord, but only what He sees the Father doing; for whatever He does, that the Son does likewise’ ” (John 5:19, RSV).
“For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it” (Rom 7:18, RSV).
“For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Cor 1:25; RSV).
“For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose” (Phil 2:13, NIV).
“He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength” (Isa 40:29, RSV).

2) Positive Thinking

- Basis humanism.
- Focus inward/self.
- Focus human power, not God’s power.
- The basic premise is that the human mind has mysterious inherent powers that are capable of creating ones own reality, psychic power.

"I have the power within me."
"I have unlimited power."
"I can do anything I believe I can do."
"There is no challenge I cannot conquer."

“Because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen” (Rom 1:25, RSV).

I must not think negatively?

The Scriptures do not teach positive thinking or negative thinking. What the Scriptures do teach, first and foremost, is truthful thinking. The emphasis in God’s Word is not on positive or negative thinking but on developing the mind of Christ.
The phrase 'positive thinking' was originally borrowed from the founder of Unity - a spiritualistic organisation.


3. Promises

By Rod Bailey, a sabbatarian

God's word is full of His promises to you, and they can be trusted! Can they be trusted? Completely? Unequivocally? Without question? Are these promises so sure that you are able or even willing to stake your life on them?
What do we do with such broad sweeping promises such as Mark 11:24? --  "What things so ever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." Does Christ really mean what He says?
I recently had an experience with one of God's promises that really challenged me. While attending a ministry retreat in the Czech Republic last year, I lost my wallet. Credit cards, licenses, cash...It was a small thing, but extremely inconvenient.
I prayed about it, and appealed to the retreat delegates to pray for the return of the wallet, and to keep their eyes  "peeled." Many came up to me over the next couple of day's fully confident it would be returned, and shared
experiences in their own lives where God had honoured their prayers and returned lost items. We were all sure that God would answer our prayers and return my wallet.
In each break between meetings I retraced my steps wherever I had walked during the day or so before I discovered my wallet was missing. This was a challenge, for my tracks crisscrossed the creeks and gentle slopes of the
surrounding Czech forest.
After a few days I was impressed to claim a specific promise. I chose Matthew 7:7 -- "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." With my Bible in my hand, I said, "Lord, I am asking, I
am seeking. I present your promise here where you say that if I ask, you will give, and if I seek, I will find. You say that you stand behind every promise you make with your personal and faultless guarantee, and I believe you. I look
forward to the fulfilment of your promise, that your will may be done, and that you may be glorified. Lord, I believe, help my unbelief."
And many times each day I kept asking, and I kept seeking, and I kept claiming this same promise. Day after day went by, and I started to notice an interesting phenomena. At the beginning people would come to me with expectant faces and ask if I had found my wallet, and when I said "No", they would respond with expressions like, "That's OK, I am sure you will find it soon. Have you searched through your suitcase again?" Others would say, "Sometimes God allows these things to try our faith for a while before He answers..." Others said, "Maybe it's not God's will that you find it..." And I knew that they could be right, yet I kept claiming.
But as the days wore on, and the retreat was coming to a close, less and less asked me whether the wallet had been found, and those that did, when I answered again in the negative, said things in a wistful, disappointed voice like, "Oh, that's too bad." Or, "He doesn't always answer our prayers in the way we would like..."
There were but a few, a very small remnant it seemed, who retained a rock-like assurance that it would be found before we left, and only one that I can recall who had complete confidence that the Lord would answer our prayers and fulfil His promise to me, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find..."
The retreat was to finish on Sabbath evening, and I would leave for Norway at 7am the next morning. Sabbath  afternoon I decided to spend the time alone with God, praying, claiming His promise, and once again walking my now
familiar forest paths. Late in the afternoon I decided to retrace our steps of the previous Sabbath, where we had all walked to a nearby lake. Much of this distance was on a busy road, and the side of this road dropped sharply down
a bank to a ditch filled with spring rain runoff. As I walked and prayed, my eyes continually scanned up and down the steep grassy bank and the edge of the ditch. I found many surprising items, but no brown leather wallet.
I walked all the way to the lake and then turned for home. The sun was dropping low in the sky, and the temptation was to quit looking and just walk quickly back to camp, admitting that God had other plans regarding my wallet, and that although His promise was, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find...," He had another purpose in this instance.
But I was impressed to continue to scan the bank as I walked home. And about 1 km from the campsite, half way down that unmown grassy bank, my eyes were drawn to my wallet, the corner peeking out from under some thick grass...
Why do we hesitate to claim God's plainly spoken promises? Why do we dare to doubt? Why should the sons and daughters of God be reluctant to pray, (and to claim His promises), when prayer is the key in the hand of faith to
unlock heaven's storehouse where are treasured the boundless resources of Omnipotence?
Friends, what are we going to do with God's promises? Or maybe we should ask ourselves, what are we going to do with our hesitance to boldly claim them? What are we going to do about our lack of faith in them? Have we
become so sophisticated with our faith, that we have practically lost it?
"When the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?" This is the question for you and I to solemnly consider. What are we going to do with God's promises?
"Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief."


4. Regarding Suffering

When God first created this world, and its inhabitants, everything was perfect. There was no pain or suffering.
But sadly, pain and suffering, eventually came about because of Satan. Satan was originally the head of all the angels. He was next to Christ in power and authority. At some point he became jealous of God, desiring to be like Him in position, power and glory. Finally his jealousy turned into rebellion, so God had to remove him from heaven along with the angels who foolishly sided with him (Isa 14:12-14; Ezek 28:14-16; Rev 12:7-9,12).
Satan in his anger then tried to gain control of this fresh new world [our planet] that God had created. He succeeded by fooling Adam and Eve into sinning also (Gen chapter 3). Their sin then brought death and misery upon all of this earth’s inhabitants (Rom 5:12) . 
If God had immediately destroyed Satan when he rebelled, heavenly beings would have served Him through fear. God couldn’t afford to handle Satan’s rebellion in a manner that would leave doubts in the minds of others. God is love. His nature is merciful, kind, long suffering, forgiving, good, truthful, and just. He has given everyone the time needed to judge the true nature of Satan’s rebellion and its extent. God is permitting Satan’s ultimate plan to run its course. Thus when the time is right God will be able to destroy Satan, sin and suffering with the approval of the universe [other worlds He has created (Heb 1:2; Rev 12:12)]. Since Christ has not yet returned, the time has not come for Satan’s
destruction (Rev chapter 20). But when He does come, then God will be vindicated [proven right and just] once and for all before the universe. Satan has made accusations against God right from the beginning of his rebellion in heaven,
accusations that can only be answered God’s way and in His time. Unfortunately we are caught in the middle of this great controversy [battle] between good [Christ] and evil [Satan] (Eph 6:12) that is being played out.  
Now that we have seen how suffering originally came about, lets look at specific causes of suffering —
A) Some suffering comes about through foolish choices or behaviour (Gal 6:7). In other words, we often bring trouble upon ourselves. We therefore only have ourselves to blame. This kind of suffering can occur through ignoring God’s counsel. An unhealthy lifestyle, for example, can lead to physical illness.
B) Sometimes we suffer because of evil others do (Hab 1:13). God has given everyone, good or bad, freedom of choice. If God were to stop someone hurting us, it would violate their self will [freedom of choice], the same will we have, which stops us from being robots. God has never promised to alter circumstances or release us from trouble.
C) Some suffering is the result of accident or natural disasters (John 9:2,3). After all, this world is temporarily under Satan’s rule. We therefore have to expect unfairness and tragedy. While God clearly has the power to intervene, in a sense He can’t. Sin must be allowed to demonstrate what it’s really like, and where it leads, or we simply won’t take it seriously enough. If God put a special hedge around the Christian and let it be known that he would never be sick, involved in accidents, suffer loss from earthquake, or fire, would never be poor and hungry or homeless, then of course everyone would be a Christian for what they could get, and not for love to God.
D) Some suffering is caused by others irresponsibility and carelessness. Friendly fire?
E) Some suffering occurs through faithfulness to Christ (2 Tim 3:12; John 15:20; Acts 14:22). Jesus Himself suffered because of evil people. His followers have no reason to expect life to be any easier for them. We are not told to invite or provoke persecution, or to enjoy it, but we are told to expect it. All who truly follow Jesus must expect to be misunderstood and subjected to suffering of every kind.
F) Some suffering is needed (Deut 8:5; 2 Cor 7:10; Heb 12:7,8,10; Ps 119:67,71, KJV, Psalms only). Just as a parent punishes his child to keep him on the right track, so God sometimes permits hardship and sorrow to come to us in order to turn us from an evil or harmful course. Sometimes this is the only way God can achieve what’s needed. Sometimes this is the only way God can get our attention.
Though none of us like suffering it can achieve positive things —
A) It can help us to be more understanding and sympathetic to others (Matt 18:33, KJV; 2 Cor 1:4, KJV; Job 6:14, KJV; 1 Cor 12:26).
B) It can help us to trust more in God, and realize our dependence upon Him (2 Cor 12:9,10).
C) It can humble us, help remove wrongful pride.
D) It tests our faith and its genuineness (2 Tim 2:12,13). Unless our muscles encounter resistance, they will never become strong. Thus our spiritual muscles also need building up.
E) It can improve our characters (2 Cor 4:17, KJV). Without challenges to meet and obstacles to overcome we will never grow spiritually.
F) It can help us to get our priorities right, help us to realize what really is more important.
God’s Word tells us that He always attempts to bring good out of our suffering (Rom 8:28).

