Thursday, November 13, 2008

Proverbs 13:8

"A man's riches may ransom his life,
but a poor man hears no threat."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

About The Mike Lyons Show

Okay, so I recognize that my web site features that which may appear to be a contradiction. So, here's what iBelieve about The Mike Lyons Show.

The iBelieve portion of the web site features random slices of my religious beliefs. As the main page says, it's largely sermon notes and crap like that. It also clearly states that I don't actually expect anyone to read it.

What about the Quote of the Day? There's all sorts of inappropriateness there, isn't there? Well, maybe. First off, you should know that many of those quotes are carefully selected so as to remove any and all context, casting the original meaning into the abyss of the unknown, leaving only the precious original quote which, for whatever reason, entertains me. You should also know that the vast majority of the quotes don't come from me, and come from a variety of sources that I run across every day. Finally, I think it's okay to repeat what someone has said. I think it is wrong to misquote someone, but if they said it, it must be okay to put it in print. I'm a fan of truthiness.

Privately, I receive a little bit of protest for the attitude reflected in The Not Celebrity Not Fit Club. The general theme of these complaints are along these lines: You shouldn't judge people by their appearance. You should love people for who they are. Blah blah blah.

Look. I never said that you shouldn't love people because they are a fat tub of lard. My belief, however, is that your body is the temple of God, and therefore one should take reasonable steps to maintain it. And it's not that I think everyone needs to be fit and healthy, either. I just see our self-abuse as one of the prominent sins of our culture. We're quick to tell people that they shouldn't smoke, they shouldn't drink, they shouldn't do drugs. But how is eating a roasted chicken for breakfast any less destructive than drinking a few shots of vodka? Gluttony, you may recall, is one of the seven deadly sins.

Again, I am a fan of truthiness. If someone is unattractive, they are unattractive. It is what it is. It doesn't make that person less valuable as a human being, even if it might make them less appealing to me in my humanness.

Finally, the main blog, or as I sometimes call it, my big bucket of ridiculousness. If I ever say anything inappropriate, feel free to call me out on it! For the most part, it's just what I'm thinking about whatever is going on out there. Jesus prayed that his followers be "in this world but not of it." I'm afraid of the Christians who are of absolutely no earthly good because they are so caught up in their religious nuttery. My faith doesn't stop me from being opinionated. I'm not saying that I'm right about any of it. Yes I am. I'm right, iBelieve.

All that to say that if you can't tolerate my ridiculousness, please disrespect my unreligious nuttery in the same way that I disrespect your religious nuttery--quietly on your own blog.


Poorly written notes = poorly written blog. Deal with it.

Four Ingredients of Success
  1. Consecration. To devote to a purpose with deep dedication.
    • We must be disciplined. All Christians are called to discipline.
    • We must come into the presence of God.
    • Romans 11:29 "...God's gifts and God's call are irrevocable."
    • Psalms 55:21 "His speech is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords."
      It's not good enough to know the Sunday School answers. We must have changed hearts and changed lives.
  2. Character Formed by God.
  3. Spirit of Conquest.
    Whatever you do not conquer conquers you.
  4. Never Get Used to Mediocrity.
    We can't ever accept things the way they were. I hate to quote RFK, but "There are those who look at things the way they are and ask why... I dream of things that never were and ask why not?" That kind of thinking will lead to all sorts of crazy stuff like praying for the people that you think are going to hell instead of shaking your head at them. What? I'm just sayin...
And, what if we don't?
"After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel." Judges 2:10

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Praying a Little Late

God is not bound by the constraints of time. That being said, if we pray about something after it has already happened, can God go back and change it? Or, could God act knowing that the prayers will be made in the future?

Of course, God can do whatever He wants. That's one of the perks of being God, after all. However, let's analyze this.

An incident occurs, leading to a believer praying that the incident not occur or that the incident occurs differently. God chooses to respond to the prayer, and He "goes back in time" (for a lack of better terminology) and creates a new time line, changing the initial incident to a more favorable outcome. The believer in the new time line then, taking this favorable outcome for granted, does not pray regarding the incident. Since the change to the time line was due to God responding to prayer, and that prayer has not occurred, God then chooses not to intervene regarding the incident, recreating the first time line. All things being the same as before, the believer will again pray that God intervene. This time, however, God looks at the vicious circle and says, "this is stupid" and chooses not to act.

