Tag Archives: Bible

Love in the Garden

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Although I’ve never read a romance novel, the Song of Solomon in the Bible gets pretty risqué when you understand the symbolism, and I can only imagine it is kind of like a romance novel.  Who ever said God is a prude?

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Like Raindrops, Dew and Showers

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“Let my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distill as the dew, as raindrops on the tender herb, and as showers on the grass.”  —Deuteronomy 32:2  NKJV

One of the things I love about photography and God’s creation is how they can help me gain a deeper understanding of scripture whether I read a verse and try to compose a photo for it or shoot a photo and try to find a verse for it.  Consider the verse above and what it says, even if you’ve read it a hundred times.  I have read it many times before and missed its depth.  It is the Lord’s desire and instruction that His teachings be abundant as rain, His words a gentle covering like dew, beautiful and magnifying like raindrops, and refreshing like showers.

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Time to Cuddle

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Unconditional Love and Grace Are Not Dirty Words

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A few weeks ago I heard a preacher talk about God’s unconditional love as if it was a dirty word. On another occasion, an old friend spoke of grace with equal disdain. I understand where they were coming from. One was coming from an attitude of legalism, while the other was grieving over grace being taken for granted and used as a license to sin. I am grateful that the pastors and teachers at the church I attend preach about God’s unconditional love and grace in a balanced way and without contempt.

 My daughter and I were discussing how people see truths differently depending on where they are in life and through which lens they are looking. For example, a person who truly recognizes his or her own utter depravity and the amazing grace and unconditional love of God, tends to really understand grace and is able to be gracious toward others. They see grace in a very positive way. Those who tend toward legalism and feel justified because they are able to keep certain commandments or live what they consider to be a good Christian life, tend to view unconditional love and grace with less value and speak contemptuously about churches that emphasize God’s love and grace. It is reminiscent of what Jesus said to Simon, the Pharisee, when he scorned Jesus for allowing a prostitute to wipe His feet with her hair. Jesus said:

“Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gave me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but his woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, her sins which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much; but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” (Luke 7:36-50)

The preacher I heard also mentioned visiting a fellow Christian, and upon finding out he had beer in his refrigerator, condemned him and questioned whether or not the man was a true Christian. Even if the man was an alcoholic, it does not mean he is not a Christian. What if he is addicted but wants to quit? What if he agrees with God that his drunkenness is sin? Didn’t the Apostle Paul himself say in the very same letter to the Romans concerning there being “therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”, that he himself does what he doesn’t want to do and doesn’t do what he wants to do? Didn’t Paul call himself a wretched man and thank God for Jesus Christ his Lord? (Romans 7 :14-25)

The attitude of the preacher reminds me of the parable Jesus told of the Pharisee and the publican (with modern claims added in italics and parentheses for emphasis):

And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. (Alcohol has never touched my lips, nor my feet entered a movie theater. I am in church every time the doors are open, and I go out soul-winning every week.)” And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. —Luke 18:9-14

Another preacher, who is full of grace, has never condemned his crack addict friend. He does not question his love for the Lord just because his friend is in church for a time and then falls back into his crack addiction. This preacher loves his friend unconditionally and encourages him to never, ever, ever give up. Which one would you say is more like Jesus?

Unconditional love and grace are, indeed, not to be used as a license to do whatever we want. If we do that, then it is fair that our love for God would be put in question. But if we hate when we sin, if we agree with God and try to turn away from doing it again…

and again…

and again,

He forgives us 70 x 7, because He is full of grace and a love that does not put conditions on us, like doing penance, before He will love us again. His love is unconditional. A person who simply dismisses sin and makes light of it because of grace and unconditional love, may need to consider the seriousness of sin, the purpose of obedience, and his/her own love for God. Likewise, people who speak of unconditional love and grace with disdain, may need to consider their own depravity and remember from what they themselves have been saved.

If I err, I would rather err on the side of love and grace.

 

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The Son Of God Movie – Another Jesus, Another Gospel?

I saw the movie, and although it contained parts that pleasantly surprised me, other things that were both included and omitted disturbed me. I think it helps to know what is the worldview of the producers, because it can give some idea as to the movie’s purpose.  I think it was to portray Jesus as very loving, compassionate, and even winsome while still displaying righteous anger.   I hope those who watch it are moved to explore the Bible for themselves and learn the whole truth about Jesus and the Gospel.

Media 4 Life Ministries

Mark-Burnett-Roma-Downey Are you excited about what many call the “Epic Christian Movie” Son of God?

A lot of professing Christians are flocking to the theaters to watch this movie, produced by Mark Burnett and his wife Roma Downey.  Social Media, Magazines and the Web are filled with either articles or reviews about the film. Many Christian leaders hail this movie and many churches have jumped onto the bandwagon. If you are planning on watching this movie, or already have, I would urge you to view the movie with great discernment.

