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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Third Year

"Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!
"So Jesus told them this story: 'If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.' In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!'
"'Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, 'Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.' In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.'"

~Luke 15:1-10 New Living Translation (NLT)


   Today marks the three year anniversary of The Evidence is Plain: Thoughts and Musings on Christianity. Over the past three years God has been using this blog as a means of delivering His Good News
the Gospel of Jesus Christ all over the world. It has been an interesting journey to say the least, but God has always been there, reaching out, searching for those who are lost, calling them to Himself. 
    It has truly been a blessing to be a part of His work, thus far. But the work is far from over. There are still millions of people who have not yet heard the Good News. And I am eager to see what God will do in the future. 


"And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations
 will hear it; and then the end will come."

~Matthew 24:14 New Living Translation (NLT)


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Monday, March 13, 2017

Sacred Marriage




"... For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord.
 For a husband is the head of his wife as is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.
"For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. And we are members of his body.
"As the Scriptures say, 'A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.' This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband."
~Ephesians 5:22-33 New Living Translation (NLT)

     All throughout the New Testament, God uses the sacred union of man and wife as an illustration of His love for us who are called by His name. It is a beautiful illustration, and if you grew up in the church you have probably heard it used more times than you can remember. But have you ever stopped to wonder why the authors of the New Testament used marriage as an analogy for the relationship between Christ and the church? If not, that's perfectly fine. I didn't really give it much thought either. Until I married my wife, that is.

     Ever since I was young I had heard it said that men and women think differently. And indeed it is true, the minds of women are complex, multi-tasking machines that can think of multiple concepts, and feel multiple emotions at once; while the male mind is generally much more regimented—we compartmentalize our thoughts and feelings, focusing most, if not all, of our mental energy on a single task or thought until the task is completed or the thought is fully exhausted. We then put it out of our mind and move on to something else.

     The difference in the mental processes between men and women has been attributed to the fact that the longitudinal fissure (the deep grove separating the right and left hemispheres of the brain) is much shallower in women, thus allowing the left and right hemispheres of their brains to communicate much more easily than those of their male counterparts. This biological difference is what gives women their incredible multi-tasking abilities, while at the same time granting men the ability to compartmentalize their thoughts and emotions.
    This means that my wife may still be thinking about something long after I've moved on to something else, and that she might continue to dwell on it until the issue is adequately resolved--which may be days, weeks, or sometimes even months later. I, on the other hand, usually seem to forget about things as soon as the conversation is over, because in my mind, the issue is resolved.
     More often than not, this difference in the way our minds work has lead my wife and I into many  late-night conversations, during which my wife has had to patiently explain to me all of the details of when the issue first occurred so that I can go through my mental filing cabinet and remember what it was we were talking about in the first place. Most of the time, when all is said and done, I find out that all she really wanted was a hug and to hear me say: "I love you."

    Even though I knew of these biological and mental differences between men and women, it was not until I was a few months into my marriage that I began to understand their true significance in the grand scheme of things.

    The way that women can remember details and emotions (both negative and positive) long after the events actually happened is very reminiscent of how we all remember every mistake we've ever made. We know we are sinners, and we can easily let ourselves dwell on the shortcomings of our past. Yet God has said that we are loved, that He has forgiven us, and that He no longer remembers our sins after we give our lives to Him. (Psalms 103:12, Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 8-10 etc.)

    This is one of the reasons I feel that God used marriage as an illustration for His relationship with his people throughout scripture. He loves us unconditionally and has forgiven us through Jesus Christ. He no longer remembers the sins of those who have put their trust in Him because of what Jesus has done for us. We no longer need to dwell on things that have passed, nor do we need to remember the sins God has cleansed us of. We are blameless in His sight, a bride dressed in white waiting for her groom. (Revelation 19:6-9)

     That said, because marriage is a picture of God's love and forgiveness for those who will trust in Him, our enemy the Devil will stop at nothing to destroy marriage—it is an affront to him and his agenda. In the past few decades, he has grown increasingly bold in his attacks against marriage, seeking to destroy families by marring and redefining this symbol of God's love by any means necessary.