Alternatively, God does this all the time. Before an incident even occurs, God knows how its outcome will affect us. Being a loving, gracious, and merciful God, He chooses to intervene on our behalf without anyone praying a single word about it--He just does it because it is who He is. Of course, being reactionary creatures as we are, when God spares us pain in our lives that we didn't even know was coming, we fail to recognize and appreciate this fact, depriving God of the praise He is due.

"Pray continually" - 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Who am I?

And now for an entire blog without a single original thought:
I am not what I ought to be,
not what I want to be,
not what I am going to be,
But thankful that I am not what I used to be.
"If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" (Galatians 2:17-21)

"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved." (Ephesians 2:4-5)

"You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." (Galatians 3:26-27)

"So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir." (Galatians 4:7)

"You, my brothers, were called to be free." (Galatians 5:13)

"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (Galatians 6:14)

"He (Christ) was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." (Romans 4:25-5:5)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Who is this Jesus?

Who is this Jesus? Jesus told us exactly who he is.

"I am the bread of life." (John 6:35)
"I have come down from heaven." (John 6:38) When Jesus said this, he had just finished feeding the five thousand. But the deeper truth he refers to is when God provided the Israelites with manna and quail in the desert, telling Moses, "I will rain down bread from heaven for you." (Exodus 16:4) Meaning? "I am the only one who can provide for all your needs."

"I am the light of the world." (John 8:12)
Then he heals a man born blind. (John 9:1-13) The Pharisees he was speaking to must have been aware of God's statement to Moses: "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord?" (Exodus 4:11) Meaning? "I am your creator."

"Before Abraham was born, I am!" (John 8:58)
For the Jewish audience Jesus was speaking to, this was a clear reference go God's statement to Moses: "I AM WHO I AM." (Exodus 3:14) Meaning? "I am the eternal God."

"I am the gate." (John 10:9)
"Whoever enters through me will be saved. (Another way to translate it is, "will be kept safe.") He will come in and go out and find pasture." Jesus is using a shepherding analogy. In those days, the sheep pen had no gate--the shepherd himself was the gate. The fence surrounded the sheep, except for the opening, and this is where the shepherd slept. Anything that wanted in or out had to go through him first. It's very reminiscent of David's statement, "The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer." (2 Samuel 22:2) Meaning? "I am your protector."

"I am the good shepherd." (John 10:11, 14)
"The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." As the gate, the shepherd must face whatever predators attack, whether they be animals or thieves. Although the shepherd's life is more valuable than that of the flock, he will not allow the sheep to be harmed so long as it is within his power to stop it. In the Old Testament, God required a lamb without blemish to be sacrificed as a punishment for sin. That is why Jesus is called "The Lamb of God"--he accepted the punishments for our sins, once and for all, saving us from the eternal consequences of our own behavior. Meaning? "I am your savior."

"I am the resurrection and the life." (John 11:25)
And he's not just talking here; he then proceeds to raise Lazarus from the dead! The meaning here is both physical and spiritual. On the physical side, we look to Genesis 2. Adam was not a living being until God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life." (verse 7) Spiritually, we can look to Romans 8:10: "But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness." Meaning? "I am the one who gives you life, and life to the fullest."

"I am the way, the truth and the life." (John 14:6)
"No one comes to the Father, except through me." In the Old Testament, the Priests served as mediators between the people and God. The Priests would present the sacrifices of people, obtaining God's mercy and grace. Jesus becomes our "great high priest," (Hebrews 4:14-16) mediating on our behalf before the Father. Meaning? "I am the way to God's grace."

"I am the true vine." (John 15:1, 5)
"If a man remains in me, and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing." The pattern of the Old Testament is as follows: The Israelites follow God, and he blesses them; they depart from God, and tragedy follows. Here, Jesus reminds us that without God, we are nothing and have nothing, but with him all things are possible. Meaning? "I am your strength."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Nobody Said You'd Like It

Everybody knows the story of Jonah and the big fish. God tells Jonah to go to the people of Nineveh. Jonah did not want to obey God, so he fled. Of course, God is in control as always, and Jonah ended up doing it anyway.

But this is the part that I love. Jonah goes, God moves in a powerful way, and the people of Nineveh repent. Jonah was thrilled to see God use him like that. Wait--no he wasn't. "But Jonah was greatly displeased (emphasis mine) and became angry. He prayed to the Lord, 'O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, O Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.'" (Jonah 4:1-3) Jonah didn't want to see the people of Nineveh saved. He wanted to see God's wrath come down on them. Apparently, they weren't his pals.

