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  • 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.

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  • Recommended Reading

OF FLAGS, STATUES, AND FOOLISHNESS

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. (George Santayana)

Ignore history at your own peril. Banning flags and tearing down statues will not hide sin; make us more righteous; or prevent hate. All this is simply the outside of the cup. Americans must change within. This is the true change that Christ promised. Anyone who believes in Jesus Christ is a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17) There is salvation in no other name. It is the gift of God confirming the love of God and those who are loved by God love one another.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (Colossians 3:12-13)

ORIGINS

The matter of origins … is absolutely critical to all human thinking.  It becomes critical to how we conduct our lives as human beings.  Without an understanding of origins, without a right understanding of origins, there is no way to comprehend ourselves.  There is no way to understand humanity, as to the purpose of our existence, and as to our destiny.  If we cannot believe what Genesis says about origins, we are lost as to our purpose and our destiny.  Whether this world and its life as we know it evolved by chance, without a cause, or was created by God, has immense comprehensive implications for all of human life.

(John MacArthur, Creation: Believe It or Not, Part 1)

 

TRAVELING ON THE GOOD WAY

Thus says the Lord: ‘Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.’ (Jeremiah 6:16, ESV)

In this age of the Global Positioning System (GPS), we may navigate our cars to any place we desire and enjoy a large measure of certainty that our GPS devices will guide us to the correct location. However, it is often not so easy to navigate the highways of life. The decisions we make in finding our way may put us far from Bunyan’s “Celestial City”.

The verse above provides wisdom for the journey of life. Where various routes meet and we are unsure of the way, we should look to the Scriptures to guide our travel. The Scriptures will lead us to Christ and salvation. This ancient book, the Bible, is the best map and directory.

Continue reading

DOUBTING CHRISTMAS?

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:4-5 ESV)

Modern culture has created a society in which skepticism and cynicism thrive. We especially see a lot of this during the Christmas season. Atheist ads tell us there is no God – “so just be good for goodness’ christmassake.” Others remind us each year that Jesus was not born on the 25th of December and that it was a pagan holiday. They don’t understand that when the early Church saw the work of Satan in the customs of the people, they aggressively set out to change and sanctify it to the glory of Jesus Christ. How many people do you know today who celebrate the holiday of Saturnalia or the festival of the Birth of the Unconquered Sun? See my point? They were not compromising with the world; they were taking the world for Christ.

In our present time, people still want to celebrate Christmas, but many do not seriously make Christmas a time to advance the cause of Christ. Too often, the impulse behind our modern Christmas is unashamed materialism. Santa, decorations and the spirit of self-indulgence have replaced the Spirit of Christ in this Christian celebration. The world continues to seduce the children of God to return to paganism. Will Christmas succumb to the darkness and become only a cultural holiday? Continue reading

FINE BUILDINGS, MUSIC, AND CARRIAGES

Charles Haddon SpurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon:

“If the professed followers of Christ happen to meet in some fine building and worship God with grand music and gorgeous rituals, then the people of the world put up with them! They may go even so far as to patronize them, though, even then, their respect is chiefly called forth, not on behalf of the people, but because of the building, the fine music and the carriages. The carriages are especially important, for without a certain number of them at the door, it is deemed impossible to have a proper display of cultured Christianity!” (1891, Sermon #2219)

Their Chief End is to become Rich

John Angell JamesJohn Angell James:

The great object of life to many professing Christians, seems to be to become rich. Their chief end does not appear to be so much to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever–as to obtain and enjoy the present world! Wealth is the center of their wishes–the invariable tendency of their desires. Jehovah is the God of their creed–but Mammon is the God of their hearts! They are devout adorers of the God of wealth.

 

The World’s Toys

 

 

John Piper (theologian)

 

John Piper:

 

“I am wired by nature to love the same toys that the world loves. I start to fit in. I start to love what others love. I start to call earth “home.” Before you know it, I am calling luxuries “needs” and using my money just the way unbelievers do. I begin to forget the war. I don’t think much about people perishing. Missions and unreached people drop out of my mind. I stop dreaming about the triumphs of grace. I sink into a secular mind-set that looks first to what man can do, not what God can do. It is a terrible sickness. And I thank God for those who have forced me again and again toward a wartime mind-set.” (Don’t Waste Your Life)

 

The Bible and Culture

Byang KatoByang Kato (1936-1975):

“It is the Bible that must judge the culture. Where a conflict results, the cultural element must give way.”

Sex and Faith

How the West Really Lost GodDr. Benjamin Wiker reviews the book, How the West Really Lost God, by Mary Eberstadt at tothesource. I encourage you to read the entire article:

From 1972 to 2002 the percentage of Americans attending church or synagogue dropped from 41% to 31%, and much of this fall is connected “by the fact that fewer adults are now married with children.” Wherever we look, we find that the destruction of the family causes or accelerates the destruction of faith. And, to note the obvious, the sexual revolution put people at odds with the moral doctrines of the faith. “The more people had sex outside of marriage, the less incentive there was to form marriages in the first place—and the more reluctance to sign on to official Christian (or similar religious) teaching in these matters. With more people living without marriage, more men and women had profound reasons to tell themselves that the Judeo-Christian moral code was out of date—and to be kindly inclined toward experts and even clergy purveying the message, as more and more men and women of the cloth would come to do.”

That last point has a most serious sting we should not miss. The very churches—the so-called mainline churches—that liberalized their sexual moral code, are the very churches who have, since the 1960s, experienced the greatest decline in numbers.

CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE HERE. . . .

Look to the Bible for Moral Guidance and for Wisdom

Dennis PragerRadio talk show host Dennis Prager:

“I first look to the Bible for moral guidance and for wisdom. I say this even though I am not a Christian (I am a Jew, and a non-Orthodox one at that). And I say this even though I attended an Ivy League graduate school (Columbia), where I learned nothing about the Bible there except that it was irrelevant, outdated and frequently immoral. I say this because there is nothing — not any religious or secular body of work — that comes close to the Bible in forming the moral bases of Western Civilization and therefore of nearly all moral progress in the world. … If not from the Bible, from where should people get their values and morals? The university? The New York Times editorial page? … The universities and their media supporters have taught a generation of Americans the idiocy that men and women are basically the same. And they are the institutions that teach that America’s founders were essentially moral reprobates — sexist and racist rich white men.”

Continue reading here. . . .

Contentment

MaterialismNow there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. (1 Timothy 6:6-8 ESV)

Humanity seems always to fall prey to the false perception that contentment is achieved by the acquisition of material possessions. A false and fleeting happiness is often promoted in our culture at the cost of finding true joy and contentment. Isn’t the purpose of the commercials we are bombarded with every day to make us discontent with what we have by promising us happiness if we purchase a new car or new clothes? Therefore, those who abide by this materialistic philosophy will often experience discontent as the newness of their latest possession begins to wear away. Are you content?

The Apostle Paul writes, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13) Paul’s attitude makes it clear that contentment cannot be entrusted to circumstances or things. The secret of his contentment was his trust in God. Paul believed that the providential care of God placed him where he needed to be and thus he found contentment and rest.

Blaise Pascal once observed that, “All the misfortunes of men spring from their not knowing how to live quietly at home in their own rooms.” Pascal is not advocating we become house bound hermits. He is pointing out that our lack of contentment is because we are dissatisfied with ourselves until we find our satisfaction in God. Christ must be our greatest treasure – our pearl of great price. Only He will satisfy the hearts of those who trust in Him.

Trust in God and you will enjoy the blessing of a contented mind. It is God’s gift to the Christian. “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5) How can we fail to find contentment in such a promise as this?

Samuel at Gilgal

Stomping on Jesus

Stomp on Jesus?Christopher White writes:

In early March, Ryan Rotela, a junior at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, refused to participate in a class exercise in which members of the class were instructed to write the name “JESUS” on a sheet of paper and then to stomp on it. When Rotela complained a few days later to university officials, he was informed he had been suspended from the class for not participating in the exercise.

In recent weeks this story has shocked the nation as reports of this story began to make its ways around local news networks and newspapers. The online website Mediate confirmed that the exercise that Rotela refused to participate in was, indeed, listed in the instructor edition of the college textbook: Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach, 5th Edition.

Continue reading this article here. . . .

The Absent Father

Absent FathersAs Robert Rector of The Heritage Foundation has shown, the best anti-poverty program is marriage:

When a child’s father is married to his mother, the probability of the child’s living in poverty drops by 82 percent.

Absent fathers don’t just harm their children economically. A father’s influence on children is documented and widely accepted. Adolescents without dads in their lives tend to exhibit more anti-social behavior. To be blunt, they get into trouble. Social science indicates that fathers play a different and complementary role to mothers in raising children, particularly sons. . . .

If American culture doesn’t honor the role of fathers, young people won’t understand the importance of young men growing up in responsibility – and young women won’t understand what to look for in a mate. Rather than honoring fatherhood, though, too often our society minimizes the importance of fathers in the home. So much so that a live-in dad is seen, at best, as optional.

Continue reading this article by Derrick Morgan. . . .

The Brain and the Bible

BrainMany people today seem to expect God to flash the answers to their problems before their eyes without having to engage the brain. What is wrong with this expectation? What role does the Bible play in this?

Changed by the Bible

Holy BibleThe Bible has changed more lives than any other book in history. Over 80% of the colleges in America were founded for the purpose of teaching God’s word and training missionaries. Many literate countries are the product of Bible-believing Christianity. Nations and individuals are blessed and prosper when the principles of the Bible are taught and followed.

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