Tuesday, April 30, 2013

May Day, May Day!

Are you drowning in UNBELIEF?

Here's what I have to say to people who insist on ignoring parts of the Bible or who claim that their God wouldn't be so cruel as to damn you to hell: People, God isn't operating a religious buffet. You don’t get to pick and choose what you want to believe out of the Bible. You cannot say you believe some of the Scripture, but find some things intolerant, narrow-minded or simply unbelievable. 
You stand in front of Him ALL THE TIME as a guilty sinner needing a Savior. God does not negotiate a deal. He has already made the deal: If you repent of your sins, turn to the Lord and accept that Christ died for you and paid for those sins already, then you are saved. God is merciful. He extends His grace to each of us. Just believe. If you cling to your own righteousness or think that you can “get into Heaven” by being “good”, forget it. You can never be “good enough”.
And here's what I say to people who think there are lots of paths to Heaven: There is only one way to get to Heaven. Jesus said He was God. That means He was either a liar or a lunatic or He was God. Anybody who says He was a great prophet but not God hasn't thought about it very much and is probably just parroting what they've heard at home (a Muslim home, Jewish home, Buddhist home, etc.). A great prophet who asserts that He is God should be disregarded unless, of course, He is God. Everyone must decide if Jesus is God or not. Jesus said He was the way, the truth, and the life. There is no other way to Heaven.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Teens in the Bible: Joseph

Chapter 15 tattletale teen Joseph

Joseph was the long-waited-for son of Jacob finally conceived by his beloved wife Rachel. Joseph had ten older half-brothers born of his father’s other wives. When he was seventeen he tended the flocks with these brothers and he came home to his father with tales of their misdeeds. Nobody likes a tattletale or a goody-two-shoes or a younger brother who spoils the fun.

Let’s look a little closer. Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other sons. We know this because the Bible says so. It’s confirmed with Jacob’s actions: he had a richly ornamented robe made for Joseph. Now it makes sense that his brothers would envy him, hate him even, since their father openly favored the teen. The Bible tells us that indeed they did hate him and could not speak a kind word to him.

Joseph told his brothers a dream he had that they immediately interpreted correctly: that Joseph would one day reign over them. That really ticked them off and they hated him even more. When he told them another similar dream the brothers became jealous because their father heard about it. Though Papa Jacob rebuked Joseph, he did believe him.

I picture Joseph as a somewhat naive teenager, self-centered (aren't they all?) and oblivious to danger. He had no idea how much his brothers hated him – so much, in fact, that they plotted to kill him. You know the story: the brothers stripped him of his coat, threw him into a cistern, and then sold him into slavery. But the Lord was with him and gave him success and prosperity. Read the rest of the story in Genesis.

So are we supposed to learn that you can be a tattletale kid and grow up to be a generous, helpful, and forgiving rescuer? Sure, why not. Think about that quality of forgiveness that is so beautifully portrayed in Joseph. I cannot imagine any teen boy going through what Joseph did (hated, abused, sold) and then turn out so well.  And then to accept and help his tormentors? Wow, now that’s forgiveness. Remind you of anyone?

(next Saturday the nameless servant girl)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cool Things About the Book of Luke

1) Luke falls exactly 22 books after Proverbs and 22 books before 3rd John. The Greek word for proverb is parabole from which we get parable. There are more parables in Luke than in any of the other Gospels.

2) Proverbs are words of wisdom. When Luke tells the same story as Matthew and Mark, Luke makes a reference to wisdom, hence a connection to Proverbs.

3) Luke describes Jesus (2:40, 52): And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

4) The words physician, heal, mercy and womb all occur more in Luke than any other New Testament book. That makes sense since Luke was a physician himself, but these words all start with the same Hebrew letter, resh, which is the 20th letter and in a three column listing of the 66 books of the Bible (see below) resh matches up to Proverbs, Luke, and 3rd John (remember - they fall at 22 book intervals) By the way, 3rd John opens with John saying he will pray for Gaius’s health, the only reference to health in all 22 epistles.
These are the kinds of cool things you can find out in Crossing the Scriptures, available on Kindle and Nook and Paperback.

Tweetable: Cool things about the book of Luke.


* indicates required

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Teens in the Bible - Josiah

Chapter 14 teen Josiah, young king

Josiah became king of Judah at the young age of 8! I think we can safely conclude that he didn't take control of his empire until he was somewhere in his teens. It’s also a pretty safe assumption that he got married then, too, as we know that he had several sons, one of which succeeded him upon his death at age 39. Verse 2 of 2 Kings 22 says, “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in all the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.”

Josiah is one of the most highly approved kings of the Bible. Why? Because later he did a very thorough house cleaning, ridding the land of all the things that were abominable to the Lord: idols, shrines, and pagan priests. He tore down the altars to false gods and desecrated the place where people were sacrificing children. He did all this because he read “the book of the Law” which was discovered in the Temple (apparently a little dust had accumulated on the ancient tome).

He read it! Hmm. Interesting. It looks like just having a Bible on the coffee table won’t get you to the Truth. You have to read the Word of the Lord. Josiah was already “right in the eyes of the Lord”, but when he read the Word and acted on it he became great.

