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Snake Oil Salesmen Did it Right

Back in the day, and I mean BACK, small towns would sometimes be graced with the presence of the traveling salesman. Sometimes what was sold would be “snake oil” or something pretty good! These guys made their way across the country, working hard.snake-oil-salesmen Today, we could equate this work to a talented inventor working diligently to get his idea out there to make a difference in their realm of influence. And, on a larger scale, a company advertising hard to let the world know about their products so they could grow and make a living for their employees.

It’s funny to me how snake oil salesman was the first thing I thought of for this post. After all, many people have equated this profession to the world of religion. There is a huge distinction that I will make though and it will make complete sense if you stick with me. First, let’s take a look at the Great Commission again (see last post).

Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and the Holy Spirit… (Matt 28:19)

In today’s church culture, it seems that we stick to our church buildings. We might talk to a neighbor, or do some meaningful work in the city, but for the most part we are not sharing the gospel are we? Think about that. If you are a born again Christian, true Catholic or committed to your denomination, meaning that you have stepped off the podium of life and placed Jesus on it, then how many people have you honestly shared the gospel with this past week, month, year(s)? I have to ask this question of myself too.

Let’s think back to the salesman, or the inventor, or the company looking to sell their goods and ideas. How successful would they have been if they just talked about helping people and served some food, but never talked about the real product they were invested in? What would it look like if they rode into town proclaiming they were a salesman but never explained what they were selling? WOW. Let’s read that again in a slightly different way.

What would it look like to proclaim to be a Christian, but never explain to anyone what that meant?

Hi, I’m a Christian! Yep, my calling is to proclaim the gospel to all nations! Here’s $10, I’ll pray for you! Here, have a meal, the potatoes are great tonight! Oh, you have questions? Here’s my church address…and my pastor’s phone number…

Are you uncomfortable yet? I hope so, since this is the church for the most part in the USA today with a few exceptions. Go and make disciples…this takes effort, commitment and time…of all nations…this means leaving your town, your country and getting the word out if you are able…baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit…this means taking the next step, coming alongside a new believer and bringing them into the Kingdom.

It’s not just the pastor’s job, it’s every Christians’ job. Be like the snake oil salesman, not in the product that they sell, but in the effort in which the work was done. Have you ever considered why God has blessed the USA with so much money? Maybe it was so we would have the means to be able to fulfill the Great Commission, not so we could go out and buy one more thing that we don’t truly need.

Next up: Materialism and why the USA has already lost. Oh, this should be good!

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One Sin

 must admit, at times I feel that it seems harsh that one lie would keep me out of heaven.  It’s true, but at the same time, hard to swallow at times.  So, like I usually try and do, I went to my trusty bible to try and make even more sense of this truth I have known for many years.  AND… I got my answer.

I’ve read the book of Romans a ton of times, but WOW, these verses in Chapter 5 hit home and really made this whole sin issue make a lot more sense.  If we read Romans 5:16-19, we see several references to the “one sin”.   This being the actions of Adam and Eve in the garden.  Adam was right there with Eve, but allowed the “one sin” to occur when they ate from the tree God told them not to eat of.  Paul wrote clearly about this history as recorded in Genesis.  Paul is also clear that this “one sin” is why we all have a problem with disobedience, lying, stealing, lusting, hating, sin, sin, sin.

So, to clear up my original confusion in paragraph one, I came to the realization (again) that God is completely Holy, Perfect and Sinless.  To God, having sin around is kind of like throwing hot oil into water.   BOOM!  THEY CANNOT MIX.  So, no matter how I may perceive sin, or how bad “one lie” really is, God sees it ALL as hot oil that can be thown into that pan of water.  No amount of it is good, or okay, or just a white lie.  It is ALL worthy of hell.  Can you imagine trying to coax the water into not reacting to the hot oil being spilled into the pan?  This is the same as imagining God dealing with sin, any amount of it.

So, to sum up, “one sin” will keep you out of heaven just like water will explode with even a drop of hot oil.  That’s why we need a Savior that was meant to wash us of that sin, or in this context, remove that hot oil so the water will be pure and calm.  Pretty cool.

Blessings,

Jeff

-Original posting was June 5, 2008-

“Fun to consider” Bible Verses

funHere are some verses I feel have a depth to them that is often missed.

Matt 11:11 says,

“I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is!