Nowhere does the Bible ever say that Jonah saw the light on this one. The last words we have recorded of Jonah speaking are, "I am angry enough to die." (Jonah 4:9) Too bad. God requires obedience whether we like it or not.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Proverbs 27:5-7

"Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. He who is full loathes honey, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet."

Psalm 14:1

"The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'"

Nobody Said It'd Make Sense

"Now Jericho was tightly shut up because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in. Then the LORD said to Joshua, 'See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams' horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in.'" (Joshua 6:1-5)

Can you imagine being Joshua at that very moment? I can. I would be questioning my sanity. Wait. So, I'm just supposed to walk around the city until the wall falls down? What!? That's the craziest thing I've ever heard! And, what do you suppose the reaction of the people was? The Bible doesn't tell us one way or the other, but I have to believe that at least some of them were thinking, "I can't believe Moses put this guy in charge. He's a lunatic!" Even if they didn't, I'm even more sure that they would have if the walls hadn't fallen. All of this would have gone through my mind.

Joshua obeyed the Lord, and it all worked out swimmingly.

It seems like God has made "not making sense" some sort of art form. What about when he told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac? (Genesis 22) Or what about when God told Moses to tell Pharaoh, "Let my people go"--like that was ever gonna fly? (Exodus 3) And let's face it--things got a lot worse before they got better. And even when Pharaoh finally let them go--for a short while--God then leads them to where Pharaoh can trap them along the Red Sea. (Exodus 13) What about that whole wandering around the desert for forty years thing? Gideon? David and Goliath? It's crazy!

Well, it's not crazy. It's God, and we are simply incapable of grasping the plans he has for us. He doesn't require us to "get it." We must obey, even if it doesn't make sense.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Absolute Truth

I'm sure you've heard someone say, "There is no such thing as absolute truth." Think about that for a second.

If there were no such thing as absolute truth, then the statement itself would be absolute truth.

Wow. And people actually live with that kind of self-contradictory world view.

Nobody Said It'd Feel Good

"Now Stephen, a man full of God's grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people." (Acts 6:8)

In my view, this is once of the most glossed-over verses in the Bible, right up there with the "beget" verses. Stephen only lasts a chapter and a half, but clearly he's a righteous man. How many of us have performed great wonders and miraculous signs? Only the true heroes of the Bible are described this way.

Then Stephen gives them a nice history of their people. It actually follows a popular method of persuasion: the first ninety percent of the speech, the audience was surely nodding their heads in agreement. Typically, once people start agreeing with you they will keep on agreeing with you. Well, no such luck for Stephen.

"At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him." (Acts 7:57-58)

Nice. Stephen was a righteous man, obeying God fully. He delivers a powerful message from God, and in response they stone him. Sometimes obedience hurts.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Streams of Living Water

Okay, so I read Streams of Living Water by Richard J. Foster. Again. (The first time was in college.) I'm super lazy and do not wish to read it again. So, here's the synopsis.

Foster identifies six dimensions of the Christian walk. I find this book genuinely helpful in that it helps the reader to recognize the areas which may have been neglected.

Add these six things to your "to do" list. It'll keep you busy for the rest of your life.
  1. The Contemplative Tradition: Discovering the Prayer-Filled Life

    Christianity is all about a personal relationship with Jesus. How can we have a relationship with someone we never talk with?

    "Pray continually." (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

  2. The Holiness Tradition: Discovering the Virtuous Life

    "You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians 4:22-24)

  3. The Charismatic Tradition: Discovering the Spirit-Empowered Life

    Foster defines the Charismatic Tradition as "A life immersed in, empowered by, and under the direction of the Spirit of God." Basically, it is using our gifts to build one another up.

    1 Corintians 12:
    "Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good." (verse 7)
    "All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines." (verse 11)
    "Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." (verse 27)

  4. The Social Justice Tradition: Discovering the Compassionate Life

    I'd recommend the entire book of Amos on this one. Throughout, God (through Amos) tells the Israelites that he despises their injustice towards the weaker members of society. He tells them that their religion--their worship, their sacrifices, everything--is worthless to him when they neglect justice.

    "But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!" (Amos 5:24)

  5. The Evangelical Tradition: Discovering the Word-Centered Life

    The Evangelical stream is not only about spreading the Word, it is also about studying the word to develop our understanding of God (which will in turn, help us to spread the Word), as modeled by Paul.

    "As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead." (Acts 17:2-3)

  6. The Incarnational Tradition: Discovering the Sacramental Life

    This "stream" is all about living every moment for God; it's being Jesus to the world.

