Month: October 2014

The Hope of our Inheritance is Found in Christ

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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you (1 Pet. 1:3-4).”

It was tough to see my Grandpa die. He was diagnosed with bone cancer in the winter of 2008. I just graduated from college that summer and was staying home for a year before attending seminary. I remember watching my grandpa go through pain and agony. One day I moved him from the living room to his bed. It was a struggle for him to move his body and get off the wheelchair. He stayed on that same bed for a couple more weeks.

By this time, hospice visited the home. My grandpa could no longer speak to us, but began his descent towards death. I remember quoting Scripture out loud with my Mom, Dad, Grandma, and two older brothers. Toward the last couple of days, Grandpa struggled for breath. It was hard to hear and see him go through this, and I felt like the grip of death was even upon me. He passed away on Valentines Day, February 14th, 2009.

Grandpa loved to watch sports, go hunting, eat pie, and most importantly, hang out with his grandkids. Whenever I left the house, he would always say, “Be good now.” These memories of him are perched in my conscience and will forever remain with me.

I have hope that I will see my Grandpa again. I know he liked watching Billy Graham preach on television and hearing the good news of Jesus Christ. This fact alone gives me confidence and hope.

This is what the Lord is telling us in 1 Peter. You and I have hope. Jesus has washed away our sins and has given us an inheritance that can’t be destroyed, not even by our greatest foe, death! Jesus has conquered death and if you put your faith in him, you will be with him in heaven forever. This hope is real and I pray that it will become more real as I get closer to my death from this life.

Keep Enduring Through Trials because of the Joy of Your Salvation in Christ

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“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed (1 Pet. 1:6-7).”

When I first came to faith in Jesus, I preached virtually every weekend in the open air. I went to various places–downtown, bars and clubs, parks, social events, concerts, you name it. If it was a place where people gathered and could hear God’s word proclaimed, I was there.

One day I decided to share the gospel at a Nine Inch Nails concert. Many wore black gothic clothes and told me they worshipped Satan. I kept reiterating that Satan masquerades as an angel of light, not a scary gargoyle creature. I told them not to be deceived but to repent and put their trust and faith in Jesus Christ.  My goal was to balance the truth of God’s wrath and judgment with his mercy and grace.

While preaching this message, a man approached me, opened two beer cans, and poured it on my head. As I was dripping with beer juice, I looked the man squarely in the eye and told him–Jesus loves you. It was the grace of God that helped me love this person regardless of the mistreatment I endured from him. He walked away and continued shouting, “Hail Satan.” Afterwards, a man came up to me, was impressed with the genuineness of my faith, and proceeded to ask me questions about Jesus.

Though the Apostle Peter mentions in this passage that Christians will experience trials in this life, it pales in comparison to the glory that will be revealed at Christ’s return. The word trial here doesn’t mean the inner wrestling with evil inclination, but undeserved sufferings from real, physical and/or emotional persecution from others. Can you remember the last time you were persecuted for your faith? How did it make you feel? Do the promises of God help alleviate the pain?

Suffering will rob us of joy if we do not remember God’s word. He is telling us, “hang in there, don’t give up, trust in me.” No matter what happens to you, keep enduring through trials because someday every tear of sorrow will be wiped away. Also, you never know who is watching you during your greatest trials. If the mistreatment by the beer guy didn’t happen, would my conversation about Jesus have taken place? Only God knows.

What is a Worldview and Why is it Important?

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A worldview is defined as, “a particular philosophy of life or conception of the world. It’s the way one perceives the reality they live in.” A worldview gives an individual a perspective of their reality, which leads to developing values, priorities, decisions, and how one applies it into their lives.

Here are some questions a worldview might try to answer: What is reality? What is the nature of existence? What is a human? What happens at death? What is right and wrong? What is the purpose of life? Feel free to download this powerpoint presentation concerning What is a Worldview.

Top 10 Greatest Fears of All Time

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Fear is a distressing emotion aroused by danger, evil, or pain. It can be triggered by emotional threats from the past, insignificant issues in life, or from imaginary threats, of which 60% will never come true. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 6.3 million Americans suffer from fear and anxiety. Here are the top 10  most reported fears:

10. Thunder and Lightning (2%).

9. Open spaces (2.2%).

8. Confined Spaces (2.5%).

7. Flying (6.5%).

6. People or social situations (7.9%).

5. Heights (10%).

4. Darkness (11%).

3. Spiders (30.5%).

2. Death (68%).

1. Public Speaking (74%).

Fear, anxiety, and stress are all interrelated. Fear leads to anxiety, and when anxiety has registered at a physical level, we call it stress. Scripture teaches in 1 Peter 5:7 to “cast all your worry upon Jesus because he cares for you.” He also reminded us not to worry about tomorrow because the present has enough worries of its own. If Jesus commands us not to worry or be anxious, why do we? Control, lack of trust, identity issue, fear of the future?

