Category Archives: Bible Lessons – mini

Little Bible lessons under 500 words. You or your group can look up the passages, discuss the scripture and develop your own questions.

The Loss of the Uniquely American Mind

American thinkers (lower case) often ask, how did we manage to have the mental giants all on the same page when they wrote our founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution?

Because whatever it was, the body politic has lost it. Soros’ money may have paid for a decade of protest, riots and looting but why are younger generations doing it at all? Don’t they know their roots? It would never occur to Boomers or their elders to wear a vagina suit in public or question their gender.

Time has come to resurrect two mid-20th century prophets, Allan Bloom (The Closing of the American Mind – How Higher Education has failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students) 1987 and E.D Hirsch, Jr. (Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know) 1988. They defined the problem.

The Impoverished Souls once in the academy are now running the public schools and the Media

Our wise forefathers had one unifying factor – their common knowledge of the King James Bible and the works of Shakespeare.  The War of the Roses demonstrated that monarchies do not work, that succession by bloodlines leads to internecine warfare, that assorted King Richards lurk in the shadows to murder their rivals, that foreign wives are anathema as God said to King Solomon, that too much power in one group, be it the barons on the plain or the rabble beyond the pale would sound a death sentence to a Republic. To guard against any concentration of power in any section of the government they included checks and balances and a bicameral system.

Ben Franklin said we’d inherited a Republic if we could keep it.  “Ben, if you are listening, these kids don’t know what a republic is.” So when Saddam Hussein was protected in the Gulf War by a Republican Guard Democrat voters thought that was our own Republican Party?

Our forefathers also knew Plato and Socrates. The notion of a moral leader taking the political high ground from Aristotle sounds quaint today. They knew bias against color and creed in Othello, the dangers of nepotism, bad judgment and the influence of emotional instability from King Lear and Hamlet and as a final warning, Shakespeare named his historical works “tragedies” so yes, it could happen to you too. Tragedies, as defined by the Greeks, were demonstrations of how a personal moral or character flaw could destroy a person in power not the modern day definition which is little more than “oh, what a pity.”

They knew that Protestant Huguenots had been slaughtered on St. Bartholomew’s Day in 1572, so religious freedom was essential. As they wrote these documents they saw the collapse of France from unchecked monetary policy and a politicized state church, and from Elizabeth the First the bedrock need for a free press as well as free assembly, the core of the 1st Amendment, not the Second or Third but the very First. And yes – if we should perchance by accident or design inherit one of these rotten leaders, we need our firearms.

The national mind during the 19th century was held together until the end of World War 2 by the glue of the widely read Harvard Classics. This Public Religion, to use George Will’s phrase, is not a collection of “good ideas” but a record of the failure of Europe to stabilize, as it has yet to do even today. And because they were all originally from immigrant stock they knew Primogeniture and Entail were legal locks on personal and corporate progress. The EPA ties up our property instead now! The glaring millennium of mistakes in Europe created our national principles.

But millions today, thanks to redacted history books and influences from Communist writers like Howard Zinn, leave us with myriads not knowing a shred about all this. We have two or three generations of classroom teachers trained without the cultural literacy of any American assumptions. As a final nail in the academic coffin, there is neither Bible reading nor prayer in schools, so any literary reference to a Prodigal Son or allusions to the Hebrew Bible fall on puzzled ears.  The national division today is not between Republican and Democrat, black and white or rich and poor, but between those who know the origins of the past and those who have a new version of history seen through the lens of moral relativism.

Interpreting the Bible “Our” Way

How often have I (we) decided something in the Bible was what we thought, but we missed the point? Take for example this scripture:

TLB Psalm 147:9  He feeds the wild animals, and the young ravens cry to him for food.

Clearly this is a metaphor. No one had to tell me that. I learned about metaphors in the 9th grade.  But who am I to micromanage God’s word? Perhaps God meant that birds speak to him and because he knows bird language, which I do not, they are speaking to God and He responds.

In the New Testament it says that there is no sound without signification, in other words, meaning.