    Therefore, we must be willing to stand up and fight to defend this sacred union between husband (man) and wife (woman) by living out our own marriages the way God intended. (Ephesians 5:22-33, 1 Peter 3:1-7) We must also remember to pray for one another, and for our own spouses. If your marriage is in danger don't surrender—fight! Divorce is lawful only in the case of marital unfaithfulness, and even then God meant for it to be be used as a last resort, not a quick and easy way out. Giving up on each other is never an option in God's eyes. (Matthew 5:32, Mark 10:1-12, Luke 16:18) So if your marriage is in trouble, don't get a divorceget help, and get help togetherThe last thing you want to do is let your marriage become another notch in the Devil's belt.

   









Saturday, February 4, 2017

The Greatest of Missed Opportunities


A few weeks ago, my wife and I had an incredible opportunity to sit down and talk with one of my co-workers about Christ. The young woman I work with was scrolling through her Facebook feed one day when she came across one of the articles I had shared from this blog: What Makes a Person a Christian? She contacted me shortly thereafter and asked if it would be possible to meet and talk more in person.

Now, even though I've been writing articles on Christianity for almost three years, I have rarely engaged people in face-to-face conversations about my faith. In fact, most of the conversations I have had in the past have mostly consisted of me listening to others explain why they don't believing in "organized religion," and have therefore been very one-sided to say the least. Suffice it to say, I initially interpreted this young woman's interest with skepticism. However, I soon realized that she was indeed interested, not only in asking questions about my faith, but also in listening to what I had to say. (When a person arrives at a meeting with notes and questions prepared ahead of time, you know they're interested!)

About halfway through what ended up being a three-hour conversation, we began discussing the topic of salvation and what makes a person right with God. I explained that the Bible teaches us that it isn't about what we can do for God that makes us righteous, but rather what He has done for us; that we are all sinners who can never be good enough to make ourselves right with God, and that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, not by being a good person or reading the bible or going church on Sunday. We also talked about the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-25) and how Christians are not saved by the way we live, but rather live the way we do out of a grateful heart because we have been saved. (We follow God out of love and therefore our lives change as a result.)

After we had discussed these things for about an hour or so she said something that really struck me. She said: "This makes a lot of sense … I feel like this is how things are supposed to be. But why haven't I heard this before? I'm 26 years old and no one has ever explained it (Christianity) to me like this. It's so simple! Why isn't anyone talking about this?"

It was a very good question, and to be quite honest, it was not one that I was prepared for. Here was a young woman who had grown up in small town America, surrounded by churches and Christians, and yet had never heard the Gospel—the Good News about Jesus Christ.

After thinking about it for a moment, I said at last, "I'm not sure ... I guess a lot of it has to do with our culture. People assume that others don't want to talk about religion, so often times we just keep it to ourselves."

Sadly, I feel that too often this is indeed the case. We who have been entrusted with sharing the Good News about Jesus Christ to the whole world fall silent when it comes to those closest to us. We feel that people living in our culture today don't want to hear about God. But I now feel that nothing could be farther from the truth. Yes, there will be those in our lives who will oppose the truth. But there will also be those like this young woman who not only want to talk about "religion," but also want to hear the truth of what God has done for them. Like the Bible says:

 "For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, 'Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.' Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. For 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'
"But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, 'How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!'"
~Romans 10:10-15 New Living Translation (NLT)

The greatest of missed opportunities is the opportunity standing right in front of us—the unsaved people God has placed in our lives. But be encouraged Christian; God is with us! His spirit is going before us to prepare the way for His Gospel. The harvest is ripe, but the workers are few, and we all need to be willing to go into the fields and do the work God has planned for us. (Matthew 9:35-38)


Related Article:

Go Therefore







Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Of Church and State

"Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.

"Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do. Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority."
~Romans 13:1-7 New Living Translation (NLT)

"Dear friends, I warn you as 'temporary residents and foreigners' to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.

"For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority—whether the king as head of state, or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right.

"It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king."
~1 Peter 2:11-17 New Living Translation (NLT)

There has been much said these past few weeks in regards to the recent election of President Donald J. Trump. Some Americans are outraged; others are overjoyed, while still others are cautiously optimistic. Yet in the midst of all the hysteria and rancor one thing remains certain: God is in control. He has a plan, and what He has planned will come to pass whether we want it to or not.

