Thursday, September 30, 2010

October’s Bible Reading Challenge

First, let me say I appreciate those of you who participated in the challenge to read Romans last month. I think it was a great exercise and I trust that you were blessed as you read through that great letter by the Apostle Paul.

Second, I hadn’t really thought about “what was next” until Ron of the Old Geezers Blog asked me what was next. I asked him for his suggestion and he put forward a choice of James and I John. Since, I love the epistle of James and I am experiencing one of the most severe trials of my life, I have decided to go with James.

Third, I would like to do it a little different this month. There are five (5) chapters to the epistle of James. There are also five (5) Saturdays in the month of October. What I would like to challenge you with is to read James chapter one (1) on October 1st. Then on Saturday, October 2nd I will summarize the salient points in the chapter while you make your comments, share your concerns and/or questions.

Now, here is where I want to make the challenge a bit different. Beginning on October 3rd read chapter two (2) each day during the week. On Saturday, October 9th I will summarize and you can make your comments, share your thoughts, and ask questions. We will do this for October. We will read the next chapter each day of the next week and then get together on Saturday for summary and sharing. We will end up reading chapters two (2) through five (5) seven times. Unfortunately, I thought of this too late to use the last portion of September to read chapter one (1). However, in the next thirty-one (31) days I am sure you could read chapter one (1) seven (7) times. Can you imagine how much you can glean, meditate, and apply if you read each chapter seven (7) times during the month of October? I know you can do it; it only takes about seven (7) minutes or so to read a chapter. Remember, repetition is the mother of learning.

Who is up for the challenge? Who will join us?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Just 5 More!

Wow! Just 5 more!

Now I am really stoked!

What could it be?

It isn't my birthday.

It isn't the number of shopping days until Christmas.

It isn't the number of days until the end of the world.

It isn't the number of followers the Old Geezer will finally settle for.

It isn't the 5th horse in the 5th race at Emerald Downs.

What could it be?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Marketing Scripture in Modern Times

How do you assess the spiritual lives and Bible views of young adults when surveys find they...

View Paris Hilton more favorably than Billy Graham?

Think Wicca is patio furniture?

Say the main reason they never watch evangelist Robert Schuller's Hour of Power is because, they "don't like violence"?

Their spirituality is "extremely wide, often shallow and always compelling," says David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, a Ventura, Calif., research group that presents itself as "the Gallup of the faith world."

Kinnaman, who has been studying the under-25 year olds for a decade, was the opening speaker at a day devoted to addresses on the challenges in translating, teaching and marketing Scripture in modern times and ever-changing technology at the Religion Newswriters Conference, now underway in Denver.

Kinnaman noted wryly that for believers it is "disheartening to see the Bible turned into a market share question but it is what it is," and so the research firm has done more than 350,000 interviews in surveys that often look at who uses the Bible, how they think about it and how they use it.

For this talk, he focused on the age group some call Millennials but he calls Mosaics, compared to Baby Busters ages 26 to 44, Boomers ages 45-63 and Elders ages 64+.

Mosaics' look at cultural figures and bizarre answers to open ended questions recalled Barna Group's findings years ago that 12% of Americans overall think Joan of Arc was Noah's wife. Perhaps the cultural questions, first asked before Hilton's legal woes and shortly after Graham retired, would be different today. But the current findings on young adults' views of the Bible were equally intriguing.

Asked if there were any sacred books, 67% of Mosaics named the Bible but 17% said there were none and 11% were unsure -- well below the certainty of the Bible held by their older siblings, parents or grandparents generations.

This uncertainty continues when asked about the content of the Bible. Asked if the original manuscripts are "true and accurate," 51% of Mosaics said yes, 54% of Busters, 61% of Boomers and 68% of Elders.

But they are also more universalist with 56% of Mosaics saying the "Bible, Quran and Book of Mormon are the same expression of truth" compared to 43% of Busters, 45% of Boomers and just 33% of Elders.

And when it comes to whether the Bible is "accurate in the principles it teaches," the falloff is significant. Only 30% of Mosaics say so, compared to 39% of Busters, 46% of Boomers and 58% of Elders.

While some surveys indicate people some people become more spiritual as they age, says Kinnaman, "this generation is starting out more skeptical and more eclectic" than earlier generations.

Reaching them for the Bible, he tells church leaders, is not just a matter of marketing to a generation that has seen everything marketing can throw at them, neither are they excited by "cliche cool." (Christianity Today took a look recently at the limitations of "'hipster Christians" in "skinny jeans and unnecessary scarves.")

And, woe to all the next speakers who talked about the nuances of translations. Kinnaman says young adults pay no attention to translations and word by word battles of deep theological resonance to scholars and preachers.

"They see the spirituality as connected to all of their life, not a compartment within their life. We need bridges between Monday-to-Friday and Sunday," Kinnaman says.

