Do not become denominational by avoiding denominationalism

A call to avoid denominationalism within the church is righteous because it’s the calling of God (John 17:20-21; 1 Corinthians 1:10).

But the danger in some attempts to answer that call comes when the determining factor becomes the echo of men and women and not the voice of God.

For instance, the church today, in our goal of avoiding denominationalism, may actually become denominational by:

  • requiring a certain translation of the Bible or condemning others for not using a certain translation.
  • insisting that certain topics not be publicly addressed from “the pulpit” on certain days because the denominational world is talking about or recognizing them.
  • being upset at how many worship services a sister congregation offers on Sunday (which is a different topic from the acts of worship being offered).
  • avoiding any imagery of the cross or other “denominational appearances” in connection with the furniture or layout of the church building (steeples, crosses on communion trays, presence of kitchens, etc.).
  • using “Church of Christ” in the place of “Christian” in reference to our identity within the religious world.

Simple fact of the matter is when it comes to avoiding denominationalism I believe it can be done because God desires it, but in our attempts to avoid such we can become the very thing we wish to avoid if we do not carefully examine our motivation for supporting or withdrawing from certain actions we take as the church.

The doctrine of God’s church must rest strongly upon the foundation delivered some 2,000 years ago (Ephesians 2:19-21; 1 Peter 4:11; Jude 1:3), but the “doing” of God’s church must not become pigeonholed into the behavior of one certain culture or even one certain decade, and this can be done without coming at the cost of the readiness of mind displayed by the one certain century who received the revealed will of God (Acts 17:10-12).

A failure to see this is a failure to comprehend what the restoration movement was and should still be about, and that’s about avoiding denominationalism without becoming denominational.

For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23 NKJV)

A failure to obey is not necessarily due to a failure to explain

If you are anything like me, when it comes to personal or public work, you have probably put hours upon hours into studying and thinking about a biblical topic in order to find a way to explain it in such a simple, understandable and honest way that someone who holds a contrary position would agree with the avenue of evidence and change his or her position on the subject.

Throughout my years of living life as a Christian I have felt the urge to convince others of what I know to be an uncontradictory position of truth numerous times; even to the extent that it caused me great grief and anxiety. Experience and a greater understanding of responsibility has led to a much less burdened heart. By this I do not mean I have quit studying, attempting to create bridges of better communication, or trying to help others better understand that biblical truth does exist (2 Timothy 4:2). I’m saying I now understand that a failure of proper obedience is not necessarily due to a failure of proper explanation.

For example, Jesus told his disciples that in their lifetime they would experience great times of turmoil and personal cost and direct challenges to their faith from religious and political leaders (Luke 21:10-12), and he also said: Continue reading

Bible class questions for Deuteronomy 19

Some of these questions are meant to have answers straight from the text while other questions are meant to encourage discussion of the text.

Questions:

  1. What does the tense of the word “when” in verse 1 say about the mindset of Moses when it comes to these instructions? (Deuteronomy 19:1)
  2. What does the existence of these refuge cities say about God? (Deuteronomy 19:2-3)
  3. What does the language of verse 6 say about the emotion of anger? (Deuteronomy 19:6)
  4. What does Moses’ mentioning of “future cities” in verses 8-9 say about God’s promises? (Deuteronomy 19:8-9)
  5. According to verses 11-12, who was not allowed to seek refuge in the identified cities? (Deuteronomy 19:11-12)
  6. How, do you think, were the elders of the cities of refuge affected by God’s instructions ? (Deuteronomy 19:11-13)
  7. Who were the “men of old” responsible for setting up the landmark system Moses referenced? (Deuteronomy 19:14)

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Doubting Moses equates to challenging Jesus

Some “Christians” doubt Moses wrote the Pentateuch. They prefer to give credit to unknown authors who added sentences here and paragraphs there. When you do the math the result is bad theology!

Undermining the scriptural authenticity of the past by default undermines the scriptural authenticity of the past-future. In other words, if an individual is unable to posses the ability to trust the creditability of the historical scriptures then how can one trust their proclaimed future prophecies? I mean, if one is a Christian then the reliability of the Messianic prophecies are more than a little important!

The simple fact of the matter is doubting Moses equates to not only challenging what we believe about Jesus – it challenges Jesus! And that’s a challenge (on more than a theological level) that I’m not interested in issuing.

No doubt about it, when it comes to faith in Jesus the Christ, the Bible’s ancient GED program (Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy) taught by Moses will take a person further than many modern-day professors and their theological PhD’s from universities.

“For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote about me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” (John 5:46-47 NKJV)

Bible class questions for Deuteronomy 17

Some of these questions are meant to have answers straight from the text while other questions are meant to encourage discussion of the text.