You may also wish to read The Job Experience which is article 13.



5. Why The Back Door Swings


Though feeling a burden for the young, I can't help feeling at times that there is a disproportionate focus on young folk, hence my putting pen to paper, so to speak, in an effort to provide a little food for thought, and in an effort to also provide some balance, given that so many churches have been bending over backwards in order to get young folk back into the church, given that so many have opted out of church.
Young folk aren't the only ones who can struggle spiritually, nor are they the only ones who're spiritually new to the scene, or spiritually wet behind the ears, given that many folk don't find Christ until well advanced in years, or aren't born again until well advanced in years, and hence why their children are often not well grounded in the spiritual and usually very worldly -- like their parents, undoubtedly.
However, in order to get young folk back into the church, or to prevent them from leaving, many churches have lost the plot biblically, compromised terribly, and as a consequence, have become nothing more than entertainment centres and social clubs, with a biblically forbidden holy and unholy mix -- all froth and little substance.
Not only do I believe that churches have got things terribly wrong in this regard, but that they have failed to see what is really causing that drift out the back door.
Thus, I'd like to mention three reasons why I believe young folk, (indeed older folk), are leaving their church:
1) A lack of unconditional love.
2) A lack of security.
3) A lack of inclusiveness.
Ask yourself how many churches, (church members), really radiate Christ-like love? And who isn't quick to spot such? All of us! How many young folk, (indeed anyone), are going to be attracted to a church that doesn't radiate Christ-like love, warmth, care, and acceptance?
How many young folk are going to want to remain where they are not encouraged to take part and be a part? I'm not talking about them taking over the church, as such would hardly be wise. After all, there needs to be very wise and experienced heads piloting each ship, but young folk must play an integral part.
And lastly, why would young folk wish to remain where the church is always shifting the goal posts, questioning or disputing much in God's Word, and where there's no clear boundaries, no clear instruction, no church discipline, no clear doctrinal beliefs, but rather, where one is just encouraged to accept Christ as their personal Saviour, and that's about it?
And let's not forget the hypocrisy, scraping, and ladder climbing that goes on. Oh, and that nasty grapevine. Hardly a turn on. Unfortunately, many folk don't have a sound enough walk to rise above such, nor to deal with such, more so if new to the faith, or very young.
Let me put it another way in order to make it clearer what I'm getting at.
What young person feels safe and wants to remain in a family home where there is blatant hypocrisy, constant scraping, selfishness, and where they're not loved unconditionally, where there are no clear boundaries, where there's little discipline, no clear direction, no real connection, and no solid or sound foundation?
And therein lies the problem, I believe. Forget the drum-kits, the rock guitars, the drama, the cafe churches, and so on. Not only does this latter lot shift things further away from the Word, the apostolic model, and blurs the church's witness, but such also has young folk feeling that there's little difference between the world and the church, and as a consequence, heading back to where the razzle dazzle is even brighter, given that the world knows even better how to entertain. Who wants so-called Christian jazz or rock when they can have the real thing?
Surely all this compromised pandering to the young, (or whoever), shows a lack of faith in the power of the Word, the ability of the Spirit, and declares our spiritual bankruptness. Isn't ancient Israel's foolish behaviour enough of an example for us, with their embracing of worldly (pagan) ways, their holy and unholy mix, their turning away from truth? And what about the Golden Calf? Now there's a classic case of people pleasing for you. How many more examples do we need?
We must also remember that despite the best laid plans, despite doing all the right things, the world, (or sin), will always get the better of most, for such has always been the way. Look at how many entered the ark in Noah's day? Likewise, it always has been, and will be, a minority heading through church doors, and it'll be a minority heading through Heaven's gates come Christ's soon return.  Hence why it's quality we need to focus on, not numbers.
God has never been impressed with the lukewarm brigade, those who're people pleasers, those who have a foot in both camps, nor those who don't like rocking the boat. And errant leaders figure even higher on His wrath list, given their sway and godly duty.
In summary:
If you don't want to see young folk leaving the church:
a) Love them unconditionally.  Make them feel wanted, and that they've much to contribute. Include them. Relate to them. Show you care. Be there!
b) Give them clear boundaries -- tell them from Scripture what they should and shouldn't be doing, and loud and clear.
c) Exercise loving discipline in the same way as a parent should wisely rebuke and chastise their child. Remember, it's all about how one goes about it, never about discarding such. Any parent who fails to do so soon loses their child's respect and ensures a rebellious path that brings shame and pain upon all.
d) Don't dismantle nor manipulate God's Word in order to please. God is the God of truth, and His Word makes it clear that His truths are to be upheld at all times. A church without clear doctrines and standards is a rudderless ship, a social club, nothing more than a bunch of happy clappy members on the same wide path as the unsaved.
e) Don't reduce worship to anything that resembles the opposite to what it's all about, nor create a wrongful and confusing mixture. Heaven invites change, not worldly imitation. When we walk through the doors of a church, or enter into worship, the difference between the heavenly and the worldly should shout. And underneath, deep down inside, perhaps something in all of us senses that, knows that, albeit unconsciously. They say that opposites attract, and no where should there be a stronger difference than between that which is heavenly and that which is worldly. That difference between the two, and that God intended so, is clearly conveyed and apparent in the struggle that many have to leave the world behind. We can't have it both ways.

The following article is well worth pondering on:

Compromised Youth Ministries Now Admit Failure.

