Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category

2 Timothy 2 Published

Friday, August 29th, 2008

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Actos

2 Timothy 2 has finally been published!

I have spent the last two days updating the program that converts the export from my Bible software into web pages. I wrote the program in Visual Basic 6 years ago, and have made improvements almost every time I have published a new chapter. This time required a lot more work because I had redesigned the web site in the interim, and I needed to incorporate those changes into the software.

I had run the conversion program from my laptop in the past, but my new laptop has Vista on it, which is incompatible with VB6. I installed Visual Basic 2008 on Vista, but when I converted the program, there were a lot of errors resulting from many fundamental incompatibilities between VB6 and VB2008. Oh well. I doubt I will want to take the time to reprogram this for an upgrade. For now, I have Windows XP on my desktop, and will run the conversions from there.

I look forward to working on the next chapter: 2 Timothy 3!

Enjoy, and God bless,
John

Re: Marijuana and Alcohol Questions

Sunday, September 5th, 2004

Question from an anonymous e-mail:

I was just wondering.. what does the Lord think of people who use Marijuana? Does he shun it? What about alcohol?

My reply:

Hi,

Thanks for writing me. I hope to help you with your questions.

The Bible does speak about alcohol use. People in the Bible, including Jesus, drank alcoholic beverages. Wine was a very common drink both at celebrations and in everyday life – especially when potable water was unavailable. Jesus turned water into a fine wine at a wedding celebration at the beginning of His ministry and shared wine with His disciples at the Last Supper. So God does not shun people for drinking alcohol. What He prohibits is becoming inebriated. God made us to be reasonable and intelligent beings, but when we are intoxicated, our judgment becomes impaired, our inhibitions to do bad things is lowered, and we are more likely to harm others and ourselves. In the United States, many churches take a strong stand against alcohol because in our culture drinking is practically equated with getting drunk. This is generally reinforced by the apostle Paul’s admonition not to do something that might hinder others from seeking God. In short, consuming alcohol is fine before God as long as one does not become impaired. Under some circumstances, however, it is wise to refrain from drinking altogether if it will help someone else.

Marijuana and other drugs are not explicitly dealt with in the Bible, but it is reasonable to apply the same reasoning process to it. If a substance is going to impair your thinking abilities, then do not do it. There is another aspect of this issue, though. Marijuana and several other drugs are generally illegal to own or use. Christians are expected to follow the laws of the land, and should not participate in illegal activities of any sort, including drug abuse.

However, the overarching principle of salvation has little to do with alcohol and drug use. There are many people who have not consumed either of these substances, but that does not mean that they will go to heaven. There are also people who have abused both, but will be with God forever. This is because we do not earn heaven by our behavior. Heaven is a gift we receive from God when we trust in Jesus Christ. He died on the cross for all our sins, whether they include substance abuse, sexual misconduct, robbery, or any number of other things. When a person admits he has sinned (that is, he has done things that God does not approve of) and asks Jesus to forgive him, the guilt and eternal consequences of our sins are taken away. God then begins to live inside the believer in the form of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit works with our conscious to improve our behavior and overcome our addictions. Our focus turns away from pleasing ourselves all the time and toward pleasing God and loving people. No one will ever be perfect in this life, but Jesus already paid the penalty for the believer’s sins. The believer establishes an ongoing and growing relationship with God through Bible study, prayer, and fellowship with other believers.

I am not sure what your particular situation is, but if you would like to know more about becoming a Christian (I am assuming from your note that you are not – please pardon me if I am mistaken) there are probably many local resources for you to look into. If you want to talk with a minister, you could call a local church and make an appointment (I am partial to the Baptist denomination). If you are in high school or college, there are probably some Christian groups on campus in which you could find someone to talk with. Of course, you can ask me more questions, but I feel that personal contact is more effective. Also, remember that people you might talk to are going to be imperfect. Some may try to pressure you or "scare" you into accepting Jesus. If that is the case, see if you can find someone else who will be able to reason with you and love you where you are. I hope that you will know that God loves you very much and wants you to be with Him forever.

Take care, and God bless,

John

P.S. I do have Bible verses that relate to these things, but I did not want to confuse you with references to it if you are not familiar with it. I can provide them for you if you like.

References:

Prov 20:1; Prov 21:17; Prov 23:20-21; Prov 23:29-35; Prov 31:4-7; Isa 5:11-12; Isa 5:22; Isa 28:7-8; Hos 4:11; Luke 21:34; Rom 13:13; Gal 5:19-21; Eph 5:18; 1 Thess 5:6-7; John 2:1-11; Luke 22:17-20; Rom 13:1; 1 Cor 8

A Promise to Reflect

Thursday, June 6th, 2002

I promise to take time each day to think about my thoughts and actions and judge them
in the light of God’s Word. If I have done something right I will attempt to keep doing it
and give thanks to God. If more info

I have done something wrong, I will ask for forgiveness, make
restitution, and take steps to prevent future errors I will seek God’s help in these
matters through His speaking to my spirit, through His Word, and through the counsel of
godly people.

Quotable Quotes

Thursday, June 6th, 2002
  • We must be confident in God’s ability.
  • It is not the amount of faith we have, it is Who we have faith in.
  • It is not that one has great faith in God, but that he has faith in a great God.
  • Anything less than faith in God is idolatry.
  • The message of Scripture is quite clear. We should not look to add unnecessary complexity.

How Do We Come To God On His Terms?

Thursday, June 6th, 2002
  • Take the Bible as Truth.
  • Believe and obey even when we do not understand or agree.
  • Seek with the expectation of finding the answer, and then using what we find.
  • Acknowledge and include God in our studies of the Scriptures.

The Church as a Relational Entity

Thursday, June 6th, 2002

There are many organizations in the world today, each with their own set of rules, regulations, and customs. Those who meet and keep the criteria set forward by the organization can be members. The Christian Church in its early days did not have much structure. It was built up of small groups meeting in various houses almost every day of the week. The two things that held the Church together and caused it to grow were the Good News of Jesus Christ and the loving fellowship of the believers.

Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35 NIV). The thing that is supposed to distinguish the Christian Church from every other organization is our love for one another. You will not find this in any corporate mission statement.

As the Church grew, however, it became more necessary to establish rules and codes of conduct so that everyone would understand what God expected their behavior to be as believers. Most of these rules were modeled after what Jesus said and did. The rules were not bad in and of themselves. However, how people viewed these rules began to change. These codes of conduct were to be examples of how a Christian should behave in response to having God’s power dwell within them. The behavior was to be an outgrowth of the salvation experience the believer had with God and with his fellow Christian. The foundation was to be love for God and love for people.

How the view changed was subtle, yet very serious. People found that it was possible to follow the “rules” without following God. The same thing had happened to the Jewish culture from which Christianity sprang. For instance, God said “Thou shall not murder.” For most people, this is easy to keep. However, they do not have to keep this command out of reverence for God, and so for the pagan, it is of little eternal value if they keep this command but deny God. The Parisees of Jesus’ day had built a whole religious legal system that could be followed by people who did not know the God they were claiming to serve. An example from the Christian church is Sunday morning services. It is customary in most parts of Christendom for Christians to gather once a week for an hour in a building to hear a lecture. People who have followed this tradition (perhaps from an early age) might consider themselves Christians. However, people can “go to church” and never once make a commitment to God. Even worse, it is possible to go to church and not have to speak with anyone. We call this “fellowship,” but it really is not.

The result is that today the church (specifically the Western church) has little power. There seems to be a trend towards larger and larger churches. However, as the church bodies grow it becomes more and more difficult to really meet with people on an individual level. There also seems to be less and less solid biblical teaching as pastors attempt to avoid offending members of their congregations with calls to repentance, faith, and purity.

In so doing we bypass the true purpose of the Church: to love God and love people. The congregations may “worship” their rules, regulations, programs, and church buildings, but they do not worship the Living God who Saved them through His only Son, Jesus. A church may have services, Sunday school, and other “programs,” but most do not encourage the true fellowship that can only occur in small group settings. Furthermore, congregations tend to rely on their pastors to do all the “spiritual” work, while they forget that Jesus called us to be a “kingdom of priests.” This means that each member of the congregation is really a servant of God and should be actively engaged in spiritual work. Part of this work is the mutual love and edification of one another. It also involves getting into each others lives, to hold each other accountable, and to aid them in times of need.

How will the world know we are Christians if we do not love one another? Why would anyone want to join an “organization” like a church if they are not taught about God and truly experience His love directly and through fellowship? Love is foundational because it identifies us for who we are and Who God is. Rules, structures, and organizations are no substitute for the love that can only exist among believers.

I am not recommending that we abolish organized religion. This is a call for us all to rethink how we relate to one another and how we relate to the world. I have seen large churches develop small group systems within their organizations. Congregation members need to be encouraged to be available to one another throughout the week, not just on Sundays or other scheduled times. Friendships among the members must be encouraged. Not just handshake friendships, but deep, personal, transparent, accountability relationships. People need to feel loved, and that can only happen in a one-on-one basis.

Our churches today are filled with lonely people. People who’s lives are riddled with sin because no one cares enough to correct them. People who have become lazy or have lost hope because no one encourages them. People who are frightened and timid because no one trains them. This must change if we are to be effective witnesses for Christ. We must establish loving relationships with one another if we expect to be used by God to change the lives of those around us.

Not many of us have the courage to take the first step. However, if your heart is stirred by God in this matter, then please, please take the first step. It may involve asking just one person to keep you accountable. You may be bold enough to go before your congregation and ask for a list of people who want to be in small groups. Love should not be difficult for us since the God of Love dwells within us. Sometimes it takes encouragement, so be encouraged. Show your fellow Christian that you love him or her today in the name of Jesus.