Thoughts

Be Careful Little Ears…

Music has never been more portable than it is today. Hundreds, even thousands of songs can be carried along in devices the size of a pack of gum and even smaller. Unfortunately, all of the songs that can be carried along for the ride aren’t songs that are worth the bits, bytes and gigs that they chew up.

Now no one can deny that decency and high moral standards aren’t exactly the two biggest priorities the music industry worries about. They sow whatever reaps the money. But naming that tune is a must for any parent today who cares about the standards that are presented to his or her child.

All Christians in general, whatever the age,  must be careful with what we allow to be repeated over and over in our ears no matter how good the beat sounds, but Christian parents with children who carry around personal jukeboxes in their pocket must pay special attention to what the little ears are listening to with those buds. Because in an age when we listen to music that can be kept on the down-low by simply choosing the songs by private download over the Internet, a parent must take the initiative and be proactive when it comes to being aware of what the music “artist” is painting in our child’s mind.

Believe it or not, in May of 1965 the FBI investigated the lyrics of “Louie, Louie” after suspicions arose concerning possible “dirty lyrics.” Do you know why the FBI labs investigated the song? Because parents complained! That’s amazing when you think about the lyrics that today’s songs contain and how so many parents buy their children songs with lyrics that “could make a sailor blush” without thinking twice. The key phrase there is without thinking.

At the end of the day we must be willing to ask ourselves, “What kind of seeds are we allowing the iPod, iPhone and the MP3 to plant in the little ears of our offspring?” Because letting it go in one ear and out the other doesn’t mean our responsibilities are going away. That’s why as parents we must be prepared to listen to our children, but we must also be prepared to listen to what our children listen to!  EA

And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)

What’s Fueling Your Fire?

When we start to suffer from burnout in our relationship with God it’s because we’re using the wrong fuel!

Many people try to use family to keep their spiritual flame burning – it won’t work.

Many try to use tradition to keep their spiritual flame burning – it won’t work.

Many try to use reputation to keep their spiritual flame burning – it won’t work.

Many try to use intellect to keep their flame burning – it won’t work.

Many try to use a desire to prove others wrong to keep their spiritual flame burning – it won’t work.

Many try to use the physical blessings that God has given to keep their spiritual flame burning – it won’t work.

The right fuel to keep our spiritual fire burning only comes from two places. One, it comes from our personal conviction that Christ died and rose again for us and that we should live for him (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). Two, it comes from the word of God that teaches us this fact (Jeremiah 20:9).

To use anything else will leave a person with less than spiritual fumes to run on – it will leave the spiritual tank completely dry! EA

 “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)

Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name.” But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not.” (Jeremiah 20:9)

Why?

There is a question for you! How many times have you asked that one? How many times have you been asked that one? How many times has an answer escaped the moment?

For many reasons and in many ways we can ask this simple question that leads to simple or complicated answers. I can scarce imagine a human language that would not include an equivalent word to the English word “why.”

Children are masters at using the word. A close second would probably be Christians. At times we ask with honest hearts of intrigue. At times we ask with hidden motives. At times we ask in rebellion. At times we ask because we do not know the answer; and at times we ask even when we do not want to know the answer! What a conundrum!

When was the last time you asked why? Why did you ask? I often have questions that go around and around in my mind like the earth around the Sun. I often find no answer –which sometimes leads to me ask…why?

I see the faith of some that grows cold and I ask, “Why?” I see the faith of some that grows bold and I ask, “Why?”

There can be a difference in asking why and in having doubt. Sometimes asking why is the fruit of doubt! Sometimes we need to lay the axe to the roots.

When the questions of life leave us with no answer, maybe we are asking the wrong questions. Maybe we are asking the wrong person. Maybe the answer is already staring us in the face but we do not like the answer. So we ask another question until we get an answer we like! Why is that???

Why ask why? Why not? What do you say? Or better yet, why do you ask? EA

And he was very sad in spirit, and said, Why is this generation looking for a sign?…” (Mark 8:12)

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Jesus Will Come Again

A beautiful song with the above title reminds us about a fact that the world scoffs at, and we as Christians sometimes take for granted and forget. Here’s how the first stanza and chorus reads:

“Jesus is our loving Shepherd, And He is a faithful guide. He is coming back from Heaven for the church of Christ, His bride. He has promised all the faithful that a home to them He’ll give: And to glory will receive them. Evermore with Him to live.”

