Friday, March 27, 2015

Musings on First John (2:18-19)

Wordle: Musings
18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
Here John talks of false teachers, those who left the early church, who didn't really belong. He calls them antichrists, not to be confused with “The Antichrist”. They were unbelievers who posed as Christians.

Have you encountered many of them? I sure have—even in the pulpit! Looks like this sort of thing has been going on from the very start of Christianity. Anyone who acts, preaches, or lives in direct opposition to Jesus’ teachings is an anti-christ.

Interesting fact: Although the word "antichrist" (Greek antikhristos) is used only in the Epistles of John, the similar word "pseudochrist" (Greek pseudokhristos, meaning "false messiah") is used by Jesus in the gospels.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Musings on First John (2:15-17)

Wordle: Musings
15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

Clearly John does not mean the world as in the earth, nature, animals, etc., but he’s speaking of the world order or the world system which is quite fallen in its very nature: warring, corrupt, evil, self-centered, money-grabbing, lustful and so on. Do you love that world? Hope not, for if you do then God’s love is not in you. John explains that the broken world system will pass away. I’m pretty thankful about that. It’s great to know that this awful turmoil will end.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Musings on First John (2:7-11)

Wordle: Musings
7 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command: its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.
So, John says he’s writing a new command, but he doesn't say it outright here. What is it? Love one another. He actually does reveal this in his gospel record where he quotes Jesus: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

Notice how many times the word light appears. Read verse 10 again and think about the marvelous "consequences" of loving your brother (neighbor): there’s nothing to make you mess up if you love one another.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Musings on First John (2:3-6)

Wordle: Musings
3 We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4 The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

Anybody can call himself a Christian, but real Christians obey God’s commands. That makes them easy to spot most times. Are you shocked by verse 4? It’s pretty strong. It calls you a liar if you say you know God, but your actions prove otherwise. In his gospel record John records Jesus’ words: “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.” That’s pretty clear, isn’t it?

Thursday, March 5, 2015

$25 Gift Card Giveaway

At Creative Prose Publishing (CPP), we've have had the honor of working with a really great group of authors. They're supportive, and freely offer encouragement to each other. It's a real joy working with this wonderful group! As a thank you to them for taking a chance with CPP, we are offering a $25 gift card to one lucky reader (scroll down for Rafflecopter entries). But, we ask that you not just enter to win, we ask that you look over these incredible books and try a few. You will not be disappointed!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Musings on First John (2:1-2)

Wordle: Musings
1My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

John says he’s writing to us so we will not sin and that’s a pretty awesome motivation, but I’m so glad he continues with “but if anybody does sin” because you know that’s inevitable. What do we do then? Call on the best defense lawyer ever: Jesus Christ. John tells us that Jesus will speak to the Father in our defense. What will he say? He’ll say he’s already paid the price for our sins. Notice that he’s also already paid for the sins of the whole world. The whole world! That includes the terrorists, every person in prison, every single person who has been born or ever will be born on this earth. What an unbelievably amazing gift, free to all, but accepted only by some.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Musings on First John (2:12-14)

Wordle: Musings
12 I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. 13 I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, dear children, because you have known the Father. 14 I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

This is poetry. There is a rhythmic repetition as John gives his reasons for writing to you: children, fathers, young men, children, fathers, young men. He writes because your sins are forgiven, you know God, you've overcome Satan, you know God, you know Him, you are strong, God’s word (Jesus) lives in you, and (again) you've overcome Satan. John has quite a lot of style in his writing, doesn't he?

Musings on First John (1:5-10)

5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

It is important to note that the apostle John makes it clear that this message is not his but Christ’s. And what is this message? God is light and we are to walk in this light. “Light” and “love” and “life” are key words in this short epistle. I took a highlighter to my Bible to emphasize these important concepts. Re-read verse 7 and consider the awesome promise there. Then do what it says in verse 9 — you don’t need to confess to a priest or anyone else, just confess to God and he will forgive you. It's pretty awesome to know you can be purified from all unrighteousness.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Musings on First John (1: 1-4)

Wordle: Musings
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.

