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Archive for June, 2010

You don’t have to read any farther than the third chapter of Genesis to understand why the world is the way it is. Just a glance around, and you can see there are no moral absolutes. Actually, there are so many different versions of them that it amounts to the same thing. God wanted to retain the exclusive right to make moral judgments concerning any aspect of knowledge. That is why the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge was forbidden.

You can easily see how our moral judgments, in conflict with those of God, would lead to exactly the kind of world that we experience today. Practically all of us would agree that there should be moral absolutes, but we can’t agree on what they should be. That is why so many different forms of government arise, and so many different religions.

Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge, and we’ve all inherited their DNA. We all inherit a mistrust of the previous generation, and each other. It didn’t lead only to conflict with God, but with each other. All children are little scientists, learning by experiment. That’s not all bad, but it very often leads to danger and disaster. We all try to establish our version of absolutes within our spheres of influence, with varying success. Even our homes are battlegrounds, with the world around us closing in.

God has let us experience a taste of what the fruit of knowledge can be like. Romans 8:20 says that God unwillingly subjected us to this “vanity” because he hopes for something. That’s my paraphrase of that verse. Most modern Bible translations make that verse sound as if we’re the ones that are unwilling, but it is true of God also. Differences of opinion concerning the translation, and interpretation of Bible verses, are due to the influence of the Tree of Knowledge also.

What is it that God is hoping for? God is hoping that when we experience this world, we will understand our error, and begin to trust him. Trust is a necessary thing for any sort of relationship to survive. In John 14:6, Jesus claimed to be “the truth.” That is the same thing as “the absolute.” God’s hope is that in our lifetime here on earth, we would come to agree that he is the truth. It wouldn’t be acceptable to only acknowledge that to be true, as we would be forced to do in a face to face encounter. It is critical that we actually come to agree that he is, and should be the absolute.

The account of the Tree of Knowledge is one of the greatest proofs that the Bible is true. This is scientifically verifiable. This sort of world is exactly what would happen if creatures with a high level of intelligence rejected their creator’s prerogative to define right and wrong.

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How can I believe something that I don’t believe? That was the question I had when I read that we must believe in Jesus. It was an honest question. I asked it because I assumed I was supposed to believe without evidence, logic, or reason. That assumption was totally wrong. What God is asking us to do is to take an unbiased look at the facts. We are to learn to believe in him the same way we learn to believe in anything else. He said, “Seek and you will find.” He wants us to look for the answers, and we must look because the world manages to obscure them.

If we’re really looking for the truth, the Lord knows that, and he will lead us. If we don’t really want to know the truth, we will come up with an alternative explanation for whatever evidence that we stumble upon.

The truth is there is much evidence to support the Bible in science, and history, and the reasoning, and logic of the Bible are perfect. There was a time in my life though when I didn’t know those things. An honest look at the Bible had not been part of my education. On the contrary, I had been taught there was no evidence to support the Bible, so that’s what I believed. I was taught that life had evolved. The weight of popular culture, then as now, was against Jesus. He wasn’t popular, and we all want to be popular don’t we. It’s a real triumph of the secular propaganda machine to be in control of education, and the culture, and yet to be able to typecast Christianity as the “status quo.” Just because there are a lot of churches doesn’t mean we’re getting the reality of Jesus across.

Peter’s message in Acts 2:14-41 had a great effect on that huge crowd, and you can see a difference between then and now. That crowd of people had a background knowledge of the Old Testament, and Peter called their attention to several prophecies concerning Jesus. Jesus had just been crucified, and these people knew about it, and they knew they had a hand in it. They were more directly responsible than we, and couldn’t deny it as well as we can today. They knew the tomb of Jesus was empty, and that his resurrection was the best explanation.

You could say that it’s a noble thing to believe in Jesus without needing any evidence. That’s not the way it works for most people, and it didn’t work for me. I had to get in there and dig to find out how and why. I’m afraid that almost everyone out there will have to do the same thing, because this isn’t a world that’s going to make getting to know Jesus very easy.

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The book of Isaiah was written more than 700 years before Jesus was born. There is an intact scroll of this book among the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is also in the Septuagint, which was translated around 250 years before Christ. It contains many prophecies of the life, and death of Jesus. Isaiah 52:13-15  & 53:1-12 are obviously about the crucifixion, and these verses are quoted several times by the New Testament writers. This section of the book is what the Ethiopian man in Acts 8:27-37 was reading.

It is very important to understand that these writings about Jesus existed before he was born into this world. This can be proven historically, and is one of many proofs that the Bible is what it claims to be. It is impossible for the Bible to exist unless it is actually the word of God. It would be impossible for Jesus to have fulfilled the prophecies if he wasn’t the Son of God.

His Visage (Isaiah 52:14)

He wasn’t only
Talking about the way that Jesus died.
The prophet’s not just speaking
Of how Jesus would be beaten and crucified.
It’s how the whole world makes Him look
With all the words of all the books and all our lives.
If you want to know the real God, don’t hide your eyes
Here is how he’s recognized.

His visage is so marred, more than any man.
When we see love so scarred, we begin to understand.
He has felt the bruise of every sin all laid upon him.
The hurtful words and deeds of every hand
Have marred him more than any man.

