No Other Gods

About a year or so ago, I started noticing when reading my Bible the Israelites were constantly being called to repent, to turn back to YHWH. They were continually being admonished for following after other gods or putting other gods in His face. I thought to myself, what is the deal here? Then I asked myself how are we like that?

In America it seemed to me that there weren’t any other “gods” or “idolatry” except when we glorify things or people, elevating them to a level higher than God. But other than that, we didn’t worship Baal or Asherah or anything like that. Those were things you saw in other parts of the world, not in America.

Some folks might worship nature or the environment but I didn’t think I was guilty of that. Some worship the almighty dollar, but I didn’t think I was guilty of that either. My greatest concern was making sure my priorities were straight, putting God before anyone or anything else.

But then as I continued to read my Bible, I kept thinking there is an *awful* lot of attention drawn to “idolatry” and/or “sexual immorality” in the entire Bible. If there is that much attention to it, it *must* be more pervasive than I realize. At some point I also came to understand that the constant reference to sexual immorality in the Scriptures often times means following after other gods.

Then I started thinking about the wide path that leads to destruction and the narrow gate that very few find. (Matthew 7:13-14) Could Christianity in its purest form really be the narrow gate? I mean, not just the ones that say they are Christian and go to church, but the ones who believe in Jesus and live a life that reflects that. There seems to be an awful lot of Christians to be considered “few”, I thought. Continue reading

Reading the Bible

It has come to my attention that I might be offending people when I say “Read the Bible”, as if I was suggesting that people aren’t already reading their Bibles. If that is the case, I’m very sorry.

One of the reasons why I continually say to read the Bible, is because I believe we need to continually read our Bible. Many may already be doing that, and that’s great. My charge to read the Bible is because I want to encourage people to always go back to the Word of God. The Truth is found there.

When I was first questioning “obedience to what?”, I would read whole books at a time. It’s not that I never read them before, but I felt like I was missing something. So, I’d read it again. Then, I’d read it again. Then, when I felt like the LORD was telling me something, I’d read it again with that thought in mind.

When I started sharing my thoughts with others, they would say to me, “You need to read Galatians.” or “You need to read Romans.” Now, of course I’ve read those books before…in fact I had read them fairly recent to their charge for me to read them. BUT, I’d go ahead and read them again. I wanted to see something I might have missed.

One of the beautiful things about God’s Word is that it’s alive! It literally speaks to us. Continue reading

Dietary Law: Unclean vs Clean Animals

What does the Bible have to say about the Dietary Law concerning Unclean Animals vs. Clean Animals?

Leviticus 11 gives specific instructions from YHWH “concerning animals, birds, every living thing that moves in the water and every creature that moves about the ground.” He gave them to Moses and Aaron so that they might tell the Israelites what they may or may not eat.

Deuteronomy 14:3-21 provides a listing again of what the children of YHWH are permitted to eat and what they are told not to eat.

In both of these accounts they are reminded that they are a people holy to YHWH their God.

What the Bible doesn’t have to say about it… Continue reading

What is the Trustworthy Message?

Paul writes to Titus and explains to him about appointing elders in every town. After he lists a variety of character traits, he says (in 1:9),

“He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.”

The question that stands out to me is, “What is the trustworthy message Paul is referring to here?”

Verses 10-12 says,

“For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach — and that for the sake of dishonest gain.”

My next question is found in this passage, “What is the teaching that ought not to be taught?” Continue reading

Tradition of Man vs Law of God

I noticed something long before I started keeping the Sabbath. One of Jesus’ biggest beef with the Pharisees seemed to be their adding to the law of God. They had all these added rules, laws and traditions that were never recorded in the written Law of Moses.

Because of this and my huge lack of knowledge concerning the actual written Law, I was very confused about which laws were “Jewish” laws and which were God’s laws. But I discovered a remedy to my confusion. It’s called “Read the Bible“. If it’s not in the Bible, then it’s not God’s Law. Pretty simple, really. Yet, I missed it for so long.

What do I mean?

SABBATH KEEPING: Tradition of Man vs. Law of God

For example, did Jesus ever break the Sabbath commandment? No. He was perfect, right? He was the spotless Lamb of God, who obeyed all of God’s Law completely.

Yet, why were the Pharisees giving him grief over the things he was doing on the Sabbath (ie healing the lame, allowing His disciples to pick/eat grain, etc.)? Because he was breaking their Jewish law…not the Law of God. How do I know this? Well, besides the fact that I know Jesus perfectly obeyed his Father’s teachings and instructions, I’ve read the Law of God, and those added rules are not in there. Continue reading

What Does This Mean?

Have you ever been reading in your Bible and something stands out to you, and you ask, “What does this mean?

Maybe you’ve read that passage a gazillion times (okay, maybe not that many, but a lot), and you think you know what it means, but you realize there’s a word or phrase in there that you’ve always kind of just glossed over in the past because you didn’t really know why it was there. I’ve done that. Too many times, I think.

Up until a year or so ago, when I would come across words/phrases/verses I didn’t understand, I’d ask those whom I hung around with — the ones I knew read their Bibles, too. Either they’d say, “I don’t know” or they’d give me their take on what the whole passage was saying. I was usually content with their answer or I’d just shove the question into the back of my mind and move on.

Lest you think I’m not that spiritual, I will point out that many times when I would come across those questions in my personal Bible study, I would ask God for the answer as well…but I didn’t always wait on Him to get an answer.

It was much easier to ask someone who I could physically see and hear, or that’s how I used to think. Now, I realizeI’d rather get the correct answer than just any ol’ answer. So now, I wait on the LORD for the understanding of His truth.

What do I mean when I say, “wait”? Continue reading

Is It Really Put Away?

I’ve been reading through a document that was presented to me a week ago on “The Covenant and The Law“, and I’ve been scouring my Bible for truths concerning several points being made in it.

There were three points that were mentioned that the author seemed to think were “givens”: the Priesthood, Sacrificial Rituals & Circumcision are all no longer required. I used to freely spout that off as well, but the past few months I’ve been seriously reconsidering my longheld belief concerning this.

I admit I’m still stumped about Circumcision. I haven’t given up on it yet, but for the moment I’m okay with not having that completely figured out at this point. Regarding the other two, however, I dug deep into the Word this weekend to find out what it has to say about them, and it was very exciting.

WHAT DID JESUS SAY?

First, I start with the underlying premise that Jesus said,

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets: I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means dissappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:17-18 NIV)

The author of the document finished with these verses, expounding on the meaning of the word “fulfill”, but neglecting to speak on the meaning of “abolish”. His premise concerning this verse was since it was already determined that the three “givens” are no longer applicable, then Matt 5:17-18 “cannot mean what advocates of keeping the Old Covenant law claim it means“. Honestly, I was shocked by this line of reasoning.

Why wouldn’t we want to start with Jesus’ words and then determine the truth concerning controversial matters, rather than drawing a conclusion about controversial matters and making Jesus’ words fit in with our conclusions?

When I personally study Scripture and I have a thought about what something means concerning a matter, I go back and re-read through whole books that touch on that matter to see if my understanding gels or conflicts with it. This helps me to stay in line with the Word. I recognize I can still be off, but at least it keeps me in check from being way off.

Anyway, let’s just for a moment consider the possibility that Jesus meant what he said, when he said he didn’t come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. What about the priesthood and the sacrificial rituals? Continue reading

Understanding Righteousness

Over the past few days I have spent gobs of hours poring over Romans, with notepad, pen & highlighter in hand, and I found it very fascinating. It took having to take notes to get through some of the language, but boy, was it worth it.

I’m a visual person, I guess. I like charts and pictures to help tell a story. And when I started to map out Romans, things became much clearer.

UNDERSTANDING RIGHTEOUSNESS

A few weeks ago when I was reading through Romans, specifically chapter 3 verses 21-22a, something jumped out at me.

“But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.”

This little word “this” made me think that it was referring to a particular type of righteousness as opposed to another one. And the one it was referring to was a righteousness:

  • from God,
  • apart from law,
  • that comes through faith
  • in Jesus Christ.

Well, what other righteousness is there? Continue reading

Misunderstood

Earlier this year I started a Beth Moore Bible Study covering the Psalms of Ascent. She talked about how we were going to go on a pilgrimage in this study, and in one of the first lessons, she asked us to describe in one word how we were feeling at the onset and write it down on the first step in a staircase (illustrated in the back of the Study Guide). And the word I chose was “misunderstood“. Sometimes I feel like I’m still on that step.

Unfortunately, due to some other factors (both good and not so good), I was unable to continue keeping up with the study. I did my homework here and there and I attended a few of the video viewing sessions, but I never went through all the lessons to get to the top of the staircase. I may revisit that study guide again some time, but for now I’ve set it aside.

I sat down here at my computer screen to share what’s been on my mind, but I’m feeling more inclined to share what’s on my heart at the moment. I hope you’ll bear with me. Continue reading

Preaches Another Jesus – Clarification

Yesterday, I wrote an article called “He That Preaches Another Jesus“, and I spoke of a “Christian Jesus”. In retrospect, I think I should not have phrased it that way. I think I should have said “the Jesus I learned about growing up”.

I recognized before I hit the publish button that this article would cause a stir, simply because of it’s controversial content but I didn’t want to add to the controversy by using words in such a way that it was disparaging to a particular group of people. For that, I am sorry. (I have since edited it to reflect the change in terminology.)

Most of the controversy that I see is over the holidays/days commonly identified with Christianity: Christmas, Easter and Sunday/Sabbath. Continue reading