Questions:

  1. Why was offering an unhealthy animal considered an abomination to God? (Deuteronomy 17:1)
  2. Why do you think God required the witnesses/accusers of the idolatry to be the persons who threw the first stone? (Deuteronomy 17:7)
  3. Why was an emphasis placed on the Levites and priests being the individuals who should settle disputes? (Deuteronomy 17:8-9)
  4. Why was such a strong action required to be taken on people who not accept the priest’s decision? (Deuteronomy 17:12-13)
  5. Do you believe it’s a coincidence the first characteristic of a king reigning over Israel mentioned is that he was to be chosen by God? (Deuteronomy 17:15)
  6. What was the first condition listed in relation to the king and Moses’ Law? (Deuteronomy 17:18)

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Upcoming movie release: Unplanned

A seemingly powerful movie about the misinformation, misconceptions and mistake of abortion is set to be released in theaters.

The movie, which is titled, “Unplanned”, revolves around the experience of a “Planned Parenthood” employee who was climbing the company’s corporate ladder until she experienced something that would dramatically change her convictions and understanding of the abortion process.

The employee’s name is Abby Johnson. An interview with Mrs. Johnson was published in the February 2010 issue of “Think” magazine (a Focus Press publication associated with Apologetics Press). I kept this issue specifically because of the interview with Mrs. Johnson.

Below is a YouTube linked preview of the movie.

Bible class questions for Deuteronomy 16

Some of these questions are meant to have answers straight from the text while other questions are meant to encourage discussion of the text.

Questions:

  1. Other than “unleavened”, what other word was used to describe the bread Israel was to eat during this feast? (Deuteronomy 16:3)
  2. After reading verses 3, 4 and 8, it is clear no leaven was allowed, but why? (Deuteronomy 16:3-4, 8)
  3. When you think about the Feast of Weeks’ connection to Israel’s slavery in Egypt, why do you think their offering was to be of a free-will nature? (Deuteronomy 16:10)
  4. What emotion was meant to characterize the mood during the Feast of Weeks? (Deuteronomy 16:11)
  5. Was anyone meant to be left out of the Tabernacle celebration? (Deuteronomy 16:14)
  6. What condition were the hands of the men who appeared before God during the three feasts supposed to be in? (Deuteronomy 16:16)
  7. What if the giver was not wealthy? (Deuteronomy 16:17)
  8. What was the fruit of a harvest sowed with a bribe? (Deuteronomy 16:19)

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A word based faith is more than a faith based on word

Biblical faith is an active faith. Our faith won’t move so much as a molehill if it does not move us. You see, a word based faith is more than a faith based on word (James 2:18-20).

A word based faith worships God, pleases God, hears God, travels toward God, trusts God, sows God, remembers God, fears God, values God, marches with God, changes for God, suffers for God and is recognized by God! At least this is what Hebrews 11 of the word of God teaches.

Simply said, a word based faith is doing whatever God has asked us to do in his word, and nowhere does that include having a faith that talks and talks and talks and talks. Talking about what we hear does not justify … doing what we hear accomplishes that (James 2:21-26).

“As for you, son of man, the children of your people are talking about you beside the walls and in the doors of the houses; and they speak to one another, everyone saying to his brother, ‘Please come and hear what the word is that comes from the Lord.’ So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain. Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them. And when this comes to pass—surely it will come—then they will know that a prophet has been among them.” (Ezekiel 33:30-33, NKJV)

Bible class questions for Deuteronomy 15

Some of these questions are meant to have answers straight from the text while other questions are meant to encourage discussion of the text.

Questions:

  1. Israel’s seven year debt forgiveness program was funded by whom? (Deuteronomy 15:2)
  2. T or F – The responsibility of the people to help the poor was restricted to members of their own tribe? (Deuteronomy 15:7)
  3. What incentive was given to the people to not ignore the responsibility of lending to others in need during the sixth year? (Deuteronomy 15:10)
  4. The fact that the children of Israel were once slaves who left Egypt through and with God’s grace meant they were to treat their freed servant how? (Deuteronomy 15:13-14)
  5. What act/process was to be done when a servant decided, whether male or female, that he or she wanted to remain as a servant in their household after his or her six years of service were completed? (Deuteronomy 15:16-17)
  6. What do you believe is the significance of Israel sanctifying/setting apart the firstborn males of their herds/flocks to God? (Deuteronomy 15:19)
  7. What stipulation was given concerning the firstborn male of the herds/flocks that Israel was to sanctify/sacrifice to God? (Deuteronomy 15:21)

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Bible class questions for Deuteronomy 13

Some of these questions are meant to have answers straight from the text while other questions are meant to encourage discussion of the text.

Questions:

  1. Where did the “soothsayers” come from, and what was God’s purpose in allowing them to try and accomplish their goal? (Deuteronomy 13:1-3)
  2. What was the consequence of trying to use signs/dreams in order to lead Israel away from God? (Deuteronomy 13:5)
  3. Although Deuteronomy 13:11 contains and applies to the context of verses 1-10, why do you believe the warning about/instructions to family members of apostates would have served as an example to “all Israel”? What application, if any, do you believe the church can gain from this challenging situation?
  4. Were the children of Israel supposed to act immediately (without investigating) if they heard something negative about a neighboring city? (Deuteronomy 13:13-14)
  5. Was anyone allowed to profit from a city being judged? (Deuteronomy 13:16-17)
  6. Was it always “easy” for Israel to “listen to God”? (Deuteronomy 13:18)

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Is “Ignorance is bliss” scriptural?