That being said and regardless of your opinions on the new President of the United States, if you call yourself a Follower of Christ then you are duty-bound to pray for our leaders and respect them. Whether they are godly or godless, they are still God's anointed. (1 Timothy 2:1-6, 1 Samuel 24, 1 Samuel 26)

When the Apostles Paul and Peter wrote about submitting to the authorities in the scriptures, they were speaking to people suffering horrific persecution under the Roman Empire. At that time, calling yourself a Christian would undoubtedly result in arrest, torture, and death. Yet even in the face of injustice, the early Church was told to submit to the authorities, to pray for them, and to show them respect.

Ultimately both Apostles would lose their life as a result of the gospel—Paul was beheaded in prison and Peter was crucified—yet they never denied Christ, nor did they rescind God's Word.

Therefore, as Followers of Christ, we are to submit to those God has appointed to rule over us. We are to pray for them and show them proper respect as God's anointed, regardless of how we feel about them.

That said; let us be mindful of the words we speak. For Jesus himself said, "... If you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell ... I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak." (Mathew 5:22, 12:36 New Living Translation)

"Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you. You live this way already, and we encourage you to do so even more. " 
~1 Thessalonians 4:1 New Living Translation (NLT)

Related Articles:


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Tax the Church?



Once again it is the political season here in the United States, and with only one week remaining until the 2016 elections there has been much talk of values, presidential candidates, and amendments to our national and state constitutions. One particular topic that I have had the privilege of debating lately has been the issue of whether or not the Church should be taxed.

Currently, churches in America are classified as non-profit organizations, and are therefore tax-exempt. However, since the Church is often viewed as a "religious institution," there are many who feel that the government should revoke the Church's non-profit status. These individuals often believe that it is wrong for any religion to take their money, to which I would agree. According to the Bible, tithes and offerings are just that—offerings. That is to say, they are meant to be voluntary, not mandatory. (I go over this in greater detail in my previous article: Money and the Church

That being said and contrary to popular belief, most churches are not government funded; they are funded by the donations of their members, not your tax dollars. Which is why I find it so fascinating that those who are the strongest advocates for taxing churches often times have never stepped foot in a church themselves, much less given a tithe or donation to the church. Ergo: Their money is not going to the churchor any religious institution for that matter. Which begs the question: Why do people care so much what other people do with their own money, when it's really none of our concern? If our neighbors want to donate to their church then that's completely up to them. What right do we have to tell them they can't or shouldn't do what they feel lead to do?

That being said, some would argue that tithes and offerings are just a way for religion to rob people. However, as stated before, these offerings are voluntary, and are usually a small percentage of what a person actually makes. (The word "Tithe" literally means "One-tenth.") Furthermore, since churches are classified as non-profit organizations, this means that any tithe or offering given to a church automatically becomes tax-deductible. This means that anyone who gives money to their church can claim that money as a tax write-off, just as they would any other donation to a charity or non-profit organization. (This is of course a poor reason to donate to your church, but it is a valid argument against taxing churches.)

Additionally, most of the people I know—including myself—base their tithe on their gross income. That is to say, their ten-percent tithe comes out of their income before taxes. This means that if the government begins to tax the Church, they will literally be taxing Christians twice; once when they tax our income, and again when they tax our churches. 

In short, stripping the Church of its non-profit status will essentially turn Christians into a cash-cow for government spending. The government would be able to tax Christian's twice, while at the same time penalize people who donate to their local churches by invalidating the tax-deductible status of the aforementioned donations. Thus the government would be able to use a person's faith to their advantage, doubling the tax revenue from Christians without having to give any of it back as a tax return. Not only is this course immoral and unethical, it is also a blatant violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. 

That being said, I hope you will consider the facts and weigh all the evidence before casting your vote this political season.











Saturday, September 17, 2016

Debunked: Jesus vs. Mithras


Jesus:

1) Born of a virgin

2) Born in a cave/stable. Was placed in a manger. Birth heralded by angles and a star in the east. Was visited by three magi. 

3) Worshiped by his followers on Sunday, "The Lords Day" instead of on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath.

4)
 Had twelve disciples.

5) Was a child-teacher in the Temple at age 12.

6) Had a 3 year ministry as a traveling teacher. Preached a "Sermon on the Mount," was Transfigured.

7) Performed many miracles, cast out demons, raised the dead, and walked on water, etc.

