Daily Archives: September 2, 2014

Do you ever feel like God could never use you?

Running The Race

No matter who you are, God can use you.

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Ever feel like you are not worthy of being called by God?

There are many reasons why God shouldn’t have called you but, don’t worry. You’re in good company.

-Moses stuttered
-David’s armor didn’t fit
-John Mark was rejected by Paul
-Timothy had ulcers
-Hosea’s wife was a prostitute
-Amos’ only training was in the school of fig tree pruning
-Jacob was a liar
-David had an affair
-Solomon was too rich
-Jesus was too poor
-Abraham was too old
-David was too young
-Peter was afraid of death
-Lazarus was dead
-John was self-righteous
-Naomi was a widow
-Paul was a murderer, so was Moses
-Jonah ran from God
-Miriam was a gossip
-Gideon and Thomas both doubted
-Jeremiah was a bullfrog (kidding), he was depressed and suicidal
-Elijah was burned out
-John the Baptist was a loudmouth
-Martha was…

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The Chaos of the American Christian Home

Running The Race

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The Chaos of the American Christian Home

In more than 35 years of ministry, Kim I have had the opportunity to counsel with many a husband and wife about their home, marriage, and children. It is always sad to see homes in chaos like so many homes today in the church. The family attends church, but their lives are filled with chaos, drama, sin, and failure. No wonder we have so much failure today in the lives of the second generation of Christian homes. Generally, I find the chaos to come from six areas. I am listing them in no particular order:

1. Financial issues
2. Moral issues
3. Relationship issues-friends, extended family etc.
4. Children issues
5. Abuse issues
a. Alcohol-drugs
b. Bum cyndrome-Don’t want a job can’t keep a job.
c. Physical abuse
6. Unsaved/carnal mates
7. Social media (Internet issues)
8. Anger issues

All of the above…

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Twenty Ways to Answer A Fool [4]

hipandthigh

maherIs Christianity Egocentric?

We return once again to our critique of Chaz Bufe and his 20 reasons to abandon Christianity.

The fourth reason he claims we must abandon Christianity is that it is extremely egocentric. Only the first two paragraphs are relevant for our discussion here, so I will not cite the point in its entirety:

4. Christianity is extremely egocentric. The deep egocentrism of Christianity is intimately tied to its reliance on fear. In addition to the fears of the devil and hell, Christianity plays on another of humankind’s most basic fears: death, the dissolution of the individual ego. Perhaps Christianity’s strongest appeal is its promise of eternal life. While there is absolutely no evidence to support this claim, most people are so terrified of death that they cling to this treacly promise insisting, like frightened children, that it must be true. Nietzsche put the matter well:…

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Questions about Creation: Whom Was Cain Afraid of after He Killed Abel?

 

In Genesis 4:13–14, shortly after he killed his brother Abel, “Cain said to the LORD, ‘My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.’ ” Whom exactly was Cain afraid of? The only people the book of Genesis had mentioned to this point are Adam and Eve (Cain’s parents) and Abel (who was now dead). Who would possibly be a threat to Cain?

It is important to recognize that Cain and Abel were both full-grown adults at the time that Cain killed Abel. Both Cain and Abel were farmers, who tended to their own lands and flocks (Genesis 4:2–4). The Bible does not tell us how old Cain and Abel were, but they very likely could have been in their 30’s or 40’s. The Bible does not specifically mention Adam and Eve having any children between Abel and Seth (Genesis 4:25). However, it is highly unlikely that the two most perfect human beings in the history of the world, Adam and Eve, would not have any children over several decades. Adam and Eve had many children after Seth (Genesis 5:4), so why would they not also have had other children between Abel and Seth? The Bible does not say that Seth was Adam and Eve’s first child, or even first son, after Abel was killed. Rather, it states that Seth was born as a “replacement” for Abel. Genesis chapter 5 traces the genealogy of Seth. Prior to his death, Abel was likely the “chosen” son that would eventually produce the Messiah (Genesis 3:15). It is in this sense that Seth “replaced” Abel.

So, whom was Cain afraid of? Cain was afraid of his own brothers, sisters, nephews, and nieces, who were already born and would be capable of seeking revenge. The fact that Cain had a wife (Genesis 4:17) is a further evidence that Adam and Eve had other children after Cain and Abel, but before Seth.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about the Holy Spirit: What Is Glossolalia?

 

Glossolalia, a phenomenon sometimes referred to as “ecstatic utterances,” is the uttering of unintelligible, language-like sounds while in a state of ecstasy. Glossolalia is sometimes confused with xenoglossia, which is the biblical “gift of tongues.” However, whereas glossolalia is babbling in a nonexistent language, xenoglossia is the ability to speak fluently a language the speaker has never learned.

Additionally, whereas xenoglossia is not an innate or natural ability, studies have shown that glossolalia is a learned behavior. Research conducted by the Lutheran Medical Center demonstrates that glossolalia is readily learned by following simple instructions. Correspondingly, it was found that students could exhibit “speaking in tongues” in the absence of any indications of trance-like stupor or behaviors. Another test conducted with sixty students showed that after listening to a one-minute sample of glossolalia, 20 percent were able to imitate it precisely. After some training, 70 percent succeeded.

In just about every part of the world, glossolalia can be observed. Pagan religions all over the world are obsessed with tongues. These include the Shamans in the Sudan, the Shango cult of the West Coast of Africa, the Zor cult of Ethiopia, the Voodoo cult in Haiti, and the Aborigines of South America and Australia. Murmuring or speaking gibberish that is construed to be deep mystical insight by holy men is an ancient practice.