Sugarcoated, MTV-style youth ministry is over, Time magazine reported. The current trend that is packing teens in pews -- Bible based worship.
Youth ministers have tried to engage teens in the church with a message wrapped in pop-culture packaging to initially attract the young crowd. The approach has successfully drawn a large number of youth to the pews. But it has failed to keep them there.
Research groups have tracked a dropping percentage of young adults still participating in church activities or attending church at all since their teenage years. A Barna survey showed 61 percent of people in the 20-29 age group had participated in church activities as teens but are now disengaged...
The sugarcoated Christianity that was popular in the past few decades was found to be causing growing numbers of kids to turn away from youth-fellowship activities and the Christian faith altogether, according to Time...
One surprising finding that Fuller Seminary's Center for Youth and Family Ministry revealed in an ongoing study was that teens attend youth group because they like their youth pastor and to learn about God. Those reasons were listed by the majority of the surveyed students. The Barna Group found the top reasons listed among teens for attending church was to "understand better what I believe."
Students also said they wanted to have more time for deep conversation and also desired more accountability in their youth groups. Games or other activities were not a desired priority.
Time reported churches now focusing on Scripture and less on entertainment are actually growing.
Over the past few decades churches by the thousands have caved in to the pressure of the culture. They compromised their values and capitulated to "what the kids want." What they wanted was entertainment, a good time, fun and games, rock music, no work, no demands and certainly no standards. Now they are forced to "fess up" to their failure. The churches went along, and so did the kids (for a while).
Then when the kids headed to college they had no spiritual foundation to sustain them; so church was abandoned to whatever was next on their list of things to do.
Kids need to get a steady diet of Bible teaching and strong preaching with an emphasis on Scripture, salvation, sanctification, separation, standards, soul winning and the surrendered life!
Churches need to let young people be young people (there is time and room for fun and games too), but they are the followers, not the leaders. Let the seasoned adult leaders lead with a scriptural agenda and let the kids follow their example.
Our churches should have great youth ministries that are solidly based. What folks want and what they need are often two different things. You and I need to step up and lead. If we do, I'm confident the young people will come along.
One thing is certain (now certified by this research): the entertainment, give 'em-what-they-want youth ministries are woefully deficient, tragic failures.

I'm unsure of the source of this first article, and author, but I think it may have originated from Christian Witness Ministries (who were drawing from Time magazine, Christianpost.com, and Sword of the Lord). Penned 2006?


6. Similarities And Parallels

Fathers: A reflection on the earthly and divine.

A father lovingly attends to and caters for his family’s needs, is always there for them, provides protection, and his love for his family should be such that he would even be prepared to die for his family.

Christ lovingly attends to and caters for our needs, provides us with the Holy Spirit’s presence, dispatches angels to assist and protect, and He also came and died on our behalf that we might be saved.

A father is responsible for setting boundaries, laying down requirements, and is responsible for the overall smooth running of the home, both generally and spiritually. Such boundaries and requirements show his loving concern for his family, their safety, and their general and eternal well-being. Such boundaries and requirements (when upheld) also prevent shame coming upon the family and siblings being influenced wrongly.

Christ also sets boundaries, provides us with a book (the Bible) and a Law (the Ten Commandments) that show His requirements, and He also presides over God-fearing homes and the Church as its Head. Such boundaries and requirements show Christ’s loving concern for His children, their safety, and their general and eternal well-being. Such boundaries and requirements (when upheld) also prevent His children from bearing a false witness as His ambassadors and becoming stumbling blocks.

A father instructs his children, imparts wisdom, shows his children where they’re erring, warns, and attempts to spare them from paths of harm.

Christ via His Word also instructs, imparts wisdom, corrects, warns, and attempts to spare His children from paths of harm.

A father exercises grace, and he also acts somewhat like a lawyer in his home in the sense that he officiates in family or sibling disputes and mediates on behalf of any member who’s in need or in trouble.

Christ displays His grace in various ways, acts providentially in our best interests, and He also acts like a lawyer as He mediates on our behalf before the Father in order to save us from the penalty of sin.

A father acts somewhat like a judge in his home in the sense that he ultimately must pronounce and administer any punishment that rebelliousness necessitates. Such is doubly needful given that such rebelliousness also threatens the stability of the home.

The Scriptures tell us that Christ will one day judge mankind and dispense Divine justice upon those who’ve usurped His authority, rejected Him, ignored His will, and led others astray. Such sinners as these would threaten the stability of Heaven and the earth made new.

A father reveals masculine traits and behaviour that are necessary for the healthy emotional growth of his sons, for the honour of his wife and daughters, and for dealing with those duties that are unsuitable for females (and that would detract from their femininity).

The Bible is full of the masculine/male imagery of God the Father and Christ the Son continued via the apostolic appointment of men as elders/pastors, and the man’s headship role within marriage and the home, as laid down in Scripture. Christ was clearly concerned for the welfare of women, and Scripture admonishes husbands to show due care for their wives.

A man leaves his parents and cleaves to his wife displaying the initiative that’s part of the husband’s role as head, protector, provider, and selfless lover.

Christ left His Father and became the Bridegroom of the Church — the bride — whom He watches over (heads), protects, provides for, and unselfishly loves.

7. Truth — God's Word


We often hear Christians talking about truth – God’s truth, or truths. That little ‘s’ that is often found on the end of truth is not insignificant. You see, there may be one gospel in the sense of God’s gift of grace – in other words, salvation – but there are many biblical truths. How do we know what these truths are? Well, such can only be discovered via the diligent study of God’s Word, aided via the Holy Spirit (that guides one to truth, John 16:13; 1 John 5:6), and a receptive heart and mind.

Dare it be that we spend more time or intensity perusing consumer magazines than we do the Scriptures. Aren’t eternal realities worth greater effort than that which we put into choosing a house, a job, or an appliance?

Now, I’m not going to discuss the subject regarding the ordaining of women as elders or pastors (for example) but if we haven’t studied such a subject deeply how can we know whether it actually is okay to ordain women as elders or pastors? We could end up following humanistic reasoning rather than God’s will.

As Christians we not only have a duty to uphold God’s truths (1 Peter 1:22) but also a responsibility to make sure we get them right. Such we should never take casually (Titus 2:1; 2 Tim 2:15; 1:13; Prov 12:17; Rom 1:18; 2 Peter 3:16). We’re even told that the Church is the pillar and ground of truth (1 Tim 3:15).

How can we instruct others regarding God’s truths if we don’t have them correct ourselves (Heb 5:11-14; Eph 4:14; 2 Peter 3:16; 2 Tim 3:7)?  In fact, we’re admonished to search the Scriptures diligently in order to see that we’re not misled (Acts 17:11; 1 Thess 5:21; Eph 4:14), and in order to not mislead others. Imagine preaching a false message!

In Galatians 1:9 we see a rebuke being levelled at any whose teachings are at variance with God’s Word. Clearly we’re not to trifle with God’s Word (Prov 19:5). In fact, getting God’s Word right is a prerequisite for leadership (Titus 1:9). After all, a leader’s sphere of influence is far greater. Sometimes leaders are too afraid to take a stand and yield to the whims of their parishioners. Instead of leading they’re effectively led, bringing about not only their own eternal loss but perhaps that of their parishioners as well. Leaders are to preach what God wants heard, not what some prefer to hear (2 Tim 2:15; 1:13; Titus 1:9; 2:1).

We shouldn’t refrain from warning folk about God’s impending judgment (for example) just because some parents have wrongly used such to scare their children into His kingdom? And if God’s Word says not to ordain women as elders or pastors, shouldn’t we still be preaching such even if many women have been downtrodden by domineering men (Gal 1:10; 2 Tim 4:2)? If we don’t continue to preach such we’ll simply be pleasing people rather than God --  something that the Scriptures strongly condemn (Gal 1:10).

Do we bend over backwards to avoid doctrinal discussions with those who hold a differing view? Are we too nervous, concerned about our own discomfort, backlash (Mark 8:38)? The biblical challenge is not to avoid truth that is controversial but to speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15). We’re called to be bold for Christ. In fact, we have a moral imperative to expose and condemn false teaching and practice (Rom 16:17,18; Matt 24:24; 1 John 4:1; 1 Tim 4:1; Isa 62:6, KJV; Ezek 3:17-19). God’s Word says blessed are the peacemakers, not the peacekeepers.

