Living in Canaan

As a Pastor, I often wonder, how do Christians impact culture and society with the Gospel and faith. More than knowing the Word and understanding the truth, but relating the Gospel of Jesus and the Kingdom of God to the rest of the world.

As the Children of Israel left Egypt, they were heading toward the Promised Land, ancient Palestine, aka, Canaan. The land was filled with pagan people who worshiped false gods like Baal, the moon-god, and Asherah, his female counterpart, Moloch, and others. Their worship involved deviant sexual conduct, sacrifices of children, and many other atrocious practices.

Christians as people of the Book (the Bible), carefully trying to discern the times, it seems appropriate to consider that the church is living in a modern form of ancient Canaan.

The society we are a part of carries out the practices of the ancient pagan religions. It is a very self-centered (narcissistic) rather than god directed society, but the values and practices are not a whole lot different. Sexual deviation is obvious. Just watch anything media based and it’s almost impossible to escape some form of sexual expression. Sex is not about pleasing a god, but satisfying the self. Abortion is the modern child sacrifice, and the altar is women’s rights. Lying, tolerance, becoming rich, being a celebrity, being important, and more are the norms.

The church in a sense is living in Canaan.

Remember that Israel was told going into Canaan to eradicate the pagans living there. Run them off, destroy them and rid the land of pagan worship. Don’t let it be a temptation to you. Our dilemma is not that we are in the promised land, that is in the future when God brings the saved into heaven with him after the return of Christ; we have the God-given responsibility to live among the pagans. Their values and influence are powerful and many Christians have compromised their faith, mixing Christianity with the unholy and ungodly practices of the rest of the world.

How do we live in the world and not be a part of it. We can’t separate from them and live on an island and not be an influence to them. We can’t change the laws and force them to believe or at least act like Christians. We can however, present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them, living by faith, guided by the Bible and the Holy Spirit, showing Christ’s love, fellow-shipping with other believers, and letting God protect our souls while we risk our lives to lead them to Christ.

Too many believers have forsaken the task, holing up in their church buildings and homes, protecting themselves from the influence of the world and making a small almost immeasurable impact for Christ.

The Bible is clear, we are on a mission, a spiritual mission, a war for the souls of people. They are not the enemy, as one preacher (whose name I’ve now forgotten) I heard a long time ago say, “they are captives of the enemy.” The enemy is the devil, Satan himself and he has captured the hearts and souls of the majority of people in the world. For the Christian, it is as if we have moved into Canaan without pushing out the pagans.

The way, is to hold to the truth and be aware of how people accept truth and gain understanding. That is the hard part. The truth is easy. God the Creator loves all people and wants so see them saved (John 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:3-6; 2 Peter 3:9), and sent Jesus (John 3:16-17) to save the world through faith in him. And as Peter said, “there is salvation in no other name given among men (Acts 4:12), we have the answer.

Learning how to relate the answer means we need to learn how the modern, spiritual Canaan may relate to and accept the answer. That’s the hard answer.

As we are told, preach the truth in season (when it is popular and acceptable) and out of season (when people don’t want to hear it and even try to stop the preaching of the Gospel).

Do I have the actual answer to every circumstance? No! But God’s Spirit and the teaching and leadership of others who know the truth and have listened to the Spirit can lead into being able to living in Canaan and be obedient to the mission God has called us to in Christ.

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God Is/Is not Alive/Dead. Which is it?

images (16)My research indicates a troubling trend. My experiences are confirming what I have read. All of it saddens me. The world is moving toward atheism.

Let me share a very concise overview of history. The earliest people believed there was a god or gods.  Obviously since God created the world and Adam knew him, the earliest humans were monotheists. As time moved forward, and people moved away from faithfully following God and were perverted in their thinking, many became polytheists, worshiping many gods. There are virtually no atheists in ancient history but the past few hundred years (4-500), atheism has reared its ugly head and is being taught, promoted, even forced on unsuspecting students when they attend secular universities, totally unprepared to keep their faith let alone defend God.

The modern atheist has an agenda, not only to share with people what they don’t believe in, but to aggressively force people to accept that there is no God. The movie God’s Not Dead vividly portrays this agenda. Several books on the modern atheist debunk the arguments from people like Richard Dawkins. Books like Stealing from God, by Frank Turek; and The End of Reason by Ravi Zaharias.

God can defend himself, but he has revealed himself through creation, “the heavens declare the glory of the Lord,” and through the Bible. But, people are influenced through interaction with other people as God has designed, therefore Christians must be, as Peter described, “prepared to offer a defense for their belief” (1 Peter 3:15).

I am getting ready, are you? Are you preparing to offer defense for God?

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The Challenges of Belief

download1“Faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the word of God.” I learned that verse very early in Vacation Bible School and Church camp.  Romans 10:17. Yet, people struggle with belief.

The “word of God is living and active” as Hebrew 4:12 indicates, and faith comes through the word, but not all people who read or study the Bible come to faith in Christ, or even belief in God.  One past atheist knew the Bible so well she would use the Bible as a tool against Christians.

A lot of people read the Bible and begin a journey of faith as they search for truth. All their questions and doubts may not be answered as they travel the road to belief, but often, it is so clear to them that what the Bible reveals is true and truth, it is real and vibrant, and they follow the Word of God into belief and salvation.

Others like the atheist I mentioned above can read and study the Bible, experience the faith of loving Christians and yet never believe. It is impossible to believe without the Word, the Bible, but the Word is not the only part of belief.  God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit is involved and some people resist him and reject his work and never come to belief.