As much as it is necessary for someone to believe that Jesus was crucified for our sins, buried and defeated death (Romans 10:9), you must also believe the Bible’s teaching concerning His return. Forty days after His resurrection, Jesus returned to Heaven in front of His disciples, which were afterwards told by two “angels” that Jesus would return in the like manner that He left. (Acts 1:9-11) If you believe Jesus is who He said He is, then you must believe that His return is inevitable.

Will all be well when He returns? Will the earth be filled with peace and happiness? Not unless you consider great noises, heat and fire peaceful (2nd Peter 3:10). Will He return in secret? Not unless you think you can hide lightning! Christ said that all people would see Him return (Matthew 24:27,30). Will people, including some Christians, be unprepared to see and meet Him? Sadly, yes they will be (Matthew 24: 45-51). Will His return usher in the judgment day in which the majority of people will sadly be cast into Hell? Unfortunately, yes it will (Matthew 7:13-14; 25:31-34,41,46 & 2nd Corinthians 5:10).

His return is no fairy tale (2 Peter 3:1-13). (more…)

Jesus Is The Real Deal

Long ago God’s prophet Amos warned his listeners, “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord God, “That I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine of bread, Nor a thirst for water, But of hearing the words of the Lord.” (Amos 8:11).

God kept His word. In an age that saw about 450 years of silence from the prophets of God before John came out of the wilderness preaching repentance and the kingdom of God, Israel managed to get their spiritual appetite back (Matthew 3:1-6). They were lacking true spiritual leadership. The religious sects of the day had abused the people with a fake outward show of righteousness and an inward moral decay (Matthew 23 & Mark 12:18, 38-40). The people were looking for someone who was truthful, understanding and passionate. They were looking for someone who was real. The prophet who broke Israel’s “spiritual fast” with his words from God declared Jesus to be “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29-35). The real deal had come.

Jesus was the real Man. He taught the people of Israel how to truly show their love for God and their neighbor (Luke 10:27, Matthew 6:33 & Philippians 2:5-8). It’s easy to be a “man” when you have a crowd behind you, but Jesus stood up against wrong even when the crowd and public opinion was against Him (Matthew 21:12,13 & John 8). He showed what a real man was by treating women with respect, love and mercy (John 4:6-15; 8:3-11); and without a doubt, this man loved His mother (John 19:25-27). He showed the world what the definition of a man was.

Jesus was the real Friend. Jesus made friends before His public ministry began (Mark 3:21). He had a bad reputation with the religious leadership of the day for being a friend to “tax collectors and sinners” but He had a good reputation with the common people (Luke 7:34 & Mark 12:37). (more…)

Which Comes First???

So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind.” (Genesis 1:21)

The “age-old” question, “Which came first? The chicken or the egg?” that so many in the world quibble about is easy to answer when one reads what God’s word says about it. So what does it say? Right there in Genesis 1:21 you have it. First the bird, then the baby.

Another question that so many in the religious world quibble about is, “Which comes first? Baptism or salvation?” The answer to this question can be found just as easy as the answer to the previous question if we would only let God’s word give us the answer.

He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16)

So what does God’s word say about it? Right there in Mark 16:16 you have it. First baptism, then salvation.

Now, why do so many in the religious world trust God’s word when it comes to Genesis 1:21, but they can’t trust it when it comes to Mark 16:16? It’s something to think about. EA

How Do Our Words Taste?

Some have said that nearly 6,500 human languages exist! How many of those languages do you think has words that are kind? How many of those languages do you think has words that are hurtful? Probably about 6,500 of them, huh?

Knowing how to talk and knowing how we should talk are two different things aren’t they? Since the day God gave humanity the ability to speak different languages humanity has been using all the different words we know to do two things – help or hurt. “There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, But the tongue of the wise promotes health.” (Proverbs 12:18)

How would our words taste if we had to eat them? I believe James hints at this idea in James 3:7-12 when he said…

For every sort of beast and bird and every living thing on earth and in the sea has been controlled by man and is under his authority; But the tongue may not be controlled by man; it is an unresting evil, it is full of the poison of death. With it we give praise to our Lord and Father; and with it we put a curse on men who are made in God’s image. Out of the same mouth comes blessing and cursing. My brothers, it is not right for these things to be so. Does the fountain send from the same outlet sweet and bitter water? Is a fig-tree able to give us olives, my brothers, or do we get figs from a vine, or sweet water from the salt sea?” (BBE)

I want to quickly focus on verse 11 (the highlighted scripture) and what we can learn from it. (more…)

Reasonable questions to ask about the rapture theory…

Every once in a while I still see a bumper sticker that says something like, “In case of rapture this car will be un-manned” or “When the rapture happens you can have the car.” You probably know that the word rapture is a popular one among many people in the religious world. But what you may not know is that the word itself is not used once in the KJV of the Bible and there is no solid support found in the original Greek manuscripts.