I’m not writing this to judge or condemn anybody who watches this movie. I just have some concerns about the movie and the producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. I have done some research after reading several articles about this couple, who claim to be Christians, but are in reality, full fletched “New Agers”

Roma Downey, a devout Roman Catholic, along…

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Should Christians Be Happy All the Time?

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Three years ago, I had published a blog post that was inspired by a song taught to children in church, as well as an article by Russell Moore entitled Why Facebook (and Your Church) Might Be Making You Sad.  I had been considering posting it again, and although I could be wrong, I think the Holy Spirit gave me a nudge to go ahead and do so.

The song is high energy and fun to sing because of hand motions and increasing speed, but it hit me three years ago that it can also be very confusing and deceiving.  Why?  Well it goes like this:

I’m inright, outright, upright, downright happy all the time.
I’m inright, outright, upright downright happy all the time.
Since Jesus Christ came in and cleansed my heart from sin,
I’m inright, outright, upright, downright happy all the time.

Are Christians happy all the time?

When a little girl in a preschool class heard she would be singing the song, she cried out, “But I’m not happy all the time!”

Out of the mouth of babes.

Are Christians happy all the time?  Should we be?  We might try to pretend to be, but no, we’re not.  We have the same struggles as everyone else.  I think there are a few reasons we might put on a façade:  1) It makes us feel more religious/spiritual, 2) We have a sincere desire to glorify God, showing He is real and trustworthy, and we wrongly believe being happy all the time is most glorifying to God.  But can we truly reflect what’s real, if we ourselves are not?  Is that glorifying to God?

One of the things Russell Moore said in the article mentioned above is, “By not speaking, where the Bible speaks, to the full range of human emotion—including loneliness, guilt, desolation, anger, fear, desperation—we only leave our people there, wondering why they just can’t be “Christian” enough to smile through it all.”

Children, teenagers and even adults could be left asking themselves, “What’s wrong with me?  Why am I not happy all the time?”  Not only that, but they can learn to not trust the Bible or church, because what they’ve been taught either doesn’t square up with real life or they later realize they were led to believe something that isn’t true.  Even Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart, for I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33)

I mean no disrespect to anyone who has taught or still teaches the song or songs like it, because no one would knowingly seek to confuse or deceive children.  Sometimes we do things because it’s what we ourselves were taught or because it’s what has always been done.  But I think when children speak or react, we ought to take note and consider if perhaps changes need to be made in the way we present things.

Edited on February 24, 2014 @ 20:48 to add:  I should have said and need to add that the preachers and teachers of the church I attend do speak to the range of emotions found in the Bible, so this post is not an indictment of them. The purpose of the post is to encourage review and consideration of things we’ve always done and things that may sound good but may not be true.


Let Us Exalt Him Together

O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt Him together.  —Psalm 34:3

O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt Him together. —Psalm 34:3

When I see sunsets, especially majestic ones like this, I can’t help but think of the magnificence of God.

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. —Psalm 19:1


Wisdom Wednesday: ‘Knowing’ vs. Knowing

"Knowledge is a treasure, but practice is the key to it."  —Arabian proverb

“Knowledge is a treasure, but practice is the key to it.” —Arabian proverb

Have you ever gotten unsolicited advice from someone without experience? Have you ever had a boss try to tell you how to do your job, even though he has never actually done it himself? Have you ever thought you knew something and realized how little you actually understood until you had to put it into practice? Or have you ever thought you couldn’t do something until you tried?

“Thinking is not knowing.” —Portuguese proverb

One particular time in my life comes to mind when the subject of ‘knowing’ versus knowing comes up. Through some assumptions, gossip and hearsay, lies were being told about me. When someone did actually talk to me, they became aware of what was true, and they were embarrassed at having believed what was not true, which brings to mind the quote by Oscar Wilde, “When you assume, you make an ass out of u and me.” That is when I fully understood John 7:51, which says, “Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?” Nicodemus had asked it of the Pharisees who were judging Jesus without ever having spoken to Him. And although I fail at times, I try to talk to a person directly to get to the truth when I’ve heard something questionable, because I know what it’s like to wish people would talk to me instead of believing what someone else has told them. Until I experienced it, I only thought I understood.

“A book gives knowledge, but it is life that gives understanding.” —Yiddish proverb

“Experience is the best teacher.” —Belgian proverb

“What is a Greek’s way of saying they have knowledge? A Greek will tell you they have knowledge when they theoretically understand something. Hebrews says, “No, that’s not knowledge. Knowledge is when you know how to do something and you’re actually doing it.” And Jesus spoke to the Hebrew mind. See, learning about Jesus and going deeper with Him is not learning more facts about God. That’s why we got so many… that know so much Scripture but are mean as snakes. They know doctrine, they know theology, but it hadn’t moved from [the head] to [the heart].” —Steve Cobb, pastor in Can’t Get No Satisfaction

“To know and to act are one and the same.” —Samurai proverb

In John 7:17 when Jesus said, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself,” He was basically challenging the naysayers to put the teaching into practice, then they would know it was truly from God.

