Saturday, May 31, 2014

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, How Does Your Denomination Grow?

My oh my, one Bible, and so many denominations and divisions! Quite understandable, they say. Individual interpretations, you know. After all, the Bible is so complex, and who really knows?

And "It won't make heaven any prettier, the way we believe." Let's just find something we can all agree on, and let it go at that. And while we're at it, let's include all religions under one umbrella. And let's include atheists, too.

It's really a matter for individuals to decide, and one opinion is as good as another. We don't want to exclude anyone. I mean, just because God does. I mean the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He can be so narrow sometimes.

All this talk of a chosen nation. Luckily we no longer believe that do we? Everybody is chosen. Everybody is elect. Some people are so picky, it's almost like they're choosing a bride for their son!

So we have gone from original Bible truth to various religious denominations and the desire for reconciliation. One by one we ignore doctrines that are easily proven as Bible based, in our progress towards a mishmash of church confusion.

Ever wonder if church goers know what the doctrines of the Bible church are? They really are not so complicated. It is in private agendas and personal psychologies that complications arise. Old age has taught me that such agendas have produced these different variations, not an honest search for Biblical truth.

This honest search, usually by lone individuals, has produced an agreement across the ages. The key is to close your eyes to church doctrines and study the Bible. When you do, you will join great people throughout the ages who are united by Biblical truth, even when they stand alone. They believe the old maxim, "God follows the dictates of no church."

Friday, May 30, 2014

God Will Not Forget You

O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! Job 14:13

If Job had a favorite flower I'll bet it was the Forget Me Not. For Job expected to be dead and in his grave until after the great tribulation. I believe that is what he meant by "until thy wrath be past", because that is the greatest wrath of God in the future for him, or for anyone else.

After this wrath, God will resurrect Job and other saints--those not made alive in the Rapture. We find a perfect description of this resurrection in Daniel 12:2. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

For Job, like David--and even like me--knew that in this present life we all are mortal. We die completely, until God brings us back to life in a series of resurrections.

Almost all people believe we have a separate, immortal soul that peels off when we die. My beloved Baptists use this concept in witnessing. "Do you know where you'll be fifteen minutes after you die?" I have a rough idea where. Probably in this apartment. Hopefully in bed, maybe in the kitchen. I almost died there in the "peanut butter incident".

But I am certain that my immortal soul will not have traveled alone and gone to heaven. I don't have one. I have this certainty from studying the Bible. There simply is no such an idea in the Bible. If anyone knows where there is, please tell me in the comment section and I will print it.

How miserable a heretic I must be, think some. I think they are death deniers. Their natural minds cannot conceive the idea that they will die. It's an old controversy. It began in Eden. God said that man would return to the dust. Satan denied it.

Someday soon I will die. Fifteen minutes later I will still be dead. I will be hidden in a grave next to my wife in Centralia, Missouri. No newspaper notice, no funeral, just an unmarked grave. I may soon be forgotten. But I am sure God will remember me, just as He will remember you.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

When Did the Trouble Begin?

For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Acts 20:29

We are all familiar with enemies of the faith--skeptics, doubters, and mockers. To many of us they are "out there" and easily identified. But Paul warns of a different threat--those who "enter in among you".

My friend Joy told of one way this could happen. She spoke of Christian literature written for children. "It is advertised as approved by L. Nelson Bell, Billy Graham's father-in-law. To many this was a good reference for authenticity. But it was actually written by a little lady who was filled with goofy ideas."

To remove false teaching, like legalism, from the minds of children once taught, can be a lifelong struggle. Early learning seems to stay with you and haunt you. Some are turned away from church altogether.

My mother told me of her experience as a little child in church. The preacher was shouting about the fires of hell, and she was so frightened she hid behind her mother.

Paul says these wolves will be inside the church.

During wartime we were all aware of agents who could harm the war effort. I remember riding past a local reservoir and seeing a sign that said, "Anyone past this point will be shot". Very scary for a kid to see. It was explained to me that it referred to those who would poison our water. No one ever tried and no one was shot. It was all part of a very conscious mind set of caution.

In my last attendance in a Methodist church I read in the literature that one of the Psalms was really a hymn to Baal! How I wish that the caution concerning our drinking water applied equally to what is taught in churches. The lambs must be aware of the wolves in their midst.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

You Never Know Where Mass Killers Will Strike Next

It's impossible to escape the story of a young man who shot a number of people in California. He was questioned three times by police, but was said to be ok because he was "polite".

Statistically, these tragic deaths cannot compare to the major causes of death in the USA, but are considered extremely important by the government-controlled media because they are used to try to convince people to give up their guns. The number of shootings can be increased at will by creating more shooters through MK-Ultra, so you can expect more.

People continue to buy guns at record rates. The history of weapons control goes back as early as the control of iron weapons by a government that had Israel under slave-control.

Now there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel: for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews make them swords or spears. 1 Samuel 13:19

Mass killings will continue, some of them even committed by people not taking psycho-active drugs. But the ones you can predict are far, far greater. They are the product of the number one killing nation on earth, the United States. They would have you concentrate on one-man crimes, while they fight endless undeclared wars, destroy our crops with genetic modification, pollute the atmosphere with chemtrails, and let radiation roll over our land unoted--much of it of domestic origin.