1 Corinthians 14:10  There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.

So when the lions grunt, or the chipmunks squeak, that is speech –  of sorts.  God spoke everything into existence and this can be just another process of communication. Audiologists tell us there are many sounds we do not hear at all. I wonder who God is talking to then.

And we have this business about the stars:

Psalm 147: 4 He counts the number of the stars;
He calls them all by name.

You do not call someone by name if they don’t have a name, and more importantly you don’t call them if they cannot also answer. How do stars talk? Or perhaps stars means personalities of some kind. Astronomers say all stars give off a distinct, unique sound. Huumm.

The heavens have a voice which is heard everywhere according to Psalm 19.

19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun.

We shall not be able to decipher God’s speech to animals, birds and stars but perhaps we can restrain our assumption that we understand what the Bible is telling us. Perhaps if we just ask Him what He means, He will tell us.

 

 

 

 

The Difference between a Sin and a Mistake

Recently I’ve noticed an interesting tendency for people to admit to mistakes rather than sins. It happens at every level, whether someone is caught cheating on their spouse, filing false insurance claims, or shoplifting from a clothing store. After the National Inquirer broke the news about John Edwards’ affair, he said.

“Two years ago I made a very serious mistake, a mistake that I am responsible for and no one else.  In 2006 I told Elizabeth about the mistake, asked her for her forgiveness, and asked God for His forgiveness. And we have kept this within our family since that time.”

On the surface, this admission looks humble and contrite. What more could you want?  But when someone refers to this kind of behavior as a mistake rather than a sin, he or she is either consciously or unconsciously evading responsibility.

Why? Because of the fundamental difference between the two.  Many think they are synonymous but they are not.

The term “mistake” implies an error in judgment – something done unintentionally.  For example, a legitimate mistake might be:

  • Turning onto a one-way street the wrong way
  • Pouring salt not sugar into your coffee
  • Mistyping a web address and ending up on a porn site.

These could all be legitimate mistakes because we are distracted or careless.  But sin is more than a mistake.  It is a deliberate choice to do something we know is wrong.

The word “transgression” is even stronger.  It implies deliberately stepping over a boundary.  The word “trespass” is similar.  It implies entering a person’s territory or property without permission.

At the bridge table recently one player told another woman she needed to go on a diet. Yes, the other player was fat but the critic did not know her well enough to be advising her on a personal matter like that.  She stepped over a social boundary.

Unlike a mistake, we choose sin.  Therefore we must accept responsibility for it – and the consequences that follow. This is a measure of maturity and marks the transition from adolescence into adulthood.  It is the foundation of civilized society.

What can we do to make sure we preserve this distinction between sins and mistakes? I suggest 5 actions.

  1. Choose your words carefully. Don’t minimize your sin by calling it a mistake.  The meaning of the Greek word  homologeo – translated confession in I John 1:9 is “to speak the same word.” In other words your words should be the same as God’s words.  If He calls it a sin, so should you.  You cannot be cured of a sickness if you continue to deny it.
  2. Take responsibility for your behavior. If you have sinned, own it. In fact, if you have made a mistake own that too. Take the hit. Even if someone else provoked you, own the response. If they were 90% responsible, accept 100% of your 10%. When it comes to sin there is never an excuse unless you are a true victim.
  3. Acknowledge your guilt. It is normal to be guilty when you sin. Guilt is God’s gift, designed to motivate you to initiate reconciliation.  The sooner you acknowledge your responsibility the sooner you can resolve the problem, if the other person receives your confession. And never follow the confession with the word “but.” This is a preface to an excuse. It negates everything you have said before.
  4. Change your behavior. Words are cheap. Some people are very adept at saying they are sorry – but then – nothing changes. Repentance is not just a change of mind; it is a change of direction. Unless you change your behavior, you have not fully repented, no matter how many tears you may have shed.  Repentance in  the Bible is the word for “change your mind.” Once your mind is really changed so will be your actions.
  5. Ask for forgiveness.  You can’t demand it. You are not entitled to it. You can only ask and hope that the person you have sinned against will extend grace. Sometimes they will wait until you have demonstrated a change of behavior, called the fruit of repentance (see Matthew 3:8; Acts 26:19-20.)

