“Soap Operas, Reality TV & the Bible” January 15

 

Soap Operas, Reality TV & the Bible - The Bible is full of stories about love, sex, rejection, envy, jealousy, adultery, immorality, scheming, deceit, greed, thievery, contention, even murder (and that's the short list)! Why did God lay out humanity's dirty laundry here and in other passage of Scripture? It wasn't just for entertainment value. #realitytv #polygamy What do soap operas and reality TV have to do with the Bible?

First, let me say, I’m not a fan of soap operas or reality TV. Oh, there was a day when I didn’t miss an episode of Dallas. Yep! I admit it. Some of you are going, “Dallas? Isn’t that a city in Texas?”

I guess soap operas are still around, but today we have reality TV, modern-day soap operas lived out live before the camera. We seem to be fascinated by all the fussing and fighting, backstabbing and conniving. Maybe it makes us feel a little better about our own sinful hearts.

But sadly when you meet today’s cast of characters in our Old Testament reading, you’ll realize soap operas and reality TV have nothing on our spiritual ancestors.

The Bible is full of stories about love, sex, rejection, envy, jealousy, adultery, immorality, scheming, deceit, greed, thievery, contention, even murder (and that’s the short list)!

Why did God lay out humanity’s dirty laundry here and in other passage of Scripture? It wasn’t just for entertainment value.  Continue reading

“Recognizing & Preventing Favoritism” January 14

 

Recognizing & Preventing Favoritism - The consequences of favoritism, selfishness, and other sins can be long-lasting and painful to our families. How can we recognize it in our parenting and prevent it in our families? #favoritism #parenting #familyBehavior has consequences. When it comes to parenting, one of the most devastating is favoritism. Add selfishness and manipulation to the equation and you have a destructive combination that can tear families apart. The next couple to take center stage in Genesis, Jacob and Rebekah, had to learn this lesson the hard way.

The consequences of favoritism, selfishness, and other sins can be long-lasting and painful to our families, too. How can we recognize it in our parenting and prevent it in our families?

Also read about the difference between “Righteous Anger & Sinful Anger,” “The Chastening of the Lord,” and the importance of “Defending the Faith in Love.”  Continue reading

“Are You Hiding Who You Are?” January 12

 

Are you hiding who you are? - In today's reading, one young woman traveled hundreds of miles on camel back to meet her future husband. He must have been waiting expectantly to see her, but as they approached, she covered herself with a veil. Today, if we wear veils at all, it's part of a traditional wedding outfit or a fashion statement, but that doesn't mean we aren't still hiding who we really are. It may be in a dating relationship or a social situation or in the business world.What if, as a young woman, someone showed up and said, “God wants you to go to another country to marry a man you’ve never met—and by the way—he’s your long-lost cousin!”

In Biblical times, people didn’t just meet, date, fall in love, and decide to get married. Even if there was “love at first sight,” marriage still had to be arranged with parents or guardians.

In today’s reading, one young woman traveled hundreds of miles on camelback to meet her future husband. He must have been waiting expectantly to see her, but as they approached, she covered herself with a veil.

Today, if we wear veils at all, it’s part of a traditional wedding outfit or a fashion statement, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t still hiding who we really are. It may be in a dating relationship or a social situation or in the business world.

Also, read about how God can keep us “Safe in Persecution,” and how He wants us to “Depart from Evil,” and to “Walk in the Light.”  Continue reading

“Wade in Deeper into God’s Word” November 28

 

Wade In Deeper into God's Word - The river flowing out of the Millennial Temple represents the fullness of Scripture. Some things are “ankle deep”—easy to understand. Others are knee deep and require more study. Others are deeper still and we may not be able to understand them fully. Even so, God wants us to "wade in" so we can grow in our understanding of Him and His Word. Also, read about "The 4 Attitudes to have in the Midst of Trials & Persecution" and "The Futility of Arguing with a Fool." The river flowing out of the Millennial Temple represents the fullness of Scripture. Some things are “ankle deep”—easy to understand. Others are “knee deep” and require more study. Others are deeper still and we may not be able to understand them fully. Even so, God wants us to “wade in” so we can grow in our understanding of Him and His Word.

Also, read about “The 4 Attitudes to have in the Midst of Trials & Persecution” and “The Futility of Arguing with a Fool.”  Continue reading

“Cravings, Persecution & Praying Scripture” November 26

 

Cravings, Persecution & Praying Scripture - What do you crave? And how does what you crave affect your relationship with God and your spiritual growth? How should a believer respond to persecution or people in authority who are harsh and abusive? Is there a pattern in the Bible? Would you like to learn how to pray the Scriptures? Isaiah 55.11 says, "So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it." And Jesus said in John 15.7, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you." When we pray God's Word, rightly understood, we're praying the will of God, can be sure that He hears us, and will answer our prayers. What do you crave? And how does what you crave affect your relationship with God and your spiritual growth?

