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May 31, 2021

Ep.1180: Am I My Own Worst Enemy?

Unlocking the solutions to seven truth-distorting reactions

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CHAPTERS

[00:13:42]
How do I keep from making bad things even worse?


[00:31:09]
How do we manage self-defeating thoughts when it comes to comparing ourselves to others?


[00:46:32]
How do we stop blaming others for what goes on in our life?


Theme Scripture: Romans 7:15

Life can be difficult. We are surrounded with issues, events, opinions, politics and posts that continuously bring us stress and strain. As if this isn’t enough, we add to the frenzy by putting up self-designed roadblocks to block our own way! Why would we do that? Why would we make things harder for ourselves? Turns out that this is a common thing.  The imperfect human mind can create all kinds of coping mechanisms that keep us from dealing with perceived trouble. While this sounds good, the problem is that our avoidance of perceived trouble often leads us directly into the path of real trouble. Essentially, we can at times become our own worst enemy. The bad news is we easily and often sabotage ourselves. The good news is, because we do this to ourselves we can also learn how to change that behavior.

Continue Reading

Automatic Thoughts and Distortions

In a book entitled The Self-Esteem Workbook, by Glen R. Schiraldi, PhD, we found the self-damaging thought processes we often cling to are called “Automatic Thoughts and Distortions.” “Making Feelings Facts," “Rejecting the Positive” and “Catastrophizing” are examples of the several thoughts and distortions we can face each day without even realizing it. Why are these things so insidious? First, it is because they are thoughts. Our everactive minds produce thoughts at an unfathomable rate. We are in a constant state of determining which of these numerous thoughts are worthy of our attention. Automatic thoughts – those that occur without conscious effort - usually are most powerful.

Being continually influenced by automatic thoughts is one thing, but when you add distortion to those thoughts the frustration party begins. How can we expect to cope with the hard realities of life when our mind is automatically feeding us seriously distorted interpretations of the truth? What’s worse is these automated distortions come in all shapes and sizes!

The answers!

Fortunately, answers are available if we look for them. To help us understand how “Rejecting the Positive” works, we look at the Apostle Peter in his dramatic experience with Jesus and walking on the water. The moment he took his eyes off of Jesus, off of the source of his stability, he began to sink. What Peter focused on determined what his outcome would be! There is much we can learn here, not only form Peter’s fears but also from the stability of Jesus as well. The bottom line is that most of us have choices regarding the automatic thoughts we struggle with. We end up being our own worst enemy.

Check out our May 31, 2021 podcast, “Am I My Own Worst Enemy?” for more. We address seven of these automatic thoughts and distortions one at a time with Bible in hand. As each of these distorted views of our lives has its own unique challenge, so each answer has its own unique suggestion. This conversation can be a real eye-opener. It can help us to see what is driving our reactions and responses and compare that answer with the facts of our Christian walk. Please join us on the pathway to more clearly understanding our personal thoughts.

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November 08, 2021

Ep.1203: Why Aren’t My Prayers Being Answered?

Uncovering the dynamics of what makes a prayer work or fail

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CHAPTERS

[00:11:25]
Can our prayers really change the lives of others?


[00:32:09]
How can we get our prayers heard?


[00:48:45]
What kinds of prayers are inappropriate?


Theme Scripture: James 5:16

We always say that prayer changes things - and it does. Jesus was emphatic about this and even gave us an example of how to pray in what is known as “The Lord’s Prayer.” With prayer, as with so many parts of Christian doctrine, the core value of what the Bible teaches easily gets lost in the interpretive value of our own human perspective. Because of the imperfect human part of the equation we create many questions. What about those circumstances where someone prays for what they need, and they simply don’t get it? Is the problem that God is not listening or that He doesn’t want them to have what they need? Is the problem that this person not praying appropriately? How does this lifeline to God really work?

Continue Reading

Who gets such direct access to God?

The first question to address has to do with accessibility. Does anyone have the ability to communicate with God at any time they desire? Should it be a general human expectation to be able to ask God for what we feel we need or for what we want? If this entitlement were true, then we would have several apparent conclusions to recognize. Our observation is that the overwhelming majority of us see their prayers as unanswered. This would then mean that God either does not hear all that well or He is completely uncaring. A quick look at the Bible confirms that neither of these conclusions is true.