Amazing the number of killings that take place to "protect" us from others. But who will protect us from the real mass murderers?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The United States West Ghost

First, I should apologize for even bringing the subject up. I mean radiation streaming into the U.S. Although it is killing us slowly, it is not that important. The really important things are politics and politicians. After all, we owe our lives to them. Sure they make mistakes, but then who doesn't? If they err, they'll get us out of it. Kind of like the old saying, "Arsonists start fires, but they also put them out."

I've tried to adopt a casual attitude about deadly radiation in our air, food, and water. I was doing pretty good too. Until I started reading about the "Petkau effect". I read a whole book on it, just to help me relax before I went to sleep. Big mistake though. It turns out it did not help me sleep at all.

Imagine someone saying that low doses of radiation over a period of time are more deadly than big surges of high intensity radioactivity! People who tell us there is nothing to worry about, and to ignore a "pet cow" effect, try to reassure me.

What if no one in the U.S. is monitoring the radiation from Fukushima, or at least not telling us if they are? If you can't trust TEPCO, then who can you trust? And the U.S. government, would they lie? Would they do anything but lie?

So, though I am constantly reassured that all is well, I have my doubts. Maybe I shouldn't have read that doggone book? I should not read ENEnews. They and their commentators just upset people. The animal deaths on our West Ghost, are caused by some bad algae, that's all. I'm sure that such findings make it a lot easier for them to suffer and die.

But before you believe any scientists, it's a good idea to find out who pays them.

Watch Dr Helen Caldicott - Fukushima Nuclear Disaster- You won't hear this on the Main Stream News.

Monday, May 26, 2014

My Shell is Broken!

Our family used to raise chickens. My father brought home a box of fertilized eggs and carefully warmed and turned them under a light bulb. As a child I watched and listened as they began to peck their way out of the shells. It must be hunger that drives them to break their shells and emerge, blinking, into the light.

After a brief time drying their yellow, fuzzy bodies, they became animated and began to run about. While I consider kittens the cutest of all baby animals, I vote chicks as the most active and entertaining. I made a pen for them, with a big sheet of plywood for a floor. I put a flat rock in the center so the more dominant could scamper atop and look down upon their fellows. Soon you could hear the patter of their little feet as they ran around.

I placed a bug on the floor and the game was on! One of them picked it up and ran with it, while the others chased him. It was baby chicken super bowl time. I marveled at these brave little guys, but I mourn for my fellow Christians who are afraid to leave their cramped little shells.

I was once such a one. I had a great awe for science. To me it was omnipotent. Though I had become a Christian in high school, I feared that a Christian's faith could not stand against the great "truth seekers", the "only the facts, ma'am" impartial science proponents.

That was long before I learned that the great men of scientific renown in the past were Christians. I'll mention just one, Sir Isaac Newton. That was a time before the Liars took over.

I felt the stories in the Bible were largely myths and dared not be examined. Boy, did I have a long way to go! But slowly I realized that it was science, so-called, that dare not enter the arena against the Bible. For God owned the arena, and he also owned the earth where it resided, and the solar system, galaxy, and universe that contained them.

While people study the Bible to arm for the battle, it is not this study alone which is the remedy in this fight. It is science that we really need to examine. So at least read the ones who have done so. Never be afraid, as I was, to combat worldly lies of any type. In the words of the ineffable George Bush, spoken in an age when gods strode the earth, "Bring 'em on."

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Must Everything Be About Salvation?

Such a thing to ask! Salvation is how we begin our Christian lives. How can anything be more important? But my question is about the many things God has in his Word that are about our actions after we have been born again.

A father, of course, is overjoyed by the birth of his child. But he would not admonish his son that he must so conduct himself that he will be born or would stay born. Birth is a starting point not a goal.

I had lunch once a week with a very genial and earnest young man. He was very well versed in Covenant theology. Being of a different persuasion, I mentioned that many believe every covenant of God is treated as soteriological. My friend did not like this, though he offered no scripture to the contrary.

To many, God keeps offering different ways for us to be saved. You may have heard that "We used to be saved under the law, but now we are saved by grace." The law--and this is not so complicated--saved NO ONE. An animal's blood saved no one. Only the blood of Jesus saves.

So what is the purpose of the law? I would say much. It reveals God's nature and his righteous demands. It was never meant to save, but to instruct and to judge.

By the way, what covenant was Abraham under? Paul tells us that Abraham is the father of all who believe, yet he lived hundreds of years before the law was given. Quickly we see that Abraham was saved by Faith, as are all.

God does and will do many wonderful things, but they are not all about salvation.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Snapping Turtle Turns

When I was a kid I saw a motionless turtle in a park. I approached it, stick in hand, to see if it was alive and maybe could make a good pet. Suddenly the turtle whirled and hissed at me. I was shocked at its virulent response.

