Remembering My Creator: Volume 2, Number 3, August 11, 2012

Remembering My Creator

Volume 2, Number 3

Theme: Evidences for My Faith – Science, Archaeology, Evolution

and

Alleged Contradictions

In This Issue:

  • “Scientific Accuracy of the Bible” by Jordan Shouse
  • “Alleged Contradictions of the Bible” by Sean Cavender
  • “Coincidence or Truth” by Dillon Jarrett
  • “Evolution and the Bible” by Randy Sexton

 

“The Scientific Accuracy of the Bible”

By

Jordan Shouse

There is a myth about science and the Bible. Some believe that they oppose each other. In fact, there are many who claim that science has disproven the validity of the Bible. Richard Dawkins has written that one cannot be an intelligent scientific thinker and hold religious beliefs. What is a Christian to think? The truth is that though the Bible isn’t a science book, it is scientifically accurate. Consider a few scientific truths we found in the Bible:

The Bible is Consistent in GeologyProverbs 8:27; Isaiah 40:22 – “It is He who sitteth about the circle of the earth.” For years man believed that the earth was flat. The concept of a “round” earth wouldn’t be accepted by men for centuries.

The Bible is Consistent in Biology – Genesis 3:15 teaches that woman has “seed.” This was written by Moses several thousand years ago, though it was commonly thought that only man had seed. Leviticus 17:11 teaches how blood is the fuel of life. We need blood to live, it is necessary to life. Leviticus 6:27-28; 13:45-46; Numbers 19:14-16 all teach about sterilization, sanitation, and quarantines. The ideas of germs, diseases caused by infections, both show the wisdom of God to understand the medical necessities of life.

The Bible is Consistent in Astronomy – Jeremiah 33:22 and Genesis 22:17 show how innumerable the stars are. It is impossible to count them. They are countless! 1 Corinthians 15:41 shows how each star is unique. No two stars are like.

These are just a few examples of how the Bible has proven scientifically true. One writer draws this conclusion – “Therefore, how did Bible writers (who lived and wrote in an age of scientific ignorance and various superstitions) consistently and accurately record information not proven true until hundreds, or thousands, of years later? (Wilcox 104). He’s right on! The only logical conclusion that one can draw from the consistency of the Bible’s accuracy on scientific, historical, geographical, and prophetic accuracy is that these words are inspired by God. The Bible has been tested and tried, but every word proves true (Prov. 30:5). God’s words never change, and they never fail (Isaiah 40:8). The Bible and science do not contradict one another, but rather science helps support the validity and truth to God’s words. When we begin with man’s opinions on science and use such findings to interpret the Scripture is when we get into problems. That’s when we can start to interject theories and thoughts God never intended to belong in His word, such as macroevolution. Our aim ought to look through the world through a Biblical perspective, letting the Bible guide my understanding in truth. Our role as Christians is to place our confidence and trust in God’s Words, the lamp to our feet and light to our path (Ps. 119:105). “Secure is life from mortal mind, God holds the germ within His hand. Though men may search they cannot find, for God alone does understand.”

 

“Alleged Contradictions of the Bible”

By

Sean Cavender

It is not uncommon to hear those who do not believe in God to object to the Bible as the authorized word of God on the basis that the Bible has many contradictions. Is it possible there are contradictions within the word of God? Let’s consider some of these objections, and search God’s word, and within ourselves for the answer.

Answers Can Be Found

First, it is important to realize that answers may be found concerning these alleged contradictions of the Bible. Most often when discussing these “contradictions” with an Atheist, it is their attempt to distort the Scriptures. They are trying to create fear and doubt in the minds of others, hoping they will not take the time to seek thoughtful answers. Peter warned of people who would manipulate the Scriptures for their own cause (2 Peter 3:16). In our discussions with those who may not believe the Bible, we ought to gladly study these apparent contradictions with them. If they are honest and sincere then they will respect you for your study of the matter. However, if they have their own agenda and are not seeking truth, it will quickly become apparent because they will not allow you time to study and answer these “contradictions” with a reasonable explanation. When objections to the Bible are made do not become fearful, but seek the truth. That is what people of faith will do.

Learn How To Harmonize The Scriptures

The Bible agrees, or harmonizes with itself. If it does not then there are contradictions that are found within. However, careful Bible students must realize that there several things that are important in a study of God’s word, which are vital to understanding the harmony of Scripture.

First, we must understand the appropriate context of passages. Who is doing the writing? What is the author writing about? When is the author writing? Who is the author writing to? These are all vital questions in understanding (and clearing up) any passage contained in the word of God. Secondly, we must define our terms and phrases that are used in the passage. Words are defined within the context that they are used. If we do not define our terms then a study of the Bible becomes ambiguous and impossible to understand.

Does Paul contradict James when Paul states that man is not justified by works (Romans 4:1-6) when James clearly affirms that man is justified by works and not by faith alone (James 2:24)? There is no contradiction! A reasonable explanation is that they are speaking of different type of works. James is speaking of works of faith (James 2:18), while Paul is speaking of works of the Law of Moses (Romans 3:20). James and Paul both affirm the works, or obedience, of faithful Abraham and how it resulted in his justification (James 2:21-23; Romans 4:3,19-25).

Don’t immediately jump to the conclusion that there is a contradiction. See if there is a reasonable explanation. This is a point of failure by many who make boastful claims that there are contradictions in the Bible.

Does The Bible Contradict Itself?

The way many Atheists and agnostics speak of the Bible, you might expect some blatant and obvious contradiction that the Bible has. However, many of their objections are based on the differences of numerical values such as might be found in Ezra 2:8 and Nehemiah 7:13, or Ezra 2:12 and Nehemiah 7:17, and other passages like these. Time and space will not allow us to study all of these apparent “contradictions.” However, there are reasonable explanations to these differences, and you will have to judge whether you are going to dismiss the word of God as authoritative, binding, and truthful after you study these numerical differences on your own. These differences can easily be understood when we know that these do not refer to the same counting. Ezra led the first group of people back into Judea and his numbers reflect those that came with him. Nehemiah came into the land later and records a different number after the construction of the wall, after others had come back into the land. These difficulties are easily reconciled, and to choose doubt and unbelief shows ignorance.

Some offer up an apparent contradiction found between 2 Samuel 24:9 and 1 Chronicles 21:5 concerning the numbering of Israel. Samuel records there were 800,000 valiant swordsmen, while in the record of the Chronicles there are 1,100,000. In the Chronicles the number concerning Israel is “all of Israel” while in Samuel’s record it merely recognizes “Israel.” The 800,000 men of 2 Samuel 24:9 are those who were valiant, experienced, and veteran swordsmen. Plus, David had an army of approximately 300,000 that were in ready service unto the king (1 Chronicles 12:20-38). Concerning the differences between the numbers of Judah, Samuel records 500,000 of Judah while the Chronicles record 470,000. The difference of 30,000 men can easily be accounted for. Samuel records of 30,000 men that were stationed on Philistine front after war (2 Samuel 6:1). This is a reasonable explanation in the differences found between the two records of David’s census. They, in fact, support one another and harmonize completely.

Another alleged contradiction is between Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23. Some claim that the word translated virgin in Isaiah 7:14 only means young woman, not an actual virgin. The Greek word Matthew used certainly does mean virgin. Mary affirms her own purity (Luke 1:27-34).It is not at all unreasonable to picture Mary as a young woman who had kept herself pure – these two passages do not conflict with each other. The prophecy made by Isaiah was unto the house of David, not unto Ahaz who refused a sign (Isaiah 7:13). Matthew records the lineage of Jesus by His legal father, Joseph, who was of the house of David (Matthew 1:20). Those who deny Isaiah 7:14 as a prophecy concerning Jesus the Christ deny the power of God, the inspiration of Scripture, and the Deity of Christ.

Conclusion

There will always be attempts to dismiss the power of God’s word. However, we must not be those who would easily be swayed. When “contradictions” are brought forth, then study those matters. That is what the honest hearer will do (Acts 17:11). While discussing these important issues with friends and neighbors, when you seek the truth behind some of these “contradictions,” then you will know whether your friends and neighbors are genuine, or whether they are seeking to twist the Scriptures to their own destruction. If they refuse to allow you to study, then they are twisting the Scriptures and will meet destruction if they refuse to believe. When an honest person will study these matters then they will see how God’s word is true, and trustworthy. There are no contradictions within the Bible! Let us be diligent in our study of God’s word so we may be prepared to always give an answer for the hope we have within us (1 Peter 3:15).

“Coincidence or Truth”

By

Dillon Jarrett

When we are young, our imaginations are at their peak. Dragons, space ships, and/or distant worlds with unimaginable possibilities are literally just a thought away. Those people, places and things in our minds seem so real. It is all almost believable. Yet, as we grow older and mature, we put those childish things away. The world tells us it is not real and they are correct. It was in our imagination. Even if we did believe it, people would think we are crazy. After all, you would have no evidence to prove any of it existed, right? Has anyone ever tried to tell you the same regarding the Bible? The world teaches our children that evolution has led creation to where we are today. Many teach that life began simply through chance, not at the hands of the living God. They would tell you that nothing in the Bible happened. It is just a collection of genealogies, childhood stories, proverbs, fables, songs, and thoughtful life lessons. Nothing more. They would say eight souls were never saved on an Ark during the flood or that an entire Egyptian army was consumed by the Red Sea. Many in the archeological community would say the dinosaurs lived millions of years prior to the creation of man. That it is completely implausible that man and the dinosaurs did “walk side by side.” Finally, they teach just as the Pharisees did in the days of old regarding the Christ. They say nothing can prove He was the Messiah, He was never raised from the dead, the facts revolving around His crucifixion were fictional and his teachings were merely nice prophetic knowledge. Maybe they are correct. Maybe nothing did happen. Let us decipher whether some of these things are true. We will do this by answering three questions. Do YOU believe that God created the world and his creation proclaims his deity? Would you tell others with confidence that archeology does in fact support that the Christ indeed came to earth, was crucified, and now reigns at the right hand of God? Is the Bible God’s inspired message to man, or just compiled information? Remember those questions as you progress.

If you recall in Exodus 14, the Israelites have fled Egypt and are just crossing the bottom of the Red Sea. As the Egyptian army approaches, the Lord refuses to allow them passage and swallows them up with the waters of the Red Sea. When you read that story, it seems rather farfetched does it not? An entire nation could cross the Red Sea. With the right time and resources that is certainly imaginable. However, how could they complete such a task so quickly? It takes hours to evacuate a population of that magnitude even in our day and age. Yet, the entire nation of Israel completed that task on foot and via a “land bridge” at the bottom of the Red Sea? Seems unlikely and unimaginable, does it not? We believe it though, because we can read those words in the Bible. What if there was actual proof? Evidence that these were not just claims. Rather, this was history? Archeologist Ron Wyatt discovered something intriguing during the 1970’s and 1980’s. He found chariot wheels and other remains at the bottom of the Red Sea. Skeptics would say, “So what. Finding a chariot wheels at the bottom of the Red Sea proves nothing. Traders likely had shipwrecks over that sea.” They would have a fair argument. However, these were not just any chariot wheels. They met very specific criteria dating back to the same time period the nation of Israel would have crossed. Along with that, the remains found on the Eastern and Western shores of the sea, were found to also be in the very location described by locals, historians, and the Bible as the location where the Israelites would have crossed. Don’t believe my words though. See it for yourself before you progress. Follow this link and watch the video. Red Sea Crossing

What would you say it looks like? Some of the footage is difficult to sift through. However, when you examine the facts presented, doesn’t it seem odd that those “things” are at the bottom of the Red Sea? Coincidence? Would you like more evidence? Very well. Let us continue. Archeologist Dr. Don Patton has discovered some disturbing evidence if you believe in evolution. Many highly respected scientists have agreed that if, “one could provide evidence that dinosaurs and man walked beside one another, everything we know of evolution would be dismissed.” Follow this link below. See for yourself. “Side by Side” Walk of Man and Beast. What does that look like to you? Maybe you are thinking, “there is no way those footprints were made at the same time.” You could be correct, but not in this case. Tested with the tried and true carbon dating method of science, each fossilized sample is yes, the same. Coincidence? Isn’t it interesting that the Bible speaks of large beasts like the Behemoth and Leviathan in Job 40-41? The same types of beasts that we refer to as “dinosaurs.” In Psalms 19:1, the writer states, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. 
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth.” He doesn’t have to miraculously reveal his deity, but he has. Archeology, the proponent to some of man’s greatest discoveries, is the very thing that can and does proclaim his majesty. The validity of his teachings has been verified by not the imagination, but rather, reality.

The reality is He did create the Earth. His is Lord, Jehovah, Yahweh, Elohim, and Adonai. What He says we believe. Some would claim we are, “crazy.” Skeptics would say we believe in something that the idea of space ships and distant worlds is far more believable. Many would say Christ wasn’t the Messiah. That He was merely a prophet such as Muhammad or a great teacher such as Aristotle. What do you believe though? Many would not disregard the potential that Jesus existed. However, they would declare that many of the events involving His ministry as well as his crucifixion never happened. Look with me at the following website and review the information presented. Here is the link, Case for the Christ. We could discuss many other websites, books, and information. Yet, that is not why you are researching currently, is it? That is, you care what the Bible says, not necessarily what other men say. I would have to agree with you as well.

Finding the information that God provides is far more rewarding. After all, as Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16, “ All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” When we examine the scriptures, we see the beauty of His majesty. It is amazing. That is, not only is the Lord proclaimed through his word, but also as we read in Psalms 19, the heavens and the Earth portray His handiwork. We could continue to study, but the fact of the matter is do YOU still believe it is all coincidence? Or would you say that these archeological finding (earlier along with others) never contradict the Bible. Rather, those findings solidify it more. Are the stories we read in the Bible just figments of our imagination or reality? You be the judge.

 

 

Evolution and the Bible

By

Randy Sexton

A wise man once said, “The Bible and theories of science may conflict. Facts of science and theories of the Bible may conflict. But the Truth of the Bible and facts of science do NOT conflict. Young people, some will attempt to deceive you by presenting evolution as a fact of science when it is really not even a theory. No my friends, evolution is really no more than a “hypothesis.” In reality, no matter whether you argue evolution as the explanation of the beginning of all things or you argue creation as the explanation, faith is the basis. But where they differ is that the Bible is factual, whereas evolution is unproved and unprovable.

I agree wholeheartedly with this statement, contained in an unsigned set of class materials that I picked up from someone over the years, “Evolution is not a Bible subject. It is not taught anywhere in Scripture, nor is it argued against directly by any of the inspired writers. Why then should we devote an entire Bible class series to a study of Evolution? The reason lies in the frequently harmful effect that evolutionary teaching has on the faith of a Christian and the impediment it presents to the spread of the gospel.”

The reason for including this article in this series, “Evidences For My Faith” within the Remembering My Creator blog, is to combat the frequently fatal effect of this teaching on the faith of young people. You have no doubt been in classes where the teacher presents evolution as a proven fact. In some unfortunate situations you may have even seen one with such influence ridicule those who would dare disagree with him or attempt to refute his claims.

Berkeley-educated doctor of biology, Jonathan Wells, says that the best-known “icons” of evolution – from pictures of apes evolving into humans , to comparisons of fish and human embryos, to moths on tree trunks – are false or misleading. He says that for decades, biology students have been taught things about evolution that are simply untrue. Even the most recent textbooks contain these false misleading inferences says Wells in his book published in 2000, Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth? Why much of what we teach about evolution is wrong.

Wells examines ten of these icons and draws the following conclusion in a chapter titled, “Science or Myth?

”This is not science. This is not truth-seeking. This is dogmatism, and it should not be allowed to dominate scientific research and teaching. Instead of using the icons of evolution to indoctrinate students in Darwinian theory, we should be using them to teach students how theories can be corrected in light of the evidence. Instead of teaching science at its worst, we should be teaching science at its best. And science at its best pursues the truth.” (Ibid, p. 248).