There are many scriptures that describe God as “with the contrite and lowly of spirit” (Isaiah 57:15) or “hearing the prayer of the righteous” (Proverbs 15:29). These texts are teaching us that God is a willing listener but only in some circumstances. Righteousness and humility always come to the top of the list when understanding who God will respond to. Whenever righteousness is a qualification for anything in Scripture, we know it specifically means being right before God. While our own good standing in our worldly environment is good, it lacks the godly reverence needed for God to hear us.

Who really benefits?

What about those whose prayers God does hear? Do their petitions really make a difference in their own lives and the lives of others? This is a hard question to answer. The Bible does give us many examples of those who bring matters to God seeking His intervention. These examples do indicate that God is listening and responding. So if that is the case, then exactly how does this work? If our petitions to God do bring results and changes to those we are praying about, does that mean if we don’t ask then God won’t help them?

Check out our November 8, 2021 podcast, “Why Aren’t My Prayers Being Answered?” for more. We dig into what the whole communicating-with-God equation is built upon and look into how the Bible says it works. This is a fascinating journey into an important, very popular and yet sorely misunderstood subject. Understanding prayer and following its scriptural guidelines is a life changer! Don’t miss it!

 

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October 11, 2021

Ep.1199: Are My Christian Beliefs Based on Truth or Error?

Examining biblically questionable Christian traditions and practices

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CHAPTERS

[00:15:27]
What authority do our churches have over marriage?


[00:29:05]
Are our churches organized according to the Bible or tradition?


[00:43:36]
Should women be teaching in the church?


Theme Scripture: 2 Peter 3:2

When Jesus was being questioned by Pilate in John 18:37, he told him, Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.  Pilate’s answer was an important question because he asked, What is truth?  This brief interchange brings us to similar questions.  How do we know that we are people of the truth?  Do the groups we follow, be they centuries old denominations or newer Christian sects, hold to the “truth” Jesus spoke of? How much of what we are being taught is based on biblical truth versus denominational tradition, and how much is just plain opinion? And to pile on further, at the end of the day, does any of this even matter?

Continue Reading

Truth does matter. Jesus spoke of knowing the truth and the truth setting us free. As Christians, understanding where to find that truth is a subjective search. What denomination do you belong to? What belief system do you follow? Answering these questions will reveal what sources you go to in order to find truth. The challenge here should be evident. If you are a member of a major, centuries-old denomination and I follow an independent Christian group, our sources will be different.

Does tradition bring us truth?

Although the centuries-old approach has longevity on its side, its potential issues stem from that very thing. Centuries bring the comfort of tradition, and it is easy to assume that tradition is the bedrock of truth. However, if we are brave enough to examine the history of Christianity, we will see that far too many traditions have led to far too much despicable and thoroughly unchristian behavior. All done in the name of Christ.

Newer, more independent-thinking Christians also have serious issues to contend with regarding truth. The primary challenge on this end is independent thinking, ideas and interpretations can easily bend the truth of the gospel to what I prefer it to read. If we’re not careful, the throwing off tradition can become a major trap of pride and personal agenda instead of a sincere search for truth.

So, what do we do?

We go back to the beginning. We go back to the Bible and the Bible alone. Long before there were the traditions of the churches, and long before we had to opportunity and temptation to interpret the gospel to our own liking, we had the sure word of God. We had the Old Testament in place, and we had the New Testament focusing on Jesus and being lived and written by those who knew him.

Check out our October 11,2021 podcast, “Are My Christian Beliefs Based on Truth or Error?” for more. We examine the biblical record concerning the inspiration of Scripture versus the coupling of tradition and Scripture. Looking at Christian practices, we found some seem to assume more authority than the Bible allows. We also investigate women teaching in the church and how our churches are organized, all through the lens of Scripture. What we find is surprising and enlightening.

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Ep.1197: Can Christians Be Cursed and Curse Others? Curses Series (Part III)

Determining what curses are real through a New Testament lens

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View Series

CHAPTERS

[00:13:09]
Did Jesus ever curse anyone? Did he ever teach us to curse anyone?


[00:32:02]
What did the Apostle Paul say about curses?


[00:45:37]
How should Christians deal with curses?


Theme Scripture: Mark 11:21

The word “curse” is overused and under comprehended. Cursing can mean using words that are not acceptable to repeat in public. To curse can mean to call upon a perceived other-worldly power for the purpose of harming someone or something. Cursing can also mean the expression of great disdain and loathing for people or things. In Part II of our 3-part Curses Series, we observed in great detail how to properly understand cursing, especially the curses of God in the Old Testament. Today we dive into curses in the New Testament to find the differences and similarities with the Old Testament. Several people “cursed” in the New Testament, including Jesus. What does it all mean to us here and now? Are curses real today and if so, what should we do?