This short book was written by the Apostle John around A.D. 90 to refute the ideas of Gnosticism. The Gnostics denied Jesus’ deity. The first verse gives authority to John as an eye witness. Notice that he references the “Word” of life — in the gospel of John he begins by saying that the “Word” was with God, and the “Word” was God. Here he reiterates that fact with his own personal testimony. See how adamant he is? He has heard the truth, seen it, touched it and he now repeats that three times. Why is he so passionate in trying to convince the reader? He tells us in verse three: so that we may have fellowship with other believers and with God and Jesus. The word fellowship here is from the Greek “koinonia” meaning to have all things in common. The best part of my week is when I have fellowship with other believers. How about you?

Friday, February 6, 2015

How God Spoke Then, How God Speaks Now

This is pretty interesting. In the Old Testament God spoke mainly through the prophets, but he also used dreams, visions, angels, miraculous signs, and other ways. Most of the time each event was totally unique and unrepeated. So if you’re waiting to hear God’s voice in a burning bush (like Moses) or see fire flare from a rock and consume meat and bread (like Gideon), or hear a donkey speak (remember who?) it’s not going to happen again.

When Moses, Gideon, David, Noah, Abraham, Joseph and others heard from God they all were absolutely positive that it was God and they were absolutely sure of what He told them. Actually you can have a personal experience like those, but it will be unique to you. You will know it is God speaking (maybe through prayer, circumstance, another person, your Bible) and you will understand.

In the New Testament God spoke through Jesus Christ. Read the whole New Testament if you want to know what God said.

Today God speaks through His Holy Word, i.e. the Bible, and He also speaks through the Holy Spirit. If you’re looking for truth you won’t ‘discover’ it, instead God will ‘reveal’ it to you through His Word or through the Holy Spirit.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Honorable Disgrace - blog tour

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Hey, I'm helping an author friend of mine on the release of her new book Honorable Disgrace.

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Angie Adams joins the power-lifting team her junior year, but she has more in mind than just toning up—like getting closer to her crush, football star Cory Jacob, who, as luck would have it, is assigned as her spotting partner. When Angie’s feelings are unexpectedly returned, her life is suddenly filled with the giddy electricity of first love. But why, then, does Angie get a little flutter when her older and very hot boss, Brad, looks at her?

Angie seems to have everything going her way, until her world is torn apart by her sister’s betrayal which leads to a brutal rape.  Heartbroken and reeling in the aftermath, Angie has to find an internal strength to rival her record-breaking power lifts if she ever wants to feel worthy of love again.

Stephanie N. Pitman has taught preschool for over 12 years and is a motivated entrepreneur, currently operating two successful businesses with her husband, Travis. She writes fiction and nonfiction.

Her first novel, a YA Contemporary, Honorable Disgrace, is based on her own story of overcoming the ugly side of life, betrayal and rape. She is a graduate of the Institute of Children's Literature and an active member of the SCBWI. Stephanie enjoys spending time with her husband of 16 years, and their two boys, visiting the beautiful splendor and diversity of their home state of Montana. Along with being an avid reader and dedicated writer, she enjoys pushing herself to her best by competing in triathlons, relay races, and half marathons. She is also a Zumba and Yoga Instructor.

You can find Stephanie on Facebook  , Goodreads, Twitter , Amazon and Pinterest.
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Friday, January 23, 2015

God's Nature, God's Law

I've said it before but it bears repeating: God is not our personal genie.

He loves us. It is His nature to do so. Within that love He disciplines us, passes judgment on us, and even shows His wrath against those who continue to sin and to rebel against Him.

If you really believe that God is perfect in His love for us then you must also believe that His will toward us is also perfect. God is omniscient (all-knowing), omni-present (is everywhere), and omnipotent (all-powerful).

When we hear words like commandments, laws, and judgments we naturally have a negative reaction toward them, yet we know those are the most necessary things in raising our own precious children. We are precious to God and He has put in place those ‘rules’ for our good. 

It is God’s nature to want the best for us, because He loves us. Do you want to know the real purpose of God’s laws? Here it is in the fifth book of the Bible:

“In the future, when your son asks you, ‘What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the LORD our God has commanded you?’ tell him: … ‘The LORD commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the LORD our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today. And if we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness’”

Friday, January 16, 2015

God's Name

I've explained before the symbolic meaning of the four Hebrew letters that make up God’s holy name (yod, he, and vav). Here’s what we are supposed to do with that name:

1. Give thanks to His Holy Name.
2. Bring glory to His name.
3. Rejoice in His name.
4. Trust in His name.
5. Love His name.
6. Praise His name forever.
7. Bless His name.
8. Call on His name.
9. Declare His name to others.
10 Fear His name.