How should a believer respond to persecution or people in authority who are harsh and abusive? Is there a pattern in the Bible?

Would you like to learn how to pray the Scriptures? Isaiah 55.11 says, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” And Jesus said in John 15.7, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” When we pray God’s Word, rightly understood, we’re praying the will of God, can be sure that He hears us, and will answer our prayers.  Continue reading

“Are You Profiting from the Bible?” November 25

 

Are you "profiting" from the Bible?

Are you getting the most benefit from your hearing, reading, and study of God’s Word? What does Matthew Henry mean when he talks about “profiting from the Bible”? And what might prevent us from doing so?

Also, what did Peter have to say to suffering Christians in the first century that flies in the face of our “don’t-step-on-my-toes-I-have-rights” generation?  Continue reading

“Do not be afraid of them!” November 6

 

Do Not Be Afraid of Them - Ezekiel was called to speak truth to a hard-hearted and rebellious people, but God gave him the strength he needed and told him, "Do not be afraid of them!" We live in a time when people have similar attitudes and responses to truth. Sometimes we suffer persecution, not just for what we say or do, but for who we are. Darkness hates the light. Sometimes our persecutors can be people close to us, even our own family members. What can we learn from Jesus about persecution? And what did Peter, who once denied his Lord, learn that can help us trust God and have the strength to do what He's called us to do?Ezekiel was called to speak truth to a hard-hearted and rebellious people, but God gave him the strength he needed and told him, “Do not be afraid of them!”

We live in a time when people have similar attitudes and responses to truth. Sometimes we suffer persecution, not just for what we say or do, but for who we are. Darkness hates the light. Sometimes our persecutors can be people close to us, even our own family members.

What can we learn from Jesus about persecution? And what did Peter, who once denied his Lord, learn that can help us trust God and have the strength to do what He’s called us to do?  Continue reading

“3 Reasons the World Hates Us” September 10

 

3 Reasons the World Hates Us - Christians, throughout the centuries, have been persecuted, rejected and martyred for their faith. What are some of the reasons why the world hates us? Paul Nyquist in his book Prepare: Living Your Faith in an Increasingly Hostile Culture lists 3 reasons.Christians, throughout the centuries, have been persecuted, rejected and martyred for their faith. What are some of the reasons why the world hates us? Paul Nyquist in his book Prepare: Living Your Faith in an Increasingly Hostile Culture lists 3 reasons.

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 11 & 12
Psalm 106.6-18
Proverbs 25.3-5
2 Corinthians 2.1-17

 

3 Reasons the World Hates Us

 

2 Corinthians 2.1-17:

Why the World Hates Us

 

Verses 14-16a:

14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life.

As Christians, we represent Christ to a dying world. For those who respond to the Gospel in saving faith leading to a changed life, we are “the aroma of life leading to [eternal] life” (emphasis added).To those who reject Christ we are the “aroma of death” because instead of responding to the truth and light we offer with repentance, they respond in rejection and anger.

This should help us understand why even those we care about can become so hostile when we commit our lives to Christ and begin to share what He’s doing in our lives.

Christians, throughout the centuries, have been persecuted, rejected and martyred for their faith. As Americans we have been somewhat insulated from that truth, but as I discussed yesterday the culture we live in is changing rapidly. More and more believers are experiencing job losses, harassment, persecution and even arrest for standing on biblical principles.

Paul Nyquist in his book Prepare: Living Your Faith in an Increasingly Hostile Culture says:

One of the more difficult truths for us to grasp is that the world hates us. The world doesn’t tolerate us— even though toleration is a supposed value of our society. It doesn’t like us. No, it hates us. Jesus makes this plain in John 15:18– 27.

He goes on to say:

As relational creatures, that truth can gnaw at us. We crave acceptance. We long to be loved. We desire to be esteemed, valued, and respected. We can yearn for those things from the world. But Jesus says that acceptance will never happen. The world doesn’t love us. The world doesn’t even like us. The world hates us.

Jesus lists three reasons the world hates us in John 15. Nyquist explains them this way:  Continue reading

“Are You Prepared?” September 9

 

Are You Prepared? - We are living in a world that is becoming more and more dangerous and a culture that is increasingly hostile to Christ and Christianity. Religious freedom and tolerance have been replaced with intolerance and, even, hatred. Christian organizations that support the traditional family and are pro-life have been listed as "hate groups" along with the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis. Earlier this week Amy Barrett, a highly qualified nominee for a judgeship on the 7th Circuit and a devout Catholic, was questioned about her religious convictions by two well-known Senators, even though the Constitution prohibits any kind of religious test to hold public office. And we've probably just begun to experience the hostility and persecution that the Bible tells us will come.We are living in a world that is becoming more and more dangerous and a culture that is increasingly hostile to Christ and Christianity. Religious freedom and tolerance have been replaced with intolerance and, even, hatred. Christian organizations that support the traditional family and are pro-life have been listed as “hate groups” along with the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis.

Earlier this week Amy Barrett, a highly qualified nominee for a judgeship on the 7th Circuit and a devout Catholic, was questioned about her religious convictions by two well-known Senators, even though the Constitution prohibits any kind of religious test to hold public office.

And we’ve probably just begun to experience the hostility and persecution that the Bible tells us will come.

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 9 & 10
Psalm 106.1-5
Proverbs 25.1-2
2 Corinthians 1.1-24

 

Are You Prepared?

 

2 Corinthians 1.1-24:

Epic Changes

 

Paul Nyquist in his book, Prepare, says the following:

Get ready. An exciting, yet terrifying era is beginning for American believers. As cultural changes sweep our country, we’ll soon be challenged to live out what the Bible says about confronting and responding to persecution. For nearly 250 years, Christians in America were able to live in relative freedom from persecution. We escaped because our society historically embraced and promoted biblical values. Our founding fathers penned a Constitution esteeming religious freedom and establishing that rights come from God, not the government.

But we’re witnessing an epic change in our culture— a spiritual climate shift threatening to reshape life as we know it. Hostility and intolerance are replacing toleration. Rejection and even hatred are pushing aside acceptance.

John S. Dickerson, in his well-researched book The Great Evangelical Recession, writes, “In the coming decades United States evangelicals will be tested as never before, by the ripping and tearing of external cultural change— a force more violent than many of us expect. Evangelicalism in the United States has stood strong through centuries of difficulties and setbacks. She has not seen anything quite like what she will see in the next fifty years.”

The complete title of Nyquist’s book is Prepare: Living Your Faith in an Increasingly Hostile Culture. The world around us is changing rapidly and, whether we want to or not, we need to be prepared.

More and more often, Christians will be forced to choose between saying and doing what’s pleasing to God and what’s acceptable to those around us. And those opposed to biblical values are increasingly bold and vocal about their opposition and loathing.

Just this week, two well-known Senators challenged a judicial nominee about her ability to carry out the law because of her Catholic beliefs.

According to The Washington Post:

Amy Barrett, a nominee for a judgeship on the 7th Circuit, has spoken often of her Catholic faith and drawn opposition from liberal groups, which argue that she’d place it above the law. Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, echoed those concerns Wednesday at a confirmation hearing, telling Barrett that “the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern …”

Here is the full context of Feinstein’s comments:

Why is it that so many of us on this side have this very uncomfortable feeling that — you know, dogma and law are two different things. And I think whatever a religion is, it has its own dogma. The law is totally different. And I think in your case, professor, when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for years in this country.

It’s clear what Feinstein, a stalwart defender of abortion rights, is getting at here, given that her questioning of Barrett focused heavily on Barrett’s views of Roe v. Wade. But her use of the word “dogma” has plenty on the right alleging that she’s applying a religious test to Barrett’s nomination.

The Constitution, of course, prohibits religious tests, saying that ” … no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” Some on the right now say Feinstein is violating that, too.

 

Are You Prepared? - We are living in a world that is becoming more and more dangerous and a culture that is increasingly hostile to Christ and Christianity. Religious freedom and tolerance have been replaced with intolerance and, even, hatred. Christian organizations that support the traditional family and are pro-life have been listed as "hate groups" along with the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis. Earlier this week Amy Barrett, a highly qualified nominee for a judgeship on the 7th Circuit and a devout Catholic, was questioned about her religious convictions by two well-known Senators, even though the Constitution prohibits any kind of religious test to hold public office. And we've probably just begun to experience the hostility and persecution that the Bible tells us will come.


How to Prepare

 

Persecution has always been a reality for believers in Christ. It may vary in degree in different cultures and time periods, but Jesus warned us to expect it (Jn. 15.20). The Apostle Paul said, “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3.12).

In fact, in spite of the fact that it flies in the face of some current teaching, the Bible says persecution is good for us. James said:

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing (Jas. 1.2-4 NLT).