There are times when ignorance is no excuse … and it goes much further than our responsibility to know the speed limit of the road we are traveling on (Acts 17:30-31). So despite the fact it can be quite contrary to certain biblical principles, does the poetical idiomatic saying, “Ignorance is bliss” have any scriptural merit?

Believe it or not, thanks to Ecclesiastes 1:18, is actually does:

“For in much wisdom is much grief, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.” (NKJV)

If a person solely used stand alone verses in Ecclesiastes as their justification, they could pass off certain behaviors as being in harmony with the scriptural guidance and big picture God seeks to convey to humanity even though it teaches quite to the contrary; but such cannot be said about Ecclesiastes 1:18. Even within the context of Ecclesiastes 1:12-18, the plainly spoken singular principle of verse 18 stands true.

Going through life with our heads in the sand does not change reality, but there are times when learning about the agreements, the systems and the swamps of life, private issues and politics actually does more harm than good.

We cannot change all of life for the good! Knowing all about the burdensome things that we cannot change, no matter how badly we may want to, can drive us crazy if we are not careful. This thought is not calling for an ignorant practice of the admonition in Ephesians 5:8-14, but perhaps this thought is one small reason why Paul taught the church at Colossi to set their minds on things above (Colossians 3:1-4, and the church at Philippi to trust the peace delivered through God by focusing their thoughts on the good things of what can be known (Philippians 4:6-9).

“Ignorance is bliss” should never be a principle that justifies a lukewarm, uninterested or pacifistic attitude toward the truth of God or doing good, but nonetheless the saying is actually scriptural when it comes to the antithetical enlightenment and frustration of “knowing all about” the attitudes and behaviors of mankind that will not be changed in this life.

When it comes to gaining the unnecessary understanding we think we need, we should dig carefully because we may not like what we find in the dirt! And it doesn’t always take a Solomon to know that’s true.

That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9, NKJV)

Bible class questions for Deuteronomy 12

Some of these questions are meant to have answers straight from the text while other questions are meant to encourage discussion of the text.

Questions:

  1. When you look at Deuteronomy 12:4, what is it exactly that God did not want his people doing?
  2. Who was in charge of picking the place(s) where Israel could worship? (Deuteronomy 12:5)
  3. What is wrong with doing things according to our own eyes? Is it always wrong? (Deuteronomy 12:8-9)
  4. Why was Israel instructed to remember (share) their blessings with the Levite’s? (Deuteronomy 12:19)
  5. God was okay with Israel eating meat at their “BBQs”, but what specifically was not to be eaten? (Deuteronomy 12:22-25)
  6. Is God “allowed” to hate? Why does God hate? (Deuteronomy 12:31)

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Bible class questions for Deuteronomy 11

Some of these questions are meant to have answers straight from the text while other questions are meant to encourage discussion of the text.

Questions:

  1. What kind of effect is Deuteronomy 10:22 supposed to have on the words of chapter 11?
  2. How often were the children of Israel to keep/follow/observe God’s way? (vs. 1)
  3. Why did the things that the people witnessed matter so much? (vs. 7-8)
  4. Why do you believe God paid “special note” to the land of Canaan even though pagans filled the land? (vs. 10-12)
  5. Why do many people consider God’s blessings to be “automatic”? (vs. 13-14)
  6. Why do you believe Moses was so emphatic and repetitive about his warnings of disobedience and the curse of God? (vs. 26-28)

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The most important part of a race-car

What’s the most important part of a race-car? Easy, it has to be the engine, right?

But what good is a fast engine without good brakes?

And what good are brakes without proper tires?

And what good are proper tires without a steering-wheel?

What’s the value of steering-wheel without a driver who knows how to use it?

Such was Paul’s point when it comes to the value of each member who makes up the church of Christ as he compared the church to a human body (1 Corinthians 12:13-21). The whole of the body must work together and care for one-another in order to accomplish the purpose God has for his church.

Some parts of a race-car may initially seem to be the most-important part, until you stop and remember that for each strength the part introduces into the picture there is another part of the car that covers its weakness … right down to the nuts and bolts! This is also true of the church. All parts must work together to win the race.

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:11-16 NKJV)

#church-as-body, #importance, #spiritual-analogies

Friended by God

I won’t endorse or advocate for the show because there is no way of telling what “God” is going to say or encourage, but CBS is coming out with a new show called, “Friended by God.”

Although I’m uncertain about the content of the show, I love the title and the premise which is about a man who does not believe in God but ends up being helped by the advice of some mysterious friend (called God) through social media posts. That alone gives the show so much potential for true spiritual good.

Fact is, God has friended us, both theist and atheist alike, through Jesus (Romans 5:8. Matthew 11:9, John 15:13-14), but the question remains, “Have we friended God?”

Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.” (James 2:22-24)

#friend-of-god, #social-media, #tv