Recently I have experienced human versions of this response. A man who put his arm around me and referred to me as "brother", completely reversed his stand in response to my criticism (imagine that) of his church. He would no longer talk to me.

I had forgotten for a moment that his was a "loving church" as opposed to a "truth church". I much prefer a "truth church". They let you know, up front, that you had better conform to their beliefs without asking any questions.

It has been said that the ministry of Jesus was received in three ways in as many years. First, people listened to him in curiosity and examined his claims. Second, there was excitement and enthusiastic response. Last of all, a growing rejection ending in treachery.

Personally, I do not trust super lovey dovey churches or individuals. Give me the tough minded hard asses every time. Once you get past their shells, these turtles will not turn on you.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Except it be Given

John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. John 3:27

One of the last talks my friend and I had shortly before he died, was about how some could understand a doctrine while others could not. We concluded that there are some truths that cannot be conveyed unless the hearer is given the ability to understand. Not "has the capacity", but is given the gift of understanding.

My friend Walt was so gifted. Scriptures reached him easily and he understood.

I have had the sad experience of watching as people select out Bible verses that seem to support their beliefs, and reject others that conflict with them. You can look online at Bible commentaries that come to opposite conclusions using the same Bible. Then it hits you. People form their beliefs first, then interpret the Word accordingly. You find that in many cases you are not having a disagreement over the Bible at all. Something else is at work.

It could be experience, custom, or culture that helps to form the Great Enemy of Bible understanding--the Preexisting Belief. This built-in belief is often impossible to alter. "I still say" will win the day.

Here is where the gift of God is evident. When someone accepts a truth that totally contradicts a once strongly held belief, it is the Spirit of God at work.

Laurens Van der Post, in The Dark Eye in Africa, told of a tree that blocked a highway building project. The tree could not be budged, even when pulled by teams of oxen. A medicine man said he knew the answer. He made offerings to the demon that held the tree in place. Once he did this it was easily moved.

The doctrines of demons hold many peoples' minds stubbornly in place. Only by the grace of God can they be gifted to understand. No amount of evidence will convince them, and God does not give this gift of understanding to all.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Bus Driver's School Theology

Remember Bob Newhart's routine about the bus driver's school? The part about keeping a woman in doubt about catching the bus?

Bob says, "You pulled out too fast. She gave up in the middle of the block. Pull away slowly. Keep holding out hope."

As funny as this was, it is a terrible way to treat Christians. Holding out hope, I mean. It is as if the powers in the corporate church say, "Keep 'em in suspense. It's a good way to control 'em."

It is commonly taught that if someone believes they are saved and that they can't lose their salvation, they will relax, stop trying, maybe even act up. We can't have that now can we?

The terrible problem with this, of course, is that the Bible's message of The Security of the Believer (Romans chapter eight for instance) is not believed to be a good way to manage peoples' behavior. And managing behavior crowds out the Bible's assurance of salvation.

This is not just a theory on my part. I was a member of such a church. My father told me, "I believe we're saved day by day." I heard a Presbyterian minister, a friend of mine, say the same thing, though this is not Presbyterian doctrine.

How wonderful to live for Christ, not out of fear, but of love and assurance.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

How Babylon Could Once Again Be a Seaport

In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!' "Every sea captain , and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off. Revelation 18:17, NIV

This passage, and surrounding verses, again and again refer to cargoes of treasures transported by the seas. Is this restored Babylon to once again be a seaport?

I can hear the self proclaimed wise ones saying, "Does this ignorant peasant actually take this scripture literally?"

They believe that any literal interpretation must mean that Babylon's religion is the Roman Catholic church, and the seaport could refer to New York or London. Until these places are built between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and named Shinar and Babylon, this fanciful "interpretation" is ruled out.

A powerful proof of the future location of this end-time wickedness is given in a much neglected part of the Bible, Zechariah chapter 5:1-11. How I love this chapter! It irons out the wrinkles that people claim are in Revelation's Babylon. Nothing is for sure concerning prophesy in some churches. But this blessed book nails it down!

The NIV says Babylon, but the KJV says "Shinar", which is the oldest name for this region. Different names for exactly the same place! But who reads Zechariah any more?

Now that leaves the problem of Babylon's inland location. Though it was a seaport many years ago, now it has been silted in and is far from the sea. Climatology to the rescue. I love the union of science and literal Bible interpretation. Despite what many people think, it happens all the time.

I absolutely believe in Global Warming. Now that is a political issue (it can't be true if Al Gore says so) what should be a matter of measurement, has become an argument without resolution.

What has this to do with Babylon as a seaport? Briefly, when the huge stores of ice melt, and the sea expands through warming, I believe "Shinar" will once again be on the sea. Or the sea will come up to it. I asked my best friend to link the best scientific video I have seen on a trend that is well underway.

Watch Arctic Death Spiral and the Methane Time Bomb.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Doing "Your Part"

Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad-- in order that God's purpose in election might stand: Romans 9:11, NIV

My good friend Joy believed that getting saved was a two part operation. God did his part, and we did ours. It was a team effort all the way. Lost people were the result of saying "no" to God, and therefore not being born again.

The billions of people who never heard of Jesus were not a part of this plan, but it did mean that a lot of people went to hell that God wanted to give a chance to. This terrible flaw in God's plan could only be corrected by more missionaries. Some people felt that unless a person had a chance to say yes or no, they might be excused for not having been given a choice, but that hasn't been established.

I am so glad that God uses down to earth physical examples to show that election is his work, not hours. Tares don't want to be tares, and wheat does not choose to be wheat. Paul's example of the potter making two kinds of vessels from the same lump of clay, says it so well. The potter, not the pot makes the decision.

It is so sad that people hate the doctrine of predestination, which is illustrated throughout the Bible. Starting in Genesis, He uses the example of babies, often twins, having different futures. "But he looks ahead and foresees the choices they will make." This is said by those who have no scriptural support at all.

Paul says just the opposite. "It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God's mercy." (Romans 9:16, NIV).

I thank you Father that you chose me, before I was born, and did not leave it up to me.

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Christian Scholar Looks Deeply Into the Babylonian Talmud

My childhood church once had a preacher who was a big surprise to us. He was from Alabama, had a deep southern accent, and an outgoing gusto that was a bit much for my conservative congregation. We adapted and soon came to like him. He had another surprise for us. He was a super scholar in Aramaic acquired at Hebrew Union. You never know.

There are Christian scholars who can outdo Jews in the study of their texts, and reveal the true content of their agenda. Dr. Michael Hoffman is such a one. I came across him while seeking references to Babylonian- Jewish influences on the story that Jesus told about Lazarus and the rich man.

I have come to believe that this story--a condemnation of the rich and their treatment of the poor--is not a parable of Jesus and is not so labeled in the Bible. Rather Jesus used a rabbinic story originating years before His earthly ministry began. It's structure is a mirror held up to the corrupt Jewish people of His day. People who later would crucify Him. It is not a map of hell, or a guide to a mythical afterlife.

I am presently writing to a man of faith who fervently believes that the bodies of the unsaved dead are taken to hell upon death, based on this story. He has passages in double caps--his version of shouting on the Internet--to make his point. In reply I asked if he believes that the graves of the wicked are empty, as their bodies are being tormented in hell. Can a human body be in two places at one time?

I believe in Biblical literalism, but there are times when it does not apply. Walter Martin asked if, when God is said in the Bible to be a mother bird spreading His wings over his people, are we to take this literally? The Babylonian captivity as origin of the story in Luke answers the problem of literal-versus-nonliteral interpretation. This is a side issue in Dr. Hoffman's debate--one that I have raised.

My best friend asked if Jesus would quote such a Babylonian source. I thought of Paul quoting pagan poets (Acts. 17:28).

The evil, murderous content of the Babylonian Talmud shows us the true nature and intent of the Talmud writers and teachers. My beloved True Torah Jews, now a tiny remnant, retain the real heart of Judaism. Some day God will open their eyes and reveal Himself to them. The others--those who would dominate and kill--are revealed by the good Dr. Hoffman.

Watch The Other Side of the Talmud Debate: Michael Hoffman Refutes a Defense of the Talmud.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Octomom Churches

Remember the lady who gave birth to 8 babies at one time? Her name was Nadya Suleman. Turns out she already had six children and was on public assistance. So why bring her up? Just as an example of why more is not always better. Imagine the attention each child gets in her big family? I am not blaming her, though I do feel sorry for the kids.

What concerns me is huge churches, called mega-churches. The name applies to churches of nine hundred or more. Some have many more. I knew of one of 40,000, but I understand that has been far surpassed. Of course they will say, "We break up into small groups for prayer and study."

Wonder what the hugeness is all about then? I suspect that people are attracted by large numbers. "It must be good if so many people go there."

Doctrine (remember that?) suffers, music, prosperity teaching or so-called tongues entertain many though. Those that I know who went to super churches are not noted for their knowledge or understanding. I guess they are "experience people". Since I am not, I guess I do not understand them or their churches.

Their "take" or income does provide a very good living for their leaders, and may continue to until they lose their tax free status. After that, they may be brought down to the level of the churches Paul attended.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Dishonest Opinions

It is very common today to say that every point of view is equally valid. This is now considered a given. I don't give a hoot about the charade of politics for instance, but when this equality principle is applied to Christianity, I totally reject it.

I believe in and strive for absolutes. Like the gold in Fort Knox, just because I don't have it does not mean it is not there. Let me give some examples.

I reject the idea that Mormons and Jehovah's witnesses are just "denominations" of the church. They are separate (sham) religions and not in the household of God at all. To support their false ideas of who Christ is, they each have their own "holy" book.

There is an old saying among theologians that "Christology is the test of orthodoxy." This says it so well. You cannot believe in Jesus if you do not believe He is the Son of God. "A" son of God will not do.

Furthermore, though the followers of these cults may be totally sincere, the founders and leaders are not just people who have a "difference of opinion". They are enemies of Christ and his church.

A lady told me of a little girl who drank a glass of coal oil, thinking it was water. She died very quickly. Her sincerity did not alter the deadly effects of the poisonous drink.