The world is watching the Christian to see how he/she reacts to real life.  It is a part of our public testimony.

What the Snake said to Adam and Eve

This three word sentence is the oldest question in the Book of God. The snake says:

Hath God said?  

Every day the bombardment of media on our ears is this same sentence – we have a choice to listen to and believe what God said or what man and his systems say. What we choose to believe determines the course of our lives just as it did for The First Pair.

It was originally said by a snake whose presence in a perfect place, the Garden of Eden, indicated that maybe there were imperfections to start with, imperfections no one thought would be there.  Adam and Eve were not just innocent, they were also gullible.  So an enemy showed up and asked a question. They had no idea what an enemy was.  All they knew was good.

There are two sides at the very least to any piece of information, truth or fiction. That lies, deception and corruption might be lurking about never occurred to them.  They had not been given questions and answers before; in fact they had only been given answers. That is not what we expect – we expect questions to come before answers. They had been told only to obey God in all things. They had no concept of options, of other ways to live, of death or disease, discomfort, jealousy, fear or anger, or what we see on the cat’s face, guilt.

Did the snake ask “What is that animal out there? A rhinoceros?” After all Adam had named all the animals. No, the snake asked the one question which would generate either obedience or defiance to God. The snake knew the consequences to disobedience because he’d already been through his own test and failed.

But now – they have been presented with a question.  They will need to think about the answer.  What will they answer?  Will they obey God their creator or this shifty voice of doubt and option?

A five-year old steals a cookie from a plate in the kitchen. His mother, the legal authority in the home, said not to touch them before dinner. The child is faced with the question – Hath God (the authority) said?

He steals the cookie and is introduced to the concept of personal sin and judgment. As years go by the situations are different; now he is tempted to steal pencils and legal pads from an employer, to steal answers to a tough algebra exam, to steal a girl’s virginity (its called rape) and a thousand other areas where he has seen himself defy what God said.

Millions do this and bring shame and trouble on others. The girl who has a child out of wedlock brings the family into poverty. She may be reacting to the sin of a parent as a child herself. But the piling up of defiance to God’s word continues from generation to generation and the consequences are like the rippling waves of a stone cast into a giant sea of humanity.

It is sin. And it takes a specific, directed effort to reverse the tide of sin-history. The company who fouls the water which results in deformed children throws a stone in the waters of society only known because it involves so many more people, but it is no different from those sins committed by individuals on a daily basis hidden from public view.

Today thousands of years later we, that is the seven billion people now living on planet earth, have this same question.  What has God said and what is our response. Thomas Edison’s mother was told her son was too stupid to stay in school.  She didn’t believe it.  She home schooled him and he later filed over 2,000 international patents for inventions including the lowly light bulb, motion pictures and audio recording.  It matters what and who we believe. Mrs. Edison’s refusal to believe the school system changed life for the whole human race.

Teens today can be confused over what gender they are.  But what has God said? Patients are told they have a terminal illness.  Get another opinion and then find out what God says as well.

We learn later that if Adam and Eve had obeyed God they would have lived as perfect beings in a perfect environment for eternity, never touched by evil or even knowing it existed.  But they didn’t, and neither would we had we lived in their shoes.  We have the same option today as they had then – to find out what God said and live in that.

What has God Called Your Nation to Be

All nations, like all individuals, have a clear cut call from God. (Jeremiah 29:11 for individuals). The Bible refers to nations as “ethnos” rather than  geographical divisions.

Acts 17:26 And hath made of one blood all nations {ethnos} of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.

It’s not likely you’ll ever hear a sermon on this although you might learn about God’s divine intolerance for world government. That has been tried and failed, badly. About 5,500 B.C.E. at the Tower of Babel all human beings spoke the same language.  After they tried to replace the government of God with their own under the direction of a wicked dictator Nimrod, God scrambled all the languages and communication became impossible.

Today the unstable nature of the European Union should give us pause, that maybe this is not God’s perfect will for Europe. And the embarrassing failure of the United Nations is an example of why global government is a foolish goal. Unity is internal; union is external and God wants the former.

God prefers Unity with Him over Union in the natural. He classifies nations as either sheep or goat. He does have a clearly defined political jurisdiction in mind for all nations and a specific contribution to the whole of mankind for each individual nation.

The United States of America was formed officially 236 years ago but the call itself is eternal. And that destiny is clearly given in the Declaration of Independence

All men are created equal.

Americans bring to the world table the sanctity of the individual; it is the reason people flock here from across the globe.  It is also the same reason we can fail as a nation, if individualism gets out of hand as it has in the past four decades. That individualism has now come to a national mess, so out of control that thousands have not a clue who they actually are. Every blessing and call can be bastardized to an extreme and become a curse.

When President Donald Trump says he wants “to make America great again” he means to restore the primacy of the individual and God’s call to America as a model for individual liberty. Does President Trump know this? Probably not. He appears not to be a person who theorizes; he leaves that to philosophers. His word to the past managers of America is, “You’re fired.”

There are 191 nations today; each one has a call.  It is not my job to know what the call is for each one of them but I believe I know the call of these three.

  • England demonstrates a respect for history, especially to learn from history, and because of that respect England also is able to adjust to changes in the world and to culture. But like individualism in the USA it is also possible for that ability to change to be a trap and send the county into free fall.
  • China long continuous identity shows respect for and love of nationhood. Her glory days were the 15th century but in the 16th century China pulled away from the world to protect herself from change and world interaction. China became fearful.  When you embrace fear you make yourself weak and ineffective.  Fear is rightly called “frozen.” China wanted to preserve its identity so carefully that it withdrew into itself and the Chinese people have suffered great loss from this over the subsequent years. God looks at the long haul.
  • Estonia showed the world how to rid itself of a tyrannical dictatorship of the Soviet Union through spiritual warfare, in her case, the power of music to win freedom. To my knowledge Estonia has neither lost nor hindered that power or her ability to teach the rest of the world.

If you are paying attention you’ll notice I’ve eliminated Palestine which might be a nation in God’s eyes but because it claims Israel’s territory it cannot be identified as one. God set aside Israel as His own nation with its own specific estate, a land mass considerably larger than the one it now occupies. The deed for this land appears in Ezekiel 47. Because God disciplined His people for a time, other nations assumed they could take over.  They try that at their peril. God has promised once Israel is back in her land to defend her at all costs.

Goat nations are those that disobey basic moral laws and rebel against God. They need not stay that way. Like individuals, they can repent and reform. Today Syria is a good example of a nation badly astray. Also, North Korea is a goat nation which is coming down in our lifetime, thankfully.

I will let the other internationals reading this blog to search out their national Godly mission. If you find that out, let me know.

3 Types of People – Wise, Fools, Evil & How to Handle

VERY PERSONAL THOUGHT from Lance Wallnau October 2014

This week I was updated about a man I knew who stole from two women he dated. Another man, a millionaire is about to lose his business because his team can no longer work with his abusiveness. And I’ve had to make some tough calls with on-line personalities who don’t know when and how to push differences of opinion in chat rooms.

The first guy is evil, the second foolish and my hope is the third guy is wise. (But he may not be.) I assumed all three were wise – and thats why I am writing. To save you a lot of pain.

I owe a lot to Dr. Henry Cloud who enlightened me about:
the WISE, the FOOLISH, the EVIL. These are notes of his teaching with my thoughts added.

There really are 3 categories of people. Learn to DISCERN

1. WISE
Correct them and they change. (Assuming you are correct! Not always the case.) The wise thank you. So what do you do when you’re leading a wise person? You give them feedback. They listen. You may need coaching on how to coach them, but they respond to truth.

2. FOOLS
Good hearted people assume fools are wise and they get very confused when things get strange.

This is tricky. Fools are often very bright and gifted and charismatic. They can get results a lot of the time. This is why they’ve gotten as far as they have. But here’s the problem. With the wise person, when the light comes on, they adjust themselves to the light. With a fool, when the light comes on…it hurts their eyes. They try to dim it and they try to adjust the truth.

The wise man changes himself; the fool tries to change the truth.
“This wasn’t a big deal.”
“It’s not like that.”
Or, they shoot the messenger. When you give feedback and the first reflective move is defensiveness, let that be a warning sign. They externalize it, they shoot the messenger. A lot of times they get angry.
Here’s what the Bible says, and all research validates: “Rebuke a wise man and he will become wiser.”

But then the Bible changes its tone.

It says: “do not correct a fool, lest you incur insults upon yourself. Do not confront a mocker, lest they hate you. Etc.”

Here’s your strategy: Stop talking. Why? They have stopped listening.

You need to have a different conversation. Set a time limit and consequences. “Here’s whats going to happen.”

Fail to give boundaries and you are part of the problem.

3. EVIL
This one is sad to see good hearted Christians get linked to. These people can be seductive yet steal you blind. Rob your virginity. Destroy your reputation. Paul said “pray that we be delivered from wicked and EVIL men…” (2 Thess 3:2)

Evil people actually intend to destroy. They want to inflict pain. I’ve seen this, and you have to believe it. There truly are bad people in the world. I’ve seen it in board meetings, I’ve seen it in high levels of leadership. Paul writes: “Reject a divisive person after a second warning. Have nothing to do with them.”

Your Strategy: Don’t return calls. Don’t reason.
This is where Lawyers and money and armed security provide protection and warfare prayer needs to disrupt the enemies attack.

Was the Early Church Communist

https://stream.org/was-the-early-church-communist/?utm_source=The+Stream&utm_campaign=4a23d0735d-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_06_08&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8da00e4cb4-4a23d0735d-499883285

Seeing the World through God’s Eyes

Poor ‘ole God gets blamed for so very many things He had nothing to do with. His plan for Man is that we live in our own way, our government, our decisions, and our culture.  Those 70 years give us enough time to make up our minds to follow God’s principles or not.  The results become ours. And because He does not interrupt our lives, our nations, our wars, unless we make a federal case out of it, we blame Him.

Not so fast. We can’t live in free will at one point and then insist that God step in.  We can’t have it both ways. What God does is to listen to our honest prayers and then provide an impact on life wherever we have made ourselves available to His will.  The result is that God is able to make something good come out of evil.  He always does.

I would have preferred to have never lived through the 2nd World War.  Millions of souls were lost, not to mention the awful loss of property, animals, destruction of families, and refugees.  But God was able to make something good out of it all.  He had promised the Jews (@ 2,000 B.C.E.) that He would restore their homeland (Isaiah 11:11) at some point in history.  That war, and the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis, sufficiently embarrassed the European nations to arrange for the Israelis to return. They’ve had a hard time keeping the peace but they are still holding on to their land.

No one was happy about the Korean War, cutely referred to as a “police action,” but the long range results were that South Korea is the strongest Christian nation in the Pacific Rim and the major missionary nation to the orient. South Korea is wildly prosperous, educated, westernized and hope-filled and when it is forced to revive North Korea, a nation that knows no equal for evil and loss, the nation will have the wherewithal to do it.

President George Bush gets a pile of grief for going into Iraq, but it is a strong and prosperous nation and will get on its feet as soon as ISIS is eliminated. They have money in the bank! We have the same hope for the Kurds in the North who have been treated badly for generations and yet are the best hope for any group stuck in a Muslim enclave of nations.

God’s plan for earth is that all men should be saved.  That they are not is not God’s fault.  God has set up a system of salvation hat man must follow, but in actual practice it is not all that hard. One single man thousands of years ago got it into his head that God was a personality who actually made the universe and everything in it.  God was so impressed He visited him personally (Genesis 14) and the family of Israel, and God’s precious people began there.  So if you, or some unsaved friend believe God is the creator, you are half way there.

