May 29, 2023

Ep.1283: Is Following Christ the Same as Following Christianity? (Part I)

Comparing several original teachings of Christ to today’s Christianity

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Play Part II

CHAPTERS

[00:14:02]
Does Christianity cost us or bring us abundance?


[00:32:12]
Are we required to worship in a church building?


[00:46:32]
Does our church environment encourage us to grow towards the morality teachings of Jesus?


Theme Scripture: 1 Corinthians 4:16-17

When someone says they are a Christian, their claim can be easily interpreted in a variety of ways. Unfortunately, following the name of Christ has been a dramatically devalued description of religion over many centuries. Think back to the Dark Ages when the church mercilessly hunted, tortured and killed non-believers for the sake of “saving souls” in the name of Christ. Think about the smorgasbord of choices one now has available. We can choose a brand of Christianity that suits our lifestyle and fulfills our preferences. Being a disciple of Jesus Christ was not always this way. In the time of Jesus and the apostles, it meant something higher and had an eternal purpose. The question we all need to ask ourselves is simple. Is my chosen brand of Christianity in complete accord with Jesus’ original teachings?

Continue Reading

It's not easy

Whether we want to admit it or not, following Jesus is a really hard task. Think about it, Jesus said that to be his disciple we have to take up our crosses daily and follow him. At its most basic and easy to understand level, this means we are called to live a sacrificial life. In our day, there is a pervasive belief that we should be able to have what we want, when we want, and how we want it. Sacrificing any comfort or convenience is looked upon as an unacceptable compromise. Following Jesus is not easy in our world when it comes to social acceptance.

Another level of challenge

Following the teachings of Jesus is another level of challenge that many Christians may not even be aware of. By definition, the wide variety of Christian denominations available makes finding the original values and standards that Jesus taught elusive. One can easily go church shopping to find a church system that suits them, that makes them feel welcome and comfortable. While there is nothing wrong with seeking a place to worship comfortably, we should not forget the more important question: is what this or that church is teaching accurately and diligently reflecting what Jesus himself taught?

Check out our May 29, 2023 podcast, “Is Following Christ the Same as Following Christianity? (Part I)” for more. We address several pointed teachings of Jesus related to the doctrine of true Christian faith. Accepting that Jesus gave us higher standards than those of the Jewish Law but did not ever contradict the Bible as a whole is a good place to start.

A critical look at what my church teaches

Christianity has developed too much variety regarding important doctrinal teachings. For instance, Jesus taught that death is the absence of life and that fit precisely with the Bible’s overall instruction. Yet, many church groups build their understanding upon other, nonbiblical traditions. The same issue occurs with Jesus’ teachings on the cost of following him. Churches often focus on what they think you get instead of what Jesus teaches us to give, missing the most important point. Join us for this focused, eye-opening and controversial comparison of Christ and Christianity. We look for the truth from Jesus so we can experience the freedom of Jesus!!!

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May 22, 2023

Ep.1282: We Are What We Think About, So What Are We Thinking About? (Part II)

Clarifying the difference between what we notice and what we dwell on

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Play Part I

CHAPTERS

[00:16:21]
What kinds of lovely things should we be dwelling on?


[00:32:27]
How do we know when to simply acknowledge vs. intently dwell on what is around us?


[00:49:06]
What should we be praising and what should we NOT be praising?


Theme Scripture: Philippians 4:8

As a Christian, taking the time to understand what we think about is a worthy and necessary investment of our time and effort. When you look at anyone who is truly successful at any endeavor, you will always find that one of the common denominators of their success is controlling their minds. In Part I of this two-part series, we spent considerable time piecing together the groundwork the Apostle Paul laid out in Philippians 4 as a basis for productive Christian thinking. He understood the demands of Christianity and cared enough about his fellow disciples to teach us not only what he knew, but how to apply that knowledge. One major result of his spiritual wisdom was the letter he wrote to the Philippians.

Continue Reading

The Apostle Paul’s “dwell on these things” list was and is much more than a gathering up of nice and inspiring things to focus on. It was actually a specific and dynamic grouping of necessary characteristics that every true Christian must understand and internalize. Paul himself made this clear when he told us to "dwell on these things." The Greek word here used for “dwell” is very pointed. It is a precise word for taking inventory of something. It focuses us on giving these featured characteristics a highly calculated and proven value in our Christian walk.

Beautiful and of good report

In Part I, we saw how dwelling on what is true, honorable, right and pure, presents a broad-based foundation for our thinking. Without these characteristics, what follows can easily go off track. The next two characteristics Paul gives us to dwell on are things that are "beautiful" and "of good report." It is easy to see how we can pick and choose what we apply this list to, and end up focused on worldly things instead of spiritual things. With such an easy detour, how do we keep our minds firmly entrenched in godliness?