Another way of expressing your fear is through the experience of need–there is a close connection between what you fear and what you think you need. If it’s approval from others, you will fear being criticized. If you need love, rejection is the enemy. If one desires comfort, they will fear physical pain. In your own life, do you see a connection between what you fear and what you think you need?

Fear is mentioned over 300 times in the Bible—and yet, every time one fears, God says, “Do not be afraid. I am your shield, your very great reward (Gen. 15:1).”  In John 14, Jesus tells his disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled–I have given you peace, not as the world gives, but a peace that can’t be broken. How do you overcome fear? Through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Come to Him today and receive the peace that surpasses all understanding. If you want to know how to have a relationship with God, go here.

What Jesus thought about Women in the Bible

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Christianity elevated the status of women more than any other religious or political system during the first century. Jesus’ disciples included several women (Luke 8:1-3), a practice very rare among the rabbis of his day. Not only that, but Christ’s first recorded disclosure of his own identity as the true Messiah was made to a woman (John 4:25-26). This woman, Mary of Magdalene, was an outcast Samaritan. Not even Jewish women would talk to her.

Moreover, Jewish tradition enforced women not to talk to outsiders or teach them their religion. Women themselves were not even allowed to teach. Rabbi Eliezer wrote in the 1st century: “Rather should the words of the Torah be burned than entrusted to a woman. Whoever teaches his daughter the Torah is like one who teaches her obscenity.” Jesus overthrew centuries of tradition. He taught Mary, the sister of Martha.

In Mark 5: 25-34, Jesus ignored ritual impurity laws. He cured a woman who suffered from menstrual bleeding for 12 years. In Judean society of the day, it was a major transgression for a man to talk to a woman other than his wife or children. It was also considered unclean to heal a woman in this way.

Furthermore, the gospels indicate that Jesus cursed a woman from an indwelling Satanic spirit (Lk 13:16). Then he called her a daughter of Abraham, implying that she had equal status with the sons of Abraham. This was an honorable phrase and once again elevated the status of women.

There were many times where Jesus was looked down upon by the Pharisees because he would talk to women. You might be familiar with the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and anointed him with an alabaster of oil. Jesus highly exalted this woman in front of the Pharisees. He said, “this woman has come and repented of her sins before me. She has shown me more hospitality than you ever did. Woe to you hypocrites.” This is an excellent reference to demonstrate God honoring a woman prostitute in front of the  religious elite.

The Scriptures also apprise readers that women were present at Jesus’ execution (Matt. 27:55). Many women who followed Jesus from Galilee were present at his crucifixion and the men had fled the scene according to John 19:25. Some skeptics say that whoever wrote the Bible did so with a bias male dominance. However, why would the Bible admit that men ran from God at the time of Jesus’ greatest trial? This example illustrates that the women had greater faith than even the disciples.

I believe these examples prove that Jesus had high regards for women. What are your thoughts? If you believe he did, why do you think there are so many misconceptions today? If you don’t think Jesus had high regards for women, could you explain why? Thanks!

Great Women Leaders of the Bible

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Skeptics today assert that the Bible was dominated by a religious patriarchy–a social system in which males hold the primary power, political leadership, and authority within society. Feminists have accused the Bible of having this unjust religious system that is oppressive towards women. Here are some scripture references that indicate important political and social positions that women held during the Old and New Testament times. After reading through the examples, please comment below and share your opinion on this question: “Does the Bible teach that women are less valuable than men?”

Huldah – A prophetess who verified the authenticity of the book of the law of the Lord given through Moses, which was the book of Deuteronomy. This is an important point because that means Huldah, a woman, was educated enough to read the Scriptures, understand the hermeneutical principles involved, and gained trust by men in a culture of patriarchialism (2 Kings 22:14).

Miriam – The daughter of Aaron and a prophetess. She was one of the triad leaders of Israel during the Exodus from Egypt (Exodus 15:24).

