New Feature! Question of the Week!

Because we didn't get to cover everyone's questions on Q&A Day (December 28), we will feature "Question of the Week" for our blogs! That's fun, right?

Same rules:

  1. I will answer what I understand is being asked, and...
  2. I will give the short answer. 

On to where we left off Sunday...

Since the Bible says clearly to love each other, if I am struggling with loving someone and asking God to fill me with love for that person, and am not quite there, should I just fake it or is there Biblically a way to handle this another way? One end feels like hypocrisy and the other disobedience.

I understand. You know the Bible says to love others, but you just aren’t feeling it with this person, so it can feel fake.

Good news: Love is a choice. There are different words for “love” in the Greek language (in which the Bible was written). One word is erosthat is hubba-hubba husband and wife love. Phileo is friendship love - affection you have for your BFF that you don’t have for the stranger in line behind you at Target. But the love of God, that He calls us to, is agape. That is choosing to love, choosing to put the other person’s need ahead of your own, self-sacrificing love. So you can choose to love someone even if you don’t feel like it by making choices to show love through your actions. As I heard James MacDonald say: Feelings are a lousy engine but a great caboose. You don't let your feelings lead you! But feelings do have a way of catching up when you are committed to making choices that honor God.

p.s. - phileo is where we get "Philadelphia" - city of brotherly love, it's called. Ironic, huh?

So the Atheists Wrote Their Version of the 10 Commandments...

Did you hear? Not to be outdone, the atheists now have their own version of the 10 Commandments, called the “10 Non-Commandments“. You read that right. A contest was held for a more modern, humanistic alternative to the commandments given by God to Moses in Exodus 20. Here is the link:

Considering the time spent studying the original, I felt an evaluation of this new version would be in order. My comments will be in italics.

Here are the "Ten Non-Commandments" chosen as the winners:

1. Be open-minded and be willing to alter your beliefs with new evidence.

2. Strive to understand what is most likely to be true, not to believe what you wish to be true.

I call these first offerings the "ironic pair". Is this critical evaluation of evidence a two-way street? Does this include young earth science and evidence for the resurrection of Christ?

3. The scientific method is the most reliable way of understanding the natural world.

True. Science interprets the present, but cannot tell the past. That’s called history. (Come on, you didn‘t really think this non-commandment wasn‘t a plug for millions of years of evolution. If you did, email me about buying a bridge I am selling.)

4. Every person has the right to control of their body.

This is a push for abortio… I mean “pro-choice”, right?

I agree with this one. Control your body. Great. I agree. Control it. Monitor the activities it engages in. Babies, however, are a different body. Let them have the same right to life, and control, that you have.

5. God is not necessary to be a good person or to live a full and meaningful life.

Who defines "good" and "meaningful"? You used the words, so SOMEBODY has to define them.

“Good” and “meaningful” are meaningless words, unless there is a God who defined morality. If God defined morality, it is objective truth (x is good, y is bad - for everyone). But if we define it, it is subjective - and we know that doesn’t work! Some people think adultery and stealing are good and meaningful. Not the people who are victims, though.

6. Be mindful of the consequences of all your actions and recognize that you must take responsibility for them.

Yeah. I am on board with this. See #4.

7. Treat others as you would want them to treat you, and can reasonably expect them to want to be treated. Think about their perspective.

Ah ah ah!!! That's too close to Jesus talk (Matthew 7:12). No copying! You wanted your own version, make up your own!

8. We have the responsibility to consider others, including future generations.

I agree, but this sounds like a repackage and a tweak to the previous one. Are we running out of ideas?

9. There is no one right way to live.

So why make commandments? Oh, right, these are non-commandments. Is this validating me thinking the right way to live is through the exclusive salvation offered in Jesus Christ?

10. Leave the world a better place than you found it.

First His Words, now we are ripping off Jesus' ACTIONS. Shame on you.

God-less. Ecumenical. Vanilla. If these make it to the public square, will Christians protest to have them taken down? Will they get taken down?

If my tone sounds caustic and/or annoyed and/or sarcastic, I am. Stuff like this puts me in that mood. I’ll try to turn that around for next time. It’s just so wicked and so foolish, but somewhere out there right now, a group of atheists are high-fiving each other over this drivel.

Meanwhile, I’ll stick with the original. Heaven and earth will pass away (along with these foolish re-writes of God‘s Word) but the words of Christ will never pass away (see Mark 13:31).

p.s. - not sure about the rule as to when I should turn the italics off

The Easiest, and Most Effective, Way to Evangelize!

