Category Archives: Religion

A Journey of Self-Discovery

self-discovery“A Journey of Self-Discovery.”  I see this a lot these days in articles online.  I read it in books.  I watch it in movies.  I get to experience it watching the copious number of reality TV shows we’re bombarded with.  Ok, the last one is more like watching a continual train wreck, but you get the picture.

So… I think it’s been a while since I threw a really preachy post on my blog.  I’ve tried to hide between my (infrequent) “Jesus in the OT” studies for quite a while, just trying to slowly continue pointing to Christ.  I have a lot of thoughts stirring in my head that I know are going to come off as too preachy, and like most people, I still want to have friends out there who sort of listen to me.  Oh, who am I kidding… I only have a couple readers still out there anyway.  So, here goes… I’m going to throw one of my thoughts out here.

Every time I hear this “journey” phrase, I can’t help but think back to what the Bible tells us about “self.”  Self is sinful.  Self has the wrong motivations.  Self is against God.

18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.

Mark 10:18 (ESV)

12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

Romans 3:12 (ESV)

I already forgot to mention I even hear the phrase in churches.  Anyone ever see Joel Osteen’s book “Your Best Life Now”?  (If this is the best life now for Christians, we’re in trouble.)  Jesus Christ told us time and again this life is not about us, but about learning to deny ourselves and follow Him.

23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

Luke 9:23–24 (ESV)

Our life is to be a journey of self-denial and discovery of the One who created us.  The One who saved us from ourselves.

3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

John 17:3–5 (ESV)

That’s really all I’m going to say about this for now.  Not because that is all I think about it, but because one of the reasons for the timing of this post is that T. A. McMahon from Berean Call just wrote an article in their March newsletter on this very topic, “Self: Mankind’s Number One Problem.”  T. A. stated my thoughts far better than I could have done, and this way you don’t have to read any more of my blathering. :)  You can find the page linking to the PDF download below.

Berean Call March 2015 Newsletter

My prayer is that you will spend some of “self’s” precious time reading the 2-page article through and really taking it to heart.  There is so much more in life than self.

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Book reviews 4/21/14

Time again to review this stack of books I’ve read over the past several months so I can finally clear them off my desk to make room for more. :)

jesus_every_pageJesus on Every Page (David P. Murray)

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Given my long-term study here of Jesus in the Old Testament, I couldn’t resist picking up this book when I came across it.  I didn’t really catch much new that I hadn’t already in other studies, but I definitely think it would be a great book for anyone who wants a relatively condensed primer on how to see Jesus Christ throughout the entire Old Testament.  Just for a taste, here are the several categories he goes through in chapters throughout the book, titled “Discovering Jesus in…”

  • … the Creation
  • … the Old Testament Characters
  • … His Old Testament Appearances
  • … the Old Testament Law
  • … Old Testament History
  • … the Old Testament Prophets
  • … the Old Testament Types
  • … the Old Testament Covenants
  • … the Old Testament Proverbs
  • … the Old Testament Poems

Of course, checking that book out might also be a nice way to skip to the punchline in some areas and skip all my deep-dive blog posts.  Your call. :)

delighting_trinityDelighting in the Trinity (Michael Reeves)

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Here is another outstanding, relatively short book that is not only a primer on the Trinity, but really covers a great deal of material in an easier to read manner than other books on the nature of the one true God.  Reeves does justice to the study of the nature of God, turning what some see as a dry doctrinal subject into something we can simply dwell on and delight in.  I found some of the best parts to be the many sidetracks where he let us hear statements from several early church fathers as well as later reformers.  Another great, quick read you should check out.

christ_covenantsThe Christ of the Covenants (O. Palmer Robertson)

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Robertson does a great job working his way through the various covenants throughout Scripture, explaining the distinctiveness of each while always pointing out the unity and continuity of God’s work throughout history.  He additionally throws in a nice chapter discussing dispensationalism and some of the issues with the theological system.  The reason I end up rating this four stars instead of five is that it felt a bit too meaty for much of the book on the earlier covenants, and then ended way too quickly with little material on the new covenant inaugurated with Jesus Christ.