One of the icons, called by Wells, “The Ultimate Icon,” is the depiction of human origins in which man is shown to have evolved from the ape. Wells gives a fairly extensive review of hoaxes and frauds that have been carried out in recent years regarding so called “Neanderthal Man” and Piltdown Man. In this chapter, Wells states:

“Despite the lack of evidence, the Darwinian view of human origins was soon enshrined in drawings that showed a knuckle-walking ape evolving through a series of intermediate forms into an upright human being. Such drawings have subsequently appeared in countless textbooks, museum exhibits, magazine articles, and even cartoons. They constitute the ultimate icon of evolution, because they symbolize the implications of Darwin’s theory for the ultimate meaning of human existence.” (Ibid, p. 210)

Contrast this with what the bible says about human origins. The Bible says that “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters Genesis 1:1-2.” The Genesis record proceeds to tell the events of seven days of creation. The power and glory of God are evident throughout the message recorded in Genesis chapter 1. And the masterpiece of His creative power is demonstrated on day seven and is described at Genesis 1:27-28 as follows:

Then God said, Let us make manin our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Other Bible passages speak of the magnificence of the creation process. As Paul and Barnabus preached at Lystra, they reminded the people who wanted to worship them as gods,

“ … we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” Even with these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them” (Acts 14:15-18).

As they moved on to Athens, in the midst of the Aereopagus or Mars Hill, Paul declared:

“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,[c] 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him” (Acts 17:24-27).

We can easily picture Paul, standing in the midst of philosophers, professors of the Athens Universities, high ranking politicians, and great orators of his day, and defending boldly the truth of God’s word against the latest fanciful new ideas of the day!

You too, young friend, can be armed to combat the false and misleading pronouncements of evolutionists. Go prepared to combat the notion that only an uneducated person would dare disagree with the conclusions of biological evolution. Do your homework and understand the arguments made by Darwinists, the fallacies of those arguments, and how to boldly proclaim the truth to the world! Read other passages like:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:1-4).

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,and by the breath of his mouth all their host. He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap;he puts the deeps in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord;let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.” (Psalm 33:6-9).

Thanks for reading with us about the tremendous body of evidence that supports your faith in the one and living God in whom we live and move and exist.

Remembering My Creator: Volume 2, Number 2, July 14, 2012

Remembering My Creator

Volume 2, Number 2

Theme: Evidences for My Faith – Unity and Historical Accuracy of the Bible, Fulfilled Prophecy, and Testimony of Jesus

 

In This Issue:

  • “The Bible’s Historical Accuracy as Evidence for My Faith” by Randy Sexton
  • “The Unity of the Bible as Evidence for My Faith” by David Deuster
  • “Fulfilled Prophecy as Evidence for My Faith” by Jordan Shouse
  • “The Testimony of Jesus as Evidence for My Faith” by Sean Cavender

 

 

“The Bible’s Historical Accuracy as Evidence for My Faith”

By

Randy Sexton

As I have worked with young people over the years, one of my goals has been to help them to understand the tremendous evidence that exists to support a faith in God. If you are a young person and reading these words, I want you to know that God has provided evidence of His existence and of His concern for you! Be convinced of this beyond any shadow of a doubt. God, who created the universe and who holds the power to bring everything into existence and to destroy it at the twinkling of an eye, has deposited evidence everywhere you look!

Just as certain is the fact that the Bible is under attack today! David Banning says, “I suppose there was a time in the past when most folks believed in the Bible. Even if they were not careful to follow what it said, most everyone believed that there was something special about it. They believed it was the word of God. Those strong convictions do not seem to be as common today.” (The Bible 101: Getting the Facts About The Most Important Book You Will Ever Read, p. 11). I highly recommend Brother Banning’s book for its examination of the attacks of the critics and how to answer those attacks.

Consider that God’s book has survived all attempts to destroy it. God’s providence as it relates to the Bible is on display for those who will examine it. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away (Mk. 13:31 NKJV). Josh McDowell in The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict (p. 10) quotes Bernard Ramm , when he says, “The Bible has withstood vicious attacks by its enemies. Many have tried to burn it, ban it and ‘outlaw it from the days of Roman emperors to present-day Communist-dominated countries.” (Protestant Christian Evidences, Moody Press, 1953, p. 232).

Now let us focus, during the rest of this article, on addressing one of the questions that critics of the Bible today ask, “Is the Bible historically reliable? It has been said that the Bible is neither a history book nor a science book, but it is both historically and scientifically accurate and reliable. Consider the first case below as an example of how Bible believers are put on the defensive by critics. Note the negative approach taken by critics to what the Bible says. The seeming difficulties have not yet been resolved from archaeological evidence. But in the remaining examples, archaeology has confirmed the historical accuracy of the Bible accounts.

Alliance Between Elam and Shinar (Genesis 14)

This narrative tells of an alliance between the Kings of Shinar, Ellasar, Elam, and Golim to make war against a coalition lead by the kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zebolim and Bela (also known as Zoar).

This list of names and nations presents some difficulties to the Bible student. The note in the ESV Study Bible says, “The kings mentioned here have not yet been identified in sources outside the Bible, but their names correspond with known names or name types appropriate to the regions from which they may have come. Shinar is Babylonia (see 10:10). The location of Ellasar is uncertain, although the king’s name, Arioch, is found in texts from the ancient cities of Mari and Nuzi; this might suggest that Ellasar is in northern Mesopotamia. Elam was an ancient state lying to the east of southern Babylonia. Tidal is possibly a Hittite name. Goim in Hebrew means “nations.” Zoar probably lay at the southern edge of the Valley of Jericho (see 19:22-23).” Roland Kenneth Harrison deals extensively with this in his Introduction to the Old Testament (pp.560 – 563), if you would like to do further study.

The Exodus Narrative

Pithom was discovered by Professor Naville in 1883 and the ruins were examined by Professor Kyle in 1908. Kyle describes the brick in the buildings as found in Exodus: brick with straw, brick with stubble, and brick with neither. It was the city built by the Israelites (Archaelogy and Bible History by Joseph P. Free, pp. 85-86)

Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah

The Bible account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah has been rejected by critics as fanciful creations and not a historical event. In fact, the History Channel recently aired a video in the “Histories Mysteries” series titled “Sodom and Gomorrah.” During the airing of the video, the narrator said, “Contributing to the belief that the story of Sodom and Gomorrah may be more fable than fact is the predominance of similar tales from folklore…. After close study of the Sodom and Gomorrah story, in Genesis, many scholars have come to doubt its true intent was to condemn sexual deviance.”

Archaeological evidence, however, has revealed that “all five of the cities mentioned in the in the Bible were in fact cities of commerce in the area and were geographically situated as the Scriptures describe…. Evidence points to earthquake activity and that the various layers of the earth were disrupted and hurled high into the air. Bitumen is plentiful there, and an accurate description would be that brimstone (bituminous pitch) was hurled down on those cities that had rejected God. There is evidence that the layers of sedimentary rock have been molded together by intense heat.” (Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics by Norman L Geisler, pp. 50-51).

Conclusion

These are but three of the many examples that could be cited. My hope is that perhaps you have been motivated to do more reading and thinking about this feature of the Scriptures. It is but one way that you can remember your creator in the days of your youth “before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them.” (Ecclesiastes 12:1). Now consider the unity of the Bible that Brother David tells us about below.

 

“The Unity of the Bible as Evidence for My Faith”

By

David Deuster

The Bible is the most widely printed and published book in the world. It is the source of the Christian religion and contains what Christians need to know about God, Jesus, salvation and the Christian life. One of the most important questions asked by non-Christians as they look into Christianity is whether or not the Bible is trustworthy. Can the Bible be trusted? If it has been corrupted then we cannot trust what is attributed to Jesus’ words and deeds. So, is the Bible reliable or not?

The Bible is a unity of sixty-six books: 39 in the OT and 27 in the NT. The Bible took about 1600 years to write. It was written in 3 languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, & Greek) by about 40 authors utilizing different genres, symbols, themes, diction and even syntax, yet is internally consistent throughout. To say that the writers of the Bible were diverse would be an understatement. Yet, though their educational and cultural backgrounds varied extensively, and though many of them were separated by several centuries, the cannon of Scripture is unified. To achieve such a feat by employing mere human ingenuity and wisdom would be impossible. In fact, it would be impossible from a human standpoint to gather the writings of 40 men from the same culture, with the same educational background, during the same time period, and get anything close to the unity that is evident in the Bible. The Bible’s unity proves its own divine origin.

The Bible attests to its Divine origin inter-textually. In other words, the Bible internally attests to its Divine origin. One text not only declares that it is God’s Word, it affirms another which in turn attests to its Divine origin, and these two affirm yet another, and so on. The book of Acts attests to the status of the four Gospels. The apostle Paul attests to the status of Luke through Acts. The apostle Peter attests to the status of the writings of Paul. The book of Acts attests to the status of Peter’s writing, and so on.

In its original documents the Bible is God-breathed, that it is a divine product, and, because it is divine, the original documents are inerrant. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” Paul who wrote this epistle was obviously referring to the entirety of the Old Testament as being inspired. The word “inspired” is literally “God-breathed.” This is an interesting phrase since it implies that the Scriptures are from the mouth of God. Likewise, Peter says in 2 Peter 1:21, “for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” Notice that Peter is stating that prophecy is not the product of human will. Instead, prophecy occurs by those moved by the Holy Spirit.

Consider for example the narrative surrounding the events of the global flood as recorded in Genesis 6-9. Moses records this event, yet the flood had destroyed every creature save those who were in the Ark. Moses wrote centuries later around 1,450 B.C. As strange as it may appear to some, when you consider those circumstances, Moses is not alone in affirming the events that took place in the Days of Noah. In 1 Chronicles, the text suggests that Noah’s three sons were Shem, Ham, and Japheth, exactly as Genesis 7:13 records (1:1). The prophet Isaiah also referred to Noah (chapter 54). In that text, the prophet recorded the words God spoke to the Israelites of Isaiah’s day: “For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you” (54:9). The oath to which Isaiah referred is found in Genesis 9:11, where God said to Noah: “Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” Remarkably, Isaiah’s comment exhibits a perfect understanding and awareness of God’s statement to Noah, yet the prophet’s writings were separated from Moses’ writing of the Pentateuch by more than 600 years. In addition, the prophet Ezekiel acknowledged the story of Noah when he recorded God’s Word to the Israelites of his day: “‘Or if I send a pestilence into that land and pour out My fury on it in blood, and cut off from it man and beast, even though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘they would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness’” (14:19-20).

The consistent unity of the account of the flood finds itself in the New Testament as well. The words of Jesus in Matthew 24 find agreement with Moses in Genesis 6-9. “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (24:36-39). Luke’s account of this statement by the Lord exhibits additional unity with Genesis in that he recorded Noah’s son as Shem (Luke 17:26-27; 3:36). The same consistent unity is found in the writings of Hebrews 11 as well in the words of Peter as he stated, “…when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water” (1 Peter 3:20). He also said: “[I]f God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly” (2 Peter 2:5).

The Bible’s message attests to its unity. The major themes and stories from Genesis, the first book of the Bible, flow through the remaining books and their meanings and implications are developed throughout Scripture. It describes the origin of man in the Garden of Eden along with his fall into sin and out of fellowship with God. Beginning here, God promised Adam and Eve that one would come from the seed of the woman to crush the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15). It then describes how God called out a special people to Himself, the Israelites. He promised the Israelites a future Messiah who would restore mankind’s relationship with God. The Bible is the account of the work of God in history bringing to fruition His prophetic declarations concerning Jesus. The Old Testament sacrificial system pictured the atonement to be made by Jesus for the sins of the world. The prophets foretold His birth, life, death and resurrection. Jesus was born of the Virgin, died on the cross and paid for sins, just as the Bible prophesied in the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New as it reveals and explains the mysteries of this great salvation. It concludes with the fulfillment of the promise made in Genesis 3:15 ending in the book of Revelation where Jesus, the King of Kings, is pictured defeating the serpent of old who is the Devil and sending him to his everlasting punishment (Revelation 19-20).

In short, the Bible points to Jesus, “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me,” (John 5:39). The unity of the Bible teaches us that forgiveness of sins is found in Jesus alone, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved,” (Acts 4:12).

Can the Bible be trusted? I believe the evidence of Scripture supports the fact that we can trust in the unified message of the Bible. It alone contains the inspired word of God that is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

 

“Fulfilled Prophecy as Evidence for My Faith”

By

Jordan Shouse

One of the great evidences towards the inspiration of the Scriptures is the fulfilled prophecy. A prophet was a spokesman for God. He simply delivered God’s words to the people. The message often held instruction concerning the need for repentance, the exposure and condemnation of sins, and hope for the future. That is the focus of this article, to focus on the messages God gave to His people concerning things which were to occur in the future, and then did. Prophecy is a great study. It is impressive to see the wisdom and foresight of God, and also gives the Bible student a grander picture of the Bible message. There are numerous examples of fulfilled prophecies, especially concerning Jesus. God fulfills His prophecies with precision and perfection. In this article I will point out a few, with the hopes that you’ll be inspired to pick up a Bible and find some on your own. Here are some prophecies about Jesus:

  • Jesus would be born of a virgin, and that His name would be Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14); fulfilled (Matthew 1:21-23)
  • Jesus would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2); fulfilled (Matthew 2:1)
  • Jesus would perform miracles (Isaiah 35:4-6); fulfilled (Matthew 9:35)
  • Jesus would die a cruel death, he would be scourged (Isaiah 53:5) – fulfilled (Matthew 27:26); and pierced (Isaiah 53:5) – fulfilled (Matthew 27:35; John 20:27)

These are just a few of many prophecies concerning Jesus. We also see a different type of prophecy, where something is directly foretold like the examples above, but we see similarities between two people or two events. Here are some examples:

  • Abraham was told to kill his son Isaac
    • It was his only begotten son (Genesis 22:2) Jesus is God’s only begotten Son (John 3:16)
    • Was to sacrifice in the land of Moriah (v.2) The area of Moriah becomes Jerusalem in the future, Jesus was crucified outside of Jerusalem (Mark 15:22)
    • Abraham had Isaac carry the wood he would be sacrifice on (v.6); Jesus bore His cross to Calvary (Luke 23:26)
    • Abraham received his son back (v.12); Jesus rose from the dead
  • Jacob’s dream of a ladder
    • Jacob sees a ladder reaching to heaven, and angels were descending up and down on it (Genesis 28:13-15)
    • Jesus is the ladder – He is the access for man to God – John 1:51

There are more and more examples. If there were more time and space we could go into Jesus and the Passover lamb, the bronze serpent, the similarities between Jesus and Joseph, Elisha, and Jonah. We could point out numerous prophecies concerning events in His life. We could go back to the very beginning and look at the promises God made to Abraham about the great nation, promised land, and all the nations of the earth being blessed through his descendants (Genesis 12:1-3) and how all those promises came true in the future. The Bible is filled with these examples of prophecies. What ought to impress us is the foresight of God who planned such events to transpire in sync, and the faithfulness of our God who keeps His promises. He has never failed on His word which brings us great hope for the promises He has given to His children who trust and obey Him.

The Testimony of Jesus as Evidence for My Faith”

By Sean Cavender

A familiar passage to Bible students is: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). In discussing the nature of faith it is vital to recognize that faith is founded upon the words recorded in Scripture. The Bible records many things that are pertinent to our spiritual lives by many different examples and various teachers. The greatest example and the Master Teacher is Jesus Christ. The words and testimony of Jesus Christ leaves for us ample evidence that is sufficient to build up our faith.

A testimony is a declaration of some fact that may be tested to be true or false. Courts will take the testimony of eyewitnesses in order to establish the facts of a case. If the facts corroborate then the testimony of witnesses is upheld and proven to be true. If there is inconsistency within the testimony, and the facts do not corroborate then the testimony is questioned at best and proven false at worst. Christ’s public teachings, or testimonies, have been preserved through the Scriptures. If the testimony of Jesus is inconsistent with other teachings in Scripture then there is doubt that is cast upon His character and teachings. However, if they are upheld and proven time and time again, will you believe it and obey His word?

Christ was the embodiment of truth. The apostle John said “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth…for the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:14,17). Jesus claimed to be a teacher sent by God and a presenter of the truth. “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31,32). Jesus of Nazareth claimed to teach truth. If He did not teach the truth then He was a liar and not a good man. However, if His testimony is proven time and time again then His words are not only trustworthy, but authoritative and must be obeyed.

What Jesus Testified About God

Many stumble at the teaching of the Godhead. They do not understand how there is one God, as the Bible claims (Deuteronomy 6:4), and yet three distinct, divine persons. Several have claimed that the Bible does not teach the doctrine of the Godhead. Some scoff, asking how there can be three and one at the same time. Jesus most certainly recognized a distinction of persons within the Godhead, or the divine nature. Jesus taught, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever” (John 14:16). Jesus says that He would pray unto the Father. He makes a distinction between Himself and the Father. It would be ridiculous for Christ to pray unto Himself. Obviously, there is a distinction between the Father and the Son. Also, Jesus said that He would pray for another Comforter, referring to the Holy Spirit. Jesus is not asking that God send Himself in another form, but that He would send another Comforter, or another person. The Comforter would teach the things which Jesus authorized Him to speak (John 16:13,14).

The Godhead is a truth that is upheld and affirmed by Jesus Himself. It does not mean that there are three gods acting on their own accord and by their own authority. Jesus came, not by His own authority, but by what the Father commanded Him (John 5:19). The Holy Spirit was sent by Christ from the Father; He did not come to exert His own teaching or His own authority. Rather He was sent as one under authority (John 15:26; 16:13,14). The Godhead may be difficult to understand and often a great mystery to us, but Jesus’ words provide an insight into who God is.

What Jesus Testified About God’s Word

Christ had a high esteem for the Scriptures. He viewed the Scriptures as the word of God (John 10:35). He also recognized the Scriptures as all that was necessary for man in order to have spiritual nourishment (Matthew 4:4). Also, Jesus taught that God’s word was written by men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 22:43; Mark 12:36). In affirming the inspiration of the Scriptures, Christ affirmed the nature of Scripture, as the “God-breathed” message (2 Timothy 3:16). Also, recognizing the inspiration of Scripture is the recognition that the prophets were not writing their opinion and offering their own interpretations; rather, they were writing about things they often times did not understand (2 Peter 1:20,21; 1 Peter 1:10-12). Jesus testified that the word of God was authoritative in determining doctrine, and morality. Christ turned to the Scriptures when He was questioned about marriage (Matthew 19:3-6). If only all people would view the Scriptures as God’s word, self-sufficient, inspired, and authoritative then there would be fewer problems today. People try to undermine the Scriptures, searching for loopholes, or outright deny what the Scriptures plainly teach. Let us strive to view the Scriptures as Christ taught us too.

What Jesus Testified About Eternity

It is natural that questions concerning the “afterlife” are brought up from time to time. Jesus addressed and answered many of the difficult questions concerning eternity. He affirmed that the soul continues to exist (it is not annihilated) in the spiritual realm (Matthew 22:32). Jesus also taught that there will be a bodily resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous (John 5:28,29). Furthermore, He taught that there will be eternal conscious punishment (Luke 16:24,25). Contrary to popular belief, Jesus did preach about the existence of hell (Matthew 10:28).

Why did Jesus preach these truths? He taught these things so that we may be prepared for the day of judgment! That day will be when Christ’s authority will be displayed for all to submit to, and all people might recognize Him as King, Judge, and Savior. Those who rejected Jesus as the Christ and disobeyed might be thrown into everlasting punishment, but those who believed and obeyed may receive the reward of eternal life (Matthew 25:46). Are you ready for eternity?

Conclusion

The testimony of Jesus has been preserved and handed down for us through the inspired apostles and New Testament writers. What a wonderful blessing that we are able to read and understand what Jesus taught. When we study the testimony of Christ we ought to be humbled, impressed, and strengthened in faith. The words of Peter are still true today. When asked by the Lord whether he would leave the Lord’s presence, Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).

Remembering My Creator: Volume 2, Number 1, June 4, 2012

Remembering My Creator

Volume 2, Number 1

Theme: Evidences for my Faith –

Bible Claims & Christian Evidences

 

In This Issue:

  • “Letter From The Editor” by Randy Sexton
  • “What the Bible Claims to Be” by David Deuster
  • “What is Christian Evidences?” by Randy Sexton

 

 

“Letter From The Editor”

 

By Randy Sexton

 

 

Dear Readers,

 

After an extended absence from writing, I am planning to breathe life back into my website. During the absence, I relocated my family from Raymore, MO to Fort Smith, AR. My sons completed their first year of school in Fort Smith. Tyler played fall soccer and Ryan continued his advancement as a percussionist in the Ramsey Junior High band and is playing in the Boys & Girls Club Prep baseball league. We are slowly getting our new residence in shape thanks to Linda’s hard work. We placed membership with Park Hill church of Christ, where we had previously been a member and where Linda grew up. I was asked by the elders to serve as a deacon and treasurer at Park Hill and am happy to do so.

.

I plan to continue publishing the Remembering My Creator (RMC) page and to begin a monthly page, refocusing a previous page, calling it A Christian’s Voice From Fort Smith.

 

I did publish a short issue of RMC in November using an article that Jordan had submitted quite some time ago. (Sorry for the delay, Jordan). I also published a December issue focused on the theme of “How I Look.”

 

I have chosen themes during 2012 related to Internal Evidences of Christianity and How To Study The Bible. I have been teaching the High School Class at Park Hill the past two quarters from David Banning’s Bible 101 and Bible 102 workbooks and will choose topics covered there. If you would like to write an article for this series, please contact me at achristiansvoice@sbcglobal.net. The Schedule of Topics with scheduled publication dates are listed below.

 

2nd & 3rd Quarter 2012 Theme: Evidences For My Faith

Publication Date

Topic

June 4, 2012 Bible Claims & Christian Evidences
July 1, 2012 Unity of the Bible
July 1, 2012 Fulfilled Prophecy
July 1, 2012 The Testimony of Jesus
July 1, 2012 Historical Accuracy of the Bible
August 1, 2012 Scientific Accuracy of the Bible
August 1, 2012 Alleged Contradictions of the Bible
August 1, 2012 Archaeology and the Bible
August 1, 2012 Evolution and the Bible
September 1, 2012 Biblical Ethics vs Situation Ethics
September 1, 2012 The Resurrection of Christ
September 1, 2012 Relevance of the Bible to the Needs of Man

4th Quarter 2012 Theme: How To Study The Bible

Publication Date

Topic

October 1, 2012 Bible Study Habits: Are You Satisfied?
October 1, 2012 Tools That Help Us Study
October 1, 2012 Developing a Daily Routine
October 1, 2012 Defining Bible Words
November 1, 2012 Answering a False Doctrine
November 1, 2012 Studying Passages That Help With My Own Spiritual Growth
November 1, 2012 Determining the Message of a Book
November 1, 2012 Brainstorming
December 1, 2012 Researching the Background
December 1, 2012 Identifying the Main Sections of the Book
December 1, 2012 Figuring Out the Confusing Passages
December 1, 2012 Putting It All Together

 

 

What the Bible Claims to Be

By David Deuster

The validity of the Bible as the inspired word of God is one of the most important questions we could answer. If the bible is not from God, then it is not authoritative and man does not need to use it as his guide. However, if you believe that the Bible is from God, are you willing to accept it in its entirety as the complete, infallible, and inspired word of God? Either the Bible is a complete and perfect guide in religion or it is lacking in the ability to guide man in his efforts to please God.

 

Let’s first begin by looking at the claims that the bible makes for itself. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Paul tells Timothy that all Scripture is “breathed out” of the mouth of God and is profitable to mankind.

 

Over 51 times in the New Testament, the word “scripture” is used in reference to the written statements of God. Because these statements are inspired, we can have confidence in knowing that they are ultimately God’s own words and convey His thoughts. Paul says the Scriptures make it possible for man to be spiritually complete (cf 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Therefore, if the Bible makes us “complete,” then the Bible, in itself, must also be complete.

 

Second, we notice that the writers of Scripture spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. 1 Peter 1:20-21 states, “knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” The writers of the Bible were inspired men who were enabled to speak and record the mind of God through revelation of the Holy Spirit. The words written were not just the prophets own personal product or thought.

 

These inspired men wrote under direction and will of the Holy Spirit, so that what they wrote is not what the prophets willed but the revealed mind of God unchanged in interpretation.

 

Paul taught the Corinthians that the very words by which he and the other apostles spoke were given by God. In 1 Corinthians 2:10-13 Paul says, “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”

 

God exposed His thinking to man by sending His Holy Spirit to communicate with the apostles and prophets. If the prophets and apostles had not been under the direction of the Holy Spirit, there would have been the possibility of failing to understand the thoughts that were given or they may have failed in expressing those thoughts in a way that could be understood.

 

For this reason, Paul makes sure to tell the Corinthians that the words they spoke were given by God and not by man’s wisdom. Therefore, the words they taught with were the teachings of the Holy Spirit, comparing spiritual things with spiritual things.

 

Furthermore, the Scriptures are infallible and are reliable in every way. Consider the fact that the Bible was written by about 40 writers over several different periods of history. Yet all of the writers harmonize and proclaim the same central theme of the Bible. Throughout the pages of the compiled writings, there are no contradictions or false statements. Prophecies that were to take place hundreds of years in the future, even when very specific in time and names, were all fulfilled and can be confirmed by history.

 

The Bible makes the claim for itself that it is the infallible, complete, and inspired word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Therefore, we must accept it and submit to its authority in our lives.

 

What is Christian Evidences?

By Randy Sexton

The field of study known as “Christian Evidences” is devoted to presenting evidence, both internal and external, to support the claims of Christ to be the Son of God, the reasonableness that God created the world and that the Bible is His inspired message to man. This field of study is also known as Apologetics and is a legitimate field of study in schools of religion.

The study of Christian Evidences may be approached in a number of different ways, but in general, can be broken down into several key components. The key components are listed in my letter above.

The plan is to present articles, written be different authors, covering each of these components in the monthly issues of Remembering My Creator. Thanks for reading with us, dear friends….

Remembering My Creator: Volume 1, Number 11, December 2011

Remembering My Creator

Volume 1, Number 11

Theme: How I Look

In This Issue:

  • “Using the World’s Standard to Evaluate Beauty (Proverbs 31:30; 1st Samuel 16:7)” by Randy Sexton
  • “The Hidden Beauty of the Heart (1st Peter 3:1-6)” by David Deuster
  • “Spiritual Adornment (1st Timothy 2:8-10)” by David Bushnaq
  • “Bodybuilding and Other Attempts to Draw Attention to the Physical Body” by Randy Sexton

Using the World’s Standard to Evaluate Beauty

By Randy Sexton

 

“Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the lord, she shall be praised,” says Solomon as he concludes his description of the worthy woman (Proverbs 31:30). Jess MacCullum in his book, I Married Wonder Woman … Now What, subtitled A Superhero’s guide for Leading and Loving the Proverbs 31 Wife, adds a little humor to the analysis. He says in the introduction, “What on earth would that kind of woman see in a man like me? And what kind of a superman would I have to become to keep ahead of a wife like this? … I scramble to lead and encourage the ‘little (wonder) woman.’ Far from being intimidated by her, I am eager to give my wonder woman a man she can call a hero.”

Mr. MacCallum proceeds to describe 12 principles “for loving and leading the Proverbs 31 Wonder Woman for a lifetime.” These principles include:

  1. Value you wife above everything (v. 10)
  2. Trust your wife and reap the benefits (vv. 11-12)
  3. Provide for the family with more than money (vv. 13-15)
  4. Don’t be afraid of her independence or intimidated by her success (vv. 16, 24)
  5. Appreciate her intelligence, ambition and drive (vv. 17-19)
  6. Be unselfish like her and with her (v. 20)
  7. Respect your wife’s household management without meddling (vv. 21-22, 27)
  8. Take pride in being known by her reputation (v. 23)
  9. Actually listen when she speaks (vv. 25-26)
  10. Praise her and teach your children to praise her (v. 30)
  11. Focus on what God finds attractive and praiseworthy (v. 30)
  12. Brag about her in public

In his comments on the 10th principle he says, “Feminine beauty is a particularly wobbly concept when you think about it. It changes from year to year, culture to culture, and magazine cover to magazine cover… the list of absurd things that people will do to get, or keep, beauty is truly endless. From ancient Japenese women grinding iron filings into their teeth to create a gorgeous black smile, to Victorian ladies in corsets that literally squeezed their internal organs into an hourglass figure, to Hollywood has-beens with more face-lifts than ex-husbands – beauty has ruled the senseless. And men have prized it above reason and valued it entirely out of proportion” (pp. 102 – 103).

Mr. MacCallum’s book is directed to husbands and many of his comments hit the male part of the species hard because of our propensity to be distracted by attractive women. As he says, “beautiful girls make us stupid, frequently robbing us of the power of speech, eye control and financial judgement …” (p. 101)

Though Proverbs 31:10ff is labeled by its author as characteristics of an “excellent wife” (NASB), the attributes are worthy of us all. They “set the bar,” according to the divine standard, far above what the world sets! The world says charm and beauty is what is important. God says this is not the true standard. God, through His servant Peter says, “let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God” (1st Peter 3:4). God reminded his servant Samuel, “God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

As you progress through your teenage years and into your twenties, you my be faced with challenging situations, as you evaluate your dating options. You may be tempted to lose your perspective on the value of inner versus outer beauty. You may have to guard yourself against the approach described in Proverbs 7:21, “So she seduced him with her pretty speech and enticed him with her flattery” (NLT). When you face those times, may you remember “the fear of the Lord” is the true basis for praise.

 

The Hidden Beauty of the Heart

By David Deuster

Peter writes to Christians living in a hostile society. His words are directed toward encouraging them on how to live in the midst of a hostile society and how to conduct themselves in a world set against them. The main directive he offers throughout the letter is to focus on those things that are spiritual and to keep their minds focused on things eternal, not getting caught up in the pleasures that the world has to offer. In chapter 1, he calls upon his readers to remember their great salvation. Secondly, he admonishes them to remember their example before men. Finally, he encourages them by a call to look to the coming of Christ. It is within the second of these points that the apostle addresses how to maintain our example in society, in our place of employment and also within our family relationships. His reasoning for this is stated in 1 Peter 2:12 where he writes, “Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evil doers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” His desire is that these brethren would display the gospel through their lives so that others might be led to salvation.

It is within this context that we approach 1 Peter 3, where the apostle addresses the marriage relationship of a believer and non-believer. The encouragement is that through godly conduct on the part of the believer that the non-believer could be won to Christ and themselves “glorify God in the day of visitation.” While not everyone will be able to make specific application to this situation, there are several principles that are present that are to govern the lives of Christians of all ages.

CONDUCT MUST BE ANSWERABLE TO OUR PROFESSION OF FAITH

If we are to have an impact in our culture, we must submit to the social order, structure and the social patterns that God has designed. This requires having an attitude of submission that follows the example of our high priest, Jesus Christ (cf 2:21-25). This type of submissiveness involves at least four things: First, it begins with an attitude of entrusting oneself to God (cf. 2:23-25). The focus of our life must be on Jesus Christ. Second, submission requires respectful behavior (3:1-2). Nagging is not respectful behavior. Third, submission involves the development of a godly character (3:3-5). Fourth, submission includes doing what is right (3:6).

What is the result of this type of humble disposition? The unbeliever may be won to Christ. Note that he is not saying they will be saved without the word (1:23; Rom 1:16). The term “observe” was used of eyewitnesses (also in 1 Pt 2:12). Peter says that the unbeliever will be won by chaste behavior coupled with fear. One’s walk of life, in accordance with the teaching of Christ, becomes and example and will be the persuasive argument. In essence, it is more important what you are than what you say. The apostle further admonishes them to regard outward ornamentation as worthless in comparison with the adornment of the Christian’s character, which alone determine one’s worth in God’s sight. In comparison, we are called upon to clothe ourselves in “chaste conversation.” Kittle comments that this “originally purely externally religious concept now acquires a more ethical and inward significance; It signifies “moral purity and sincerity,” as in relation to Christ; According to 1 Pt. 1:17; 3:2, the “walk” of Christians is shaped by fear of God; according to 3:1, this can have an effect without words simply through good deeds, cf. 2:12; Jm. 3:13.”[1] This is the effect of being salt and light. Our lives are to be a reflection of God’s glory.

THE PART: “THE HIDDEN MAN OF THE HEART”

The contrast Peter makes in the text is between the inward person of the heart and the external ornamentation. Our adorning is focused inward. The term “adorning” is kosmos in the Greek, English words “cosmos” (the ordered universe) and “cosmetic.” It is the opposite of chaos. There is an implied contrast between the changing styles of the world (cf. v. 3) and the settled character of a redeemed life that adorns the spirit of a Christian. In Romans 12:2 Paul exhorts the saints, “Stop assuming an outward expression which is patterned after this world, an expression which does not come from, nor is it representative of what you are in your inner being as a regenerated child of God”.[2] We are to present ourselves a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to God, no longer fashioned according to the world, its mannerisms, speech expressions, styles or habits. Being “conformed to this world” is the action of an individual assuming an outward expression that does not come from within him, and it is not representative of his inner heart life.[3] Instead of using the guidelines of the world, we must learn to use the guidelines of the Word.

Your inner person is reflected on the outside (cf 1 Tim 2:8-10). Often times when we consider the subject of modesty, the focus usually centers on the visible characteristics of clothing. However, modesty is not first an issue of clothing. Just as Peter and Paul agree, submissiveness and modest living is first and issue of the heart. Anyone can wear modest clothing, however until the heart is transformed, one cannot truly be classified as a modest person.

Prior to Paul’s discussion of submission and modesty in 1 Timothy 2:8-10, the apostle reminds his readers of the sacrifice of life they offer unto God. Here we learn an important connection with our adornment of the heart to the death of Christ. Modesty is a reflection of our own death and resurrection. We died to the world and its values, and as a result, pride and arrogance are replaced with humility and joy. When Christians cultivate their spiritual lives and properly restrain their thoughts, passions, affections, etc., they portray an inner modesty and shame fastness that is reflective of their relationship to God. There will not be the vanity of life shown purely in outward adornment.

THE ORNAMENT: “NOT CORRUPTIBLE… A MEEK AND QUIET SPIRIT”

Our spirit is imperishable whereas the hair, jewelry and clothing that adorn the body are perishable. Glamour is artificial and external; true beauty is real and internal. Glamour is something a person can put on and take off, but true beauty is always present. Glamour is corruptible; it decays and fades. True beauty from the heart grows more wonderful as the years pass.

The hidden beauty of the heart is described as an “imperishable quality.” It is the same description Peter uses to speak of God’s imperishable inheritance, which He guards for believers in Heaven (i.e. 1:4) and of believers being born again of imperishable seed (i.e. 1:23). Paul uses this same term of our new resurrection bodies in 1 Corinthians 15 and of believers’ incorruptible crown in 1 Corinthians 9:25.

The hidden beauty of the heart is a “Meek and Quiet spirit.” Vine defines that spirit as “the opposite of self-assertiveness and self-interest; it is equanimity of spirit that is neither elated nor cast down, simply because it is not occupied with self at all.” It is a life that has fully denied self, taken up the cross and chosen to follow after Christ in humility and submission to the will of the Father.

THE VALUE: “IN THE SIGHT OF GOD OF GREAT PRICE”

The chief adornment of the Christian should be the Lord Jesus, manifested in and through the life of the believer. There is no greater gift that we can offer unto God than our life. The value of servitude in the Lord’s kingdom far exceeds the value of any clothing or jewelry the world can provide. In the sight of God such a life is of great price, “being of great value or worth, ordinarily of relatively high degree on a monetary scale, (very) expensive, costly.”[4] The Lord Jesus will be seen in our life, and our physical adornment will reflect Him. This is the ideal God-glorifying procedure upon the basis of which a Christian should act in the manner of personal adornment.

Through the gospel we become attractive in the right way. First, through being adorned with “proper clothing.” Second, through the “hidden person of the heart.” Have you clothed yourself in such fashion? If you have, then you are being transformed from the inside out. You are no longer of this world, its values, fashions, etc. Your citizenship is in Heaven, and it will be manifest in your appearance.


[1] Theological dictionary of the New Testament. 1964- (G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley & G. Friedrich, Ed.) (electronic ed.)

[2] Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader (Ro 12:2). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

[3] Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader (Ro 12:2). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

[4] Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed.) (850). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Spiritual Adornment

By David Bushnaq

As requested, this is an article on 1 Timothy 2: 8-10. In these verses the Apostle Paul is telling the young preacher, Timothy how one should behave in the assembly. The verses in this case refer to adorning oneself in modesty and in self control, not with costly attire, but with what is proper for good works. Of course, what’s true for women is also true for men.

Now we know what Paul means when he’s bringing this to Timothy, but while we consider this physical adornment, what about our spiritual adornment?

Clothes are one of the first things people notice about us. Our clothes tell a lot about who we are as a person. We know that we, as Christians, are to dress with modesty and with self control, but what about our spiritual clothing?

While we are at church, we are naturally dressed in our best. We know we’re doing this to encourage ourselves, our brethren, but more than that, we are doing this to please God. But how are we dressed at work? At home? Our spirituality could slack in those more relaxed environments.

Our clothes show who we are. Many times we look at ourselves in the mirror to make sure what we’re wearing is appropriate for where we are about to go. We wear different outfits devoted to work, play, or relaxing at home. Our aim is to look our best to others, but how do we look spiritually?

Our example is one of the tools we can use as Christians to lead others to Christ. It could also be one of the biggest pitfalls we could have against us if we aren’t careful. As such we are to always make sure we take our spiritual outfits into consideration just as much as our physical.

Paul mentions not to wear “costly array,” which of course is referring to expensive jewelry or accessories to make us look more luxurious [or just more appealing] than we really are. Many people today wear t-shirts, crosses, wrist bands, and other accessories to show how “godly” they are, but are they really? Our example can tell people a lot more about us, and our Christianity, than some trinkets that bear religious themes on them.

So then, how is one to dress spiritually? Verse 10 gives us the answer. We are to do good works, which are proper for those who profess God. Actions speak louder than words and as such, we are to always make sure our Christianity is one of the first things people notice about us. It’s just as flattering as a well-chosen outfit.

While we may not realize it, people do notice how we dress, so much more so with our spiritual adornment as well. You never know who could come up to you and ask you a question about Jesus because they know you are a devout Christian and that could be the doorway you needed to teach them of His love!

Imagine yourself looking into a spiritual mirror now. How would you look? Would you be wearing Godly clothes, or spiritual? How much skin would you be showing? [By skin, I mean traces of worldliness]. How is your spiritual adornment at work? Hanging out with friends?

Please continue to keep this in mind [as I do] and remember that, while clothes don’t make the man, they often do make people’s first impression of you. If someone you’ve never met before came up to you and saw your spiritual adornment manifested as your physical clothing, what would they think? Would you be ashamed to be seen outside wearing it, or would you proudly display your Christianity for others to see?

Bodybuilding and Other Attempts to Draw Attention to the Physical Body

By Randy Sexton

Have you ever thought about whether a Christian should be a bodybuilder? Is there a conflict between wanting to get in shape – to have “ripped abs” and “bulging biceps” – and in having a proper perspective of inner versus outer beauty?

I must admit that I have no personal experience from which to speak about being a “body builder.” I have over the years tried to maintain some type of fitness routine but the focus of those attempts was to stay healthy, rather than to “create a body I could be proud of.”

In preparing to write this article, I did try to research the subject by searching the Internet for “body building.” My search returned links to a number of sites. www.bodybuilding.com claimed the largest selection of bodybuilding articles, exercises, workouts, supplements and community links. When I searched for “bodybuilding and the Christian” I found that there is an organization called the International Christian Bodybuilding Association (www.christianbodybuilder.com). Their website says, “The ICBBA was founded as a place for Christian athletes to meet up for support and encouragement in the sport of bodybuilding, fitness and figure. As members we strive to use our success in sports to inspire and motivate others, instilling hope which can change lives.”

What do the Scriptures teach about health and fitness? Using a good concordance, you can look up “body,” “exercise,” “food,” “drink,” etc. As you look up the references, the following may have application to the topic under discussion: 1 Tim. 4:8; 2Cor. 10:10; Rom. 12:1; Rom. 1:24; Mt. 6:25; Mt. 10:28; Rom. 6:12; 1Cor. 6:18-19; 1Cor 9:27; Phil. 1:20 and Js. 3:6. Read those and then send me your comments and let me know what you think.

A resource that I have recommended before in this column is David Banning’s workbook, Tough Choices: How to Make Wise Decisions. This is one study in a great series of studies in his Get Them Talking High School Workbook series! In a lesson titled, “Tough Choices About How I Look,” he recommends an exercise in which the student works through a series of statements marking them either as true or as false. One of those statements is, “It’s okay to wear clothes that cause people to notice your body and that make you look sexy.” Perhaps this is the issue that would be more pertinent to the young women in our reading audience and the bodybuilding issue is more pertinent to the young men.

I am interested in hearing your comments, not only about this article but also about this column and this website. Do you regularly visit the website? Do you find the articles informative and uplifting? Are there topics that you would like to see discussed? Would you like to write articles for publication here or do you know of others who would like to do so. We are looking particularly for young teenage and “twenty-something” Christians

Thanks for reading with me young friends. I hope that you had a blessed 2011! We wish you a spiritually rewarding 2012 and hope that we can play a small part of that.

Remembering My Creator: Volume 1, Number 10, November 2011

Remembering My Creator

Volume 1, Number 10

Theme: Music

In This Issue:

  • “Thoughts to Consider” By Jordan Shouse
  • “The Power That Your Choice of Music Has Over Your Life” by Randy Sexton

Thoughts to Consider

By Jordan Shouse

I ask you to consider the thoughts I present in this article. While on the subject of music we may encourage each other not to listen to vulgar, profane, and negative music, realizing the impact they hold on one another, I’d like to look at the other extreme.

There are many who listen to Christian music. Perhaps you do. When I use the term “Christian music” in this article, I am and will be referring to hymns and songs about God used with instruments. Some label such music as Christian rock, or Gospel. Such music is gaining popularity. Just take a trip to a religious book store and you’ll see all sorts of genres within the Christian music field. There’s country and rap, rock and alternative; many different artists and albums to listen to. You may be wondering, “What’s the big deal?” I did once. In fact, I use to listen to only listen to Christian music. The argument I made, which others have made, is that it is such positive music which is focused on God. When listening to the music it helps me think more about God and think positive thoughts. That sounds like wholesome and harmless, right?

Consider with me some thoughts. In the New Testament there is silence about the command, example or even logical conclusion that the Christians used instruments in their worship. Historian’s support that mechanical instruments were not added until centuries after the church began. In the New Testament, the command we find for music within the Church is singing (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). This is the pattern we follow.

When it comes to listening to music on our own, and choosing to listen to Christian music, there are some questions we should ask. “When can God’s name be used in a song and it not either be praise or blasphemous?” We know God’s name is holy (Ps. 105:1-3). Can we use His name in a song without using it casually, and it not be praise? I don’t believe so. It’s either one or the other. “Does it matter where I am or who I am with to worship God?” We know this answer is no. Jesus told the woman by the well in John 4 that there will come a time (and it has) when worship will not be confined to a place such as Jerusalem. David worshipped God alone. Abraham and Isaac worshipped God by themselves on the mountain. We can worship God in a car, by ourselves, in our homes, with a few friends, this can be done. Now there is a pattern to follow. We are to come together with our brothers and sisters on the first day of the week to worship, for the collection, for the Lord’s Supper. But it doesn’t mean that me singing in the car along with a Christian music CD is not worship or praise to God.

If then, we are not to worship God with instruments when we are all together, why is it ok when we are alone? Does God’s pattern for worship change for how many are worshipping, or where one worships? No. If it is wrong to worship with instruments in the assembly, it is equally wrong to worship with instruments alone, whether if I’m playing them, or singing along with a CD.

Some may say, “But its praise to the Lord. How could He not like this? It’s not for us, it is all for Him. Surely He enjoys and accepts this praise?” King Saul made a similar argument in 1 Samuel 15 about some livestock they saved instead of killed. Saul was commanded to utterly destroy everything. Saul saved some animals and said it was to sacrifice to the Lord, it was for worship. Samuel responded with a phrase worth repeating: “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice…” 1 Sam. 15:22. It is better to obey God, to follow, obey, and worship God the way He commands, than to do as we wish and label it as worship. Just because we call something worship doesn’t mean God will accept it. Notice Matthew 7:21-23.

Though this music may be positive and help others reflect upon the Lord, the ends don’t justify the means. There are other ways of reaching this goal. There’s positive music out there which is not praising the Lord, there is also a-cappella hymns and songs, which are not only worshipping God, but following the NT pattern.

One more thought to think about: you may think, “I just listen to the music. It is not worship to me. I know the difference between right and wrong.” How are we to be consistent in our teaching to others when we are listening to this music? If we try and teach our family and friends about the NT and worship, they will notice we are being inconsistent. “You say it is wrong to worship with instruments in the assembly, but you listen to that very music all the time? What’s the difference” If we wish to be successful in our teaching, we must be consistent.

I encourage you to consider these words. They are brief and not well elaborated. I am open to discussing this further if you have any questions. I hope these words help in your studying and understanding of the Word and God’s will for you.

 

The Power That Your Choice of Music Has Over Your Life

By Randy Sexton

In an October 2010 article, titled “Reeling In the Years,” author Adam R. Holz described some of the chages that have taken place in pop music over the last several years. One thing, however, that has NOT changed, according to Holz, is the significant influence it has in the lives of young people. He says, “For all those changes, however, much remains the same when it comes to pop music’s focus … and its influence. The perennial themes of love and sex, pleasure and hedonism, as well as insecurity, broken hearts and alienation still dominate. More importantly, music is an increasingly significant influence in young people’s media-saturated lives.”

He goes on to site the findings of a Kaiser Family Foundation study, Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-year-olds,

that young people today are consuming more music than ever: 2 hours, 31 minutes daily as of 2009, compared to 1 hour, 48 minutes in 1999. And the messages they internalize shape their lives in two significant areas: identity and behavior….. Perhaps more than any other entertainment medium, music invites young listeners to identify with artists whose lyrics provide an outlet for all that stuff roiling about inside. As they listen to and identify with the messages and values proffered by their favorite artists, it invariably affects the decisions they make and how they see the world…. researchers are documenting a link between what teens listen to and how they behave. In other words, lyrics matter. For example, a 2006 RAND Corporation study found that 12- to 17-year-olds who frequently listened to music with sexually degrading lyrics were almost twice as likely to engage in sexual activity within the ensuing two years as peers who rarely listened or completely refrained.

“Young people—and perhaps some of us who are older—may be tempted to buy the lie that music doesn’t influence our choices or how we see the world. But the evidence, be it scientific or anecdotal (including 20 years of letters to Plugged In ), suggests that music’s influence is indeed profound. That’s why we’ll keep putting popular lyrics under the microscope to help you and your family think carefully and critically about what musicians are saying to our children.”

(http://www.pluggedin.com/familyroom/articles/2010/pi20music.aspx)

One author suggests an exercise to teach young people how to listen discriminately to select appropriate songs. He says, “Once every few weeks, try playing a few top ten songs and put the lyrics on an overhead. Then discuss them. One good way to pick appropriate songs would be to take a survey of their favorite groups and select songs from the most popular ones. Use questions like:

  • What is the writer’s perspective on life?
  • What does this song say about the value of human existence?
  • What does it say about love?
  • Is the song appealing to you? Why?
  • Is the song consistent with a life with God or outside of God?
  • Do they mean what they sing about, or are they just trying to make money or be popular?
  • Is the author searching for something?
  • Is the song good or bad? True or False? Is it mixed? If so, where does it go wrong? How far can you agree with it?”

(“Using Secular Music in Youth Ministry” by John Fischer, on page 468 of Reaching a Generation for Christ by Richard R. Dunn and Mark H. Senter III)

Young people, I commend the words of both of these individuals for your prayerful consideration. Think about the influence that your selection of music has in your life. As you strive to be an example to others in your speech, conduct, love, faith and purity (1st Timothy 4:12), think critically about your culture. As Mr. Fischer says, “Our role in society is not to reject culture or run away from it or judge it without compassion, but to be transformed by God’s Word in the way we think and act toward it.”

Thanks for reading with me young friends. Have a blessed day!

— Randy Sexton

Remembering My Creator: Volume 1, Number 9, March 2011

 

Remembering My Creator

Volume 1, Number 9

Theme: Tough Choices About Friends

In This Issue:

  • “The Qualities I Want in a Friend” By Ryan Sexton
  • “Coming to a Brother in Sin” by David Bushnaq
  • “How The Need For Approval Influences Your Selection of Friends” by Randy Sexton

The Qualities I Want in a Friend

By Ryan Sexton

The exercise that Mr. Banning uses in his book Tough Choices, challenges you to spend $10 to buy the qualities you want in a friend. He lists several qualities as $4 qualities, and others as $3, $2 and $1. The challenge is for you to select a combination of these qualities that do not add up to more than $10. He mingles such solid qualities as being a Christian, having high moral standards, being faithful and loyal with more superficial qualities like being good looking, having money, having a nice house and being a good dresser. The point of the exercise, of course is to reinforce what is taught in the Bible.

What does the Bible teach about choosing your friends? Notice the following passages:

Proverbs 1:8-19 says don’t be with sinners who steal, murder, plunder, lie in wait

for blood, only to ambush and those who run to evil.

 

John 12:42-43 says to stay away from those who believe in Him but will not follow Him for

fear of what others will think.

 

1 Corinthians 15:33 says “bad company ruins good morals”

What all these verses are saying is

1) Don’t be with sinners.

2) Don’t be with people who lie

3) Being with people who are bad will turn your heart bad.

 

Coming to a Brother in Sin

By David Bushnaq

This is one of the most difficult articles that I’ve had to write. Coming to a brother in Christ is a very difficult thing that one has to do. If you come on too strong, they may lose heart, if you take it too lightly, they may feel it’s not that big of a deal. So how should one go about doing so?

First it’s important to remember that they are a Christian, same as we are, and as such we must do so with humility, as we could very well be in need of someone coming to us as well. If the Christian is newer to the church, we must take a special care for fear of them becoming discouraged.

However, it must be done. Someone comes to you and brings something to your attention, that someone you are close to has done something to wrong another, it must be dealt with before it gets worse.

So how does one go about doing so? Well, first we are to come to the brother “man to man” so to speak. Matthew 18: 5 says ““If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” A lot of the time the person may very well not know they have done this, and the issue is dealt with just like that. The brother is forgiven and you have indeed gained your brother.

However, in more difficult cases it may be that your words aren’t enough. As such we have recorded in verse 16 “But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.” In this case, maybe older, wiser people may be able to verify what was said and may give the approach you need to gain back your brother.

My friends, discipline is only half of the battle. If I have sinned and need to be corrected of this sin, and I truly repent of it, the church will welcome me back with open arms as one would a brother who was lost [as in the Prodigal son {Luke 15:11-32} We are to be joyous when our brother returns and show that we really care for the person. It is because of Jesus and his death that we have the blessing to pray to the Lord asking for the forgiveness of our sins and the hope of a life with him in Heaven. We are truly blessed in this manner!

But if the brother is unwilling, regardless of the pleas that you have made so far, or if the issue is a public manner, the issue must be brought to the church in the hopes that someone will say or do whatever needs to be said/done to touch their heart and have them repent, for if they even neglect the Church, they must be put off from the church, a situation that is painful and very hard to do.

So what do you say? Each case is different and I can not give a catch-all circumstance that will touch everyone’s heart and cause them to repent. All we can do is look to the bible for examples. When David sinned with Beth-Sheba, Jonathan came to rebuke him. He did not do so in anger or malice, but with subtlety and in such a way that David himself admitted to his own fault. This is found in 2 Samuel 12.

Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 2: 24-25 that we must not be quarrelsome, but be kind, able to teach, and patient when wronged. Being an angry, spiteful person when wronged may be an easy thing for me to do, but that just makes the situation worse because instead of helping, we might say something to hurt them and drive them further from the church! We must NEVER do this! The passage goes on to say we are to correct those in opposition with gentleness. Being a Christian is a labor of love, my friends, we must always remember this!

In Galatians 6:1 We read “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.” We can ask for the aid of our brothers and sisters in Christ in times of difficulty or temptation. We are blessed to have older, wiser people who can offer aid in our trials because they have been in our position. They grew up in a sinful world as we did, and maybe they can say what we’re unable to.

There is a beautiful passage in James I’d like to touch on quickly before I end this article. James 5:19-20 My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” So powerful it can be for us to restore our brother to the Lord! This is a very encouraging passage knowing that when we sin [as we all do] when we do repent of it, ALL of our sins are forgiven! And when we repent, we will be restored to the Lamb’s book of life, and not us only, but everyone who repents!

I hope this article has helped in some way and I truly appreciate your time and attention in reading this.

 

 

How the Need for Approval Influences Your Selection of Friends

By Randy Sexton

This week I began re-reading a book that I had read a few years ago, and came upon a statement that fits well into this month’s topic. As a young person, you face a great deal of peer pressure that can weigh heavily upon your choice of friends.

As you consider living a life with God as its center and with Jesus as your king, think about the following statements:

“Many people are driven by the need for approval. They allow the expectations … of friends to control their lives…. Others are driven by peer pressure, always worried by what others might think. Unfortunately, those who follow the crowd usually get lost in it…. Being controlled by the opinions of others is a guaranteed way to miss God’s purposes for your life” (The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, pp. 29-30).

May I suggest to you that, if you use the wrong standard, it will unduly influence you in your selection of friends. Consider with me three mistakes that the need for approval may cause you to make in your selection of friends.

First, you may hang out with the wrong crowd and find yourself developing bad habits. Many a person has taken up smoking or drugs or alcohol or pre-marital sex because they have associated with those to whom these things were important. Do not fall into that trap. Understand the temptations that are there and make plans ahead of time to avoid them.

Second, you may become too close to the wrong person and find yourself marrying someone that will bring you down. It is easy to fall prey to the allure of a person’s good looks and not look for the “adornment … of a gentle and quiet spirit,” (1st Peter 3:4) as you reach your dating years. But be wise and understand what is really important and choose someone who will help you on your journey to heaven.

Third, you may find that, after you have lived a number of years, you have wasted your potential and now have little to show for the time that you been given to prepare for eternity. As Mr. Warren points out in his excellent book, we were put here by God to prepare for eternity. Our earthly body is just a temporary residence. Having the right perspective of this life as only a preparation for the life to come, will influence our choices about how we spend our time, our money, and our talents and on the value that we place on relationships.

Is this an area that you struggle with? Is it tough for you to stand for things that you know will make you unpopular? Do you seek out those who are the most popular, who are the most athletic, and who are the best looking to be your friends? Do you shun those who are not popular, who are not considered “cool,” and who don’t quite measure up in terms of their “outward appearance”? Please consider the exercise that Ryan mentions above from David Banning’s book. What are the qualities that really matter to God? Make it those qualities that you value in a friend. Look at the hearts of people rather than at their outward appearance. Use the same selection criteria that God does, as he looks for those to serve Him (see 1st Samuel 16:7).

Remembering My Creator: Volume 1, Number 8, Jan/Feb 2011

Remembering My Creator

Volume 1, Number 8

Themes: Drinking & Dealing With Your Parents

In This Issue:

  • Editorial: January and February Issues Combined
  • “Drink – Why Would You? by Shannon Harden
  • “Wise Up” by Jordan Shouse
  • “Teenage Drinking and Its Consequences ” by Randy Sexton
  • “Honoring Mom and Dad” by Jordan Shouse
  • “Be Thankful for Parents That Are Involved in Your Life” by Randy Sexton

Editorial: January and February Issues Combined

By Randy Sexton

This Issue of Remembering My Creator combines January and February themes, drinking and dealing with parents. Writing for a journal such as this requires a commitment of time and energy. Both of these have been in short supply for both your editor and the contributors to this electronic journal. Life sometimes gets in the way of things that we would like to do. Personally I enjoy writing and I appreciate the opportunity that today’s technology provides to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ.

It is my hope and prayer that some benefit is being derived by the small audience of readers that we have. My website counter tells me that visits to our website generally averages only around 10 hits a day, with a good day jumping to 30 or so. I also provide an RSS feed to my Facebook page, so we may have a few readers accessing this material through that path. I am definitely not an internet technology guru, so I take much of this on faith.

If you benefit from the pieces that have been written by these young Christians, who are dedicating time and energy to this effort, drop them an e-mail and tell them so. I would be happy to relay those messages, if you would like to send them to achristiansvoice@sbcglobal.net

Drink – Why Would You?

By Shannon Harden

Currently we have many examples and role models on MTV and other reality shows to show us how drinking can affect your life. From celebrities showing how cool it is getting jail time for public intoxication or getting your own 15 minutes of fame acting like a fool or being on a reality show for addiction. Some may say, “But, I would never do that.” Often we are influenced by our culture and our friends. I’m no longer in high school, but I recently read an article that discussed how binge drinking and alcohol related illnesses were on the rise for boys and girls age 11 – 15. That means kids are now starting to drink in middle school, something that boggles my mind. Instead of lecturing how bad alcohol can be for you, and how much it can damage your life and your body, let’s talk about the purpose of drinking.

I know that when I was in school the main reason most of my fellow students said they drank was because they were bored. God tells us that allowing ourselves to get “bored” can be a dangerous thing. God tells us, “We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. 12 Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat. 13 And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good (2 Thess.3:11-13 ESV).” If we don’t keep ourselves busy doing God’s will – serving him and others, then we open ourselves up to Satan’s deception.

In reality, whether they acknowledged it or truly realized it themselves, most of my fellow students drank because they wanted to be in the “in” crowd. But do you really want to be friends with people who are partaking in drinking parties, and all the things that go along with the drinking anyway? We’re told that a friend loves at all times (Prov. 17:17) and would a real friend want to put you in harm’s way? God also tells us who we should want to have fellowship and friendships with. We are supposed to stay away from friends who will corrupt us (1 Cor 15:11, 13, 33). A perfect example of what can happen when you become friends with ungodly people is shown with Solomon. God repeatedly told Solomon to be careful because people, who you allow to be in a very close relationship, can turn your heart away from God (1 Kings 11:2). Not only did Solomon ignore God’s warning, but he ended up marrying some ungodly women. For those of you dating, this is one of the closest relationships and one of the best ways to lead your heart away from God. Don’t be deceived, those who you allow to be close to you can influence you for good or evil. It’s your choice which you allow into your life, and who you allow to influence you.

Even if you think you are far stronger than Solomon (the wisest man) to be fooled into turning from God, alcohol has been proven to give you a lapse in judgment. I can’t even express through this typed medium how many people were affected by alcohol. There were drunken girls who got pregnant while at a party, who then aborted those babies later. There was more than one funeral that was attended after a fellow student chose to drink at the party and then drive or ride home with someone who was drunk. God tells us the type of people we are to be, those who renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, godly lives (Titus 2:11-14).

Thankfully alcohol has never been a temptation for me; I have never understood the fun in acting like a fool and getting yourself into precarious situations – then puking your guts out the next day. For those of you who struggle with this, remember – don’t be deceived. It really isn’t fun, Satan is deceiving you (Prov. 20:1; Hosea 4:11; Isa. 5:11, 22). It may look good, but in the end it is not worth it. “Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it is bites like a serpent and stings like an adder (Prov 23:31-32 ESV).”

Wise Up

By Jordan Shouse

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, (Ephesians 5:15-18)

With the subject of drinking, an approach often made is to show that it is sinful to become drunk (v.18), thus do not get drunk. But, if you have noticed as others have, the Scriptures do not place a ban on drinking alcoholic drinks, just the intoxication which comes from them. The logical conclusion that some have drawn is that I can drink as long as I don’t get drunk.

Have you ever seen a rattlesnake? I was hiking with a friend once and came inches away from one. The bite of a rattlesnake is quite poisonous and can be fatal. This I knew as I in horror saw this thing rattling within striking distance of my legs. My friend with me at the time wanted to stomp on it, just to see what would happen. I knew what would happen, he’d stop, the snake would chomp and I’d be carrying my friend to the hospital. I’m thankful he listened to me and left it alone. I could have been without a good friend today.

This is exactly how some treat alcohol. I can have some; I can drink up to a certain point, just as long as I don’t get drunk. Is that the attitude a Christian should have towards something which can potentially lead to sin? The attitude today is “how close can I get without actually being bitten?” Temptation and sin is nothing to take lightly. The eternal destination of my soul is at stake. Alcohol may seem like a cool thing to do. Your peers may be involved with it, wanting you to as well. It may seem like a stress reliever or nothing more than a cool refreshment. Think again! You may think there’s no harm in one drink, but for some that’s all it takes before you’re bitten.

It is an honorable thing to flee from temptation. Solomon said, “A wise man fears, and departs from evil; but the fool rages and is confident. (Proverbs 14:16) Paul would say, “Act wise.” Jesus calls you down the narrow way. It’s a path of sacrifice and discipline, but it’s also the path which leads to Heaven. On the path you’ll hear the rattle of the rattlesnake. Before you consider taking one step closer, think again. Be wise, consider the will of God in your decisions. Is this something which would honor my God, or something which would take me further away from Him? And don’t be afraid to flee, it may save your life!

Teenage Drinking and Its Consequences

By Randy Sexton

One of the temptations that you face as a young person is to engage in the drinking of beer and other alcoholic beverages. Much of what you see and hear in the media and from your peers is designed to entice you to participate. What you are presented is the allure and the glitz and the fun associated with drinking. What is hid from you are the disastrous consequences and the heartbreak brought into the lives of young people who are victims.

Consider the statistics from this quote at learn-about-alcoholism.com:

“The teenage drinking statistics are staggering. More than half of all high school seniors report being drunk at least once. But many teens are drinking more than just once. Teenage alcoholism is a serious problem in the U.S. and in other countries.

It’s one thing to talk about the teenage drinking statistics, but it’s another to look at the real-life problems caused by teenage alcoholism. Teen alcoholics often suffer from a number of problems related to their drinking. They often suffer from a number of problems that led up to their excessive drinking, as well.

Often the first sign that a teen has a drinking problem is poor performance at school. Grades drop, a student begins to have unexcused absences, and may get in fights with other students. Teen alcoholics often have difficulty getting along with authority figures such as teachers and principals, as well.

Teenage alcoholism also causes problems at home. Teens often become withdrawn from their family, and the problem getting along with authority figures leads to frequent arguments with parents.

Alcoholic teens may also have problems with the law. Underage drinking itself is illegal. Teens may also drive while under the influence. They may also engage in risky behaviors, such as driving too fast. They may become threatening or violent during arguments at home or school.

Teen alcoholics may also begin using other substances, such as marijuana or other drugs. While alcohol is the most abused substance among teens, it can often serve as a “gateway drug,” leading into more serious substances. For instance, teens who use alcohol are 50 times more likely to use cocaine than teens who don’t drink alcohol.”

(Source: http://www.learn-about-alcoholism.com/teenage-drinking-statistics.html)

Also, consider this from http://teenage-drinking.net:

“Teenage drinking is a widespread epidemic in the United States Today; in fact, teenage drinking is so common that over fifty percent of high school seniors reported drinking heavily within 1 month period prior to an annual study… Teenage drinking is more than just a nuisance or an adolescent phase. Of a large study of high school seniors, 80 percent reported binge drinking, getting drunk, or drinking and driving, and of those students, over 50 percent admitted that drinking had made them feel ill, get arrested, have a car accident, and miss school or work. Studies also indicate that teenage drinking causes adolescents to have a lesser chance of being successful at normal adult achievements and goals, such as achieving higher education, getting married, attaining employment, and being financially successful.

There are many additional risk factors for teenage drinking and alcoholism. These include:

· Family history

· Childhood hyperactivity and/or aggression

· Mental disorders such as anxiety or depression

· Suicidal thoughts and behaviors

· Family’s view on alcohol consumption

· Lack of parental ties and/or monitoring

· Peer’s attitudes towards and consumption of alcohol

· Childhood abuse or exposure to violence and trauma

· Awareness of alcohol (usually due to advertising)

There are several negative results of teenage drinking that are quite severe and cannot be ignored. Of all car accidents involving teens, one out of five show alcohol present in his or her system. Teenage drinking is also associated with sexual promiscuity and early sexual encounters. Adolescents who drink are more often to have risky sexual behavior, have unprotected sex (which leads to a high risk of all sexually transmitted diseases), be coerced to have sex, and be forced to participate in sexual activities. Regardless of what behaviors may be acted out while drinking, one consequence of teenage drinking cannot be avoided. Growth and development of the bones is impaired, based on findings of a recent study on laboratory animals. Finally, one of the biggest issues with teenage drinking is that alcohol is often just the beginning of substance abuse problems. Alcohol has been referred to as the “gateway” drug, because it is often the first step in abusing any substance.

Many teens that start abusing alcohol find it difficult to stop for many reasons, and some will need intervention to prevent future alcoholism and potential drug addiction.“

Dear young friend, I would echo Shannon’s advise in her good article, “…don’t be deceived. It really isn’t fun, Satan is deceiving you (Prov. 20:1; Hosea 4:11; Isa. 5:11, 22). It may look good, but in the end it is not worth it. ‘Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it is bites like a serpent and stings like an adder (Prov 23:31-32 ESV).’”

Honoring Mom and Dad

By Jordan Shouse

A familiar passage in the New Testament on the subject of parents and children is Ephesians 6:1-3 – “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (this is the first commandment with a promise), that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Paul lists the command given to children from the 10 commandments, honor your parents. To honor means to show respect or esteem. You’ll notice that when reading the Lord’s command to children there aren’t many exceptions. The passage doesn’t read: “Honor your father and mother if they are good parents,” or “when it is convenient for you,” or even “if they never make a mistake.” The only exception given is the short three word phrase, “in the Lord” meaning that if a parent asks their child to do something God would not want us to do, it is only then that one may not obey their parents.

How do we honor our parents? Firstly is by obedience. You show respect to your parents when you do what they ask of you to do. Some may think they have it rough, that mom and dad really pile on the work load. From homework to chores, to helping others, it may seem like a lot. Trust me when I say that good parents who truly love their children have their best interest always in mind. Do as they say. Not only do as they say, but do it efficiently and excellently. When mom and dad ask you to clean your room, instead of waiting and procrastinating which will usually anger them, do it right away which will leave you much more time to do the things you want to do. Also do it excellently. If they ask for the clothes to be put away, cramming them under the bed is not what they had in mind. When we do things right the first time, giving our best, it makes a world of difference and truly shows our parents that we love and respect them.

We also honor our parents by listening. “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” (Proverbs 1:8) Parents have a lot to say. From the habits you form to the friends you hang out with, the movies you watch, the music you listen to, the people you date, and especially your relationship with the Lord; parents will want to know. It may seem like their advice is outdated and irrelevant to your life. It may seem that moms and dads don’t know what it’s like to be in your shoes. To some respect you’re correct. There are some things specific to being a youth in 2011 that some parents may not understand very well. However, they have been 12, 13, 16, 20, etc. before and know what it is like to be a youth trying to serve the Lord. Again, remember that they love you and want more than anything for you to be in Heaven. Listen to them. You’ll be amazed one day of how wise you’re parents actually are!

May I encourage you to let your parents know how special you think they are? There are many today who don’t have their parents anymore and I know they would give anything just to have one more day to be with them. Don’t forget to tell your parents you love them and you’re thankful for them. Trust me, if it weren’t for your parents there wouldn’t be you!

Be Thankful For Parents That Are Involved in Your Life!

By Randy Sexton

As the father of ten-year-old and twelve-year-old boys, I can attest to the fact that there is often disagreement between what child and parent think is the best for the child. As you read these words, where do you stand in your relationship with Mom and Dad? Would you say” things are terrible” or would you say “things are great” or would you say you are somewhere in between?

Please ponder the following question: What does God require of your parents in regard to you? Does He expect them to give you all the freedom of choice that you think you deserve? Does He expect them to give you everything (i.e. video games, gadgets, latest style clothes, etc.) that you want? Does He expect them to stay out of your business and only get involved if you ask for their help?

You should not need to ponder these questions very long until you realize that what I have described is what many parents, who are more concerned with their own lives than that of their children, demonstrate by the way that they act.

Be thankful if you have parents that are involved in your life. Be thankful if you have parents who take seriously the charge given them by God to explain to you the basis of faith in Him. Be thankful if you have parents who want to know your friends and the home environments from which they come. David Banning, in his workbook for teenagers called Tough Choices tells young people, “Read these two passages that talk about your relationship with your parents (Ephesians 6:1-3 and Proverbs 6:20-23). Then choose one and write a brief essay explaining what it means” (p. 13).

If you have a father who recognizes his God-assigned role to be the spiritual leader of your family, express your thanks to him for his guidance. In urging men to be “point men” in their families, Steve Farrar says, “God is looking for men between twenty-five and forty-five who will commit to be “rocks” for their families. These kind of rocks are characterized by an unwavering commitment to their wives, a willingness to get involved in the lives of their children, and a gut-level desire to follow hard after Jesus Christ” (Point Man, pp. 227-228).

Remembering My Creator – Volume 1, Number 7, December 2010

Remembering My Creator

Volume 1, Number 7

Theme: TV and Movies

In This Issue:

  • “Television: The Good, Bad and Ugly” by Randy Sexton
  • “Volume and Variety” by Jordan Shouse
  • “Celebrity Worship” by David Bushnaq

Television and Movies: The Good, Bad and Ugly

By Randy Sexton

This month we turn our attention to another societal influence that you face as a young person. Both are relative late-comers in the history of man. “The beginnings of mechanical television can be traced back to the discovery of the photoconductivity of the element selenium by Willoughby Smith in 1873, the invention of a scanning disk by Paul Gottlieb Nipkow in 1884 and John Logie Baird’s demonstration of televised moving images in 1926…. The first regularly scheduled television service in the United States began on July 2, 1928. The Federal Radio Commission authorized C.F. Jenkins to broadcast from experimental station W3XK in Wheaton Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C. For at least the first eighteen months, 48-line silhouette images from motion picture film were broadcast, although beginning in the summer of 1929 he occasionally broadcast in halftones.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_television)

As with other choices that you face, how you spend your time in regard to movies and TV can be either an encouragement to your intellectual development and your spiritual edification or a detriment to them.

In a recent article that appeared on the Focus on The Family Website, Rhonda Handlon asks, “How much TV does your family watch? She then proceeds to give advice for balancing TV time and its influence in our homes. In that article she says, “Television viewing has grown steadily since the first sets were introduced in the late 1920s. American kids aged 2-18 now spend an average of 5:29 hours using media each day, with the lion’s share of that attributed to TV. Studies show extensive viewing may be to blame for aggressive or violent behavior, poor academic performance, precocious sexuality, obesity and substance abuse.”

Realizing that many parents are not comfortable with their family viewing habits, she recommends several steps be taken to address this issue. My suggestion for you as a young person is to discuss these suggestions with your parents:

  • Schedule viewing. Together with your parents, plan a weekly program schedule.
  • Set physical limits on TV viewing. Turn the TV off during meals. If you have a TV in your bedroom, consider removing it.
  • Watch TV together. Talk with your parents about positive behaviors and point out unacceptable words and behaviors, and talk about the better way.
  • Talk back to the TV. When a character says or does something you don’t agree with, say so out loud.
  • Plan weekly family nights. Turn off the TV and take out board games, go on a nature hike, play Frisbee, read books together, go out for ice cream.
  • Use your VCR liberally. Preview new programs, edit out risqué or violent commercials, and choose optimum viewing times instead of being at the mercy of the broadcaster’s schedule.
  • Encourage your parents to be good examples. Ask them to take an honest look at their own viewing habits, reminding them that what they do speaks so much louder than what they say.

(http://www.focusonthefamily.com/entertainment/mediawise/the-family-media-guardian/tv.aspx)

Volume and Variety

By Jordan Shouse

The assignment for this month is an important subject to address. Most of us have our favorite TV shows and movies. Both are entertaining and enjoyable. It’s fun to go to the movies with your friends, or to relax at home watching a show. As innocent as both may seem, a Christian must be truly cautious and of sound judgment in all things, especially our entertainment. Let me bring some thoughts to consider. You may not agree with me, and I understand that. I’d love to discuss these things further if perhaps you may have a differing view or opinion.

Firstly, there is the myth of detachment. It is the belief that what goes on within the show or movie stays in that show or movie, unaffecting reality. This really couldn’t be further from the truth. What occurs in the entertainment we watch leaves an impression. The words said, the images seen, the thoughts suggested, they are all now in your mind. That’s a potentially dangerous thing, because the mind is where our words, actions, motives, even being originate (Matt. 12:33-37; Matt. 5:21-22; Prov. 23:7). The words you shouldn’t say, the images you shouldn’t think, the attitudes you shouldn’t dwell upon can all be lastingly formed in your mind by watching bad media. Have you ever heard someone say, “It won’t affect me?” “The cursing doesn’t affect me.” “Those sensual scenes don’t get to me.” What are we saying? Sin doesn’t bother me. I can sit and willingly watch people commit horrendous sins, hear people abuse the name of the Lord and use other profanities, and it doesn’t bother me? Perhaps this is where you are. I remember in my youth using this excuse. I was a fan of action and would tell my parents that the blood the gore didn’t bother me.

Let me offer two thoughts of advice on this idea: 1. NEVER watch anything which will lead you to sin. It doesn’t matter how cool or popular, how many are going to see it. Watching a movie with words that will stick in your mind, scenes of promiscuity, sexual immorality, we could go on and on. It truly is not worth it. No movie is ever worth ruining your relationship with God. Keep pure. This can all be avoided by being as informed as you can about what you’re going to watch. Look up the movie before going to see what it involves. Pluggedin.com is a good site to try. 2. Protect your light. A great danger to shining our lights into the world is affiliation with things contrary to the message we proclaim. It will be incredibly difficult to teach friends and family the importance of holy and righteous living when we claim to be addicted to shows which focus on sinful behavior and lifestyles. You are a soldier, a planter in God’s vineyard, and most importantly God’s child. There is a certain lifestyle which must follow making that decision, but one which will truly reap grand rewards.

This is where variety comes into play. Instead of watching things we ought not watch, why not watch something profitable, wholesome, and clean. There is so much of it out there. Great shows and movies to enjoy with everyone you watch them with. When picking out the shows, take a moment to ask yourself, “Will this show help or hinder my walk with the Lord.” A great passage to keep in mind is Psalm 101:3 – “I will set no worthless thing before my eyes.” Be in control. You choose what you watch. Pick good things, shows which will remind you of God and Biblical truths.

The other subject to touch briefly upon is volume. It is easy and quite tempting to rush, in our free moments, to the TV or put on a movie. Most are designed to be addicting, leaving out so much that you just have to watch the next one. The truth is life’s short. Just ask your parents. Life flies by. Watching good shows for leisure is good, but don’t let it take control. Reading is a wonderful thing to do. I loved reading John, and in High School I really jumped into spiritual books and writers, all which made you think and question and study. There are so many great books and magazines to read and look into. Don’t shy away from getting active, play sports, go on adventures, try new things, have fun. Don’t let the TV waste away your life. Again, you are in control. You get to determine how much, how often, and what kind. For some of you, your parents may have that control. They know what’s best.

I ask you to keep these thoughts in mind, take them to heart and if you have any questions or thoughts, I’d love to talk about them more.

Celebrity Worship

By David Bushnaq

Hello, everyone! The article for this month is TV and Movies. Are they just something to watch when you’re bored, or are there some dangers that Christians need to beware of?

Of course, we all know that some TV is good and some is bad, and that moderation is key. So what, then, can be said that hasn’t been said before? We know that watching evil TV gives them ratings and as such money, so we know not to watch those. We know that having someone see you watch those shows could be a bad influence. You’ve gone over all that before, David. And the same is true for movies. That will not be the focus of this article. Instead, we will discuss the actors and TV stars themselves?

Society has made these people who they are. Celebrities, living wild and lavish lifestyles, seem devoid of responsibility and reason. They are consumed with doing what feels good because it feels good. In fact, in some instances, they parody their own lifestyles [a certain Brad Paisley song springs to mind].

My friends, emulating the actions of these people could be anything from dressing like them, to acting like them, or even allowing their product [be it movie, book, show, or whatever] to come between you and your life. Surely that doesn’t happen on purpose, now, does it?

And these actors’ lives are so important to our society that they are put up all over shopping center shelves, television shows, and even the internet! It’s hard to escape it all– almost impossible. And who brought this evil up to the level it has reached? We have.

By going to great lengths to find out every little thing about a celebrity, we begin to worship them. Yes, in a figurative sense, but if something that they provide ever comes between you and your family [or worse, you and God!] then the trap is set, and you fell unawares.

No, there is nothing wrong with enjoying a good, wholesome movie made by a certain actor, but if I begin to care so much about his/her life that I begin neglecting my own, my priorities have been skewed tragically in the wrong direction.

I suppose it’s hero worship. Instead of looking for real heroes; ones who do the right thing and behave as gentlemen, we look for rich people. Then we weave the fabrication, that if we act just as they do, we may somehow become rich as well! I have difficulty grasping that with anything other than extreme doubt and question.

People like Lindsey Lohan and the new teenage girl on Disney who dresses and acts provocatively, while being obscenely rich, set a poor example for young girls. In their easily impressionable state, they see that and begin to be hardwired into that lifestyle and see that as being worthy of emulation. If they are fortunate their parents will step in and tell them right from wrong.

Same is true for men, as well. Being a bad boy and rebelling against authority is cool. So is racing and living a dangerous lifestyle. Why? Because it’s glorified on TV. Getting into a small cage and engaging in blood sport, sometimes to the point of serious damage is popular, and using language that would make a sailor blush, committing acts of violence just because you can, and preaching a message of hate is par for the course.

I honestly feel these things have corrupted our culture, now as I say that, I’m glancing up at the sky to see if any pets are falling, or if the sky itself is. I know not all of anything is evil. In fact, I grew up watching Sesame Street, Power Rangers, and Legends of the Hidden Temple, so I can’t flat-out say that television is some evil device that corrupts minds. That’d make me a hypocrite.

What I’m saying is that while some television is innocent and wholesome, a lot of it isn’t. And allowing children unfettered access, may do more harm than good. No, I don’t think watching a movie about racing is going to make you want to do exactly what was depicted in the movie right off, but if you, at an early age, do not realize the line between fantasy and reality… you may very well believe what you are seeing is real and in doing the same acts, you are seen as cool.

