I want to start by saying this: Just because YOU don't understand the Bible doesn't make the Bible wrong or God a liar. For some reason, atheists in particular, are drawn to the parts of the Bible they do not understand, and then finger-point like little children while whining away. What is worse, if YOU personally cannot give them an answer, then they conclude that THEY are right and YOU are wrong.
How ignorant and childish.
Just because you cannot give an answer to someone on any topic doesn't make your statement false. I can say with confidence that the speed of light is 186,000 miles per second, but if someone asks me to prove it I'm going to have to shrug. If they ask me how I know it is true, I'm going to have to point to a book somewhere. If they further challenge me to prove the book I didn't write true, I'm going to have to say "Go to the author." Atheists, however, do not want to go to the Author of the Bible, because they do not believe in God. So instead, they want you to speak for God, and are ready to pounce on you if you can't. "See! You can't prove it! It must not be true!" So, God is a liar because I cannot prove the Bible true?? Wow.
Well, the speed of light is still 186,000 miles per second, and it's not up to me to prove anything. So it is with questions about the Bible I may not fully understand. That we both, atheists and Christians alike, may not fully understand a particular passage of Scripture does not instantly make God a liar, or the Bible untrue, nor do I have to prove anything.
That said, Christians should feel free to stiff-arm the questions they do not understand for a while and say "Let me do some research on that and get back with you." Truth is, there is nothing to fear from such childish finger-pointing, and if you will put just a little time into some Bible study, looking at the context of the passage in its proper place and time, and really seek to gain a real understanding, then I believe you can have an answer.
Here is one particular passage that, for no good reason, has confused many. Again, atheists will finger-point like little children and ignore the vast majority of Scripture in an effort to hold YOU responsible for a Book you didn't write. I will simply let the question stand as written first and then give answer next week.
"Matthew 16:28, “Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”
Mark 9:1, “And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.”
Luke 9:27, “But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.”
Some means more than one. Jesus has not returned with all of his powers. Where are these men who were alive then and are still alive? Truth or lie: There are 2,000 year old men still wondering the earth who personally met Jesus."
See how the question is worded? He wants to draw an exact line with the words "truth or lie" and later he personally challenges me to give answer "Where are these 2,000 year old men?" as though I had them hidden somewhere in some secret undisclosed location or something. It's funny really, because the Bible answers this exact question.
I told him on February 21, 2012 that I would answer his question next week, and so I will. Meanwhile, until next week arrives, I wanted to allow this question to go to all of you out there.
The words were spoken by Christ. Christ has not yet come in His kingdom. There were some present when Jesus spoke that were not going to taste of death until such an event took place. The Bible is true. Jesus did not lie, and you CAN find the answer in the Bible. Well? What do you think?
As I told my atheist friend, I will answer this question next week, but for the next seven days, why don't you think this over, study it out, and see what you find. I'll give you a small hint: he didn't ask "Where is the 6,000 year old Christian?" or "Where is the 3,000 year old Christian?" but he could have.
- reposted from www.MenRising.com
Something about screaming always sets my nerves on a knife edge. A number of weeks ago, I wanted to take my two daughters out for some ice cream. So, we piled into the car and took off, and it was a nice ride just listening to my two daughters talk to each other, talk about different topics on little girls minds, and I especially enjoy listening to my youngest who always seems to carry a song in her heart when she is happy. So it was not a little disconcerting when, as I was getting out of the car, I began to hear one of my two daughters scream from the other side of the car as though mortally wounded.
My first reaction was to figure out who was hurt, and then identify, attack, and shred to pieces whatever was doing the hurting. I raced around the edge of the car as my oldest just looked on with wide eyes at her little sister who was still in the car screaming at the top of her little lungs with eyes closed. The door was not open so I assumed she had somehow caught her hand in the door. I jerked the door open, but that wasn't the case, and she was still screaming while I began to feel more desperate.
I screamed her name asking what was wrong, and she pointed at . . . nothing. I couldn't see anything in the direction of where she was pointing. She then got out the word "spider" and my eyes finally narrowed in on a spider so small it could have been mistaken for a grain of sand dangling from the car ceiling 6 to 8 inches in front of her face. However, to a little girl with an overabundance of fear, a spider dangling from the ceiling of the car within 6 or 8 inches of her face probably looked terrifyingly huge, and she obviously felt obliged to feel terrified because of it.
I, being the hero I am, promptly smashed the spider between my two hands, but my daughter was still screaming. I finally had to grab her by the shoulders and yell her name telling her I killed it and it was gone before she even began to calm down. As I got her out of the car, she latched onto me in a tight embrace still sniffling. As I carried her into the restaurant to get ice cream, I could feel her small frame still trembling with fear. Or was it me trembling from the adrenaline rush? I guess it was hard to tell.
All I know is, that as a parent of the male variety, the sound of my daughter screaming in what I interpreted as great pain flipped my switch, and I was ready for war. Finding out that, in fact, no one had been hurt, and the source of all the mayhem was a tiny little creature actually had me feeling more sorry for the creature whose life had to be sacrificed so my daughter would regain her sanity. I began thinking, how could such a small thing bring so much turmoil to what was a perfectly good day, and upset my daughter so much that she could not function in any other way than sheer panic?
As we sat down for ice cream, I called my wife telling her what happened, and she told me that I just had to be understanding, that the fears my daughter has toward spiders is very real to her, and that she just needs to be comforted. I have to admit the "ready for war" mentality seems to come way more naturally to me than the comforting part of me, so the little reminder didn't hurt. I let my daughter talk with her mom, and then we all, eventually, began to laugh a little about what happened.
I was reminded in those moments by the last few words in Hebrews 13:5 that say, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Too often, I think, we leave God in much the same position that I was left in regarding our own fears about what happens in this vapor we call life. Being too easily upset about things, fear arrests our lives and we become incapacitated, unable to think about anything else other than whatever worry, doubt, or fear consumes us at that moment. God tries to remind us He is there and we have nothing to fear, but confronted with our own fears face-to-face, we leave God the task of swiping away the small things, and trying to comfort an irrational state of mind.
Whenever fear tries to take hold in my life in some fashion, I remind myself of what someone once told me: "Life is an incurable disease, and we will all die from it some day." He was joking, but the point is still true. We will leave this world and everything in it behind one day, so why fear losing these things when the outcome is inevitable? When it all seems to be falling apart and you feel like you are losing everything, try to remember what is really important; that there is an eternity to be had, and the only "things" you can take with you are the people you have shared the Gospel of Christ with who have accepted the salvation of Jesus Christ. When it is all said and done, then one day you will see the only ones who had anything to fear are those who rejected Jesus Christ, while you had nothing to fear.
Long ago I heard couples talking about a book called "The Five Love Languages" and just about the time I heard the title my brain turned off and started wandering to other topics I keep stored in my brain's hard-drive for when "boring" conversations like this come up. I wasn't interested. Why? Well, to put it simply, the book had "love" in the title. I wish I could be more pragmatic, but that's it. I made up all kinds of assumptions just from the title, and I had come up with a vision of a book that contained all kinds of "mushy stuff" about relationships that basically women wanted men to know, but no man was ever going to read. Why? Well, it seems men don't read such books.
Fast forward to a conversation with a guy I had regarding his personal life with Christ, and I began to think of a few books that influenced me and he said simply, "John, I just don't read books." I hesitated, and then shrugged my shoulders. What else was there to say? When I talked about this phenomenon with another friend, he had a different response. When I told him about the guy who just doesn't read books he responded, "Really? Ya' think? The guy is having all kinds of problems in his Christian and personal life and then you found out he doesn't read books? Is it any surprise?"
It got me to thinking. There are a lot of guys out there who do read books, but there are also a lot of guys out there who proudly assert that "They don't read books" as though it were something to be proud of. I'm not saying a guy needs to get into "the mushy stuff" women enjoy in fiction, but there do happen to be some very good books worth a read. I am reminded by the oft repeated quote of "Charles Tremendous Jones" that says, "Five years from now you'll be the same person you are today except for the books you read and the people you meet." Years later, this quote was paraphrased to say "A man is never changed but by the books he reads and the people he meets."
Men don't want to change though. They resist being changed. I have never met a man yet who said, "I married her because I just knew she was going to change me into a better man." I fact, if that had been part of the marriage bargain up front, most men would probably never follow through with getting married. I say this in jest, but in some part of men there resides an idea that if we are good enough to marry the way we are now, then we should be good enough the way we are for the rest of our lives. However, that simply is never true, for everything changes in life, and men need to be able to change and grow and improve over time or risk becoming either irrelevant, or replaced.
Getting back to my original topic though, I eventually was encouraged strongly by a good friend to pick up and read "The Five Love Languages" with my wife. I was hesitant, but told him I would. I was just sure the book was going to talk about all the "mushy stuff" women love, and that the message would be something along the lines of "You're doing it all wrong. Idiot." I am happy to report that nothing could have been further from the truth.
