The Core, Cross, & Cure

October 26, 2012
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Words like depravity, total depravity, and total inability have been debated amongst Christians for many centuries, and the debate continues today. This debate prolongs because many advocates of both sides are busy reading the works of men instead the great Spirit-inspired work of God. Make no mistake, I do line up on one side of the debate, but when it comes to the bottom line, the Bible is clear.

Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Gen 5:6

It is here that all Christians must begin their biblical understanding of the core. The core of every human being is summed up in this verse, and the rest of the Bible elaborates on this truth, while also speaking of the new birth. The new birth is when God gives a person a new heart, thereby changing their core. The core of every human being, even the newborn babe fresh out of the womb (except for Jesus) is wicked! Kids are deemed innocent and adults tainted, yet God describes all people as wicked. He goes on to say that every intent of the thoughts of every person’s heart is only evil continually. The core is beyond messed up. One could even say the heart is the ruins of Eden. What our first parents did in the garden affected every other human being. In fact, things have been so dysfunctional since then, we use words like dysfunctional and tend to prescribe various medicines to help people cope with their core.

The only way to effectively cope with the core is to consider the cross. The cross is where human history meets its peak. From the garden to the cross to the new garden is the timeline we are on. “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” Romans 5:10. This verse best describes our timeline. We’re born wicked and deemed enemies of God by God. He’s not doling out innocent and tainted labels from birth to adolescence. He’s counting us as enemies. God then reconciles his people in the most pivotal point in history through the death of Jesus on the cross. The bloody, gruesome, piercing, hard to watch, ordained, predestined, and willing death that Jesus suffered on the cross at Calvary is the only way to deal with the wicked core of mankind.

The core is eternally affected and altered by the cross, which leads us to the cure. Once God reconciles a once wicked person to himself, he is reconciled to God in a peaceful relationship. We’re new creatures. We’re born again. We’re redeemed. We’re holy. We’re righteous. We’re children of God. We’re in Christ. We’re cured! And in addition to being cured, God goes on to say that we shall be saved by the life of Jesus.

Jesus is our cure. His cross-work is the cure to our wicked core. No questions about it. No judge, doctor, prescription, or happy thoughts will change our core. Some profess to help a person cope with it, but none cure it. Jesus not only promised to cure the core of mankind, he kept his promise.


Aim & Shoot

October 21, 2012
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Have you recently sat down with a familiar family of whom the parents claim Christianity and got into a Christian conversation, and that conversation settles on the Great Commission?

Well I have. And far too many times I walk away thinking that what a Christian aims and shoots for must be holistically thought through. Here’s what I mean.

The Great Commission can sometimes boost a person up to the pious status while leaving them lower than a flooded basement. How? Christian parents aim at and shoot for seeing lost people saved – and that’s wonderful. Some even go so far as to aim at and shoot for seeing those new creatures discipled. Even better! The problem is that their focus and attention almost always seems to start from outside the door of their home and move onward.

Uh oh.

If you’re a Christian spouse, your aim must start inside your home. If you’re a Christian parent, your aim must start inside your home. If you’re a Christian brother or sister still living in your parents home, your aim must start inside your parents home. If you’re a Christian seeking to be faithful to obeying the Great Commission, and you overlook those whom you see daily and those who know you quite well, you have just disobeyed the command.

Notice what Christ said in Acts 1, “you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Christian, don’t start with the remotest part of the earth and call yourself faithful. Christian, don’t set your sights on the easy targets and call yourself obedient. If you ignore those to whom you’ve been given charge, you have fully abdicated!

No matter who you have watched on black and white television, or famous world renown speakers you have read about, if you really want to honor the Great Commission, please aim and shoot with a proper God-honoring sight.

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The Process of Authentication

October 6, 2012
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I grow weary and tired of hearing folks debate the authenticity of the Bible as if there’s another new process that we go by now while honoring the original one. The most published and purchased book in our history still seems to be questioned by everybody! So I will present for us all just how one goes about authenticating our classic antiquity texts, namely the Bible.

Many skeptics use two of the lamest reasons to detest and downplay the validity of the Bible. Those reasons are 1) it was written by men; and 2) the amount of consistent, faithful copies are not convincing. Please don’t use these nor allow anyone else to use them. Again, they are lame and without any basis. Every book we have is written by men (yes, I’m including women in this use of the word), so if that’s the main objection then we can’t look to any other book to discredit the Bible, now can we?

Where there eyewitnesses of what’s written in the Bible? Yes. But as someone ask this question of the Bible, they must ask this of every other book of antiquity as well as history textbooks. The Bible corroborates itself all from Genesis to Revelation. Prophets verify what had been done in history past. Then the epistles add in more weight. Internally we have enough proof spanning 3 continents of the truth. Not only that, but other believers and unbelievers during those times never wrote in disagreement.

So what if there are eyewitnesses or there are folks too afraid to speak up on the dissemination of error and falsehood floating around Europe and Africa, some might argue. Not only that, there is manuscript evidence! Why is that important? Because critics and skeptics like to discredit or credit written works based on the amount of manuscript evidence.  It’s crucial to recognize that both the Old and New Testament have THE MOST manuscript evidence. Yes, you should imagine me yelling that as if I’m standing on the mountaintops! Just in the New Testament we have over 5,000 pieces of evidence alone. What’s the closest count of secular works? Less than 20! And though we never hear of Homer and Caesar’s works being ran through the test, based on this key factor of which those works would fail, we should.

