• Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

  • Blog Stats

    • 1,389,165 Visits
  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,274 other followers

  • June 2008
    M T W T F S S
  • Recommended Reading

The Shack And Real Christianity

The Shack, by William Young is an interesting work of fiction and may be very emotionally appealing to many readers.  It is currently a very popular book having sold over a million copies.

The problem I have with The Shack is that, even though it is an entertaining work of fiction, it communicates ideas about Christianity and God that are totally without relevance to the historic Christian faith and the teachings of Scripture.  I am concerned that many, who do not read their Bibles as they should, will accept The Shack’s view of God, the Trinity, and the Christian faith as the actual teachings God is trying to communicate to us.

“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” (Revelation 22:18-19)  Young not only misrepresents some important Biblical teachings, he adds to them.  In fact, he is actually downplaying the role of the Scripture in favor of personal experiences.

What Gospel message there is; is extremely watered down.  One disturbing comment by Papa (the female godhead) in the story illustrates this: “When we three spoke ourself into human existence as the Son of God, we became fully human.  We also chose to embrace all the limitations that this entailed. Even though we have always been present in this created universe, we now became flesh and blood.” The Bible clearly does not teach this.  The Bible teaches very specifically that it was only God the Son who came to this earth as the baby Jesus.  It was God the Son that embraced the limitations, died sinless on the cross, and then rose from the dead.  Jesus (God the Son) was the lamb slain for the forgiveness of sins.

This book is no Pilgrim’s Progress (not even close)!  I cannot recommend that you read it because, among other things, it communicates ideas that lead to a low view of God and a low view of Biblical authority.  This book could be very misleading to someone unfamiliar with Christianity.

Do You Really Want To Know God?

Oh how I love your law!  It is my meditation all the day.  Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me.  I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.  I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts.  I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word.  I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me.  How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!  Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.” (Psalm 119:97-104, ESV)

Charles Spurgeon once found an old Bible with a small hole.  A worm had eaten its way through the Bible from cover to cover.  Pondering the book, Spurgeon suddenly exclaimed, “Lord, make me a bookworm like that!”

Most of us need to pray like that too.  This is because we are poor Bible students.  We really do not want to be challenged to know God too well.  To be challenged, we must be willing to seek to know God with all our hearts and minds and to eagerly learn that which we do not understand.  Challenge is the difference between milk and meat.  Most Christians want just a little of God-lite. They are afraid to get too close to God because it might reveal too much about them.  Relationships require perseverance, openness, and nurture.  The author of Hebrews puts it this way: “. . . we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:11-14, ESV)

The idea of “constant practice” is well know in sports.  Christians must understand that reading and studying the Bible – along with theology, commentaries, etc. – and spending time on our knees before God is to be our “constant practice.”  The things we do not do well, we have to constantly practice repetitiously in order to master the skill.  As Christians, we have to challenge ourselves.  This means the constant practice of reading and studying the Bible; even the areas that we do not understand well or think is over our heads.  This is a “challenge.”  We must read, study, or listen until we come to a true understanding of the concept being taught.  Thus, we learn more about God.

There is a phrase I love at the beginning of Luke 24:45.  It says, “Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. . .” Jesus opened the minds of His disciples so that they could understand the Word of God.  Do you think he will not do the same for you?  As James, the half-brother of Jesus writes, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5, ESV)

Do the words “theology” or “doctrine” intimidate you?  Theology is simply the study of the nature of God and religious truth.  It is a rational inquiry into questions about God.  Doctrine is a body of teachings and principles.  They help us to become consistent and logical in our understanding of God.  John Owens reminds us, “The foundation of true holiness and true worship is the doctrine of the gospel, what we are to believe.  So when Christian doctrine is neglected, forsaken, or corrupted, true holiness and worship will also be neglected, forsaken, and corrupted.”  Why?  Because we have failed to seek to know God.

Ronald Reagan’s 1964 Speech About National Leadership Is Still Relevant

Are You Satisfied With The Condition Of Your Heart?

