I Believe in the Bizarre

THE BIZARRE

Talking dogs are all the rage.  Well, if TV shows and cartoons are any indication, some dogs can talk.  I’ve heard of YouTube videos where dogs are supposed be talking and sometimes it seems like they are speaking English.  I think Mr. Ed’s voice was a human voice recorded to make it sound like a horse talking.  I’m being silly now, but when we think an animal talks, it is probably just the natural aspect of sounds and phonetics coming together to sound like words.  It happens when you listen to a recording backwards, sometimes the phonetics and sounds come together and sound like words (this is without purposeful back masking).

Do you believe that a donkey talked?  There was a bad prophet of God who believes that a donkey talked.  Balaam was a bad boy.  He liked money and Balak the king of Moab hired him to curse Israel.  God wouldn’t let him curse Israel, so whenever he spoke to curse, blessings from God came out of his mouth.  Of course this upset Balak, so Balaam didn’t get paid.

Numbers 22:21ff, record Balaam’s donkey talking to him.  In fact, he responded to Balaam angrily beating him for pinning his leg against a rock wall.  The donkey actually saved Balaam’s life, but what thanks did the donkey get, a beating.

Animals do not naturally speak in human language, but God, being all-powerful has the ability to make them talk if he so desires, Balaam’s donkey talks and makes a fool of Balaam, and Balaam was a greedy fool who helped Balak seduce Israel into sin and then Israel received the consequences for their sin.

I believe the bizarre because God does.

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What I Learned From the Sandy Hook Massacre

The more often these kind of tragedies happen, the more I realize just how vulnerable and exposed we all are to such atrocities. The first time something tragic happened that hit me was when a 10 or 11-year-old girl comes home from school and begins taking orders for a school fund-raiser in a town of 4-500 people; small town America. The last time she was seen was on the corner of one of the streets until about two weeks later when her body was found in a ditch a couple of miles from the town, molested, raped and murdered.

The US government is trying to determine what to do to prevent tragedies like Sandy Hook happening again. I fear there is going to be too much of a knee-jerk reaction that does not address the heart of the issue which is the heart and soul of the people who carry out these tragedies.

After some contemplation, I have learned these truths and realities.

Morality is not relative. The thinking of a lot of people is that whatever we think is right at the time is what is right and what I think is right for me is right me, but what is right for you is not necessarily right for me. Everyone is appalled by what took place at Sandy Hook Elementary and calling for justice and measures for the future prevention of such events. Therefore there must be a standard somewhere and somehow that we measure this by.

If you are reading this, you will already know what I am going write. Moral values, right and wrong come from one standard that never changes throughout time and history and the basis for the standard is in God Almighty and the standard which comes from his unchanging character is found in the Bible, God’s Word.

Sin is real and it is violent. Not all sinful acts are acts of violence but the character and nature of sin leads to it. God through the Apostle Paul related to us in the book of Romans that all people have sinned. Sin is a part of every person’s life. Some of the rest of the book of Romans especially chapters 4-10 give us information about how to overcome sin. But sinfulness will sooner or later, if given enough time lead to violence. In the Bible, the account of the flood which Noah and his family were saved from was on account of man’s violent nature (Genesis 6:11 ,13). Meaning since humans were made in God’s image, the violent acts against mankind were acts against the image of God. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was as a result of violence (Genesis 18:20, 21; 19:9). Violence is found throughout the history of the world. Sin is the culprit behind all of this.

Sin corrupts completely, the longer it is not dealt with. In some people corruption spreads faster than in others. It may take more than a life-time for someone to become completely corrupt, but the fact remains that people like Nero, Hitler, and others became corrupt at young enough ages to carry out crimes against humanity (as we call it). The tragedies of Columbine and Sandy Hook and others illustrate this corruption and the despair in the lives of the perpetrators.

Government, political, public & social programs are not fixing the problem (and never have). Only redemption can change the situation. Only the spiritual change of being “born again” in Christ can make the change. I am not saying that public programs might not help, but true transformation comes from a transformation of the heart and soul and that only comes from surrender to and forgiveness given by Jesus Christ (Romans 12). Programs change external conditions not internal issues.

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Which Thief (on the cross) Are You?

There’s a cross for you. I mean, the three crosses raised that day in A.D. 29 were our crosses. Our sin, our affront to God with our sin shows we are guilty and deserved death.

