Sunday, June 29, 2008

What Is The Bible's Primary Message? - Jun 29

The 'Love Your Neighbor' Command Isn't It

When asked by the Pharisees what the ultimate commandment was (in order to trick Him), Jesus replied:

'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
(Matthew 22:37-40)

While certainly one of the most well known and important of Jesus' teachings, the 'love your neighbor' command is not His central teaching. Whether they be benign or malicious, most people simply miss the plain message of Jesus' ministry.

Is The Bible's Primary Message One Of Salvation?

NO! Atonement through the blood of Christ alone is the secondary message of the Bible. Hear me out: God isn't merely saving us from something (our condemnation), He's saving us for something. What is that 'something' that I'm referring to?

The Coming Kingdom of God (The Prophecy of the Sabbath)

From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."
(Matthew 4:17)

THAT is the primary message of the Bible. Jesus came to preach the coming of His millenial reign right here on Earth. That is what the sabbath is all about. It is the establishment of His throne on the Temple Mount in the city of God (Jerusalem) amongst the people of God (the Jews). Both the Pharisees and the Romans were terrified of Jesus. It was precisely this message of 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near' that got Jesus in trouble with the authorities, not the 'Love your neighbor' bit. His resulting sacrifice upon the cross was always meant to be a (crucial) stepping stone for those that wish to serve Him in His millenial reign.

Bible Prophecy and the Importance of Israel

I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.
(Zechariah 12:2-3)

Another question to ponder: Why such hatred and animosity towards Israel and the Jews? God has a plan to bring the coming kingdom and Satan has a plan to derail it. If Satan can achieve his dream of a Jew-free ME, then God's plan has failed. If God plan succeeds (and it will), then Satan is defeated. All of this is contigent on the survival of the Jewish state of Israel. Satan's murderous plans is to eliminate the Jews from the Promised Land that God originally bequethed to Abraham. Right now it is Islam that is the main conduit of Jew-hatred. Not only will Islam meet it's appointed end, all those who oppose God's plan of redemption will go to their destruction as well.

Salvation is a Means to a Greater End: Eternal Employment and Service to the King of Kings

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.
(Revelation 20:4a,6)

Some of you lucky sods out there have a really great job. Some like myself have a decent job that pays the bills but doesn't really rock our world. Others have jobs that they absolutely hate. Now imagine having the the greatest job on Earth. It could be travelling. It could involve artistic creativity. It could be engineering the coolest structures that the mind could conceive. In other words, it would be anything than what you're doing right now. GOD HAS A NEW JOB PERSONALLY RESERVED FOR YOU IN WAITING. It's yours and no-one else's. The unemployment rate in the kingdom of God will be zero. The job and the title that you will receive due to your loyal service to Him will exceed expectations far beyond what your puny mind can imagine. All believers will reign with Christ and be given authority to judge. How exciting! Rejoice, our redemption draws near!

Johnny Cash

Friday, June 27, 2008

Women Who Fight - Jun 27

What's hotter than an Asian woman? An Asian woman who can fight. Therefore, the only thing hotter than that is TWO Asian women fighting each other. Compliments of Rotten Tomatoes are 25 best action heroines that kicked ass and took no prisoners.

Here's Zhang Ziyi and Michelle Yeoh in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Zhang Ziyi is the younger one in white and Michelle Yeoh is wearing lavender. Both are just as equally deadly. Oh my God I'm in love! Mind you, I wouldn't try to touch either one without permission.

Here's the veteran Michelle:

And here's the lovely Zhang Ziyi:

Hope you enjoyed the fight scene. I'll something a bit more substantive for you this weekend. Happy Birthday Canada!

Johnny Cash

Sunday, June 15, 2008

In Defence of the Family - Jun 15

With this being Father's Day, it seemed appropriate to have a Father theme mixed in with my usual banter.

My Parents

I'm extremely fortunate to have two loving parents. As they've now become grandparents to my two nephews I have to treasure each moment that I have with them. As I'm out of the house, I only see them once a week for 2-3 hours at a time. As for my Mom, motherhood is an unassailable institution and she is no exception.

My Dad I could right volumes about. I don't think I would be the man that I am today without him. Even as he approaches his 70th birthday (as of 2011) my father isn't just my Dad, I consider him my friend. I doubt many individuals can say the same. I shudder at the idea when he will be no longer with me but I know that day will come. Not for my sake, but for my mother's sake. They enjoy their empty-nest lifestyle and I hope it lasts as long as possible.