    "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship." (Romans 12:1)

    "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." (Colossians 3:23-24)

Nobody Said You Were Ready

God very clearly called Moses from the burning bush. It's not too many of us who experience an audible call from God. And, God was very clear with Moses what he wanted him to do. "So now, go. I am sending you..." (Exodus 3:10)

Moses was unsure. "Who am I, that I should go...?" (Exodus 3:11) I can relate to that.

"And God said, 'I will be with you.'" (Exodus 3:12). God assured Moses that he would be with him. After all, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31)

Still, Moses was unsure. "Suppose I go... Then what...?" (Exodus 3:13) He wants a detailed response to all the what-ifs before he even commits to obeying. I can totally relate to that.

God's response? I suppose people who are better educated would say that God answers Moses' question. I'm ignorant enough to disagree. What I hear God saying in this passage (Exodus 3:14-22) is, "I am God, and I told you to go. If they ask, tell them so. I will be with you, and I will work through you. I know the future, and I am in charge." Or, more succinctly, "Man up, Moses."

Moses is such a wuss. "What if they do not believe me or listen to me..." (Exodus 4:1) He's still not sure.

God's response? In a nutshell, it's "Don't you worry about that. I will make them believe."(Exodus 4:2-9)

And Moses is still freaking out. "I am slow of speech and tongue." (Exodus 4:10) I would, too.

God: "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say." (Exodus 4:11-12)

Finally, Moses gets to the heart of it. "O Lord, please send someone else to do it." (Exodus 4:13) You see, deep down inside, Moses' problem is that he doesn't really want to do the job. Now we're in my universe. This is where most of us live every day; we want God to work, but we'd rather not have to do anything. We almost insist that we not have to do anything.

Again, this is where I disagree with the educated folks. Every person I've ever heard discuss this passage of scripture skips straight to God's answer, "What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well." They point out that God will provide us with the tools we need to accomplish his work. That's all fine and good, but I think the crux of the passage is the first part of the verse. "Then the LORD's anger burned against Moses..."(Exodus 4:14) (Emphasis mine.) Dare I say it? God was pissed off at Moses.

God is fully aware of our limitations and our fears. He was exceedingly patient with Moses' fears. But when Moses tried to wiggle out of obedience and action, God became angry with him. God doesn't require us to understand his plans for us. He doesn't require us to feel ready. He requires obedience.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Hebrews 13:11-14 (With Minimal Commentary)

Hebrews 13:11-14:

"The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most High Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.
(What Jesus Endured)

Let us, then go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore.
(What We Are to Experience)

"For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come."
(What We Can Expect)

I suppose if we aren't willing to "go to him...bearing the disgrace he bore" we can't really expect to see "the city that is to come." Hrm.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


It turns out this world is a matter of perspective. Your problems are like your hands--if you hold them an inch in front of your face, it's pretty difficult to see anything else. So, here's a moment of perspective:

"It's impossible."
All things are possible.
"Jesus replied, 'What is impossible with men is possible with God.'" (Luke 18:27)

"I'm too tired."
I will give you rest.
"'Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.'" (Matthew 11:28-30)

"Nobody really loves me."
I love you.

"'For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.'" (John 3:16) "'For the one who God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.'" (John 3:34)

"I can't go on."
My grace is sufficient.
"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." (2 Corinthians 12:9)
"He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him." (Psalm 91:15)

"I can't figure things out."
I will direct your steps.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5-6)

"I can't do it."
You can do all things.
"I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:13)

"I'm not able."
I am able.

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." (2 Corinthians 9:8)

"It's not worth it."
It will be worth it.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

"I can't forgive myself."
I forgive you.
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1)

"I can't manage."
I will supply all your needs.
"And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:19)

"I'm afraid."
I have not given you a spirit of fear.
"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." (2 Timothy 1:7)

"I'm always worried and frustrated."
Cast all your cares on me.
"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7)

"I'm not smart enough."
I give you wisdom.
"It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption." (1 Corinthians 1:30)

"I feel all alone."
I will never leave you or forsake you.

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'" (Hebrews 13:5)

To the Church in Laodicea

"To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
    These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing. But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
    Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
    To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
What can we learn from this message to the church in Laodicea?
  1. We must beware of losing the flame. "You are neither hot nor cold."
    The joy of the Lord is the strength of his people. (Are you half-hearted and/or mechanical in your Christian walk, or are you enthusiastic, passionate, and full of zeal?)
  2. We must beware of living in a fiction. "You say, 'I am rich...'" but "you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked."
    Did you know that sixty per cent of high school graduates believe they are at or above the ninetieth percentile? It's easy to create our own false reality. Do you want the truth, or a comfortable preacher telling comfortable people how to be more comfortable?
  3. We must beware of leaving Jesus out of the Fellowship. "I stand at the door and knock."
    The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.
    It's easy to get so caught up in our churchy activities (did you know that this blog was originally called "Mike Gets Churchy"?) to the point where the activities become diversions. The spiritual mission of the church is to present and proclaim Christ; this must preempt all else.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Visitor

A pastor decides to make an unannounced visit to a parishioner. When no one answered the door, he left his business card. On the back he wrote Revelations 3:20:

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

The following Sunday, the pastor was surprised when the parishioner presented him with his own business card. On his card, the parishioner had written Genesis 3:10:

He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."

Saturday, August 9, 2008

31 Biblical Virtues

Pray these for your kids. (Just a suggestion.) I totally stole these from Bob Hostetler, whoever that is.
  1. Salvation. (Isaiah 45:8, 2 Timothy 2:10)
  2. Growth in grace. (2 Peter 3:18)
  3. Love. (Galatians 5:25, Ephesians 5:2)
  4. Honesty & integrity. (Psalms 25:21)
  5. Self-control. (1 Thessalonians 5:6)
  6. Love for God's Word. (Psalms 19:10)
  7. Justice. (Psalms 11:7, Micah 6:8)
  8. Mercy. (Luke 6:36)
  9. Respect (for self, others, authority). (1 Peter 2:17)
  10. Biblical self-esteem. (Ephesians 2:10)
  11. Faithfulness. (Proverbs 3:3)
  12. Courage. (Deuteronomy 31:6)
  13. Purity. (Psalms 51:10)
  14. Kindness. (1 Thessalonians 5:15)
  15. Generosity. (1 Timothy 6:18-19)
  16. Peace-loving. (Romans 14:19)
  17. Joy. (1 Thessalonians 1:6)
  18. Perseverance. (Hebrews 12:1)
  19. Humility. (Titus 3:2)
  20. Compassion. (Colossians 3:12)
  21. Responsibility. (Galatians 6:5)
  22. Contentment. (Philippians 4:12-13)
  23. Faith. (Luke 17:5-6, Hebrews 11:1-40)
  24. A servant's heart. (Ephesians 6:7)
  25. Hope. (Romans 15:13)
  26. Willingness and ability to work. (Colossians 3:23)
  27. Passion for God. (Psalms 63:8)
  28. Self-discipline. (Proverbs 1:3)
  29. Prayerfulness. (Ephesians 6:18)
  30. Gratitude. (Ephesians 5:20, Colossians 2:7)
  31. A heart for missions. (Psalms 96:3)

Saturday, June 7, 2008


Isaiah 6 sets forth an example of true worship. Read it or something. Here's what I see:
  1. True worship must include confession of sin.
    Verse 5:
    "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."
  2. True worship must include cleansing from sin.
    Verses 6-7:
    Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."
  3. True worship must include obedience to the call to serve.
    Verse 8:
    Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"
    And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"
Maybe it doesn't really matter if we sing choruses or hymns at church. So what's all the fuss about?

Monday, May 26, 2008

A Father's Perspective

As a father, all I really want is for my daughter Bree to be truly happy. Sometimes, that means pushing her to do things that she doesn't want to do at the moment--like eating her dinner before she can have dessert.

When I think of God in terms of God the Father, I have to believe that He is the same way. Some people look at religion as a bunch of rules and all that stuff. That may be your religion, but if it is you're doing it wrong. All I'm trying to do is look to God for instruction for how to be happy--and if you have a "religious experience," that's the one to have.

Have fun, kids.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Matthew 10:32-33

"Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven."

Proverbs 29:25

"Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe."

Believe Him

Everybody knows the story of David and Goliath. Goliath taunts the Israelite army. The Israelites are too afraid to fight him. David comes along and basically says, "Who is this thug. We're the army of the Living God!" and goes out and kills said thug.

So, what is the difference between David and all the other Israelites? The Israelites believed in God, but David believed God.

God Doesn't Believe in Atheists

There's no such thing as atheists. God doesn't believe in atheists, and God is omniscient and cannot lie; therefore, atheists cannot exist.