What do we simply acknowledge and what do we dwell upon?

It all comes down to the straightforward comparison between what we acknowledge and what we allow our minds to dwelling upon. There are many things in our world that are worthy of our notice and support. There are wonderful causes, just and righteous actions, things of beauty and experiences of victory and success that we can and should stand up for. However, this acknowledgment is entirely than dwelling upon things spiritually true, noble, just, pure, beautiful and of good report. These feed our lives in ways that things of the world simply cannot.

Check out our recent podcast “We Are What We Think About, So What Are We Thinking About? (Part II)” for more. As we establish our approach to thought priority, we also look into the last two items on Paul’s list - things that are excellent and praiseworthy. Paul is teaching us a comprehensive way to think and leaves no stone unturned. He lifts our minds above that which is natural to that which is spiritual. Join us for this awakening journey of learning, application and change!

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May 22, 2023

Ep.: What can I do to please God?

As Christians we should all be seeking how we can please God. The main goal is to have our thoughts and our words be pleasing to the LORD. God-centered and Christ-centered thoughts lead to God- and Christ-centered words and actions.

Psalm 19:14: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.” If our words and focus of thoughts are acceptable in His sight, they would bring Him happiness.

What can we do to help our thoughts be acceptable and pleasing to the Lord?

We can spend time in study.

2 Timothy 2:15: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.”

Studying can include the study and meditation on the life of Jesus and to be inspired by the light of love that shone his example.  We can study the Gospels.

John 6:63: “…The words that I have spoken to you are spirit (the power of God) and are life.”  John 1:4: “In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind.”

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do and He will show you which path to take.

Proverbs 3:5,6

Today, there is a growing trend of arrogance, where people think that they don’t need God because THEY know best. But NO ONE knows better than God, because He can see the full picture of our lives and His beautiful plan for all of humanity. Following His righteous principles helps to keep us on a godly path.

Proverbs 3:7: “Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the LORD and turn away from evil.”

Here again we are advised to not think so highly of ourselves as though we know so much. To please God, we must be humble, just like Jesus. The word ‘fear’ in this scripture means ‘reverence,’ which is to respect deeply. We must do our best to turn away from sinful thoughts and actions, and show reverence for the one true God.

And we can study the lives of the faithful ones in general, both in the Old and New Testament. For example, in Hebrews 11:29, the Old Testament people who faithfully lived their faith in God are spoken of as having gained approval through their faith. 

We can spend time in grateful prayer. 

Psalms 103:1-2: “Praise the LORD, O my soul! With all that is within me, praise his holy name! Praise the LORD, O my soul! Do not forget all his kind deeds!”

We can spend time pouring our hearts out to the LORD and sharing our questions, challenges and need for direction and strength in prayer.

Psalms 61:1-2: “Hear my cry, O God; give heed to my prayer. From the end of the earth I call to Thee, when my heart is faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

We can spend time in God’s creation.

Take a walk or a hike, admiring the heavens and the earthly creation including the plants and the animals, praising Him for His creativity, wisdom and power and looking for the lessons in His amazing creation.

“The heavens are telling of the glory of God.”

Psalm 19:1

Luke 12:27: “Consider (to observe with fixity, i.e. observe with focus) the lilies, how they grow…”

Matthew 6:26: “Look at the birds…” 

We can use God-centered words and actions.

Loving words and actions come from loving, grateful God- and Christ-centered thoughts.

We can look for ways to brighten a person’s day.

We can pray and watch for ways to be of spiritual encouragement to others.

Hebrews 6:10: “God is fair, and He will remember all the work you have done. He will remember that you showed your love to Him by helping his people and that you continue to help them.”

Hebrews 3:13: “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

And we can continue these efforts day-by-day, never giving up.

“…my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the LORD, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the LORD.”

1 Corinthians 15:58

For more on how to please God listen to:

Are Praise and Worship Necessary To Be a Faithful Christian?

To learn more about studying people of the Old Testament listen to:

What Do the Faithful Old Testament Characters Teach Us?

 

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May 15, 2023

Ep.1281: We Are What We Think About, So What Are We Thinking About? (Part I)

Unlocking the process of refocusing our thoughts towards godliness

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Play Part II

CHAPTERS

[00:15:30]
What insights can we get from the Apostle Paul telling us to dwell on certain things?


[00:31:38]
What advice does Paul have for us to cope with and overcome challenges?


[00:45:46]
What did Paul mean by telling us to dwell on things that are right?


Theme Scripture: Philippians 4:8

Most of us don’t realize just much of our lives come down to our own personal choices. We have far more power over how we handle our everyday experiences than we give ourselves credit for. Why wouldn’t we claim this power so we can better influence our path? Because we subtly and regularly fall into habits of thinking that lull us into a lukewarm and compliant attitude of submission. The Apostle Paul was all about helping us, as his fellow disciples of Christ, challenge the status quo and reset our minds so we can daily think and choose with spiritual clarity. Much of the letter he wrote to the Philippian Christians focused in on the adverse conditions in life and how to think through them. Examining this letter is the first step to better focusing our Christian thinking!