killing_calvinismKilling Calvinism: How to Destroy a Perfectly Good Theology from the Inside (Greg Dutcher)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

At barely over 100 pages, this book is a quick read, but it felt like it glossed too much through the issues with Calvinism as it has resurged with the “young, restless, reformed” in recent past.  Much feels filled with caricatures of Calvinists, but it does have enough good points to make it worth the read.  A couple of the chapters I appreciated most were the ways we potentially kill Calvinism “By Loving God’s Sovereignty More Than God Himself” and “By Learning Only from Other Calvinists.”  Oh, and “By Being an Arrogant Know-It-All” had some good points, but I think hit too much on the caricature picture of Calvinists.  If you wanted to learn about various viewpoints on Calvinism, you would do much better with the next two books in my list.

for_calvinismagainst_calvinismFor Calvinism (Michael S. Horton)

Against Calvinism (Roger E. Olson)

Rating: ★★★★★ 

These two books discuss Calvinism in a thorough, yet nicely condensed manner.  They also do well to note the many differences between the modern caricature representations of both Calvinism and Arminianism vs. more historical and reasonable representations of the two sides of the theological spectrum.  Both authors seem to be gracious to the other sides of the argument, though I have to admit I found it quite tiring that Olson continually described the God of Calvinism a “moral monster.”  While I may not agree with all of Calvinist theology, the frequency of that statement pretty much defeated much of his attempts to carefully steer around the caricatures.  Regardless, if you are curious at all about the debate between the two theological systems, or often find yourself in the middle of the debate, definitely check them both out.

zions_sakeFor Zion’s Sake: Christian Zionism and the Role of John Nelson Darby (Paul Richard Wilkinson)

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

I’ve linked to a video of Wilkinson’s in a previous post on “Christian Palestinianism,” which I found to be very well done.  That video led me to check out this book, and due to it’s scholarly format (i.e., in-depth and meaty), it sat around quite a while.  I’m glad I finally braved through it, because it was very meaty on the history of the topic.  I had heard of Darby through previous studies of dispensationalism, but this book had far more on his life and in-depth discussions on other theologians throughout history, including their views of God’s plan for Israel as revealed in Scripture.  I would recommend checking out the video first, and then jump at the book only if that piques your curiosity for more information.

jacob_prodigalJacob and the Prodigal (Kenneth E. Bailey)

Rating: ★★★★★ 

I really enjoyed this book.  Bailey has a unique background in that he has spent much of his life living, teaching and travelling in the Middle East.  In his book, he works through Jesus’ parables in Luke 15, including the parable of the prodigal son.  Now, I thought I had heard it all when it comes to that parable, but Bailey’s perspective was definitely a unique one, especially when viewed alongside his discussion of the other parables in the chapter.  It was a joy to read the cultural background of the area as applied to Jesus’ parables.  This is another relatively short book and is a very easy and worthwhile read.

jesus_mideast_eyespaul_mideast_eyespoet_peasantJesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, Paul Through Middle Eastern Eyes, Poet & Peasant, and Through Peasant Eyes (Kenneth E. Bailey)

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

I’m going to group these three books together as they are very similar.  In these books, Bailey continues to bring his unique perspective to bear on far more Scripture than the parables of Luke 15.  In the “Jesus” book, he covers areas such as Jesus’ birth, the Beatitudes and the Lord’s Prayer.  In the “Paul” book, he works his way through the entirety of 1 Corinthians.  In the third “two books in one,” Bailey covers much of the same ground as the prodigal book I reviewed above, though in more depth.  I would recommend you first read the prodigal book, and if you enjoy his style, move on to the Jesus book.  Only if you’re aching for more, or really want a decent 1 Corinthians commentary, go with the Paul book next.  Finally, I would actually skip the 2-in-1 book since it is much older material than his updated and nicely concise prodigal book.

dreams_visionsDreams and Visions: Is Jesus Awakening the Muslim World? (Tom Doyle)