Why I think God doesn't believe in atheists:
  1. God expects us to look at the world around us, realize the wonder of it all, the complexity of the whole thing, and realize that Someone must have created this place. (In other words, the heavens declare His glory.)
    "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."
    Romans 1:18-20
    This is general revelation.
  2. God speaks to us. Most of us are too-self absorbed to hear the words of God, but we also have the written word in the Bible. The book cannot be denied. For example, a few hundred years B.C., God predicted Israel's return as a nation in 1948.
    "For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land."
    Ezekiel 36:24 (Ezekiel goes into more detail, but this verse is the crux of the thing.)

    This is special revelation. (I suppose we could also refer to this as "I told you so.")
  3. You naturally know that there is good and evil. You can deny it, twist it, or question it, but at a basic level everyone knows, at least to some degree, what is right and wrong. How can there be right and wrong, unless there is someone greater who defines these things? We must do right to please God, and for really no other reason (even though it is in our own best interests).
    "Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them."
    Romans 2:14-15
    (This is the Law, if I must say it.)
So there you go.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Romans 8:10

"But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness."

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Perfect Love

Okay, none of the below is an original thought whatsoever. It's word-for-word plagiarized from a tract from Voice in the Wilderness Ministries. Usually when I receive a tract I contort my face, glance it over, and toss it. This one is actually a pretty solid reflection of what I think people should hear, so I want to keep it... but I don't want the paper cluttering up my little world. So here it goes.

Perfect Love

Most people "think" that God will not reject them on judgment day because they are basically good. After all, they "reason" to themselves, "I'm not a sinner, I've never
murdered anyone!"

Take this test to see if you need God's forgiveness.

The First Commandment: "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me."

In other words, you shall "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and all your mind."
(Matthew 22:37)

This is the greatest commandment in all the Bible.

If the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, then the greatest sin cannot be murder. The greatest sin is not to love the God who created you more than the things He created!

What does it mean to Love God? The answer is found in John 14:15.

Jesus said, "If you love me, you will keep My commandments."

But God is perfect. For anyone to enter heaven by their own merit would require perfect obedience, which is another way of saying sinless perfection!

No mere man has ever loved God like that. The Bible says, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23

The second: "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven images."

Many people "think" that since God is love, He would never send anyone to hell. The Bible says that God is a consuming fire who has a passion for justice, holiness, righteousness, and truth, who will by no means clear the guilty, but will hold every man accountable for every idle word that he speaks!

The third: "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain."

When men get angry they often misuse the name of God or Jesus Christ. This is called blasphemy. "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; whatever a man sows, this shall he also reap." Galatians 6:7

The Lord says, "...he who takes My name in vain shall not go unpunished."

The fourth: "Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy."

Most people are too busy on Sunday polishing their cars, watching sporting events, or trying to improve their civil conveniences to bother with God.

Does this describe you?

"For what is a man profited, if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" Luke 9:25

The fifth: "Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), that it may be will with you, and that you may live long on the earth."

God Himself is a picture of the family: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and we are made in His image. The family is the foundational structure of society.

The reason our nation is in trouble is not because of drug and alcohol abuse, or crime, or violence. Those things are only symptoms of the real problem.

The root cause of our nation's decline is the breakdown of the family. Immorality, divorce, and a total disregard for authority is destroying the moral fabric of our society, because our children have not been taught to honor God and to respect authority. As goes the family, so goes the nation!

Have you ever dishonored your father or mother?

The sixth: "Thou shalt not murder."

"You have heard, 'You shall not commit murder.' But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever calls his brother a fool, shall be guilty (enough to go) into the fiery hell." Do you have anger or unforgiveness in your heart against anyone?

The seventh: "Thou shalt not commit adultery."

"...but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart." Matthew 5:28

The eighth: "Thou shalt not steal."

Have you ever taken anything that did not belong to you?

The Bible says, "...thieves shall not inherit the kingdom of God."

The ninth: "Thou shalt not lie."

Have you ever told a lie? "...and all are liars, their part (will be) in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." Revelation 21:8

The tenth: "Thou shalt not covet."

Have you ever looked at anything that belonged to your neighbor--like his house, his wife, or his car, and wished it was yours? Covetousness is idolatry, which is an abomination to God!

Contrary to popular opinion, the Ten Commandments were not given to show us how to be good enough to get into heaven. In fact, just the opposite is true. The Ten Commandments show us what sin is. (See Romans 7:7 below)

"I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, 'You shall not covet.'"

Do you ever wonder why the world is like it is, and why all men die?

The answer is found in the first book of the Bible.

God warned Adam and Eve that if they rebelled against Him the penalty would be death, and the whole earth was cursed as the result of one sin!

Do you still think you are a "good person?"