Now, I’m not saying that Jesus isn’t returning, that the dead won’t be raised or that the living won’t be caught up. Christ returning is definitely not a teaching foreign to the Bible. Jesus taught His disciples and warned others that He would return (Mark 14:62, John 14:3, 1st Cor. 11:24-26). But the doctrine of the second coming of Christ and the perverted doctrine of the rapture are not the same. One is right and the other is wrong.

Yes, I know the rapture is a popular teaching, but being popular and being right are not the same either. Think about some of the major components concerning the teaching of the rapture. The details depend upon who’s teaching it, but there are several common foundational teachings that crumble when they’re examined along with some clear statement scriptures found in the New Testament.

One major foundational teaching is that Jesus will return secretly to “rapture away” His disciples. If that’s true then why did the apostle John say that when Jesus returned everyone would see Him? Revelation 1:7 says, “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.” The apostle Paul said Jesus will return with a shout! Why shout if it’s supposed to be a secret? “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God” (1st Thessalonians 4:16) (more…)

AND MEANS AND

Do you know what the word “and” means? From the elementary levels in school, kids are taught that the word “and” fulfills the role of a conjunction in a sentence. That means that the simple definition of “and” is, “along with; in addition too.

An example on how to use the word “and” would be: Go to the store and get a gallon of milk. When we want to tell someone to do two or more things in one sentence then we use the word “and.” I know all of that sounds like a “duh” statement, but I have a reason for speaking so plainly and simply, so please stick with me as I continue to explain.

Now, to be honest, English was really my least favorite subject in school, but I do remember some of the lessons that I was taught and the importance and meaning of “and” is one of them. Maybe one of the reasons I still remember it so well is because as a child I learned what the word “and” meant even before I started school. If my parents told me to do something by using the using the word “and,” then I knew whatever they were saying had better be done whether it was before or after the “and” was spoken.

It seems as if everyone completely understands what “and” means when it comes to everyday life. When someone gives us directions to a location we pay attention to every “and.” For example, if someone tells us to go straight and turn right at the second red light, then we look for the second red light so we can turn right. If you are cooking and the cookbook says to add one egg and a cup of flour, we don’t just add the egg; we add the egg and flour. Why? Because the cookbook said so when it used the word “and,” right?

You see, no person with a simple understanding of the English language will argue about what “and” means – that is until we start talking about what the Bible says about becoming a Christian. If the Bible uses the word “and,” why don’t we look at it the same way that we do any other time?

See if you can agree with the word “and” in all these scriptures. They are in order:

John 4:24; Romans 1:16; 1st John 1:8 “and” Mark 16:16.

God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

Now here’s my whole reason for what I said in such plain language earlier. Does a person have to worship God in spirit and in truth? Can the gospel save Jews and Gentiles? If a person denies their sin, is the truth in them? Look at the verses and answer the questions. They are easy to answer because of the word “and.” Now, can a person be saved without being baptized? I guess it depends on what your definition of “and” is. Think about it. EA

History Has Told and History Will Tell

No one can deny that America has made its mistakes in the past. Our nation, like all other nations, has made major mistakes. That being said, I now want to say this very plainly: our leaders in power are denying our history to our detriment. I am not talking about decisions that were made in the past. I am talking about the ones that are being made today.

High poweredpoliticians have been picking a fight with theHighest Power” in the land for the last several decades and the taunting has gotten a lot more intense over the last few years. Some people are determined to make God history in our country. But if we can learn anything from history, it is that a nation that has a history with God but no present does not have much of a future to look forward to.

How can we own up to so much of our past but still deny the Power that has allowed us to even have one? Listen to this historic song written long ago by a writer named Francis Scott Key! The United States Congress adopted this original poem turned song in 1931 and it became known as our National Anthem. Read the whole thing because believe it or not, there may be something in this song that you’ve never heard before!

“Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light, What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming? (more…)