Why the scourging?

I wasn't going to go to church this morning. I'm really not feeling well. But, my middle son was singing a song with the Sunday School class, so I wanted to go. I'm glad I did (as usual).

Pastor is going through the Gospel of Mark. We're nearing the end. He was teaching chapter 15 today. Mostly concentrating on the utterly ridiculous "trial" of Jesus before Pilate. I mean, please. The chief priests violated nearly every rule of the Jewish law surrounding trials and accusations. Toward the end of service, Pastor talked a little about the scourging of Jesus.He didn't go into it much other than to ask, "Why the scourging when Jesus was going to be crucified?" Why did the Father allow him to be scourged as well? There's quite a bit of prophecy talking about it, so you know it has to happen. But why? Pastor gave the answer I have heard whenever the question is asked. "Because that is what my sin deserved." While I agree, I think there's more. When I watched the Passion - which I can't get through - I was sickened by the beating and scourging scene. Not the blood. With any movie which has a scene like that in it, there's one in Casino too where a guy gets beaten nearly to death with a bat, for some reason the part that gets me is I associate with the victim. You know, imagining what the person must be going through. Don't ask me why I do this, I have no idea. In the Passion, they show Jesus being beaten with rods and then the scourging. He's basically turned to hamburger. And at one point, I thought it was over until they show the guard (or whoever he is) motion to turn Jesus over and continue the scourging to his belly. When that part started, I couldn't watch. What came to mind was not only why did He do this for me, but, "How does one human being do that to another?" Pilate's motivation may have been to try to get the priests to relent, but the men doing the scourging simply didn't care. Perhaps they used the excuse that they were following orders. But scripture says they mocked, spit, punched, etc. They enjoyed it.
And I think that's one reason why Jesus was scourged. To demonstrate what man without God is capable of. We are NOT moral. We do NOT have any good in us. Only in the absence of God could a man disregard one of God's creations in such a way.
And then God began to point out to me how I treat my kids. Especially my eldest. I yell a lot. They misbehave, I yell. God told me that when I do that, I am scourging my kids. I am thinking of myself and what I want them to do or how I want them to act. They don't need to be treated that way. Yes, it's my job to discipline them and to raise them to be respectful, obedient, etc. But I am the grown up and a mature Christian. I should be demonstrating the fruits of the Spirit even in disciplining the kids.
They are God's creation and need guidance, not a scourging.

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My notes from Jude

I'm teaching a bible study at work. We did Jude first, so I thought I'd post my notes.

This book is a warning about the apostate teachers that will be prevalent in end times. I don’t think there’s much question that this has begun to come to pass. Lots of non-sense going around. Jude will tell us early in the book to be serious about the faith. To guard against these people who make their way into churches and try to draw people after themselves. He gives some history on what’s happened to them in the past. He describes what they are like and he tells us what’s going to happen to them in judgment. He closes by telling us how to defend against the apostate – namely to be grounded in the word and to perform the work that God has put you here to do. As I went through this, I seemed to get side-tracked by the service theme. I know for me, the best way to keep growing is to keep serving. If you’re not serving you’ll end up focused on yourself and while you may not be lined up with the apostate, you will be vulnerable. The apostate isn’t necessarily the obvious sham. Satan more clever than that. Jude describes them as hidden reefs. You don’t even see them until they smash your ship. Staying in service, in God’s will, is one of the best defenses against them because you are being built up so you will be less likely to fall for any of their tricks.

v1 written to believers (preserved, called)
Preserved – How are we preserved? B/c you said a prayer? B/c you go to church?
NOPE: It’s b/c you do what He says.
        Deut 6:24 And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day.
        Ps 37:27-28 Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for evermore. For the LORD loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.
Called – what does it mean to be called? It actually means a lot of things.
        1. Having your eyes opened. Eph 1:18-19 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
        2. You are called for a reason. That’s a good thing. Gives you purpose.
        Eph 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
         We each have a particular vocation (job) that we are gifted for. Everyone’s is unique. Even if it’s the same gift or job, the performing of it will vary based on the individual and how the Holy Spirit sees fit for that time/place/situation. (1 Cor 12:11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.) This is a whole separate topic…not sure it’s appropriate here. Rom. 12:4-8.
        3. To be glorified in eternity. How much God loves you is:
2Th 2:14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
        This is also the process we go through while we are on the earth. The perfecting of the saints. You were called to assist other Christians in their perfection…completeness, being all you are supposed to be in Christ and for His kingdom. Again, not just waiting around for Jesus to call us to Heaven.
        4. According to God’s plan and purpose before the world began.
2Ti 1:9  Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
2Ti 1:10  But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:
2Ti 1:11  Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
        This starts to morph into a gifts of the spirit or predestination discussion…more dangerous ground I will only cover if you want me to. Suffice it to say that there has been enough division in the body of Christ over gifts & predestination that I am not sure I want to go there right now. There’s always a lot of jealousy, manipulation and division when the false teachers (what this book is about) get going on these topics. And they use them to tear up the church.
        I’d rather encourage everyone to choose to live for Christ and find their gifts and use them. I’m not convinced you’ll be satisfied until you do.
1Co 9:16  For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!