Several months ago I attended the funeral of an old family friend. Johnny lived to be 95 years old and had been friends with my parents and grandparents. He loved the Lord and was active in service at his church for many years. When I talked to his son at the funeral, I learned something about Johnny that I never knew. He and his wife were neighbors of my grandparents many, many years ago. One day my grandfather invited them to go to church with him and they gladly accepted. While attending church with my grandparents, Johnny and his wife Gladys were saved! They spent decades of selfless service in the local church, impacting untold numbers of people. Their lives, and the lives of many others, were changed forever because my grandfather just simply extended an invitation to come to church. 

What about us? Are we telling people about our church? Have we made others aware of our church or is it one of our best untold secrets? Our neglect of others around us is costly and devastating, not only to them, but to us as well! Imagine how many Johnnys and Gladys's we've ignored!

We ALL can do this! Some of us may not feel entirely equipped to adequately answer complicated Bible theology questions, but we certainly can extend invitations to people to come to church to find answers. 

What kind of people must we be if we do not ask others to join in on something that is so vitally important in our own lives? What kind of Christians must we be if we're keeping the church to ourselves? The Bible tells us that we are to love others as we love ourselves. I imagine there's much effort and planning that happens in each of our respective families as we prepare ourselves to get to church and small group each week. Shouldn't some of that effort and planning be directed towards other people? 

How do we do that? Here are a few simple thoughts:

  • Have regular conversation about your church with family, neighbors, friends and work associates. Talk about what you're learning, what you're involved in and how it's impacting your life. If we really love something, doesn't it just automatically come up in the course of conversation? If something has a regular profound effect in your life, isn't it something you're going to tell everyone? Speak highly of your church. Airing your frustrations or disappointments does great damage in stirring the interest of others.
  • Just talking about church may perk someone's ears up and they may come out of curiosity, but some other people need to be asked directly. They need to feel like they are important enough to you and that you cared enough to ask. Just plainly tell them that you'd like them to come to church with you. Offer to sit with them, meet them in the parking lot or offer to pick them up if necessary.

  • Be prepared with the church website information, meeting place and time, phone numbers, etc. The refrigerator magnets available on the information table in the lobby are a fantastic tool for this. Carry them with you and give them to people as you extend your invitation.

  • Don't forget to pray that God would lead unchurched people to you and that you could seize every opportunity to speak openly about your church.

If our church is going to grow in its capacity to minister to people and make disciples, then we each need to do our part in making sure that everyone we come in contact with knows that they are welcomed to come and worship with us at Harvest! 

Many blessings to you,

Jesus: David's Grandson or David's God?

Who is Jesus, really?

It’s always the issue. I have been hit with the debate countless times. The Mormons who showed up to tell me Jesus was Satan’s brother. The Jehovah’s Witnesses who say Jesus was a man, a good man yes, but just a man. And I’ll never forget the 2 enormous Muslim men who challenged me in the prison during Bible study, saying, “The Bible never says Jesus is God.”

Who is Jesus? Is He just a good man? Famous rabbi? Good philosopher? Brother of Lucifer?

As we have walked through Mark, we have seen many challenges presented to Jesus in chapters 11 and 12. Questions meant to trap him. Well, their questions have all failed, and now Jesus is going to hit them with a question.

And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, "How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David?

David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared, "'The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.'

David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?" And the great throng heard him gladly. Mark 12:35-37

The question goes back to the main issue: who is Jesus? The religious leaders in Jesus’ day believed the Messiah would be a man, just a man, but a powerful man from the line of David - and a conquering warrior like David. That’s why many people who acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah of Israel called Him the “Son of David”.

So after Jesus handily addressed their questions, He initiated one of His own. His question boils down to this: If the Messiah is just a human great great great etc grandchild of David, how can David refer to the Messiah as “Lord“?

Good question! It doesn’t make sense… unless David’s descendent is also God in the flesh. Which is exactly what the Bible claims about Jesus (John 1:1,14).

Jesus took them to Psalm 110 - the most quoted Psalm in the New Testament. What a profound and deep theological truth is found in the statement: The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.

The Lord (God the Father) said to my Lord (the Messiah, God the Son), Sit at my right hand (meaning they are equal in power, rank, and authority), until I put your enemies under your feet (the ultimate victory of the Messiah - defeating sin at the cross and defeating sinners at His Second Coming).

So the question Jesus dropped on the religious leaders has now fallen on your lap. Who is Jesus?

The popular answer of “just some popular Jewish teacher” isn’t an option. Not from Jesus, and not from the prophecies about Jesus, like Psalm 110.

Conquering King, yes, but ultimate Lord of all. Like David, do you call Him, “My Lord”?

Is right understanding of Jesus that critical to salvation? It is according to Romans 10:9: “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved…”

Don’t take Jesus for what you think He is. Take Him for Who God’s Word says He is. He is the Lord of all.

p.s. - hear Him gladly