Surely we wouldn’t dream of leading our loved ones astray -- our children. Well, God feels the same way about His children and that’s why us getting His Word correct is so important to Him. God is a God of truth remember (Deut 32:4; John 14:6; Isa 65:16; Ps 31:5).

As the representatives of God’s oracles, as once were the Jews, we will lose our credibility in our doctrinal witness if we get things wrong, and throw doubt on God’s Word. When we do not have the correct understanding of Scripture we can put ourselves and others at risk. Imagine getting to heaven and discovering that we had been distorting God’s truths, teaching falsehood instead, and to add insult to injury, accusing those who were right of being wrong. Wow!

I guess you’ve heard the argument, “Let’s forget our doctrinal differences in the interests of Christian love”? Well, that’s not how God sees it, believe me. Though the Scriptures command us to love they also command us to abide by the truth. Yes, the Scriptures constantly bind love and truth together (1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 2:5; 3 John 3:4; John 17:7). Truth is tremendously important to God. Exchanging truth for the sake of some sort of unity is certainly not biblical. Nor is the, “God says, but I think,” mentality (Prov 3:5, KJV; 2 Tim 4:3,4). A passion for truth should activate every Christian (2 Thess 2:10). After all, we’re the representatives of the God of truth, and it’s His truth that sets us free (John 8:32).

Yes, the neglect and disregard of Scripture is one of the greatest insults that we can give to its divine author.
God is very particular about people getting His Word right. Through His Word He clearly —

A) Condemns all who deliberately misinterpret or cover up His Word (Rom 1:18; Gal 1:8,9).
B) Warns Christians not to get His Word wrong through carelessness, lack of study or through being biased (2 Peter 3:16; Hosea 4:6; Heb 5:11-14) .
C) Warns about being unwilling to receive things He’s trying to say through His Word (2 Thess 2:12, KJV), or through someone else for that matter.
D) Warns about being led astray by wrong doctrine (Eph 4:14; 1 Tim 4:1; 2 Thess 2:9-11) and those who teach it (Matt 24:23,24; 5:19; 7:22,23; Isa 5:20, this text only KJV; Col 2:8; 2 Cor 11:14,15; Rev 16:13,14; 1 John 4:1; Jer 23:1).

Satan, right from the beginning (John 8:44; Eph 6:10-12), has tried to misrepresent Christ and His Word, and is still actively doing that today. He achieves this in different ways. For example —

A) Through people who wrongly mix humanistic thinking [man’s word] with Scripture, confusing God’s messages (Col 2:8; Matt 15:3,9; Prov 14:12; 30:5,6; 1 Tim 6:20; Mark 7:9).
B) Through people who pick holes [faults] in the Bible thus creating doubt about God’s Word (1 Cor 2:10,13; 1 Thess 2:13; Prov 30:5,6; Isa 40:8; 2 Tim 4:3,4).
C) Through people who are careless with God’s Word, or who don’t study it properly, thus only getting half the story right (2 Tim 3:7; 2 Peter 3:16; Heb 5:11-14).
D) Through people who will accept what someone else says rather than checking it out thoroughly to see if it is right (Acts 17:11; Eph 4:14; Heb 5:11-14).
E) Through people who wrongly think that it doesn’t matter if you don’t know God’s Word that well, or correctly, just so long as you believe in Him and accept Him. However, God has made it very clear in His Word, that knowing His Word well, and correctly, is of the utmost importance (Acts 17:11; 1 Thess 5:21; 1 John 4:1; Isa 8:20, this text only KJV). This is why God will not and can not accept people putting doctrine aside for the sake of some sort of unity among different believers (Gal 1:10).

Remember:

A) God’s Word gives us information that can save us from eternal death. 
B) God’s Word gives us information that can help us to be happier, healthier and wiser.
C) God’s Word gives us information that helps us to come to know Him better.
D) God’s Word gives us information that helps us to know what He requires of us.
E) God’s Word gives us information that provides us with hope for the future.
F) God’s Word gives us information that provides us with the answers to life itself.
G) God’s Word gives us information that we can use to help others come to know Him, and His will, so that they too can be saved and live happier, healthier and wiser.

Food for thought:

Has Satan been denigrating the holiness of God’s Word, the Bible, by encouraging folk to treat it like a common book. Surely the physical Bible itself should always be treated and presented in a way that never detracts from its dignity, the importance of its contents, the solemnity of its message, or in a way that trivializes it and lessens respect for it. Is not this occurring by dressing it up in jazzy secular book fashion, bright, gourde colours, putting out paper back editions, filling it with cartoon pictures, cheap illustrations, and common modern banter, all in a misguided and erroneous attempt to make it cool or so called relevant [another form of compromise?] to the younger generation, as if God’s word is not relevant enough as it is. Isn’t such behaviour showing a lack of faith in the Holy Spirit?

Do we always place our Bibles on top of other books, showing how we esteem it, and thus God, or is it often found covered, or even tatty through misuse, like something someone doesn’t really value?



8. God, War, And Violence

Am unaware of who the author or authors are.