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

We received this book from one of the missionary families we support, and I will admit I was a bit skeptical what I would find in here before reading.  Normally, I throw out most dream/vision material as possibly demonic in nature rather than from God, especially when you dig just a little under the surface and find things that conflict with God’s Word.  However, in this book, I was nicely surprised that the author provided a good amount of warning against that very thing when dealing with dream/visions.  Along with that, he documented many of those being seen by Muslims who are turning to Christ throughout the Middle East, making it clear that whether or not these are true ones from Jesus Christ, these people are at least turning dramatically to Him… which is the real importance of the events occurring there with increasing frequency.  I did find it interesting that some of these I had actually heard of before through Joel Rosenberg as well as a video from Iran Alive Ministries.


gleanings_genesisgleanings_exodusGleanings in Genesis, Gleanings in Exodus (Arthur W. Pink)

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Given my Jesus in the Old Testament study, Pink’s “Gleanings” resources have been priceless.  He has a great wealth of material within these commentaries focused on seeing Jesus Christ as the central figure of the entirety of Scripture.  While I don’t agree with all of his types of Jesus Christ found throughout Genesis and Exodus, I certainly would not have noticed as many in my personal studies that I do agree with.  I’m mentioning these now since I finally completed them as we’re already starting study of the book of Numbers this next weekend.  Perhaps one of these days I will mention all the other various books, including whole-Bible commentaries such as that of Matthew Henry, that are my go-to resources for Jesus in the Old Testament study since it will be years before I’m able to finish up.  We’ll see.  :)

feasts_lordThe Feasts of the Lord (Kevin Howard)

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Speaking of invaluable resources in my studies, Howard’s book was quite helpful in providing material beyond what I had gleaned via my own studies of the feasts laid out in Leviticus 23.  If you’ve never studied the Jewish feasts closely from the perspective of how Jesus Christ fulfills the spring feasts and how He will one day fulfill the fall feasts, you really owe it to yourself to dig further.  This would be a fantastic place to start, especially given it will probably be another year or so before I get to blogging that particular study!  :)

christ_passovermessianic_passoverpassover_haggadahChrist in the Passover (Rose Publishing)

Messianic Passover Haggadah (Barry Rubin)

Katz Passover Haggadah: The Art of Faith and Redemption (Baruch Chait)

Rating: ★★★★★ 

As part of our study through the feasts of Leviticus this winter and spring, our Bible study group decided I should perform a major deep-dive into Passover, especially given the approaching Easter season.  I was truly blessed by the study, and these are again three resources that proved priceless (in fact, the first two were quite cheap price-wise).  The first turned out to be a pamphlet on seeing Jesus Christ in the Passover tradition as well as what is found in actual Scripture.  It is small, but very worthwhile as an inexpensive primer on the subject.  The second was a small booklet, but was a great resource to guide one through a Messianic version of the Passover celebration (“Messianic” meaning taking the Jewish tradition and seeing how Jesus Christ shows up through and through).  The third was a resource to guide one through the modern traditional Jewish celebration, and yet one can still see glimpses of Jesus throughout.  The artwork of the Exodus story throughout was also very neat.  Let me know if you’re ever interested, and I will loan these out any time so you can explore the Passover celebration in-depth yourself… again, without having to wait another year for me to get around to blogging my research notes.  :)

tabernaclerose_guide_tabernacleThe Tabernacle: Shadows of the Messiah (Levy)

Rose Guide to the Tabernacle (Rose Publishing)

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Finally we come to two resources that were greatly helpful in my studies of the Tabernacle during the Exodus study of Jesus in the Old Testament.  These proved valuable in covering all the ways Jesus Christ is the true Tabernacle and how that tent of meeting in the wilderness looked forward to Him.  My friend, Bruce Shauger, provided me with a presentation including much material that was also invaluable as well, though I can’t really send you to a link for his material.  :)

Well, thanks for slogging through another set of book reviews with me.  I hope you find something here you might be interested in.  Most of these I will be keeping around, so let me know if you want to borrow any!  Until next time.

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Book reviews 11/24/13

It’s high time I threw together some book reviews today so I can clean them off my desk!

cost_discipleshipThe Cost of Discipleship (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

This book, written by anti-Nazi German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer just before WWII, sets out to evaluate the cost Jesus talks about in Luke 14:

27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?

Luke 14:27-28 (ESV)

It was a very thought-provoking read, especially coming from someone living in the proverbial lion’s den, later even taking part in a plot to assassinate Hitler for what he was doing.  The only reason I don’t rate this five stars is due to the heavy focus on works against (at the same time) finding rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ.


intolerance_toleranceThe Intolerance of Tolerance (D. A. Carson)

Rating: ★★★★★ 

D. A. Carson has become both one of my favorite authors and one of my favorite theologians over the past several years.  In fact, if you ever get the chance, check out his great God Who is There video series (we have a copy if you want to borrow it any time).  This particular book lays out a very convincing argument that today’s cult of tolerance, where we all have to be "tolerant" of each other by accepting and even at times embracing all our different beliefs without any judgment, is in fact intolerant itself.  In other words, those saying Christian beliefs are intolerant (due to the exclusivity of the claims of Jesus Christ) and therefore should not be tolerated in public forums, are simply being intolerant themselves.  Of course, my attempt at summarizing this book do not do it justice, so check it out yourself.


temple_church_missionThe Temple and the Church’s Mission (G. K. Beale)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 

Honestly, I don’t recall exactly why I put this book on my wish list.  I also don’t remember all the reasons I did not appreciate this book, as I have apparently blocked much of it from memory.  I can only recall vague, frequent thoughts of, "yeh, I’m really not buying what this guy is selling."  I would provide you some examples, but it would require me to scour the book again for several of them, and I just don’t think it’s worth the time.  Perhaps I will jot down examples as I read future books, since I tend to wait too many months between reviews!


learning_theology_fathersLearning Theology with the Church Fathers (Christopher A. Hall)

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Over the past several years, I have been spending some time here and there reading through many of the early church fathers writings, but there are so many it is often difficult to know what and who to read from on any given topic.  So, I took a shot with this book to see what kind of summary it provided.  It turned out to be a very nice summary, hand-picking several topics of Christian theology and hand-picking some writings from a couple church fathers on each of those topics.  This, of course, results in a very non-exhaustive book, yet provides a nice branching point for jumping into their original writings if interested in the topics presented in the book.  The reason I give the book four stars instead of five is that it was simply too short.  I would have much preferred additional topics as well as pointing off to additional writings for each of the topics rather than limiting to just a few of the most prominent ones.  Anyway, if you have never been interested in the writings of the early church fathers, perhaps a brief read through this introduction would spark some interest.


aquinasAquinas: A Beginner’s Guide (Edward Feser)

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

A couple years ago, I got a hold of Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica and Summa contra Gentiles in a package of Logos Bible Software resources and quickly set out to read through them.  Well, let’s just say attacking the hundreds of pages making up the first epic work before getting a short course in what I was about to read led quickly to failure.  This book was an outstanding introduction to Aquinas’ writings and how he lays out his arguments.  I now feel much better prepared for round two of taking on his life’s work.  Maybe in a couple years, I’ll let you know how that went. :)


whyWhy?: Answers to Weather the Storms of Life (Vernon Brewer)

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Vernon Brewer is the founder and president of one of my favorite Christian charities, World Help.  I happened to stumble across this organization only a couple years ago when watching an online sermon from a church, and have been fairly impressed with them since then.  Anyway, Vernon provides a good discussion regarding the question of why God lets storms enter our lives.  He has been through several himself throughout life, especially his difficult struggle with cancer, and so he is not simply some theologian developing a thesis to answer the question, but is one with plenty first-hand experience.  Definitely one to check out if you find yourself asking the same question over and over again.


archaeology_bible_vol1Archaeology of the Land of the Bible: Volume 1 (Amihai Mazar)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 

This is a fairly interesting book, providing an overview of archaeological discoveries in the land of the Bible dated theoretically between 10,000 BC and 586 BC (the time of the Jewish exile).  However, I’ve seen far more interesting material online or through archaeological magazines like Bible and Spade.  These keep me more up to date, and are much better founded in the Biblical text, as they come from organizations basing their study on the assumption that God’s Word is true.  This book did not represent that position, and was also filled with far too much detail on pottery.  Yes, that’s much of what they have to go on in terms of dating finds, but still does not seem to be compelling evidence in many cases for some of the conclusions made in archaeology.  Anyway, I would look elsewhere if you’re interested in the subject.