v3 Earnestly – with passion, with a sense of urgency.
        Our society is chipping away piece by piece at the Gospel. Some of that is because we allow it in the church as well. (Remember what this book is about…apostates)
        Contend – fight for. Not just defending. Be instructed and built up. Then beware of the false teachers and take them on. Does that mean face to face confrontations? I don’t know. I’ve done that and I think all I did was prove Proverbs 9:8 Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee. One very effective way to contend with these individuals isn’t taking them head-on. It’s using your gifts to build up others. If you share the truth with someone who’s been lied to, they will notice the difference. And the Holy Spirit will reveal to them the truth.
 How do you do that? By being grounded in the gospel and having as your goal the perfecting of the saints around you. Anyone not sharing that goal is a false teacher and their teachings will become clear because they contrast the truth. The gospel and a self-seeking heart are mutually exclusive.

v5. The Lord did not allow the doubters to go into the promised land.
        Psalm 106 recalls the praise-complain cycles of Israel. But God never turns away from them, or from us.

v7 Sodom and Gomorrah are a temporal example of the eternal punishment awaiting the ungodly.

v8 Unlike Michael, these people rely on their own authority. They think they have power or a system or a method, etc.
But even Michael admits his power comes from the Lord.

v10 some people just don’t want to listen to reproof. They think they know what’s best. So they go off doing “what’s right in their own eyes.” and are destroyed.
        Prov. 3:5 Lean not on your own understanding.
        Prov. 14:12  There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

v11 Balaam Numbers 22
        Balak sends his messengers to Balaam to ask him to curse Israel. He doesn’t go, so Balak sends a second group with more honor than the first. This time, Balaam goes, against God’s wishes. So God sends an angel to block his path. Balaam is so messed up with his greed that he doesn’t even see it. The donkey does and runs into the field. Balaam hits the donkey. The angel ends up in a narrow path so the donkey just hits the deck. Balaam yells at the donkey, “I wish I had a sword so I could kill you.” Now the donkey speaks to Balaam, “Hey, I’ve always been good to you. Why do you think I’ve turned my back on you for no reason?” Balaam answers the donkey, “No.”
Then his eyes were opened and he sees the angel with a sword in his hand. YIKES! I’ll go back if you want me to. The angel sends him on. He gets to Moab and he and Balak build 7 alters, do sacrifices. Then Balaam prays and God gives him a word. He goes back to Balak and speaks the word which is a blessing on Israel. This happens three times. But Balaam goes home with nothing. He went seeking gain and got nothing.

Korah – Numbers 16. Korah and his sons didn’t think Moses was all that. They wanted to be priests. So they did what they wanted. So God told Moses to warn everyone not to stand so close to Korah and his sons’ tents. And the earth opened up and swallowed Korah and his 2 sons.

v12 spots – hidden reefs or rocks
Clouds without water – that’s not really a cloud at all.
Trees without fruit. Remember the fig tree in Mk 11. It looks like a fig tree, but it should have fruit.

v15 So, do you think there’s a point here?
UNGODLY! Not people falling down, making mistakes, but getting up, dusting off and getting right with God and proceeding on in their walk. That’s anyone. The apostate lives in sin without remorse. Convinced that his own way is better than God’s.

v16 Beware the flatterer.
        Draw the distinction between flattery and encouragement. Flattery is a compliment with a price tag on it. Time will always work out the flatterer. Eventually, this person will get around to asking you for something. If you decline, they become angry and sometimes vengeful. If the compliment was really meant as an encouragement, your not doing what he wants won’t bother him. He’ll be in touch with the Holy Spirit and know that God will provide another way.

v20 similar to v3

v21 looking = Hoping for, waiting anxiously for

vv22-23 these deal with having discernment of how to handle people differently. Being sensitive to the person’s individual situation and needs.
        GOAL: Always wanting to build the person up.
                        Helping to perfect the saints.

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How do I know if I am saved?

This question plagues people. Especially those used to works-based religion. But I just read 2 Peter 1:1-10.
It seems pretty clear. We are given everything we need pertaining to life and godliness through the knowledge of him that called us. That's God. How do we know God? Through Jesus. Watch what He did, how He acted. He's the human definition of the character of God.
Verse 5-7 say to add to your faith in Jesus virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, charity.
Verse 8 says that if you have these things in you, you won't be unfruitful in the knowledge of Jesus.

I looked up some of these things in the dictionary.
Virtue - a : conformity to a standard of right : morality b : a particular moral excellence. 
Knowledge the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association
Temperance - moderation in action, thought, or feeling 
Patience -
1: bearing trials calmly or without complaint
2: forbearance under provocation or strain
3: not hasty or impetuous
4: steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity
5a: able or willing to bear
Godliness - devout to God
Brotherly Kindness - putting others first (my definition)
Charity - Love

So, if we have things things in our lives consistently (v8 "and abound"), we will be getting to know our Lord and Savior and we can be sure that we are abiding in Him and have eternal life. I'm glad it says "and abound" because that works out whether I am trying to do this in my own strength. For surely if I do I fail.
Anyway, I read that and thought I'd share.

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What I learned today

 A couple of things have conspired today to make me write this post. Not the least of which was a friend who said, "I haven't seen anything new on your blog lately." Quite true. I haven't made time. Well, I am now.
Another friend, who I haven't seen in a while, posted a song for me on facebook. An amazing song by MercyMe entitled Be My Love. The song is about Jesus asking his disciples, that's you and me if you are a follower of Jesus, to be His love to this world. I would buy their new album just for that song. It's that good, or it is to me because it has a lot of meaning since my friend sent it to me. So then I got to thinking about the song and am I being His love. Certainly I study about it and have for many years. But it's been on my mind that I don't do anything about it. So, until I "do" something, which has to do with me getting involved at church, I can be His love to the people around me. In whatever way the Holy Spirit prompts me throughout the day.

Also today, God revealed to me that I have, or have begun, to experience Romans 8:28. A while back, I left a church that a bunch of people I was close to had started. Most of those people had already left for one reason or another. I don't see or talk to most of those people often. We all went in different directions. As I exchanged emails with the friend who shared that song with me, I was lamenting that I missed my friends and I wish we were all together still. But then the Holy Spirit showed me that perhaps we were being sprinkled like the salt we are supposed to be. So that rather than staying all huddled together, this bunch of mature Christians has been spread out to help the younger. I thought I was being kooky when I wrote it, but she says no...that's the Lord.

So, then I'm reading Jesus Freaks by DC Talk (stop laughing). And after one of the stories, it's about martyrs, was a question and a verse. Question: What does a Jesus Freak do when betrayed by someone close to them? They show them God's love.
Verse: Love [God's love in us]...takes no account of the evil done to it - pays no attention to a suffered wrong...Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances and it endures everything [without weakening]. 1 Cor. 13:5,7 (Amplified version).
How I read that is, "Get over it." Stop holding on to the past. Forgive, move on. Be used of God. Because, if you can't, how can you do the first thing I showed you - Be My Love?

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Father's Day 2010 Men's Meme

Here's the question:
Who is/was the most influential man in your life? Tell us about him? 

I'm going to answer this and then change a word and answer further. You'll see why. It's probably going to be a bit lengthy, but it needs to be.
Probably the most influential man in my life is my stepfather. That is simply because he was the one around during my formative years. My mother and father divorced when I was young and my memories of my father when I was a child are him tolerating our weekend visits. Those memories are likely viewed through foggy, skeptical glasses. But the fact remains that we weren't close until I was in my late 20's. We don't talk often, but he knows I love him because I told him nearly causing a heart attack and I know he loves me because he smiles when we're around each other. For me, that's a good story, but he's not much of an influence on me.
My stepfather was. And not for the good in most instances. He is/was an alcoholic and drug addict. He was mean. He was unable to be happy, so he made sure no one else was either. He said it out loud once that was his goal. There was constant fear and anger in our home. I didn't leave until I was 21 except for 2 years of college.
Gee, Mark. That's cheery. Thanks for sharing.
Here's why I tell you that small part of my youth. Because without that man in the house, I wouldn't have ended up in church or meeting the men who inspire me. I say inspire rather than influence because when I look at my life, I see more stepfather than these men. But I want to be more like them as they exhibit Jesus Christ in their lives.
My stepfather's family was very involved in their local church. So, we went. At some point, we stopped going to their church and began attending Calvary Chapel of the Finger Lakes. Bil Gallatin was the pastor then. He taught the Word of God straight up. Line by Line. Here's what it says. Here's what it means. Here's how to apply it. Never mind opinion...just God's Word. That's still the only way I want to hear the Bible taught.
My mother forced me to go to youth group. That's where I met Ray and Brian. Two men who are only a couple of years older than me, but always lived with integrity and honesty about who they are, making no excuses or compromises. They just love Jesus with all their hearts.
That's also where I met the Capozzi family. They basically adopted me. They called me their Sunday son. Nearly every Sunday after church, I would go to their home and do chores, play sports, just be part of the family. That family holds a big part of my heart. Their youngest son, Ken, is a couple years older than me and is my best friend. We are truly brothers from a different mother. I think we talk once a year. But we always just pick up where we left off. No offense, no "you'd call if you were my friend" nonsense. Brother's in Christ first. I watched Ken struggle with some of the same stuff I do. And he was victorious in areas I never was. He has an amazing family of his own with a wife and kids who love Jesus. He's hard working and honest. I admire him greatly.
Kens older bother I didn't see often. He was already married and had kids when I met him. In him, I saw some of the most amazing grace and mercy in parenting I've ever witnessed. He's a HUGE man. Real lumberjack looking...like he could break me like a twig. Watching him with his kids was amazing. More so now that I have my own and know how easily they can get under your skin. But he never lost his temper. There was always love, even in discipline. He's an inspiration for how I would like to be as a father.
Then there's Pa Capozzi. Godly, honest, forthright, funny, loving. His children and grand-children are a testament to his (and his wife's) success in this world. I love to remember him sitting in his kitchen listening to Under Midnight. It's a Christian band from the early 90's. Industrial Rock (think Nine Inch Nails). But the album tells the story of redemption. He listened to it and said he liked it...maybe not the music particularly, but the story. If it glorified God, he was in.

Those are the men in my life that inspire me. I pray that the qualities of Christ that they exhibit will become more of an influence in my life.

That wasn't so long, was it?

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Men's Meme - June 6, 2010...Tink's Rant

I haven't written in quite a while. But this one's really interesting to me b/c I have similar questions that I can't answer.

Here's a link to the topic. There's too much to copy to this post.

Here's the gist:
Are there certain folks that should not be allowed into a church because of their sinful behavior?

I expect that there are some folks that are non-church goers or have been turned off by this exact behavior that will have one opinion and then there may be church goers that will have another. I want to hear them all. I want a lively discussion! What do you all think?

My Response:
I actually do think there are people who shouldn't be allowed in a church due to their behavior. I am thinking of pedophiles. However, I should temper that by saying that the church I grew up in had an individual who was gay and worked in the children's program. The individual was confronted and removed from the ministry (not the church). After a period of time and counseling, the person said that things weren't going to change (unrepentant) so the individual was asked not to return to the church for the safety of the children. It was sad because that was a friend of mine, but it was done in a biblical way. Obviously, there's a ton of background that I won't go into, but suffice it to say that this was repetitive, sinful behavior that can't be tolerated and it threatened the kids.

