Shower Curtain Philosophy

We got a new shower curtain recently. Nice design, on sale for a fraction of normal price. It has some words and phrases on it that are, I guess, supposed to encourage and enlighten us. When reading them however I can’t help but see how empty and worldly they are. Why? Because they are godless. Read them and see if you see the same.

DREAM
Dream, and never lose faith in what could be.
IMAGINE
Imagine what could be accomplished if doubt and fear were cast aside.
CREATE
Create the future with positive thoughts.
BREATHE
Breathe, relax and center yourself.
INSPIRE
Inspire others to be their best and to follow their heart.

I don’t know. They’re nice thoughts, and the best the world can offer. But how hollow they are without God! How can one dream without God? Can we have “faith” that is so meaningless? Cast aside doubt and fear? How do we do that without God? Create? A future that is empty of God? Where then would the “positive thoughts” come from? Breathe, relax and center yourself on what? Yourself? How terribly useless that would be! Inspire others to be their best? Their best….what? We are all dust, and to dust we will return. Any inspiration without God will likewise return to the ash heap of wasted effort. Follow their heart? Follow it where? In circles?

Instead of lofty rhetoric and feel-good phrases suitable for bumper stickers, what we need to do is dream of God and place our faith in Him. Trust Him and follow every word He speaks. Imagine that Jesus the Christ has removed the reasons for doubt and fear and replaced them with a new heart of flesh written with His Words. Use the heart He has Created beating with love for Him to think and meditate on His Word daily. Center ourselves on Him and peaceful relaxation will follow. Inspiration for “best” comes naturally on the heels of working out our faith with fear and trembling, following every command daily as the Spirit inspires us on to greater intimacy and love for our God and father Jesus haMashiach.

Shower curtain philosophy, indeed! I’d rather have the body and blood of my Messiah residing in the living oracles of the only wise and true God. With Him I can dream, imagine, create, breath, and inspire to heights undreamed of and outside of the imagination of mere mortals.
Shalom

Video the Second: Our Second Youtube video

I probably won’t keep posting these, but they’re so useful I want to make sure people get the word. Our youtube channel is wholebible if you want to bookmark it. This video is on Reintroducing Whole Bible Christianity. If you’ve been reading the book you’ll notice right away that it provides much of the text for these videos. Just another format to get the word out about the Word.

Shalom

Abraham Intercedes for Sodom?

In Genesis 18 around verse 16 or 22 (depending on the version) there is a subtitle in the ESV, the NKJV, and the NIV84 that reads “Abraham Intercedes (Pleads) for Sodom.” This is not correct, according to the text.

 

The scene is after a BBQ Abraham put on for two angels and Jesus (the LORD), where a son has been promised to the happy couple (okay, they were laughing anyway). The men leave, but as Abraham is walking with Jesus the LORD stops to tell him that it looks like Sodom and Gomorrah are going to be toasted. Abraham intercedes, not for Sodom, but for the possible righteous living in those cities. Abraham asks, “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” (18:23). He starts off with the number 50, and bargains God down to 10. Jesus says if He can find 10 righteous He will not destroy the cities.

 

This is important because current modern sentiment would have us believing that we are to run around asking God to forego judgment on wicked people. “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” is a popular summary of this idea. Sometimes this text is cited for proof. But the sentiment is biblically out of whack. Judgment is not only for the recipient, but also for any others around watching the proceedings. God’s judgment on sin is part of God’s love. It is why Jesus had to die. Abraham is not concerned with the cities. He is concerned that the righteous be not condemned with the wicked. He does not argue for postponing judgment, he only wants the righteous saved (probably thinking of his nephew Lot).

 

It’s true that we shouldn’t wish for God’s judgment to fall on anyone. His judgment is awful and final. We want to pray for the conversion of our enemies, and ask God for His mercy. He is, I think, happy to grant it, but the key is to repent. The repentant sinner is welcomed with open arms, but the unrepentant stay locked on the path of judgment. So biblically we would say, “Love the repentant sinner, and hate the sin.” Too many in modern times want to stretch the mercy of God to cover wicked people assembling with them or residing in their homes. This is a misunderstanding. We are not to approve, accept or tolerate the sinner.

 

Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:32, ESV)

 

Removing the unrepentant sinner from our midst is about the best thing we can do for them. It is the ultimate gesture of love. A little bit of judgment now that might help the sinner repent is much better than a whole lot later when it is too late. By isolating them (a very tiny gesture of judgment) we hope they will see the folly of their ways and repent. Then they can be restored to full fellowship. Letting them go on and on down the path of death because we are afraid of “hurt feelings,” the loss of friendship or the loss of family members is an act of hate. I know of a Messianic synagogue who had a key elder announce a divorce to his wife on Yom Kippur. They did not boot him out of the congregation. As a result in my opinion, the divorce went ahead. Later, the congregation split over this and other things. I think the lady is better off, but that is not the point. I know the temptation was to “love the sinner” but what they did was “love” him right into wicked behavior.