Continue Reading

Jesus cursed!

The idea that Jesus “cursed” people or things can be a disturbing one.  To understand what is meant by this, it is important to focus on the usual areas of concern, definitions and context.  The Jesus uses when he talks about curses is a convincing one. It means to “execrate” (to have great loathing for) by analogy, to doom. It comes from two Greek words that include a sense of calling down harm upon someone or something. In the pagan Greek and Roman culture of Jesus’ day, this word would carry a sense of gods and magic being involved. In Jesus’ case, it had everything to do with God’s will and God’s judgments.

What about that fig tree?

The day after Palm Sunday when Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem, he saw a fig tree and proclaimed it to become fruitless from that day forward. The following morning the tree was withered. Jesus, by the power of God’s spirit, “cursed” this tree to dramatically show that Israel (symbolically represented by the fig tree) would lose their favor with God, as they would reject and crucify Jesus. There are several other times Jesus uses this specific Greek word for curse.

The Apostle Paul also wrote several times about curses. He referenced Israel and the “curse of the Law,” as well as referencing curses regarding Christians who misrepresent or walk away from the gospel. What did he mean? Check out our September 27, 2021 podcast, “Can Christians be Cursed and Curse Others?” Curses Series (Part III) for more. We carefully categorize which words for curse mean what so that we can understand the messages behind them.

Also, we get practical for today’s world. Directly confronting the idea of curses existing today, we lay out what that means for Christians. This is tougher than you might think, because there are many scary and erroneous views that have influence in Christian culture. Can Christians be cursed?  Do Christians have the authority to curse others? These important questions can only be answered by comprehensively understanding what the Scriptures really teach. Join us as we uncover the Bible’s truth on curses in the New Testament and what we as Christians need to know and do today!

 

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August 09, 2021

Ep.1190: Did I Really Forgive Them?

Learning to make our forgiveness toward others genuine

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CHAPTERS

[00:12:09]
How does the meaning of forgiveness vary with our circumstances?


[00:25:34]
Have you ever forgiven someone and found yourself having to do it again and again?


[00:44:56]
How can forgiving someone else dramatically change us and make us happier?


Theme Scripture: Ephesians 4:32

Forgiveness is a tough thing. The times we need to forgive are usually the times we are in no mood to forgive. It can be easy to say, “I forgive you,” but are those words reflected in my thoughts, emotions and actions? Do I say those words out of mere obligation or to just end an uncomfortable exchange? What does it mean to forgive someone anyway? Does my forgiving someone who wronged me release them from the consequences of the wrong? Is it supposed to make life go on as if the wrong never happened? Am I still obligated to forgive if the person who wronged me doesn’t care about being forgiven? So many questions that can only be answered by understanding how the Bible defines forgiveness.

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What does it really mean?

To “forgive” can mean several different things, even in the Bible.  The most dramatic biblical definition of forgiveness is that of granting freedom or a pardon.  Someone has broken a law and they are legally pardoned. This means they are no longer liable to the consequences of their crime and they can walk free. In the New Testament, this particular word for forgiveness is only and appropriately applied to Jesus’ sacrifice. Adam sinned and we are all born into that sin and live lives guilty of that inherited sin. Jesus came and gave his perfect life in exchange for Adam’s and made a pardon available to us through that gift.

In Scripture, when we “forgive” others, we are not pardoning anything. Another word for "forgive" in the New Testament has to do with sending something away from you. While the meaning here is not as dramatic as freedom or pardoning, it is still a formidable task. Think about an experience you have had where someone wronged you. Think about the physical pain, or the trauma, or the emotional upset, or the ripple effects they caused. Now imagine yourself pushing those things away from you so they are no longer relevant. Go ahead, close the door on them! This little exercise probably didn’t get you very far, did it. Why? Forgiveness is hard, that’s why.

To forgive - to truly send the unrest someone’s wrong has caused you away - takes more than an impulse or a thought. It requires a serious commitment to living a forgiving life. Jesus showed us how difficult a forgiving life can be when Peter asked him if forgiving his brother seven times in a day was enough. His answer was no, forgive seventy times seven! I hope you are not counting!