In the end, there was a lot to be gained from reading this book together with my wife. We learned a lot about each other, I discovered some very interesting and encouraging things about myself (turns out I was doing a lot of things right already!), and also discovered ways to do the right things even better. My wife learned along the way as well, we were both helped through the process, and our marriage took another bump up on the ladder of success.
This would not have been possible if my manly ego had not been laid aside long enough to pick up the book, but it had me thinking about all the men out there who may be thinking, or even proudly saying, "I don't read books." This message is for you: "If you're not reading good books, then you're doing it all wrong. Idiot." Now go set your manly ego and pride aside long enough to realize you need to change as all things change in life, and the best way to make a change is to guide that change by reading good books and opening yourself up to being influenced by good people. Why? Because real men read good books!
It always seems to happen eventually. It finally happened for Keith, a friend of mine, and the results could have been devastating but turned more to the comical. Keith is a relatively new Christian. He's been saved for some time but just now really coming into his own as far as his walk with Christ. Years ago, while talking with him one day outside my house, we were interrupted rather rudely by someone demanding that we both hand over our money.
I knew the guy as a neighbor in the area, but Keith had no idea what was going on. "Friend of yours?" Keith asked nervously looking at me. I smiled and said, "I'll handle this." I just looked at the guy and said nothing. I'd heard this before, and I'd hear it again, but this was a first for Keith, so I wanted him to hear it all. You see, my neighbor is a devout atheist, and as much as I enjoy speaking about my faith in God, he enjoys mocking it whenever he gets the chance. As he gets no-where with me personally, he often inserts himself into conversations when I am in public and talking with others. Kinda rude and annoying, but I figure its a free country, and Keith needs to hear this.
My atheist neighbor, let's call him Joe-Bob, proceeded to quote the Bible where it says, "Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again." - Luke 6:30. Joe-Bob began to make all kinds of outrageous demands as well as asking for our wallets, keys to our cars, and everything we own. "If you're really a Christian, Jesus commands you to do these things in the Bible." I stopped him right there. I've tried talking with Joe-Bob before, but he's of the mind that no explanation is ever good enough, so I didn't even bother.
I called him by name and said, "If you want to take my wallet and money and everything I own, you are welcome to try, but know that I am going to be dialing 9-1-1 in the next 10 seconds telling them that someone is trying to rob me." That's when Joe-Bob went on a rant, saying how he knew it, we weren't really Christians, and that we were all (all two of us?) a bunch of hypocrites and on and on until I finally said, "5" and then "4" as I pulled out my cell phone and was actually going to dial 9-1-1 so he could yell into the microphone. He just started walking away after that waving his hands and muttering things I could not really understand.
Keith looks at me, "What was all that about?" I went straight to the point. "What do you think of what he said?" Keith doubted such words were even in the Bible, but I took him inside, opened a Bible, and there they were. Keith was rather speechless, as I imagine most Christians are when confronted by such lunacy. Let me pose the question to you now. How would you have explained what happened to Keith and the verse in the Bible?
Too often, we are tempted to simply dismiss the charges made by atheists without ever seeking the truth from God's Word because we are afraid the truth might be something we don't like. However, if we understand a few things about God up front, we need not fear. God is not the God of confusion or lunacy. If we are God's children, then we assume first of all that God's heart toward us is good. Second, from that perspective, when we hear or see something about God that doesn't sit quite right, then either our perceptions on the situation are incorrect, or our interpretations of events are incorrect. In the end, a righteous God does not sin, so we must try to align ourselves with God first.
I talked with Keith about the circumstances surrounding the passage when Christ uttered those words. Jesus was speaking to many groups and factions (Pharisees, Zealots to name two) of the Jews in the open air, in their land, during a time of Roman occupation. Rome was the law, and the Jews of that period were an occupied people under invasive Roman government control. Whatever the Romans wanted, they took, and for their part, the Jews saw the Romans as the enemy. Take a look at the middle-east today to see how well that culture tolerates any kind of occupying force!
To keep things simple, in Christ's directives in Luke 6: 27-36, Jesus starts out with "Love your enemies." Jesus was wise and would never have said anything publicly against the Roman government, but here the Jews would have translated "enemies" as "Romans". As Jesus goes on, you can imagine how well the Jews would have received the message (not so well and somewhat begrudgingly if you ask me) but the principle Jesus was preaching was this - do not escalate a bad situation. In those verses, Jesus gave some very precise examples as a guide to do just that.
Jesus does not specify Romans as enemies, but the context of the situation provides clarity of purpose and intent to His words. When you understand "Romans" as "enemies" and the situation of the Jews, the passage makes perfect sense. Still, there is a principle here that we can also learn from regarding our own enemies - do not escalate a bad situation! Does that mean that we should roll over and allow someone like Joe-Bob to rob us? Just think about it, and simple logic will tell us "Of course not!" However, if Joe-Bob was a Roman and I a Jew in Israel during that time period, I could not call 9-1-1 for help, and in fact, any response at all would just make an already bad situation even worse.
The principle of non-escalation of a bad situation does not mean Christians should not defend themselves within the scope of the law. As we live in a completely different society and world today, Joe-Bob is going to have to keep his hands off my property if he wants to stay out of jail, and you, my fellow warrior-poet in Christ, are free to respond to any assault within the limits of the law.
A husband comes home from a late day at work expecting to see his smiling wife, but instead he is greeted with a house full of silence. As he makes his way through the house, he begins to hear the sobbing sounds of his wife in the bedroom. There is news, it is not good, and the next words she will utter will shatter the calm of the world he thought he knew.
All of us know stories of devastation. All of us know someone who has suffered greatly, and some of us have stories of our own that would sunder the hardest heart. In the moments of great despair, there is no greater problem in the world at that moment than the one we face, precisely because of its proximity and nearness to us, because its effects are immediate in our lives, and because for the rest of our lives we will always have an easy path to that moment and relive and feel everything all over again.
Whether we hear of such stories or live through them, the inevitable question comes: "Why?" In the case of children or innocent victims, we often ask "Why would a loving God allow such bad things to happen to good people?"
It is a tough question, and one worth considering. There are many who would point to these exact moments in life as though they were proof that God is not real, or that if God is real, then He is a heartless, careless God. While we as Christians with a firm faith in God do not accept such judgements, even I must admit that I have sometimes in the silence of my soul pondered why such things happen.
In another familiar story mentioned last week that makes a great example is the story of Cain and Abel. We are all familiar with the actual story, so I will not retell it here, but suffice it to say that we would all agree that God knows everything and therefore knew of Cain's murderous intent before the crime was committed. On the other hand we have Abel. Abel had done nothing wrong, in fact, God was pleased with Abel. The death of Abel was not a judgement of God regarding sin in his life. In the end, we also know that God could have easily prevented the murder, but did not.
With such knowledge we must go where the unbeliever goes . . . God knew, God could have prevented it, but God did nothing to stop it. Why?
One hard fact that we all must understand is that we are not physical beings. This is crucial, because this understanding opens up a larger picture of what is going on. With a word, God from the spiritual realm spoke and everything we take in with our senses was created. The world and universe we know is but a fraction of reality. Some few men in the Bible were privileged enough to see into this spiritual realm, but suffice it to say that the spiritual reality is far greater than the physical one, and things that happen in the spiritual realm affect the physical world we see.
Another hard fact, is that we are spiritual beings with the shroud of a physical body, and we are called to fight in spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. II Corinthians 10:4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
As in battle, when there is victory, there are results, but also when there is no victory, there are consequences. The battlefield is in the hearts and minds of men, and there where we wage our war, God has given us free choice, thus God will not interfere.
Cain lost at least one spiritual battle before murdering his brother. God does not condemn Cain, but tries to encourage him to do better. Instead, Cain loses the spiritual battle of the heart and mind, and the consequences of that loss result in the murder of his own brother.
You see, when we lose the spiritual battle for our hearts and minds, there are consequences, but they need not all be so dire as murder. Bad attitudes, back-biting, resentment and anger, and a whole list of consequences can be found in Galatians 5:19-21. Read the list, and if you see any of these things true for you in your life, then rest assured, you are losing spiritual battles somewhere. If you are the victim of such things, then others around you have lost spiritual battles, and your proximity to them can mean that you endure some of the consequences of their failure on the battlefield.
Galatians also lists results of victory in spiritual warfare in 5:22-23. See, we often pray for the fruit of the Spirit as though it is a gift that God simply grants, but that is not how fruit is born. Fruit is a result of a process. Win the spiritual battles in your life, and the fruit of the Spirit will be yours, and not just for you. For as every victor celebrates a victory with others, so your life can become an inspiration for others around you with every spiritual battle you win.
You were given a sword, armor, and a shield for a reason. Defend yourself, my fellow warrior. You are called to fight.