“None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12, ESV)

We do not use the word “wickedness” much anymore.  Surprisingly, we do not even say much about it in church.  We do talk about love a lot and the love of Christ is truly something worth talking about.  I am afraid sometimes, however, that the love we are so glibly speaking of denies the genuine necessity of forgiveness and salvation from sin.  Wickedness is a serious matter to God.

Roger R. Nicole speaks of Christ’s view of human evil in his lecture titled, “The Doctrines of Grace in Jesus’ Teaching.” This lecture may be read in the book, Our Sovereign God: Addresses Presented to the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology, James M. Boice, editor.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, with all the concern, compassion and love which he showed to mankind, made some very vivid portrayals of man’s condition.  He did not mince words about the gravity of human sin.  He talked of man as salt that has lost its savor (Matt. 5:13) . . . as a corrupt tree which is bound to produce corrupt fruit (Matt. 7:7) . . . as being evil (Luke 11:13) . . . an “evil and adulterous generation (Matt. 12:39) . . . out of the heart proceed murders, adulteries, evil thoughts and things of that kind (Mark 7:21-23). . . .

He saw in man an unwillingness to respond to grace – “You will not come to God” (John 5:40), “You have not the love of God” (v. 42), “You receive me not” (v. 43), “You believe not” (v. 47) . . . “The world’s works are evil” (John 7:7); “None of you keeps the law” (v. 19).  “You shall die in your sins,” he says (John 8:21).  “You are from beneath” (v. 23); “Your father is the devil, who is a murderer and a liar” (vv. 38, 44); “You are not of God” (v. 47). . . .

The people who were most readily received by the Lord were those who . . . did not come to him with a sense of the sufficiency of their performance.  The people he received were those who came broken-hearted and bruised with the sense of their inadequacy.

We preach and teach the love of Christ through the Word of God.  The Holy Spirit uses preaching and teaching to save the wicked from their sins and sanctify the Christian believer.  Without the grace of God, you and I are not OK.  Without God’s grace, we are doomed to a life of selfish wickedness and an eternity in hell.  Our need for forgiveness and grace should be admitted with humility.  Repent and put your trust in Jesus Christ to escape the wrath to come.

The Politics Of Rising Gas Prices: Do You Really Want To Lower The Price Of Gas?

Now that gas is priced at more than $4 a gallon, it is beginning to cause wallet pain in many areas other than the gas pump.  Many businesses are also raising the prices of their various services and products because of rising fuel costs.  The entire transportation and airline industry are being impacted.  It is really no wonder that many people are complaining about the oil companies, especially when they hear reports of oil and gas companies making profits of $86.5 billion last year.

Oil companies are profitable, but are they unreasonably profitable considering the size of the business?  Some congressmen are now waving their socialist/fascist colors by calling for their nationalization – as if government control automatically solves any problem.  According to economist John Lott, the oil companies – over the last quarter of a century – have paid 300% more in taxes than they have made in profits.  Our elected representatives seem to have done their share to increase our prices at the pump.

Last year high-tech companies made $103.4 billion in profits and the financial services industry took in $498.5 billion.  Oil companies average making about 8.3 cents in gross profit per dollar of sales.  The electronics industry makes about 14.5 cents per dollar.  Microsoft makes 27.5 cents per dollar of sales.

Sixty per cent of U.S. oil is imported.  The governments in the Middle East, Venezuela, and elsewhere are receiving enormous financial rewards because of our dependency.  Expanding economic growth in China, India and other places has driven up the demand for oil.  Many industries fear that some future disaster may lead to an increased oil shortage, causing prices to rise even higher.  Over 700 Muslim terrorists have been arrested in the Middle East during the last six months who were planning to bomb oil installations.

Our troubling dependence upon foreign oil has been a wake-up call to the average American citizen.  How have our elected representatives responded?  We’ve heard Congressmen and Senators declare we can’t drill our way out of this oil crisis.  The secular progressive leadership of Congress has thus far refused to allow even a vote on lifting the ban on drilling.

Why isn’t finding more oil in the US and pumping it out of the ground going to provide us with greater supplies?  We are being told by our elected representatives, who are in the pockets of radical environmental groups, that pumping oil out of the ground in the US will not lower the price of gas.  It will take years they say for drilling to have any effect.  Have these guys ever heard of planning for the future?  Apparently not; Congress has taken a recess instead of taking action and opening more areas for drilling.