I’m focusing on the second half…This tells us we have levels of heaven and those in heaven are greater than even the best human.  Probably because we all have sin, and we are not cleansed until death?  Who would be considered ‘least’ in heaven?  Can we think of this in human terms or is there a Godly standard we cannot comprehend?

In Matt 11:16-19, Jesus says,

“To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:
” ‘We played the flute for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge
and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.” ‘ But wisdom is proved right by her actions.”

 Isn’t it interesting that even today, as Christians, we are often looked at in much the same way when we attempt to share the Gospel, or stand on the truth’s of the Bible.  Our opinions are relegated to being those of a “religious fanatic” or “simpleton”.  Our actions are scrutinized beyond compare.  If an action can be viewed in a negative light, it will be no matter what the truth is…Nothing is good enough for the doubter.

Matt 11:23-24 states:

“And you people of Capernaum, will you be honored in heaven? No, you will go down to the place of the dead. For if the miracles I did for you had been done in wicked Sodom, it would still be here today. I tell you, even Sodom will be better off on judgment day than you.”

How can this be read?  Is it saying that Sodom is forgiven somewhat since Jesus never directly spoke to them?  Is it an Old law versus New law/New covenant thing?  Is it related to the fact that Jesus knows he is about to “sign” this New covenant in his blood?  Is it a righteous outburst against those who are seeing God but cannot get past their pride and disbelief and thus still don’t believe?  Was it merely just part of the story that would eventually  arouse the anger of the Pharisees so they would fulfill prophecy and crucify him?

In the end, we learn that there are also levels in hell, and that we are judged based on what we know in some manner.  Do we believe or are we willfully ignoring what is right in front of our nose, like in the day of Jesus?

I purposely left some of these arguments up in the air, let me know your thoughts.

Is Repentance Enough?

 My buddy Ezzy makes me think once again…  There is a common theme throughout the Bible that in essence says “repent and you will get a new heart and a new spirit and you will live”.  In the Old Testament especially, these words may be confusing to some.  After all, wasn’t there a need for a Temple sacrifice?  So, why all these verses (and there are many) that note that if you simply repent, you will be saved?  Sometimes it’s worded as, Wash and make yourselves clean! (Isa 1:16) or Turn from evil and do good! (Ps 34:14) or Turn to the Lord and he will have mercy on him..he will freely pardon (Isa 55:7)….it goes on and on…Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord (Acts 3:19)…Both the New and Old Testament speak the same truth.  Remember, these verses don’t say that you shouldn’t still proved a sacrifice (referring to the Old Testament verses) or be baptised (referring to the New testament verses).

What does this mean!!??

Does this go against Jesus’ teaching that “No one comes to the Father except through me (Jesus speaking in John 14:6)”?  Does it wipe out all Jesus proclaims?  NO, because Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ, Messiah.  Jesus and God are one.   Jesus proclaims this truth himself in Mark 14, Matt 26 and Luke 22: 

“Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” “I am,” said Jesus.

“I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”
“Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied.

“If you are the Christ,” they said, “tell us.”
Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”
They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?”
He replied, “You are right in saying I am.”

 What do I mean by all this?  Well, let’s look at repentance.  This is an action verb meaning to turn from, do a 180, not go back.  Where is the action directed toward?  Who is requiring this action?  God!  To save space I will not go through all the verses that make it clear there is a Trinity or a tri-une God.  A God that is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit….that are one.  Jesus was the Son, therefore giving him authority.

In reading many commentaries, definitions and study guides this is the simplest way I can explain all of the Old Testament verses that some stumble around;  the verses that confuse people about why we need Jesus, when the Old Testament seems to say we just need to repent.

The ANSWER:

These verses do not contradict the New Covenant with Jesus, they support it!  They support the claim that Jesus is God, they support the claims that Jesus made of himself and regarding how we are saved!  How, you ask?  If Jesus is God, he is simply repeating himself and what he already said through the prophets in the Old Testament.  If he is God, then of course, ‘no one comes to the Father except through me!’  If he is God, then of course, ‘you must believe in me’ in order to truly repent.  To not believe in Jesus (God) would not enable you to repent to God!  What would be the point?  You can’t repent of something you did to hurt “someone” if you do not believe “that someone” exists….  Hmmm, was that too deep?

Think of it this way — A long time ago God said that in order to live, ‘you must repent of your sins and turn to me.’  You must provide ritualistic sacrifices in order to atone for these sins that you are repenting of.  Later, he came to earth and decided to take the punishment upon himself that he felt we all deserved in order to once again show how much he loves us.  He still requires us to repent of our sin, hoping that his example of love would wake us up to his reality.  Now, he says you must believe in me and what I am saying, then you will understand your need to repent.  Repent and I will save you.  I have even made things a bit simpler, please listen and believe!  —

Is repentance enough?  Yes, if you believe in God, his Son, his Spirit, if you believe in his words, his actions and his commands AND you follow them.

Blessings,

Jeff

Ears to Hear

 Well, I’ve been reading through Ezekiel 12 and one thought came to me as I read.  It is noted about the Israelites, “They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people.”  Immediately, I recalled Jesus spoke a similar phrase surrounding many of his parables in the Gospels.  “He who has ears, let him hear.”  To me it told of a huge difference between the Jews of Jesus’ time and the group Ezekiel was a part of in the Bible.  Markedly, Ezzy’s friends were blind and deaf, Jesus’ could hear, or at least try.  Ezzy’s audience seems to be a nightmare, maybe that’s why God is all over them for their disobedience!  Can you imagine being at a Comedy Club and NO ONE acknowledges you are on stage in ANY way!  Blind and Deaf.  I know that is figurative, but it’s a good analogy to many people who live today as well.

I speak from a Christian perspective, obviously, so I see those that choose to not believe creation was created by a Creator and those that hear the Gospel but are deaf to it’s power, as being of the same disobedient brood as the Israelites of Ezzy’s time.  Of course, most nonbelievers today are not a part of the Chosen People, the Israelites, like in Ezekiel, but they are a part of those that God calls to become “children of God”.  The plan has been laid out, voices proclaim it, creation screams of it’s Creator, yet many “have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people”.  HE WHO HAS EARS, LET HIM HEAR!

Blessings!

Jeff

The Parachute 2

 Whoops, I forgot to pull the rip cord!  I was watching a segment on TV and was reminded that I forgot to finish the story completely regarding the parachute analogy I blogged about a while back.  See The Parachute for the first blog.

Many people are confused about what “belief” means in the Bible regarding Jesus’ death on the cross and the need to “believe” in the Savior to be saved.  Anyone can believe in Jesus, that he was who he said he was, and that he died on the cross to save us from our sins.  This example of belief is the same as believing in a parachute.  We believe that a parachute will deploy and slow our descent to the earth, thus saving our lives.  The “belief” that the Bible means, according to original language usage, is more like TRUST.  It is one thing to believe a parachute will do it’s job, it is another thing altogether to put on that parachute and jump!  Do you simply know of Jesus and accept he was who he said he was, or do you trust in Jesus and “put him on” and trust he will guide you and save you?  These are two completely different types of “belief”.

God bless!

Jeff

A Christian truth

 Was Adam an amoeba?  Did the Garden of Eden exist sometime after the world began “millions” of years ago?  How did the dinosaurs die?

These are some common questions I’ve heard.  Heck, these are questions I had at one time too.  I chose to not really “try” to find the answers.  I just accepted what I heard others tell me like some scientists, “smarter” people than me or even National Geographic.  Did you know that the answers I had thought were “pretty good” go totally against what the bible proclaims?  I’m not just talking about Genesis, I’m talking about much of the New Testament as well.

One example to let you in on the misinformation:

In Paul’s discourse to the Romans he notes in Chapter 5:

12Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned- 13for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. 14Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.

Paul notes that death entered the world after sin.  This corresponds to creation, as described in Genesis.  The bible says there was no death before sin.  Adam and Eve committed the first sin.  Here is the dilemma: Secular science teaches that the world is millions of years old, that there were millions of years of death before there was even a human in the form as we know it today.  If there was death before Adam, then the bible is wrong.  If Adam was some amoeba and we were made in the image of God, then the form of God has no ears or mouth and God is a liar when he says he hears, sees and speaks to us.  Let alone knowing us before we were born, since on the early evolutionary tree, there was no birth, just division (ha!).  So how can this be resolved…?  Well, it can be resolved.

There are tons of questions out there that DO have STRONG biblical answers.  Answers that come from scientists, people smarter than me, and articles and magazines.  Check out the following link, and search the topics or type in a question you’ve had for many years and see what answers you find.  You just might find you are strengthened in your faith.  You just might find the answer you’ve been looking for, but didn’t know it existed.

GET ANSWERS HERE

Blessings!