If someone had a restaurant that served such poisonous food and drinks, and charged you for the poison, that would be what false religions do. Religions can be very confused and murky. In fact they are. But the Bible is not and neither are churches based on it.

You may have such a church in your living room or gathered around your kitchen table. Eliminate the paganism and spurious additions, and you have pure religion. Yes, there will be differences, but not over who Christ is.

The Bible is not so hard to understand if you have your own seminary. A study Bible, concordance, and perhaps a book of definitions like Bible encyclopedias are all you need. These are all available online, until the electric power goes out.

Do you want your family to have pure food and drink? Then why let them eat and drink poison religion?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Merge Ahead

Prince of Tyrus, Ezekiel 28:2; King of Tyrus Ezekiel 28:12

The form of prophetic writings takes a little getting used to, but is pretty easy once you understand it. First, the writer states his subject and tells you who he is. Then he addresses a current situation or one soon to be. He moves on to give prophecies as far ahead as the Great White Throne, which occurs after the millennium.

Isaiah is a perfect example.

"The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah." Isaiah 1:1

He goes on for 66 chapters, the same as the number of books in the Bible, for Isaiah is the most sweeping of prophetic books. He starts small and proceeds until a time over 1,000 years yet future of our day. The form is not a difficult one, but some have trouble seeing the turning point when the prophet begins to write of the future.

I came out of a Covenant theology church that avoided all prophecy with future implications. To them, the church had replaced Israel and claimed her blessings. The book of Revelation was interpreted as speaking of the past. They were amillennial and denied the literalness of the 1,000 year millennium. Since we were the subject of Israel's prophecies, their interpretations were very vague, and the whole subject was avoided.

Back to the "merge" concept. In Ezekiel 38 the prophet first speaks of an earthly ruler, known to all. He is addressed as the prince of Tyrus (Tyre). A few verses later the king of Tyrus is spoken of as having been in Eden! It's a whole new ball game, and we see the prince as a type of Satan. No problem if we pay attention.

This study is tedious and confusing to many, including entire congregations, and taken literally runs counter to their very worldly agendas. For me, it is a fascinating subject that opens up the whole Word of God.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Benaiah, Son of Jehoida

Benaiah son of Jehoida, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab's two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. And he struck down a huge Egyptian. Although the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian's hand and killed him with his own spear.
2Samuel 23:20-21

A mere 3,500 years ago or so Benaiah from Kabzeel performed these mighty deeds. I am sure many other men did so too. So why are he and these deeds recorded in the Word of God? I have an idea. In ancient times it was considered the greatest act of courage for a man to go into combat, take his enemy's weapon from him and kill him with it.

When in basic training at Fort Knox, I saw an instructor in bayonet combat choose a husky young man from our company, and tell him to come at him and try to stick him with his rifle. When the young man charged, the instructor stepped aside and used his own weapon to parry the rifle into the ground and send him sprawling. We were impressed.

Then he demonstrated how to disarm an attacker while you are without a weapon. Suddenly he swept an oncoming rifle into the ground with his forearm. When the dust cleared, the rifle was in his hands, and he poised it as if to thrust it into its former owner. Now we were really impressed.

Again, why is this recorded? What does it teach us? When the devil tried to use the cruel cross to slay Jesus in shame and dishonor, Jesus used the cross to vanquish the devil. This sacrificial act became the means by which He won the ultimate victory over his opponent.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Saved by a Lying Prostitute

By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. Hebrews 11:31

In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? James 2:25

I imagine that if her Hollywood agent had called up Yvonne De Carlo and said, "Have I got a part for you!" she would have accepted the role.

In the same way, I don't think there are any statues or stained glass windows of Rahab in any churches. But maybe there should be. After all, she was mentioned in the famous Hebrews 11 chapter of "heroes of the faith".

Her story could match any "spy drama". A lot depended on her deception--in fact the lives of the two young spies. She was spared and so was her family. Is it not wonderful who God can use and save from destruction?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Wonderful Mother-in-Law!

"Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don't let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do." "I will do whatever you say," Ruth answered. So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do.
Ruth 3:3-6, NIV

Much has been written about this wonderful story, and rightly so. Ruth even gets her own book of the Bible.

Boaz is a very active person in these proceedings. But I think Naomi is the one who made it all happen. You could hardly be in worse circumstances than she was--two sons died and left her destitute. But she had a plan and it worked perfectly.

Surely Ruth was a wonderful woman. Her devotion to Naomi proves that. But without intervention, this naive young woman would probably have gone on with her gleaning and passed into obscurity.

As the Russian proverb says, "Hope dies last." And in this case, hope fulfilled the plan of God. Because she did as her mother-in-law said, Ruth went from being an impoverished Moabite, to become an ancestor of Jesus Christ.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Devil's Baton

We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. 1John5:19

It would be so great to say right now that the "whole world" does not mean everyone. It does not, in this case, refer to the Church. Time for a Venn diagram to illustrate this wonderful exception. But we won't talk about that now.