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False teachers

false_teachersThe other night as I was reading through the chapters on my yearly Bible reading plan, I came across a troubling event recorded in 1 Kings 13.  Here’s the passage in two parts.

1 And behold, a man of God came out of Judah by the word of the Lord to Bethel. Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make offerings. 2 And the man cried against the altar by the word of the Lord and said, “O altar, altar, thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name, and he shall sacrifice on you the priests of the high places who make offerings on you, and human bones shall be burned on you.’ ” 3 And he gave a sign the same day, saying, “This is the sign that the Lord has spoken: ‘Behold, the altar shall be torn down, and the ashes that are on it shall be poured out.’ ” 4 And when the king heard the saying of the man of God, which he cried against the altar at Bethel, Jeroboam stretched out his hand from the altar, saying, “Seize him.” And his hand, which he stretched out against him, dried up, so that he could not draw it back to himself. 5 The altar also was torn down, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign that the man of God had given by the word of the Lord. 6 And the king said to the man of God, “Entreat now the favor of the Lord your God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me.” And the man of God entreated the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored to him and became as it was before. 7 And the king said to the man of God, “Come home with me, and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward.” 8 And the man of God said to the king, “If you give me half your house, I will not go in with you. And I will not eat bread or drink water in this place, 9 for so was it commanded me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘You shall neither eat bread nor drink water nor return by the way that you came.’ ”

1 Kings 13:1-9 (ESV)

10 So he went another way and did not return by the way that he came to Bethel. 11 Now an old prophet lived in Bethel. And his sons came and told him all that the man of God had done that day in Bethel. They also told to their father the words that he had spoken to the king. 12 And their father said to them, “Which way did he go?” And his sons showed him the way that the man of God who came from Judah had gone. 13 And he said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” So they saddled the donkey for him and he mounted it. 14 And he went after the man of God and found him sitting under an oak. And he said to him, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah?” And he said, “I am.” 15 Then he said to him, “Come home with me and eat bread.” 16 And he said, “I may not return with you, or go in with you, neither will I eat bread nor drink water with you in this place, 17 for it was said to me by the word of the Lord, ‘You shall neither eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by the way that you came.’ ” 18 And he said to him, “I also am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘Bring him back with you into your house that he may eat bread and drink water.’ ” But he lied to him. 19 So he went back with him and ate bread in his house and drank water. 20 And as they sat at the table, the word of the Lord came to the prophet who had brought him back. 21 And he cried to the man of God who came from Judah, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because you have disobeyed the word of the Lord and have not kept the command that the Lord your God commanded you, 22 but have come back and have eaten bread and drunk water in the place of which he said to you, “Eat no bread and drink no water,” your body shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.’ ” 23 And after he had eaten bread and drunk, he saddled the donkey for the prophet whom he had brought back. 24 And as he went away a lion met him on the road and killed him. And his body was thrown in the road, and the donkey stood beside it; the lion also stood beside the body. 25 And behold, men passed by and saw the body thrown in the road and the lion standing by the body. And they came and told it in the city where the old prophet lived.

1 Kings 13:10–25 (ESV)

Though I’ve read through Kings several times by now, I guess I hadn’t really thought much about this particular chapter.  This time around I couldn’t help but pause and wonder more about what happened.  Here we have a prophet who hears from God and knows what God’s direction is for him.  He comes across another prophet on his way out of town who, for whatever strange reason, decides to lie to him that God had spoken different directions.  He listens to that lying prophet, disobeying God, and then God brings about the prophet’s death.  No, not the death of the lying prophet, but the "man of God" from the beginning of the chapter.  Wow.  That’s tough.