Deborah – A prophetess judge who headed the army of ancient Israel. She was a great leader and influenced Barak, the commanding army general during that time (Judges 4-5)

Esther – According to the Bible, Esther was a Jewish queen of the Persian king Ahasuerus. Her story is the basis for the celebration of Purim in Jewish tradition. This examples indicates that the Jewish people honored women before the United States. It wasn’t until 1911 when the International women’s day occurred around the week of March 8th. This whole book was written in the Bible, and guess who the hero of the story is? Esther! Go women! She was a God-honoring, loving person who demonstrated the faithfulness of God.

Ruth – The book of Ruth tells a story about a woman named Ruth who accepts the God of the Israelites as her God and the Israelite people as her own. The book is held in esteem by Jews who fall under the category of Jews by choice, as is evidenced by the presence of Boaz in rabbinic literature. Did you know that the Book of Ruth functions liturgically on a Jewish holiday called the Shavuot? Once again, a day of honor for women!

Eudoia and Syntyche – Devoted women who were active evangelists, spreading the gospel. This demonstrates that women were also helping out with the men and fulfilling the great commission to tell people the good news of Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:2).

Junia – Paul refers to a male apostle, Andronicus, and a female apostle, Junia, as outstanding among the apostles. Every Greek and Latin Church Father until Giles of Rome acknowledged that Junia was a woman. After that time, various writers and translators of the Bible resorted to various deceptions in order to suppress her gender (Romans 16:7).

Mary of Magdalene – She traveled with Jesus and His disciples throughout the region of Galilee and Judea. She was present at two of Jesus’ most important events: The Crucifixion and the resurrection. Her testimony to the resurrection demonstrates the type of faith that she had. In fact, it shows us how much greater her faith was than the disciples who had struggles believing that Jesus rose from the dead.

Mary, the mother of God – The gospel mentions Mary as the mother of God, and the most blessed among women. She spoke the words of praise in her most famous declaration of the Lord, the magnificat. Most people know her as the virgin who conceived her son miraculously by the agency of the Holy Spirit. This event led to the theological understanding of God’s hypostatic union–the union of Christ’s humanity and divinity in one hypostasis, or individual existence.

These are just a few examples of women who were influential in the Bible. In my opinion, the culture surrounding biblical times were dominated by males, but the Bible illustrates how Jewish and early Christian women  were treated equally by Yahweh. As Gods word makes clear: “Let us make both man and woman in our image, according to our likeness”–this is the essence of equality.

 

Are women to remain silent in Church?

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This topic has widely been debated, from those within the different denominations of Christianity, to atheists, skeptics, feminists, and others who are passionate about the equality of men and women. Before we begin, it’s important to recognize that no one is arguing that women are less intrinsically valuable or inferior to men. It’s my hope that rational, loving people would recognize that this is not the argument at hand.

There are two basic thoughts. The first  theological view is called complementarianism. It is held by some in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, that men and women have different but complementary roles and responsibilities in marriage, family life, religious leadership, and other areas of service. The second theological view is called egalitarianism. It states that “all humans are equal in fundamental worth or social status,” according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. So the real question is, “Do men and women share the same roles and responsibilities?” Let’s see the passage that talks about women remaining silent in church and then make a final assessment.

1 Corinthians 14:33-35 and 1 Timothy 2:12 state: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.” Earlier in the same epistle, 1 Corinthians 11:5, Paul mentions that women were praying and prophesying in church, and that older women were teaching younger women (Titus 2:4). Therefore, 1 Corinthians 14:33-35 must not be an absolute command for women to be silent in church. The concern of 1 Corinthians 14 is about order and structure. In that assembly, no one was exercising any authority. No elder, deacon, or pastor is even mentioned in these epistles. It’s quite possible that everyone in the church service was “most likely” doing whatever they wanted, whenever they desired. Those speaking in tongues were yelling chaotically, others were receiving a person, emotional experience from God, and no one was concerned about interpretation or what to do if an unbeliever walks in and sees chaos and confusion. Consequently, the women were trying to take the lead instead of allowing the husbands to assume their God-given responsibility to help the church (1 Tim 2:11-15).

This could be the reason why Paul was telling the women to remain silent, not because of their inferiority, but because of the problem with that particular church. It’s important to realize when engaging in hermeneutics, the scientific principle of biblical study, not to take one passage and justify it as an absolute. There are other scripture references that teach women are co-equal with men, and in no way are less superior to them. They just have different roles. For example, in Galatians, Pau told the church, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave or fee man, there is neither male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This passage validates the fact that both men and women are created equally in God’s eyes and are intrinsically valuable.

For more information, see article here.