This little verse tells us who is really controlling things. Don Barnhouse used to say, "The devil is not trying to make an evil world, he is trying to make a perfect world without Christ." We all know how terribly he is failing at it. Instead of a perfect world with a few defects, it is a Devil's world with a few bright spots.

But we may say there are many people who are very nice, even though they are unbelievers. Much beautiful music, art, and literature is in the world. Trouble is, these works and many of those who created them are going to die.

I don't mean just the first death, but Eternal death in God's incinerator called the Lake of Fire. The righteous will perish too. This "neighborhood" is not only dangerous, it is fatal. Despite his efforts the Father of Lies cannot give you eternal life.

My, aren't I pessimistic today! Yes, for I am a member of the most pessimistic religion on earth--Christianity. Does this shock you? I hope so. For classic pessimism is a world view, and Christianity offers no hope for the world.

The Original Liar is like a car salesman who sells cars that always kill their owners. Any color you like, nice seats and stereo, but some day it will kill you. Since I was saved as a teenager, my biggest struggle was to learn to give up on the world and seek life and happiness in the next world. I thought the salesman's car would last forever, then realized it would kill me.

Has this made me a bitter or unhappy person? Not at all. It has brought me the only real peace I have ever known, and the joyful anticipation of the life to come.

What about the one with the baton, conducting the music for a doomed world? He may seem to have paused as the church makes way for a wonderful world. But his tragic opera is not over yet. This has just been the overture.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Not All Allegories

Which things are an allegory:... Galatians 4:24

Think of a word used only once in the entire Bible. It makes you think that what precedes it and what follows is NOT an allegory, doesn't it? Yet there is a widespread practice of interpreting Bible truth in an allegorical manner. This is the modeling clay or Leggo method. "Let's see, what do I want to make today?" It is handy, depending on what you want to illustrate. You just manipulate it to make it come out that way.

A Hindu youth was attracted to the Bible because it was not written in such a way, but was literal. The literal way makes those who follow it seem rather unimaginative, though. They would prefer to reveal, in endless sermons, what the "real" meaning of the cross is. The non-literal crowd leaves you guessing, but very impressed.

I went to a college class with a very smart and comical fellow. He was like a red haired, Jewish Mickey Rooney. After a meandering lecture, he turned to me and said, "I don't know what the hell he means, but it's deep." Instead of showing the depth of the Bible, so many want to show how much they know. I am not impressed.

It is such a thrill to see the literalness of the Word--real people, and real places. I once had a class and mentioned that if you don't take the Bible literally, you miss its true meaning. The folks gasped audibly. What a shocking and novel idea.

Sure there are symbols in it. But if you look they will be explained. Symbols stand for real things, not vague ideas. These things can be learned, if you avoid the experts, and let the Word, teach the Word.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Why Eutychus Passed Out

And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead. Acts 20:9

This story in Acts 20 can be looked at in different ways. Some say it was a miraculous resurrection, others, just a young man fainting, and then recovering. I find that it tells a lot of an early church meeting.

The young man was not in a church building, but perhaps, because of crowding, seated in a window. Wouldn't you love to know what was being said at that meeting?

This was not an early Sunday morning, but at night, for lights were lit. Certainly, for the citizens of that time, there was no time off from work to go to church. It was an evening get together, probably after supper, when people were free to meet.

How important was such a little gathering? Very important, because Paul was there. How important was Eutychus? He got written up in the Bible.

If you ever feel insignificant, think of Eutychus. God sees the sparrow fall, and He saw him too.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Bethel Bible Course, or Why Doesn't the Bible Have Any Pictures?

Please excuse a journey into my ancient past. But my first Bible class, as a student, took place in a 900 member limestone Presbyterian church with a bell tower.

Problem is that some of the folks were tired of emotional pitches about current "issues". These dissatisfied people wanted to study the Bible! I did too. That is why I joined this "super church". Naive me. I was a child.

Now if you can't learn about the Bible in a church founded upon the teaching of Calvin, something is wrong. People were insistent. Poor church elite. What to do? No one had foreseen such an eventuality.

A search of the denomination's resources revealed (not surprisingly) that the entire Presbyterian Church had no Bible course! I can imagine them looking in the Yellow Pages under Bible courses. Finally they found one. Trouble is, it was a Lutheran course. But that was close enough, and they were desperate.

So they bought the Bethel Bible course and advertised for students to learn it, and later to teach it. I signed up for it before I joined the local church.

The study was based on memorization, and that was to be with visual aids. Key concepts were to be written onto "concept cards". These cards were to always be kept at hand. To catch someone without their cards was a kind of game, with a trivial penalty involved. Each week a new poster was unfolded. Memorization of the poster and concepts was the key according to the promoters of the study.

Suddenly it hit me. These people knew nothing about the Bible or how to teach it!

The course was to be paid for by teachers, and later by their students. I asked if tickets for sermons would come next? I felt like we were being prepared to sell vacuum cleaners or encyclopedias. If visualization and memorization were God's way of teaching, then why were there no pictures in the Bible?

But I followed the guide lines. I still remember one of the concepts--"the Dinah-Hamor incident". I have yet to find a use for that one. I studied on my own and used the posters as wallpaper.