Some refrain from becoming Christians because they cannot accept the idea of an Old Testament God who orders killing and extermination. However, the Old Testament is often misread and misunderstood. In assessing the Old Testament God, we should look again at the picture the Old Testament provides. The first violent act recorded in the Bible is Cain’s murder of his brother (Gen 4:1-8). However, before his destructive act, God spoke with Cain, trying to bring him to his senses (Gen 4:6,7). Without success. The Creator disapproved of Cain’s action and made clear to him that he would have to bear its consequences (Gen 4:10-12). God took a risk in modelling us in His image and giving us freedom to act and decide (Gen 1:26,27). But, of course, we must face the consequences of our actions (Gen 3:17-24). The Bible records only a few occasions where God decided to interfere with humanity’s violent behaviour. One occasion was during the time of Noah, when violence was so great on the earth that it threatened the existence of life.
God intervened and wiped out an entire generation with the flood. The situation was bad. Whereas God had created everything “good,” (Gen 1:31) people were doing exactly the opposite of what they had been designed to do (Gen 6:5,6). The Bible writer records that instead of continuing the process of creation in a positive way, people were thinking and doing evil constantly. The earth was full of violence (Gen 6:13). And this threatened the existence of the human race, the animals, and all of nature. Life is precious to the Creator. There was only one option for Him—to act as a surgeon in cutting away. Thus, God saved humanity and the animal world.
On another occasion God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19). Once again, human evil had reached its peak (Gen 18:28; 19:6,7,9,13). And the evil of these cities threatened the people surrounding them. But God did not act in a blind, choleric way. The recorded dialogue between God and Abraham, who lived near the cities, reveals that God had thoroughly and responsibly investigated the case (Gen 18:16-33). And He saved all He could from destruction. As with the people in Noah’s time, the residents of these cities would have destroyed themselves in time. But at least God was able to intervene first and save the destruction of others.
To a great degree, people’s fate lies in their own hands. This is demonstrated in the case of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria. If any people deserved to be wiped out in the ancient Near East, it was the Assyrians (Jonah 1:2). It was the most violent nation of the time. It had strongly established its reputation by committing atrocities on its numerous defeated enemies. However, God cancelled His verdict of extermination on the city because it genuinely reversed its conduct.
Nineveh stopped its violence. And the Ruler of the universe responded. Nineveh was not annihilated (Jonah 3:7-10). This incident demonstrates God’s character. The Old Testament God only carried out a definite sentence when there was no sign of reversal, and when the existence of others and their environment was at stake.
But what about God ordering the Israelite wars? How can all that killing be justified? In trying to answer these questions, each situation needs to be looked at to avoid generalization and exaggeration. From the time God liberated Israel from slavery in Egypt, He wanted it to become a model nation (Ex 19:5,6). Obviously, if He was going to give the Hebrews independence, He would also have to give them a home and country. In the setting of the ancient Near East, where warfare was the order of the day, it was impossible for God to require Israel to be pacifist. The struggle for survival was conducted with a spade in one hand and a weapon in the other. God assigned to Israel an area populated by the Amorites. The Bible records that these people had a contempt for human life—as reflected in their human sacrifices (Deut 9:4; 12:29-31; Gen 15:16). It would have been impossible for Israel to co-exist with them. Israel learned that the inevitable result of wickedness is death. And Israel had to learn to perform like a student surgeon, by cutting out evil where it had proved irreversible.
It was not easy to educate Israel as a model people. It was composted of slaves, adventurers, Egyptians and other nationalities (Ex 12:38; Num 11:4). This complex group of people operated at low levels of ethics, hygiene and human relationships. God’s plan to make them a model nation, a “holy” people,” a “royal priesthood,” was ambitious. God gave Israel commandments and prescriptions—not to enslave them again, but to lift them to a higher level of human existence. They included laws to regulate warfare. And against the background of the ancient Near East, they stand out as humane and idealistic. For example, when going to war, those who had marriage plans, or who had just bought a house or a field and had not yet enjoyed the benefits of it, were allowed to remain home. Further, all who feared to face the enemy were also allowed to remain home (Deut 20:1-9). Who today would dare to run an army on those terms? Yet the God of Israel did. And it shows how deeply He appreciates human life. Only those who were committed and had already benefited from the joy and value of life were invited to risk their lives.
But even more startling, these Mosaic warfare laws required a liberal and humane attitude toward the enemy (Deut 20:10-15). For example, when marching to war, the Israelites had to offer peace to the enemy, with the guarantee of no bloodshed. If the offer was refused, only males were to be killed in battle. Women and children, who represented the future of their people, had to be kept alive. At all cost, life had to be safeguarded. Soldiers were even forbidden to cut the enemy’s fruit trees (Deut 20:19,20). Later generations had to be able to eat and live.
Israelite men also had to show respect to female captives. Raping or any violent treatment was forbidden. If an Israelite was attracted by a conquered woman, he had to allow her a month to mourn before marrying her. She then had to be treated as his wife with full Israelite rights (Deut 21:10-14).
A God who orders such war ethics in a period when hardly any existed cannot be called a God of violence. Of course, not all Israelites applied the rules strictly. Even King David was at times cruel (2 Sam 8:2,4). But the Old Testament pronounces its verdict on him. God refused to let him build the temple—the thing he most desired to do—because he had shed too much blood (1 Chron 22:7,8).
Finally, there is an extra dimension in the Old Testament history that should not be overlooked. On several occasions, military conflicts were solved by a conscious choice of non-violence. For example, the Israelite prophet Elijah confronted the Arameans who were attacking Israel. The Bible records that he was given power to temporarily blind them. He then brought them to Samaria, the capital, and handed them over to the Israelite king. The king asked Elijah if he should annihilate them. But Elijah prohibited him from doing them any harm, and instead ordered the king to offer them a meal. This action would have done Gandhi or Martin Luther King proud. And it must have impressed the Arameans. They did not raid Israel again (2 Kings 6:15-23). In such instances, when conflict was solved non-violently, God was showing to His people that He does not like bloodshed.
The prophet Isaiah expresses God’s ideal well. He pictures the world to come where nations will express their desire to be with God and to be taught by Him (Isa 2:4-6). In his vision, Isaiah sees these people beating their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Thus, God considers life to be sacred and valuable. In Old Testament times He allowed violence only when there was no other solution, and when the life of others was at risk. God hoped to lift Israel to a higher, more humane level of morality, and to thereby influence the other nations.

9. The Church Is A Charter Boat

By Skip Johnson — SkipJohnson777@gmail.com


The church is a charter boat. She is built for the sea--for the wave slap, the salt brine and the chase. In dock she rests, rusts, and rots. She tugs at her moorings, longing for the open skies and the deep.

The church is a charter boat. She is heaven's hunter, the sea's lady, and her Captain's lover. She dreams of the flash of heavy silver at forty fathoms--and fishermen shouting for joy thirty miles from land, dancing knee-deep in albacore
on her decks. She aches for arched poles at her rails, the singing line tugging on every side, and the sea bird's eager cry as the catch is cleaned on the homeward trip.

The church is a charter boat. God is her maker and owner. The patriarchs laid her keel. The prophets set her spars. The apostles hammered her hull and decking. The Spirit christened her at Pentecost. Her anchor is faith. Her engine is truth. Her Captain is Jesus, high on heaven's bridge--steering her course for the choice catch in every age.

The church is a charter boat. The Bible is her locker stocked with nets, poles, lines, hooks, weights, and lures for every need. The bait well stands mid-deck teeming with lively big-eyed squid and blunt-nosed anchovies that melt on the hook. Inside the cabin fishermen crouch, relaxed yet ready. They warm fingers around steaming mugs. A father stoops to lace his son's shoe while the others speak in low tones of fishing past and soon to come. Only the seasick sleep when there are poles to rig and fish to catch. (Is your line in the water?)

The church is a charter boat. The pastor is the bait boy. He takes orders from the Captain and works for everybody. He rigs poles, replaces lost tackle, and encourages the beginners. He clubs the occasional shark, cuts the greedy seabird free from the line, and unhooks bug-eyed bottom fish for the squeamish. He gives bait or advice, gaffs the big ones to the deck, and announces when it is time to reel up or let down the lines. His duty is the fisherman's need. His pleasure is the fisherman's catch. His reward is the fisherman's delight at their heavy sacks of fish, and the big one hanging by his tail at the wharf.

The church is a charter boat. She longs for grey dawns edged with the promise of rose. She yearns for the brilliant blue blaze of deep noon. She trembles for storm-torn peaks of foam and dizzy green chasms of brine. There is life in her.
It strains at the rope as the worms bore holes in her belly and the barnacles weigh her down.

The church is a charter boat. Her passion, the sea. Her purpose, the chase. Her passenger, the fisherman. (Is your line in the water?)


10. Baptism


Baptism is an important Christian ceremony that Christ, who was also baptized (Matt 3:13), desires of the Christian (John 3:5, KJV; Mark 10:39). In fact, Christ actually warns against rejecting baptism (John 3:5; KJV; Luke 7:30).

Baptism is a public testimony [witness] of a persons desire and commitment to follow Christ. Baptism is an outward sign of an inward change. It announces to others what has happened. Baptism does not save a person. It is simply the outward sign [symbol] of the death of the old life and the beginning of the new. Before a person is baptized, three things must take place —

1) The person must understand (Matt 28:19,20; Acts 2:41; 8:35) — therefore has to be taught.
2) The person must believe (Mark 16:16; Rom 10:9) — therefore has to exercise faith [trust].
3) The person must repent (Acts 2:38; 19:18) — therefore has to acknowledge and be genuinely sorry for their sin; turn away from sinning. Thus the new direction must have already begun before baptism takes place.

These three things clearly show that —

A) Infants cannot therefore be baptized.
B) People cannot be baptized on behalf of another.
C) People cannot be baptized on behalf of the dead. Note: Some mistakenly think that 1 Cor 15:29 is saying that you can be baptized on behalf of the dead. However, what 1 Cor 15:29 is really referring to is, a pagan custom of ritual washings [baptism] for their dead — something meaningless to Christians.

Baptism has two aspects — a physical aspect and a spiritual aspect.

Firstly, let’s look at the physical aspect:
Baptismos — a Greek word meaning, to immerse (John 3:23; Acts 8:36,37; Matt 3:5,6).
When people are baptized, according to the biblical pattern, they are fully immersed in water. The pastor supports the back of the person being baptized. He then leans them backwards until they are completely covered by the water and then immediately raises them to their original standing position. As he does this he says “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt 28:19).
People can be baptized in a river, lake, the sea or a font. A font, which is like a mini swimming pool, is situated at the front of a church, where it is architecturally concealed until required. Such fonts can be heated, and are free of the problems that can be associated with outdoor baptisms [e.g, coldness, sunburn, distractions].

Now let’s look at the spiritual aspect:
Baptism commemorates the death, burial and resurrection of Christ (Rom 6:3,4; Col 2:12).
If a person is not fully immersed in water the baptism ceremony will not convey the important symbolism associated with it.
As Christ died for sin [was crucified], the Christian must die to sins; as Christ, having died, was buried, so the Christian is symbolically buried with Him in the watery grave of baptism; and as Christ was raised [resurrected] from the grave, so the Christian is raised to newness of spiritual life.
In other words, going under the water symbolizes the crucifixion [death] and burial of the old life [death to sin, the washing away of sins] (Acts 22:16; Rev 1:5).
Coming back up out of the water [resurrected] symbolizes our purpose to walk [habitually] a new [better, different] life in Christ [through His empowering]. It symbolizes that a person has entered into a personal relationship with Christ and that they are committed to living out the principles of His kingdom in their life.


11. Speaking In Tongues


Just what is speaking in tongues? God’s Word makes it very clear. In Acts 2:1-11, we read of the disciples speaking to a group of people. Within this group, there were those who came from different regions or countries and who spoke different languages. As the disciples spoke, everyone present understood what they were saying, even though the disciples didn’t know any other language but their own [Aramaic]. This of course, was a miracle of God. As a result thousands were converted. This gift of speaking in tongues, bestowed upon them by the Holy Spirit, was given to the disciples for the special purpose of carrying the gospel message far and wide, in other words, to the world.
This gift of speaking in tongues was only for the benefit of non-believers [non-Christians] (1 Cor 14:22). Not only would non-believers hear the gospel message in their own language and therefore have the opportunity to accept it and be saved, but experiencing such a phenomena would also help to convince them of its divine origin. This gift was given not just to Christ’s disciples, but to any that the Holy Spirit chose to bestow it upon, for the conveying of God’s Word. It was bestowed upon Gentiles, thus convincing skeptical Jews.
Sadly, there are those within the Christian community, who think that speaking in tongues, is, or can also be, a special mysterious language that only God can understand. Something special between them and God. As a result, we see and hear people uttering meaningless incoherent sounds, which makes a mockery of Christianity in the eyes of the world. Paul, the apostle, experienced such behaviour in the Corinthian church. The Corinthian church was the problem church of his day. The members of this church seemed to consider themselves a head of everyone else, when in fact they were way off track. They even challenged Paul himself. Paul condemned many of their practices (1 Cor 14:36), including their wrong ideas, and seeming obsession, regarding speaking in tongues (1 Cor 14:6,9,19; 1 Cor 14:20, LB). Interestingly, Paul judged tongues as being the least important of the Holy Spirit’s gifts (1 Cor 12:28). The book of Acts records how many were converted without the gift of tongues even occurring (Acts 2:37-41; 4:4,31; 17:4, 11:34), and 1 Corinthians chapter 12 makes it clear that not everyone receives the same gifts of the Spirit anyway. We must not confuse the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38) with the gifts that the Holy Spirit gives to whom He chooses (1 Cor 12:11). 
If the disciples had used mystical, incoherent voices, like the Corinthians, they would have communicated nothing. In fact, those hearing them might have thought they were inventing tongues [languages] of their own to deceive people.
When God’s Word talks about the disciples speaking in new tongues, like it does in Mark 16:17, it is referring to the fact that they would experience speaking in languages unknown [new] to them, but languages that were already in
existence. During their previous ministry they had not been given the gift of speaking in tongues because it was not needed. When the need finally came, the gift of speaking in tongues was then given to them.
God intended that the disciples communicate an intelligent message that would be properly understood.
God always speaks to us clearly and distinctly. He respects the human mind. He wants us to understand what He is saying. God is a God of order, not confusion. He desires us to communicate with Him and others in the same intelligible way.
When Paul the apostle talks of “various kinds of tongues” in 1 Cor 12:28, NASB, he is referring to known languages. He could hardly say “various kinds of tongues” if all that was involved was some emotional utterance poured out in meaningless incoherent sounds where “kinds” would be extremely hard to identify. Unintelligible utterances have always been the hallmark of pagan religions [heathenism] (Isa 8:19). God does not imitate the devil’s methods, nor does He want us to.
1 Cor 14:21, NASB, talks about God speaking to His people [the Jewish nation] via other people of “strange tongues.” God had spoken to His people in their own tongues, [language] through His prophets, but they had not listened. So He allowed them to be oppressed by their enemies who spoke different [strange] languages [tongues], which they would now have to put up with. Thus their being spoken to, via other people, was God’s judgment upon them.

Here’s how we tell the difference between genuine tongues and false tongues —

Genuine tongues:
The genuine builds others up spiritually (1 Cor 14:12,13,19).
The genuine addresses people (1 Cor 14:6,22).
The genuine is a non-ecstatic state, the conscious mind functions normally (1 Cor 14:9).
The genuine is understood by others (1 Cor 14:6,22,23).

False tongues:
The false attempts to build up the one who is speaking (1 Cor 14:4).
The false addresses God (1 Cor 14:2).
The false is an ecstatic [rapturous] state, the conscious mind is dormant [inactive, in a sleep like state] (1 Cor 14:2).
The false is not understood by others (1 Cor 14:2,9).


12. The Importance Of The Book Of Genesis

By Henry M. Morris

How important is it?

If people reject the first eleven chapters of the book of Genesis, logically they will have to reject the rest of the Bible
because all major doctrines of theology have their foundation in those first eleven chapters (1 Cor 15:16-22; Rom 5:12; 8:19-22). Paul connects the events of Genesis concerning Adam [the first man] to the events of Jesus Christ [the second Adam]. Obviously if Genesis, Adam and the fall are not literally true, then one does not have to take the events of the second Adam and His resurrection literally either. This would mean that there was no salvation. Why would God have to die? A good world, which was marred by Adam’s sin, is groaning under the curse, and will one day be restored to a sinless, deathless paradise. This creation/fall/redemption framework is woven intimately throughout the fabric of both the Old and New Testaments. The very reason for the cross is built upon the fall. By the first Adam came death, by the second comes resurrection from the dead, and freedom from the law of sin and death (Rom 5:12; 1 Cor 15:21,22). The book of Genesis is the foundation of all true history, true science and true philosophy. It is the foundation of God’s revelation, as given in the Bible. No other book of the Bible is quoted as copiously or referred to so frequently, in other books of the Bible, as is Genesis. In the Old Testament Adam is mentioned by name in the books of Deuteronomy, Job and 1 Chronicles and Noah is mentioned in 1 Chronicles, Isaiah and Ezekiel. Abraham is mentioned by name in 15 books of the Old Testament and 11 in the New. Jacob is mentioned in 21 books (other than Genesis) of the Old Testament and in at least 17 of the New Testament. Every mention of the people or nation of Israel is an implicit acknowledgment of the foundational authority of Genesis. Apart from the book of Genesis, there is no explanation for Israel, nor consequently for all the rest of the Old Testament. The New Testament is, if anything, even more dependant on Genesis than the Old. There are at least 165 passages in Genesis that are either directly quoted or clearly referred to in the New Testament. Many of these are alluded to more than once, so that there are at lest two hundred quotations or allusions to Genesis in the New Testament. It is significant that the portion of Genesis which has been the object of the greatest attacks of skepticism and unbelief, the first eleven chapters, is the portion which had the greatest influence on the New Testament. There exist over 100 quotations or direct references to Genesis 1-11 in the New Testament. Every one of these 11 chapters is alluded to somewhere in the New Testament and every one of the New Testament authors refers somewhere in his writings to Genesis 1-11. On at least 6 different occasions, Jesus Christ himself quoted from or referred to something or someone in one of these chapters, including specific reference to each of the first 7 chapters. Furthermore, in not one of these many instances where the Old or New Testament refers to Genesis is there the slightest evidence that the writers regarded the events or personages as mere myths or allegories. To the contrary, they viewed Genesis as absolutely historical, true and authoritative. It is quite impossible, therefore, for one to reject the historicity and divine authority of the book of Genesis without undermining and in effect, repudiating, the authority of the entire Bible.


13. The Job Experience

By Morris Venden

"One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them” (Job 1: 6). What was he doing there? Well, Adam had sold out to Satan, so Satan now claimed this world as his kingdom. Satan was there in the counsel of heaven, representing this world. “The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it’ ” (Job 1:7, note also 1 Peter 5:8, KJV). In other words, I’m in charge down here. The people are following me. We’re paraphrasing now, you understand. God said, “You think you’re in charge? Wait a minute! Have you considered my servant Job?” What was Satan’s response? He said, “Job? Ha! It looks like the reason Job serves you is for what he gets out of you. It’s obvious. Look at how you’ve blessed him—sheep, cattle, wealth, and sons and daughters. Job doesn’t care about you. He’s after the blessings. If you were to take away the blessings, he would curse you to your face.” So the book of Job begins with Satan’s shaking his fist at God and throwing out a challenge. God was in a corner. Because He has conducted the great controversy from its very beginning in such a way that the devil can never accuse Him of being unfair, He had to let Satan prove his point. So God withdrew His protection from Job’s possessions and the devil moved in with destruction. Overnight, everything Job had was taken away. He lost everything except his wife And she should have been the first to go! Satan left her around, because she helped him in his plan by asking Job, “Why don’t you just curse God and die?” But Job remained faithful. Then there came another day: “One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” The Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil. He still persists in his integrity, although you incited me against him, to destroy him for no reason’ ” (Job 2:1-3). In effect God said to Satan, “You claim to be in charge there on the earth—and you managed to convince Me to let you try Job’s commitment to Me, but now that you’ve taken every thing from, he still serves Me. He’s still faithful. How do you explain it?” Satan replied, “Skin for skin! All that people have they will give to save their lives” (Job 2:4). In other words, Give me a chance! I need to touch him. Let me get just a little closer, and I’ll have him. So God said, “All right, go ahead. Try to prove your point—but spare his life.” So Satan arranged some boils. Job was terribly afflicted, in pain with boils from his head to his foot. His friends came by to comfort him, but they did a poor job of it. The rest of the book of Job records the dialogue between Job and his friends—and then between Job and God, as this man who loved God tried to understand what was happening in his life. He refused to turn his back on God but rather struggled to understand. Now the story of Job is not just a history lesson. Let’s bring it up to date. You go to your knees and you say, “I’m going to have a personal experience with God and seek to have a relationship with Him. I realise my need. I’m going to begin spending time with Him day by day.” At that point the Devil shakes his fist at God and says, “Do you think this person is seeking You because he loves You? Not so He is seeking You for selfish reasons. He wants his problems solved. He wants to escape Hell. He wants to impress other people with his good life. He is seeking You, yes—but for the wrong reasons. If you’ll just let me get at him, I can prove it! So God says, “All right, you have permission to try and prove your point.” So the Devil comes in with everything he has. He makes you the special object of temptation. He tries to get you to fail and fall and sin. He brings trouble, heartache, and pain. He tries to overburden you with guilt—and all for one purpose: he wants to get you to scrap your relationship with God because he knows that then he’ll have you, and it will make God look bad as well. Yes, our behaviour often does get worse instead of better when we start developing a relationship with God. Because we do so many  wrong things, we are tempted to forget about seeking Him. But one of the biggest proofs that you are a legalist is if you scrap your relationship with God because of your behaviour! Seeking God should be a response of love, because of what Jesus has done for you at the cross. We should be motivated to seek God for His sake, not just in order to control our behaviour. God is in the business of showing us our need. God has only to arrange circumstances so that we become aware of what our needs are. Thus He is able to use even the attacks of Satan as a blessing to reveal to us that which it is good for us to know. So, you see, when I begin to seek God, and everything goes wrong, and I quit seeking God because everything goes wrong, whose side am I voting on? I am actually proving that the Devil is right—and he sits back and laughs. There is a great controversy going on, and God has to allow the enemy the opportunity to discourage us from seeking Him. And  in the process, He is able to show us our own hearts and help us to understand what makes us tick. Then we can go to God in our weakness and begin to ask Him to give us the right motives and the determination to continue to seek Him regardless of circumstances. When the time finally comes that we tire of the on-again off-again relationship with God, and we keep on seeking Jesus regardless of what happens in our lives, then the scene is changed. Then we can join Job in playing a part in the vindication of God before the universe. What do you think it was like at the end of the book of Job, when Satan showed up in heaven for the third time? Imagine it. God says, “Where did you come from?” Satan says, “From walking to and fro on the earth. I’m in charge down there, you know.” And God says, “Have you  considered my servant Job? In spite of everything you have done to him, he still maintains his integrity.” At this point the Devil gets nervous. He begins kicking his feet in the dust. He has pulled out all the stops, and he has nothing left to try. So God continues, “Is it possible that Job is seeking me because of love, because of what My Son did for him? Is it possible that he has learned to seek Me because of love, and not just for My blessings?” And the Devil is silenced. Keep in mind that this conflict is repeated over every soul. Each one of us is given an opportunity to prove what our motives are in seeking after God. Just remember that Job wasn’t left there among the ashes, covered with boils. The time came for healing, and in the end Job was blessed with far more than he had before.


14. A Poem By Lena Lathrop


A Woman's Question

Do you know you have asked for the costliest thing
Ever made by the Hand above?
A woman’s heart, and a woman’s life—
And a woman’s wonderful love.

Do you know you have asked for this priceless thing
As a child might ask for a toy?
Demanding what others have died to win.
With the reckless dash of a boy.

You have written my lesson of duty out,
Manlike, you have questioned me.
Now stand at the bars of my woman’s soul
Until I shall question thee.

You require your mutton shall always be hot,
Your socks and your shirt be whole;
I require your heart be true as God’s stars
And as pure as His heaven your soul.

You require a cook for your mutton and beef,
I require a far greater thing;
A seamstress you’re wanting for socks and shirts—
I look for a man and a king.

A king for the beautiful realm called Home,
And a man that his Maker, God,
Shall look upon as He did on the first
And say: “It is very good.”

I am fair and young, but the rose may fade
From this soft young cheek one day;
Will you love me then ‘mid the falling leaves,
As you did ‘mong the blossoms of May?

Is your heart an ocean so strong and true,
I may launch my all on its tide?
A loving woman finds heaven or hell
On the day she is made a bride.

I require all things that are grand and true,
All things that a man should be;
If you give this all, I would stake my life
To be all you demand of me.

If you cannot be this, a laundress and cook
You can hire and little to pay;

But a woman’s heart and a woman’s life
Are not to be won that way.


15. Jewellery


A) If adornment is acceptable to God, why did He ask the Israelites at Mount Horeb to remove their ornaments as proof of their sincere repentance for worshiping the golden calf (Ex 33:4-6)?
B) If adornment is acceptable to God, why did Jacob at Shechem begin a process of reform and preparation by summoning his family to remove their ornaments before they met with God at Bethal (Gen 35:1-4)?
C) If adornment is acceptable to God, why did Isaiah reprove wealthy Jewish women for their pride shown by adorning their bodies from head to foot with jewellery and expensive clothes (Isa 3:16-26)?
D) If adornment is acceptable to God, why does Ezekiel use two women decked out in ornaments, and with painted eyes, to represent the apostasy [the turning away from truth] of Israel and Judah (Ezek chap 23)?
E) If adornment is acceptable to God, why does Jeremiah use a seductive woman decked out in ornaments, and with painted eyes, to represent the politically abandoned Israel [invaded, taken captivity], who is trying without success to attract her [Israel’s] former pagan allies [foreign powers] (Jer 4:30; Note Hosea 2:13)?
F) If adornment is acceptable to God, why does God’s Word talk about Jezebel, decked out in ornaments, and with painted eyes, who made a determined effort to seduce the Israelites into idolatry (2 Kings 9:30)?
G) If adornment is acceptable to God, why is a prostitute, arrayed in jewellery, used to represent the End-time worldwide apostate [false] religious power (Rev 17:4)?
H) If adornment is acceptable to God, why is the bride of Christ, representative of the Church, dressed modestly in pure fine linen without any ornaments (Rev 19:7,8)?
I) If adornment is acceptable to God, why are the angels shown as dressed in pure fine linen, and without any ornaments (Rev 15:6)?
J) If adornment is acceptable to God, why did the apostle Paul tell women to dress themselves modestly and not to deck themselves out in ornaments [regarding public worship] (1 Tim 2:9,11)?
K) If adornment is acceptable to God, why did the apostle Peter tell women not to deck themselves out in ornaments [regarding the home, and in general] (1 Peter 3:1-4)?

In Heaven where there's holiness, righteousness and humbleness, all that glitters isn't a problem, but where fallen, sinful humanity is, all that glitters is and has been a problem. Oh, pride, vanity and covetousness. So much for self forgetfulness.
We are a "peculiar" people (1 Peter 2:9), a people that God wants to come out of the world and not copy or embrace its pagan ways. We're to be different.
Yes, God may use precious stones for His purposes, and that's His prerogative, but such isn't to be taken as okay for us.


Sources available


16. Muses


Jesus loves me. Wow! Jesus! Wretched me! That’s incredible,
And I’ve been told — should I hurt or neglect Him — He’ll love me still.
Wow! Now that’s love, and I mean, REAL LOVE, love that’s worth dying for,
Thus I’m so honoured, and so delighted — in fact, I’m in awe.


You should not judge — some people say — and then do, quite harshly,
You should show love — some people say — then don’t, quite commonly,
You shouldn’t compromise — some folk say — then do, quite badly,
And some create divisions while hollering unity.

Confused? Me too!


When you were a tiny child, God's holy angels cared for you,
And with the same commitment, friend, they still did so as you grew.
When ageing and health is ebbing, the same thing holds true as well,
For never are they closer than when one’s lonely, hurt or ill.


God is a merciful God, slow to anger, longsuffering,
Hence why angels adore Him, and His praises always sing.
Thus He bears long with you and I, bore long with ancient Israel,
And He bore the weight of our sins via each hand and foot — each nail.

Some may truly think they’re right in pursuing what they do,
But so did many angels who were fooled by Satan’s view.
Thus, surely that example should have Christians take great care,
Lest the things they implement be those things they shouldn’t dare.


Although He’s a God of love, our God calls a spade a spade,
And within His Holy Word, His clear wishes are conveyed.
Therefore, I’m somewhat baffled by various things I see
At variance with His will within Christianity.


Are you a breach repairer and a watchman on the wall,
Or are you aiding error that could be your own downfall?
Thus will you heed God’s warning to uphold and guard His truth,
Or will your foolish actions just reveal prophesied proof?


In God’s Holy Word, we are told of some people who did ill,
Thinking that what they were doing was fulfilling the Lord’s will.
So why should we be surprised if there also happens to be
Wrong within Christian churches through some acting mistakenly.


I’d never say, “Hi God,” as that’s no way to greet a King,
For such a common greeting with a flippancy would ring.
Not the Father nor the Son would I casually address,
For such familiarity Heaven could hardly bless.


Let us be very careful when we're interpreting God’s Word,
Lest it be that something erroneous via our lips be heard.
For who knows where such leads when we to another wrongly say
Something that’s inaccurate that God wouldn’t have us convey.


No matter how great a man is, he’s simply a man, that’s all,
So you don’t treat him like some god, mentally at his feet fall.
Nor literally, as if worthy, for no man is, not one,
Be they a president, pope, or king, so don’t glorify none.


The greatest respect should be shown for the Bible and its contents,
For dishonouring the Word of God is a grievous offence.
But are we making others laugh who’re anti-Christianity,
Via our Bible version scraps, or that one version mentality?


When churches merge, form a council — an ecumenical power block — oh, Christian, please beware,
For we’re not looking at unity, but compromise and confusion, which always wrongly steer.
Such laughs at the reformers who fought against such foolishness, aware of where such soon leads to,
Which in time we’ll surely witness given that a scene is being set, whereby, things will go askew.
Yes,
Dangers oft lie in ideas that seem good, but which the discerning see are not so, and say so,
Knowing very well that from such, given time and chance, baleful results will invariably show.


Bigotry is another word that can often be used in place of “me,”
A tiny word that can describe someone who cannot handle liberty.
And by that I mean, those beliefs of others that are not the same as theirs,
Hence their negative response that an immature close-mindedness declares.


The Christian walk entails a cross, a cross that we all must bear — a personal cross — for all must die to self, and,
Thus in Christ’s suffering share, which all do who the way of salvation dare, for opposition comes to those who stand.
That is, those who don’t give in to man’s demands, (as opposed to God’s), and who never compromise or the world embrace,
And who therefore remain faithful to their dear Lord and Saviour, who out of love, and on Golgotha, took their place.


How could I pretend to be God the Father or His Son,
For surely that is something neither clearly would want done.
Not one of Christ’s disciples would have done such in their day,
So, why do Christian actors think that now it’s quite okay.


Yes, “Love your enemies,” we’re told, and I assume that such means those who would seek to cause us much injury,
Even take our life, that is — like they sought to take Christ’s life, and did; or simply cause much pain and misery.
And yet, so-called irreconcilable differences have Christian partners hardly talking anymore,
If at all, and even worse goes on, both before and after either spouse has left slamming their marital door.


It's never enough to say that you'll pray, nor any platitude give,
For the love that God has shown to us is a love that we're meant to live.
So rather than tire any wounded soul and thus leave them even worse,
Let genuine care shine forth in deeds and less in pithy words or verse.


They stride into the sanctuary,
Their feet perilously perched on finger thin heels, too much flesh above the knee,
Too much flesh exposed below the neck-cum-a certain sexuality.
Yes, their skirts tight and certain to rise on sitting, the eyes of men responding,
And then everyone is seen to stand and “Holy, Holy, Holy” sing.


Yes, when Christ said to love one another, He meant it, this very plain and clear,
And why if you get this one wrong, you will certainly get things wrong everywhere.
No, you don’t have to like someone, but Christ definitely wants you to love folk;
Love being both an attitude and doing word, and why of such, Christ strongly spoke.


All muses by the Author