Yet there were signs of hope in the research, he said, with indications that young adults do want engage scripture as one of many things that interest them.

This is the experiential generation, he says, where Mosaics tell Barna surveys they don't want to sit around hearing people talk about sin, they want to help people struggling with sin. Young adults, he says, see doing good in the world through many different lenses. They see the world "not as fundamentally broken but as fundamentally full of hope."

Is the Bible or any other sacred text the cornerstone of your spirituality or just one of many "spiritual lenses"? Have you changed your views as you grew older or had wider experiences in life?

[copied from the USA Today "Faith and Reason" section of religious news, Sept 24,2010]

Monday, September 27, 2010

Lessons from a School of Fish

“Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”
(Luke 5:8c, ESV)

This is quite a statement for Peter to make about himself. It is a very strong assessment of Peter’s awareness of his condition. Peter uses a very strong word, hamartolos, as he expresses his utter awareness of his condition. This word suggests “one who is devoted to sin.” It also expresses the idea of “preeminently sinful, especially wicked.” By the way, as a side note, it was the word used by the Jews for those Jews who became tax collectors. Why would Peter make such a statement? What would provoke him to arrive at that conclusion?

Jesus was on the beach one day and the crowds wanted to hear him teach. Jesus got into one of two boats sitting on the sandy shore and asked Simon to push out into the water. Jesus sat down and taught the people on the shore from the boat the Word of God. When Jesus had finished with the lesson of the day, He had another lesson in mind for Peter.

Jesus told Peter to “put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” Peter replied, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” Of course we now know what happened, when Peter and the others with him let down their nets they caught a large school of fish. As a matter of fact they caught so much fish that the nets began to come apart. The men had to ask for help of others to bring the catch to shore. What did Peter do? Peter fell down before Jesus and acknowledge his sinful condition and asked Jesus to take leave of him. Why? What made Peter react this way? How would you have reacted? What would you have done or said?

Peter reacted the only way that was proper. Peter’s response was appropriate for a person who had “seen” God. (Isaiah 6:1-8; Ezekiel 1:28) Peter quickly saw that this “miracle” was actually a demonstration of the personage of Jesus Christ. Peter was aware that he was in the presence of God. Of course this is the first step in understanding who Jesus is. Peter deduced that God was working through Jesus and present in Jesus.  Peter’s understanding will grow as time goes on and especially after the resurrection. But for now Peter knew that somehow God through Jesus exposed his sinful condition and he was well aware of his state of sin. Peter was afraid that he would be judged as a sinful man.

This is a good thing. We must be brought to an awareness of our sinful state as the first step toward our salvation. Then, after redemption, even as we realize our sins have been forgiven, are we aware of the presence of the old nature still within us? What is your response when you become aware of Scripture? What is your response when you sense the presence of God in others, or a sermon, or in a quiet time of reflection? Do you sense your condition of “being a sinful man.” Our only response prior to salvation and after salvation is to acknowledge the awareness of the presence of sin in our lives and the need of our savior to put off the deeds of the old man and to put on the new man, Jesus Christ.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Reading Through Romans 16

Reading Through Romans 16

We have come to the end of this great epistle of Paul to the Roman believers in the City of Rome. I hope that you have been encouraged and refreshed by both the reading and the summarization of each chapter of this great letter. I recommend that you read this letter at least once a week, or at least once a month in one sitting. I also recommend you meditate through this great letter at least twice a year in your personal devotions.

Thank you for joining me in this great spiritual exercise. If you have any questions about Romans or any other questions, please email me at

So, what has been the highlights for you? What truth stood out this time through this letter? What application (s) will you make as a result of reading Romans through at this time? Please share your experience as you interacted with God’s living and Holy Word.

Chapter Sixteen

In verses one through sixteen Paul greets those whom he knows in this Roman church, particularly those who are involved in active ministry. Nothing in Scripture is extraneous; the Holy Spirit chose to includes these greetings for a reason. Can you think why the Holy Spirit included these greetings?

One reason is to show the love and respect that Paul had for other believers. Christianity is a family. God is our Father and each redeemed individual is either our brother or our sister. Paul loves his fellow believers and fellow workers in the harvest.

Second reason is to give support to his teaching and the gospel. The co-workers and friends of Paul who are preaching the same gospel as Paul lend credibility to what Paul wrote.  In other words Paul and those at Rome are on the same page which helps those who do not know Paul in accepting what he wrote.

It should be no surprise that Paul knows so many people here in Rome. Travel was frequent by many people. Claudius exiled Jews from Rome in AD 49 and many came back after his death. Paul himself traveled to many cities where he met people who then eventually traveled to Rome. We can speculate whether Paul knew each and every individual he greeted or he merely knew them by reputation.

