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Archive for the tag “scripture”

What I learned in San Francisco.

This last week I took a trip with the family to San Francisco. If you know me, you know that I’ve typically considered California – particularly that part – the equivalent to Sodom and Gomorrah. So I went and I kept a wary eye open. Here’s what I came away with.

While I was running around the Bay Area and Northern California I saw no rainbow stickers on cars.  Of the other car decorations (Darwin “fish”, “Coexist” stickers) that typically cause me to bristle, I saw less in San Fran than I see in Ft. Worth. What I didn’t see: drag queens, a bunch of gays doing open PDA, hippies, or angry libs.  I also didn’t see some things I usually see in Texas. I didn’t see strip clubs. Nor billboards advertising strip clubs on every freeway. In Texas, if you travel any US or interstate highway for at least 60 miles you’ll drive by at least one “porn shack” (adult video store/theater). I didn’t see any of those either.  Also in Texas, if you go in a mens’ restroom (especially in public parks) you’ll find men who leave their phone numbers and sexual requests written on the bathroom wall. I never saw any of that either in Cali. The fact is, I see more flaunting of pornography, strippers, and homosexuality in North Central Texas than I did in Northern California.

The Bible belt appears to be less sexually moral than San Francisco.

I was really expecting someone to comment about my accent (especially as I realized how many times I say “fixin’ to.”)  Everyone I did talk to was friendly and helpful. Those that weren’t originally from Texas seemed cool with Texas. Whether in Tahoe City, San Francisco, or the wine country. The only person conscious of my accent or my home state was me.

It made me think of how things are in my Bible Belt town and Bible Belt circles. People that go to various churches in my town can’t even get along with other people from the other churches. That’s why we have 3 Southern Baptist churches that are all pretty much the same format. People within the churches can’t agree on what should be considered “proper” worship music. Think of some of the most controversial topics in evangelical circles:

Contemporary style vs traditional.
Hymns vs praise songs
Arminianism vs Calvinism
Cessationism vs Continuationism
Freewill vs Election
Once saved always saved vs Losing salvation
Us vs Them

All of these – All. Of. These. – are all different views that can be supported by Scripture and argued against by other Scripture. We consider ourselves the bearers of “real truth,” fortifying our doctrine with select verse and interpretations. Meanwhile we’re snuffing out our own light trying to throw water on the other side of the argument. None of those topics I mentioned are without flaws, holes, and misinterpretation. Yet we’ll stand our righteous ground like a Texan holds to his opinion about San Francisco without ever actually having gone there. And, like I was, we probably know we’re not really “right” but we can’t convince ourselves of that.

Am I making sense here?

Often what causes a negative opinion is a bad experience. Some people throw out spiritual gifts like healing and prophecy because they’ve seen them misused by charismatic churches. I’ve heard people who favor traditional worship dismiss contemporary worship because praise songs are repetitive.  Another cause of a negative opinion is when we read something that sounds agreeable then filter our Bible reading based on our new ideas. Then we feed ourselves only stuff we agree with, thinking our way is the ultimate truth. If the definition of “doctrine” isn’t “my opinion about what God says, as incomplete as it may be,” it probably should be.  After I’m done studying for this test for work, I think I’m going to pick an author who I usually wouldn’t and read one book of theirs.

Since when is it a good idea to develop a doctrine about the Bible, then try to place what is eternal and the very definition of life into our little doctrine box? Instead of tossing the pendulum back and forth, can we not just put it in the middle and leave it there? Or maybe, just maybe, we need to realize that the real Biblical truth lies somewhere in the middle of our polar views.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t know what we believe. We just need to realize that these hot buttons aren’t the complete picture and we need to quit hanging our faith on them. Just like it was completely silly for me to be so judgmental about another city’s culture. As I found out, where I’m from actually had the bigger plank of the place whose speck I ridiculed so much.

What’s dissolving the influence of Christianity in this country isn’t just Hollywood or liberals. It’s Christians trying to fit church and Jesus around what they want, and not what actually ispendulum.

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Is karma Biblical?

 

Another br220px-It_Shoots_Further_Than_He_Dreamseak from the “Stuff we Say” series. Though in a way, it’s not. We’ve often said things that agree with the idea of karma. Karma, in our Western culture basically means “What goes around, comes around.” (The actual principle of karma in the Hindu beliefs where it originates is actually more complex.) While the Bible doesn’t directly say “What goes around, comes around,” there are two verses that speak to that principle

Obadiah 1:15 “For the Day of the Lord is near, against all the nations. As you have done, so it will be done to you; what you deserve will return on your own head.”

Galatians 6:7 “Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap,”

Truth takeaway: While not actually called “karma” in the Bible, the concept is the same.

Freedom takeaway: When we’re hurt by someone else or see injustice done we want them to pay and pay dearly. These verses are a promise from God that He will deliver what is deserved.

Scripture prayer for thoughts.

It is no secret that as a person thinks in a heart, so are they. Here’s a prayer I wrote to pray for my own thought life. Feel free to use this as your own prayer.

Lord in the past I have ravaged and polluted my mind with stuff I’ve done, stuff I’ve seen, fantasies I’ve entertained, and stuff I’ve heard. I can’t undo any of it. For those things I ask forgiveness – forgiveness for anytime I have entertained and thought fondly of those things you despise. Transform me and renew my mind (Rom. 12:2). Search my heart. You understand these desires and every thought attached with them (1Chr 28:9). Our enemy doesn’t know my thoughts, but you do (Ps. 139:23, 1Cor. 2:11). I am nothing without you and incapable of having pure thoughts on my own. Some of these fantasies have me thinking a lot of myself. I know these are lies. Empower me to think of myself soberly (Rom. 12:3). I renounced these thoughts I’ve entertained. I put away the childish thoughts and reasoning. I desire and pursue thinking like a man (1Cor 13:11). By the power of the Holy Spirit – the Counselor – let my thoughts argue against and demolish the pretenses that set up against knowledge of you. Let me take every thought in my mind, capture it in the first-frame threshold of it, and make it obedient to Christ that I may have the mind of Christ (2Cor 10:5). Lord, I know you judge the thoughts and attitudes of my heart (Heb 4:12). From the heart flows evil but praise you for making my heart clean, pure, and good. Let the thoughts that come from it be clean, pure, and good as well (Matt. 15:19-20). I desire to think of things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8). Cleanse my thoughts and mind, O Lord!

“Follow your heart.”

Popular advice says to “Follow your heart.”  The idea is that if you follow what your heart wants to do, you won’t make a bad decision and everything will go well for you. Can the heart be trusted? Can we let ourselves be led by it?

“The heart isdon't follow your heart more deceitful than anything else, and incurable — who can understand it?” Jer. 17:9

“For from within, out of people’s hearts, come evil thoughts,  [and a whole list of bad things].  All these evil things come from within and defile a person.” Mark 7:21-23. Broken hearts just aren’t found in failed love and romance. Hearts truly broken bring out the worst in people.

“He who trusts in his own heart is a fool but he who walks wisely will be delivered” Prov. 28:26. Okay, now I’m not so sure I want to be following my heart around.

“Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” Prov 4:23. It seems hard to guard something when you’re following it. These next two passages convey the idea that we are responsible for taking care of our heart, not letting it take care of us:

“Who can say, ‘I have kept my heart pure; I am cleansed from my sin?'” Prov. 20:9. “Don’t gloat when your enemy falls, and don’t let your heart rejoice when he stumbles,” Prov 24:17.

Perhaps we’re supposed to lead our heart, rather than follow it. What we put ourselves into our heart will follow. “…guide your heart on the right way” (Prov 23:19).

Truth takeaway: Don’t follow your heart. Lead your heart. Guard it and protect it.

Freedom takeaway: When we’re following our heart – our misguided heart – we’re basically giving it control of how we live, decide, and feel. By leading it, we’re taking back direction of our heart. This frees us from the entanglements a fickle heart brings.

Would you rather be a leader to your heart, or a follower of it?

(Images courtesy of here)

What’s Coming Up…

A quick post about subjects I’m working on:

The Bible is full of proverbs – little tidbits of wisdom about life and how to deal with life’s events. Over time people have made up their own proverbs based on their experiences. Sometimes we borrow proverbs from other religions and re-make them to fit us. Over the next few months I’m going to do a series on some common sayings. A lot of them sound Biblical or churchy and are thought to be in the Bible. We’re going to look at some and determine if they speak Biblical truth.

I’ve really been looking forward to these. I’ve said before that there’s a whole lot of non-truth going around, even among Bible-believing Christians. Hopefully this will clarify what the Bible really says.

As for other subjects:  During the “Stuff We Say” series I’m going to post about subjects of a more critical nature. Issues such as sexual compatibility and idolatry in America are two things I’m working on now.  Concerning a personal statement of faith about what I believe… I’m working on that. Or, at least, I plan on working on that… My goal is to have one complete and up by the end of the year.

Feel free to share, repost, and link to anything in this blog you’d like. If there’s something you’d like me to write about drop me a line. Also, bear with me as I figure out how to do this blogging thing. Writing posts is one things. Figuring out the technical stuff on WordPress is something else.

Are there any subjects you would like to see covered on Freedom.Truth.Marriage? Leave a comment.

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What are we here for?

Why did God make man? What was the purpose of creating humans, apart from all other animals? Why us? What are we here for?

Some would say we are here because God wanted fellowship. That would imply God needed something and is not sufficient in and of himself. God is complete and whole. He’s not lonely. He doesn’t need us. Does he like fellowship? Yes. We are important to him, but  our purpose isn’t because God needs fellowship.

So what are we created for? Us, and all of creation were created to give glory to God – to worship God. In Isaiah 43:7, God says about us, “whom I created for my glory.” Who worships God when people don’t? Creation. God created humanity as a part of that creation. But he gave us more: his own breath of life. It’s from that breath that we obtain life.

There was a minor hiccup in that a man and a woman chose to be knowledgeable on their own and were tempted to be like God. Thousands of years later that broken relationship between humanity and God was reconciled through Jesus Christ. Now Christians are spiritually reconnected, once again obtaining life directly from God. And because of that we worship our God as living sacrifices, giving him glory. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God,” 1Cor. 10:31. In heaven we’re going to be worshiping and giving glory to God forever.

Because this is what we’re created for – glorifying God on earth and eventually in heaven – then our motives should be bringing glory to God. Also, we should be focused on how our lives here will bring him glory in heaven, later.

Truth takeaway: The purpose of all humanity is to glorify God and eventually be reconciled to him that we may glorify him there.

What the Bible says about Truth

Based on what I’ve wrote about proving the accuracy of the Bible, we can know with confidence that the Bible is the Word of God. We can trust that the Bible speaks truth. Since we know it’s true, we can learn what else is true from it. What does the Bible say about truth, as a whole?

A lot is said about Jesus and grace. Jesus was also the Truth. “We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14b). Love of this truth is essential to salvation (2Thess 2:10).

We are to live by the truth. John 3:21
Love rejoices in the truth. 1Cor 13:6
God wants everyone to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Tim 2:3-4
God is the God of truth. Psa 31:5

There’s been a lot of talk and debate about worship in the last 200 years. One thing that God definitely wants in worship: spirit and truth. John 4:23

Rom. 1:18,25 – The truth can be suppressed by godless and unrighteous people. From there they can switch Biblical truth for their own version of the truth (which is actually a lie and not truth at all). Is this not a description of our society today?

Eph. 6:14 – “Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest.” The belt holds the other pieces of the armor together. If you don’t have truth holding the other pieces of the armor in place, you become an easy target.

Truth = Freedothm.
The truth sets us free from sin. If we’re set free, we’re really free (John 8:32,36). Also, where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (Notice that it doesn’t say: “Where there’s lack of sin in one’s life, there is freedom?”) (2Cor 3:17). So freedom comes from truth, and the Spirit of the Lord. This makes  sense when you consider that the Spirit of the Lord, who is the God of truth, is truth.

Having a concrete, consistent source of truth is a blessing. There’s a lot of lack-of-truth going around. Some intentional deception, some just misguided information. That’s why I really felt led to start this blog: To dispel a lot of things that we think are true, but actually aren’t.

Reading the Bible through another person’s glasses.

In a post here, people were talking about a church with Calvinist sounding beliefs trying to join a local Baptist association. Without getting into detail explanation, basically a church that believed certain things about what the Bible said was trying to join a club that didn’t agree with that church. I posted a comment that I thought I would share here:

I think the bigger issue is that believers are aligning to a doctrine and allowing that to be the lens in which they view the Bible – the Living Word of God. I grew up in a church that had a hermeneutic that did just that. If you read the Bible through their glasses you’d see how what they said was true, but you’d have to dismiss, ignore, or excuse away other scripture. I think people do the same thing when they choose to adopt Calvinism, Arminianism, Wesleyan,  et. al.

Let me remind everyone that Calvin, Wesley, Stone, Campbell etc. are men. They are men who wrote an opinion of what they believed and found verses that agreed with such a belief. This is the essence of these doctrines – they are opinions!

Instead of allowing a doctrine or belief to shape how we read the Bible, we need to be reading the Bible with the mindset of the whole picture, letting the Holy Spirit guide us to proper interpretation.

The Bible doesn’t contradict itself. You can’t have free will or election exclusively; worship with instruments or a cappella exclusively; ‘once saved always saved’ with ‘one transgression and you’re condemned’. The Bible has verses that support all of these opposing views. This means that not one of them is exclusively correct. There’s a middle ground, explanation, or interpretation that will allow all these views to agree. We need to seek that agreement.

Whether or not one adopts Calvinism/Reformation theology or any other doctrine as their personal doctrine is one thing. Letting that doctrine read the Bible to them and close them off to anything the Scriptures may be saying outside of their preferred doctrine is another.

Imagine taking off the doctrine glasses, and reading the Bible with as little presumptions as possible.  I did this 17 years ago and it was the best thing I ever did for my spiritual growth.                                                                                        pts-bible-glasses-photo

Is the Bible for real?