The Bible says the weakness
Of God is stronger than the strength of men.
God’s weakness is his love for us.
This world is only using us, and wounding him.
Though he was crucified in weakness
It is only by his stripes that we are healed.
His scars become the marks of beauty
And there the love of God cannot be veiled.

His visage is so marred, more than any man.
When we see love so scarred, we begin to understand.
He has felt the bruise of every sin all laid upon him.
The hurtful words and deeds of every hand
Have marred him more than any man.

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I think people very often go too far in their interpretations of the Bible. I’ve heard people preach that there’s no heaven for an animal when it dies. They base that teaching on one or two Bible verses that might be interpreted to imply that. The verses do not directly say that, and there are other verses that seem to say otherwise. I think that’s a presumptuous thing to teach to a child whose pet just died.

I’ve heard Billy Graham quoted as saying to such a child, “If you want your pet to be in Heaven, it will be.” Whether Billy said that, or someone else, that’s a pretty good answer. I may try to add a rough recording of this song to my disorganized website sometime. It’s based on Matthew 10:29, and Luke 12:6.

When The Sparrow Falls

I know that it’s a hard world
Not the peaceful kingdom
No longer the garden that God made.
Yet the Lord said not one sparrow
Falls without the Father.
Remember that he said don’t be afraid.
Don’t try to fly away.
Come down to the cross.
Surrender to the hands
That reach out for the lost.

Why would he be there when the sparrow falls?
Why would he even hear a sparrows call?
If the Fathers hand isn’t there to catch them all
Why would he be there when the sparrow falls?

The Lord said not one sparrow
Is forgotten of the Father
So his care for his creation must be great.
Would you go any farther?
He is nailed onto the cross
Reaching for the hands that pull away.
We’ve cost him more than many sparrows.
We’ve flown so much farther.
Falling for the fires
Our hearts are so much harder.

Why would he be there when the sparrow falls?
Why would he be dying on a cross?
If the Fathers hands are not reaching for the lost
why would he be dying on a cross?

Why would he be there when the sparrow falls?
Why would he even hear a sparrows call?
If the Fathers hand isn’t there to catch them all
Why would he be there when the sparrow falls?

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Here’s another song I’ve never been able to get the melody right on. I think it’s a good song idea, and I like some of the lyrics. I thought I’d just toss it out on the waters.

The Greatest Revelation

In a way that never was before
And never shall be anymore
The very heart of God has been made known.
When we see him face to face
The glory will not take the place
Of the greatest thing that he has ever done.
He grew stronger in his death than in life.
He never could have held me otherwise,
So he became the sacrifice.

On the cross is the greatest revelation
The very incarnation of the greatest love.
On the cross is the greatest revelation
The very incarnation of the unseen God above.

Only God could dream it up
Come down like rain to fill our cup
Sometimes it’s hard to do the thing you must.
He became a man, a son,
The greatest thing he’s ever done
Though it seems a lowly thing to become dust.
He is high and mighty, high up on a cross
Humbly dying, reaching for the lost.
His dying cry is the cry of God.

On the cross is the greatest revelation
The very incarnation of the greatest love.
On the cross is the greatest revelation
The very incarnation of the unseen God above.

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What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words sovereign, glorious, or omnipotent? Christians and non-Christians alike will probably think of God, but their thoughts about him will be somewhat different. None of us have seen God in his glory. As a matter of fact, our low estate separates us from his greatness, so that we cannot comprehend the glory of God. 1st. John 4:12 says, “No one has seen God at any time.” Certain prophets at times caught a glimpse of God in a vision, or had an encounter with the “pre-incarnate Christ,” (Hebrews 1:1-2) but as God told Moses, “…you cannot see my face, for no one can see me and live.” (Exodus 33:20-23) Besides the thing about our sin, I don’t think we could physically withstand a close encounter with God. That’s why he became a man.
Here is something that might come as a shock to some. God isn’t nearly as desirous to show his glory as he is to reveal his heart. Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you…, (join me) for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29) Are those the words of God, or of Christ alone? I think that Jesus answered that question in John 14:10  when he said, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own…”
There’s an ancient custom of tearing your clothes upon learning of some tragedy or atrocity. Then there are the prophets words telling us to “rend your hearts, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord, your God. If I wanted to understand the heart of God, I would look at an event where the Temple curtain that separated God from man was torn supernaturally. (Mark 15:37-39) If you want to see past the veil and understand the heart of God, don’t look out into space or something. If you want to see God, don’t look at me, or any other person, whether Christian or not. Look upon the cross at the death of Jesus. “We preach Christ crucified…” (1st. Corinthians 1:23)
Terminology such as “the sovereignty of God”, or “the glory of God” accentuate the gulf between God and man. The cross of Jesus tears the veil of separation, so that we can grasp the love, and mercy of God. That’s what God desires most of all. It’s a good thing God is sovereign, otherwise the universe would self-destruct, but people get this sovereignty and glory thing all mixed up. Take a close look at Jesus. He shows the true colors and glory of God. (Hebrews 1:3)

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