Check out our August 9,2021 podcast, “Did I Really Forgive Them?” for more.  Jesus told us we need to be forgiving in order to be his followers. We isolate the meaning and challenges of truly forgiving someone. We walk through the steps and thinking needed to be forgiving. Finally, we focus in on the benefits of such a decision. Join us as we tackle what can be a difficult but profoundly positive and life-changing experience. This is absolutely a journey worth taking!

 

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May 31, 2021

Ep.1180: Am I My Own Worst Enemy?

Unlocking the solutions to seven truth-distorting reactions

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CHAPTERS

[00:13:42]
How do I keep from making bad things even worse?


[00:31:09]
How do we manage self-defeating thoughts when it comes to comparing ourselves to others?


[00:46:32]
How do we stop blaming others for what goes on in our life?


Theme Scripture: Romans 7:15

Life can be difficult. We are surrounded with issues, events, opinions, politics and posts that continuously bring us stress and strain. As if this isn’t enough, we add to the frenzy by putting up self-designed roadblocks to block our own way! Why would we do that? Why would we make things harder for ourselves? Turns out that this is a common thing.  The imperfect human mind can create all kinds of coping mechanisms that keep us from dealing with perceived trouble. While this sounds good, the problem is that our avoidance of perceived trouble often leads us directly into the path of real trouble. Essentially, we can at times become our own worst enemy. The bad news is we easily and often sabotage ourselves. The good news is, because we do this to ourselves we can also learn how to change that behavior.

Continue Reading

Automatic Thoughts and Distortions

In a book entitled The Self-Esteem Workbook, by Glen R. Schiraldi, PhD, we found the self-damaging thought processes we often cling to are called “Automatic Thoughts and Distortions.” “Making Feelings Facts," “Rejecting the Positive” and “Catastrophizing” are examples of the several thoughts and distortions we can face each day without even realizing it. Why are these things so insidious? First, it is because they are thoughts. Our everactive minds produce thoughts at an unfathomable rate. We are in a constant state of determining which of these numerous thoughts are worthy of our attention. Automatic thoughts – those that occur without conscious effort - usually are most powerful.

Being continually influenced by automatic thoughts is one thing, but when you add distortion to those thoughts the frustration party begins. How can we expect to cope with the hard realities of life when our mind is automatically feeding us seriously distorted interpretations of the truth? What’s worse is these automated distortions come in all shapes and sizes!

The answers!

Fortunately, answers are available if we look for them. To help us understand how “Rejecting the Positive” works, we look at the Apostle Peter in his dramatic experience with Jesus and walking on the water. The moment he took his eyes off of Jesus, off of the source of his stability, he began to sink. What Peter focused on determined what his outcome would be! There is much we can learn here, not only form Peter’s fears but also from the stability of Jesus as well. The bottom line is that most of us have choices regarding the automatic thoughts we struggle with. We end up being our own worst enemy.

Check out our May 31, 2021 podcast, “Am I My Own Worst Enemy?” for more. We address seven of these automatic thoughts and distortions one at a time with Bible in hand. As each of these distorted views of our lives has its own unique challenge, so each answer has its own unique suggestion. This conversation can be a real eye-opener. It can help us to see what is driving our reactions and responses and compare that answer with the facts of our Christian walk. Please join us on the pathway to more clearly understanding our personal thoughts.

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November 09, 2020

Ep.1151: Has the Bible Been Mistranslated and Misunderstood? (Part I)

Discovering and authenticating how the Bible came to be

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View Series

CHAPTERS

[00:15:05]
What Bible did Jesus use?


[00:32:01]
Why isn't the Book of Enoch in the Bible?


[00:50:53]
What is the best Bible translation to use?


Theme Scripture: 2 Timothy 3:16

The Bible is the foundation of our faith. We believe it to be the mind of God expressed to humanity. Its purpose is to tell us things we cannot deduce from nature -  like where we come from, how we got to the present time and where we are going. The Bible shows us the heights of the plans and purposes of God and the depths of the experiences of sin and death. It shows us right and wrong, light and darkness, and answers questions about eternity. This book is a compilation of writings by many authors over a span of over 1,600 years. In spite of all of its wisdom, history, insight and prophecy, many questions swirl around the Bible's authenticity. How were its individual books chosen? Why are there so many translations? Why is there so much disagreement about its message? How do we KNOW it is the inspired word of God? Join us now as we embark on a search to discover the origins and development of our Bible.

Continue Reading

What's the canon?

Let’s start by considering how the books in the Bible got there. To do this, we need to consider what’s called the "canon of Scripture.” The basic definition of “canon” is a standard, as in a standard of measure. What we find is there were three basic principles for a book to be considered part of the Bible. First, the book had to have been authored by a prophet, apostle or someone associated with them. Second, the book had to clearly be in line with the other books of the Bible. Third, it had to be widely-accepted by early church leaders as being inspired by God.

Jesus regularly quoted from the Old Testament

It is interesting to note that Jesus clearly recognized the Old Testament and its books as his guide. He quoted several of them and oftentimes referred to them as “the Scriptures.”  This gives great credibility to the Old Testament. In fact, the Old and New Testaments are the two best attested works in all of ancient history.

Now that we have an inkling of how the books in the Bible got there, we need to ask about the books that didn’t make the cut. Why would the Gospel of Peter and the Gospel of Thomas be left out? And what about other books like the Book of Enoch? While we’re at it, where does the Apocrypha (a series of Old Testament books that is in some but not most Bibles) stand? Are these books flawed or somehow out of favor? If so, why?

Check out our November 09, 2020 podcast, “Has the Bible Been Mistranslated and Misunderstood? (Part I) for more. We delve deeply into these questions and search for answers that are not only logical but historically authentic as well. Reviewing historical facts and evidence and figuring out how the Bible came to be can be a complex endeavor. The great news is that along with that complexity, you will find a profound journey that can deepen your faith. Don’t miss this opportunity to be inspired while learning about the foundations of your beliefs! This important series continues with Part II...

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November 09, 2020

VIDEO: Has the Bible Been Mistranslated and Misunderstood? (Part I)

So how did the books of the Bible get there? Watch this short vlog then listen to the full podcast of the same name for more details.

(1)

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November 02, 2020

VIDEO: Are We Supporting the Right World Leaders?

Are we staying above the fray? Watch this short vlog then listen to the full podcast of the same name for more details.

(4)

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November 02, 2020

Ep.1150: Are We Supporting the Right World Leaders?

Christian principles related to taking a political stand

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CHAPTERS

[00:17:56]
What if our governments are not just and righteous?


[00:36:25]
How do we stand up for what is right in a corrupt political world?


[00:50:34]
Who would Jesus vote for?


Theme Scripture: Mark 12:17

Politics. It’s a word that represents a world of power, prestige and problems. It’s a word that conjures up anger, division and disrespect. It is a word that often gives us a sense of retreat and uncomfortable acceptance. Sometimes I think we forget that the ideal perspective of political power is to serve the needs of the people. With the utter lack of tolerance society seems to have embraced in dealing with political and social issues, what role should a Christian play? Are we supposed to pick the side we think is most just and righteous? Are we obliged to stand for principles? If so, what principles and what about the need for compromise? Would that change anything? What would Jesus and the apostles do if they lived in our time? What should we do to best stand for our beliefs and discipleship?

Continue Reading

Christians under Roman rule

Both Peter and Paul wrote down advice as to how Christians should respond to the governmental powers of their day. Much of what they said had to do with respect for authorities, as they are in place to promote doing good. This is interesting as they were under Roman rule. Though they did have strong religious freedom, they were also limited as to how they lived their lives politically. It looks like both Peter and Paul were telling the young Christian church to appreciate what they had, be good citizens and be faithful to God always.

Fast forward about 2,000 years. What does this mean for us here and now? Many of us live in countries of greater freedom than the early Christian church of the 1st century CE. Does the fact that our freedom is markedly different create an environment of more complex responsibilities? I would say the answer is an unequivocal yes.

What are we supposed to do?

So, what is required of Christians in this age of freedom? Are we to participate in politics as a good citizen should? Should we stand apart from those things because Christ is our King and we live for his kingdom? While figuring out these questions is difficult, where we set our foundation on which to build our answer is not. It all comes down to Christian liberty. While we are to make decisions in our lives according to this liberty, we are also warned to not let our liberty be used inappropriately.

Application of our Christian liberty is reflected in our attitude. So, with all the wrangling in the world of politics, how are YOU doing with that? Are you able to stay above the fray? Are you on the winning side of the battle of emotions versus principles? Can you accept the conscience of your brothers and sisters who see the whole political involvement issue differently? Check out our November 2, 2020 podcast, “Are We Supporting the Right World Leaders?” for more.  We break down the principles Christians need to be righteous and we insert the profound teachings of Jesus at every step. These are powerful lessons for difficult and trying times!

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