“Knowledge is a treasure, but practice is the key to it.” —Arabian proverb

“You never know what you can do till you try.” —American proverb


Wisdom Wednesday: How to Have a Merry Christmas

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Have you ever felt truly loved and known after receiving a particular gift?  Have you ever felt unloved and unknown even though given a gift?  While it’s true that some of the best gifts are handmade, the truly best gifts are those that are timely and fit who we are, because they were given out of love and according to knowledge and not simply out of duty or expectation.  One of the keys to loving is knowing.

“To be known is to be loved, and to be loved is to be known…”  —Chris Kinsley and Drew Francis in “The Woman at the Well”

3Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established: 4And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.  —Proverbs 24:3, 4

If wisdom is the right application of knowledge, then knowledge without application must be foolishness.  And even more foolish still is to have the knowledge available but never take advantage of it.

“Knowledge without wisdom is a load of books on the back of an ass.”  —Japanese proverb

“[The] opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is apathy. Love and hate both engage the emotions. Apathy demonstrates a lack of concern.”  —BJ in The River Walk: Weeping and Laughing

When you fall in love, don’t you want to know everything about that person?  Don’t you want to spend as much time as possible with them?  Don’t you try to think of ways to make them smile?  In order to do that, you have to spend time with them and learn to know what would make them smile, right?

“Nothing is desired that is not known.”  —Latin proverb

“There is no shame in not knowing; the shame lies in not finding out.”  —Russian proverb

“Lack of knowledge is darker than night.”  —Hausan proverb

With today being Christmas, Jesus’ birthday, people sometimes wonder what they can possibly give Him as a birthday present. The Westminster catechism based on several verses from the Bible says that the chief purpose of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  Don’t you enjoy people who enjoy being with you?  Part of the reason Jesus became a man was so we could know and understand God better.  He came to demonstrate His love for us and invites us to live with Him.

“Come live with me and you’ll know me.”  —Spanish proverb

“Knowing about Him is a necessary precondition of trusting in Him, but the width of our knowledge about Him is no gauge of our knowledge of Him.”  —J.I. Packer

“Christianity is not an action; it is a reaction.  The Bible is not a list of requirements, but a list of results after experiencing God’s love.”  —Peter Haas, pastor in his sermon Pharisectomy Part 2 – Joy Driven Christianity

The apostle Paul, who had a list of religious credentials, wrote in his letter to the Philippians that he counted everything as loss and even as poop in comparison to really knowing Jesus.  Because Paul had had an encounter with Him and experienced His mercy, grace and love, Paul had a desire to know Him more.

Since Christmas is really about the birth of Christ, the best way to have a truly merry Christmas is to find peace with it. Usually the best way to find peace with something is to understand it, and to understand we first need to learn and gain knowledge. So the best gift we can give Jesus, as well as others and ourselves, is to seek to know Him.  And if we already know Him, seek to know Him more.

Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!


When I Consider…

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“When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visitest him?” —Psalm 8:3, 4

This past week in a ladies’ Bible study, we watched the video below about the ‘bigness’ of God and the evidences of His love for us. It’s a long video, so if you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, start at minute 26. If you haven’t seen it already, I think you’ll be blessed.


Tickle My Ears, Tell Me What I Like to Hear

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.  —2 Tim. 4:3

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. —2 Tim. 4:3

Oftentimes when someone talks about people going to certain churches to have their ears tickled or who have ‘itching ears’, they describe them as people who want to hear only ‘feel good’ messages, teachings and sermons that lack Biblical doctrine. While that may be true, those who love hard messages can also be guilty of having itching ears.

A careful reading of both 2 Timothy 3 and 4 reveals it is not merely talking about soft and fluffy feel good messages, but any teaching that is unsound, especially concerning salvation, and that includes teaching man-made rules, also known as the traditions of men or traditions of the elders, as though they were commandments from God. Fluffy teachings can tickle our ears if we don’t like being told what to do. Hard messages can tickle our ears if we, not only like to live by a strict set of rules that make us feel like elite Christians, but like telling others how they should live, too. Oh sure, both fluffy messages and hard ones may contain some truth, but as a Yiddish proverb says, “A half truth is a whole lie,” and can lead people astray. Either way, if we tend to heap unto ourselves teachers who tickle our ears so we feel better about ourselves, we may want to consider if what we’re listening to and who we follow are sound in doctrine.


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