As a Christian, a believer in Jesus and caring about what Jesus cares about: people lost in sin (Luke 19:10), it is difficult at times to share faith with others. Not fear, but how do I relate to so many different people from so many different circumstances that I may not be able to speak too from experience?

Well, a couple of things are evident. First, a Christian’s responsibility is not the conversion of another person, but to be faithful and faithfulness includes sharing Jesus. Second, God through his Spirit is responsible for the work of conversion. He works in their heart and mind and soul and leads them to the point of choice. In other words, we share to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20) and the Spirit does his job. Some believe and some do not.

I was raised by godly, Christian parents and was part of a conservative church, faithful to God and the Word. I accepted Christ and was baptized at 9 1/2. I have known Jesus a long time. It seems simple to me, but it is not simple to all people.

Knowledge is not belief, but it informs belief. Understanding is not belief, but it guides knowledge. Assent, acceptance leads to belief. I pray that you believe in God and Jesus and that your faith is solidly placed in their hands.

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Quote by F.C. Conybeare

I read this somewhere a few months ago and have forgotten the source.

F.C. Conybeard (d. 1923), an Oxford scholar (and not a Christian) has characterized some of the reconstruction made by contemporary anti-Christian writers as more miraculous than the history they are trying to correct.

It is still the same today, almost a century later.

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I Believe in the Impossible

THE IMPOSSIBLE

How many people do you know who have come back from the dead?  I don’t know of a single person who has.  Not since the events in the Bible happened and were recorded for our benefit.

Let’s see, Elijah raised the widow’s son, and didn’t Elisha raise someone also.  There is the widow’s son in the city of Nain, the young daughter of the synagogue ruler, and Lazarus, and of course Jesus.  Anyone else I missed?  Maybe, but I have not heard of a verified raising of the dead since New Testament times.

The story of Frankenstein is about getting life back into a dead body, and the story goes all wrong.  Cryogenics is meant to preserve until a cure for whatever killed the person cryogenically frozen is found, than they are supposed to be revived after they are thawed.  The only problem is, there is no cure for death other than God’s miraculous intervention and that hasn’t happened since Peter raised Tabitha from the dead and Paul was revived by God after being stoned to death.

Jesus is the death conqueror.  He overcame death not by being raised by Peter or Paul or Elijah or someone else, as God he raised on his own.  He possesses the power of God, for he is God, and was even when he was in the flesh as human.  Revelation 1 paints the picture of Jesus in the same imagery that Daniel, and Ezekiel, and Isaiah do in describing God in heaven.

The impossible, coming back to life is only possible by God’s power.  Anyone who lives again has returned to life by God’s power, not by science, not by medical means, not by voodoo, nothing but God’s power can overcome the one thing that is certainly impossible for humans.

I believe in the impossible.

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PS: I hope you have enjoyed this series :I Believe in the Impossible

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I Believe in the Unusual

THE UNUSUAL

Seeing an orca is pretty unusual.  You’d have to spend time hanging around the ocean on a boat to see them or go to Sea World.  In 2000, I watched two killer whales, a mama and her baby playing in the wake of the cruise ship we were on.  It was pretty cool, they would swim back and forth and through the boat’s wake, playfully enjoying that moment.th (1)

Surviving a den full of hungry lions or a fiery furnace is pretty unusual.  In fact, I have never heard of any story where this happened other than Daniel and the lion’s den and Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (Babylonian names: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) in the fiery furnace.  For most people that is very unusual, and pretty frightening if they were condemned to those fates.

But, God in his power and wisdom protected and saved these men.  He closed the mouths of the lions and prevented the fire from hurting his servants, who stood firm and faithful even though the culture said just go along with it, and the law said these are the consequences if you don’t.

What is unusual may be that someone had that kind of faith.  The CIA teaches their recruits that when they are captured by an enemy, the interrogation and cruel and inhuman treatment will continue, relentlessly, and endlessly until they break and reveal their secrets or they die.  So the first rule for a CIA operative is do not get caught.

Christian history is filled with countless followers of Christ who stood firm like Daniel and his three friends, and either died for their faith as these men were willing to do, or endured persecution until they were released.  God does not tell us do not get caught; he does say stand firm and trust me.

I believe in the unusual.

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I Believe in the Extraordinary

THE EXTRAORDINARY

Today we struggle to overcome atheism, apathy, and sexual issues, but in Elijah’s day, he fought idolatry. elijah and fire from GodUnfortunately, Israel was worshipping the false God’s Baal and Asherah (Baal’s fertility goddess).  This was because the evil queen Jezebel had promoted idol worship and her husband; King Ahab (king of Israel) allowed it and bowed to the idols too.

Elijah was one of the few in Israel to be completely faithful to God refusing to bow to the idols.  He made a challenge to prove to God’s people who the real and true God was.  So, Elijah, the prophets of Baal and Asherah, and the people of Israel assembled on Mt. Carmel for the contest.  The idol’s prophets cried out to their god and he failed to respond.  Their sacrifice lay on the altar rotting.

Elijah built an altar to God, had wood and the sacrifice placed on the altar.  He had a ditch dug and gallons and gallons of water poured over the sacrifice: to make it more difficult for God? No, he did it to enhance the understanding of God’s power when he would burn the sacrifice.  God sent fire from heaven and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the altar and licked up the water.  Pretty extraordinary!  1 Kings 18

We expect healing, we expect, the sun to stand still, we even expect donkey’s to talk, but we don’t always expect the extraordinary.  I believe in the extraordinary.

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