According to scripture Jeremiah composed laments for Josiah. These became a tradition in Israel and were written in the Book of Laments which has since become lost.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Cool Stuff I Learned From Studying the Bible

If you list the 66 books of the Bible in three columns Proverbs, Luke and 3rd John all line up. Why is that cool? Because then they also line up with the 20th Hebrew letter, resh.  Okay, so that doesn’t seem so cool … yet … until you realize that the letter resh starts the Hebrew word for friend which occurs more than twice as often in these 3 books combined than any other 3 books of the Bible. (For more about this see this post)

Can you do this “trick” with the other books in the Bible that line up? Yup, I’ve tried it and it works. In fact I’ve written a book on it called Crossing the Scriptures.

Here’s a different example: the 22nd  book, Song of Songs, lines up with the 44th book, Acts, and the 66th book, Revelation. These match the 22nd Hebrew letter Tav, the last letter in their alphabet. Tav’s symbolic meaning is mark, sign, or cross. There is a strong correlation between these three books and this letter having to do with consummation and marriage and being “sealed”. Song of Songs’ theme is marriage (and especially the love between bride and groom). The major theme of the book Acts is the beginning of the Christian church which is, in all respects, the Bride of Christ. And the theme in Revelation is Christ the bridegroom coming for his bride. She is “sealed” for Him for all of Eternity. The word “seal” or “sealed” occurs 58 times in the Bible. Guess how many times it comes up in Revelation? 22 times! Now that’s cool.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Teens in the Bible - Esther, beauty queen

Chapter 13 teen Esther, future queen

From beauty queen to real queen, wealthy and powerful and shrewd, Esther gives us a story that combines elements of Cinderella, Survivor, and James Bond. When King Ahasuerus (a.k.a. King Xerxes) dethroned his first queen for disobedience he instituted a search for the most beautiful girl in the land. Aha, the first ever recorded beauty contest.

Esther was one of many virgins who were rounded up into the harem. They received twelve months of beauty treatments. Twelve months! Imagine how Esther felt to be sent to beauty camp for special skin treatments with oils, perfumes, and cosmetics, with the ultimate prize ahead: marry a king and receive wealth beyond your imagination. Technically she didn't have a chance because she was a Jew, but she kept that little detail hidden. In fact, Esther’s name means “hidden”.

This teen wasn't just nice to look at, though, she was smart. She sought out the advice of the king’s chamberlain who was in charge of the harem. She followed that advice and when it was her turn to parade in front of the king (evening gown competition, bathing suit, and talent combined) she won his favor. She won! He set a royal crown on her head and made her queen.

The Cinderella/Survivor part of the story is finished, but this young girl had a mission to complete next. Think subterfuge, spying, intrigue, 007, a plot to destroy all Jews, entrapment, and an unexpected execution. Yes, all that in the short book of Esther. Please read it for yourself.

(Next Saturday teen Josiah)
If you learned something Tweet this

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Little Help Here . . .

What is in this picture that you can’t see?
How about the cold? The temperature is so low that the snow clings in clumps to their thick fur.
How about friendship? Is the standing panda helping his mate in her struggle to master the slippery perch?
Or is that hostility the photo has captured?
Maybe the top panda is trying to get out of the biting, clawing reach of an antagonistic or disgruntled mate. 
What can’t you hear?
Grunts, groans, scrapes.
The clicks of a camera.
Whispered encouragements through chattering teeth.
This is the type of imaginative exercise I do to get my creative juices flowing.
Unfortunately it doesn't work to get a plot ironed out.
Anybody have any plot ideas for me?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Teens in the Bible - Jonathan

Chapter 12 teen Jonathan 

As the son of King Saul, Jonathan was out fighting the enemy early on. His father took 3000 men out from Israel to fight. He led 2000 to Micmash (cool name) and the other 1000 were with Jonathan. Jonathan attacked the Philistines and things went from bad to worse. You can read the whole story in the book of 1st Samuel chapters 13 and 14. After regrouping the entire contingent was down to 600 men.

Then young Jonathan did something totally impulsive and teen-like. He sneaked off with his armor-bearer intending to reach the Philistine outpost. Despite his youthful recklessness we can determine a couple more of his personality traits from the situation. First, Jonathan trusted God and second, his armor-bearer completely trusted him. Jonathan said, “Come on, let’s go. Maybe God will act on our behalf. Nothing can hinder Him from saving, whether by a lot or a few.” See his young faith in God? He knew that God could use just the two of them against the vast enemy.  His young companion said, “Let’s do it. I’m with you heart and soul.” Jonathan was someone worth following; he certainly had the respect of the armor-bearer. The two of them alone went on to rout the Philistines and put them into a state of confusion (thanks to God) that had the Philistines striking each other with their swords.

Soon after that Jonathan met and became fast friends with David. The bond they forged as teens served them both. It was so strong that the Bible describes it this way: “the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” Jonathan was such an awesome friend to David that he saved his life twice and much later David took in and raised Jonathan’s lame son when Jonathan died.

(Next Saturday teen Esther)