God usually takes bad situations and bails them out. I was nearly killed as a child, removed from the home and sent to a private school.  I received a scholarship to an Ivy League College and my life changed permanently and forever.  I suspect nothing like this could have happened otherwise. God can take anything and reform it. And it all happened without me being any the wiser for the events that brought this on.

This isn’t Pollyanna stuff.  We are not trying to make silk purses out of sows’ ears.  But we must not assume that God is a “deist” off somewhere ignoring man and his systems. Nor is He under any compulsion to inform us ahead of time. He has a whole set of plans for you, me and our universe of which we as yet have not one hint.

You Don’t Need to be Wicked to End up in Hell

I’m dancing around a problem these days.  I have an acquaintance who is headed for hell.  Furthermore he is ill and I suspect he doesn’t have that much time left.  His background is completely non-Christian.  His father was a Unitarian minister, the parents divorced and he attended Berkeley in California in the 1960s.  He knocked around the world playing in bands, and he believes that as a Flower Child all will be rosy and happy when he dies. 

He knows I wrote a book and I said I would print out a chapter for him because it is not yet ready for the presses.  He asked for something on philosophy or psychology. He was not all that interested in religion or information about God.

So consider this portion of a verse. Romans 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge.

This man is not evil.  He doesn’t rape, steal or murder at will.  He does not beat up small children or march with rioters in the streets.  He just has no place for God in his mind or his life. Yet he thinks that because he has committed no great sin heaven will be open to him where he can live a life of love, joy and peace with all his old buddies, playing the guitar and singing on the beach by a nice campfire.  Something like that.

But the hard truth is that heaven is God’s hometown.  If you end up there it is because God wants you and you want Him.  You just don’t slip in unnoticed because you haven’t bombed a church somewhere or set fire to your neighbor’s laundry. Heaven, and by extension hell, is serious business.

Hell is not all torment, screaming, and flames. Parts of hell are in complete isolation where there is barely a scrap of light and not another single person, a place of total loneliness.  If you want to hear something you’ll have to do your own screaming. There may not even be a single demon to contend with. Other parts are wastelands, like the burned out cities with sticks and rocks left from a firestorm.  Or complete quiet.  Or unremitting noise.

But most of all the decision about where you go after you die is not in your hands.  You only have free will on this side of the grave. If you made the wrong choice here, it is too late after you die to change your mind. Everyone has everlasting existence; not everyone has everlasting life.  The difference is in the decision we make for God now.

Free will lulls us to sleep, makes us comfortable in this life, allowing us to enjoy an uneasy peace. You may be saying to yourself, “Oh I’ll get saved before I die.  NO problem.  I just want to have some fun first.” But the truth about life is that it often ends without warning, not on your schedule but someone else’s.

Three thousand people entered the two towers in New York City for a normal work day on September 11, 2001 and nearly that many died before noon.  The calming notion that you have any time left for decision making is a cruel ruse. Put God back in your mind, and back into your life while you still have a chance.

Understanding Laziness

Several years ago a driver took me to a medical appointment deep into Dallas so we had a chance to chat.  I always ask men how they like their job, knowing they’ll always respond,  This fellow in his early 50s said he liked it now but he had spent years in half-hearted jobs where he never really finished anything.

I piped up.  “You know I read somewhere about this.  Were you criticized and abused early on like when you were 12?”

“Yes,” he answered quite surprised at my response. “I remember nothing but as a kid.”

“Here is what I learned,” I said. “People who  are blamed for bad workmanship or inadequacies don’t want to finish a project so they don’t have to face the verbal abuse. I had that problem myself.”

Of course there are really lazy people too, those who don’t like the job they are doing, or perhaps have no aptitude for it. But if we kill motivation in people they won’t want to do well.  That is why bad managers and bosses must pay higher wages to their employees. I wonder how much of the striking and negotiation for wage hikes is nothing more than hating the job?

The Bible has something to say about laziness, here called sloth,

As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed.