Saturday 29 July 2023

"Put On Your Socks" by Faust

 What a zany song this is. Faust were a German rock band who dabbled in various styles during the 1970s. Eschewing the tried-and-true rock traditions, this quartet fused different musical elements into their own unique sound. Check out the tune here.

It's obvious to us that putting shoes on first is silly. But we make the same sort of mistake when we present the gospel to people. Before we can give the good news of salvation, we must tell folks the bad news of why we need to be saved in the first place.

A group of people once discussed the matter of worshippers in the temple whom Pilate had executed. Christ's answer showed the peril all people face unless they're saved.

Luke 13:2 to 5 (Bible in Basic English) quotes him as saying, "And he, in answer, said to them, 'Are you of the opinion that these Galilaeans were worse than all other Galilaeans, because these things were done to them? I say to you, It is not so: but if your hearts are not changed, you will all come to the same end. Or those eighteen men who were crushed by the fall of the tower of Siloam, were they worse than all the other men living in Jerusalem? I say to you, It is not so: but if your hearts are not changed, you will all come to an end in the same way.'"

This "end" is both physical and spiritual, meaning an eternity in hell. As Romans 6:23 (BBE) reminds us, "For the reward of sin is death; but what God freely gives is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord."

Giving only half the gospel is as bad or worse than presenting no gospel at all. In Matthew 7:21, (BBE) Christ warned, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will go into the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the pleasure of my Father in heaven." The pleasure of the Father is that sinners repent and follow Christ. 

This is missing from most gospel presentations these days. So present the bad news of human depravity before giving the good news of Christ's substitutionary atonement.

Thursday 30 March 2023

"I Am A Servant" by Larry Norman

This beautiful song of devotion to Christ ought to be our most sincere prayer to him. Enjoy this touching and profound song here:

Jesus himself told his disciples to watch and wait. By extension, we being his disciples too, we must also be ready with our eyes and ears open.

Christ likened his return to us as like the bride groom coming to his home. As he directed his disciples  in Luke 12:35 and 36 (Bible in Basic English), "Be ready, dressed as for a journey, with your lights burning. And be like men who are looking for their lord, when he comes back from the bride-feast; so that when he comes to the door, it will be open to him quickly."

According to John MacArthur, the original Greek word for servant actually meant slave. This is because he bought us with his atoning sacrifice on the cross. 

We read in 1 Corinthians 6:20 (BBE) that, "For a payment has been made for you: let God be honoured in your body." In other words, we're Christ's property.

That being true, we must obey him always. As Paul wrote in Romans 6:16-18 (BBE), "Are you not conscious that you are the servants of him to whom you give yourselves to do his desire? if to sin, the end being death, or if to do the desire of God, the end being righteousness. But praise be to God that though you were the servants of sin, you have now given yourselves freely to that form of teaching under which you were placed; And being made free from sin you have been made the servants of righteousness."

If this sounds irksome to you, remember Christ's words in John 8:36 (BBE). "If then the son makes you free, you will be truly free."

Friday 24 February 2023

Confessions of 349-18-5171 by Ken Nordine

This jazz poet certainly made some interesting spoken-word tunes. One of these was about the ease of going with the crowd. It's hard to be a maverick and march against the tide of the world. But like he said in this piece, "Poof! There goes perspiration." Check out his tune here

As Christians, we're called to follow Christ and not the world. What he said in Matthew 7:13 and 14 (Bible in Basic English) is his criterion for entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. "Go in by the narrow door; for wide is the door and open is the way which goes to destruction, and great numbers go in by it. For narrow is the door and hard the road to life, and only a small number make discovery of it."

We no longer belong to this world but are the property of Christ. Religious folks don't have his word abiding in them as we do. As Jesus told the ultra-fastidious Pharisees in John 8:43 and 44 (BBE), "Why are my words not clear to you? It is because your ears are shut to my teaching. You are the children of your father the Evil One and it is your pleasure to do his desires. From the first he was a taker of life; and he did not go in the true way because there is no true thing in him. When he says what is false, it is natural to him, for he is false and the father of what is false."

Neither do we wage jihad as do radical Islamists. As our Lord told Governor Pilate in John 18:36 (BBE) "Jesus said in answer, 'My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom was of this world, my disciples would have made a good fight to keep me out of the hands of the Jews: but my kingdom is not here.'"

And of course Paul wrote in Romans 12:2 (BBE) how we must adopt the mind set of Christ toward worldly things. "And let not your behaviour be like that of this world, but be changed and made new in mind, so that by experience you may have knowledge of the good and pleasing and complete purpose of God."

Monday 8 August 2022

What The Stanford Prison Experiment Teaches Us

The Stanford Prison Experiment was a project designed to find out how people use or misuse power over others. The BBC documentary at the link below will explain the background of this psychological exercise. Suffice it to say that it was a huge disaster.

What many people don't realize, and refuse to believe, is that we all are born wicked. Live with a toddler for a while and you'll understand the assertion of Jeremiah 17:9. The Bible in Basic English says, "The heart is a twisted thing, not to be searched out by man: who is able to have knowledge of it?"

Holy Scripture makes it abundantly clear that not a single individual is righteous. As Psalm 14:3 (BBE) frankly admits, "They have all gone out of the way together; they are unclean, there is not one who does good, no, not one."

But, some might ask, aren't babies innocent? The truth is that we're all tainted by Adam's rebellion against the Father. According to 1 Corinthians 15:22 (KJV). "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."

Since this is so, who can go to heaven? Trusting God and obeying the gospel is the answer. As Paul said to the Athenians in Acts 17:30 and 31 (BBE), "Those times when men had no knowledge were overlooked by God; but now he gives orders to all men in every place to undergo a change of heart: Because a day has been fixed in which all the world will be judged in righteousness by the man who has been marked out by him for this work; of which he has given a sign to all men by giving him back from the dead."

