RSS

Tag Archives: salvation

The Rainbow

rainbowbridge4

I wanted to write something here about the rainbow. I logged into my WordPress account to write, only to be confronted yet again by a rainbow:

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 1.26.54 PM

Even WordPress is on board with the rainbow theme. I went to the Chase ATM the other day and was greeted by a rainbow and the reminder that “it’s PRIDE month. I saw on WA State Governor Jay Inslee’s Instagram that they had hoisted the rainbow flag up alongside the state and national flags. It was interesting that the picture was taken at an angle that elevated the PRIDE flag above the others.

Interesting camera angle.

Interesting camera angle.

State Ferrys are flying the rainbow flags; (I was careful on the spelling there) Seattle painted 11 crosswalks with rainbow colors; even christian authors are using rainbow themes in their discussions of homosexual issues.

It all makes me wonder if anyone remembers where that rainbow came from and what it means?
In the words of Inigo Montoya, “I do not think it means what you think it means.”

The rainbow is a symbol or sign from God, and it is a reminder of things past. It is a reminder of the deluge.
Before the flood the sin on the earth was terrible.

Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.  –Genesis 6:5-8 (NASB)

God caused a worldwide flood that destroyed every man, woman, child, & animal, except those who were preserved by Him in the ark of Noah. For the first time in history there was rain, as the firmament above and depths below erupted with water.
God wiped away the wickedness of humanity and preserved Noah, a man of faith. When it was all over, God made a promise, that never again would He cause a worldwide flood to wipe out humanity. The bible tells us that God set a bow in the cloud as a reminder of this promise.

I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth.” God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations; I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud, and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”  –Genesis 9:11-17 (NASB)

Like all symbols, the rainbow means something: God, although a Righteous Judge, is also full of mercy.
There is another symbol that God has given for us to consider, it’s the cross. The cross is where the justice of a Righteous God was satisfied for sin. It’s also a place where the grace and mercy of God was demonstrated for all of humanity. God, gave His Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for sin. The rainbow and the cross should remind us of the same things. God is righteous, and He has and will judge sin. But He has also provided escape by faith using a the ark, the cross, -symbols of His lovingkindness and salvation.

It would be nice to leave it there, however there is more to the rainbow. Matthew Henry has this to say:
“As the old world was ruined, to be a monument of justice, so this world remains to this day a monument of mercy. But sin, that drowned the old world, will burn this.” -Matthew Henry
Even as the prediluvian world was reviling in their sin prior to judgment, so the antediluvian world will be culminating in the same apostasies. Jesus spoke of the day in which the world could expect His return:

For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.  –Matthew 24:37-39 (NASB)

Men and women are celebrating under a symbol that they do not understand. They are reviling in sin against God and nature. Although God has extended mercy and grace through Jesus,… like the ark, if people refuse to get on board (by faith in Jesus) -only judgement remains. Future judgement is a certain as it was in the past, and that judgement is not through water, but fire.

 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water,  through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.
But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.  –2 Peter 3:3-9 (NASB)

I pray for our nation, our leaders, our world,… that many would come to repentance and put faith in Jesus, the only hope of salvation.

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Christian Myths: Who Is And Who Is Not A Christian

One of the common misconceptions regarding the identity of “who is a Christian” is the belief that being Christian is about what you do.
Many people believe that select good works outweigh bad behavior, and that God is looking for those good works to consider one worthy for heaven, or His favor.

It’s true that the bible is full of instructions about behavior. There are hundreds of rules in Old Testament law relating to Israel specifically and many more in the New Testament, relating to Christian behavior. However, none of these prescribed behaviors was intended to bring an individual into a right relationship with God. Rather, they were given as a model of behavior for those already in a right relationship with God.

Here is what Jesus said about the subject, and mind you, He spoke this to one of the nations top religious leaders… someone we might consider a very “good” man:

Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” -John 3:3
This was part of a conversation with Nicodemus, it would be good to read the entire conversation in John 3 to get an idea of all that Jesus said. Repeatedly in the conversation Jesus pointed to this concept of having a spiritual transformation from within, which He referred to as being “born again.” He actually made it clear that short of that, one could not “see the kingdom of God” nor could they “enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).