We brought ourselves to this level but we can stop it. It begins by raising our kids in the nurture and admonition in the Lord, as found in Ephesians 6:4, which refers to fathers, true, but mothers need to assist in that endeavor as well. A home where a father and mother do not work together in raising their kids is a disastrous one.

Morality and responsibility are taught in the home. You know the media won’t teach it to you. At least not in a way that would be beneficial to your kids. They’ll tell you that everyone is ok regardless of whom they are, that emulating others is ok, and any sense of individuality is uncool. You have to fit in, conform even, to the status quo or you are an outsider…and those are weird.

I suppose what I’m getting at [and taking way too long to do so] is that while television, movies, or anything else for that matter, is a time sink, same as any other, the responsibility to separate fact from fiction, reality from fantasy, and our life from the fake lives of others, rests solely on our shoulders, and ours alone. They don’t care. You’re giving them money via ratings and/or buying their products, so why should they care of what it does to you. They’ll never know you. We are in charge of us. The person who keeps us from becoming just another brick in the wall [ha!] is us.

Remembering My Creator – Volume 1, Number 6: November 2010

Remembering My Creator

Volume 1, Number 6

Theme: The Internet and Video Games

In This Issue:

  • “Cyber Bullying” by David Bushnaq
  • “Family Time” by Chip Foster
  • “The Snare That Binds” by Randy Sexton
  • “Should I Insert Another Quarter, Or Is It Game Over?” by David Bushnaq

Cyber Bullying

By David Bushnaq

The internet. Something we’re all very familiar with, I’m sure. Since it’s invention by Al Gore, it’s come a long way. But what I’d like to write about are some of the dangers we could face. Should we copy that floppy, or should we Alt-F4 it from our lives?

It has truly spread over America like wildfire; after all, you’re using it to read these articles. The internet has made our lives easier in many ways. For instance, without it, my board game collection wouldn’t be near as impressive as it is, and several other items I wouldn’t have in my possession. Another benefit [and curse] is it allows you to meet others who have similar interests.

I’ve met several great people who also enjoy video games as much as I do. That and a great community that’s helped me in my growth as an Ocarina player. Also if it wasn’t for the internet, I wouldn’t be writing these. I truly am blessed to have a loving and supportive family who aids me in my growth, Randy for his project and allowing me the opportunity to use this as a medium to people around my age, and for the congregation I worship with. All of which working together have supported me and my growth as a Christian [and hopefully eventually as a preacher.]

With that said, the internet isn’t exactly the kind of place we should play around with carelessly. While the internet certainly can be used for good, it can also be used for evil. Of course the first example that comes to mind with this is pornography, but I’m going to focus on the pressures we could face on the internet.

Cyber bullying. A very rampant problem we face today. People take on the guise of screen names and fake handles for them to “troll” [or harass others for their own amusement] without fear of them being found. They could do anything from just saying ugly things about someone to even going as far as harassing people during a funeral.

The internet makes this very easy as you can find a group of like minded individuals [unfortunately] and they could support someone in their slanderous and defiling dealing with others. What’s worse is when they band together to attack someone as a group. We as Christians must always make sure we never fall into that crowd. They may claim that there’s no harm in a few ugly words to someone, but you likely have read news articles and stories about people who have killed themselves just because one person, or a group of people doing this to them. And the worst part of it is, the most prominent people doing this are our age!

On the same subject of pressure, there are also a group of people who get together in chat rooms looking for young women to ask them to undress for them, and if their parents aren’t around… some times that pressure leads to them doing as their unknown predators ask, which leads to all kinds of trouble.

With the internet not only readily available, but also in our own rooms, it’s difficult [if not impossible] for our parents and older, wiser people to keep watch and tell us whether or not we should do something. That’s what these predators look for. Younger, naive women who don’t quite know what they’re doing is wrong, and eventually blackmailing them [by telling their parents] into doing things that are evil.

That’s why we must ask our parents about this and to make sure we aren’t doing anything that could lead to these things happening to us.

But what about falling into the wrong crowd? We could very easily do a search for something and find a website that seems innocent at first, and maybe their justification may seem valid… at first. I join the message board, and at first everything’s fine. I share similar beliefs, and a strong sense of right and wrong, and then they do something terrible [or worse! Doing so in the name of good!] When they get caught for doing something illegal, I’m just as guilty as them due to guilt by association.

Or worse! They don’t do anything chaotic, but by reading more and more of their more extreme viewpoints, my mind could become poisoned to the point where I share the same viewpoints. This is even more dangerous, friends! 1 Thessalonians 5:6 tells us to be watchful and sober. Sober here means clear-minded. They want me to think like they do, so I can join them, because “misery loves company” but I have to remember to compare my life with the bible, and if there is error, it’s on me.

One of the easiest ways Satan can trap us is by showing that you don’t get in trouble for doing something wrong… at all! For instance, go ahead and download that Nintendo game, it’s 20 years old, and Nintendo no longer gains any money from it, just price hiking collectors. No harm done, right? Wrong.

If I was to download a game that I don’t have the legal right to download, it is stealing, plainly and simply put. Regardless of its age, regardless of its quality “I’m just downloading titles I’ll never buy anyway, so I’m not hurting anyone!” Is a very flawed justification. But people believe this and as such never seek forgiveness for doing so. Ephesians 4:28. Not only do you get more of a sense of accomplishment when you obtain something you’ve worked for, you also don’t have to worry that what you’re doing is wrong.

Indeed, justification is something we have to be VERY careful of. If we have the justification for something [flawed or otherwise] we no longer think it is sin, and if we don’t think it is sin, we don’t ask for forgiveness for doing so. It could be anything from a music file, to an old game, to a movie. If we don’t have legal access to it, we can’t download it. Simply put.

So in conclusion, while the internet is an invention that can be used for good, it, too, can be used for all kinds of evil. We have to make sure we are always alert and not to just allow the thinking of others to enter our minds as our own without first testing them to see if they are congruent with the bible. It allows us access to people all over the world who have wildly differing thoughts and beliefs concerning God and the bible. Some even go so far as to slander God and defame everything he has done for us, for the sake of their own twisted sense of humor.

Be ever vigilant, friends.

Family Time

By Chip Foster

When a husband and wife decide to have a child they must consider all things that go in to being a parent. There are duties and a responsibilities that go into parenting that all should consider.

In Ephesians 6:4 Paul writes, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” The instruction for fathers is clear; they should bring up their children by the precepts of the Lord. In Titus 2:3-5 Paul writes, “the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things—that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.” These verses are most often used for older women in the church as they teach the younger women, but these can also be used for the instruction that a mother gives to her daughters. In the book of Proverbs we can see many instances where parents are to provide instruction to their children, Proverbs 13:24, 22:15, 23:13-14, 29:15. These are not advocating beating a child, but the correction that comes naturally from warranted spanking. These also advocate teaching and instruction from parents before the spanking would become necessary. In the Old Law the commandment stated, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.” Paul says this is the first commandment with promise, Ephesians 6:2, and this is true because parents should teach their children those things that will lead to long life on this earth and especially those things that lead to eternal life with God in heaven.

And this is where family time comes into play. The secular world rightly states that family time is important to the family. It encourages dinner time around the table. This can be that time where the floor is open for all manner of discussions. Each member can tell of their day and talk about the problems that may have occurred. Parents must remember to keep their comments as light as possible because the children do not want to know the troubles of the office in detail. This is not to say that parents should lie to their children but they don’t need to go into the details like they would with their spouse. This is the time for parents to encourage their children to talk about their day. Parents should listen and give their insight as necessary.

Family time can be a movie night where the family enjoys a movie together. It can be game night where one or more games are scheduled and played. The rules of game night might include no pouting when you lose and no over-the-top bragging when you win.

Family time could be riding bikes around the neighborhood or a walk to the park. When was the last time that your family had a picnic? That is about as old fashioned as one could get but there is little better family time than a picnic.

Family time is a time to be silly and goofy. It is a time for the family to forget the world and its ideas and just be a family. It is a time to strengthen the bonds that exist within the family. These bonds exist not only from parents to children and reverse, but also between siblings of varying ages. These bonds can be strengthened even during the adolescent and teenage years when the bonds can be put to test. This family time strengthens the family. Families will go through times of hardship and trial and stronger bonds in the family will aid in getting through these hard times.

It is important for families to spend time together. The TV and cell phones are turned off. The internet connection is disabled. The family comes together as one and increases the physical and emotional bonds.

As with all things we must remember to put God first. In all of our family time activities we must be an example of godliness. Parents must remember their obligations in training and teaching their children, as noted above, and that all activities must be done with respect for God’s law. In all of these activities we can teach our children the importance of God and strength of family in our lives.

(Copied by permission from http://www.truthfortodaysyouth.com)

The Snare That Binds

By Randy Sexton

There is an evil that I have seen and it is young people entrapped by the undue influence of video games that control their minds and overtake their lives in pursuit of the “next level.” As David Bushnaq points out in his excellent article, there is an addictive nature that can lure young people. Like a black widow leading her victims and then entrapping them into her web where she entraps them and shoots her paralyzing venom in them, so the video game can have a very destructive influence on young lives.

As Chip Foster points out, video games can steal time away from family time and from the time that parents are to instruct their children in the precepts of the Lord. There are a limited number of hours in a day and if left to their own direction many a young boy will spend every available minute on his Playstation, Xbox 360 or Wii. Parents must exercise discipline and young people must understand the addictive nature of the games. They must take deliberate, proactive steps to bring balance and control into their lives, especially in the area of the internet and video games.

“Should I insert another quarter, or is it Game Over?”

By David Bushnaq

Hello, everyone! I’ve been put in an interesting position this month…Video games are something I’m VERY familiar with. I’ve been playing them for 22 years now, nevertheless, the question for this month is “Should I insert another quarter, or is it Game Over?”

GTA. What are the first thoughts that pop into your head when you see those letters? The violence? Profanity? Lewdness? I think it goes without saying for any of us, that GTA will not exactly help in our lives as Christians, but that’s just a one-off example. Are ALL video games bad?

Video games, themselves, have developed quite impressively since their lowly beginnings in the 70s. We’ve gone from single screen tennis to somewhat realistic war simulators in the matter of 30 years. From a few pixels on a screen to almost lifelike realism. However, is it for the better?

The game designers go for what’s popular at the time [of course- it’s all a money game] so if what’s popular are the juvenile games where you have to shoot things, swear 100 times, or be overcome with near nudity, that’s what is made. Gaming is holding itself back. It is much like in television. A unique game is made and sure enough, dozens of clones [or hundreds if you’re talking about multiplayer war simulators] are made and the market is saturated, until another unique title appears that’s a sleeper hit and that’s copied. That’s not the fault of the designers [well… not completely] but the price of making a video game has increased to the several million dollar mark. There simply is no room for error in that kind of environment so they have to do what they know will sell.

What does that mean for us? Well, we have people buying those war simulators and other games that are an extreme temptation for us Christians, and that means when we go into the local game store, that’s what we see. The phrase “sex sells” is just as prevalent today as it ever was.

Well, so what? I’m a mature enough adult that I can play those games without them causing me to sin, so what’s the harm? Philippians 4:8. While you’re playing those games, you are thinking about them and the visuals you are experiencing are not honorable, pure, or lovely. Let’s take it a step further. Let’s say I’ve been speaking to a co-worker about the gospel for some time, he/she decides to start going to church with me. This person is moved by God’s love for them and becomes a Christian.

That is all well and good, but after going to church one week, they come over to my house for some video games. I, of course, accept, not considering the kinds of games on my shelf. Sure enough, while going through my game library, he/she stumbles upon those kinds of games…GTA, Call of Duty, and others. Sure I can handle them, but can he/she? They see those games on my shelf and they believe that those kinds of games are not only allowed, but worth buying and now I got a problem on my hands. A problem that the 9th chapter of the gospel of Mark and verse 42 warns us of. We could cause someone to stumble!

We’re given another warning of this in Ephesians 4:19. Callousness is a very grave danger to Christians of ANY age, but especially dangerous for us, as we haven’t the experience and maturity an older, wiser person would. If we allow those things near us us and aren’t careful, it could snowball into worse and worse dangers until we don’t even realize that we’ve committed a grave error.

Actually it gets worse. By buying that game, we tell the designers of that game that we support them with our money. That’s right, we are saying “I support the makers of the game by giving them my money.” We are using money that the Lord has given us on things that will not assist us in being a Christian, in fact, quite the opposite can easily happen! Of course, pirating is another problem, but I have a feeling we’ll be going over that at a later time.

“So what you’re telling us is that we should only play the Mario and Pac-Man games, right?” Well, what’s so wrong with Mario, Pac-Man, or Tetris? The gameplay is timeless, you don’t have to worry about getting a headshot from 50 yards away on a goomba, and how many news stories have you read about someone killing someone else for not getting the I block that they needed to complete the Tetris they worked so hard for?

My friends, WE decide what we put on our screens, in our homes, and into our minds, and if we do as David describes in Psalm 101: 3, the thought of those games will not enter into our minds. We should set before our eyes things that are glorifying to the Lord and those things should cling to us.

“Hey! Have you played that new Call of Duty game? You gain experience by killing other people that gives you bonuses that make it easier for you to kill people!” Ever hear a similar question asked in school? I know I have. We have recorded in the book of Jude 1:18 a very similar concept. Peer pressure is one of the easiest ways those kinds of games sell. They’re everywhere on tv and on the radio [they have to be. Or else their multi million dollar project will not sell enough to make a profit!] and if people in my school are told that those kinds of games are cool, sure enough those in my class will buy into it and soon that game will become cool in my environment as well. And if you don’t buy the game, you become unpopular. “After all, you play Chessmaster. What’s the fun of moving pieces around?”

Does that mean we shouldn’t bother buying the new consoles and playing the cool new games? Not necessarily. There are plenty of good, honest, wholesome games out there on every system [some more than others] but you have to look harder for them. And don’t get me wrong, just because it isn’t Super Death Fighter 9,001, or World War 2 the 17th [seriously, how many times are we going to be retold the same story? The war only happened once!] doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of depth and strategy to it.

So in closing, please consider these words when you go to your local game store and have a choice between Nintendogs and Call of Duty. What game would you feel more comfortable allowing a new convert to see? I know those are very large exaggerations, but you get the idea.

And besides, those kinds of games weren’t designed to be the super hardcore kind of game that grows in replay value as you grow in skill. They’re actually quite condescending to us. They dangle a carrot in front of our eyes until we eventually reach it. We’re given that carrot and another one is placed a bit further away from us. It’s known as a Skinner Box and gaming is very quickly reaching that point.

MMORPGs [Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games] are one of the worst offenders of this. You’re given carrot after carrot after performing work [not fun, not skill… WORK] and eventually you come to expect this kind of thing [worse is when you KNOW you’ll get the next carrot so you’ll sacrifice something in your life to get that carrot] so you start looking forward to that next carrot and before you know it… one of them had a hook on it. You are theirs. Your work suffers, friendships suffer, relationships suffer, all so you could reach another arbitrary level on a game where none of that will matter when the next one comes out.

“Yes, we know MMORPGs are dangerous and addictive, but so what? We aren’t talking about MMORPGs.” No we aren’t. Call of Duty does that as well. Most games with leveling systems do. [something tacked on to games in the early days to artificially inflate the time it takes to complete a game. Bad idea then, bad idea now.] And gamers today want that. They like the grinding aspect [for…some reason] if it’s hidden even slightly in something they believe is fun, they’ll perform the same repetitive task over and over again happily. Makes you wonder why gaming will likely never become completely mainstream and seen as a legitimate art form, doesn’t it? Gaming will never mature until the player base does.

Thank you for reading and I hope that the article has been of some benefit to you.

