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Archive for July, 2015

If you are like my wife and me, you can remember from your first day in church being taught that the Bible was God’s holy word. The Bible was perfect and without mistake or any contradictions.

We felt the Bible was personally written by the hand of God through chosen men, and all the answers were contained therein. I truthfully think a lot of us Christian people have come to see the Bible as the fourth member of the God-head.

In fact, to even question if the Bible is inerrant was sacrilegious. It was like the familiar quote in the court system when being sworn in, do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We have come to believe the Bible is the truth, the whole Bible and nothing but the Bible. Everything is contained within the written word, and God can do nothing outside of the written word.

Swear-In

Of course that way of thinking really limits the Holy Spirit, who lives within us and is our teacher and guide. If the Spirit teaches us something or shows us something, we immediately want to look it up in the Bible, and if we cannot find it there, then we think the voice of the Spirit certainly must be wrong.

Also like my wife and me, many of you have come to a point where you began to wonder if this inerrancy of the written word of God is really the case. I remember reading a section in one of my Bibles between the Old and New Testament that was about how we got our Bible. I remember thinking about how certain books were chosen, by men, as divinely inspired and others were not, which books to put into what we call the Bible and which books to leave out. It sure made me think about how this can be a perfect, inerrant group of writings. Of course at that time, I quickly dismissed my questions and moved on, lest I made God mad at me for questioning his perfect book. Or maybe I was more worried about making the pastor and other members mad.

Of course a lot of us were taught that the King James Version of the Bible was the true word of God and any other translation was wrong, and some translations were even an insult to God. My thought on that is how can any translation be considered the true word of God? They are all translations, even the King James. Truthfully, some of the stories I have heard about King James and his instructions on interpreting the manuscripts would make me want to stay away from the King James Version anyway. This is why we depend on the Spirit within us to bring the truth to light and not depend on any particular translation.

When we read John 1:1 and many other verses within the Bible, we come to realize that when we hear that the Word of God is living, perfect, powerful, inerrant and so forth, what is being described is Jesus, not a book.

The Bible was definitely inspired by God, and that inspiration was through men. We all know if mankind has a hand in anything it is going to be flawed. Being inspired to write does not mean you write word for word through dictation. I can be inspired to write a book about a topic, but it is still going to be me writing, and have my thoughts, feelings, and flare to it.

Just because the written word of God is not perfect, that does not negate anything about God. I always heard people say that if the Bible has errors in it or contradicts itself, then the whole idea of God must not be true either. I really do not understand that logic, especially since we know that Jesus is the Word of God. The written word, when viewed through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. The verse in 2 Timothy 3:16 does not say the written word is perfect.

In fact, when Christ walked on the earth, and the early days of Christianity, there was not even a written word like what we call the Bible available to the believers. There was the Word of God though, because Jesus has always been around.

My wife and I believe the Bible to be very valuable for learning and a means of hearing from God. We also believe the Holy Spirit within us and His still, small voice is even more valuable. We believe godly friends and wise people of God can be a help and guidance to us as the Holy Spirit speaks through them.

Jesus word of GodSo many of us want to fight and defend the written word we call the Bible. We divide ourselves into groups and denominations, we separate ourselves from the world, we fight, condemn and alienate ourselves over the written word because we think it is the inerrant words and ways of God, yet the true Word of God, Jesus, is standing right in front of us and we miss Him. Just like when Jesus was talking with the Jews and said in John 5:39 and 40 … ‘You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life’.

We see that life is in Christ. Jesus is not telling them to come to the Bible or accept the Bible, but to come to Him. Jesus is the true, powerful, inerrant, living Word of God. Read your Bible, let the Holy Spirit bring life to the words, learn and be encouraged from them, but realize the written word is not perfect. Look to the living, perfect Word who is Jesus, and listen for His voice through the Spirit.

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It has always amazed me how we Christians can be so argumentative. We just don’t know how to accept one another’s differences in doctrine or interpretation.

