Tag Archives: Bible

Timeless Lessons

Last weekend, I had to get a new cable box for our television. For the most part, it was working. The on-demand feature wasn’t, and we do use that a lot. Not that I am a big techie, but it would seem that the technology of our old box was out of date. It’s common in our world that, with new advancements in technology, equipment can get old pretty quickly and phased out.

I got to thinking about how that can be true of our attitude towards the Old Testament. When God established His new covenant through Christ, the old was done away with, at least in terms of sacrifices and communication with God. Much like the advancements in telecommunications allow me to talk to pretty much anyone around the world who has a phone, Jesus gave everyone access to talk straight to God; no more need to go to the priest or the prophet.

The temptation is downgrade the Old Testament to something less important than the New Testament, and that would not be wise. Sure, we should and need to embrace the fact that we live under grace and not under law, but we also need to understand God throughout all of history and maybe more importantly, learn the lessons that He has preserved for us from thousands of years ago to help us as we navigate our lives. Often, as I am preparing a lesson or thinking of an example, I find myself in the pages of the Old Testament. It isn’t that Peter or Paul (or, you know, Jesus) haven’t given us many words of wisdom, it is that God has given us so much more to help us along the way.

Some of the passages of the Old Testament can be hard to read; not making a lot of sense in today’s world. It is tempting to skip them, or gloss over without concerning yourself with the message. I have been there many times, and only my stubborn commitment to read every word has made me take a deep breath and read with the intent of learning. Often times, however, I am prompted by the Holy Spirit to pause and pray for God’s wisdom as I read. I don’t always come away with a life lesson, but more often than not, I am struck by something that I can apply in my life. It isn’t usually profound; just a reminder of God’s love or His concern for His people.

I can’t say that I will always remember to seek out God’s message to me. I mean, I am the guy who will reset the cable box about a million times before I figure out that it just can’t keep up any more. My hope is that the next time I start to forget the importance of all of God’s Word that I catch myself quickly, open my heart to what He is trying to teach me, and learn His timeless lesson.


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What do you do with Jesus?

The Christian faith splits from all other religions at Jesus. It is the belief in Him that defines it. Actually, it is accepting the gift of forgiveness, believing Him to be the Son of God, the redeemer of the human race, and saviour of the world that defines Christianity. So, what do you do with Jesus?

First, you can deny His existence. This would be a fairly easy thing to do if the Bible was the only record of Him. Simply discount the Bible as nothing more than legend and the question goes away. Even though the New Testament has been shown over and over again to be historically accurate, there are many books written today that place fictional characters in historical events. The issue with doing this is that Jesus is referred to in other documents from the time, thus making a strong case that Jesus, the man, did walk this planet around 2000 years ago.

So, if Jesus did walk the planet, that doesn’t mean He was God. There are currently around 7 billion people on the face of the Earth, and none of them are the Son of the Most High. So what makes Jesus so special? Couldn’t He have just been another good moral teacher? Simply stated, no.

C.S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, lays out the argument that Jesus could not have said the things He said and have been a good moral teacher. Very clearly Jesus proclaims Himself to be God. This leads Lewis to state “But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

So what do you do with Jesus? According to Lewis, you have three options.

First, you can write Jesus off as a lunatic. Claiming to be God is not something sane people do. If someone was to walk up to you on the street and say he or she was God, you would not offer to take them to lunch for the sole purpose of learning as much as you can from him or her.

Second, you can deny His claim and consider Him a liar. This is again possible, but a lie that great, and in fact so detrimental to the human race, would not come from a man who was a great moral teacher. The best reason I can think of is to direct people away from the True God; and that person would be working for, or in fact, Satan himself. Again, the title “great moral leader” would hardly be the right one.

The third option is that Jesus is Lord. He is what He claimed to be. His life an example for us all, His death our only hope and His resurrection our saving grace. He was a great moral teacher, and He is God.

So, we are back to the original question: What do you do with Jesus? This is the most personal question there is. It is a matter of faith – and not faith that He is a historical figure, but that He came to give you the gift of forgiveness and eternal life.  So, what do YOU do with Jesus?

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It Only Matters if He Loves

Science will never prove there is not a God because it is the study of natural things, and God is supernatural. Religion shouldn’t be afraid of science because God set up the world with natural order and precision. Using one to argue against the other is a little like using history to argue math. The one fact we can all agree on is that we are here. No matter how we got here, there is an earth, a heavens and intelligent life.

The question shouldn’t be simply “Is there a God?” it should be “If there is a God, what is His nature?” Because if God is not a loving God, does it really matter if he made the universe? If a god simply wound up the clock of time and set the universe in motion, not caring for its creation, what difference does it make today that he exists. If the creator isn’t loving, and there is no eternal place for the soul, then for all intents and purposes, it doesn’t matter how we got here, or really, what we do while we are here.

If God is loving, if the God of the Bible is true, then it does matter. A loving God who cares about His creation and has an eternal plan for it is the opposite of not only atheistic views but theistic ones as well.

What would be the evidence of a loving God? There are miracles; events that happen outside of the natural order of things. Miracles do occur; I have been witness to more than one miraculous healing. You could also point to chance happenings that would suggest that there is someone looking over us and bringing into our lives the people we need, just when we need them. Of course, you could brush them away as just coincidences, but I have had them happen in my life more often than I can recall.

What better evidence would there be to the nature of God than to have Him tell us? For that, God gave us the Bible; throughout the scriptures, God reveals His love for His creation, especially humans.  The testimony is written down and has been kept safe throughout the ages. Every generation and culture can relate to it; its message is timeless.

We are again presented with a choice; we can look at the evidence and decide that there is a loving God who cares for us and longs to have a relationship with us, or we can reject it as fairy tale, folklore and coincidence. It takes faith to believe either way. To believe in a loving God is to take the scriptures as true and see the miracles that are around us as acts of love. For the atheist or theist, you must believe that the scriptures are not absolute truth and believe that miracles are nothing more than random luck. The key question is “what do you do with Jesus?”

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Still Challenge Part 2

Three weeks ago, I issued an invitation to join me in 21 days of stillness, or at least 10 minutes a day of stillness. I would love to sit here and write that I was able to complete the mandate, but I came up short. I started strong, finding time to just be still for the first half of the time, but the last half of the 21 days has been a challenge. I make no excuses. Some days, I got to the end of the day and just had not had time to stop. Other days, I passed up the chance early in the day only to find myself that night lying in bed having not spent the 10 minutes. (In case you were wondering, trying to be still and clear your mind for 10 minutes while tired and lying in bed is a great way to fall asleep!)

The challenge was not a total failure. I did spend some quality time with God and felt Him in a special way. At one time, I, in a very real way, felt as if God was embracing me. Even though I didn’t do what I set out to do, it is something that I want to continue to try. Maybe it won’t happen every day, but I want to continue making a point to set aside time to just be still and listen to God.

There were a couple unexpected side effects of spending this time listening to God. The first is that I found that I was hearing God throughout the day. In different situations, I could sense God’s voice, and I felt more connected to Him throughout the day. The second thing, very much related to the first, was that I started to take a minute or two during the day to listen. I could be still when a couple minutes presented themselves; I didn’t need to wait for the time set aside to do it, it started to become more natural.

I think that is the way it is supposed to be. If God is seeking a relationship, why wouldn’t He seek a natural conversation throughout the day? Maybe it is something that has to be practiced, but if you are willing to put in the time, you will reap the benefits. As the 21-day challenge comes to an end, my desire to be still is stronger than ever. I know that everyday won’t bring a natural time to sit and just be; I need to try and find the time. I also need to listen throughout the day and have a natural conversation with God.

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The Stillness Challenge

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

We live in a world full of distractions and noise. It seems we are constantly on task, trying to cram as much into 24 hours as we can. Even when it is time to sit, we often surround ourselves with noise: TV, radio, iPods; we even invented a genre of music for elevators! Even if we can avoid noise, we can lose ourselves in a book, the internet or magazines.

This past weekend, I was on a youth retreat with 15 teens from my church. We were in a rural setting enjoying outdoor activities and some amazing time with God. Two of the exercises we did involved being quiet and still. One of them as our solo time with God where we could read, pray, meditate or reflect. During that time, there was no noise – no talking, no music – just a quiet time with God. It was very refreshing. The other exercise involved just listening to God; it was something a little different than I had ever done, and it took completely clearing my mind – pushing out every thought – to fully focus on God.

Sometimes, we just need to be still. The world around us is filled with modern conveniences, yet somehow we seem to be as busy as ever. We don’t find the time to just be still. I know I get a little antsy if I am not doing something, whether it is important or not. Just being still is not something I do well at all. It is important, though; the Bible has many references to God giving rest and renewing our strength by tapping into His power.

Let’s try something. For the next 21 days, let’s commit to being still for at least 10 minutes a day. Just clear our heads and listen to God. You may already do this, but if not, give it a try. Find 10 minutes where you can be in silence, with no distractions around you. Maybe you can do it at the end of your normal prayer/devotional time, and just be still and listen for the last portion of that time. Give God your undivided attention – no books, music or anything else; just be still and listen. You may start the time by asking God a specific question or simply telling Him you want to hear what He has to say to you. After that, just clear your mind, pushing aside all other thoughts and listen to Him. It may be a good idea to keep a journal or notebook nearby so you can write down what He tells you, and if you can, wait until you are done to write it down.

I would love to hear about your experience, and I will write about mine after I complete the three weeks.

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Jesus is the Message

“The medium is the message.” I studied this phrase, coined by Marshall McLuhan, during my college days. It means that the medium (or method) you use to communicate something has a direct effect on how the message is perceived. Though McLuhan was thinking of it in terms of mass media, you and I practice it throughout the day. We pick the best way to express our thoughts; we chose the best method (phone, email, Facebook, etc.) to communicate what we are saying. I especially notice this at work with customers and co-workers.

In John 1:14, the Bible records that “The word became flesh.” That Jesus, who is God, came to Earth in human form. The fact that God did this is very significant. It was time for a new covenant and a new way to relate with God. The message He wanted to get across needed a special way to communicate it.

Throughout the old covenant, the Old Testament, God communicated in many ways: prophets, priests, burning bushes and stone tablets. Sometimes, it is just recorded that God spoke. Was this an audible voice? Every time? Very possible, but I don’t know for sure. What the Bible does say is that after the first sin, people did not walk and speak with God face to face.

When Jesus arrived on Earth, He did walk and talk with people; as John 1:14 says, He “made his dwelling among us.” Why the change? Why did the medium for the message need to be profoundly new? I believe it is because God wanted to stress that He desires a relationship with us. Whereas stone tablets and burning bushes are inanimate, and prophets and priests put a layer between God and His people, Jesus coming to commune with us stresses the relational aspect of God.

In Genesis, the Bible tells how God, before The Fall, walked in the garden with Adam and Eve. He longs to get back to that place with each of us. He isn’t some distant being who has removed Himself from our daily lives. He isn’t simply a creator who set up the universe and moved on. He is a personal God who longs for personal relationships. The fact that Jesus “moved into the neighbourhood” as The Message puts it, is a significant point not to be missed.

Jesus had many teachings and commands, but the fact that He lived among us to commune with us and show us The Way is a statement all on its own. Jesus is the message, and He wants a relationship, a deep, meaningful relationship with you.

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No More Compromises

This past year, the high school students at my church went through the Bible in story fashion. The Biblical stories were retold in a narrative where the point of each story was emphasised as opposed to having to draw the lesson out from the passage. As we neared the end of the 12 lessons, we began to referring to them as stories of how people messed up, and God forgave them. If you read through the Old Testament, you will find that this is a common theme. From Adam to Noah to the Israelites, it is a constant cycle of God’s love and desire to bring His people back to him. Of course, the ultimate example of this is when God sent His son, Jesus, to us as both an example and the atonement for our sins.

Nowhere is this cycle of people falling away from God and God delivering them more evident than in the book of Judges. A little background, the Israelites have just conquered much of the Promised Land and have witnessed God’s strength as they pushed out the people who were living in the land. Joshua warned the people that they must keep following God, for if they fall away from Him, God’s judgement will come down on them. They very emphatically state that they will worship God and serve Him (you can read the account here). Now, as Judges picks up the account, that generation has died off, the Israelites have started to worship the foreign gods and God has turned against them. The cycle continues.

What happened? Well, the Israelites didn’t finish the job; in short, they compromised. They didn’t continue to push out the people who occupied the land that God promised them. Many times they forced them to be labourers, but still allowed them to worship their gods. Thus, the next generation got confused and lost the single-minded focus on the true God. In other words, the generation that really knew God didn’t do the next any favours by allowing their children to be exposed and surrounded with other gods.

That cycle still exists today. Christian parents have children who stray from the path, and churches have aging congregations where generations are missing. Are we really dealing with anything different? Is the main culprit still compromise? If so, how can we change? Not to oversimplify, but the answer is to get back to focusing on God and eliminating the confusion in our own homes and church. We need to read the scriptures; teach our children the uncompromised truth. Jesus didn’t pull punches; read the book of John, which I often hear is the first book a new Christian should read. There are some hard messages in there.

As the Body of Christ, we need to step up and make sure that our lives are worthy of the calling we have. We need to live in a way that makes it obvious where our allegiance falls. I believe this starts with making sure there are no other gods (money, fame, power… etc.) before the Lord Almighty in our lives. In the home, it means giving God the attention He deserves and bringing up our children to know the Truth. In the church, it means preaching the Bible and not watering down the message; so, it is easier to follow and more attractive to adhere to. It means living so that others will see the difference in you and want to have what you have.  In means no more compromises.

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