8) Crucified between two criminals, buried for three days, rose from the dead.

9) Called by many Messianic titles. ie. "the Lamb of God," "Messiah", "The way, the truth, and the life," "Son of Man," "God's Son." etc.

10) Came to die sacrificially in order to fulfill the Law for the redemption of mankind. 






Mithras:


1)  Born out of a rock. Not only was he not "virgin born", he was not even born of a living thing.

2) As stated above, Mithras was not born. Therefore there was no manger, star, or magi in any of the Mithra narratives. However, his followers did celebrate his "birth" on December 25th. That being said, Christ's birth most likely occurred some time between late spring and early autumn, based on scriptural evidence. (ie. shepherds staying with their flocks in open pasture overnight.) It was not until the mid 330s AD that "Christmas" began to be celebrated on December 25th. 

3) Mithras was worshiped on Sunday only by members of the Roman Mithraic traditions in the cult's later years, well after New Testament times and the establishment of Christianity. (ca. 155-300 AD)

4)  There is no mention of any disciples in Mithraic tradition. However there is one depiction of him surrounded by the twelve signs of the Zodiac Calendar. That being said, this iconography and indeed the Cult of Mithra itself, originated in post-Christian times, and therefore did not inspire the depiction of Christ and his disciples. Rather, the founders of Mithraism plagiarized themes and existing iconography found in Christianity, and incorporated them into their "Mystery Cult."  

5) Was never a child-teacher. In fact, there is no mention of him being a teacher at all. 

6) Had no ministry to speak of. 

7) Mithras undoubtedly performed many miracles, like any ancient deity. However there is virtually no record of any such miracles ever being preformed. The few miracles and "great deeds" we do know of however, do not coincide with any miracle preformed by Jesus Christ.  

8) There is no evidence in any Mithraic tradition of Mithras ever dying, much less a crucifixion. The only evidence of an alleged "resurrection" is recorded by the ancient historian Tertullian, who records that members of the Mythras Cult reenacted resurrection scenes as part of their secretive rituals. But this took place long after Christianity had been established. (ca. 150-240 AD ) That being said, we know more about the post-Christian practices of the Cult of Mithras than we do their actual beliefs!

9) Was not called by any Messianic titles except for "mediator." However, unlike Jesus, Mithras did not mediate on behalf of sinners, but rather between the squabbling gods of good and evil in Zoroastrianism. That being said, Mithras was a sun-god, and therefore was often associated with the sign Leo in astrology. So one could argue that he does have some connection with lion iconography, though he is never once referred to as "lion and lamb."

10) Mithras did not die sacrificially. Nor did he die for the redemption of mankind. In fact, Mithras did not die at all. The only time Mithras did anything to "save humanity" was when he killed a mythological bull (the Tauroctony), which later became the source of all life on earth. Furthermore, according to Mithraic tradition, when Mithras' time on earth had ended, he returned to paradise in a chariot, alive and well. He was not buried, and did not rise from the dead.



Conclusion: 

Jesus is not based on Mithras.



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Is Jesus a myth?

What is Mithraism?


Related Articles on this Blog:

Debunked: Jesus vs. Horus

Mythology and the Messiah


Friday, September 16, 2016

Debunked: Jesus vs. Horus




Jesus:

1) Born of a virgin.

2) Born in a cave/stable. Was placed in a manger. Birth heralded by angles and a star in the east. Was visited by three magi. 

3) Was baptized at age 30 by John the Baptizer. John the Baptizer was later beheaded.

4) Had twelve disciples.

5) Was a child-teacher in the Temple at age 12.

6) Had a 3 year ministry as a traveling teacher. Preached a "Sermon on the Mount," and was Transfigured.

7) Performed many miracles, cast out demons, raised the dead, and walked on water.

8) Crucified between two criminals, buried for three days, rose from the dead.

9) Called by many Messianic Titles. ie. "The Lamb of God," "Messiah", "The way, the truth, and the life," "Son of Man," "God's Son." etc.

10) Came to die sacrificially in order to fulfill the Law for the redemption of mankind. 





Horus:

1) Was born out of a sexual union between Isis (the name "Isis-Meri" is not found anywhere in Egyptian mythology) and Osiris. He was not "born of a virgin."

2) Was born in a swamp on the Nile Delta. There is no mention of angles, a manger, magi, or star in any Horus narrative.