Eventually I studied by myself for four years to prepare for teaching the book of Daniel. People loved to study that book. We were done with posters, and back in the Bible at last.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Messing Up a Simple Story

Been doing more studying on the Luke 16 story of Lazarus and the Rich Man. More people are calling this story just what it is, a parable. Even a little study will show that Luther called it that, and also scoffed at the immortal soul.

I just hear John Mac Arthur yelling, "The Bible is perfect. It does not need any modernization!" I have John's study Bible and do not lightly dismiss him. But his use of the term "the Bible" means the King James Bible. Imagine, way back in 1611, when it was first published if the Roman Catholics had said, "The Vulgate is perfect. It does not need any modernization!"

Modern translators say (just like Luther) that Lazarus and the Rich Man is a parable. You have heard this before, but I have been digging a little, and what I am finding is so exciting. I feel like a kid finding presents under a Christmas tree.

First I found that the story Jesus told, in modified form, came from the Babylonian Targum, and was familiar to Jews of that day. Jesus rebuked the rich and privileged of that time.

Today (decreasingly) it is heralded as "a map of hell". "We are so fortunate," I heard a preacher say, "to have this description of the afterlife." When I hear this, I know that the preacher has not looked into it at all.

Simple as that. He has spent more time playing virtual sports than looking into what he preaches about. I can forgive his ignorance. Maybe he knows a lot about Salvation Theology. I bet he does. So preach on what you know.

As for the denial of the literalness of the story Jesus told, it is not a modern idea. Luther, in the sixteenth century, understood it very well.

See The Origin and History of the Doctrine of Endless Punishment, by Thomas Thayer.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Unam Sanctam, More Bull on the Railroad Tracks

"Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.">/p>

So ends the papal bull Unam Sanctam of Pope Boniface VIII in 1302. As outrageous as this sounds, it is only half of the claims that this pope made. Under the doctrine of "the two swords", one spiritual, one temporal, Boniface also claimed that all kings and emperors be subject to his authority. Talk about a grab for power!

Remember how I wrote to you about my finding a parallel, or second control device that accompanied such claims? Not only did the pope and his church say that you were their earthly slaves, but they threatened your "immortal soul" with eternal torture in the next life. I mean, there was no escaping their power.

Better bow down and also ante up financially too. If you grew crops, part of their yield was owed to Rome, no matter where you lived. We don't have to look far to see why people wanted to be free from this domination.

There were immediate reactions to this attempt at total control. Kings such as Phillip of Spain rebelled. Theologians looked into the Bible, and found no basis for the bull. Some were even so bold as to ask, why, if the pope had the power to save people in this world, and even from hell, why didn't he save everyone?

Control of the Bible was necessary to keep people down. Just as misunderstanding it today is through faulty interpretation.

Dante used a multi-level hell to show his rejection of the pope, consigning him to the lowest level. Poets have power too. I am certain that more people have read The Inferno, than have read Unam Sanctam.

We can see that those who opened the Bible to the common people--men like Hus, Wycliffe, and Luther--helped to change the world and derailed the railroading of the two tracks.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Joseph's Egyptian Wife

Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath -Paneah and gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, to be his wife. Genesis 41:45, NIV

So much can be made of the story of Joseph, one of my most beloved stories in Genesis, and of the whole Bible. He is practically unique in that no sin is recorded against him. He is rather a victim who ends up with great honor and glory.

A pastor that I knew, and considered a friend, told me that he did not like Joseph, and thought that he "lorded it over his brothers". I was amazed because I thought he was very forgiving of those who had plotted to kill him.

There are enough similarities between his life and the story of Jesus that a book could be written about it, yet none has. He was beloved of his father. He foretold that some day they would bow down to him. They thought to kill him. He was sold for silver, left in a pit for three days even as Christ was in the tomb three days. Though rejected by his Jewish brothers, he was glorified by the Gentiles, just as Jesus is worshipped by his Gentile church.

It goes on and on, but it is his gentile bride of which I would like to speak. She was, of course, a pagan, a daughter of a pagan priest. But I am sure that, married to Joseph, she soon learned of the true faith.

Who is Asenath, but a type of the church? She began as a Gentile, then was married to a Jew who later became glorified. She was married to him during a time when his people thought of him as dead. Later their eyes were opened and they found that he was alive and in power among the Gentiles.

Such a blessed woman to have such a husband. The Gentiles received him, and he showed his bride the true way. I love the story of Joseph and of his Gentile bride.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Dante and a Few Corrupt Popes

In one of my all-time favorite movies, the hero decides to look for the truth on who runs the world. He goes to the central library, filled with redacted and edited books. These are held in a semi-living computer known as Zero.

The librarian, played by Sir Ralph Richardson, mutters that Zero has lost the 14th century. "Not much in the 14th century," he says, "just Dante and a few corrupt popes." His dismissive comment is one of the few humorous moments in the film.

But never underestimate the power of such a combo. In a generation denying their "relevance" or even unaware of their existence, their poison is still with us.

I remember reading my sister's volume of The Inferno as a child. The pictures really impressed me. What a threat to be held over the head of a child or an adult.

Deny it or not, it is still here, and the institution that preserves and promotes it, still influences a major part of the world. Business is still booming.

Watch Dante's Visionary Descent into Hell and Pope Boniface VIII - The Divine Comedy.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

I've Been Workin' on the Railroad

This is sketchy right now, but I have found that there is a parallel between the rise of church pomp and hierarchy and the threats of hell. My source says that it really hit its stride in the 6th century.

Poor, uninformed congregations may have been repulsed by men wearing embroidered robes and fish-god helmets. They may have resented being ruled over by domineering authority figures, telling them how to act and believe.

The Bible was not available to such people, even if they could read. It was written in Latin, Hebrew, and Greek, and in the past, chained to the pulpit.

Religion as a monopoly was oppressive, even deadly, to those who questioned it. How could it be maintained? By threats, both temporal and eternal. As Stuart Crane said, "There is nothing as frightening as fearing your immortal soul will suffer for eternity. Men who would risk their lives in battle shudder at this threat."

So the greater the pomposity and carnality, the greater the control mechanism needed to sustain it. These are the two rails of the old religions.

Hell is being disproved now, as is the everlasting soul needed to suffer in it. Anyway, it is all so future, and we are a "now" generation.

The corporate churches are turning to the "blab it and grab it" approach. They still want your money, not to keep you out of hell, but to insure your prosperity. It's just a new set of rails.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Restrainer

For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let , until he be taken out of the way. 2 Thessalonians 2:7, KJV

For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work ; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 2 Thessalonians 2:7, NIV

Both versions of this passage are posted so that we may compare the language. I believe that the term "letteth" might be confusing to some, especially the young.

Who is the "he" that restrains evil today, but will not in the future? There are two main understandings of who "he" is. One is that the restrainer of evil is the Holy Spirit acting in the world. A second is that he is the Holy Spirit in the church.

The second view is consistent with the "salt of the earth" spoken of by Jesus, where his people keep the world preserved. Does this now apply to the church?

Either way, whoever the restrainer is, he will be taken away allowing full reign of the Devil.

Paul speaks of the Rapture of the church as being a turning point for the whole world. A historical illustration would be to compare Europe before and after Constantine's Edict of Toleration. As the church--corrupt as it was--became more of an influence, Europe became more stable.

Who of us does not see the church losing influence? Could it be that this restraint is being gradually withdrawn, to be fulfilled with our complete absence?

Israel, as a nation, failed. The church as an institution, is failing. But the elect of both Israel and the church will be saved.

A crumbling world will dramatically come under the full influence and power as the Great Tribulation unfolds. The King and his bride will celebrate the marriage supper of the Lamb, as Israel's last judgement takes place.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Two Trumpet Blasts

And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds , from one end of the heavens to the other. Matthew 24:31

In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 1 Corinthians 15:52

Two wonderful events. Yes, two. Is Paul echoing the words of Jesus, or giving us a revelation previously hidden? If we look real hard at the two rescue scenes, we find that one is for Israel, the other for the church.

When Jesus made his prophecy, he was looking at the temple mount in Jerusalem and answering his disciples' questions about the restoration of David's kingdom. His message was all about Israel.

I would hate to be among those who deny the restoration of Jews and the Nation of Israel. I am so happy to say that Israel has a wonderful future. No wonder that those who do not believe so, shun prophecy.

My former Presbyterian church had never taught the book of Revelation within the memory of its oldest members. John Calvin, who began this denomination, wrote a commentary on each book of the New Testament, except the book of Revelation. Wonderful man, with a wonderful message, but he denied Israel's future, as did Luther.

Armed with the knowledge that God has continued to open his truth until this day--that revelation continues to unfold--we can say that as wonderful as God's promises to Israel are, he also has a separate plan for his church. In older times this was unrevealed, but Paul was given the joy of revealing it. He said, This is a profound mystery--but I am talking about Christ and his church. (Ephesians 5:32, NIV).

If you look at the two prophecies, you will see differences--one given to the Jews, one to the church. Paul's revelation was a new one. In this one we see, not just a gathering, but a resurrection and a change. I was once among those who try to make these one event, but Paul reveals that God can blow a trumpet more than once.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Mr. Smarty Pants on Little h for Heaven and a Big God

Dear Mr. Smarty Pants,
Why is "heaven" never capitalized in the Bible?

S.P. Only at the beginning of a sentence. Cities are, but not heaven. Maybe it has no boundaries? Or maybe because love, hope, and joy are not capitalized. Simple answer, no one knows.

How big is God, does he have a size?

S.P. Nahum says, His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet. (Nahum 1:3, NIV). Solomon said, Behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee... (1 Kings 8:27(. Yet, in the form of a man, He began as a single cell in Mary's womb. It seems He can be any size he wants to be.

People laugh at Christians all over the world who point upwards to indicate where heaven is. They can't all be right can they?

S.P. To a fish in the sea, in which direction is the water? Some believe that heaven surrounds us.