June 27, 2022

Ep.1235: Can Christianity and Paganism Work Together? (Part I)

Comparing the core values of Paganism with biblical Christian principles

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Play Part II

CHAPTERS

[00:19:20]
What is Progressive Christianity?


[00:35:58]
How does Jesus fit into Paganism?


[00:51:13]
How can just a small amount of Paganism take us off track and away from God?


Theme Scripture: Exodus 20:1,3

Our religious world has changed dramatically. In the bygone days of generations past. we had clear lines that marked our differences. Christianity seemed to have clear and unmistakable differences from religions like Hinduism, Buddhism and Druidism. Our "one God and one Savior" approach stood in an entirely different category from the multiple-god eternal journey that mystics and Pagans adhered to. Here we are in the age of technology and some of those lines and distinctions seems to be blurred and fading. There are movements now announcing that we are all really on the same journey of enlightenment and walking side-by-side on similar paths. So, is this a good thing? Should Christians embrace these seemingly progressive steps, or should we run the other way?

Continue Reading

Paganism is ancient

It has been around longer than Christianity by thousands of years. It was in existence in several ancient cultures long before the Ten Commandments were given to Moses. In a broad and basic sense, Paganism is very much a nature-based belief system. Pagans see life and divinity in everything. All aspects of nature - from plants, animals, air, water and earth are connected to the planets, stars and the universe. This universal harmony is revered and, in some cases, worshipped. The cycles of nature, especially the seasonal cycles of the earth, are markers that illustrate the pattern Pagans see in all of life.

The attraction of Paganism

Living in the fast-paced technology, internet and gadget-filled world of our day, this belief system can come across as a wholesome breath of fresh air. Paganism’s respect for all things and inclusiveness of all people can really feel like a needed reset. This approach can be powerfully attractive to any who are looking for meaning. How should we look at this from a Christian perspective? There are several things here that are easy to appreciate. Does that mean we should recognize both Pagan and Christian alike as being on the same journey?

Not so fast...

As appealing as it might sound to just embrace everyone and move on, there is much more to the story that needs deep consideration. Looking at the appreciative and inclusive approach to life that Paganism describes is only a small part of our needed understanding. Grasping the how and why of this belief system is every bit as important as absorbing the good intentions of its adherents.

Check out our June 27, 2022 podcast, “Can Christianity and Paganism Work Together? (Part I)" for more. We address the similarities and differences between Christian and Pagan beliefs by methodically defining several aspects of Pagan culture and comparing each with biblically-based Christianity. Then we look into a growing Christian movement that suggests the unifying of the two systems is not only practical but advisable. What we find is both enlightening and important. Join us for Part I of this two-part series. See how the Bible guides us through the difficult challenge of finding and following what is respectable and right. Then head over to Part II for an in-depth look at Wicca.

 

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June 26, 2022

Ep.: What does the Bible say about karma?

Wikipedia says:  “Karma means action, work or deed; it also refers to the spiritual principle of cause and effect where intent and actions of an individual influence the future of that individual. Good intent and good deeds contribute to good karma and happier rebirths, while bad intent and bad deeds contribute to bad karma and bad rebirths.”
We can pretty quickly spot the differences between “rules” of the false idea of reincarnation and Christianity, but a more common use of karma is: “What comes around goes around.”  The biblical version of this is we will reap what we sow, (Galatians 6:7) so we are told to sow spiritual things that result in the more valuable spiritual reward.
The Bible teaches over and over again that we are to be generous, loving, forgiving and kind because our Father in heaven was first all of these and more to us.  In addition, we are to use Jesus as our example of one who was even able to live the highest standard of loving his enemies.
Proverbs 11:24-26 says:  One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, andone who waters will himself be watered. The people curse him who holds back grain, but a blessing is on the head of him who sells it.
Proverbs 22:9 says the generous will be blessed. There are many, many scriptures on this topic.
Aside from the basic and obvious good feelings we get from doing good for others – even if we are not directly rewarded or thanked, a lot of this has to do with our attitude.  If we are of the belief that our lives are providentially overruled by God, and that as consecrated, dedicated followers of Christ, we are being given trials for our highest spiritual welfare, then even when negative things happen, our attitude is one of thankfulness and appreciation, praying for the strength to get through the trial that is making us stronger.  In this case, “what comes around” or “what we sow” is good.  What “goes around” or “what we reap” is also good, even if what we receive in the immediate time would not necessarily be thought of as good. Because we attribute it all to God, we can be at peace even in the worst of circumstances.
We see plenty of examples of people who sow negativity – those who are miserly, disagreeable, unhappy, “out for themselves” kind of people likely have few real friendships and are stressed and unhappy, leading miserable lives.  Negative feeds on negative.
The Bible challenges us to continually look up, with a larger perspective of God’s grace and blessings.  In turn, this should make us want to follow Proverbs 3:3: Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart. 
We are to be merciful, generous and kind, even to the unthankful.
Here is a quote from a daily devotional:
“See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. 1 Thessalonians 5:15
ACCORDING to the Scriptural standard, the elect church of Christ should be the most polished, the most refined, the most polite, the most generous, the most kind of all the people in the world; – and should be all these in the most absolute sense; not in the mere sense of an outward form and appearance of kindness, gentleness, etc., so common in the world; but a gentleness, a kindness, proceeding from the heart, proceeding from an appreciation of the Lord’s spirit and the spirit of the Truth, the spirit of love, and the spirit of justice, also.”
Luke 6:38 says:  Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. 
This tells us that the law of love taught by Jesus would have us go beyond justice, beyond what is required. The Father sees this and will reward us appropriately – be it in this life with spiritual contentment and peace (not monetary wealth and prosperity) or in the next life with His favor.
Matthew 7:2:  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.  
We remember also that Jesus gave a parable illustrating the subject, representing his forgiven disciple as a servant who owed ten thousand talents, whose debt he quickly forgave; but when that follower manifested so different a spirit that, finding a fellow servant who owed a few pence, he treated him unmercifully, then the Lord’s mercy and generosity were likewise withdrawn from him. – See Matthew 18:23-35.
To learn more about the parable of the unmerciful servant listen to, “How Merciful Am I?”
To learn more about the greatest example of love and kindness of Jesus  loving his enemies listen to, “Condemned to Death, How Did Jesus Love His Enemies?”
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June 20, 2022

Ep.1234: Why Does God Let the Innocent Suffer?

Uncovering God’s perspective regarding recent tragic mass shootings

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CHAPTERS

[00:18:09]
How can we cope with all of this right now?


[00:35:12]
What details of God's plan can we hold onto so we can better endure our trials?


[00:49:41]
What is the end result for all those who have suffered?


Theme Scripture: Ephesians 1:9-10

Tragedy hurts. But a tragedy that involves the utterly senseless taking of the lives of innocent children is a blow to the heart that can send us reeling. Such a blow is hard to recover from and the recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, is a most recent and horrifying example of this profound pain. Heated debates typically spring up after such a tragedy as everyone wants answers as to how to stop such things. One resounding question that comes from believers and unbelievers alike is, how can an all-knowing, all-powerful God see such things happen and just, well, just do nothing? If God is love as the Bible says He is, how do we even begin to understand what so many consider to be His utter lack of attention and intervention in such tragedies?

Continue Reading

God created humanity in His own image.

This means He gave us the abilities to feel emotion, to think critically and to choose. While these abilities are among the greatest aspects of our human freedom, they are also the most problematic. We are also descendants of Adam and were therefore born into his sinful nature. This means our emotions, critical thinking and choices are distorted by unbalanced and broken perceptions of the world around us. While we are all stuck in this sin-driven pattern, those who commit heinous crimes are particularly noticeable. They ruin themselves and destroy the lives of countless others in the process.

While God does allow our sinful emotions, thinking and choices - and their consequences - to rule our lives, this is not the end result of His plan. The pain and suffering we feel as a result of the senseless killing of children and adults heightens our longing for sin and evil to cease their merciless rule in our lives. The uplifting and relieving news is, God’s plan reveals that this change will occur. As a matter of fact, it will occur in dramatic and unmistakable fashion. The problem is we are not yet at the time for that dramatic transition. Right now, we are left to cope with the hurt and sadness of our ever-present grief and losses. So, what do we do?

Check out our June 20, 2022 podcast, “Why Does God Allow the Innocent to Suffer?” for direction. While there is no miracle cure for the pain we feel, we can take small steps towards being able to manage it. The first of these steps is to try and see our horrific experiences through God’s eyes. Seeing what He sees feeds us the renewal and strength to fight another day. Understanding and applying God’s perspective will help with the acceptance we need to slowly put the broken pieces of our lives back together. Such a rebuilding also provides us with the opportunity to reach out and encourage others in their pain and loss. Nothing is easy here, but by the grace and plan of God through Jesus, we can cope with all of this sadness. Join us and shine the light of God’s truth into a dark place!

 

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Ep.: How do you surrender to God’s will?

As human beings, we continually make choices to surrender to various things, and that surrender is often based on what is most important to us.  For example, we often surrender to our personal opinion or the opinion of others.

A decision to surrender our will to the LORD is a deliberate choice to change the normal human survival and self-determined way of living.  Surrendering to the LORD’s will is a choice motivated by the mercies and depths of the love of God and Christ.  It is a choice to put the LORD first in our life.

“With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him.” Romans 12:1
To give Him our bodies as a living sacrifice is to surrender all our human energy for His direction and service in a lifestyle of sacrifice and giving according to His will.

We surrender our will to the Lord when we choose to make decisions in life according to His will as we understand it.  This choice requires the determination to be molded by HIS influence in our thinking and affections which leads to actions and behavior according to His will.

“Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-mold your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.”
Romans 12:2
The choice to surrender our will to the Lord is, again, a choice to make our Heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus our priority.  Paul was an example of this.
“…I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”  Philippians 3:13-14

“…choose for yourselves today whom you will serve…; but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.”  Joshua 24:15-16

It is a choice to personally serve God, and includes a desire to influence to help others—like our “house:”– our families and those close to us– to serve Him also.

This CHOICE requires a process of prayer and study of His Word to learn and apply its principles:

  • Through prayer that our thoughts and words would be pleasing to Him: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. ” Psalm 19:14
  • Through the study of the word that opens our heart and mind to correction, instruction, applying the word of God to our thoughts and actions.  “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives.  It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.  God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.  2 Timothy 3:16-17
  • Through developing fellowship with other like-minded Christians:  “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25
  • Through the service we are led to pursue:  “In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.  So if god has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you.  If your gift is serving others, serve them well.  If you are a teacher, teach well.  If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging.  If it is giving, give generously.  If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously.  And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.” Romans 12:6-8
  • Through sharing the truth that has been revealed to us: “Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not.  Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage when you teach.” 2 Timothy 4:2

This choice to surrender our will to the Lord is certainly a process.  It can be helpful and inspiring to, in the midst of every day experience and challenge, ask in prayer:  What is your will? What is the holy and pleasing decision in the use of this time and in the thoughts I am thinking?

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite [to become one] my heart to fear your name.”  Psalm 86:11

To learn more about how to make a decision and surrender to God’s will listen to,

“How Do I Know My Decisions Are Right?”

“Can Good Things Ever Be Bad?”

“Do I Seek God’s Protection or His Permission?”

“How Do You Know What God Wants You To Do?”

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June 13, 2022

Ep.1233: God is Out of My Life! How Do I Get Him Back In?

The practical process that brings us up from sin and back to grace

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CHAPTERS

[00:14:41]
How do we take specific steps to change our destructive course?


[00:31:11]
How do we keep the desires of our flesh under control?


[00:46:40]
How can the pride of life trip us up?


It’s hard to stay focused, especially when that focus requires attention be given to something that is different and challenging. As Christians living in this 21st century, our responsibility is, as Jesus said when he was only 12 years old, to “be about our Father’s business.” As clear as this objective is, because we are imperfect we sometimes get tripped up and lose our focus. Thank God for His grace given to us through Jesus! What about other times when it’s not just a typical misstep? How about when we fall not just into a careless or impetuous wrongdoing, but into a full-blown choice that leads us towards evil? What do we do to help us come to our senses, and not only retract the wrongdoing but decisively get ourselves back onto the path of God-honoring thoughts, words and deeds?

Continue Reading

Personal Choice

Walking away from God’s presence and blessings in our lives can happen in a variety of different ways and on a variety of different levels. Whatever the circumstances we face or the experiences we have, there is always a single, driving, common theme present: personal choice. The simple fact of the matter is, if you and I have a personal relationship with God through Jesus, God will never walk away from it. He is faithful and will always be present for us in every time of need. On the other hand, we have the power to walk away from that faithfulness, should we choose to. The scary thing is that we can walk right out of the protective range of His grace and favor.

Desire and Pride

Why would we do such a thing? It turns out that the Bible clearly details several reasons we can end up in such a condition. Being in the sinful human state we are, falling prey to these motivations for leaving God behind can be easier to follow than we might think. So, what are they? What could cause us to walk away from God’s favor? Desire and pride. Our desire and our personal pride.

Desire is stimulated by what we see and what we feel. Pride is stimulated by the credit we want to have reflected in our lives. The toughest part of all this is that it is all natural - and in our world, it is all encouraged. Essentially, we are saying that walking away from God is a very natural, very human thing to do! Great! Now what?

Check out our June 13, 2022 podcast, “God is Out of My Life! How Do I Get Him Back In?” for answers. We not only carefully examine what parts of our human makeup can draw us away from God, we also address the issues of degree. When we are drawn off course, how far off do we go? What remedies and changes are appropriate and at what stages? Join us for an honest and biblical conversation about our own human tendencies and the solid remedies we can use to keep us in God’s favor.

 

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June 08, 2022

Ep.: What happened to Jesus’ bones after he died?

The death of Jesus provided what the scriptures describe as a “ransom.” in Matthew 10:45 Jesus said his death was a ransom. The ransom is mentioned again in 1 Timothy 2:7.

The word ransom means  a “corresponding price.” This is made clear by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:22.

“As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”

This is very important.

When Jesus died, he sacrificed his human life as a corresponding price for the life of Adam.  By purchasing father Adam, he also purchased the human family that would later be born to Adam, who was the father of our race. Because Jesus’ human life was the payment price it could not be taken back. Otherwise the purchase of mankind could not be accomplished and mankind would remain in death.

Therefore, in his resurrection Jesus was not raised in the flesh but raised to immortality as a divine spirit being. Paul describes this in 1 Corinthians 15:44. “It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.”

After Jesus’ death, some women went to Jesus’ tomb to anoint his body. But they found no body to anoint. Only his burial cloth remained. But, this does not mean his bones went to heaven. It simply means that God took them away so people would not make his dead body an object of worship.

For Christians who live faithful lives of  sacrifice, the same process is followed. Upon their death they are raised as spirit beings, no longer to live in the flesh. Their dead flesh returns to the elements of the earth, never to be seen again.

But, there is another resurrection for the remainder of mankind in God’s earthly kingdom. Although mankind will be on the earth and in the flesh, their old flesh will have returned to the earth. Consequently, they will receive new bodies of flesh with the same character and personality of the individual. If they had physical disabilities or missing limbs, these will be restored and mankind will eventually become perfect in the flesh.

To learn more about Jesus’ resurrection for all of mankind listen to, “How Did Jesus’ Resurrection Change Both Heaven and Earth?”

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