Persecution, when responded to rightly, develops Christian character, helps us mature in Christ, draws us closer to the Lord, and is a testimony to the world. So how do we prepare to face it when it comes?  Continue reading

“The Heartbreak of Abortion” July 16

 

The Heartbreak of Abortion - Ahaz was one of Judah’s wicked kings. Can you imagine a king so evil he would sacrifice his children as burnt offerings to false gods?

Yet … children are still being sacrificed to the false gods of fear, inconvenience, and greed in abortion clinics today.

The idea that abortion solves “a problem” is a lie. It doesn’t solve a “problem;” it creates a much bigger one. Abortion, not only ends the life of a pre-born human being created in the image of God, it also leave scars on the heart and soul (and sometimes the body) of the mother, and often the father, as well.

Conception is more than an “unplanned pregnancy,” more than an inconvenience, more than an accident. It is the beginning of a new life and ordained by God no matter what the circumstances. But what should those of us who believe it’s wrong do?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 28 & 29
Psalm 84.8-12
Proverbs 21.6-8
Acts 19.21-41

 

The Heartbreak of Abortion

 

2 Chronicles 28 & 29:

Increasing Unfaithfulness

 

In chapter 28 we read about another of Judah’s ungodly kings, a man by the name of Ahaz.

Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem; and he did not do what was right in the sight of the Lord, as his father David had done. For he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made molded images for the Baals. He burned incense in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, and burned his children in the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel. And he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places, on the hills, and under every green tree.

Because of his evil behavior, God allowed them to be defeated on every side. We should always keep in mind that while God held Israel’s and Judah’s leaders responsible for their leadership, the people followed their wicked leaders into sin and idolatry. So God’s judgment was neither unfair nor indiscriminate.

Sadly, instead of turning around, Ahaz went farther into sin and idolatry.

22 Now in the time of his distress King Ahaz became increasingly unfaithful to the Lord. This is that King Ahaz. 23 For he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus which had defeated him, saying, “Because the gods of the kings of Syria help them, I will sacrifice to them that they may help me.” But they were the ruin of him and of all Israel. 24 So Ahaz gathered the articles of the house of God, cut in pieces the articles of the house of God, shut up the doors of the house of the Lord, and made for himself altars in every corner of Jerusalem. 25 And in every single city of Judah he made high places to burn incense to other gods, and provoked to anger the Lord God of his fathers.

 

Child Sacrifice & Abortion

 

Verse 3 said, “He burned incense in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, and burned his children in the fire …” Can you imagine a king so evil that he would sacrifice his own children to false gods! And yet, it still goes on today! Children are sacrificed at the abortion clinic to the gods of inconvenience, selfishness, fear and greed.

Some are sacrificed to cover up another sin as David tried to do about his sin with Bathsheba. Some are sacrificed because their conception is inconvenient or simply unwanted. Sometimes young girls and their babies are preyed upon by greedy abortion purveyors.

Suffering, Crime & Child Sacrifice - What if you were called to endure suffering or hardship for the cause of Christ? Would you be willing to risk it all? Does crime sometimes pay? And what about child sacrifice? Is it something that only happens in pagan societies?You may think that I bring up abortion too often. I do so NOT to put condemnation on anyone who has had an abortion in the past:

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8.1).

The blood of Christ covers ALL our sins when we come to Him in saving faith. But I do believe abortion is possibly the greatest evil of our day and we must be willing to stand up against it no matter how unpopular it makes us!

The lie that abortion solves “a problem” permeates our society. But conception is more than an “unplanned pregnancy,” more than an inconvenience, more than an accident. It is the beginning of a new life and ordained by God no matter what the circumstances (Gen. 29.31, 30.22).

Abortion doesn’t solve a “problem;” it creates a much bigger one. Abortion, not only ends the life of a pre-born human being created in the image of God, it also leave scars on the heart and soul (and sometimes the body) of the mother, and often the father, as well.

Suffering, Crime & Child Sacrifice - What if you were called to endure suffering or hardship for the cause of Christ? Would you be willing to risk it all? Does crime sometimes pay? And what about child sacrifice? Is it something that only happens in pagan societies?If you or someone you know is contemplating an abortion or has had one in the past, I want to encourage you to contact a crisis pregnancy center in your area. They offer help and counseling to those who are pregnant and post-abortive counseling to those who have had an abortion in the past. Many offer counseling to fathers, too. If you live in El Paso you can contact Pregnancy and Fatherhood Solutions.

If you are being pressured to have an abortion, you have rights, no matter what your age. LIFECALL can tell you how to protect your baby and your rights. They can even provide an attorney free of charge. God loves YOU and YOUR BABY.  Continue reading