November 25, 2019

Ep.1101: How Can We Be Thankful When Life is So Hard?

Learning how to keep gratitude vital in the face of suffering

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CHAPTERS

[00:12:11]
How can we be thankful when things don't work out?


[00:27:49]
How can we see value in roadblocks on our path?


[00:44:47]
How can we find peace when we regularly suffer?


[01:00:23]
How can our attitude of thanksgiving be a blessing to even unbelievers?


Theme Scripture: Philippians 4:6

This of the most basic manners we teach our kids. We generally start by instructing them how to appropriately make a request for something and how to graciously receive it.  How do you ask?  “Please!”  What do you say?  “Thank you!”  These two simple communication tools (which incidentally seem to have been misplaced in our social media world) are not merely expressions of good manners, they are declarations of good character!  As we approach the American holiday of Thanksgiving, we want to focus on being thankful in a way that goes beyond typical platitudes.  How can we be truly and deeply thankful - even when our life experiences are difficult and harsh?  How can we make true thankfulness a way of life and not just words of praise?

Continue Reading

We often think of gratitude as an act of reciprocity – someone does something that has positive benefit and we show appreciation by being thankful.  While this is a good place to start, true gratitude can be expressed for many wider and deeper reasons.  Take loyalty for example, the ongoing experience of having someone exhibit life-long loyalty towards us. True gratitude is not expressed in a simple gesture of thanks to them. It is expressed in our transformedlife actionsthat their loyalty affords us. This kind of thanksgiving makes us better, as it continually draws us up to a higher standard and quality of life.

As we begin to understand the broad application gratitude can have, we need to pause and consider its role in our hard life experiences. Pain and thanksgiving are not bvious partners. As a matter of fact, some of our greatest gratitude experiences are driven by pain and suffering leaving us. This is the gratitude of relief, and it is important and appropriate. As Christians, it is our charge to rise to higher levels of thanksgiving. A verse in 1 Thessalonians instructs us, “In everything give thanks.” The obvious implication here is to grow into an attitude of life that is able to express thanksgiving not only when a bad experience ends, but as we are going through it as well.

How do we do this?  Being thankful in the midst of pain and suffering is not natural, it is not easy and it is, frankly, not even expected by our peers. Yet, this is our goal. Check out our November 25, 2019 podcast, “How Can We Be Thankful When Life is So Hard?” We not only walk through biblical principles of gratitude and its application, we also share a dramatic personal testimony from a Christian woman. This woman lives with chronic and severe pain daily and has for years. It has completely changed her life and essentially taken away many of her previous opportunities. In her testimony she recounts how she has learned to accept this hard way of life. She also shares the new-found power and privilege she has been given because of this trial.  Do not miss this inspiring view of gratitude!

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November 25, 2019

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November 18, 2019

Ep.1100: Do People Turn Into Angels When They Die?

Establishing spiritual and human natures as separate and distinct

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CHAPTERS

[00:13:36]
If God's plan is to restore all but mankind was never given heaven, why do we say the faithful go there?


[00:24:42]
Are angels mortal or immortal?


[00:39:05]
What was the purpose of Jesus changing natures to become human?


[00:55:23]
What are the requirements for heaven?


Theme Scripture: Psalm 8:5

It’s funny how certain fanciful images make their way into the human mind and somehow become a part of our belief foundation.  Case in point – someone dies and the next thing we know, we visualize them standing before those massive and ornate “pearly gates” of heaven.  Once issued their wings and harp, we see them as having “made it” into eternal bliss.  Or how about the common and comforting idea that someone who has passed is now an angel looking down on us and protecting us?  Do human beings REALLY turn into angels when they die?  What about angels - can they ever turn into people?  Are these ideas based on the Bible or do the Scriptures tell us something else about life after death?

Continue Reading

Most of us never think about God’s heavenly and earthly creation as having been designed in several distinct levels of existence. Why? Because we don’t stop to ask the right questions and instead make assumptions about how human nature functions. Unfortunately, these assumptions have to do with tradition and what we see in the movies, not actual biblical writing. Humans becoming angels when they die is one of those traditions, with no basis in Scripture. How do we know?

Earthly creation

We begin with a basic premise that God’s creative process has clear-cut classes of creation within nature. These are relatively easy to define by looking at the creative days in the book of Genesis. While this account is not detailed or complete, it is an outline from which we can gain specific direction and insight. It describes the sequential appearance of atmosphere, earth and water. Grass, plants and trees begin to grow. Then the waters bring forth sea creatures. Birds are created, then the earth brings forth land animals. We get a sense of orderly hierarchy. There is a dramatic difference between how the earth "brought forth" animals versus God specifically creating humanity to have dominion over the rest of creation. There are planes of existence in the earthly creation.

Heavenly creation

The record of the creative days does not give us insight into the creation of angels, as we are earthly and not even remotely connected with their beginning. But we are given some clues as to what spirit beings are like, including that they are mortal.  Quoting from Psalms, the book of Hebrews explains man was made "a little lower than the angels." There is no bridge between the earthly and angelic natures where one can morph into the other. We are told of different kinds of spirit beings, with God at the very top as immortal and divine. There are planes of existence in the heavenly creation. With very few exceptions for very specific reasons, natures do not change.

The Bible's narrative can be summed up in four words: Paradise lost; paradise restored. It is the details in the middle that tell just how that will miraculous work will be accomplished. Check out our November 18, 2019 podcast, “Do People Turn Into Angels When They Die?” for more. We discuss what mankind actually lost and how it will be restored. (Hint: Man never "lost" a spiritual body to restore.) If Jesus' followers don't become angels, what is the heavenly reward they are promised in the New Testament all about? It is so much more than you might have thought!

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November 11, 2019

Ep.1099: Should Christians Care About the Jewish Tabernacle?

Unlocking the secrets and symbols God gave to ancient Israel

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CHAPTERS

[00:15:23]
What is the significance of the strange furniture inside the Tabernacle?


[00:36:45]
How do we know the Tabernacle was meant for Christians to study?


[00:51:23]
How do the different rooms of the Tabernacle picture our present and our future?


[01:11:44]
How does the Tabernacle show our progressive Christian walk?


Theme Scripture: Exodus 25:8

As Christians we follow Jesus.  His life story is told in the New Testament of the Bible and we rightfully focus on those books.  Sometimes though, our focus brings us away from the rest of the story – the Old Testament.  We think, why do we need all of that Jewish history?  Why do we need to know who conquered whom and how all the rituals worked that God required of the Jewish nation to show their loyalty to Him?  The fact is, we NEED the Old Testament and we need it badly!  This need is dramatically illustrated in the Tabernacle – the portable tent and furnishings the Jews carried with them during their 40-year wilderness experience.  The story the Tabernacle tells is a breathtaking example of God’s care and His foresight.

Continue Reading

It is probably hard to relate to Israel way back 3,600 years ago.  They were miraculously delivered from the horrible slavery of Egypt and were now in the wilderness.  They were brought to the land of Canaan, the land they had been promised but were too scared to take it.  Even though God had assured them of victory, they shied away from the fight.  As punishment, God sent them to wander in the wilderness for 40 years.  How would they survive?  God would provide for them in many ways beyond their own imaginations.

The Tabernacle was a physical manifestation of God's presence

How would they know God was with them?  How would they know God had not just left them there to die?  Here is where their Tabernacle came into play.  This Tabernacle was kind of like a Temple on wheels  for worshipping God.  Wherever and whenever they were to set up camp, this portable Temple was to be set up in the middle of all their tents and herds. One of the amazing details of this structure was that the people could literally see God’s presence.  By day, there was a dark cloud that stayed over its holiest room, and it turned to a pillar of fire by night.  What’s more amazing is they knew when they were to pull up camp and move because the cloud moved first!

There are multiple “why” questions that surface here.  Why did they need this structure? The fact is, no one was even allowed in the two holy rooms except the priesthood.  Why was this portable building so precisely constructed?  Exact dimensions and details were given for every part of this building.  There was lots of gold overlay work and beautifully embroidered linen coverings that could only be seen from the inside.  Why did this building have such unusual furniture?

Check out our November 11, 2019 podcast, “Should Christians Care about the Jewish Tabernacle?” for answers. With our special guest, Tom Ruggirello, we look at the Tabernacle’s details, construction, measurements and building materials.  What we find is treasure map of sorts that shows us God’s love care and requirements for His people, both Jewish and Christian.  This Tabernacle is about YOU – find out its message!

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VIDEO: Who Was Gideon?

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Ep.1098: Who Was Gideon?

The history, character and faith of the mighty warrior Gideon

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CHAPTERS

[00:10:41]
How bad does the bullying from the Midianites get for Israel?


[00:19:49]
What life-risking job does the angel give Gideon to do?


[00:41:09]
Will putting out the fleece finally convince Gideon it is time for action?


[00:56:17]
How did Gideon defeat unbelievable odds using a trumpet, a pitcher and a torch?


Theme Scripture: Psalm 27:3

Have you ever heard the expression “putting out the fleece” when referring to someone trying to make a decision?  Its origin comes from an unlikely biblical hero from an unremarkable tribe. He was the youngest of an insignificant family.  Yet, Gideon was chosen by God to do a mighty work – to free Israel from the cruel oppression of the Midianites and Amalekites.  Getting such an unnoticed individual to do works of such greatness took providence and patience on God’s part. Gideon needed to develop a God-based confidence to boldly move forward and stand against enemies of immense power.  The story of this man’s journey inspired a nation and left a trail of lessons for us to apply in our everyday Christian walk.

Continue Reading

When it came to Israel, God was specific and predictable.  From the time they became a nation when Moses led them out of Egypt, God’s approach was always the same:  Accept My guidance, follow My Laws and keep Me first and I will bless you.  Make light of My guidance, ignore My laws and descend into idolatry and you will suffer consequences.  When Gideon arrived on the scene, Israel was blatantly idolatrous and had gone through seven years of being terrorized by enemies.  God determined it was time for deliverance, and Gideon was to be their vessel of salvation.

How the victory was won

One of the two basic themes of Gideon’s story is the counterintuitive nature of how the victory is won. It begins with Gideon himself.  As he is called into God’s service by way of a visit from an angel, Gideon’s response sets the tone.  He basically says, "Who are you calling a 'valiant warrior'? I am insignificant! You must have the wrong guy!"  Yet the angel persists and gives him a task that will lead to war with an enemy who is overwhelmingly more powerful than Israel.

Gideon does what he is assigned to do and promptly has his life threatened.  This small action seems senseless and makes it look like Gideon is picking a fight with the toughest, meanest warrior around.  Why does God begin and follow through in this experience this way?  It is the counterintuitive approach that says, "When I am on God’s side, the odds are always with me."

The odds were seemingly stacked against him

The second basic theme of Gideon’s story is his continued need for assurance.  God gave Gideon a nation-changing task of conquering an enemy whose soldiers at the time of battle would outnumber Gideon’s small army 450 to one.  To be able to consciously go into battle with such ridiculous odds stacked against you, reassurance becomes a major necessity.  Check out our November 4, 2019 podcast, “Who Was Gideon?” for more.  We examine the extraordinary requests Gideon makes of God to help him be sure of his actions and see how God responds.  We look at the equally mind boggling, and on the surface ridiculous, requests God makes of Gideon to secure victory.  Gideon’s valiant and godly behavior in the face of impossibility is an inspiration.  Be part of it!

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