So do I think that homosexuals, or any other person for that matter, shouldn't be allowed in church? NO! That's sanctimonious and ridiculous. The instance above was a specific situation of repeated, unrepentant behavior. And I think that holds for any sin. I don't like sin lists. They tend to imply that a murderer is worse than another person. But Jesus said that if you are angry with someone without cause, you are in danger of the same judgment Matt 5:21-22. All have sinned and missed the mark, Rom 3:23. And forgiveness is available to "whosoever shall believe in Him." John 3:16.

Here's what I think question is/should be...how long does the church tolerate the behavior? Forgiveness just keeps on a-comin', which is good, because we all fall and some of us fall for the same thing over and over again. The point is that there must be evidence of repentance and effort to grow in Christ. If that's not the case, certainly the person isn't fit for ministry in the church. You can read First and Second Timothy for behavior and qualifications for those who serve.
I have heard a lot recently about the "new Christianity" where showing love to everyone is the main focus. What I haven't seen is a direct answer from these people about their stand on sin and how it is to be dealt with in the church. You just get, "We just love everyone. We want people to know they are welcome."
I don't see that as new, really. That's what Jesus did. I would point out the woman at the well and especially the woman caught in adultery as relevant to this discussion. When Jesus met the woman at the well, he was treating her with respect just by talking to her. In that culture, a Jew wouldn't have spoken to a Samaritan. In fact, they would not have gone that route to get to Galilee, they would have gone around Samaria. In Mark 7:24-30, Jesus goes all the way out to Tyre and Sidon to heal the Syrophenician woman's daughter. His life was lived loving everyone, not just his friends or just Jews.
The woman caught in the act of adultery in John 8:1-11 offers, I think, a good answer to the question about whether certain people should be in the church and what it means to love others as it relates to this "new" Christianity. This woman was clearly caught in sin. Jesus doesn't really say much during this interaction. The Scribes and Pharisees want to stone her and they wanted Jesus to sanction it. Rather He asked them, in so many words, what gave them the right to judge and execute her? Then in Jn 8:11, He tells the woman that He doesn't condemn her and that she is to go and sin no more. In my opinion that is what's lacking in many churches and relationships today. The willingness to tell someone to stop sinning (in humility) and then of course the maturity of the person on the receiving end to appreciate the rebuke and learn/repent/grow from the situation. It's an extremely difficult thing to do well. And I have found that if you are going to be that kind of Christian, you will lose a lot of friends. But if God is telling you to warn that person, you need to do it.

I could go on and on as usual, but I will just net out my feelings on this. I think anyone should be welcome in church (Jesus came to heal the sick, not the well). However, if a person is living in open, unrepentant sin, it must be dealt with. Read 1 Cor 5:1-13. But be careful. Certainly Paul talks about removing the person living in sin, but the idea is to restore the person. What's at issue is living in sin and not being repentant. When there's repentance there must be restoration. And don't we owe it to people to lead them to repentance and a closer relationship with their Savior?

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I'm tired...

I don't know if anyone even reads my blog anymore as I write so infrequently. My apologies. I'm exhausted. I just haven't taken time to write. I'm not reading my Bible as much as I was. I'm sure that has a lot to do with it. I've allowed busy work and home to get in the way. Pray for me. I'm digging out and making a schedule (yes, I need to schedule every minute if I am to get anything done.) so that I make time to write at least once a week. I think that's a decent goal...once a week. I could probably write every day if I wanted this to just be about my happenings, but I don't. The idea was that I would share what God was teaching me in His Word. Gonna stick with that. I like what Pastor Jack Abeelen says. He believes that he's a pastor because God knew he wouldn't study his bible or go to church like he should if he wasn't.
While you are praying for me to get off my butt, pray with me about a Bible study at work. I know a fair number of Christians there -  a huge blessing, really. And I was thinking I would poll them to see if they would be interested. Or maybe I should just study, schedule a room and tell them I'll be there if they are interested. Hmmm. Just thought of that.

Anyway. I'm not gone. Haven't given up. Just tired and disorganized and haven't taken the time to write.

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Men's Meme - from April 1, 2010 When does life begin?

When Does Life Begin?
Some folks say at conception, others say at birth, and still more have answers that are in between. What do you think?

I get the argument for conception and birth. In between? What could that mean? Anyway...

Jeremiah 1:4-5 says, "Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations."

And Psa 139:13  For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.

So, God being who He is, has a plan for us before we are even conceived. And He is watching over us in the womb. So, from a human perspective, I would have to say that life as we understand it begins at conception. At the conception of the life, God's plan has kicked into action and He's concerned about us.

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Just a question

A simple, unrelated question after completing a post that took me forever.

Doesn't the fact that people spend so much time, money, energy trying to figure out where it all started and/or why we are here prove that God exists? If we evolved, who cares why we are here? What difference would it make? Would we even ask the question? I don't see my cats spending their energy on this. Only man does.

My answer is that we were created in God's image. Sin corrupted that and now the connection to God that we were intended to have is broken and we're uncomfortable. Jesus gave us THE way to repair that connection.

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What must I do to be saved? Part 2

Recall from the intro to Part 1, that this writing stemmed from a discussion that took place about proof that one is saved. One of the people believed that you had to speak in tongues if you were saved.

Where does this argument even come from? It has been brought to my attention (because I have never been in a church that espoused this belief) that the basis for tongues = salvation comes from Acts Chapter 2, which tells us about the Day of Pentecost.