So, I got to thinking… what does this mean to us?  Is it just another "story" to read and shrug and move on, or is there more we can learn?  After all, Paul told us Old Testament events are examples to teach us lessons.

11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

1 Corinthians 10:11–13 (ESV)

If you search throughout the New Testament, you will find passage after passage dealing with the idea of false teachers.  Jesus warned us about them, Paul warned us about them, Peter warned us about them, and on and on.  Here are just a few statements.

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Matthew 7:15 (ESV)

11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.

Matthew 24:11 (ESV)

22 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect.

Mark 13:22 (ESV)

3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,

2 Timothy 4:3 (NASB)

1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

2 Peter 2:1–3 (ESV)

1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

1 John 4:1 (ESV)

These passages and others warn us to keep a lookout for false teachers, not just out there in the world, but right there "among you."  Does anyone think the church itself is safe from false teachers being in its midst?  Think again.

So, here’s what I see in 1 Kings 13.  This prophet was misled by another prophet among him.  Even though the first prophet had heard from God, knowing what He commanded him to do, he simply followed the direction of another claiming to have heard different direction from God.  Did God let that first prophet off the hook for his mistake?  No!  That’s a painful thing to read.  Are we going to be held to the same standard?  Perhaps so.  Maybe it won’t end in our death by an attacking lion, but we can certainly be led astray.  After all, Peter warns us like this.

8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8 (ESV)

So, what should the prophet have done after hearing from the second prophet?  I see two choices throughout the Old Testament.  Either hold fast to God’s original word, or inquire again after God to learn the truth.

4 But you who held fast to the Lord your God are all alive today. 5 See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 6 Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’

Deuteronomy 4:4–6 (ESV)

29 Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law! 30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me. 31 I cling to your testimonies, O Lord; let me not be put to shame! 32 I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!

Psalm 119:29–32 (ESV)

5 And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “Inquire first for the word of the Lord.”

1 Kings 22:5 (ESV)

21 For the shepherds are stupid and do not inquire of the Lord; therefore they have not prospered, and all their flock is scattered.

Jeremiah 10:21 (ESV)

Should it be any different for us?  We do not have prophets around to inquire after God, but we do have God’s Word as passed down to us in the Scriptures.  We can hold fast to that Word.  We can study it.  We can compare everything we see, everything we hear, everything we read against the Bible.  We see a great example recorded in Acts.

10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

Acts 17:10–11 (ESV)

The Bereans didn’t simply take what Paul said for granted, but compared his words against the Scriptures, and they did it daily.  Ultimately, I see that as the teaching from 1 Kings 13 for us.  We are to daily examine the teachings of the world, of our friends (yes, that includes my too-lengthy blog posts ;), of our favorite well-known Christian author/blogger, and even of our church against God’s written Word… lest we be led astray and fall into the snares of Satan’s attacks.  Don’t forget the lesson Adam & Eve learned in the garden.

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

Genesis 3:1 (ESV)

Satan meant that question for evil, and yet we can ask that question ourselves for good.  Never stop checking what you read or hear against God’s Word.  The next time you read or hear something that "tickles your ears" as Paul warned Timothy, ask yourself and find the answer to, "did God really say?"

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Fun with Wordle

One of the blogs I follow recently posted a word cloud picture for the site generated using Wordle, so I thought I’d try running my blog through it as well.  Took only a few seconds of using it to come up with the picture below.  All I had to do was point it to the website, and the Wordle applet did the rest. 


Neat way to picture the last several blog posts.  Maybe I should just create a word cloud for each post for those who want an even shorter summary.  Over the past five posts, we were talking through "Genesis," that "Jesus" is the "Christ," and that He and "God" are "one."  Oh, and there was this guy named "Jacob," too.  Yup, I guess that covers it. ;)

Oh, and the next couple words… we set out to "find" the "Lord."  Have you found Him?

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