In verses seventeen through twenty three Paul gives some last minute or final instructions and greetings. He warns against those who would create divisions and hinder the gospel message there at Rome. It behooves us to mind these warnings for today. We gives warnings and instructions about false teachers who would disrupt the ministry of Christ. Paul also includes greetings from those with him such as Timothy, Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, Tertius, Gaius, Erastus, and Quartus.

(Verse twenty four is not in all manuscripts)

In verses twenty five through twenty seven we read Paul’s great “hymn of praise.” This section is also considered a doxology. “Doxa” meaning glory. Paul gives glory to God. This is Paul’s dedication to His God whom he serves. Some have called this the final summary of the gospel of righteousness. The gospel had been a secret, now it is revealed and preached openly. This epistle to the Romans could only end with glory being given to God as the theme of Christian living and the source of the joy in their hearts.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Gilbert, AZ bans Bible Study

Another city bans Bible study in private homes
Via WorldNetDaily

The city of Gilbert, Ariz., has ordered a group of seven adults to stop gathering for Bible studies in a private home because such meetings are forbidden by the city's zoning codes.

The issue was brought to a head when city officials wrote a letter to a pastor and his wife informing them they had 10 days to quit having the meetings in their private home.

"The interpretation and enforcement of the town's code is clearly unconstitutional, " said Daniel Blomberg, a member of the litigation team for ADF. "It bans 200,000 Gilbert residents from meeting in their private homes for organized religious purposes – an activity encouraged in the Bible, practiced for thousands of years, and protected by the First Amendment."

"This ban is defended based upon traffic, parking, and building safety concerns. However, nothing in its zoning code prevents weekly Cub Scouts meetings, Monday Night Football parties with numerous attendees or large business parties from being held on a regular basis in private homes," the ADF said.

This article was emailed to me by a great blogger friend of mine, Brian Ray Todd of 

Is this where we are headed? With an increasingly growing secular society who hates God, His Word, and loves darkness, how long will it be before the study of God's Word is effectively outlawed?

Zoning regulations, hate speech concerns, proselytizing prohibitions, assembly and safety concerns, church/state concerns, religious and iconic displays, and blatant attacks have been used in attempts to shut down witnessing efforts, preaching of the gospel, and private bible studies in various locations across our land.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Just 10 More!

Just 10 more to go! I am so excited! 

Are you?

I need to plan something special.

What do you think?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Reading Through Romans 14-15

Reading Romans 14-15

We now come to a new section and as we do Paul zeros in on a new topic. Keep in mind we are still in the duty section, the practical section, or our response section. In the first eight chapters Paul laid a foundation by providing the doctrine that supports our duty; he provided our position that upholds our practice, and he gave us the reason for our response.

This section is a very important section. Beginning in chapter fourteen and running through the thirteenth verse of chapter fifteen the theme calls us to a mutual existence between the stronger Christians and those who are yet matured and are considered as weaker believers in faith. Granted Paul addresses an issue that is related to Jewish food laws. Paul sides with the strong believers but instructs these strong believers not to despise their weaker brothers. This principle gives us guidelines that dictate our attitude and actions when we encounter less mature people within the body of Christ.

Tomorrow we will finish up our reading of this great epistle by reading Chapter sixteen. Hope you have enjoyed both the reading of Romans and this little running commentary.

Chapter Fourteen

In verses one through twelve Paul commands us not to be judgmental of believers. The weaker brother is not to be judgmental of those who are stronger in the faith. At the same time the more mature and stronger believer is not to be judgmental of the brother who is weaker in the faith. Believe it or not this section is directed more to the weaker brother. The weaker brother is not to condemn nor judge the brother who is more developed in faith and convictions.

The problem we face even today as there are weaker brethren in the body. These individuals have not developed as far in biblical convictions and faith and attack, criticize, condemn, judge, and even harass those who have stronger faith and convictions. Someone recently put it this way, “Watch out for the professional weaker brother.” Sometimes believers enjoy remaining weak. It keeps them from developing the courage of biblical convictions. It is much easier to criticize someone rather than work through an issue biblically and develop sound convictions.

The stronger brother usually goes about his own business and by faith operates within biblical convictions. The weaker brother on the other hand has the tendency to be vocal against those who are stronger in faith. For example, the stronger brother sees every day the same with no significance of one day over the next. We can worship each and every day. The weaker brother has yet to see that the Sabbath as part of the ceremonial laws is not binding on believers in the church age make it quite a big deal when they think the Sabbath has been violated. 

In verses thirteen through chapter fifteen and verse thirteen we see that believers are not to pass judgment on one another and we are not permitted to cause believers to sin. Now, granted this is not the place to preach. But in me, you have a preacher, and “Have Sermon Will Travel.” In this case I am like Richard Paladin in Have Gun Will Travel. So here goes.

This section does not mean that a stronger brother goes into hiding and behind closed doors for fear of creating a stumbling block, lives out his strong faith based convictions. This passage is usually misapplied because it is not read and studied carefully.

Paul is not saying to the stronger brother you cannot eat the meat you have or drink the wine you have because it may cause a weaker Christian to sin. Paul is saying to do not force your convictions that you have developed based on biblical principles onto a brother who is weaker in the faith. In other words don’t force your brother by reproach, ridicule, sermonizing, and etc. to do something that would violate his conscience.

If I am convicted that pork is now clean and I can eat it but you are convicted that pork is unclean and you don’t eat it, I should not force you to violate your conscience and eat pork.

We are not asked to surrender our convictions, we are asked to not behave in such a way that would hurt the faith of someone who has weaker faith and in doing so we cause them to condemn themselves. In a specific setting we are encouraged to forgo a right in order to preserve peace and not cause a brother to sin against his own conscience.

Paul will say in verse twenty two that the stronger brother does not have to give up his conviction, or to think their action is sinful, or to damage their own conscience for the sake of the weaker brother. He is simply saying use your liberty in a considerate and Christ like-manner. (Let the cards and letters come in, I can take it)

Chapter Fifteen

In verses one through seven Paul gives Jesus Christ as an example of how stronger believers are to tolerate and support the weaker brethren rather than living selfishly to satisfy their own desires. The Christian life is all about strengthening others. Paul gives Christ as the highest example of someone living for the Glory of God.

In verses eight through thirteen Paul shows that Jesus Christ is the hope and salvation of both the Jews and the Gentiles. Therefore it is un-Christ like as a stronger Gentile believer to judge or inure the faith or conscience of a weaker Jewish believer. Those Jews who are believers Paul says that still believe certain meat is wrong and the Sabbath is binding support. But to the Jews Paul gives the example to the weaker Jews not to condemn the stronger Gentile believers who believe all meat is now for consumption and that there is no Sabbath.

In verses fourteen through thirty three Paul lays out the extension of God’s salvation and redemption through his calling to the Gentiles. Paul focuses on his calling to the Gentiles in this section. He explains his unique ministry Gentiles. He also builds a case as he asks his Roman readers to support his planned missionary trip to Spain. Paul will share his plans to visit Rome and what he hopes to accomplish.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Book Review: The Seeds of Turmoil

Book Review: The Seeds of Turmoil

Almost every day one can turn on a television, open a newspaper, or even turn on a radio and hear of horrible atrocities attributed to terrorism. Thanks to satellites and instant communication we can see bombings, shootings, and the aftermath produced by people we call terrorists. As Americans we have followed our political leaders in assigning this term, terrorist, to huge blocks of people in various Middle Eastern countries. The United States has declared war on terrorism and has committed huge resources, American lives, and political cache to wage and hopefully win this war against terrorists and terrorism.

The subtitle of this book is The Biblical Roots of the Inevitable Crisis in the Middle East. Pastor and author Bryant Wright takes us on a journey explaining the past, the present, and the future of the terrible trouble of the Middle East. Wright explains very carefully, concisely, and coherently what the average American does not know about this so called war, or Middle East problem.

Wright divides the Seeds of turmoil into two parts. In Part One, Wright provides us with eight chapters in order to uncover the founders of this conflict. Using Scripture Wright effectively demonstrates how one man’s decision to take certain matters into his own hands is responsible for the fighting taking place today. Wright uses Scripture to show the effects of Abraham’s actions that led to the birth of Ishmael which instigated this conflict. Wright demonstrates how the actions of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar are the actual root of today’s Middle Eastern turmoil. Wright effectively uses the Scriptures to demonstrate that God promised a definite detailed land to Isaac, a son of God’s promise to Abraham.

Conflict arose almost immediately between the women, Hagar and Sarah and the boys, Ishmael and Isaac. The Middle Eastern problem is a religious problem. It is two nations believing that they have been given the land and promises by God through Abraham. The descendants of Ishmael and Isaac are fighting for the land and those promises. This conflict will not end until Jesus Christ comes and enables Israel to realize the absolute fulfillment of God’s promise through Abraham to Isaac. Peace will not be forthcoming by military might, peace negotiations, or compromises. Any help given to the enemies of Israel will be disastrous on the nation or nations rendering such aid. These two enemies will continue to fight until the death and the absolute surrender of one of them.

Wright uses part two of Seeds of Turmoil to show the perspectives of those who are involved in or have stakes in this conflict. He dedicates a chapter each to the Jewish perspective, Isaac, the Islamic perspective, Ishmael, and the Christian perspective, Jesus Christ. Wright skillfully and scripturally explains where each side is coming from and why they think like they do.

This is a very well written book. It is very easy to read and to follow. It rarely is technical and is very informative. I like this book because it scripturally and coherently outlined the very basis of the root of the Middle East conflict. This book held my attention which caused me to read it through the first time in two sittings. I highly recommend this book first to all believers in order to have the proper perspective of this horrific conflict. I highly recommend this book to all Americans in order to fully appreciate the nature of this conflict. The descendants of Ishmael believe they are as right in their conflict and that God, Allah, is on their side as the Israelites believe that they are right Unfortunately Israel is fighting this war from a military and national perspective having forgotten the promise made so long ago to Abraham that God would bless him and the world through a son of promise, namely Isaac.  

I have received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers in order to review this book and have received no other form of compensation. This opinion (s) expressed in this review are my own and not necessarily of Thomas Nelson Publishers or Bryant Wright.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Reading Through Romans 12-13

Reading Through Romans 12-13

There first eight chapters of Romans was a doctrinal dissertation regarding sin, salvation, and sanctification. The teaching, which is simply another word for doctrine, is deep and requires much prayerful meditation. Paul lays the foundation or the groundwork for our “duty.” As with all of Paul’s epistles, Paul lays out our position and then our practice; the truth then the task.

Chapters nine through elven function as a parenthetical interruption to explain how the gospel relates to the Jews. Paul carefully explains that God’s promises to the Jews are still valid and binding. Paul assures the Jews that God is faithful and will one day save His chosen people.

Now comes the practical part. Beginning in chapter twelve and running through chapter fifteen and verse thirteen we discover our responsibility. In this section we see how God’s righteousness which has been imputed to us leads us to a new life and a new way of life. In other words, here is how the gospel is played out in our everyday life. This section carefully lays out the practical implications of God’s saving mercy. Read it well, read it often.

Today we will read further in this practical section by reading chapters fourteen and fifteen.

Chapter Twelve

In verses one and two we find our only response to the truths contained in chapters one through eight – the offering of ourselves to God as a living sacrifice. These two verses are our spell out our response to God’s grace. Do not pass over these two verses quickly – there is probably a good 15-20 weeks of messages or lessons in those two verses.

The Christian life is a battle. The battle rages between the mind and the flesh. In the flesh is no good thing. The flesh wares against the Spirit and can never be subject to God. We are to be transformed in to the image of Christ. How? By the renewing of our mind by feeding on the things of the Holy Spirit. This results in our being able to tell what is God’s will and what is not.

In verses three through eight Paul delineates the various gifts that have been given to believers in the body. These gifts are to be used to develop and mature one another in the body of Christ. Each believer has at least one gift and that gift is to be used on behalf of the other members in the body for their good.

In verses nine through 21 Paul delineates the marks of a true Christian. Do you want to know what a Christian looks like? The new life of believers is described in this section. Here we read of the type of life that pleases God.

Chapter Thirteen

In verses one through seven we see Paul addressing the response and responsibility of believers to governing authorities. Believers are to be subject to our governing authorities. Government has been instituted by God. Resisting or disobeying government brings great consequences. Not merely by the government but by God who is in charge of government.

In verses eight through fourteen Paul addresses the relationship that believers have with the Mosaic Law. The first phrase in verse eight amplifies what is said in verse seven. The rest of verse eight to the end of the chapter shows that the law is summed up on the command to love our neighbor or love one another.  We see Paul reminding his readers how short the time is before Jesus Christ returns for us. Also Paul gives some commands on living properly and how to do so.

Monday, September 20, 2010

My Favorite TV Sitcoms

Dazzle the blogging world with your boob tube knowledge and fascination
 for cheap sitcoms, over-emoted dramas, and weakly programming.

Well, Alex and all you out there in the blogging world I don’t know if I will dazzle you with my boob tube knowledge and my fascination for cheap sitcoms, over-emoted dramas or weakly (yes I got it) programming, but as they say in show business, “Here goes nothing!” Here are my top ten favorite TV shows in the order of how I rate them.

1.         Burn Notice

This is a show about a former spy who was burned. In the first three seasons, Michael Weston (the burned spy) teams up with Sam Axe (his buddy who informs on him to the FBI), Fiona Glenanne (a trigger happy ex-girlfriend) and Michael’s mother (from Cagney & Lacey fame) to track down those who burned him so he can get back into the “company.” In the meantime he was dumped out in Miami with no job, credit, bank account, or record of existence. The team takes “odd-jobs” helping people who are in trouble and can't got to the police for money to live on while they figure how who “burned” Michael Weston. I love this show. Watch it religiously. I have bought the first three seasons.

2.         Frasier

Frasier was a spin off of Cheers. Kelsey Grammar played Dr. Frasier Crane on Cheers who occasionally came into the bar, Cheers. This is still one of the most successful spin offs in TV history. This series followed Crane from Boston after his divorce from Lilith to a new job and condo in Seattle. Dr. Crane became a radio shrink in his old hometown. In the meantime his dad, an ex-cop who had been shot and medically retired moved in with him with his Jack Russell Terrier, Eddie. Crane’s brother, also a shrink falls in love with the housekeeper Daphne. The writing is brilliant in this series. The cast is excellent and hilarious. In this series, Maris, Niles' wife never appears on screen. The sad note to mention is one of the creators David Angel and his wife were on one of the planes that hit the Twin Towers in New York on September 11th. In the series Daphne and Niles Crane finally marry and have a baby. The baby was named David after the deceased creator.

3.         Royal Pains

This is a new sitcom only in its second season. It is about a young E.R. doctor who, after being wrongly blamed for an important patients death, moves to the Hamptons and becomes a reluctant "doctor for hire" to the rich and famous. When the administrator of the local hospital asks him to treat the town's less fortunate, he finds himself walking the line between doing well for himself and doing good for others. He and his younger brother form “HankMed” and go about doing good. This sitcom is funny and well written. 

4.         Perry Mason

Who doesn’t remember Perry Mason? Mason was a LA defense attorney who never lost a case. Raymond Burr played the attorney who with his secretary Della Street and Private Detective Paul Drake would win cases by usually forcing a confession from the actual killer. Did you know that the creator of Perry Mason, Earle Stanley Gardner borrowed the name Perry Mason from the company in Boston, MA that published his favorite childhood magazine? It was the Perry Mason Company. Perry Mason is the longest running lawyer series. This run includes the time it was a radio show, TV show, 21 or more movies and the series that depicted an older Mason later in life.

5.         Seinfeld

This was another sitcom that was successful because of brilliant writing. Seinfeld  played himself as a New York based comedian and his life with his friends George and ex-girlfriend Elaine and the strange neighbor Kramer. Week after week this show that was all about nothing aired the daily lives of the primary characters as they went about doing nothing.

6.  CSI: Vegas
This series is about Las Vegas criminalists who use physical evidence to solve grisly murders on the night shift. This show has been highly successful and has led to two spin offs and a number of other genre related shows. Each week the team headed by Gil Grissom solves various murders that usually are bizarre in nature in the Nevada desert. The show has been criticized as being grizzly, gory, and too bloody for TV. This show has stayed popular despite the fact that they broke the golden rule of not changing the cast. Brown is dead, Grissom gone, Sarah left, but has come back and now the 11th season will be the last for Katherine. I liked the original cast and it remains on my top ten favorite list at least for the first nine seasons.   

7.         Gilligan’s Island

This show only ran for three seasons but it was funny, especially when I was a kid. The show followed the comic adventures of seven castaways as they attempted to survive and ultimately escape from the island where they were shipwrecked. The crew and passengers had planned on a short three hour cruise but found themselves shipwrecked on a deserted island. Gilligan was a bumbling deckhand that always seemed to “accidentally” and “innocently” foil all of the attempts to be rescued and get off the island. "The Professor An' Mary Ann..." I can still here the song today. God forgive me, but if the polls were revisited today I would vote for Mary Ann over Ginger.

8.  M*A*S*H  

This was also a very brilliantly written sitcom about a rebellious and rascallion Mobile Army Surgical Hospital team in Korea during the Korean conflict. The show revolved around "Hawkeye Pierce" a top-notch surgeon who against his will was drafted and sent to surgically stabilize wounded soldiers prior to being shipped to a hospital for recovery. The show was very funny but at times contained very serious moralistic tones of "preaching" against the establishment. The show often took liberties with the facts of the Korean conflict but was humorous and popular nevertheless.

9.   Rawhide  

Rawhide was a real favorite of mine. This series was set in the 1860s and it portrayed the challenges faced by the men of a cattle drive. Some 20-25 cowboys moved  3,000 head of cattle. The cattle drive begins in San Antonio, Texas, and makes its way along the Sedalia Trail as they headed to the cattle market in KC, MO.
Gil Favor was the Trail Boss who ramrodded the crew and cattle through all sorts of adventures, trouble, and real life situations. The Trail Boss  was a savvy and strong leader who always played "square" with his fellow men. Often Favor would be pushed into a fight and have to use his fist or guns to keep his herd, his honor, or his cowboys.

The weekly episodes were usually introduced by Gil Favor.. The episodes would revolve  the cowboys who would come upon people on the trail and getting drawn into solving whatever problem they presented or were confronting. Sometimes one of the members of the cattle drive or some of the others would venture into a nearby town and encounter some trouble from which they needed to be rescued.

Rowdy Yates was played by Clint Eastwood and was a wild cowboy that would get in trouble and Favor had to keep a tight rein on him.. Gunfights, fistfights, drinking sprees, cattle rustling, and stampedes were the mainstay of this popular western which by the way ran eight seasons. It was exciting for a kid to watch these cowboys in action. After the show I would go down to the basement and put on all the western gear I had and long with my six shooters I would be a cowboy. I still like the re-runs.

The Producer, Charles Warren used a diary written in 1866 by trail boss George C. Duffield to develop the character of Gil Favor.

10.  Combat

Combat would come on at 8:00 PM. The rule was if I wanted to see the show I had to take my bath, jammy up and brush my teeth by 8:00 PM. Then I got to watch the 30 minute program and then it was off to bed. Combat was about the lives of a squad of American soldiers fighting in France during World War II

 Even though the series ran for five seasons, King Company never fought its way out of France. The show centered around the platoon leader  
2nd Lt. Gil Hanley and platoon Sgt, Sgt Saunders who carried a Tommy Gun. saunders was played by Vic Morrow. I loved Combat and any cowboy show. 

Our instructions stated that we were to list our top ten favorites from both the past and present. This required me to leave several favorite shows off the list. I feel compelled to list them as my top ten honorable mentions:

The Andy Griffith Show
Leave it to Beaver
The Donna Reed Show
Father Knows Best
The Dick Van Dyke Show
The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Daniel Boone
Law and Order

Just 15 More!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Faith of Abraham

“God justifies the believer - not because of the worthiness of his belief but because of His worthiness Who is believed” 
(Richard Hooker, English Pastor, 16th century) 

If you ask the average individual how a person can “get to heaven,” the answer is usually, “By being good, doing your best, being sincere, or following some set of guidelines.”

Do these answers surprise you? Have you ever asked where they come from? Does it boggle your mind that after nearly 400 years of the gospel being preached in this country that people believe that heaven can be earned? What does the good news of Jesus Christ really say?

You would hope that through the constant preaching of the foundation of Christianity – that men are saved not by any works but by faith alone in the atoning work of Jesus Christ – would be both understood and believed by even the common man. Yet that is not the case.

This foundational truth is a stumbling block for the human heart. The human heart since it is ego-centric and vainly proud refuses to reject the notion that a man can be saved by his or her own works. Whether it is keeping the law, submitting to sacraments, doing good works, or efforts of self-reformation - men think they can make themselves acceptable to God. Yet, the sad truth is that there is nothing one can do to make one’s self acceptable to God.

“Abraham was, humanly speaking, the founder of our Jewish nation. What were his experiences concerning the question of being saved by faith? Was it because of his good deeds that God accepted him? If so, he would have had something to boast about. But from God’s point of view Abraham had no basis at all for pride. For the Scriptures tell us, ‘Abraham believed God, so God declared him to be righteous.’ When people work, their wages are not a gift. Workers earn what they receive. But people are declared righteous because of their faith, not because of their works.

Now then, is this blessing only for the Jews or is it for Gentiles also…Abraham is the spiritual father of those who (Gentiles) have faith but have not been circumcised. They (Gentiles) are made right with God by faith.” (Romans 1:5, 9, 11 - The New Living Translation)

How about you? Are you trusting in your sincere good works to be declared righteous before God? This is a spiritually fatal error. This is the broad road or way that Jesus said leads to destruction. How horribly sad it is that there are many people who have and are currently walking down this path toward their destruction.

Take a minute, bow your head, repent of trusting in your own efforts and turn in faith, trusting in the fully sufficient and efficacious atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. Remember Pastor Hooker’s words – you are not declared righteous based on the worthiness of your beliefs but you are declared righteous based on the worthiness of who you believe.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

God Told You to What?

How many times have you heard someone say “that God told me” or you have heard someone say, “God spoke to me.” I wonder if one were to take a poll of the two most blatant yet inaccurate statements ever made which would win? Those two statements are “The Devil made me do it” and “God spoke to me or told me to do such and such.”

Usually it is the ones who are way out there that claim God told them to kill their family, blow up a building, or commit some heinous crime. The overwhelming majority of people reject those outlandish claims. They know that regardless of whatever horrible demons are torturing those poor individuals by bending their minds into horrible atrocities, it did not come from God.

The real danger lies in those who are connected to the “church” or who are on the fringe of the church and claim that God has spoken to them. How do you combat that? When someone such as a Pastor tells you that “God told him to do such and such” how do you refute that? The only way of course is with Scripture.

The problem with “extra-biblical” revelations is that they are subjective and subject to all sorts of interpretation. For example, I could see a beautiful Christian woman who may be married, and yet tell her and the whole world that God told me to tell her to divorce her husband and marry me. Who would believe that? For starters, my wife wouldn’t believe it. I think she would have trouble with it, don’t you?

I know what people mean when they say God spoke to them or told them such and such. Many times it is an impression on their heart by the Holy Spirit. If it is such an impression it will be in line with the revealed Word of God. The Holy Spirit will never lead us contrary to Scripture or the character of God. No matter how strong the impression or how real it seemed if it was from the indwelling Holy Spirit it would not contradict God.