Fatherhood: The Ultimate Example of Masculine Leadership

So what did my sister and I do to deserve a loving and safe childhood? As I grew in wisdom I realized but for the sheer grace of God I was lucky that I had such a blessed upbringing. That and nothing else. Others, through no fault of their own, aren't so lucky or blessed. Did they do anything wrong to deserve such an upbringing? No. Our earthly dads are mortal. They make mistakes, some humorous and some more serious. Sometimes they aren't always there when you need them the most. Never once did I feel neglected by my Dad despite his often gruelling work schedule.

Which leads me to one of my first major points about fatherhood. There is nothing more devastating to a child than having a negligent (or non-existent) father. Many violent criminal males in our justice system had fathers who were absent, abusive (to the mother and/or the kids) and/or were emotionally unresponsive.

Secondly, females growing up with absent dads carry through their adult lives a sense of abandonment. A high-risk lifestyle, including promiscuity, is often chosen to 'make up' for that male attention that she so lacked.

I think God has a special place reserved for stepdads. Being the biological father of a son or daughter is tough enough, for a stepdad it's twice the work.

Make no mistake, having a strong and consistent masculine presence makes the world of a difference to a young person. When ideology is placed ahead of the natural bond between husband and wife and between parent and child everyone suffers.

The Sanctity of Sodomy?? I Don't Think So!!

Ready for some bona fide hatemongering? Here goes: I believe that marriage solely consists of a union between one man and one woman. That's it. I take serious issue with the 'reimagining' of marriage as some warped liberal 'ideal' or 'alternative lifestyle'. Here now are three major objections I have to gay marriage.

First, let it be said that every single time a referendum is put forth to its citizens, it's consistently voted down. So what do these gay activists do? They go to the courts to have a majority decision overturned. Now I have no problem with gays or anybody else hiring lawyers to petition the courts. It's a free country and they have every right to do so. What gets my dander up is the profoundly anti-democratic nature of these proceedings. Nobody is being deprived of their rights here. An adult male can marry an adult female so long as he has her consent. What's the problem here? Why this need by an activist court to circumvent and undercut clear majority decisions as it pertains to family law?

Here's my second point. If two men or two women are to be regarded as 'married', what next? Polygamy? Incest? Bestiality? Polyamory? Pedophilia? Inanimate Objects? Rights is rights, right? Once the golden standard of marriage is abandoned, a Pandora's box is opened and all manner of unintended consequences will naturally follow. Furthermore, it would be next to impossible to make a legal argument barring gay couples from adopting children. Depriving a child of the love of a mother or a father is nothing short of criminal.

Thirdly, all this strikes me as incredibly selfish. 'So long as I get what I want is all that matters' is a theme I hear time and time again from these liberals. Does the ends truly justify the means here? Be it sexual attitudes or something else, why this narcissistic need to offend others so as to appear 'cutting-edge' or 'avant-garde'? To earn the applause of Man is to earn the condemnation of God. The false god of ego, 'Me first, all the time, right now', is one that dominates the secular-progressive worldview. Leading a selfish life is but an empty one.

Good enough for now. Sorry about not posting sooner. Time flies when you're not paying attention.

Johnny Cash

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

What Is Faith? Part 2 - Jun 3

Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
(Hebrews 11:6)

I wanted to expand on my previous post about having a righteous faith. The idea here isn't to impose, as in 'You can't believe in that' or 'You must believe in this'. Rather, it is a helpful guide. At the end of the day, you will choose to believe in whatever you wish. So with little fanfare I present six more pillars of faith (plus the previous four) to make it an even ten. As before, there is no particular order. Each pillar is of equal importance in its own right.

Pillar #5: Faith is Church-Based

Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord. (Acts 9:31)

Thus begins the early church in Israel. There are in fact, two churches a believer takes part in. The first is the local church that a believer attends - hopefully - every Sunday. The second church is the global church. A believer that refuses to love all of their brothers and sisters in Christ is one that does not follow after God. It is not enough just to love Christ: One must also love the body of Christ which is the church.

Pillar #6: Faith is Blood-Based

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.
(Romans 3:23-25a)

'All have sinned' means you, me and everybody else. This is one that most stumble over and is no doubt the most contentious pillar of the Christian faith. All these other bloodless gospels are useless. Only through the belief in the shedding of Christ's blood as full atonement for sin are we eternally forgiven.

In my hand no price I bring, simply to the cross I cling!

Pillar #7: Faith is Promise-Based

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
(Hebrews 11:8,10)

We do not whip ourselves into a frenzy and call it 'faith'. That is a false faith. True faith is based on believing on the promises of God, just like Abraham did. We do not believe in them because they make 'sense' - they don't. Nor do we believe in the promises of God because they can be proven - they can't. We believe because God cannot fail and God cannot lie. Science and Reason have a finite limit as to what they can teach us. Beyond that, faith in an infinite God must take precedence.

Pillar #8: A Death-Defying Faith

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
(1 Corinthians 15:42-44)

The entire fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians must be read to capture the importance of the resurrection to the Christian faith. Whereas an abiding faith is for the here and now, belief in a life everlasting is for the future. For the unsaved, death represents the total obliteration of their identity and separation from all those material things they love. We should not live our lives as if this was it. We have two lives to live, the first is fleeing and perishable, the second eternal and imperishable. What victory we have for those that trust Him!

Pillar #9: A Wisdom-Giving Faith

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.
(Psalm 111:10)

A God-given wisdom takes the gifts you already have and raises them to the next level. Whereas a transformative faith is general in nature, a wisdom-giving faith is specifically tailored to each individual. A true faith will always favor both the scientist and the artist. Modern science and art owe a tremendous debt to Jewish ethics and the Christian faith. Without it, mankind would be stuck in a fog of superstition and unreality. Sort of like the Muslim world in other words.

Pillar #10: A Sharing Faith

You might recognize this passage:

Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
(Matthew 28:18-20a)

Ah yes, the Great Commission. I'm going to let you in on a little secret: God means every word of it. My friends, we have the greatest book ever written about the greatest person who ever lived. Why then do we not share this with others? Many try to impress with excessive wordiness or by being argumentative (see above). Instead, just be straightforward and honest in giving your testimony. That's it. IT IS NOT YOUR JOB TO SAVE THE WORLD! But you can save individuals out of this world. As I've said before, many Christians will lament the fact that they had an internet connection and didn't use it to spread the Good News. This world needs to hear about the peace that only Christ can bring. May God forbid should we fail this duty.

Johnny Cash

Sunday, June 01, 2008

What Is Faith? - Jun 1

People often say, 'You gotta have faith!'. Faith yes, but faith in what? Faith can only be as large as the object of your faith.

What Faith Is Not

Faith is not the waving of the arms in the air, writhing on the floor and bouncing off the walls. Faith is not the act of whipping oneself into a frenzy of devotion. We leave that to the secularists and to the abortion lobbyists. Moreover, faith must be placed in a true thing. A sincere faith apart from righteousness is a false one.

Four Pillars Of A True Faith: A Checklist

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

Strange this Bible is, isn't it? Yet we must prove to ourselves that we are indeed on the right path. A blind faith or a false faith is no faith at all. As far as I can ascertain, here are four points to consider if you're headed in the right direction.

Pillar #1: True Faith Is Led By The Holy Spirit

A prophecy by Joel on the arrival of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost:

I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
(Joel 2:28)

So much of what passes for religion today is nothing more that practical atheism. Satan loves religion and he especially loves religious people. Why? The better to deceive others from trusting Jesus Christ as the Messiah. Indeed, religion is Satan's weapon of choice! Bloodless gospels and forms of godliness while denying its power is humanity's scourge. The problems here and abroad isn't lack of religion, it's too much of it! The supernatural presence of the Holy Spirit is therefore critical to a thriving church and a mature faith.

Pillar #2: A Transformative Faith
'I'm not the man I was!' - Ebenezer Scrooge

I look forward every December to see the old B&W version of A Christmas Carol. What a change we see to the old Scrooge when he finally gets his comeuppance. In the same way, God wants to change you from the inside out from a miserly Scrooge to a generous one.

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
(Galatians 5:19-26)

If your religion hasn't changed you, then change your religion. There are two groups here. To whom do you belong?

Pillar #3: An Abiding Faith

God doesn't want to be near to you. He doesn't want to be your friendly neighbor or friend. He doesn't want to be your co-pilot either! He wants to take up residence in you. It is not enough to know OF God. Rather, He wishes for a personal relationship with you and to guide you every step of the way. Jesus' prayer for His followers is instructive:

"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me.
(John 17:20-23a)

Does your pride and ego rule your free will or does God?

Pillar #4: A Scriptual Faith

This is a big one. The last chapter in the last book of the Bible leaves us with this chilling reminder:

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. (Revelations 22:18-19)

Jesus also warned His disciples about false Christs (meaning religious teachers) and false prophets (non-religious teachers) who will hypnotize and capture the imaginations of men with their deceits. All believers, both rookies and veterans, must constantly be on guard against the falsehoods that the world loves to teach. A true faith is 100% Biblical in its outlook. A true faith saves, gives discernment and eternal life. Hallelujah!

The second part of this post is here.

Johnny Cash