 

Peter seems to tell us that God does not want anyone to perish. A reasonable idea, and perhaps close to the mark. However, a closer reading will give us insight more in line with Abraham’s intercession for the righteous.

 

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9, ESV)

 

See how the Lord is patient “toward you?” (believers – see verse 1:1). He does not want any of His children to perish, but that all should reach repentance. Full repentance is not reached until death. We have to repent, and stay repented (or repent again if we fail). We help each other to repent by any means available. Believers have to keep believing. Not all who call Him “Lord, Lord” will be with Him in the kingdom.

 

The only intercession we can make for the wicked is that they would take advantage of the patience of God and repent. We, like God, would love it if they would do so.

 

Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? (Romans 2:4, ESV)

 

So repent already. It’s easy now. Later, not so much.
Shalom
Bruce

Day of the Awakening Blast

Coming up next week on Thursday the 5th is a day of blowing otherwise known as the Feast of Trumpets or Yom Teruah (day of the awakening blast). Oh boy. Wednesday night as a family tradition we will be having gyros with tzatziki (zot zee kee) sauce. It’s worth eating the gyros (year-ohs, a mixture of lamb and beef with nifty spices) just to eat my wife’s tzatziki sauce (yogurt, garlic, cucumber mostly). I like to chop it up, others like to make sandwiches out of pita bread, onions and tomatoes.

 

We will be blowing shofars a lot. If you don’t already know, shofar is Hebrew for trumpet. Traditionally it is a curved animal horn (goat or ram’s horn for smaller ones, big ones are from the African Kudu), although some Bible trumpets were made out of silver. We’ll probably also have a fire in our fire ring and make s’mores or something. Or maybe we’ll skip the s’mores to avoid going into sugar shock. My wife likes to call this the “Feast of Sugar.”

 

We like the three fold principal involved in celebrating the feasts of God centered around the word “remember.” Remember in the biblical sense often means to speak or act on behalf of something or someone. That’s why we can not only remember the past (what God has done for His people) and remember the present (practice as a testimony), we can even remember the future (rehearse what God is going to do for His people).

 

Trumpets has themes associated with it including the coronation of the King, waking up from the sleep of sin, marriage (for us it’s associated with the marriage supper of the Lamb), concealment (on the day of wrath), and warning to repent before the day of Judgment/Wrath also known as Yom Kippur or day of atonement.

 

There are some articles on www.wholebible.com including Christian Faith and Practice through Cycles http://www.wholebible.com/Biblical_Feasts.htm and Christian Faith and Practice through Yom Teruah http://www.wholebible.com/trumpets.htm for more information. The Yom Teruah article has a flash video at the bottom where you can hear us sounding the shofar.

 

Shalom
Bruce

Judging with Righteous Judgement Pt. 5 – How To Spot a False Prophet

It’s very simple to spot a false prophet. The Bible gives us excellent instructions. All we’ve got to do is read and we’ll figure it out in an instant. Not only must he be 100% correct if he prophesies about the future, he must not direct other people away from God or God’s Word.
“But in the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: they commit adultery and walk in lies; they strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his evil; all of them have become like Sodom to me, and its inhabitants like Gomorrah.” Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets: “Behold, I will feed them with bitter food and give them poisoned water to drink, for from the prophets of Jerusalem ungodliness has gone out into all the land.” (Jeremiah 23:14–15, ESV)
Jeremiah is not just speaking of prophets of a particular location, but to all those who do the same things.

 

A false prophet talks about following the Bible but doesn’t follow the whole book. He is a part-Bible expert, like his father, the father of lies. He picks and chooses what Scripture he preaches, and is even pickier about which Scripture he follows. He wants people to follow himself rather than God.
“To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn.” (Isaiah 8:20, ESV)
“Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” (Romans 1:32, ESV)

 

The false prophet takes the Law into his own hands to misuse it for his own gain. He allows and encourages sexual immorality including divorce and homosexuality (the teachings of Balaam). He is more concerned about self-defined acceptance, tolerance, and unconditional love than God’s definition of holy love and grace or His command to repent.

 

A true prophet will speak according to the entirety of God’s Word. One of the ways we know Jesus was a true prophet, and The Prophet whom Moses said would come, is that He spoke the words of God given to Moses. All other prophets of God do the same. A simple test is, do they follow all of God’s Law or not?
“I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.” (Deuteronomy 18:18–19, ESV)

 

A false prophet glorifies himself rather than God. God is glorified when His Word is taught, lived, and defended.
“The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood. (John 7:18, ESV)”
The minister sent by God is one who speaks all of God’s words without fail and without compromise.

 

A false prophet speaks visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. He says “all will be well” and “no disasters will befall” those who despise the word of the Lord and follow their own heart instead of God’s heart.
“Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’ ” (Jeremiah 23:16–17, ESV)

 

A true prophet of God will warn of departure from God’s word. He will speak the words of God, the first one of which is REPENT.
“I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their deeds.” (Jeremiah 23:21–22, ESV)

 

A false prophet tells people to go after other gods, either in the form of idols or self-image. Going after other god’s means to obey something or someone other than God. God tests us with many false prophets, and there are many today teaching that we don’t have to listen to all of the words of God. The true prophet says that we shall keep God’s commandments and obey His voice, serve Him and hold fast to Him.
“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. (Deuteronomy 13:1–4, ESV)

 

Do not fail the test.
Shalom

Distractions, Part Three, Bible Codes

Whoops. When numbering these distractions, I got distracted. So I posted part four before this one. Sorry. Your fingers aren’t lying to you. And there’s no secret code to it either.

 

A Bible code is supposed to be some hidden message in the text that we find by looking at every third letter in a sentence, or the first word in a line or something like that. Put all the letters together with some involved math and allegedly they impart secret information. This information is supposed to reveal things like the plot to assassinate certain leaders or natural disasters.

 

It is kind of interesting that you can do this with the original languages of the Bible. It’s also interesting that you can do it with just about any writing. The system depends on looking for certain words or names to start with. For instance, if you want to search for “Reagan” you can find the name. But if you don’t start with something you want to find, you can’t find it. Hmm. Sounds like the approach non-believers use to reject the Bible message. They start with the assumption that God is a meany, and surprise surprise they find their proof when they selectively look at certain texts separated from context. Or separated from common sense for that matter.

 

They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. (Ephesians 4:18, ESV)

 

The problem I have with the distraction of Bible codes is that while interesting they don’t mean anything. People who love these codes spend so much time on the puzzle of the letters that they don’t have time to read (or follow) the plain language. They spend more time looking for alleged codes than they do in reading the message and doing what it says. People who preach the codes also seem to avoid preaching the plain meaning of the Word. It seems that people become experts in codes and other distractions only to lose the Bible message in the chatter.

 

“For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. (Deuteronomy 30:11–14, ESV)

 

God caused His words to be written down in plain language easily understood by anyone. There are a number of messages from Him that He wants us to get. They are not hidden, except to a heart of stone hardened to the desire to follow them. I suggest becoming expert in those messages first. I think you’ll find they will occupy your time so well that you don’t have time for shiny baubles like Bible codes.

 

“For the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7, ESV)

Pentecost 2013

Pentecost is a time for celebrating the gospel given at Mt. Sinai and the Spirit given after the resurrection of the Christ. The good news at Sinai was that God was going to be with us. He gave His Law as part of the preparation. The Spirit accompanies His Law because the Law is truth. God is indeed with us in Truth. Let us celebrate the reversal of the banishment from His presence with His Spirit in a heart of flesh walking in His statutes, keeping His rules, and obeying them.

Your righteousness is righteous forever, and your law is true. (Psalm 119:142, ESV)

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. (John 14:16–17, ESV)

And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. (Ezekiel 11:19–20, ESV)

Feelings, Nothing more than Feelings

Feelings are a key factor in “decisions for Christ.” Most public appeals for these decisions rest on emotion and don’t generally last. Ray Comfort says he found an 80% to 90% failure rate for decisions in one study. He cited a major denomination which in the early 90’s racked up 294,000 “decisions” but later could find only 14,000 in fellowship (95% failure).

Besides, have you ever tried to teach someone how to feel? Specifically, to “feel” like doing something? It can’t be done. Many things we have to do in spite of our feelings. We don’t pass on the Word of God to the next generation by getting them to ‘feel’ it. We pass it on by living it. When we back up the truth with our lives, then the kids get it.

Feeling for Truth

From ‘Whole Bible Christianity’ chapter 1 section on Feel for Truth

Dogma in Greek means “that which one thinks is true” and comes from the root word dokeo meaning “to seem good” or “to think.” But at some point we stop thinking and switch to what “seems good” but is not sustained by the Word.

One way that people enable a part-Bible church is that we substitute feelings for truth. According to the survey ‘Americans Are Most Likely to Base Truth on Feelings’ from Barna Research (February 2002; The Barna Group of Ventura CA; barna.org) many prefer to do whatever “feels right or comfortable,” or would “produce the most beneficial results.” Sadly, what is captivating many Christians these days is a form of godliness lacking in power and appealing to “various impulses.”

1But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 6For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:1-7 NASB95)