Since Jesus is the Christ, the source of our Christian faith, it is important to understand what He Himself said on the matter of who is and is not Christian. He went on, in John chapter 3, to direct Nicodemus to the one thing he needed to do, to unlock, as it were, this idea of rebirth:
“…so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” –John 3:15-16*
The Apostle Paul confirmed this teaching, explaining that salvation is by faith in Jesus: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  -Romans 5:1*

To be a Christian, one must believe in the person and work of Jesus Christ, relying on Him and Him alone for salvation. Good works are just that, good works, but they cannot cause you to be born again.
Billy Graham has a great video out that clarifies some of these points. You can watch it online here: https://myhopewithbillygraham.org/program/heaven/

* all scripture is NASB and emphasis is mine

 
1 Comment

Posted by on March 4, 2015 in Doctrine, Evangelism

 

Tags: , , ,

Future Unsatisfiable Lust…

There is only one longing of the heart of man that will be satisfied in the future: that of the Christian’s longing for Jesus and the revelation of His righteous kingdom. For the sinner, who rejects Jesus and the offer of salvation, there will remain the lust of the flesh, possibly intensifying, yet without the physical ability to satisfy that same longing. Gone will be the myth of the “party in hell”, replaced by the eternal reality apart from the goodness of God.

“…Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION” -2 Corinthians 6:2

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 7, 2014 in Meditation

 

Tags: , , , ,

Running The Race, Forgetting Why.

People are running. Running for this, running for that, busy, busy, running. We are engaged in all variety of activities, be it sports, entertainment, self improvement, working, etc.

Our days are full, but for many, our hearts are empty. It’s like we are running a race with no goal in mind -a race with no finish line, and no trophy. These days everyone gets a trophy, just for running, without regard for who wins. Winning is out of fashion.

Christians ought to take caution with this mentality. Life is not just about living. We are engaged in a battle, and it’s a battle with purpose. Not everyone wins. Many die. We can be so consumed with the enjoyment of running and the few dividends along the way that we settle for the lesser purpose -the run.

One time (long ago) someone paid me an unusual compliment. They said: “you have good form when you run.” It’s a true story! Now, I’ve never been a tremendous athlete, but I’ve been proud of that compliment from that day to this. We can be so tricked into pride, so content with accomplishment, that the self-satisfaction of form begins to be the goal.

There is a great story hidden in the pages of the Old Testament, one that I learned and have taught many times. On the occasion of the death of David’s son Absalom, someone needed to run and tell the king, the terrible news. This man Ahimaaz insisted on running, he wanted to be the bearer of the news. As the story goes, in 2 Samuel 18, he evidently had a lot of skill in running. His “form” was good, recognizable from a distance. But when he got to the end of his race, he failed with the purpose of his effort.

The king said, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” And Ahimaaz answered, “When Joab sent the king’s servant, and your servant, I saw a great tumult, but I did not know what it was.” 2 Samuel 18:29

He ran for the glory of the run. He accomplished nothing.

“Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun.” -Ecclesiastes 2:11

Friend, be careful that you are not running without the goal of victory.
Now, when it comes to life and death, we know that Jesus is our victory, our only hope, and we rest in that. However, salvation is not intended to produce in us a laziness. Spiritual laziness is foreign to our faith.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” -Hebrews 12:1

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” -1 Corinthians 9:24-27

At the end of our race, there will be winners and losers, and only one laurel will be awarded -to those who ran the race well, with the purpose of the Master. There will be no rewards for good intentions, or worldly accomplishments -none.

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ -Matthew 25:21

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 17, 2014 in Meditation, Real Life, Teaching

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

New Years

Wednesday marks 28 years of living without drugs and alcohol in my life.
They have been good years. This Spring will be my 27th year of life with Christ –something even better.
I like to look back, remembering pretty vividly what the occasions of change looked like.
Both were at my own bedside, in my room, alone.
The first found me loaded, empty, and ready to end my life. (thankful every day that I didn’t pull the trigger)
Rehab was good, after all, I didn’t really want to die.

I found, however, that the alcohol, the drugs,… the sex… none of that was the real cause of the pain that I felt.
It was there, even after the fog of those things were gone. They were just symptoms of the greater disease of sin.
That was what I had to face on that Spring day,… there was still something missing.
In the morning I gave my life to Jesus. It was the best decision of my life.
It’s a moment forever burned into my heart.

It’s good to look back. What I see is a good God, who loved me, and gave His life for mine.
His death, that I might live.

Like George Bailey, who got to see a vision of what life would have been like if he hadn’t lived, I look back and consider what might not have been. I look at my lovely wife, my glorious daughters, my friends, the church, -and I’m so thankful.
Like the line from the Talking Heads song “Once In A Lifetime,” I ask myself, “well, how did I get here?”
Yeah, I know how I got here. And I know that the Lord is going to continue to lead me and bless my life.