Remembering My Creator – Volume 1, Number 5: October 2010

Remembering My Creator

Volume 1, Number 5

Theme: Dancing

In This Issue:

  • “Purer in Heart O God Help Me to Be” by Jordan Shouse
  • ““Walking in the Light” by David Bushnaq
  • Editorial: Applications of “Walking in the light to Our Theme” by Randy Sexton
  • “To Dance or Not To Dance” by David Bushnaq

Purer in Heart O God Help Me to Be

By Jordan Shouse

 

What comes to mind when you think of something pure? Use your imagination with me for a moment. Think of a beautiful brook. The water is so clear, you can see every rock, and pebble on the bottom. It makes you so thirsty just to watch it gently bubble, calmly stream. When you reach down to fill your cup, it’s ice cold! Oh, but when you drink, it is the best tasting water you have ever tasted (yes, water can taste!). It’s such an amazing sight. The sun cutting through the trees creating lines of brilliance as it highlights the bright colors of the changing leaves as they fall from the trees. The cool, crisp air, the smells from this bubbling brook, don’t you want to be there!

Now imagine this beautiful brook. Your cup is empty, and you are wanting more! Before you are able to dip your cup into this pure stream, a truck loses control and slides down the bank on the other side, spilling its contents into the stream. What was it containing? Sewage. Into this beautiful, crystal clear brook is now the foul, disgusting waste. The horrible smell just fills your nostrils. You would not even think twice about dipping that cup in again. This scene now, despite how perfect the weather may be, is ruined by the polluted water.

This poor attempt at an illustration is often times what we see in our own lives. Our God wants us to be pure in heart. Jesus instructed that those who are “pure in heart” will be the ones who see God (Matt. 5:8). It was David who wrote that one who has a “pure heart” will stand in the holy place of God (Ps. 24:4). A pure heart is a beautiful thing. A heart that belongs to the Lord and keeps from doing sinful things is one that pleases the Lord, one which will be rewarded.

You may wonder what this has to do with this month’s assignment on dancing. Just as the beautiful brook was polluted with waste, our pure hearts are easily contaminated by the ways of the world. One of the strong contaminants is lust. Lust is simply a “strong desire.” It is a craving. Something as a young person you must guard against is the craving, or the lust of the flesh. When you allow the urgings and desires for someone of the opposite gender to fill your hearts, to crave for them, lusting for them, your pure heart has been defiled by the waste of sin. Now it is fine to like someone. You go on dates with someone you like. Eventually you marry that person you’ve been dating for some time that you’ve learned to love. However, liking and lusting are two different things. Liking is admiring the positive traits about a person. Lusting is thinking about that person in inappropriate ways. It doesn’t matter if it is just in my thoughts, and that I don’t tell anyone about it. Notice what Jesus said in Matthew 5:27-28. Keep your hearts pure! Lusting will lead to doing things I would never have done before, of thinking thoughts I never would have thought of, of saying things I never would have said, looking at people in ways I never would have looked at them, and then engaging in things I would NEVER have done. The Bible is very clear that we need to avoid sinful lust. Check out 2 Timothy 2:22, 1 John 2:16.

How does lust come about? I will tell you that it doesn’t just poof into our minds. It is provoked. Seeing things I shouldn’t have seen, hearing things I shouldn’t have heard, engaging in actions I shouldn’t have engaged in; these produce lust. And these dangers are prevalent with dancing. At the pep assembly, you’ll have to overt your eyes when the dance team or cheerleaders come and dance on the floor. Keep pure. The dances today are apt to provoke lust, so my advice is to avoid dancing with others. This is not a broad ban on all dancing. Hanging out with your friends and dancing to the YMCA is completely different from the animalistic or lustful forms of dancing and slow dancing done today.

My plea is to keep your hearts pure. This is truly not just for the youth, but a plea for all of God’s children. Help each other to keep pure. It doesn’t help to involve these kinds of dancing in social events like weddings or parties. Help us keep pure. Grab a hold of a good friend who holds to the same beliefs and convictions, and lean upon them when these temptations grow strong. Don’t bother flipping on those TV shows focused on couples dancing. It is a trap just waiting for you. Keep your hearts pure.

Keep your hearts pure for the sake of the Church. Wherever you attend, they need bright shining lights in the community. Your peers around you need to see you making a stand for what you believe in despite how strange it may seem. Keep your hearts pure for the sake of your future spouse. One day, Lord willing, you may find someone you truly love and want to spend the rest of your life with. Save your passion, your desires, your heart for that person. They are the treasure worth waiting and working for. Keep your hearts pure for the sake of the Lord. God knows our hearts, and what He wants is someone who is doing his or her best to do what is right. God doesn’t want a muck infested pit, but a beautiful brook, a heart that’s pure.

Walking in the Light

By David Bushnaq

Walking in the light. Something we feel safe doing, something we may take for granted. It gives safety, security, and comfort to us in our day to day lives, but what about those without it? The main text for my talk will be 1 John 1: 5-8.

1 John 1: 5. God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. As such, those who follow him strive to be in the light as well. We must strive to emulate God’s character in everything we do.

Those in darkness do not fit into God’s character and as such can not be one of his. In fact, those of darkness are in direct contrast to God’s purity.

“Walking in darkness” is very difficult. Even if you are familiar with your surroundings, the darkness adds difficulty to what would normally be menial. There could be objects nearby to hamper you, and could easily cause you to stumble. The light allows us to see those dangers clearly and makes it easier for us to avoid them.

Something seemingly small and inconspicuous could cause us to stumble and fall. Sin could be that object, friends. Something so obvious in the light, could become a dangerous trap for us if we do not see it. That is sin. For those who live their lives based on the bible can measure it against the Word of God and see it for the sin it is, but for those who do not, would be unable to see it as a threat until it causes us harm.

The same is true for us as Christians. If we are blinded by the world around us, we may not see things as the sin that they are. Things that may appear to be innocent and harmless may very well cause us to stumble. These can be very dangerous as we do not realize the extent of the danger until it is too late.

Verse 6 says we can’t have fellowship with God and walk in darkness, so how do we walk in darkness?

If we are blinded by the world around us, we may not see sin for what it is. Walking in darkness means living with sin either by not repenting and turning away, or by just not comparing ourselves with the bible.

Things that may appear to be innocent and harmless may very well cause us to stumble. And we may not notice it until it is too late that is why we must read our bibles every day so we make our best effort to prevent this from happening.

Verse 7. Walking in the light is living by God’s word, a godly lifestyle and striving to lead others to him. Why is light so important?

The light brilliantly eradicates the darkness and as such allows us to see things for their true nature. God is the light we are to walk in, and the bible is the blueprint we are to use to access it. For those in the darkness, even a little bit of light could be all they need to go to their destinations safely. We could be that light, my friends!

Turning on a light switch makes everything look different when in the dark, and what may seem to be insurmountable may very well be menial when looked at from a different perspective. We could be that light switch for others. Even something that seems small to us like a good deed may reflect enough light through us to help others reach their destinations safely. Something as simple as a bible study with someone could be all they need to trigger further study from them and a change to a life of God’s.

Unlike God, we humans do sin from time to time [read verse 8] we are no better than anyone else, or difference is we asked God for repentance. How can we keep this from anyone else? By not telling them about God’s word, we could condemn them to continue living in darkness

How do we regain our light? Chapter 2 verses 1 and 2. John is writing so we DO NOT sin, but if we do, we have Jesus Christ as our propitiation for our sins, and the sins of the whole world. It is through his sacrifice, we have the ability to wash the darkness from our lives and return them to a shimmering beauty that emulates the Lord.

For those yet to gain this light, Romans 6: 3-4. Not Christ’s death, but resurrection. He was raised, we too can have eternal life. Die to our old sins and be reborn in a newness of life, walking in the light.

If you would like to begin this walk of light, or would like the prayers of the congregation to help you in your walk of light, please step forward as we stand and sing.

Editorial: Applications of Walking in the light to Our Theme

By Randy Sexton

I heard David Bushnaq deliver the “Walking in the Light” message above, at the Wednesday evening services of the Park Hill church of Christ in Fort Smith Arkansas, on October 27, 2010. I was impressed with David’s message and afterwards asked him for his permission to publish it on this website. There are several young men at Park Hill that the preacher, David Deuster, is working with to help them deliver talks and to develop their abilities to serve. Look for more articles from David on this site.

David’s message is applicable to a number of different issues, of course, but I would like for you to consider its application to our theme for this month. Dancing is an activity that many people are fond of for a number of different reasons. Some tout its health benefits, some like its social nature, and some are swept up by its lustful nature.

I think this observation by David is particularly applicable:

“If we are blinded by the world around us, we may not see things as the sin that they are. Things that may appear to be innocent and harmless may very well cause us to stumble. These can be very dangerous as we do not realize the extent of the danger until it is too late.”

 

That is right on the mark, David. We certainly can be blinded to the evil around us. The allure, as presented in movies and by advertisers, can get in your eyes and cause to “trip over” things like drinking, dancing, partying, and the like. It can be particularly troublesome for you young people. You are at a stage of your life where popularity is very important to you. The peer pressure is great to do things of questionable value and virtue. If you get in with the wrong crowd that pressure becomes even greater and the evil becomes even more evident.

Schools begin having dances to get kids acquainted and to encourage esprit de corps. Those who do not go along with the crowd stand out and at times are ridiculed. I pray that is not the case for you young reader, but if it is I would encourage you to take solace in the words of your peers words above. Place your confidence in God and take refuge in His Word. Read the words of Solomon in the various Proverbs that speak to you about the trials and temptations that you face. Passages like these will help you thrive in this most important time of your life. And you can be an influence on your friends when they see the passion that you have for living the godly life!

Proverbs 1:10-11, 15-16 – “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say, ‘Come with us…’, My Son, do not walk in the way with them, keep your foot from their path; for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood.”

Proverbs 4:14-15 – “Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn away from it and pass on.”

Proverbs 13:20 – “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.”

Proverbs 28:7 – “Whoever keeps the law is a discerning son, but a companion of gluttons shames his father.”

Thanks for reading with me young friend. Have a blessed day!

To Dance or Not To Dance

By David Bushnaq

Hello everyone. David Bushnaq here! Randy asked me to write an article on dancing from a young person’s perspective, so here goes:

Dancing itself is fairly common in this day and age, isn’t it? We see it everywhere. I’m told the most popular show on Television right now is “Dancing With The Stars”! But I’m sure we all know that it’s nothing new; it’s been around since the days of the bible. Of course we know why it’s done – to release stress, work out, or even to send messages to the person you’re dancing with, but what does our Bible have to say about it?

Is all dancing wrong? Granted, we’ve probably seen those dancing video games where both sides are several inches apart and never draw near. And what about the kind of dancing similar to River Dance, that is both a great workout and a great way to show off in front of your friends? While that kind of dance may be seemingly innocent, the videos provided while you’re playing, and the lyrics in the songs are very dangerous.

Surely dancing in itself isn’t wrong, right? I mean David, himself, in the Old Testament, danced as the Ark of the Covenant was returned to its rightful place, as found in 2 Samuel 6: 14-15. David, again uses dance to praise the Lord as found in Psalm 149.

So, my friends, does that mean the Bible condemns dancing? Well… Sort of. While the act of dancing in itself isn’t inherently evil, we have to watch for the content of the dance in order for us to know whether or not it’s something we should or should not do. Especially since we are young and have to deal with peer pressure every day of our lives.

I mean, just take a look at the kind of dances done today. Whether we think so or not, they are lewd, sultry, and sensual. Do you think the Lord is pleased with that kind of dance? It’d be a safe bet (“Betting” is another topic for another day.) to say “no.” But what’s so terrible about it? Well, those dances done in clubs or on most TV shows, where the partners get real close, isn’t the lust obvious? (Matthew 5:28) Participating in those kinds of dances and feeling lust towards your partner isn’t just sinful, it’s considered adultery! Be careful, my friends!

Also, it doesn’t take long for you to realize that what is simulated is not something someone [especially younger Christians like we are] should watch. What is seen should not only be kept in private, but only between 2 people. I’m sure you’ve seen the “if it feels good, do it” mentality that our generation lives by, so I fear this kind of thing isn’t going away.

What it shows for us, is that the media wants us to think that these kinds of actions are ok to be done, not only ok, but glorified! They know we may not be at our peak in maturity yet, so getting people our age to not only accept those behaviors, but to continue them, allows them to get to people our age, and it increases their ratings…the only thing that matters to them.

“But wait a second!” You may ask, “What about those kinds of dances that only involve one person? Are those sinful?” Let’s look at one of the more commonly recognized examples of this and then look at a Bible example showing the danger of it.

Belly dancing is the first example that came to my mind. A young female dancer wearing clothes they should not and doing motions that try to get the watcher to focus on that part of their body with a lustful eye. The lust and lewdness are still there, friends! Now please consider the 6th chapter of Mark’s gospel.

John told Herod that keeping his brother’s wife was a sin, so Herod hated John for it, having told him he was a sinner, but he also feared John, knowing he was holy, so he didn’t kill John. BUT– He had a birthday and his daughter danced. The Bible mentions that she pleased Herod and his guests. So much so, that Herod offered her even half of his kingdom! She went to her mother and her mother told her to ask for the head of John, so she did so.

While the kind of dance mentioned here isn’t known, it was most assuredly a sensual dance and many of the guests at the party were drunk, so the implication of this is very clear. We aren’t to participate in those kinds of dances, either by performing them, viewing them, or even going to places where they are performed. “That’s harsh!” you may say, and while it may seem so, we are to flee youthful lusts as is found in 2 Timothy 2:22.

It’s tough, being a young Christian, growing up in a world filled with lust, immorality, and an “if it feels good, do it!” mentality. In fact, one of the biggest events in school is “The Prom”, a night celebrating the end of high school and the beginning of the journey into adulthood. A night I avoided. Why would the Prom be a temptation for us? The Prom by itself may not be sinful, but what the Prom has become, and what the kids do during it… is. We know that drinking, fornication, and sultry dancing is sinful, and going to the Prom puts us in a situation where we will be tempted with these kinds of behaviors.

I remember James 1 verses 12-15. It is we, ourselves who allow temptation in our lives, and when it is fully grown it leads to death…spiritual death. There may be some instances where temptation may occur without us knowing in advance that it awaits us, but please be careful to keep yourself from willingly entering into such situations as much as possible.

So what are we to do? We, as Christians, are not to conform to those kinds of behaviors [Romans 12:2], but are to show that we are transformed. We cannot partake in these kinds of activities, we cannot show that we support them financially or personally by being there, and we cannot support them by trying to get others to go, themselves. This may be one of the instances where you can lead others to Christ by your example. Some may ridicule you, but others will respect you for your decision and that could be just what you need to start a biblical discussion.

I conclude with Matthew 5: 14-16. We are to use our light [influence] on others to lead them to God. Part of our light is reputation. If people know we are Christians and yet see us participating in these vulgar acts, it not only says to them that “if he does it, it must be ok,” but it also hurts our reputation with them as well. Peer pressure may be tough to overcome, but we must do so in order to live our lives right with God.

Friends, I went through all of it myself. I’m 25 now, and I am familiar with the kinds of pressures and temptations you are going through. Pressure by kids my own age, being asked to go to places and do things I knew were wrong [even to the point of mockery {and lots of it}] but I realized that my reputation with God is far more important than my reputation with others. And that’s only half of the story! Yes, I was ridiculed, slandered, and had all sorts of ugly things said about me, but the others saw me for who I was, respected me for it, and those are the ones I stayed in close contact with. Those who come to me and tell me that I was pretty cool and that they remembered me [even these many years after graduation] and how they saw me as someone who was different. They may not have known so at the time, but they do now.

You may not be the “coolest” kid in school [as I can openly admit that I wasn’t.] but once people mature and realize that there is life outside of high school… well, maybe those they teased actually were pretty cool after all! Maybe as they see you in the day to day walk afterwards, they may bring up how you were different and they may wonder how it was you live[d] as you do[did], and there’s your open door to a Bible study with them.