God is perfect, and God is holy. He must judge sin. But the Bible also says that God is love.
1 John 4:8

"The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ." Romans 6:23


"'As I live!' declares the Lord God, 'I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways!'" Ezekiel 33:11

"The Lord is patient toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." John 3:16

In the Old Testament, animals were offered as a sacrifice for sin. The animal had to be perfect, without spot or blemish. Symbolic of moral purity, the spot was inherited; the blemish was acquired.

When the virgin Mary was impregnated, not by the seed of man but by the Holy Spirit, what was begotten nine months later was God in a human body. Because Jesus was not born of the seed of Adam, He had no inherited sin, and because He obeyed the Law perfectly, He had no acquired sin. That is why the Bible calls Jesus "The Lamb of God without spot or blemish." As such, He was the only One qualified to die for the sin of the whole world!


While living in the Chicago area, I became engaged to be married. We both went to Nevada to meet my future in-laws, and my fiancee arrived before I did. When I arrived, I was introduced and we all had dinner. That night I was escorted to my own private bedroom. The next day they said, "You're going to need to get around, so here are the keys to the car." Because I came in their daughter's name, everything that belonged to her also belonged to me!

In exactly the same way, the Bible says that when you come to God in the name of His Son Jesus, and are truly sorry for your sin, you are introduced, accepted, adopted, and you become a co-heir with Jesus Christ. In other words, those who love the Lord Jesus Christ will inherit the kingdom of God!

"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand." Romans 5:1-2

" the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved." Ephesians 1:6

" order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons." Galatians 4:5

"...and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him." Romans 8:17


One: People love their sin. "And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil." John 3:19

Two: The fear of man. People know that to receive Jesus Christ as Lord would mean being labeled by some a religious fanatic or a Jesus freak. Filled with pride, most people cannot bear the thought of being laughed at, so they willfully reject God's only provision for sin. Satan spreads the net and the fear of man drives them into it. What a terrible reason to go to hell!

"Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will deny him before My Father who is in heaven." Matthew 10:32-33

You have two choices:

You can suppress the truth, deny you are a sinner and incur His judgment and wrath, or you can humble yourself, confess your sin, and receive His grace and mercy. Do you see your need of God's forgiveness? Would you like to ask God to forgive you, and to free you from the guilt and the power of sin?

In Jesus name, do it right now in your own words.

"...if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved." Romans 10:9

"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast." Ephesians 2:8

"But from there you seek the LORD your God, and you will find (Him) if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul." Deuteronomy 4:29

It was not the nails that held Christ to the cross; but His perfect love for you!

No man will stand before God with any excuse for ignoring or denying Him.

"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse."
Romans 1:20

"I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants." Deuteronomy 30:19

"Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts in rebellion." Hebrews 3:15


Buddha: "I am a teacher in search of truth."
Jesus: "I Am the truth."

Confucius: "I never claimed to be holy."
Jesus: "Which one of you convicts Me of sin?"

Mohammed: "Unless God covers me with a cloak of mercy, I have no hope."

Jesus: "I Am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live."

None of these other men ever claimed to be God. They all said God is this way, go this way. Jesus said: "I Am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but by Me!"

Voice in the Wilderness Ministries
9757 Squire Lane
Belvidere, IL 61008 U.S.A.

Telephone: 815-547-0765

Sunday, April 27, 2008

What is sin?

It's easy for Christians to tell people, "All have sinned..." but telling someone he is a sinner without telling him what sin is would be like arresting him and not telling him what crime he's committed. Now, I'm not too inclined to go around telling people they are a sinner, but you know... writing this blog the subject's going to come up, so I might as well cover it.

The classic definition (the kind, by the way, that can be used in Sunday School to irritate your teacher) is "a willful transgression against the known will of God."

To begin to understand the "known will of God," a good place to start is the Ten Commandments. (Exodus 20:3-17)

  1. You shall have no other gods before me.

    The greatest sin is to love God's creation more than God Himself.

    Jesus stated this commandment in the positive form rather than the negative: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:37). Of course, to accomplish this successfully, one would have to keep God as the most important thing in their life from the moment of their birth. This in itself puts every one of us in violation of Law and in need of God's grace.

  2. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

    This goes right along with number one; God wants to be the priority in your life. Of course, it turns out that if He's not everything goes down the pooper anyway.

  3. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

    Have you ever noticed that nobody ever hits their thumb with a hammer and shouts out, "Allah!" or "Buddah!" or any of those other names? That's because those names hold no power whatsoever.

  4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

    We all take one day off each week from all of our work to dedicate the day to the Lord, right? Oh.