Following Jesus is obviously based on loving God and loving others. Yet we have nearly 40,000 different denominations, mainly because we can’t agree and accept one another.

We argue and defend our doctrines and interpretations, and we get mad when others disagree or have a different viewpoint. Even when we partly agree, we feel the need to point out where we differ because we think that our way is right, and everyone else is a little off.

I understand that we are not going to agree on everything, and each of us have a little different way of seeing things and understanding things, but we go too far when we let these differences separate us. We want to keep in our own particular group, which we usually feel is the more correct way to believe, and we do not want to associate with some of the others. This should not be, we can have our differences yet without separating ourselves from other brothers and sisters in Christ.

In regard to spiritual things, we are all people of faith. Whether we are Christian, Atheist, Muslim, Buddhist or whatever label we place ourselves under, we all live by faith. That does not mean we are all followers of Christ, but we are all people of faith. We do not have to be afraid to associate with people who do not have a faith in God. We just may be the only view of God they get to see, and love and acceptance should be what they feel through the power of the Spirit within us.

Faiths

None of us can prove beyond a doubt that our way is right. People have faith there is a God, or there is not a God, faith in the after-life and heaven, or faith in reincarnation, faith there is no hell, or faith that there is just an end to our existence. We can’t prove any of it either way you look at it, yet we all seem to fight and argue amongst ourselves trying to defend our viewpoint.

No matter what we believe, how much we love God, or how much we are convinced there is or is not a spiritual side to life, we cannot prove our point, it is all by faith.

As mentioned in the Bible, we walk by faith, not by sight. I am glad I have a faith in a God who created me and loves me, a God who has provided freedom from my sinful nature, and a God who has come to make His home within me, and that I will forever be in His presence.

I also respect the rights of others to feel differently. I don’t think it is my responsibility to expect anyone to believe the same as me, or to put their faith in the same things that I do. It is the Holy Spirit’s place to draw others to the Father, and convince others of their need of Christ. It is the Spirit who teaches us and leads us into truth. My responsibility is to love and accept everyone as they are, and be ready for God to show His love through me.

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The institution of marriage is such a great comparison to life with our Father. I think a lot of the time we miss some good points about marriage that directly relates to life with God. To many times we do not associate marriage with Kingdom meanings.

Actually marriage is a shadow of spiritual things. Ephesians 5:31 and 32 state … For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. The church being mentioned here is not a building or an organization. The Church are the people who Jesus brings together. It is not a weekly meeting, it is a living organism made up of those of us saved by grace.

One of the things I’ve been thinking about recently is how we are one with God. It’s hard to imagine that our Father lives within us. Jesus said when he left the earth, he would send us another comforter. Through his Spirit, he came to make his home within us and he is constantly with us.

We always think of God sitting on a big throne, way off in heaven somewhere and that one of these days we will go and meet Him and live with Him forever.

The thing is, that is not what His written word tells us. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, God’s physical dwelling place on earth. His Spirit dwells within us and He will never leave us nor forsake us.

Now it’s not saying we are God, but we are one with God. The best way I’ve found to make sense of this is to think of marriage. When two individual people fall in love, make a commitment to love each other and live together, the bible says the two shall become one.

OnewithGod

Does that mean that the spouse becomes their partner, that they somehow become the same person? No, both people remain individuals, yet they live as one. Same with us and God, we are still the person He created, yet because God loves us and we love him, he made his home within us, and His spirit lives within us. We are one with God.

In John 17:21 Jesus is talking with the Father and asks … that they may all be one, even as You Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. Seems to me it is truly a marriage made in heaven.

We do not have to wait to a future time when we live with God in some far-away place, we are living as one with Him in His Kingdom right now. We are his temple, his dwelling place, and each of us are equally important parts of his body.