Three people died that day; Jesus in the middle, and two criminals on the left and right side of Jesus. When Jesus said “it is finished,” the fate of the two thieves was set. One would suffer in hell, the other, would join Jesus in “paradise.”

Sin destroys! Think about it. Sin doesn’t do good at all. The ultimate purpose of sin is to destroy the sinner. Lying destroys trust. Hate and murder destroys lives. Adultery destroys relationships and families. Sin destroys.

The reason for sin’s destruction is to hurt God. The devil, in the Garden of Eden, in the form of a serpent wanted to convince Adam and Eve to sin. He worked his deceit through Eve and Adam fell in with her in the sin.

The devil wants to hurt God, and what hurts the most, a severely broken relationship. Sin is the break-point and separation and punishment is the consequence, because, we have not obeyed the Father.

The thieves had separate attitudes about Jesus. One taunted Jesus to save himself. The crowds watching the spectacle were taunting Jesus in the same way. The other thief, realized that Jesus was without sin and that he did not deserve punishment. He even scolded the other thief. We deserve this punishment, but this man has done no wrong.

“For all have sinned” Romans3.23; and “the wages of sin is death” @Romans6.23. We are sinners, we deserved the death that Jesus died. But Jesus death was for sin. He was on the cross receiving the penalty for our sin, therefore he became sin for us.

Because the one thief was repentant, when he asked Jesus to remember him when he comes into his kingdom, Jesus told him that he would be in paradise with him that very day. He was forgiven. He was given freedom from the spiritual penalty of his sin.

Have you repented of your sin against God? Have you asked forgiveness for your sinfulness? Have you confessed Jesus as the risen Son of God because you believe in him? Have you been immersed for your salvation?

Which thief are you?

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Gut Wrenching Prayer (Jesus Praying in the Garden)

When Jesus was praying in the Garden, “My Father, if it is possible let this cup pass from me,” (@Mt. 26:39, NASB) he was asking the Father for another way. Jesus knew the extent of the horror he was going to experience. He knew how he would die and what it would cost him to go through that experience.

I’ve heard it said that Jesus wasn’t afraid of the physical pain. I can’t believe that to be true. But I do believe the physical pain was minor compared to the pain of feeling forsaken and separated from God when he would become sin for us.

Jesus comes to the Father, alone, with his friends a short distance away and he pleads with God, with his sweat becoming like drops of blood. He knows what is about to happen. He knows the terror his soul and his flesh will feel. He does not want to be separated in his loving, unified fellowship with God the Father. That separation will tear at his heart and soul. It will be the worst thing that can happen.

Jesus will know what it is like for people to be far away from God. What kind of hell their souls are in and will be in if they continue in sin with the consequence of punishment in hell.

Is there another way? Can we accomplish this in a different way some way where we will not be separated by sin?

Jesus never once wanted to abandon humanity to sin. He wasn’t betraying our faith and trust. He knew what was coming and what it meant and asked for something different.

But, because his relationship with the Father was one of love and unity and obedience, Jesus willingly submitted himself to the will and vision of God the Father. His words, “Yet not as I will, but as you will,” (Mt. 26:39, NASB) tell of his love for the Father and his love for humanity which bears the image of God.

This was a huge sacrifice for Jesus. He would be beaten and ripped to pieces and then crucified until he died, but his sacrifice was his fellowship with God is so pure and holy, he cannot associate with sin.  And if Jesus was experiencing pain from separation anxiety, consider what God the Father would experience.

Because Jesus willingly died for our sin, through our faith in him, our sins are forgiven. When Jesus died with our sins placed on him, the eternal power of sin was put to death. When Jesus rose from the dead, he came to life without sin because sin was defeated. Sin, the power of sin, and sin’s leader the devil were all done in.

To deal with sin, it gut wrenching. It is for us now, it was for Jesus then. But that is what he came to do, deal with sin by putting sin to death. And the Father’s will was accomplished when Jesus died on the cross for me and for you.

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What I’ve Learned From 9/11

With the tenth anniversary of 9/11, about every blogger has written something in relationship it. Many churches had special services, or special portions of their services devoted to memorializing those who died 10 years ago. Most sporting events over the weekend had special moments to honor that horrible event in 2001. Memorial events were taking place all over the nation and especially in New York where the planes destroyed the World Trade Center. What more can I add to all that has been said?

I was horrified, angered, and frightened went our country was attacked. I felt the same things most Americans did. What in the world happened? Why did it happen? How could it happen? What are we going to do now? Are we safe here like we have always believed we were?

I have learned that we are all vulnerable. That statement may seem obvious, but I mean a lot more than the obvious. It is not just America that is vulnerable, the whole world is vulnerable. We lost our innocence and no matter where in the world you live, you are susceptible to danger. The danger may not be Al Qaeda, but it may be some other enemy. Our whole planet is in danger of attack.

But I mean even more than that.

It is curious to me that my sermon yesterday, planned for months without realizing it would fall on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, was about how sin took over the world on three different occasions. The title of the message was, “Sin: Taking Over the World” from Genesis 3-10.

After Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God and eating the fruit from the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” sin spread quickly. Cain murdered his brother Abel, as Hebrews 11:4 tells us, it was because he was evil. It wasn’t long until we learn in Genesis 6 that the whole world had become corrupt. Violence had completely taken over the earth and God regretted creating humans. Humanity had completely ignored God and whatever other evils they were committing, they had become overtly violent. Hating, harming, injuring, murdering one another. That’s when he flooded the earth, in order to restart and restore without evil ruling the earth.

But it didn’t take long for evil to raise up and spread as if there was no restraint. Noah’s son, Ham, saw his father asleep and naked in his tent and he brought disrespect to his father when belittled Noah to his brothers, Shem and Japheth. But it wasn’t long until pretty much the whole world resisted God’s command to spread out and occupy the world. Humanism became the rule and they decided to build a tower to human ingenuity, ability, and strength, called the Tower of Babel.

It was then that God mixed up their languages. The world spoke one language in that day, but now there were many and it created confusion and stopped their evil.

That third time that the Bible tells about sin and evil taking over the world is in the last days. Of course the New Testament teaching about the last days is that since Jesus Christ died and raised, we are in the last days. The last days will continue from Jesus’ death and resurrection until his return.

2 Timothy 3:1-5: 1But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. (English Standard Version)

Sin is permeating our world at a level we haven’t seen since the events in the first 10 chapters of Genesis. The Barna research group just recently published its state of the church, examining the religious and spiritual trends of the past 20 years (1991-2011). The report is eye-opening. It is apparent from the report that sin is taking over America, we are becoming more and more worldly; http://www.barna.org/faith-spirituality/504-barna-examines-trends-in-14-religious-factors-over-20-years-1991-to-2011.

We are vulnerable to sin and evil. The world is full of it. Satan is attacking us. He intends not to just injure us but to destroy us. The attack by Al Qaeda 10 years ago is a physical and tragic symbol of how unsafe and susceptible we are to Satan’s attack and that attack was one of the tools of Satan.

Yet . . . we can be protected. There is hope. First it is in Christ. If you are born again into Jesus Christ (read John 3), you have salvation, but you better be aware and active in your faith. Paul writes these words to us about our spiritual Al Qaeda; 10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;17and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,18praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints. Ephesians 6:10-18 (ESV)

May you be blessed by God and be safe within his love and hope and eternity.

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Why Grace?

“Why did there have to be a covenant of grace? Because people rebelled and could not come to God in their own goodness. They were under the judgment of God with true moral guilt. So God had to give the covenant of grace at the terrible cost of Christ’s death because people were justly under God’s condemnation and judgment without it.”

Francis A. Schaeffer, Joshua and the Flow of Biblical History, page 76

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Where Grace is Sitting

We’ve had several discussions about sin and grace in the book of Romans. Following are links progressively through our discussion.

https://blogthechurch.wordpress.com/2010/12/07/grace-rests-easily-where-sin-once-sat/

https://blogthechurch.wordpress.com/2010/12/10/the-uncomfortable-truth/

https://blogthechurch.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/no-room-for-sin/

https://blogthechurch.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/a-convenient-truth/

https://blogthechurch.wordpress.com/2011/01/02/god-gets-amnesia/

https://blogthechurch.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/dreaming-that-im-free/

https://blogthechurch.wordpress.com/2011/01/21/not-disappointed-romans-pt-7/

https://blogthechurch.wordpress.com/2011/02/10/gettin-wet-in-gods-grace-romans-pt-8/

https://blogthechurch.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/am-i-really-like-this-romans-pt-9/

https://blogthechurch.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/im-free-romans-pt-10/

We will be continuing with the later half of Romans chapter 8.

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