It is hard to convince people who believe that God has spoken to them. I have had to deal with this on occasion.

I have counseled people who have told me that God told them to divorce their current spouses in order to marry each other. God does not contradict Himself. He has made it very clear what He thinks about marriage and divorce.

First, let me say that revelation has ceased. God does not speak to anyone today, whether in an audible or inaudible voice. God does not send messages, commands, instructions, or directions to anyone in this present age.

Hebrews 1:1-2 makes it clear that God at one time did speak through prophets. Now, God speaks to us through His Son. This Scripture states that God has spoken finally and fully in His Son and since the New Testament fully reports and interprets this final revelation of his Son we need no other voice from God. Once the New Testament was completed, revelation ceased.

Yes, Joel and Acts both make it clear that God will one day again speak through prophets, both men and women. That is future and we yet wait that time in revelation will again operate. We call the period of time the tribulation period.

Second, there is a means of knowing what God expects of us, desires of us, and has planned for us. The means that God uses is the Bible. Romans 12:1-2 makes is very clear that if we “renew” our mind with the intake of God’s Word, and if we refuse to be shaped by the philosophies of this world, we will be able to prove what God’s will or directives are. God has revealed very clearly how we are to live, what is right or what is wrong, and how we are to behave.

Third, God will never, ask anyone to do something that is against His character or nature. God does not contradict Himself. When one reads Scripture, prays for guidance, and senses that the Holy Spirit is leading them, one can be assured that this leading, this sense will always be equal to the revelation we already have.

You say, what about, Godly men and women who state unequivocally that God told them to go to the Philippines, or to Ecuador, or to Morocco as missionaries of the gospel. I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit impressed on these men and women’s hearts through Scripture, their own backgrounds, education, desires, opportunities, and using all of these things impressed them to leave family and friends and spend their lives in their respective fields. God did not speak to them and tell them to do that. I have no problem with someone saying “God laid on my heart to do such and such.” If the such and such does not violate Scripture and God’s Holy character and God through His Spirit acting in conjunction with His Word directed them to the specified activity.

I have had people tell me that God impressed on their hearts to do something for me. I have also been impressed by God to minister in various ways to individuals. I recognize that God through His Holy Spirit who lives within me used principles related to God’s character and revealed in His Word to so impress me.

I am not arguing that God cannot through His Holy Spirit and His Word impress specific activity upon our hearts. I am arguing that God will speak to anyone today outside of His Word.

We have seen the last few days just how dangerous this thinking can actually be. First, Terry Jones, a “pastor” stated that God told him and his church to burn the Koran as a means of warning and protest. This violates any number of Scriptural principles which makes it spurious immediately.

Sapp, an associate pastor, said the church is "still in prayer over the whole thing" and could cancel. "God is leading us right up to the moment. It's no different than Abraham and his son. God didn't tell him, 'Go right up to the point where you might sacrifice him.' He wanted him to be fully committed. We're prepared to do what we're called to do."

Sapp has likened this command to burn the Koran to Abraham’s test by God. Abraham lived in an age in which God did speak. God spoke both through men (prophets) and directly to various people. God spoke to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and others.

Sapp leaves no room to challenge him or to say that God would not give such a command. Sapp states that this church must be prepared and must be committed to go as far as God tells them to go. How far is that? Who is the judge? Obviously it is Jones or Sapp or the congregation he deceives, oops I mean leads. How can you challenge him when he says God called him specifically to burn or not to burn the Koran? How can you challenge me if I told you that God told me to tell you to send me $50,000 dollars no later than Friday? After all I am a Christian, a man of God, and a pastor. Couldn’t I say God spoke to me? How would you know if God did or didn’t speak to me? I will tell you how I would know, I wouldn’t have $50K dropping by my house anytime soon.

This is why God in His infinite wisdom caused revelation and revelatory speeches to cease. The subjectivity is just too dangerous. Look how it got out of hand at the church in Corinth. Paul had to establish regulations and rules for those who said God was speaking to them. By AD 95 revelation and the voice of God stopped. Today if you would hear God, go to the Scriptures and to His dear Son.

Stop hiding behind “God told me to do it.” If you are so angry and frustrated at false doctrine, decisions made by liberals, or etc., then man up or cowboy up or whatever up it is and say that you are mad. Say you think burning Korans, The Book of Mormons, or Undaunted Courage will make you feel better. Throw the Hobbit on the fire and say that you hope this will bring attention to a matter you think is important. Please stop cloaking sinful actions and attitudes behind the voice of God. Search the Scriptures and see how God would have you to respond to the enemies of the gospel. The Scriptures will dictate your behavior.

[Written prior to  a similar post on Pyromaniacs but scheduled for today's queue]