The Killer

Jeffrey Dahmer drugged and killed 17 men and boys.  Before his imprisonment, he came to a point where he was murdering once a week.  Driven by a desire to control individuals for his own gratification, Dahmer committed horrifying crimes.  Their details need not be related here, as Paul’s words may have bearing on such a discussion:  "For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret" (Ephesians 5:14).  But what helped drive Dahmer’s desires bears retelling.  When asked what motivated him to commit such heinous acts, Dahmer confessed to the FBI in 1992 that (among other things: "heavy drinking," etc.) pornography had played a part.

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Jesus is Lord

It’s no secret we live in a time where the name, person and authority of Jesus Christ is often defamed, dishonored and disrespected. In the world, He is the punch line of jokes. His name is frequently muttered in vain. The thought of his very existence is scoffed at and mocked. He’s commonly portrayed in mainstream media as weak, unassuming, unintelligent, and even effeminate – all in the name of “comedy” and “entertainment”. If His existence is genuinely acknowledged, it’s often confined to the life of a good man or prophet that lived and died 2,000 years ago – but not the Son of God. Sadly, this is the only picture and perception many people have of Jesus Christ. But this stands in stark contrast to the unique glimpse John gets of Christ on the island of Patmos in the opening chapter of Revelation.

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Put on the New Man

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28 There is a lot of comfort in this statement spoken by Jesus.  It is an all-inclusive statement.  ALL who labor and are heavy laden can go to Jesus and find rest - no matter what our past and no matter how many sins we have committed Jesus will accept us.  Jesus makes this point again in John 6:37 when He said, “…and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.”  There is no need for pre-qualification to accept Jesus as our savior.  There is not a background check or an interview process.  We can truly come to Jesus “as we are” and find rest. 

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Disciples of Christ

In Christ's time the Greek word mathetes described apprentices, one adhering to one of the many Greek schools of philosophy, one who kept the company of a particular teacher or simply subscribed to that teacher's doctrine even if far removed in space and time. There were groups of students who continued their teacher's traditions after he died (such as was the case with Socrates). This type of commitment usually entailed passing on his wisdom and sayings. As today, one need not be a religious figure to gain and accept disciples. In the rabbinic spheres, the talmid devoted himself to the study of Scripture and the precepts of his particular tradition--one that had been passed to him from his instructor. Disciples were highly esteemed among the Jews of Christ's time, especially if his rabbi was highly regarded. Most rabbis were, some more than others, and this regard was extended to his followers to a lesser degree until his period of listening and learning was over and he, in turn, began to teach as well.

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Lessons in perspective from Job

Often in life its easy to lose to perspective, to become distracted by the things and cares of this world. At times we may think we know a better way than what God has given us, sometimes we question God’s Word. One of my favorite passages to turn to when I need a perspective adjustment is Job 38-40.

Job 38:1-2 “Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? “Now gird up your loins like a man, and I will ask you, and you instruct Me!”

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The Tongue

In Matthew 12 we see three different instances where the Pharisees tried to find fault in Jesus and in his disciples. The last instance they accused him of casting out demons by the authority and power of Beelzebub. In other words, they were saying, “Satan is behind the words and power of Jesus.” Jesus then begins (v25f) to prove why it is that he cannot be casting out demons by the power of a demon. Starting in verse 33 we read, “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.” We should not expect good things to come from someone who does not practice good. For example, we would not want to encourage a habitual traffic offender to become a driving instructor. A tree is known by its fruit.

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I have confidence, confidence in....

As I look back over all the sermons I heard while growing up. I cannot remember a single sermon emphasizing the fact that we can have confidence in our salvation. On the other hand I remember many sermons telling me all of the ways that I can lose my salvation! I read passages like I Corinthians 9:27 where Paul says; "But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified." Paul here is telling us that he had to discipline his body to ensure he did not lose his salvation! 

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The Lost in Harmony With God

No one can escape the truth. We are, by nature, fashioned to understand and respond to the truth. Whether we want to admit or not, we know this is a good thing. It points to the high order of life which God has given us. “God stands in the congregation of the mighty; He judges among the gods.. . . I said, "You are gods, And all of you are children of the Most High.” (Ps.82:1&6) The 82nd Psalm was written as an admonition to the children of Israel. Man has divine origin not only because he is derived from God in creation, but because man shares in divinity. When man was created, he was made like God. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Gen.1:27)

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The Conscience

The conscience is the capacity to discern between good and evil.  The conscience is found in the heart or what one might call our spiritual being.  Solomon asks God, “Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil.”  An understanding heart granted Solomon the capacity to discern between good and evil, thus the conscience is connected with the heart.

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II Peter 3: The Flood and Judgment

The Preacher writes in Ecclesiastes 8:11, “Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” If a criminal successfully eludes being caught, he is certainly going to be more willing to commit the crime again. Unfortunately, man has this same outlook on their spiritual life. Because God does not come quickly, man is inclined to commit evil. Man says, God has not come yet, so I'm safe to continue in sin. 

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The Helper

There have been several articles posted on this site that have addressed aspects of the Holy Spirit and how He works in the lives of believers. As one contributor already pointed out, an exhaustive study on the Spirit is daunting for any one, single article. So that is not the aim of this piece. Rather, the intention is to briefly touch on how the Holy Spirit helps us overcome sin.

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Baptism & 'The Great Commission'

Mat 28:19-20 "Therefore go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all things, whatever I commanded you. And, behold, I am with you all the days until the end of the world. Amen." I have no problem calling these verses by their traditional epithet-The Great Commission. If I venture into any religious institution that lays claim to Christ and ask anyone randomly, "What's the 'Great Commission'?", I am likely to get an accurate response, even if it isn't quoted verbatim or the exact chapter-verse is unknown. Most can at least say something along the lines of, "That's where Jesus told his disciples to preach."

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How to Read the Bible

Where will you find the Word of God?  A Jew will tell you the Torah.  A Muslim will tell you the Koran.  Many Americans will tell you you can find it anywhere and most people in the eastern hemisphere will tell you won’t find it at all. Based on my convictions as a Christian I understand the Word of God to be discovered in many places (creation – Psalm 19:1-4, conscience – Romans 2:14-15), but most importantly the Word of God is revealed through the Bible.  The Bible is the manifest Word of God.  These words are God’s word.  The same master mind that created the world and set the universe in order wrote a book, and he wants you to read it.  God wants be found and demands that he be understood to the extent that our human minds are able.

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The wisdom of man, as seen in Joab

1 Corinthians 1:18-26 discusses the wisdom of God as contrasted with that of man. This is a fascinating section that forces one to ponder the differences between God's wisdom and man's wisdom. In order to better understand I believe a character study of Joab is useful.  Joab was the commander of King David's armies, David's nephew, and powerful man in his own right.  Throughout his life he demonstrated the wisdom of man. Contrasted with David, a man after God's own heart, 1 Sam 13:14, we can see a good juxtaposition of God's and man's wisdom. What follows is a walk through the life of Joab, please crack open your Bibles and follow along. 1 Chron 2: 13-17 | David’s nephew, brother of Abishai and Asahel, cousin of Amasa

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Before the Foundation of the World

Before the world ever came into existence, the Lord had purposed just exactly how His creation would exist. He knew where to place the Earth to provide a perfect place in the universe for life, and understood the intricate designs necessary to make His creation bountiful and good. The Psalmist writes in Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork.” Finally he created man. He gave them dominion over his creation, that man should wisely use its bounty for his benefit. He gave them a mind to think, to judge, and to understand His will for them. In their hearts he put eternity (Ecclesiastes 3:11), and in their perfection He designed them for that eternal purpose (Genesis 2:17).  

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I Was Once a Part of an Evangelical Church (And why I am no longer)

I grew up in what would be considered as an evangelical church by men’s reasoning.  We attended as often as the doors were opened.  At age 12 I prayed what they called the “Sinner’s Prayer” and I was convinced I was “saved” at that point.  I then was baptized many months later when they had a number of others ready for baptism.  I was baptized into the evangelical congregation as a “sign of my salvation”.  I was completely pleased with my spiritual life for several years.  However that changed. In 1978 I met a nice young lady whom I wanted to get to know better.  (As a side note we married 1 year later and I have been blessed by her these past 32 years.)  I was plainly told by her parents that IF I wanted to be with her on Sundays I had to attend church assemblies, for that was where she would be.  I wanted to be with her, so I attended the assemblies of the Pond Creek church of Christ.  At first I was more concerned with her than I was with the church.

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Psalm 73: Why does God allow the wicked to prosper?

In Psalm 73 Asaph divulges that he had struggled with a problem that is, most likely, common to us all. Asaph looked out at the world and saw that the wicked prosper!  Psalm 73:3 "For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked." Not only do the wicked prosper, "they increase in riches" (Psalm 73:12). God seems to blesses the wicked even though they are wicked. I labor for the Lord everyday and yet I do not have what this wicked man has. Modern vernacular would phrase Asaph's quandary as: "Why does God allow bad things happen to good people?" or "Why does God allow bad people to prosper?"

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The Word Made Flesh

Flesh can refer to the skin with its substrate of tissue, tendon and muscle, or it can be a synonym for the body as a whole. The Bible also uses the term for the being of mankind as in; “. . the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us . .”(John 1:4) Jesus did not become spirit. The Word was not made soul. Those expressions weren’t used because they are inadequate for a general description. Flesh defines us though we are body, soul, and spirit. It defines us because it is the most visible to us. The flesh requires a universe to inhabit; an earth with sky, dry land and seas, night and day, vegetation, insects, animals, fish, sun, moon and stars.

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A Simple Doctrine

The Bible is filled with challenging topics.  It is strange to me that one of its simplest – baptism in Jesus’ name for the remission of sins – is among its most misunderstood.  The Scripture’s teaching on baptism is uncomplicated and unambiguous.  We need not ascend into heaven to understand this doctrine.  It is accessible and straightforward. The Bible Teaches Water Immersion

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