America’s dependence on energy from unfriendly foreign governments requires immediate action.  Yet, all we have heard from the secular progressives is that the oil companies have millions of leased acreage in the US that they are presently not drilling on.  Why is that?

Just as a farmer doesn’t try to grow potatoes on top of a boulder, the oil companies don’t drill once they believe that the needed resources are not there.  Our economic and national security is being held hostage by liberal politicians who have sold their souls to the environmental lobby.  As long as they can keep their office and power, they don’t worry about the price at the pump or grocery store.  Secular progressives from Carter to Gore to Kerry and now Obama actually want higher gas prices in order to reduce the amount of gas you use.

If this course of inaction and insanity continues, we will destroy America’s future for fear of increasing the planet’s temperature by one degree.  People have forgotten that thirty years ago the environmentalists and media told us that all the “scientific” evidence proved we were very near to a new ice age.  The inconvenient truth is that they were wrong in their pseudo-scientific predictions.  The inconvenient truth is that environmental mania has a track record of creating more disasters than preventing them.  The environmentalists have also learned that apocalyptic predictions improve their cash flow.

Will the America left behind by this generation, as a legacy to the next, be an economically strong, safe, and secure land for our descendants to flourish in?  Our current choices as a nation are making that decision now.  Radical environmentalism is now the rallying cry of elitist demagogues who once supported the failed Marxist ideology.  Short-sighted politicians must be voted out of office and replaced with statesmen who honor God, the American way of life, the Constitution, and the free enterprise system.  We need American patriots in Washington who will work to reduce the size of government – not increase its power.  Voting for candidates in the next election who oppose drilling for oil off our coasts and in the 0.01% of ANWR’s 19 million acres is like voting to commit national suicide.  Our children and their children will become the economic slaves of other nations whose political forces seek to wreak America’s destiny.

We need time to develop rational and economical alternatives to fossil fuels.  In the meantime, lifting the various bans off of drilling and changing the laws regarding the development of nuclear energy and building refineries will do much to enhance our national security and economic future.  We need to elect candidates to the US Senate and House who will ensure that future.  Even the Governor of Alaska and its citizens are calling for more drilling in their state.  Today – Friday, June 27th – the leaders of the House and Senate turned their backs on the needs of the American people in order to take a vacation.  Meanwhile, the price of oil continued to rise today and many American families will not be able to take their vacation trip this year.

A Defining Congressional Moment

A coalition of Republican and Democratic lawmakers have joined together to create the House’s first Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Caucus.  52 House representatives signed on as members of the new caucus, including two Republicans.  The caucus’ purpose is said to be to extend “equal rights” to gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgenders.

Basically, after doing away with most laws that identify the practitioners of these sexually deviant practices in the past as criminals – this caucus wants to make it illegal to say these practices are immoral.  This would mean that if you called homosexuality a sin and immoral, you could be charged with a civil rights’ hate crime.  Immorality will be given rights.

Are You Waiting On The Lord?

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:30-31, ESV)

Do you grow impatient with God sometimes?  I know I do.  After all, no one wishes to wait when they believe they have “important matters” that need to be taken care of.  We live in an “instant answer” culture.  What we expect, we expect immediately.  We live by our own self-centered priorities.

Waiting requires submission to God’s Word, God’s Will, and God’s Ways.  Murmuring, complaining, and impatience are contrary to this process. Our obsession with pleasing self results in weariness.  Waiting on God, however, results in a prosperous spirit – “renewed strength.”  Divine power overshadows our weakness as we “wait for the Lord.”

Waiting on the Lord requires self-discipline and dependence.  Patience is difficult but our own powers are insufficient to carry out God’s plan and purpose for our lives.  Paul writes, Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, ESV)  We need to be strong enough to cast aside our own self-sufficiency in order to receive overcoming strength by our dependence on the Lord.  This is the only way to the real power we all need for living.  This strength comes only by waiting for the Lord.

%d bloggers like this: