Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Something for When Things Seem a Little Rough

Second Timothy 1:8-13

Always remember that Jesus Christ, a descendant of King David, was raised from the dead. This is the Good News I preach. And because I preach this Good News, I am suffering and have been chained like a criminal. But the word of God cannot be chained. So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen.

This is a trustworthy saying:

If we die with him,
    we will also live with him.
If we endure hardship,
    we will reign with him.
If we deny him,
    he will deny us.
If we are unfaithful,
    he remains faithful,
    for he cannot deny who he is.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...following Christ does not promise to be a carefree life, but it does promise to be really, really worth it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

There Seems To Be Only Three Choices: Jesus Quote #4

If you're a long-time reader of this blog, you've read this quote from C. S. Lewis before, but it certainly belongs on this list of Top 25 Quotes about Jesus (per azquotes.com)and deserves a second look.

It's been called a tri-lemma; three options, one of which must be chosen.

"You must make your choice: either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."

These words are the conclusion of a line of reasoning within Lewis' book, Mere Christianity.

Given that Jesus claimed equality with God...okay, I know that's a premise that some are unwilling to concede, but in order for that unwillingness to make sense, it's necessary to throw out accepted conventions of historical document verification and claim the gospel accounts in the New Testament are wishful thinking; made up by a church that formed because of a Jesus myth...okay, I know there are sincere individuals who would argue with that generalization and say they are NOT ignoring accepted conventions of historical document verification and, and, and...

And that's the real issue with apologetics and atheism and reasonable doubt and almost anything else a person can have an opinion about. We believe what we believe and we find reasonable arguments to support our beliefs and cast aspersions on any opposing views. It's called confirmation bias and it's real and I confess to it.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...Christianity, while being a reasonable faith, cannot be arrived at through spreadsheets and if-P-then-Q logic. That's probably why it's called faith. There is reason enough to believe, but it's not iron-clad...same with "the opposing view". 

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

All of Nature and Me

It's getting close to Thanksgiving here in the U.S.A. and if you're running short on things to be grateful for, let this song by Chris Rice prime the pump.

A purple sky to close the day
I wade the surf where dolphins play
The taste of salt, the dance of waves
And my soul wells up with hallelujahs

A lightning flash, my pounding heart
A breaching whale, a shooting star
Give testimony that you are
And my soul wells up with hallelujahs

Oh praise Him all His mighty works
There is no language where you can't be heard
Your song goes out to all the Earth
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!

O cratered moon and sparrow's wings
O thunder's boom and Saturn's rings
Unveil our Father as you sing
And my soul wells up with hallelujahs

Oh praise Him all His mighty works
There is no language where you can't be heard
Your song goes out to all the Earth
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!

The pulse of life within my wrist
A fallen snow, a rising mist
There is no higher praise than this
And my soul wells up
O my soul wells up
Yes my soul wells up with hallelujahs
©1995 Clumsy Fly Music

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...You and I are examples of Yahweh's mighty works. Every breath we take, every move we make, we'll be praising him.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

It Was Finished!

Never heard Jesus' words "It is finished" explained quite this way before. Courtesy of Illustrated Life of Jesus by Herschel H. Hobb:

This was Jesus' word of completion. It means "it is finished and stands finished." It was a word of full and final completion. Nevermore will Jesus die on a cross. Nevermore will He suffer for the sin of the world. He had made the once-for-all sacrifice. All that was necessary for the Son to do for man's redemption had been accomplished.

The Greek word tetelestai belongs to a family of words used in the legal and commercial life of Jesus' day. One word of this family was used to express the idea of completing a legal deed by dating and signing it. In a very real sense, before the foundation of the world, God had drawn up a deed of redemption for all men who would receive it, but the deed had never been dated or signed. So just before Jesus died He inserted the date of His death, and He signed it in His indelible blood.

The word uttered by Jesus was used in the sense of making full and final payment of a note. Again, in eternity the Son had made out a promissory note of redemption. In this light, one may understand the manner of salvation for those who died before Calvary. They were saved on credit, the credit of the Son of God, looking toward that day when He would pay the note. Therefore, all the Old Testament righteous, like Abraham, had looked forward in joy to Messiah's day.

Now on the cross the promissory note had been paid. So Jesus wrote across it TETELESTAI! Nevermore can payment again be demanded! All who lived before that hour, and since that hour, may in faith receive the redemption God in Christ provided as He died on the cross.

Even more to the point is an ancient usage of this verb where a father sent his son on a mission, saying, "Until you accomplish this for me." It is inferred that upon the successful completion of the mission the son reported, "It is finished." 

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...Three words can pack a powerful punch.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

You've Got a Choice to Make: Jesus Quote #5

Jesus has always been a polarizing person.

As much as pop culture wants to paint Jesus as this first-century hippie, roaming the land sounding like Ringo Starr ("Peace and love"), he always demanded an either/or choice from those who wanted to hang around him.

"Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again." (John 3:3)

"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

"I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” (John 6:51-58)

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...This whole train of thought was brought about by the following 17 words:

"Who is Jesus? The answer to that question is a matter of eternal life and eternal death." ~ Stephen Nichols

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

What Are You Dragging Around?

Pearls Before Swine, by Stephan Pastis, is usually heavy on the snark and light on the poignancy, but this time...

Truth is...whether it's a dull, psychological heartache that thwarts all attempts to infuse lightness and joy into your life or the burden of unforgiveness toward another or yourself, you really do "gotta let that go."

The song, "Lay Your Burden Down", by seminal Jesus rocker Chuck Girard, may be just what the doctor ordered for you. Have a blessed day.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

What Are You Hiding From?

What lies about yourself are you believing? And who told them to you?

I've been asking myself these questions since reading the following section of Scary Close by Donald Miller.

A few years ago I let a friend stay in my house for a weekend while I was traveling. She had some friends over for a party and I think one of them did something to [my dog] Lucy.

I didn't realize it for a few days, but one night when I was making dinner I realized Lucy wasn't around. She normally lies on the kitchen floor waiting for a scrap of food to fall, but she wasn't in her usual spot. I checked the living room and she wasn't there, and she wasn't in the dining room either. Finally I found her in the bedroom, hiding half under pillows, shaking. I sat down next to her wondering what had frightened her, but nothing seemed obvious. After an hour or so she returned to normal until the next night when I was making dinner and she did it again. After a while I realized that whenever she heard a pan being pulled from the drawer under the stove she ran into the bedroom and hid. Each night I'd go and sit next to her and rub her ears and talk softly to her, but the damage had been done.

I'm not sure what happened, but what likely explains it is that one of my friend's friends decided to teach Lucy to stay out of the kitchen. Probably some party trick he learned about dogs, that if you scare them you can get them to do what you want.

But it bothered me. I didn't like the fact somebody had trained my dog, somebody had gotten to her. I didn't like the fact that every night she had to experience terror over nothing.

I know Lucy's just a dog, but the experience caused me to wonder how many people have been made to fear something because somebody else had an agenda.

With a dog, it's pretty simple. You can just scare them and they run and hide. With people, though, it's more complicated. The way manipulative people train others is by attacking their identity. They clang pots and pans of lies about who they are, how terrible they are, and send their victims running into the bedroom, shaking.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...I bet our heavenly Father doesn't like it when somebody gets to His children and scares them into thinking badly about themselves. Jesus thinks you're to die for! Get out from under the pillows and gleefully gobble the abundant morsels being served up from the Master Chef!