What happened on the Day of Pentecost? Essentially, the 120 or so believers, that's important, that were in a room were filled with the Holy Spirit and they “began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Among them were the apostles. These men and women made up the church. Where church = group of believers. The church didn't start at the day of Pentecost. Being filled with the Holy Spirit began that day. Those who confessed that Jesus is the Christ constituted the early church. Jesus refers to the church first in Matt 16:18 stating that upon Peter's confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, the church will be built. Jesus makes a second reference to the church in Matt 18:17 when he discusses church discipline. If a church didn't exist, why talk about it as if it does.
These people believed in Christ as the son of God and their redeemer. Again with the thief on the cross next to Jesus. He was promised that he would be in paradise that day. He was saved, yet without being filled with the Holy Ghost.

The other people in attendance on the day of Pentecost were the devout Jews who lived in Jerusalem. They had returned from all over the place. 17 countries are mentioned in Acts 2:9-11. And what did they hear? Did they hear unknown tongues? No. They heard the message in their own language, which is what amazed them (Acts 2:12). When the word "tongues" is used in the New Testament, it is always referring to an actual language(s) unless it's referring to the physical member.
Then in Acts 2:14, Peter starts his sermon. In Aramaic. So everyone in attendance could understand including the mockers from Acts 2:13. At the end of the sermon, 3000 people received Christ and were baptized. Nothing about them speaking in tongues.

I believe the sign of tongues in Acts served a practical purpose. It got the attention of the people who were there. They couldn't deny what happened. I don't think it had anything to do with a proof that they were saved or filled with the Holy Spirit. It's not a card you carry and pull out when someone asks you if you are a Christian. The gift of tongues was given to these people to allow them to minister to the people that they were with at the time. 1 Cor 12:11 tells us that the Holy Spirit distributes the gifts as he wills. Earlier in that chapter, Paul clearly states that there are different gifts, different offices and different effects of the gifts in the given situations. Verse 7 tells us that the gifts are given to benefit the whole body, not the individual. The gift of "unknown"tongues is covered more directly in 1 Cor 14. Basically, that gift is for the individual and does nothing for the church. It's private. In order for me to "prove I'm saved because I have tongues", I have to violate its very use. At the middle of that chapter, Paul downplays the gift of tongues saying he'd rather be able to speak five words that produces learning in others than ten thousand that benefit no one but himself.

For me, this says it all:
1Cor 12:1-31

The More Excellent Way in 1 Cor 12:31 is 1 Cor 13:1-13. No one’s gifts mean anything without love.

The worst thing is that Christians allow themselves to be divided over this. 1 Cor 14:1-40 asks the question of whether everyone has the same function in the body. No, we don't. Everyone has a unique purpose designed by God. And He has gifts for you to fulfill that purpose.

I'm going to close this with Eph 2:1-22. We are saved by Grace through Faith. We are all saved from the same separation from God by the same Jesus. Filled with the same Holy Spirit. We are to love one another and encourage one another to run the race that is set before us (Heb 12:1).  To press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Phil 3:14).

If you want to know if someone is a Christian, Jesus gave you a way to know. Recorded in John 13:35, Jesus said, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."

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Men's Meme - March 25, 2010 New Health Care Bill

This past week our US congress passed a new health care bill. I won't pretend that I know all about it, but I do know there is a lot of talk going on.

On one side, folks are against it. There argument is that we are going down the road to socialism and/or it will run our national debt up even higher. Some say that the government can't even efficiently run the programs that we have now how do they think they are going to be able to run national health care.

The opposite side claims that those who are against it are just heartless. Wouldn't Jesus want everyone to have health care? Shouldn't the poor have just as much access to health care as the rich? They say that this would ultimately save our country money because there would be less folks using emergency health services at the taxpayers expense.

Question of the week:

What do you think? Is this new health care reform good for our country? Do you agree with one of the above point of views? Why or why not?

I have to admit that I am not completely educated on the Health Care bill. I don't really have time to read it...it's rather long. And, heck, the people who get paid to read it (CONGRESS!) didn't read it either. So, I feel somewhat excused. As uneducated about the bill as I am, I am still against it. I don't think it fixed the problem...Insurance Companies. Did the bill do anything to control what it costs to have insurance? What about the doctor who pays tens of thousands of dollars a year for malpractice insurance? Don't get me wrong, they can afford it for the most part. Allow me to defend some of the medical professionals for a second (it's my blog so you can't stop me). Some of these people are honestly involved in life and death all day long. Every decision they make, which can be under extreme pressure with limited time and information, can save or cost a life. I kinda want those people to make a LOT of money. Why? Because that's how our society rewards people for a job well done. You can talk about doing it for the common good or that a personal thank you has great meaning. Those are good and admirable things. But I work a difficult job. It's not life and death, but it's a lot of money on the line for the company and often enough it's with little data and great pressure from several areas for me to make a decision. I am not well compensated relative to my peers and it irritates me that I work for a company with a LOT of money, yet I worry about paying my bills from time to time. Doesn't seem right. I say the same for a life and death kind of Doctor. They shouldn't worry about their bills. How much is enough? Not for me to say. But I say all of that because the cost of medical care isn't ridiculous just because Doctors want to be rich. It's because they are going to be rich, but so are the insurance companies who don't actually do anything. So, who pays? The patient. So, now the government is going to step in and make sure everyone has health care. But did what they passed fix the cost problem? It doesn't seem like it to me.
And what social program has the government ever run that went well, reduced debt or went away? The NYS Thruway system was supposed to be paid for when I was a kid. Not only didn't that happen, it keeps costing more to drive on it. My mother was once told to quit her job and go on welfare because she needed a little - $100/month - help with food stamps or something. Great idea. Let's fund her entire existence rather than giving her a boost and letting her keep her job and her dignity but not run out of food.
The government can't do anything effectively or efficiently because there is hardly an honest soul involved. Pressure tactics, back-room deals, all taking place just to get the bill passed. "But now, we'll all get along and run it for the good of the American people." Yeah, right.