There are basically two aspects to glossolalia. First is talking or murmuring in language-like sounds. Practically everyone is able to do this; even children before they ever learn to speak can mimic real language, though unintelligibly. There is nothing extraordinary about this. The other aspect of glossolalia is ecstasy or the demonstration of trance-like elation. There is nothing unusual about this either, although it is more difficult to do intentionally than to merely utter language-like sounds.

There are some Christians, especially within the Pentecostal movement, who believe there is a supernatural explanation for glossolalia similar to that described in the New Testament. They believe that the chief purpose of the gift of speaking in tongues is to manifest the Holy Spirit being poured out upon them just as on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), which was prophesied by Joel (Acts 2:17).

Among those Christian churches who do espouse the practice of glossolalia to one degree or another, there is no uniform agreement as to its workings. For example, some are adamant that it is indeed a gift of the Holy Spirit, while others minimize its importance, saying Paul taught that the gift of “speaking in tongues” wasn’t nearly as important as the other gifts of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 13). Also, there are those wishing to avoid dividing the church on such issues by not speaking of it at all or dismissing it as a simple psychological experience. Then there are those who regard glossolalia as a deception of Satan himself.

Exotic languages are heard and understood throughout the world, but existing languages are not heard or understood when spoken as “ecstatic utterances” or “tongues.” What we do hear is a profusion of hype, claims, confusion, and noise. We simply cannot declare, as at the time of the first church, that “each of us hears [understands] them in his own native language” (Acts 2:8 NIV).

Simply put, the practice of glossolalia is not the biblical gift of tongues. Paul made it clear that the chief purpose of the gift of speaking in tongues was to be a sign for those who did not believe and to spread the good news, the gospel of Christ (1 Corinthians 14:19, 22).[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Characters in the Bible: What Should We Learn from the Woman at the Well?

 

The story of the nameless Samaritan woman at the well, recorded only in the Gospel of John, is a revealing one, full of many truths and powerful lessons for us today. The woman at the well follows on the heels of Jesus’ interaction with Nicodemus, a Pharisee and prominent member of the Jewish Sanhedrin (John 3:1–21). In John 4:4–42 we read about Jesus’ conversation with a lone Samaritan woman who had come to get water from a well (known as Jacob’s well) located about a half mile from the city of Sychar in Samaria.

This was an extraordinary woman not so much because she was a Samaritan, a race of people that the Jews utterly despised as having no claim on their God, but because she was an outcast and looked down upon by her own people. This is evidenced by the fact that she came alone to draw water from the community well when during biblical times drawing water and chatting at the well was the social highpoint of a woman’s day. However, this woman was ostracized and marked as immoral, an unmarried woman living openly with the fifth in a series of men.

In spite of the similarities in the two meetings between Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman, there are differences in the way Jesus unveiled grace to them. While Nicodemus needed to see himself as a sinner in order to understand grace, the Samaritan woman, who knew she was a sinner, needed to see herself as a person of worth and value. And this provides us with one of the most powerful lessons in all of Scripture.

This story teaches us that God finds us worthy of His love in spite of our bankrupt lives. God values us enough to actively seek us, to welcome us to intimacy, and to rejoice in our worship. As a result of Jesus’ conversation, only a person like the Samaritan woman, an outcast from her own people, could understand what this means. To be wanted, to be cared for when no one, not even herself, could see anything of value in her—this is grace indeed.

But there are many other valuable truths we glean from this story. We learn that:

1) Only through Jesus can we obtain and receive eternal life: “Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life’ ” (John 4:13–14; cf. John 14:6).

2) Jesus’ ministering to those outcasts of the Jewish society (the Samaritans), reveals that all people are valuable to God and that Jesus desires that we demonstrate love to everyone … including even our enemies (John 4:7–9; Matthew 5:44).

3) Jesus is the Messiah (John 4:25–26; 1:41; Matthew 27:22; Luke 2:11).

4) Those who worship God, worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:23–24; Psalm 145:18).

5) Our testimony about Jesus is the most powerful tool we have to lead others to believe in Jesus: “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world” ’ (John 4:39–42).

Additionally, we learn that Jesus’ dialogue with the woman at the well presents us with three absolute truths about salvation:

1) Salvation comes only to those who recognize their desperate need for the spiritual life they do not have. Living water can be obtained only by those who recognize that they are spiritually thirsty.

2) Salvation comes only to those who confess and repent of their sin and desire forgiveness. Before this immoral woman could embrace the Savior, she had to concede the full burden of her sins.

3) Salvation comes only to those who take hold of Jesus as their Messiah. For the absolute truth is that salvation is found in no one else (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

HELL

Samuel at Gilgal

Flames of HellAnd do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28 ESV)

And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15 ESV)

Charles Spurgeon said, “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. If they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees. Let no one go there unwarned and unprayed for.” The modern church doesn’t talk about Hell as much as it should. Perhaps this is why so many Christians today are not as passionate to share their faith with others. Are we really as concerned as we should be over our neighbors, family, and friends’ eternal future? Do we live as if we believe there is no Hell…

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Who we are in Christ is by God’s grace alone

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. (1 Corinthians 15:10 ESV)

There are two extremes that Christians must avoid at all costs. The first is over confidence in one’s own ability, which is pride in its positive form. This causes believers to rely on their own abilities to do “good works.” The other extreme is to become paralyzed into inactivity because of pride working in its negative form. It tries to resemble humility by proclaiming things such as, “I’m not sanctified enough to do that sort of work.” Both are attitudes of pride and are in rebellion against God.

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