Continue Reading

The Apostle Paul really loved his fellow Christians at Philippi. While on house arrest under Roman guard, he wrote them a comprehensive letter concerning their Christian growth and development. One of his conclusionary teachings in this letter is found in the commonly read verse of Philippians 4:8. Paraphrased it says, "Finally, whatever is true, honorable, right, pure lovely or of good report, if there is anything excellent or praiseworthy, dwell on these things."

This letter to the Philippians is a tutorial on several of the high standards that true discipleship requires. Paul showed us how to handle limiting circumstances by talking about his own imprisonment. He implored all of his brethren to work through their issues in a unified fashion. He focused us on the importance of leaving our old standards of success behind and instead seeking success in a life of sacrifice. These and many other teachings were all in place to address the building up of a mature Christian mind.

A special list

Paul then gave us the list of things he pointed us to and what we should dwell upon. This was no mere listing of nice things to preoccupied us. This was a list of solid, connected, sequential and spiritually-sound priorities. Dwelling on them meant we were to use them as solid foundation stones of our Christian lives.

First on this list was the instruction to dwell on what is true. As we dig more deeply into his teaching, we realize the apostle was pointing us not to general worldly truth, but to godly eternal truth. All of the rest of his “think about this” list had its foundation in this solid beginning. Check out our May 15, 2023 podcast, “We Are What We Think About, So What Are We Thinking About? (Part I)” for more. After comprehensively summarizing the letter to the Philippians, we delve into the meaning of what is true, what is honorable, what is right and what is pure. What we find is the beginnings of a profound and life-altering approach to setting our minds up for true Christian thinking. Join us as we begin to learn what to think about and how to think about it!

 

 

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May 08, 2023

Ep.1280: Is God an Angry God?

Uncovering God’s true character through a specific set of scriptures

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CHAPTERS

[00:15:38]
When was the first time God introduced Himself as being compassionate and gracious?


[00:31:16]
In what contexts did David repeat this special description of God?


[00:45:55]
What do Jonah, Hezekiah, Joel and Nehemiah teach us about God's anger?


Theme Scripture: Psalm 145:8

The thought that God is a God of anger - especially in the Old Testament - is alive and well. It’s a very convenient thought. All one has to do is select from the many passages in the Old Testament that show God commanding the destruction of this or that people. It’s easy to say He has anger issues and therefore should not be worshipped. The only problem is that this conclusion is in direct opposition to the truth. To grasp the correct thought, we need to begin by focusing on putting God’s anger into its proper context. This basic exercise opens up a perspective on God’s anger that redefines it. Simply stated, God’s anger is an occasionally used tool of His overwhelmingly just, loving, wise and powerful character. He is SO much bigger than He is given credit for.

Continue Reading

In Exodus 32:10, God is speaking to Moses and He is not happy. God had just delivered the children of Israel from the bondage of Egypt with miracles and drama. He had called Moses up to the mountain to give him the Law and instructions to bring to this newly-freed nation. Because Moses was gone for a while and they didn’t know when he’d return, the people built a golden calf to worship. God sees this overt disobedience and disrespect and tells Moses, “Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them.”

Unreasonable anger?

It is so easy for many to interpret God’s anger in this account as out of control and unreasonable. The irony of this is that when this account is considered in its entirety, it shows us the exact opposite conclusion. It shows us the depth of God’s compassion and mercy. It helps us see that God’s anger - though real - is simply a tool in His hand and not an aspect of His character. On top of that, this account also reveals the process through which God ultimately deals with all of humanity.

All of this comes down to two words.

Further along in the context of God dealing with Moses and the rebelliousness of the people, God describes Himself. Though His description is detailed, there are two particular words that stand out. They stand out because they are only used in the Bible to describe God Himself. They are used together multiple times throughout the Old Testament.

Check out our May 8, 2023 podcast, “Is God an Angry God?” for more. We zero in on the powerful standard God set with Moses in dealing with the rebelliousness of Israel. We then track through many of the other scriptural accounts that use these two special words together as a description of God. What we find is no less dramatic or inspiring. Every time these two words appear together, they expand our understanding of God’s true character. Join us for this is unusual journey that verifies who God is, how He works and all that He stands for in a very unique way.

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VIDEO: Are Monitoring Spirits Watching Us?

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May 08, 2023

VIDEO: How can we do the right thing?

Parents and Bible class teachers, this short, animated video discusses practical ways for kids to make the right choices. Subscribe to our channel at ChristianQuestions.com/YouTube and never miss a new video!

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