A good point to the bill. A friend of mine hasn't been able to get help with her son who is autistic. Insurance won't cover the treatments. Now, she can. I am glad for her and her son. But again, it wasn't cost, it was some insurance bureaucrat deciding this young boy shouldn't get the help.

The other big issue I have with it is abortion. My tax money, your tax money, will continue to fund abortion. Planned Parenthood will end up in public schools. It's ugly. And it's being foisted on an American Public that does not want it. I saw an interview on PBS a week or so ago with Nancy Pelosi. The interviewer said, in effect, you didn't have the votes in your own party, no one across the aisle supports the bill, and the public is sharply divided. Yet, you passed the bill. Pelosi replied that it was a great example of determination and perseverance for her constituents. Blah, Blah, Blah. I think she missed the point. He wasn't applauding her. With so little support, shouldn't you stop and ask why you're doing this? It has nothing to do with what's good for America or what the people want. Do it because it's historic or to prove you can or prove how powerful you are. Well, I'm unimpressed by your power.

Here's the good news. God is still in control. Never wasn't. So, we can rant and rave all we like (or need) but the best thing to do is pray and to be still and know that He is God.

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What must I do to be saved? Part 1

This will be a multi-part post. I don't know if it will be one after the other as I have to finish the end. I started writing this about a year ago after a discussion with a friend. It was about spiritual gifts. The discussion broke down when we got to the part where you will have the gift of tongues if you are saved...as proof that you are saved. What follows is from a short paper I started writing as a result.

First, let me say that this is not an attempt to “convert” anyone to my way of thinking. It is an attempt to understand differing views on salvation and the signs of salvation as they bear on eternity.
Second, I began writing this as a way to educate myself. I am not one given to apologetics in general, but it is important that one be able to defend one’s beliefs. If you can’t defend what you believe, why believe it?
Mostly, I do not want to divide the body of Christ.

Tit 3:9  But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.

I do think it's important enough to research and answer because the body of Christ is divided by this topic. Some folks are being told they aren't saved because they don't speak in tongues. So, here we go.

What is required for salvation? What can we do?
Belief in Jesus Christ alone. There is nothing we can do to earn the free gift of salvation.
I find no scripture requiring anything but believing on Jesus for salvation.

Jesus says it Himself…believe on Me.
John 5:24  Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.


John 6:45-48  It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.  I am that bread of life.

It is belief in Jesus that saves us. Nothing more.
When the Philippian jailer was sure he was dead for having let Paul and Silas escape, he saw the example of Christianity in Paul and Silas. They knew he’d be killed for letting them escape, so they stayed and spared his life. And not only that, they showed him the way to eternal life in Heaven.

Acts 16:25-32  And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.(emphasis mine)

Romans 10:9 is the whole Gospel.
Rom 10:8-11  But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

It is Christ’s atoning blood that redeems.
Heb 9:14-15  How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

If having the gift of tongues is required, what am I to do? I believe in Jesus. He is my Savior, yet I don’t have the gift of tongues.  If the gift of tongues is a requirement for salvation, God has to give me this gift. Should God choose not to give me tongues, and I can’t be saved without it, then salvation isn’t a choice I can make.

I'll get into gifts more in the next post. One last thought for now...what about the thief of the cross next to Christ? Jesus promised him he'd be in Heaven that day. This guy was neither baptized (different topic) nor did he speak in tongues. As far as I know, there isn't anywhere in scripture where Jesus speaks in tongues either...still working on that one.

I also realize that the verses I have referenced talk about what it takes to be saved and I supposed you could make the argument that having Tongues is proof that you are saved. Not a requirement, but evidence. I'll address that as well.

To be continued...

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The Beauty of Mathematics and the Love of God!

I got this from a friend at work. I love this because I stand firmly on the rules of Math and Physics as proof that there is a Creator. You don't get this kind of order from random chance.

The Beauty of Mathematics and the Love of God!

This is TOO cool!
Just the math part is good enough, the end is even better.
I bet you will NOT be able to read it without sending it on to at least one other person!

Beauty of Mathematics!!!!!!!

                 1 x 8 + 1 = 9
               12 x 8 + 2 = 98
             123 x 8 + 3 = 987
           1234 x 8 + 4 = 9876
         12345 x 8 + 5 = 98765
       123456 x 8 + 6 = 987654
     1234567 x 8 + 7 = 9876543
   12345678 x 8 + 8 = 98765432
 123456789 x 8 + 9 = 987654321

                 1 x 9 + 2 = 11
               12 x 9 + 3 = 111
             123 x 9 + 4 = 1111
           1234 x 9 + 5 = 11111
         12345 x 9 + 6 = 111111
       123456 x 9 + 7 = 1111111
     1234567 x 9 + 8 = 11111111
   12345678 x 9 + 9 = 111111111
123456789 x 9 +10 = 1111111111

              9 x 9 + 7 = 88
            98 x 9 + 6 = 888
          987 x 9 + 5 = 8888
        9876 x 9 + 4 = 88888
      98765 x 9 + 3 = 888888
    987654 x 9 + 2 = 8888888
  9876543 x 9 + 1 = 88888888
98765432 x 9 + 0 = 888888888

Brilliant, isn't it?

And look at this symmetry:

                                1 x 1 = 1
                            11 x 11 = 121
                         111 x 111 = 12321
                     1111 x 1111 = 1234321
                 11111 x 11111 = 123454321
             111111 x 111111 = 12345654321
         1111111 x 1111111 = 1234567654321
      11111111 x 11111111 = 123456787654321
  111111111 x 111111111 = 12345678987654321         
Mind Boggling...
Now, take a look at this...


From a strictly mathematical viewpoint:  What Equals 100%?

What does it mean to give MORE than 100%?

Ever wonder about those people who say they are giving more than 100%?

We have all been in situations where someone wants you to GIVE OVER 100%...

How about ACHIEVING 101%?

What equals 100% in life?

Here's a little mathematical formula that might help answer these questions:



Is represented as:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26.


 H-A-R-D-W-O- R- K =

8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98%


 K-N-O-W-L-E- D-G-E =

11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+ 5 = 96%


 A-T-T-I-T-U- D-E =

1+20+20+9+20+ 21+4+5 = 100%

THEN, look how far the love of God will take you:

 L-O-V-E-O-F- G-O-D
12+15+22+5+15+ 6+7+15+4 = 101%

Therefore, one can conclude with mathematical certainty that:
While Hard Work and Knowledge will get you close, and Attitude will get you there, It's theLove of God that will put you over the top!

If you find this interesting share it with your friends & loved ones.
Have a nice day & God Bless You

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Monday Men's Meme Feb 9, 2010

Yeah, I know...it's already next week.

Here's the question that was posed:

Would you ever vote for a woman president?
Of course you all know where I'm going with this. Sarah Palin has been in the news of late, and last go around, Hillary Clinton was in almost till the end. I'm interested in hearing your take. Do you think it's OK? Do you think a women in authority is unBiblical? Or, are you just a male chauvinist and would never vote for a female president?

I would vote for a woman president. I don't think there's anything wrong or unbiblical about a woman being president. In 1 Tim.2:12 Paul talks about women usurping authority over men. That is with regard to public Bible teaching. I read comments from Robertson, Wesley and Henry and they seem to be in agreement.

If the right person came along, I would vote for her. I am not a party voter or anything like that. I try to vote for the person who holds similar values to my own. That's really hard to find and I think we are often disappointed by politicians. Even if they mean what they say when they say it, the things that a person wants to do in government often doesn't have the ability to finish. There are too many favors, too many behind the scenes dealings. We have also, as a nation, begun voting against a candidate. The whole thing is really disturbing.

I pray that the Lord will raise up a candidate that is committed and realistic about the things this country needs. Man, woman, whatever. We need a Godly leader who is not afraid to stand up for what is right and for what made this nation great in the first place.

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Monday Men's meme - Is Homosexuality wrong

Yeah, this is a real hot topic. Not just because it was brought up on blogfrog either. The short answer is that it is wrong. Why? Because God says so in His Word. Lev 18:22, Rom 1:27, 1 Tim 1:10.

The long answer only exists because not everyone wants to admit that God gets to make the rules. He is the creator of the universe and therefore gets to make the rules. I have not seen real evidence that He didn't create the universe. Big Bang, Evolution? No, sorry. Too much about those things simply doesn't work. The rate of expansion of the universe is increasing...shouldn't it be slowing down? Plants evolved to use photosynthesis? If any one step in that process doesn't work or happen in the proper sequence, the whole thing fails. I'm no scientist, so don't ask me ins and outs on this stuff. However, I am a Mechanical Engineer so order and rules are important to me. When you look at the laws of Physics and Math, could you really conclude that it was luck that things happened that way? I mean, the stars and planets move in a mathematically predictable manner. Billions of stars moving through space with that sort of order came from an explosion? Nonsense. Does anyone subscribe to the big bang theory any more? It makes for a somewhat amusing sit-com, but not an explanation for the universe.

From reading a bunch of the comments on blogfrog regarding this topic, the sentiment is if you say someone is wrong, you must not like them or you think you are superior or you're just mean. That simply stems from pride. You don't agree with me, that hurts my feelings because I didn't get the response I wanted and thought I deserved, so I'm mad and it's your fault. Of course, that line of reasoning assumes that nothing offensive was actually said. There certainly are those who are downright mean and self-righteous toward those who are "sinners". Those are some terribly immature, insecure people and I really wish they would stop calling themselves Christian. They don't represent Christ. He never turned people away who came to Him repentant and believing in Him. He loved people where they were at and simply encouraged them to get their lives right...no matter what the sin was.

I've written before that I think pointing out sin in another Christian's life, which it is our job to do as Christians, is extremely difficult to do well. I don't do it well. Our society doesn't encourage it either. I've had some difficult times and done some dumb things that I had to apologize for. Even that was hard to pull off. It was actually harder on the person I was apologizing to than it was on me. The person didn't seem to know what to make of it. Between men especially, there seems to be an attitude of ignore it for a while and it'll go away. Go to our separate corners and cool off. Well, that doesn't work And it's not Biblical either. We need to be able to be honest with each other in a LOVING way. That's the hard part.

What to do when the person isn't a Christian? Do we have the same responsibility? Our responsibility to the unsaved is to lead them to Christ. Sometimes with words, more often with actions. I have a gay relative. Do I shun this person? Definitely not! We have a good time at family events. We don't see each other but once or twice a year because I don't get home much. But when I and my family do go back, we all try to get together and there isn't an issue. My wife and I just try to be an example of Christ in any way can. Not a big act either. I don't try to squeeze a bible verse into every other sentence or whip out my bible and say "Look what I read this morning." These people know me. They all know where I stand on the issue of homosexuality. I don't make excuses or apologies for it either. What allows us to be in the same room is a respect for each other. I will defend my faith when needed, but I am not going to pick a fight either. It is God who draws us to Him not me pushing someone to Him.

Ok, so that's a lot of words...I do tend to ramble sometimes. In a nutshell, Jesus said there are only 2 commandments: 1) Love God most of all, 2) Love others as you do yourself (my translation). Love doesn't necessarily mean acceptance of all behavior but it means a recognition that no one is worse than I was when Christ died for me. All have sinned and come short of the Glory of God (Rom 3:23).

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Mother Teresa

I am shamelessly stealing this from a blog I visit frequently. It's also printed out and taped to my cube at work so people can read it. I need this today.
People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;

forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;

be kind anyway.

If you are successful you will win some false friends and true enemies;

succeed anyway.

If you are honest people may cheat you;

be honest anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;

build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;

be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;

do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;

Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the end, it is between you and God;

it was never between you and them anyway.

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It's working!

God sent me some encouragement Monday. I was talking to some of my colleagues (A and B) and one of them, B,  cursed. A looked at me, then at B and said "No way Mark said that."  B reluctantly admitted it was him, not me who said it.

What's encouraging about that is I have been sitting next to A for a long time. And I didn't use to hold back my tongue a few years ago. My job frustrates me and I am a heart on my sleeve person, so it's pretty obvious when I am upset. I'm not proud of it or excusing it...just being honest. Then the Holy Spirit told me that I needed to clean up my act at work if I thought I was going to proclaim the Gospel to anyone. So, I pray a lot about it and God is certainly helping me...and it's showing to the people around me. I'm not nearly as grumpy as I once was. Some have recently dared to say that I'm not grouchy.  :)

In addition, A is a very smart, critical thinker. He doesn't believe in salvation and talking to him about the Bible or Jesus just gets an argument going...and he's a real good arguer. We once had an discussion that didn't go well for me. We don't talk about it any more and neither of us is upset with the other. I have seen others who were unprepared speak to him too and it's not pretty.

Having A say that yesterday was amazing to me. I have always thought that once you blew your witness, there's really no going back. Might as well move and get a new job. But that's not true. It may take a long time, but living your faith and walk with Christ out in the open will have an impact on people.

No longer can I say that "You are a walking testimony" is any kind of cliche. It is absolutely true! I don't say anything to A, but he knows, has seen, that something has changed in me. We, as Christians, are indeed a work in progress. Don't think you can never go back once you've stumbled. God, not you, draws people to Him in His time. Just keep living your faith. If you stumble, even if you wallow for a while in the mire of sin, get back up and continue walking with Jesus.

You just don't know who's watching.

p.s. my comment to A was that he should see me when I am around my kids....not always pretty. Praying about that too.

p.p.s. should work on that with my neighbor too. Long way to go there.

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Ups and Downs

My wife and I have been fighting a bit more recently. It's a drag considering a few weeks ago I remarked to her that we were in one of the best places our marriage had ever been. What happened? Most of it has to do with my vacation from work. I took that last two weeks of December off as I do most years. With all that time off, I managed to hardly read my Bible at all. Quite the opposite of what I think should happen.

When I have a break coming up, I always envision myself taking a day to fast and being able to study for an hour a day in addition to my morning devotions - that would be a lot for me unless I am teaching, which requires at least that. However, the reality seems to be that neither of those things happens. In fact, my devotions go right out the window. Or maybe I should say they go into the alarm clock? The only time it's quiet in our house is early in the morning. Three boys...nuf said. I get up early every day for work so that I can have a little time. Why is it that I can't get out of bed when I don't work?

Driving home from work the other day, I said that to Kelli. I was listening to a prophecy conference teaching about Israel and all that God has done for that nation. Such as making them a nation after 100s (1000s?) of  years of being scattered across the globe. And re-establishing the Hebrew language after it was effectively dead. Those two things can't be said of any other land or language in the history of Mankind. And the same way that God has a plan for Israel, He chose me from the foundation of the world. And I can't get out of bed to spend time with Him?

Part of the reason we were doing so well before was were coming out of a pretty significant trial. So, I was reading a lot and listening to every bible study I could get my ears on. And God revealed a lot of inner garbage to me. It was good to get that out, though it's a struggle to keep it out. Humility is tough. For me it's trying to balance self-awareness and self-righteousness.

There's a great line from a needtobreathe song that goes, "just because I'm wrong, doesn't make you right." I think understanding what that means is good for me. I might think someone did something wrong, but that doesn't give me the right to react any way I want. And just because I behaved poorly, don't you think maybe you had something to do with that?

My relationship to my wife is supposed to be like Christ's relationship to the Church. Mankind did everything wrong yet Jesus came and died for us. It doesn't matter if I think my wife did something wrong (and the definition of that can be loose in my mind sometimes), it's my responsibility to love her by dying to myself and treating her with respect. That same philosophy extends to our relationships to other people...not just husband/wife. Jesus said that the second most important commandment was to love others as yourself. Treating others with love means dying to yourself - putting them first. As I have said before, I don't think that means you're a doormat and you just let people do whatever they want. If you see a brother or sister in Christ behaving badly or in a way that doesn't honor Christ or will do them harm, it's your responsibility to correct them. But there is a loving way to do that which doesn't include condemnation or putting yourself on a pedestal.

Kelli and I are working through this time. I think we're both going through a similar sort of thing...not enough time in God's word. Maybe we need to work on a way to spell one another from the kids so we both get time...we'll be praying about that.

Well, I've gone on long enough...

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