I hope you find yourself in the care of the Lord this year. If not, pray the prayer and ask Him to forgive you of your sin. Ask Him to come in and rearrange your life. He will do it.
If you find yourself in the grip of addiction, like I was, ask for help.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 30, 2013 in Alcohol & Drug Abuse, Real Life

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

What “Amish Mafia” Teaches Us

John, Alvin, Levi, & Jolin -the Amish Mafia

John, Alvin, Levi, & Jolin -the Amish Mafia

I know, it’s a crazy title isn’t it, “Amish Mafia,” really? It’s the one that the Discovery Channel folks gave to their new shocking reality series about the inner workings of a gang of thugs who protect the interests of a group of Amish in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. It was promoted well enough, that I had to watch!

I’ve watched two episodes of the show, and I have to admit, the title that Discovery gave it, fits well.
Every episode chronicles this gang, led by “Lebanon Levi” as they investigate accusations of wrongdoing, dole out vigilante justice, and profit handsomely for the protections they provide to their Pennsylvania-Dutch community.

Like a lot of the Discovery Channel and History Channel “reality shows” this one is based upon real people and the real things that they do. One of the compelling aspects of these shows, is that the viewer (or rubbernecker), learns about people and cultures of which they might otherwise be unaware. Just as shows like “Deadliest Catch” have given us a deeper appreciation for king crab, and an understanding of why it’s costlier than gold, Amish Mafia shows us a world heretofore unimagined.

When I think Amish, perhaps like you, I think of a quiet, reserved, people living out a faith in a cloistered yet idyllic environment belonging to a bygone era. I think of hardworking people, who typify the Pauline exhortation to “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands –1 Thess 4:11 (NASB)

Man, was I ever wrong.

What Amish Mafia shows us, is the ugly underbelly of a religious community trapped in a cultural heritage that has an appearance of propriety but practices that are no different than what they refer to as the “English” world.
In the two episodes that I watched, I saw gun-toting, redneck cussing, and greedy gang members behaving similarly to inner city street gangs. I saw the non-gang members engaged in acts of collusion, secrecy, adultery, gossip, slander, and more, -even secret parties where licentiousness was condoned with profit, and inner lusts were given temporary sanction.

What can we learn from watching? Something very significant I think. What the Amish, and specifically this shock Discovery offering shows us, is the utter impotence of religion. (gasp)
The Amish have all the trappings of religion, but it’s merely a form having no substance.
They have restrictions on dress, conduct, ethics, and all kinds of moral trappings -all based on isolated and un-contextulaized scriptures. They go to church faithfully, and have a high regard for church authority, and supposedly, for God Himself.

The lifestyle illustrated vividly by the Amish, or any religious cult, show us the inability of religion to transform the human soul, let alone temper sin. Rather, religion only casts a shroud on it.
And the following verses are proven:

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit –Romans 8:2-4 (NASB)

The only thing that can truly transform the human soul is the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of God does not work in the efforts of human religion. The transformative, empowering, work of the Spirit of God, is imparted to those who, by faith in the person and work of Jesus, yield themselves to His magnificent grace in love.

Did you watch the show? If so, what was your takeaway?

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 13, 2012 in Culture, Real Life

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Fightin’ Words!

Sometimes I think we have an expectation that everyone is going to get along someday. As Christians, we have this hope that somehow we will all eventually “line up” under correct doctrine and follow Jesus together -we will have that Kumbayah moment.
Jesus is often presented as a peacemaker and a pacifier. He is called the “Prince Of Peace” after all.
I think that title is misapplied. He came, not to make peace amongst men, but to offer Himself as the way to make peace with God.

Jesus actually creates a lot of trouble amongst men. Have you noticed? Everyone wants to quote Him, everyone wants Him to be on their side, and we always try to put Him in our little box. But He seems to stand aloof from many that would claim Him as their own.

Jesus said this: “Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division…” –Luke 12:51 He goes on to talk about how even amongst family members He causes division.

Have you ever gotten into a fight over the gospel or the implications of the gospel? Have you ever told anyone that they were simply wrong or misguided based on something that the bible is clear about? If you have, you know what this means. If you haven’t, you don’t know what the gospel means, and you haven’t embraced it’s full implications.

I’m not advocating that we get into fights about petty matters, but neither do I think we should cower from difficult battles over the important ones. The trouble for me lies in determining which battles are worth the blood loss.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 12, 2012 in My Opinion

 

Tags: , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: