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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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Run away, now!

satanTemptation.  You know, Snickers bars, buttery popcorn, ignoring speed limits, yelling first asking questions later, even pretty ladies.  We all deal with temptation in our own way.  How do we overcome it?

Here we go!  Let’s look at a guy named Joseph.  He gets sold into slavery and bought by a rich family.  He’s a really smart guy and the man of the house sees it.  Joseph is given incredible responsibility to run the household because he does it so well.  The family prospers.  You must also know that good ole Joe is a pretty handsome guy too.  His owner’s wife notices this fact.  Uh Oh.  She wants Joe to pay attention to her if you know what I mean.  Joe isn’t into that at all, and he runs away from her repeatedly because he was taught to not mess around with another man’s wife!  Eventually, this lady is so fed up she traps Joe and he gets away, but he has to leave his coat because she is holding on to it.  Talk about a prima donna who must have always gotten her way!

Well, this lady goes on to tell a lie to her hubby.  She says Joesph tried to rape her. This leads to Joseph getting tossed into jail.  Fun, right?  Well, this all ends well.  Joe is so smart he is given a high place in running the jail, he helps others in jail and eventually is noticed by the King.  In the end Joseph is 2nd in command of the entire land and he helps everyone survive a severe famine.

Here’s the moral of this story.  No matter what evil temptations are coming your way, run from them.  You may have guessed this is a paraphrased version of the Biblical account of Joseph in Genesis 39-42.  God blesses Joseph in all that he does and even the bad circumstances lead to even better situations.

Do we trust God that much?

 

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-

The Lost Ability to Cope

https://i2.wp.com/glamslamtennis.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Anger-Post.jpgI had to cope with waiting in line at the BMV – boring!  I had to cope with riding in the car for 1 hour with nothing to do!

The idea of coping with things in life has almost gone by the wayside.  Let me explain.

Technology now allows us to have entertainment at our fingertips 24/7.  No more boring waiting rooms, or heaven forbid the need to read a magazine.  No more gazing out at the countryside as the car travels quickly down the interstate.  No more coping skills being developed…

Have you ever considered that developing coping skills may be extremely important?  I believe that a lack of coping skills helps to develop a world class complainer.  Waa Waa Waa.   Sure, coping with losing a game on a DS or 3DS can be oh so traumatic, but wait, all we need to do is reset the game and start over until we get the result we want….again, no coping skills being developed.  Sports allow for some coping skills to be learned, but really, when EVERYONE gets to make the team nowadays how is that realistic for training a young person for life?  Do we even pray anymore?

Will your young one be yet another young adult who feels entitled to everything life has to offer?  You might ask how in the world I can jump from coping with riding in a car or losing a video game to how a young adult may struggle in life after mommy and daddy?  I tell you (and you know it) real life is full of disappointment and the need to know how to gracefully deal with it.  We don’t need to be raising a bunch of complainers.  I know because my generation was on the “imaginary line” between dealing with real life all the time and having instant comfort all the time.

My faith even warns me of this time:

2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NIV)
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

Whether you adhere to the the words of the Bible or not, I’m quite sure we don’t want the next generation to be whiny, lacking self-control, complaining all the time and unable to cope with the real world.  I see it in my son, even with all my efforts to teach him, he is unable to cope with everyday life much of the time.  He has many outlets, TV, video games, but he has healthy responses too like reading and hobbies learning about and watching birds.  I pray I am able to give him balance, since he must also live in this fast paced self serving world… This world where it is all too apparent that the love of pleasure in all forms has replaced the idea of loving God.  I struggle with this!

So, how do we cope with life?  Have we forgotten to teach about gazing upon the wonders of God’s creation as we drive down the road?  Have we forgotten the Spirit of sharing our faith with our neighbor in line at the BMV?  Have we tossed in the towel and become self serving without realizing it?  Are we boastful and proud, lovers of money, rash, conceited and most of all have we grasped a hold of a form of godliness but denied it’s power (i.e. giving to a good cause yet never being an active part of the cause)?  A huge part of life is learning to cope and handle the challenges placed before us, not to ignore them and bury ourselves in something “that we want to do“.  Digest this challenge and make changes to your life first, then show your young ones what it’s all about.

A Great Inquiry

If only there were someone to arbitrate between us,
       to lay his hand upon us both,

  someone to remove God’s rod from me,
       so that his terror would frighten me no more. 

  Then I would speak up without fear of him…

Job was sure thinking along the right lines.  If only…

Job thinks about this at the end of chapter 9.  He’s miserable, yet, he still sees the obvious need for a Savior, for someone to stand between him and the wrath of God (the rod).  In context, Job is actually under the impression he is receiving the wrath of God right now during his life.

Some may ask why Job isn’t aware of the the Torah, or the law, or the break-upstories recited in Genesis.  Well, the book of Job is widely accepted as the oldest book of the Bible.  It’s assumed that the life story of Job occurred before the law was handed down to Moses as it is written in the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy).

So, if we reread that quote at the top, my question is…Do you speak up without fear?  We know that there is an arbitrator between us and God.

The Fallacy of Contradiction

contradiction-1Since late last year I’ve been working through a long list of claimed biblical contradictions.  A valued friend from across the world has graciously also helped me go through this list.  A common theme appears as we correct the list: CONTEXTUAL ERRORS.

Over and over a verse is ripped out of a dialogue and skewed, twisted and misread.  All in the name of finding a contradiction that isn’t there.  I will post the results of this contradiction endeavor in the coming months.

So, why bring this up?  Well, as I spend time reading the Bible I come across verses that seem to indicate a contradiction!  With all the work I’ve been doing in this “field” it’s neat to see how the human mind can twist something to potentially see a contradiction.

Example from today…

Paul writes in I Corinthians 1:17

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. (Emphasis Added)

Now, we can pluck this verse out and read it solo and then scratch our heads.  Matthew 28:19 reads:

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…(Emphasis Added)

What!?!  Paul is contradicting Jesus!  Yes, applying biblical exegesis helps to explain this apparent confusion.  Of course, we are also told to take the most plainly acceptable meaning of words we read in the Bible using hermeneutics.  So, where do we end up?

contradiction-2If you take the time to read the context (that special thing that many feel is not important) then you find the answer!

Paul is writing to the church in Corinth.  They are having some problems, of which they are claiming who they are following like Apollos, or Paul, or Christ…BIG problem…  Paul asks them the poignant question, “Were you baptized into the name of Paul?”  Paul continues that he is thankful that he hasn’t baptized many people, for fear of them worshiping him.  He concludes these thoughts with verse 17, noting his mission and ministry of spreading the Gospel.  Of course, we are to baptize, but one man isn’t supposed to do everything.  Baptism can be performed by any believer, but ministry is a gift.  Personally, I preached several messages but only baptized one person.  Am I disobeying Christ?

It takes more effort to misread the Bible than to use reason.  Of course, many people use this same logic to put down the Believer.  This effort is expected and Paul wrote of it in this same chapter.

 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:
   “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
      the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.(from Isaiah 29)”

What’s in “your” brain?

Isn’t that an interesting picture?

brainSo, as a parent, I must consider this message.  What’s in the brain of my child…of me?  No, not gray matter and water…the thoughts, the ideas, the teachings…

How do I know?

Let’s think through some things.  If you work on computer support eight hours a day/five days a week, then you come home, what do you often think about?  Most likely how to keep your computer running effectively, how to help family if there are computer issues etc.  How about if you are in school, and you are learning about history?  If you go on vacation, you might tend to notice some of the things you have studied (especially out East in the USA).  What about recreation?  Maybe you watch “24” avidly.  If you go into a government building, do you wonder if the employee’s are corrupt?  How about any of the 30 minute sitcoms out there?  Do you wonder if your friends, acquaintances or family are having affairs? Find a scenario that fits you.

Point being, what we feed our brains, makes a large impact on how we act and process our environment.

The question:  If we only feed our brains 15-30 minutes a week (typical sermon) on God, is it a wonder that we have a hard time living out our lives as a Christian?

15 minutes of God will not combat 3-8 hours of sitcoms and TV that use God’s name in vain, use mild to strong profanity, talk about sex outside marriage as normal, alternate lifestyles as normal, Christians as bigots or intolerant, violence as sexy and cool… get my point?tvkid

The million dollar question:  What do your kids, grandkids and people whom you influence get from you?  15 minutes or 3-8 hours?

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Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6