3) Was never baptized. No one named "Anup the Baptizer" exists in Horus Mythology.

4)  Had four regular disciples, (Heru-Shemsu) sixteen temporary followers (mentioned only once) and an indeterminate number of followers who joined him in battle at one point in the narrative. (Mesnui) He did not have twelve disciples. 

5) No effort is made in the narrative to give us continuous, chronological information on Horus' childhood. He did not teach in any temple at age 12.

6) Had no ministry. He never preached a "Sermon on the Mount", and was never Transfigured.  

7) Performed some miracles (like all ancient gods) but never cast out demons, raised the dead, or walk on water at any point in the ancient narrative.

8) Was never crucified. In fact, in most of the Egyptian myths, Horus never "died" at all. He lost an eye in a battle with his uncle Set in one account, and merged with Re/Ra (the Sun God) in another. In this account Horus "dies" and is "reborn" each day with the setting and rising of the sun. 
Another, more obscure version of the story says that he was killed, cut into pieces and thrown into the Nile, only to be fished out by a crocodile on behalf of his mother, Isis. (Much like the Osiris myth.) That being said, there is no no death, three-day burial, or resurrection to be found in any Horus myth.

9) No Messianic Title was ever used in regard to Horus. ie. "The way, the truth, and the life," "Messiah," "Lamb of God," "Son of Man," etc. He was instead known as the "Great God," "Master of Heaven," "Chief of Powers," and "Avenger of his Father." (Osiris)
(The Egyptian word "krst" means "Burial" and is not a title at all. While the word "isua" which supposedly means "Holly Child" dose not even exist in ancient Egyptian, and is therefore not found in any of the Horus myths.)

10) There was no Egyptian "Law" for Horus to fulfill. He did not die sacrificially, if he even died at all (see 8.)


Conclusion:

Jesus is not based on Horus.


*     *     *     *     *     *     *

Sources: 








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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Mythology and the Messiah




    When I first began researching ancient mythology for this article I was writing under the impression that many pagan myths paralleled the life of Christ; the miraculous events surrounding his birth, ministry, death, and ultimate resurrection. The reason for my assumption was obvious: virtually everyone, including historians, authors and mainstream archaeologists, seemed to be drawing the same conclusion: that the biblical authors plagiarized ancient themes of redemption, victory over evil, and salvation, from the myths of old. Indeed, I didn't have to look very far to find articles, books, and even a few History Channel and National Geographic specials to support this claim.
    However, upon closer examination of the myths in question, I soon discovered that much of the alleged evidence used to support these pseudo-messianic theories is circumstantial at best, or otherwise nonexistent.
    Suffice it to say, I was dumbfounded by just how many people were being deceived by those who are attempting to use mythical parallels as evidence against Christianity.
    That being said, while historically unfounded, the basis for the plagiarism hypothesis seems obvious: Christianity originated in the First Century AD, long after the old beliefs had all but faded from existence. Therefore, Christianity must have borrowed ideas from other religions.

    At first glance, the logic of this argument seems sound. However, upon further study, it soon becomes clear that the plagiarism hypothesis is in fact a poat-hoc fallacy that not only ignores historical and cultural evidence to the contrary, but also crucial counter-evidence found in the scriptures themselves.

    According to the book of Genesis, there was a time when all mankind knew about God. They did not necessarily worship Him, but they at least knew of Him.
    For example: Genesis 4 recounts the story of Cain and Able–both of whom made offerings to the Lord (Yahweh/Jehovah) thousands of years before the Old Testament Law was written. Likewise, Noah also built an alter and made sacrifices to the Lord after exiting the Ark in Genesis 8:20.
    In Genesis 4:26 we are told that "...people first began to worship the Lord (Yahweh/Jehovah) by name." While Genesis 14:17-20, speaks of a meeting between Abrahamthe first of the Old Testament Patriarchs, and father of the Jewish Nation–and a Canaanite named Melchizedek, who is identified as the King of Salem (that is, Jerusalem) and a priest of the Most High God.

    All that to say, there is strong evidence from the early biblical text to support the notion that at least some of the ancient peoples of Mesopotamia were worshiping the Hebrew God, Yahweh/Jehovah at least 430 years before the Jewish religion ever existed.