A lot of what I’m going to be putting on this blog will be referring to Bible passages, or thoughtsapologetics1-full and ideas from the Bible. Lately there seems to be a lot of doubt concerning the Bible. Was it written by men or God? Did men manipulate it over time? How can a book that claims the earth is about 10,000 years old agree with modern science that says the earth is millions of years old? There are whole books that address some of those questions. Even so, scholars can’t agree on which of those books are even right.

Few people would doubt that Homer or Plato really wrote the works credited to them. The Bible is far more authenticated. In other words, there are more historical documents and original documents that are consistent. More than any other religious or ancient book! If someone’s going to argue against the Bible being authentic, they’re going to have to doubt the authenticity of all other ancient works.

Some passages of the Bible, which critics once claimed were myth, have now been confirmed archeologically. For example:

  •     Secular archaeologists once thought the five cities of the plain described in Genesis 14:2 were  mythical. Now documents have been found that list these cities as part of ancient trade routes.
  •     The excavation of Jericho reveals that the walls did fall as described in the book of Joshua.

A few passages in the Bible predict future events in  detail. These are future events to the writers that have since occurred. Around 536-539 BCE, Daniel wrote a prophecy that predicted the next three world empires and their falls: Persian, Greek, and Roman Empires. If the Bible weren’t inspired by God, how could the human writers in know about these later empires?

While the Bible isn’t written as a science book, it mentions scientific principles and facts that go beyond what was known to people back then. It’s has been historically and archaeologically proven that the following books were written:
Genesis – 1445-1405 BCE
2 Samuel – late 900s BCE
Psalm – late 900s BCE
Proverbs – 970-700 BCE
Ecclesiastes – 935 BCE
Isaiah – 700-680 BCE
Jeremiah – 585-580 BCE
Jonah – 760 BCE
1 Corinthians – 55-56 CE
Job – The event of Job occurred around 2000 BCE but may not have been recorded until 583-538 BCE.

This page has this to say:

“The truth of the Bible is obvious to anyone willing to fairly investigate it. The Bible is uniquely self-consistent and extraordinarily authentic. It has changed the lives of millions of people who have placed their faith in Christ. It has been confirmed countless times by archaeology and other sciences. It possesses divine insight into the nature of the universe and has made correct predictions about distant future events with perfect accuracy.”

Next post we’re going to look at some scientific principles and compare them to what the Bible says about it.

Infinite Forgiveness

FathersonforgivenessI was in 4th grade when I was baptized. The church I went to was very legalistic so I read the Bible and developed an interest in how to understand it. My problem was – as it is with most kids – living it out. There was an adult male who, technically, had authority over me. He went to the same church until he grew up, then he quit attending. I don’t know what he was taught back then but something got distorted along the way. Quite often he would use Bible verses to make me feel guilty or ashamed of something I did.

There’s one of those talks that really sticks out to me. I had done something I had been told not to do again. He said something like “What does God think when you keep doing ____?”
I replied, “I’ll just ask him for forgiveness.”
He spoke as if he had knowledge of the Bible when he responded, “Do you think God will just keep forgiving you over and over?”
“No.” I answered. I think my answer was more out of fear of him. Because I know that’s the answer he was looking for.

When retelling this to a counselor years later, I told them that deep down I believed that lie I responded to. They showed me the truth of what God’s Word actually says about infinite forgiveness and prayed with me. I haven’t believed that lie since.

Here’s only a few verses that talks about Gods forgiveness versus condemnation:

Nehemiah 9:17 “But You are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in faithful love, and You did not abandon them.”

Psalm 86:5 “For You, Lord, are kind and ready to forgive, rich in faithful love to all who call on You.” …He’s ready to forgive all who call on him. Ready. To forgive!

Psalm 103:3 “He forgives all your sin; He heals all your diseases.” …All means all. Not a limited number of times.

John 3:18 “Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.” …I never was condemned, even back then. Likewise…

John 5:24 “I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.”

Romans 8:1-2 “Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” …No condemnation. None. None means none!

Romans 8:34 “Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us.” …Whether an authority figure, parent, church leader, age, size – no one can condemn those in Christ.

Hebrews 8:12 “For I [God] will be merciful to their wrongdoing, and I will never again remember their sins.” …By remembering it means God won’t hold them against us.

It can’t get more plain than this: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. …No stipulations. No use limits.

Truth takeaway: God forgives. He’s ready to forgive, not reluctant to. There’s no limits to his mercy, grace, and forgiveness.

Freedom takeaway: If you feel God can’t or won’t forgive you because of something you’ve done; or if you feel like you’ve just done too much – He will. He can. As often as you need it.

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