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If you think by the title of this article that I am going to say being gay is a sin and they had better repent or else, you are wrong. I will not get into the debate of whether being gay is right or wrong, or of bashing other human beings. We see and hear enough of that kind of talk all over the place and truthfully, I think we should be above that way of acting and show the love and acceptance Jesus said we should have for one another.

For some reason or another, Christianity has made being gay the supreme sin of the world. Whether it is a sin or not is not for me to decide. I do know we ALL have sinned in one way or another. God showed us how to live a perfect life and none of us can do it. He knew we were unable to live a sinless life, and He sent Jesus to provide a better way, a way of grace. He did the work, now we can rest in Him.

Jesus told us to love others. He did not put us in charge of pointing out everyone’s differences or mistakes. We are all different in one way or another. Jesus came to show us that God loves and accepts us, and when he died he took our sinful nature and put it to death.

I recently saw an article somewhere that said gays hate Christians. First, I do not believe that, at least not for all gay people. Let’s face it, some gays do hate Christians, as do some straight people.

I really believe the problem for those who hate Christians is because they see Christians who are unloving, condemning and unaccepting. They seem more concerned about being right and getting their point across rather than showing the love of God. What those taking the brunt of such treatment so often do not see is the Father, who is love. They see people calling themselves Christians, yet not acting at all like God our Father, who loves all, accepts all and died for all.

Today what a lot of people see, and it seems especially gays, are people telling them they are bad, they are sinners, they are unacceptable, they need to change. Unfortunately, a lot of people saying these things are Christians who are supposed to be showing the love of God.

Jesus came to show us the Father. He came showing love and acceptance to all he met. In fact, the only ones you see Jesus having a problem with were the religious people of the day who thought they were better than everyone else.

love-yet-different

We can love and accept others even when we are different and do not agree. Loving does not mean always agreeing, but it does mean loving without condemning and expecting anything in return.

We can be Jesus to those we come in contact with each day, but let’s be the Jesus of the bible, who loves and accepts others. Let’s not be a jesus of religion who condemns those who do not believe and act like we expect.

God is love, and we, as followers of Jesus and representatives of God, are to be like our Father, loving everyone we meet along the way.

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Here in the United States, this is the week we celebrate our national independence and freedom. We all enjoy the sense of pride we feel at this time, and we celebrate the freedoms we have. We all enjoy watching the fireworks shows and enjoy the many ways of celebrating with friends and family.

Fireworks

I, along with most Americans, love my country. I certainly don’t agree with everything that goes on, and I don’t say we are anywhere near a perfect country. I also can’t agree that we are a Christian country, or one nation under God. But I do think, in my opinion, that this is one of the greatest countries and I am very happy living here.

So many opportunities, so many good things and so much abundance for most of us. So many people served our country and gave their lives for it. I am so appreciative.

We have a democracy and freedom that a lot of people do not have, although as time goes by, it seems we are losing more and more of them. Yet, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

The political system that has been set up in our country gives everyone the right, freedom and opportunity to vote and/or run for office. I do have a problem with the fact that so many Christians feel that being a Christian means being a Republican. Truthfully, these days I think our political situation is one where neither party is totally moral or completely trust-worthy, so I certainly do not put my hope or trust in any political group.

Yet, as Christians we know that our true citizenship is in heaven. Our true leader is Jesus. When it comes right down to it, our all-out allegiance is to God.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with loving and respecting your country. Like Jesus said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s”. No matter which country you live in, you have grown up there and love your country. Yet, although we are separated by countries and political systems, those who are followers of Christ are united in being citizens of the Kingdom of God.

We do need to remember that our loyalty is not to be to any country or political system. Our true loyalty is to the Kingdom of God. Our true allegiance is to God and living as one with our Father.

FreedominChrist

Be free to celebrate the good things we have in this country. Respect the people who have given so much for the freedom we enjoy. But keep in mind that this is not our home. Our home is with God, we live in the Kingdom of God, and no matter what country you live in, God is within you. Let His life flow out of you to show others the love and freedom He has given to each of us by grace, through Christ.

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