When people gain power, they tend to be cruel. But God will punish those mighty rulers. Psalm 76:7-9 (BBE) declares regarding the Almighty, "You, you are to be feared; who may keep his place before you in the time of your wrath? From heaven you gave your decision; the earth, in its fear, gave no sound, When God took his place as judge, for the salvation of the poor on the earth. (Selah.).

What a relief it is to know that wicked rulers and powerful people won't get away with their crimes. The Lord's wrath is slow but absolutely sure.

Thursday 2 June 2022

Adults Must Be Responsible - Bruce Atchison

Back in June of 1976, I felt torn between two desires. I needed my job at the CNIB smoke stand, located in a seedy hotel, but I also wanted to stay true to my faith in Christ. That shop sold pornographic magazines, something I wanted nothing to do with. Neither could I transfer to another shop as there were no openings left.

In no way did I want to be responsible for selling porn to people, thus contributing to their lustful satisfaction. Just handling those wicked publications made me feel defiled. Even so, I needed the money.

So I prayed and thought about my decision. Whether God gave me the answer, I can't tell. This is what I concluded. Those adults who purchased those filthy magazines were doing it of their own volition. I was a Christian but I was a mere employee of the CNIB. So I would be excused from guilt as I wasn't the owner of the shop.

And not being the owner, I had no say about what I couldn't wear. A local Christian store sold badges with various sayings on them. Some of those were humourous, such as the one showing a little boy who lost the ice cream from his cone. As a dog licked the blob on the ground, he said, "Praise the Lord anyway."

My manager wasn't at all amused. I was told to take off my badges and not wear them at work. I could have them on my coat but not on my shirt. 

There too, I was tempted to quit. But I realized that it wasn't my shop and I was under the authority of the manager. Even so, I could talk to customers about the Lord since nobody from the CNIB was looking over my shoulder.

Our employers often ask us to do what we find morally troublesome. So we need to think long and hard, and pray as well, about what we should do. But if we're asked to do something immoral, like Potiphar's wife wanting to have sex with Joseph, that goes over the line.

Tuesday 10 May 2022

What Makes My Heart Sing?

For me, there's nothing more important than truth. Our arch enemy knows it sets people free. Like Christ said in John 8:31 and 32 (Bible in Basic English), "Then Jesus said to the Jews who had faith in him, 'If you keep my word, then you are truly my disciples; And you will have knowledge of what is true, and that will make you free.'"

Being able to know the truth also helps us resist the Devil and cling to Christ. As Peter admonished his readers in 1 Peter 5:8 and 9, "Be serious and keep watch; the Evil One, who is against you, goes about like a lion with open mouth in search of food; Do not give way to him but be strong in your faith, in the knowledge that your brothers who are in the world undergo the same troubles."

Old Testament worshippers also felt the wonder of God's holy law. Psalm 119:165 exclaims, "Great peace have lovers of your law; they have no cause for falling."

Falling is what causes people to turn from the truth. We read in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4, "Now as to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and our meeting with him, it is our desire, my brothers, That you may not be moved in mind or troubled by a spirit, or by a word, or by a letter as from us, with the suggestion that the day of the Lord is even now come; Give no belief to false words: because there will first be a falling away from the faith, and the revelation of the man of sin, the son of destruction, Who puts himself against all authority, lifting himself up over all which is named God or is given worship; so that he takes his seat in the Temple of God, putting himself forward as God."

We can depend fully on what the Holy Spirit inspired the scripture writers to write. As Jesus said in John 17:17, "Make them holy by the true word: your word is the true word."

So important is God's word that Jesus quoted it when tempted by the Devil. Matthew 4:4 records, "But he made answer and said, 'It is in the Writings, Bread is not man's only need, but every word which comes out of the mouth of God.'"

May you always remain in the truth.

Tuesday 29 March 2022

Rick Derringer: "It's Raining"

This American guitarist had a few minor hits in the seventies. this album track is about a couple sheltering from a hurricane. Check it out here.

Whenever we end up unable to leave home, like we did during the COVID-19 pandemic, we can use the Apostle Paul's idea to make the best of it. During Paul's frequent imprisonments, he used his down time to write letters. 

In Philippians 1:12-14, he noted that his jail time was in some ways advantageous. The Bible in Basic English renders it this way.

"Now it is my purpose to make clear to you, brothers, that the cause of the good news has been helped by my experiences; So that it became clear through all the Praetorium, and to all the rest, that I was a prisoner on account of Christ; And most of the brothers in the Lord, taking heart because of my chains, are all the stronger to give the word of God without fear."

When Joseph was sold by his brothers as a slave, he made the best of that bad situation too. Genesis 39:5 and 6 (BBE) tells us, "And from the time when he made him overseer and gave him control of all his property, the blessing of the Lord was with the Egyptian, because of Joseph; the blessing of the Lord was on all he had, in the house and in the field. And he gave Joseph control of all his property, keeping no account of anything, but only the food which was put before him.

And when Potiphar's wife got Joseph in trouble for not having an affair with him, Genesis 40:21-23 (BBE) tells us of yet another betrayal. "And he put the chief wine-servant back in his old place; and he gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand. But the chief bread-maker was put to death by hanging, as Joseph had said. But the wine-servant did not keep Joseph in mind or give a thought to him.

Now some folks will say that this was long ago. But Jesus promised he'd be with his people always. John 14:18 (BBE) reads, "I will not let you be without a friend: I am coming to you."

One advantage we modern-day Christians have is the Internet. Through it, we can hear and see one another. It's nowhere as nice as meeting in person but it's better than the isolation experienced by biblical heroes.