  5. Honor your father and your mother so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

    Too many fathers reject their role as the spiritual leader in their household. I'm sure this topic alone could develop into more than I can handle.

  6. You shall not murder.

    Jesus said, "You have heard it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell." (Matthew 5:21-22) You see, murder starts with unforgiveness. It's pretty condemning if you think about it.

  7. You shall not commit adultery.

    Jesus complicated this one quite a bit. "You have heard it said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:27) I don't know...seems like most of us are going to have a problem with that.

  8. You shall not steal.

    How many times do you have to steal before you become a thief? I don't know, but have you ever noticed how quickly pens walk away...?

  9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

    Basically, do not lie. How many times do you have to lie to become a liar? How many of us haven't lied even once?

  10. You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

    Coveting is essentially spiritual adultery; it is idolitry. It includes lust, greed, and pride. It is, essentially, putting something else ahead of God.

Well, that's a little heavy. But, fortunately, mercy triumps over justice. We need Christ because we have broken God's law.

Calvin V. Armenius

This may mean nothing to anybody but me.

    Calvin believed:
    Arminians believe:
    Total Depravity
    Man is in bondate to his sinful nature, and is incapable of choosing good over evil.
    Free Will/Human Ability
    Man is not spiritually helpless; man has free will to choose good over evil--he can cooperate with God's Spirit or resist. FAITH is man's contribution to his own salvation.
    Unconditional Election Conditional Election
    Limited Atonement
    Christ's act of salvation is only for the elect, and guarantees their salvation.
    General Atonement
    Christ's act of salvation is for all, but does not guarantee anything; a person must choose to accept it.
    Irresistible Grace The Holy Spirit can be resisted
    Perseverence of the Saints A. Falling from Grace
    B. Eternal Security

The dispute, maybe obviously, comes from the attempt to balance the concepts of the sovereignty of God and the free will of man. While Calvin emphasized the sovereignty of God and Armenius emphasized the free will aspect, both doctrines affirm both concepts. While HYPER-Calvinists do not believe in missions, Calvin himself still believed in obeying the Great Commission.

Just for the record, it's pretty safe to label me an Arminian.

Why I am Not a Roman Catholic

When Constantine became emperor of Rome, he was virtually the emperor of the world. He elected himself the self-styled "protector of the Christian faith." He issued an edict of tolerance for Christianity and gave the church many favors, including money for building and operations. He even gave many of the pagan temples over to be used by the church.

To please the emperor and show him their thanks, the church leaders began to adopt customs that were parallel to the pagan practices. One compromise led to another, and what seemed to be a great blessing became a great curse. These changes continued to be made, long after the fall of the Roman empire. Many changes were introduced that had no scriptural basis but became doctrine in the Roman Catholic church, including:

300 Prayers for the dead
Making the sign of the cross while praying
375 Worship of saints and angels
394 Mass was first instituted
431 Worship of Mary began
500 Priests began to dress differently than laymen
526 Exaggerated and superficial language, manners and customs
593 Doctrine of purgatory introduced
600 Worship services conducted in Latin
Prayers directed to Mary
607 The first pope was installed
709 The practice of kissing the pope's feet began
786 Worship of images and relics
850 Use of "holy water" began
995 Canonization of dead saints
998 Fasting on Fridays and during Lent
1079 Celibacy of the priesthood
1090 Prayer beads introduced
1184 The Inquisition: questioning and imprisoning any that don't agree with their beliefs
1190 Sale of indulgences
1215 Transubstantiation: the belief that the bread and the wine of communion actually become the body and blood of Christ
1229 Laymen are forbidden to read the Bible!
1414 Cup forbidden to laymen
1439 Doctrine of purgatory decreed: a resting place after death until your final destination is determined; people can pray you out of purgatory and into heaven
The doctrine of the seven sacraments affirmed
1508 The Ave Marie approved - Hail Mary
1534 The Jesuit order founded
1545 Tradition is granded equal authority with the Bible
1546 Apocryphal books put into the Bible
1854 Immculate conception of Mary - Mary was decreed free of the original sin by divine grace; Mary was without sin
1865 Infallibility of Errors proclaimed
1870 Infallibility of Pope declared
1930 Public schools condemned
1950 Assumption of Mary - August 15 is observed as the day Mary was taken up to heaven
1965 Mary proclaimed the mother of the church

Even though the Roman Catholic church claims to be the only true church and the original church, it is very evident that they have deviated from the early church in many ways over the past 1700 years and have become more Roman than Christian.