When I awake in his likeness

The grasp we humans have on consciousness is tenuous at best.

Last year, a heart attack wiped out my alert and oriented level of consciousness for 45 days along with a significant portion of my short-term memory. While on the “Cath-Lab table,” I vomited, aspirated and my heart stopped beating. I awoke 45-days later.

Medical professionals used to view consciousness as either conscious or unconscious. Now, however, they understand there are levels of consciousness. Doctors and Dentists now possess a means of lowering your level of consciousness until you can’t remember what happened to you, although it may appear you were awake the whole time.

A friend of mine wrote, “In surgery, I trust the one who puts me to sleep to wake me up. The same is true in death, I trust the Lord to wake me up.” His trust in the one who puts him to sleep is misplaced. There are too many variables. I’m living proof of that.

His trust in Christ is not misplaced. We can fully trust the Creator to keep us conscious after death. The rich man and Lazarus of Luke chapter 16 both were conscious in the Hadean realm. They even had a conversation, so they were living, thinking beings.

We can rely on Christ to raise our bodies up in union with our departed spirits when he comes on the last day (1 Corinthians 15:20-21). The apostle Peter wrote of a living hope we have from the resurrection of Christ (1 Peter 1:3). Remember, Peter saw the resurrected Lord just as Paul did on the road to Damascus.

It is my responsibility now to prepare myself for that day by obeying the gospel through faith, repentance, confession and baptism and by living as a Christian. If I do that, and build my faith every day I will see God in my body (Psalm 17:15).


God will save those who obey the truth

The LORD is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them,” (Psalm 145:17-19 ESV).

God is always just, true, and righteous. He doesn’t act through preference of one over another. He always does what is right. He is always true. Those who would accuse God of acting prejudicially or presumptuously do not understand he is incapable of either.

The writer of The Pulpit Commentary wrote, “Mercy and truth meet in God. He is at once perfectly just and absolutely tender and compassionate.” But if we expect him to hear our cries, we must not deny the truth of his word. We must be willing to obey him.

Postmodernism has nothing but disdain for the objective standard of God’s word. That philosophy holds there is no objective truth or objective morals. The Lord God disagrees. The inspired Psalmist wrote, “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” If there is a God (and there is), then there must be objective truth.

To those who are willing to obey God’s word, the Almighty is near and willing to save them. Jesus said, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth,” (John 17:17 ESV). God is willing to save people from their sins, but only if they obey the truth.

You shall not bear false witness

Lying about another person is condemned in the Old Testament and in the New. Jesus, himself, condemned “bearing false witness” in each of the synoptic gospels. It’s bad enough when a person tells an untruth about what that one does. It is most terribly wrong to lie about someone else.

God took a dim view of dishonesty to begin with, but he is even more negative about those who lie about others for convenience sake. Not only did God place, “You shall not bear false witness,” in the 10 Commandments to Moses and Israel, but he also had Solomon write, “Like a club and a sword and a sharp arrow is a man who bears false witness against his neighbor. Like a bad tooth and an unsteady foot is confidence in a faithless man in time of trouble,” (Proverbs 25:18-19 NASB).

A “club” is a heavy wooden or metal hammer. It was commonly called a “mace” and was designed to beat a person’s brains out. A sword is an offensive weapon designed to slice a person’s body. A sharp arrow is one that penetrates deeply and damages internal organs. In each case, the one who lies about another is, in the eyes of God, trying to kill.

Falsehoods told about another wound and hurt reputations, spoil families, weakens relationships and sows a field of horrible things to come. One who lies to hurt another is one of the lowest kinds of people.

One who bears false witness is also like a bad tooth or a lame foot, Solomon wrote. In lying about someone else, the liar actually hurts himself. He destroys his credibility, shows the world he will say anything to gain an advantage, and proves to the world he is not worthy of any office of trust of faithfulness. Why? It’s because one who lies about another is utterly devoid of trust or faithfulness. About verse 19, one commentator wrote, “You cannot bite on the one or walk on the other.” A person who bears false witness is one who cannot be relied upon for any reason.

What the really sad thing about this person is that he didn’t have to lie!  No one held a gun to his head and forced him to lie about another. He did it voluntarily. This means that inside this lying person is a foul mind that plots and schemes foul things he doesn’t need to do, but wants to do. And that, friends, is scary.

Walls, gates, and kindness

wallSince January 20, much has been said about a wall to be built between the United States and Mexico. There have been threats made against “sanctuary cities,” with Immigration Customs Enforcement gearing up to deport “illegal aliens.”

All of this talk bothers me. Why? Because what is in the world can find its way into the church, the body of Christ. The influence of the world can have a powerful effect on people in the church and change them in ways they can’t even see until it’s too late.

Some years ago, I preached for a church that used to put a ski rope across the entrance to its parking lot. The elders were concerned with large trucks and the potential damage to the lot. I asked the elders how the rope across the parking lot looked to people traveling to or from work each day. I asked what they thought it communicated. One of the elders said, “That we’re not very hospitable.” He was right.

Many churches begin their services by welcoming visitors. Every church I’ve ever worked with did the same because we all were delighted to have people come and worship God with us. We welcomed them because we wanted them to return and be a part of the services again and again. Frankly, I’m concerned that our nation and, in time, the Lord’s church may become inhospitable places.

I cringe when I think people may hear a welcoming announcement from the pulpit that may sound like, “Welcome to the services today. If you’re an illegal immigrant please leave.”

We’re supposed to love everyone who comes into contact with us. A lawyer asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” The Lord answered with the story of a man who fell victim to thieves on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem in Luke 10:30ff. The answer to the question was our neighbor is whoever needs our help and can be helped by us.

I keep thinking after remembering the Good Samaritan of how displeased the Lord will be with us if we become haters of those who need the gospel — the very people we are charged to teach in Matthew 28:18-20 — and turn them away from the Lord’s church and back into the sinful world.

I don’t think I can face the Lord at the judgment after supporting a decision to keep the lost away from the gospel. And, that’s no matter where they come from or who they are.

Rule is taking a beating

The Golden Rule is taking a beating.gr

You remember the Golden Rule, don’t you? It’s in Matthew 7:12 and says, “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

Yet, the evidence is everywhere that the Golden Rule is forgotten. Look outside and see the evidence. At the church where I serve, people routinely dump garbage including the remains of their cigarettes in the parking lot and yard. They wouldn’t want anyone doing the same thing in their yard, though, would they?

The ever-increasing incidents of road rage are another evidence. This is a no-brainer. If I observe the Golden Rule, then I’m not going to chase someone down and pummel them for cutting in front of me. Yet, the practice shows people don’t mind treating others badly.

What can be done about this alarming trend? Well, there’s only one thing to do: people need to start learning Christ’s law and start obeying it. So, do you think we’re not under ANY law at all? Then, why did the apostle Paul write Galatians 6:2, or why did James write James 2:8? Then, we ARE responsible to God for obeying the law of his son, aren’t we?

And that highlights the crux of the problem. Since many do not believe they’re under any law, they feel they have no duty to obey any law. Period.

So, how do you feel about not obeying any law? How long will it take for that kind of attitude to destroy any nation that says it is one built on laws rather than men?


Company: “Here’s how to read your Bible”

A Bible header-howtoreadbiblepublishing company sent me an email telling me how to read my Bible.

This puzzled me because companies don’t usually tell me how to read any other book. Emails don’t usually come telling me how to read the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution or the First Ten Amendments to the Constitution. I don’t get much advice on how to read what’s on Kindle or an Internet site (there have been warnings, but not anything telling me how to read Internet content).

Why would a company tell me how to read the Bible?

It may be the company has a particular way in which they believe the Bible should be read by the masses. Such a thing strikes me as odd for all the aforementioned reasons. I don’t really know what this Bible publisher is saying to me.

Now, if that publisher wanted me to understand how to interpret the Bible, then that still wouldn’t make any sense to me. Is the Bible to be interpreted any differently than any other written document? Are the principles of interpretation different for the Bible? If so, how?

These questions leave me to ask what motivation this company has for telling me how to read (and/or interpret) the Bible. Are there particular doctrines they are trying to sell with their Bibles? Is there some kind of idea they want me to accept that isn’t taught in their Bibles?

The truth is, no one should be trying to tell me how to read or how to think. In fact, I think I shall allow the Bible to tell me how to think. Isn’t that why the Lord God had a Bible written?

La, la, la, la

When I was a youngster, I had a way of dealing with my sisters’ criticism of my teasing them.

I would sfingers-in-earstick my fingers in my ears and yell, “LA, LA, LA, LA,” several times. It surely made them mad at me!

There are people who refuse to listen to God. They don’t believe God created the universe, so they refuse to listen to the logic (and good sense) of creation. Instead, they stick their fingers in their ears and talk about the “truth of evolution.” That makes about as much sense as yelling sticking your fingers in your ears and yelling “LA, LA, LA, LA,” several times.

There are people who refuse to listen to God’s word when Jesus said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” (Matthew 28:19). Instead, they stick their fingers in their ears and repeat, “baptism is not required.” That makes about as much sense as sticking your fingers in your ears and yelling “LA, LA, LA, LA,” several times.

Yes, there are a number of people who have their fingers stuck in the ears and for whatever purpose refuse to listen to God and his word. Of course, they have forgotten what God told Peter, James and John on the Transfiguration mount: “”This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” (Matthew 17:5 NASB).