Along with no one speaking up negatively to what was being passed around in Palestine, there was another piece. Was there acceptance and approval of the texts? Yes. Having both Christian and Jewish approval is huge. To have early church fathers write in agreement of the text and to even see various churches in different areas having the gospels and epistles read in their worship service is no small matter to overlook.

Beyond that we have one of the most well-respected Jewish writers and scholars in Josephus to not only write favorably of Jesus and the church, but also attest to the miracles performed and heard in Jewish communities.

Where can the critics and skeptics run to wielding their banners now? The only place left is academia. If they can have a place in educating young minds of their very biased and untrue data without presenting the whole truth, then they on some level have won. They have sown and will indeed reap as families are formed and mouths open to malign the Bible with old and outdated arguments. But unless churches know the truth and tell it faithfully to the flock, then we are in trouble. Not only that, we’re clearly not able to obey what Peter told us: always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15). 

May we be faithful. Our saying we know the gospel and believe it is dependent on knowing the Bible is true.

Argumentative Irony

October 6, 2012
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What does an argumentative spirit have to do with a servant of the Lord?

Time’s up. What’s your answer? Well it ought to be absolutely nothing. But if that were acceptably true, then I wouldn’t be writing this post.

In my opinion, there is nothing worse than coming across a pastor or missionary or evangelist who just loves to argue. It’s as if they haven’t taken and eaten the sweet, honey-tasting gospel that they share. As if they have forgotten what 1 Timothy and Titus say about elders. Here’s why I start with elders and pastors: if they are to be examples to the flock and heralds of the Word to the world and yet are seen, recognized, and even expected to be quarrelsome, the church is in dire trouble.

“The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition” is the key text for this thought. Here at 2 Timothy 2:24-25 we see Paul shedding global-warming size light on the character of the Lord’s servant. They are not argumentative, but are kind, patient and gentle towards people as they teach.

It’s not okay for people in the pews to be argumentative either. This is just as important. They are salt and light sent out into communities around their city to make much of Jesus. So what if someone disagrees or if someone hates you or if someone spews lies about Jesus. That’s no reason to become argumentative. What exactly are you trying to prove?

The irony of a Christian whose identity is wrapped up in God through Jesus being argumentative and being known for such is sin and worthy of rebuke. If you know someone like that or you are someone like that, I leave you with this question, what exactly are you trying to prove? Because whatever it is, it’s not done for Jesus, but rather for yourself. And that’s sin.

Counseling Check

October 6, 2012
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I have recently stumbled upon the fact that what I read and hear most lately from pastors and counselors on what biblical counseling is in fact not biblical at all. Now I say that with the utmost sincerity and humility possible. I do not have nor do I strive to obtain a NANC counseling certificate. But what I do have is the same source that they have: the Bible.

Counseling has become the newest hot topic in evangelicalism. It has found its way into the ‘mandatory’ questions asked of serious Christians. Who are you counseling and what are you using to counsel them? Some folks have even taken it upon themselves to counsel  people from other churches because their members don’t buy into it. This is the message resounding in our churches: the spiritually mature counsel. And I believe this is the focus because it’s seen as another ministry activity for folks to get involved in.

In similar fashion, I think the Church ought to ask a question the way Paul asked the Corinthian church in chapter 12, “do all counsel?” As in 1 Corinthians 12, the rhetorical questions warrants a resounding NO. I’d even like the add the word biblical to the end of the phrase because I feel like counseling nowadays is taking place without conceding to the fact of the new birth.

When a brother or sister counsels another brother or sister, do we start out thinking this person in need is a new creature? If we start there, our counseling sessions are way shorter and more precise. If we remember these people have the Spirit living within them, we’ll speak to them in a clearer and compassionate way than we do speaking to the unsaved.

I hope this post probes your mind and technique. That it forces you reconsider how you see and speak to people. That it causes you to be apprehensive about being so gung-ho about counseling without considering the gospel, the new faith, and what the Bible calls Christians to do.

Considered Dung?

October 3, 2012
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Having things is a beautiful thing. Not one thing wrong with it. Getting things is okay too. Saving things is cool. In fact, it’s considered wise because it’s something an ant does. Passing things on is great because it’s something parents do. All these things are worth considering.

And maybe there’s another thing we should consider: dung. Yes, I’m referring to that kind of dung. Have you considered it and what it costs? Have you considered how precious it is and its’ value? Have you considered  getting dung, saving dung, and passing dung on?

Some church folks savor theology. They believe that believing right somehow automatically leads you to living right. And that ain’t right.

Some too-spiritual folks savor reputation. They believe that being seen as doing the culturally accepted right thing is what gets them a great reputation worthy of praise.

Some educated minds savor knowledge. They believe that being quasi-experts on several topics of the cultural milieu elevates them to the level of a go-to person in the eyes of the academically weak.

At various points in my life, I’ve been found in all three groups and more. Then I stopped and realized that none of that stuff is bad in and of itself, unless I’m guilty of idolatry.

So now I challenge you with this: consider Jesus better than all other things. And in an effort to do this, consider the precious value of dung, which is equivalent to all other things we value above Jesus. Believe me people, dung isn’t better than Jesus and neither is anything else.

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