Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog
Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail
There are just too many voices in the world today muddying the waters when it comes to 21st century Christianity. In fact the term, “Christianity,” doesn’t mean much the average person. In fact, the average person will most likely have several friends who carry this title and they know based on their morals— they’re not really different. Sadly it’s a description that doesn’t describe much, other than an individual that believes in God. That’s really it! This word has been tragically stripped of what we understand to be the most rewarding life you could possibly live. There’s simply no higher calling, there is no greater purpose in life, and you just can’t beat the retirement plan.
Now let’s do something to help the seeking world out.
Let’s make it our priority to understand the church in such a way that we can simplify her mission and her origin.
Here are two terms that will help:
- The term “restoration” may sound similar to “reformation”, but the two terms could not be more contrary to each other. Restoration is an attempt to return the church to the pattern we find in the New Testament, while reformation is a changing of what currently exists. It’s a modification or addition which creates something new entirely. The Old Testament is filled with the pleas of the prophets for the people to restore their relationships with God.
2. The definition of the word “denomination” is evidence that restoration is not only possible, but needed. Denomination, in the religious world, describes a branch off of an original. Any branch coming off of the New Testament church, is simply not it.
Five Facts About The Lord’s Church
- The New Testament church was established by Jesus, not Luther, Henry the 8th, Calvin, Smith, or Wesley
- The New Testament church was established in Jerusalem, not Oxford, London, or Amsterdam
- In New Testament times people were told to believe in Jesus, repent of their sins, be baptized by a total immersion of water, and to live faithfully (Acts 2:38, 16:30-31, 2:16, Mark 16:15-16; Romans 6:1-4; Revelation 2:10)
- Christians in the New Testament met on the first day of the week to partake in the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7)
- The New Testament church was a united church, while denominationalism is, by its very nature, divided.
If the church you are a part of can say the same, you can be confident that it is the church that Jesus established. If this is not what the church you are a part of teaches and practices, then perhaps this will be some information that will help you begin a life-changing search to find God’s will for your life.
Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross
One of the most intriguing people in all the gospels, to me, is the beggar sitting by the road near Jericho. Mark 10:46 tells us that the man’s name is Bartimaeus. Matthew tells us that there is another man sitting with him, and that man’s name is not given (20:30). This man was shameless in a good way, persistent despite the crowd sternly discouraging him (39). I wonder if there is a more pathetic person disclosed to us in the Bible (maybe Lazarus back in Luke 16). He is needy in at least five ways, according to Luke 18:35-43:
- He’s physically impaired (35)–“a blind man”
- He’s economically disadvantaged (35)–“by the road begging”
- He’s socially outcast (39)–He’s not depicted as a respected member of society, but one to be corrected by the others
- He’s emotionally distraught (38-41)–Begging for mercy and longing for sight
- He’s spiritually incomplete (42)–When Jesus heals him, He tells the man, “Your faith has saved you.”
I love how the man is so stripped of his dignity, power, and resources that he boldly pleads for Jesus’ help. It may seem strange, but all of us need to get to that place if we will receive what only He can give. He wanted His mercy. When he received it, look at the response. He “began following Him, glorifying God; and when all the people saw it, they gave praise to God” (43). Don’t you want your submissive, obedient life to be a drawing card for others to see their need of God and to glorify Him? God really shows His power when He takes the lowliest and transforms them by what He does with and through them. That’s why I love this account.
Friday’s Column: Captain’s Blog
How much does your Bible mean to you? Each time we pick it up and read from its pages, we are reading the very words of God. God has revealed His Character, His will, and His love through inspired men. Each time we open our Bibles we are seeing the mind of God.
What an awe inspiring fact to think about.
We aren’t the first ones to feel this way.
In response to the perfect Law of God, David wrote Psalm 19. It is a tribute to the perfection of scripture. As we read through this chapter, David puts into words these feelings of awe and gratitude.
He begins by stating a fact that has always been true.
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.”
In a psalm dedicated to the perfect Law of the Lord, David starts by praising the Author. The God of creation, who can be seen in every aspect of our world, is the One responsible for writing such a perfect book. We can look around and the world declares the glory of God. The Author of life itself gave us a book that leads to eternal life.
In verse 7 David describes the Law of the Lord as being perfect. Notice what this perfect Law does for us: it “revives the soul.” The words of God are sure and steadfast. They are truly perfect and are ever relevant to us, His creation.
We continue reading and he goes on to say that God’s Word:
- Gives us wisdom (wisdom we would otherwise never have)
- Is always right (there is no doubting, thinking that they might be wrong)
- His commandments are pure (no false motive)
- His word enlightens our eyes (we can now see the truth)
- His rules are true
- His word is righteous
With such a perfect Law, it is only natural that we should desire it more than Gold.
David says in verse 10 that the words we read in scripture are “sweeter than honey.”
His response to God’s word should be every Christian’s response. We should value and cherish God’s perfect Law.
The Bible is a blessing like no other. In its pages we are warned about the things we should avoid. By keeping His commands we receive a great reward. Psalm 19 is a beautiful tribute to a beautiful book.
With these facts in mind, how much does God’s book mean to you?
Thursday’s Column: Learning From Lehman
It was 2008, just 20 days shy of his 90th birthday, when Fred Baur died. On the way to the funeral home, his kids decided to stop at a nearby Walgreens to pick up some salty snacks. They debated for a bit, should it be sour cream and onion, cheddar cheese maybe? Larry and his siblings finally decided on Original.
You see, Fred adored his kids, but his passion was snacks. His accomplishments included a variety of frying oils and freeze-dried ice cream.
Fred was an American organic Chemist that had received both his masters and PhD at The Ohio State University, and it was 1966 when P&G came calling. Evidently, in the 1960s, there was a problem with the packaging and shipping of potato chips. By the time the consumer would pick up potato chips at a store, well, they were merely in pieces. This is where P&G thought Fred could help solve this problem.
After two years of experimentation, Fred developed a chip of dried potato flakes, added a bunch of unpronounceable ingredients, and cut them into thin hyperbolic paraboloids. With this shape, Fred could neatly stack his chips into his vacuum sealed tube.
By this time, you know that I am referring to Fred’s invention of Pringles, but the story doesn’t end there. Fred still wasn’t done with his invention.
There were problems:
First and foremost, they tasted like sawdust, so Fred spent another 2 years to improve the taste. Then, another issue. Frito-Lay sent lawyers because they said Fred’s chips weren’t potato chips at all because they were just 42% potato.
After some time and haggling, they decided to call them potato crisps.
He gave birth to an iconic brand that many of us still enjoy today. Through years of experimentation, development, and disappointments, lawyers-at one point P&G wanted to trash the idea.
But Fred persevered.
He was able to see his brand break 100 million in sales. He was able to see it break 500 million in sales. However, he wasn’t there in 2011 when P&G sold Pringles for almost 2.5 Billion Dollars.
That brings us back to 2008 when Fred’s children showed up to the funeral home with the Original flavored can of pringles. Fred’s wish was to have his ashes be placed in a Pringles can when he passed.
Fred got his wish.
As great as this story is, we wouldn’t have this story if it wasn’t for Fred’s perseverance. And as great as Fred’s perseverance was, we have so many examples of greater perseverance in the Bible.
Consider Joshua, Job, Jeremiah, Nehemiah and our greatest example of perseverance, Jesus. These are just a few of the many examples the Bible gives us.
Two points I want to quickly make about Perseverance, and the lesson is yours.
Number 1. WE HAVE A NEED FOR PERSEVERANCE.
It’s not a matter of if, but when…Christians Will Face Tribulations in Life. Jesus says in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Christ never promised us that this life would be a bed of roses. The Gospel never said we’d go to Heaven on “flowery beds of ease.” Rather, we are promised that we shall have hardships and tribulations in this life, especially if we are faithful Children of God.
Only those who persevere receive the reward. Revelation 2:10-11 tells us, “ Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
Number 2. PERSEVERANCE IS DEVELOPED IN TRIBULATION.
Romans 8: 18-28 can be summarized as this: Viewed in faith, tribulation is a friend rather than an enemy. I don’t know a lot of adversity that is necessarily fun, but we can learn from it, and we can grow from it.
In Deuteronomy 8, the Israelites failed to see the benefits of their trials.
In Numbers, we see there was an Exodus of over one Million Israelites.
We later see that only two Persevered and reached the promised land.
In 1 Corinthians and Hebrews, Paul admonishes us not to imitate the Israelites.
Rather than complain, rejoice in God’s work in your life.
Difficulties and trials would not normally be considered an occasion for joy but think about James and Paul and how they exhort us to look beyond the immediate pain and discomforts of trials to the lasting effect they have on the character of the Christian.
It is the development of our character, that should cause us to rejoice in adversity. Always remember who wins in the end.
We all have mountains to climb and sometimes holes to dig ourselves out of. Perhaps you want to begin to persevere and put on the armor of God through Baptism. There is no better time than now. Perhaps you’ve been baptized, and you’re currently trying so hard to climb the mountain that you’re on and you’ve had setbacks. We would love to help you reach the peak.
Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words
The Index Librorum Prohibitorum was a Roman Catholic list of prohibited Bible versions. Anything other than the Vulgate was illegal to possess. Violations had severe penalties. No lay person would ever want to be caught with a common, modern translation while the Index had force of law.
While not nearly as dramatic as a forbidden book list, some have inadvertently created similar prohibitions. Their reasons are different, their motives less nefarious, but the outcome is equally destructive.
Are translations like the ERV and NIV perfect? No! But no one translation is perfect. Read multiple, but be sure to include versions like these in your study. If and when something comes up that seems different, investigate it! Spend some time figuring it out! Look at context, consult multiple translations, see how it fits with the author’s overall message.
This is a difficult statement, but true: many Christians do not understand the Bible. Some equate memorization with knowledge, but could not accurately elaborate on what a passage means. Secularization and hectic schedules are partially to blame, but difficulty understanding their translations is often the culprit.
(ESV): Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
(KJV): God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
(ERV): In the past God spoke to our people through the prophets. God spoke to them many times and in many different ways. And now in these last days God has spoken to us again. God has spoken to us through his son. God made the whole world through his son. And God has chosen his son to have all things. The son shows the glory of God. He is a perfect copy of God’s nature. The son holds everything together with his powerful command. The son made people clean from their sins. Then he sat down at the right side of the Great One (God) in heaven. God gave him a name that is a much greater name than any of the angels have. And he became that much greater than the angels.
Which was easier to read? Which was easiest to understand? The last probably shed some light on the ESV and KJV. How? It’s translated the way people actually communicate. It removes an obstacle to understanding that formal equivalence has kept in place for some time.
This quote is famously attributed to Albert Einstein, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” The same readily applies to the Bible, which was originally written in the recipients’ common language.
The translation committee for the English Bible for the Deaf include this statement at the beginning of their work:
“The main concern of the translators was always to communicate [the message] of biblical writers as effectively and as naturally as the original writings did to people in that time. Faithful translation is not just matching words in a dictionary. It is a process of expressing the original message in a form that will not only have the same meaning, but will sound as relevant, attract the same interest, and have the same impact today as it did thousands of years ago.”
Reading a modern translation that utilizes dynamic equivalence (alongside other translations) in personal Bible study is extremely helpful. Doing so can have no other effect than enhancing one’s understanding of God’s word!
I was too young to remember any of the Apollo missions (the first moon landing was six months before my birth). As a child of the ’80s, I remember the NASA space shuttle missions (there was a total of 135 of them) including the two disastrous ones. In 2021, a new era is underway. This one is being driven, not by government, but by private funding. This new chapter in space flight and exploration is a space race between well-known billionaires, Richard Branson (Virgin Galactic), Jeff Bezos (Blue Origin), and Elon Musk (SpaceX). I missed Sir Richard’s flight in the rocket plane, Unity, on July 11th. But this morning I watched the entire maiden voyage of Bezos’ rocket, New Shepard, as he reached a height of 66.5 miles in the suborbital flight carrying Jeff, brother Mark, and both the oldest and youngest people to fly into space (Oliver Daeman is 18 and aviation pioneer Wally Funk is 82). From take off to touch down, the flight took 11 minutes.
These new ventures, like their predecessors, are sure to fire the imagination of the next generation, develop new technology, and generate national pride. The new frontier, for now, seems to be to launch space tourism. It dawned on me that those bankrolling these ventures and putting in the time and manpower to realize these goals creates multiple challenges to overcome.
Sure, there was a little flight training for the four passengers of New Shepard (classroom instruction, demonstrations, and practice), but the company website adds these facts: “Blue Origin has been flight testing New Shepard and its redundant safety systems since 2012. The program has had 15 successful consecutive missions including three successful escape tests, showing the crew escape system can activate safely in any phase of flight” (Source). Today’s flight was originally slated for 2018 (Source). Fortune Magazine says that Bezos has spent $5.5 billion of his own money on Blue Origin to this point (Source). Why expend the effort, money, energy, and risk? Men like these billionaires have proven they know what sells and how to turn a profit, but it also taps into the daring and adventure of the human spirit.
The dreams and visions of Joel 2:28-32, fulfilled on Pentecost when the church was established, are the miracles, signs, and wonders by which the apostles proved the truth of their message. In context, those dreams and visions were specific, supernatural demonstrations of the Holy Spirit. But Jesus wants us to share His dream and vision, first articulated in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. We call it the Great Commission. He spelled out the game plan for His apostles in Acts 1:8. Start local, move regional, and end up global. Share the gospel. Reach the lost. Grow the church. Over and over and over again! We’re going to have to dream big and conjure of visions of great things. We serve the same God the apostles did.
But, audacious dreams are hard, expensive, risky, and frustrating. They require us to change and grow. They cost us time, talent, and treasure. They may cost us friendships and relationships. They will include failures and misses as well as successes and hits. Yet, we are reaching higher than even outer space. Our ultimate goal is heaven!
As impressed as I am with these billionaires’ ambitions for outer space, we are children of the Creator and heirs of the Most High. His resources as infinite. His promises are sure. His mission is clear. Let’s launch ambitious dreams for Him. Lost souls are counting on it!