    That said, this conclusion is also based in part on what some might consider to be another post-hoc fallacythe belief that ancient, pagan religions based their mythologies on historical events from the biblical record, because the biblical record states that these events took place before the pagan religions began. However, if one attempts to use this argument to dismiss the biblical record, then one must also be willing to apply the same logic to the rest of history. After all, every history book in existence was written long after the events they record actually took place, and generally hold to an interpretation of history that favors those who wrote them. (History is written by the victor after all.) Yet, despite this admittedly biased representation of historical evidence, most historical documents are widely accepted, while the Bible is generally dismissed without so much as a second thought.
     However, if the Bible is indeed an historically accurate document that truthfully records the dawn of human civilization, then the aforementioned conclusion is no longer in error, and is in fact highly plausible.
    If this is indeed true, and the biblical record is historically accurate, then it is not outside the realm of possibility for ancient societies to share a common mythology. This is especially significant when you stop to consider the fact that, like the rest of the Old Testament, Genesis is filled with Messianic Prophesiesall of which would be fulfilled by Jesus Christ some 2000 years later.
   
    The first of these Messianic Prophesies is recorded in Genesis 3:15:

 "And I will cause hostility between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and her offspring.
He will strike your head,
    and you will strike his heel."


~ Genesis 3:15 NLT (New Living Translation) 

    This one prophesywhich predates both Judaism and Christianity by thousands of years in the biblical timelineis enough to form the foundation of every alleged pseudo-messianic myth from Adonis to Zoroaster. Therefore one could easily argue that Judaism and Christianity did not borrow their inspiration from ancient, pagan religions, but rather the ancient, pagan religions created their mythology based on a prophesy given to mankind by the Most High God when sin first entered the world.
    However, as previously stated, mostif not allof these alleged similarities are not ancient at all, but are in fact post-Christian and/or modern fabrications. (ie. the Horus-Jesus Myth.)

    In short, any parallels that may exist between ancient mythology and the Bible can be attributed to the fact that mankind once knew of God; they had heard of the coming Messiah, but slowly lost sight of God's promise as truth gave way to myth. But unlike the vague prophecies and myths of paganism, God's prophecies were specific and to the point, and were ultimately fulfilled by the only true Messiaha man named Jesus, in the year 33 AD.
    The old religions, along with their mythologies, are all but forgotten. Yet Jesus, the stone the builders rejected, has become the cornerstone of a church that will never be overcome. (Matthew 16:18, Acts 4:11-12)


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Friday, September 2, 2016

Go Therefore




"'Son of man,' he said, 'I am sending you to the nation of Israel, a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me. They and their ancestors have been rebelling against me to this very day. They are a stubborn and hard-hearted people. But I am sending you to say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says!’ And whether they listen or refuse to listen — for remember, they are rebels — at least they will know they have had a prophet among them.

"'Son of man, do not fear them or their words. Don’t be afraid even though their threats surround you like nettles and briers and stinging scorpions. Do not be dismayed by their dark scowls, even though they are rebels. You must give them my messages whether they listen or not. But they won’t listen, for they are completely rebellious! ..."

"... Then he said, 'Son of man, go to the people of Israel and give them my messages. I am not sending you to a foreign people whose language you cannot understand. No, I am not sending you to people with strange and difficult speech. If I did, they would listen! But the people of Israel won’t listen to you any more than they listen to me! For the whole lot of them are hard-hearted and stubborn. But look, I have made you as obstinate and hard-hearted as they are. I have made your forehead as hard as the hardest rock! So don’t be afraid of them or fear their angry looks, even though they are rebels."

 "Then he added, 'Son of man, let all my words sink deep into your own heart first. Listen to them carefully for yourself. Then go to your people in exile and say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign Lord says!' Do this whether they listen to you or not.'"

~Ezekiel  2:3-7, 3:4-11 New Living Translation (NLT)



As I've been reading through Ezekiel, the one thing that has really stood out to me is just how relevant the writings of this Old Testament prophet are given the chaos and moral decay of today's society.

Just as in Ezekiel's day, many of our nations have turned their backs on God. Our people — my people — are rebelling against Him and His laws just as the children of Israel did during the Babylonian Exile. (ca. 597/581 BC)  And just as in the days of Ezekiel, I feel that God is calling the Church to stand up and and deliver His message of salvation to our own people — the hard-hearted and rebellious nations living in open defiance of Him and His word. 

Think about this for a moment: what do you think would happen if the Church spent just as much time and effort on reaching their local communities as they do on foreign missions? 

If we the Church — the unified Body of Christ — took the Great Commission seriously and began making disciples of all nations, including our own, do you think we would see a change in our communities, countries, and maybe even the world as a whole?

If we stopped isolating ourselves and started investing our time in building relationships with our unsaved neighbors, showing them the Gospel by the way we live, instead of pushing them away with our hypocrisy, do you think that maybe, just maybe, they would be more inclined to listen to us when we tell them about our faith? (1 Peter 2:12, 3:13-17)

In my community of 20,000 people, there is a church on virtually every street corner. Yet, like most of the United States, many of the people in my town are un-reached. Despite the fact that they have ample access to the scriptures, Biblical ignorance is everywhere. Indeed, few people know the difference between the Iliad and the Old Testament! Most don't know anything about Jesus' teachings, or what Christians believe, aside from what they hear from the media or see on the internet. Many think that they will go to heaven because they've read parts of the Bible, believe in God, are a "good person" or go to church from time to time. And most of the people I've talked to about my faith don't want anything to do with "man-made religion" because the few churches that do attempt local missions go about it the wrong way, and end up pushing people away from God.

It is shameful. We pray for revival, yet few of us actually do anything about it. Instead, we look at all of the wickedness in our world and complain about how bad things are, while at the same time holding to the notion that if we just elect the right person to make the right laws, we can get our country back on track. Do we honestly think that electing a godly leader will fix our nation when the hearts of the people are far from God?

What if instead of trusting in elected officials to fix the social problems and spiritual decay in our world, we examined ourselves; purifying our hearts before God by asking God to reveal anything in our lives that may be interfering with our ability to effectively serve Him. If we ask God to make us able to serve Him and allow Him to prune our hearts, He will use us to change the world. (John 15:2)

The time is now, Christian. Whether you like it or not, you became a missionary the moment you surrendered your life to Christ. You are now Christ's ambassador, the salt and light of the world. (2 Corinthians 5:20Matthew 5:13-16) There's a mission field is right outside your front door; an entire nation in need of God. The harvest is great, but the workers are few. (Luke 10:2-3) So fulfill your calling and go!


"'...I (Jesus) have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.'"

~Matthew 28:18-20 New Living Translation (NLT)

Friday, July 15, 2016

Don't Be Afraid, I Am With You!

"Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone. 

"Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, 'It’s a ghost!'"
"But Jesus spoke to them at once. 'Don’t be afraid,' he said. 'Take courage. I am here!'

"Then Peter called to him, 'Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.'

"'Yes, come,' Jesus said.

"So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. 'Save me, Lord!' he shouted.

"Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. ‘You have so little faith,' Jesus said. 'Why did you doubt me?'"


~Matthew 14:22-31New Living Translation (NLT)

    In this age of uncertainty and fear—amid all of the chaos of a world gone mad—it is easy for us to lose focus. Like Jesus' disciples, we forget that Jesus is control no matter the circumstances. We feel overwhelmed by the storm raging around us, and are terrified by it. But what we must remember is that Jesus is in control. 
    In the passage above, Jesus was the one who told his disciples to take the boat back to Capernaum. The disciples were doing God's will when the storm started. Jesus wasn't surprised by this. The storm didn't catch him off guard. Mark 6:48 says that Jesus was watching the disciples from the hilltop. Even in the midst of chaos, God was still watching over His people. And what was it Jesus said to his people when he came to them? "Don't be afraid. Take courage, I am here!" Or more accurately: "...the I Am is here!"  (See Exodus 3:13-15)

    God is always with us. He will never leave us, and He is always in control—no matter how hopeless our circumstances may seem. That is why He tells us not to be afraid. The phrase "Do not be afraid" appears 365 times in God's Word; once for every day of the calendar year. So the next time you are feeling overcome with fear and uncertainty, remember: God is with us. When the worries of this life and the struggles of living in this fallen world seem too much to bear remember: Jesus Christ has overcome the world. (John 16:33)

    The I Am is with us. And if our God is with us, whom then shall we fear? 
    (Psalm 27)