Archive for the ‘ Bible ’ Category

The Great Banquet

I cannot let go of this rapture thing quite yet.

Yep, my wedding reception!

What about the Great Banquet?

Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’

“Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’

“Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’

“The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’

“‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’

“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

Luke 14:12-24, NIV

Is the Church doing its job? Are Christians  acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God as He requires? Are we clothing the naked, giving shelter the homeless, or visiting the infirm or imprisoned as we ought?

It seems the world is doing more of this than most Christians. In fact, I know and know of more people outside of churches who act justly, love mercy, cloth the naked, give shelter, visit, heal, encourage, and support others. Problem? Definitely. It looks like our world is doing a better job at being salt and light than those who have been called to be the salt and the light.

So what do you think? If the rapture were to occur tonight, would we be surprised to see a third of the world gone and almost all of the Christians still here? Should we be surprised? Am I being too heretical? Or are you as convicted as I after reading this?

Seriously. Check yourself. I am.

My What Big Sheep You Have!

Now that we know how to deal with false prophets (and other Christian-sinners), it is time to ponder people patronizing the pews of pesky perjurious prophets … and other bad teachers.

So fat ... so lazy ... don't wanna move ...

How is it that so many people can fall for such obvious mis-truths and blatant problems with hermeneutics (bible interpretation)?

First off, I am going to state that it is not all on these false teachers. We have had quite a stint of poor preaching and teaching in this nation (and through much of Western culture for a long time) that many people who go to church struggle with the basics of Christianity. When less than half of us know Easter is the celebration of Jesus’ Resurrection and a third of us think Jesus sinned, there is a problem. This means the Church at large has been failing them.

Years of not receiving solid teaching keeps people spiritually malnourished.  We could call these people the seeds that grew among the thorns or are (or can become?) weeds.

The thing is, what most people are getting is the equivalent of junk food. Eating junk food can keep people going for a while, some even appearing perfectly healthy, but eventually from that most people will grow fat and tired and unable to even handle good food. When people get poor teaching, it is much the same. They can start out loving the message and may even produce some good fruit in their lives, bu they often become spiritually lethargic, unable to discern what is truth.

This, then, is how people can fall for lies, half-truths, and scriptural fudgings.

Bringing in Jillian Michaels … for souls …

As with those who lead them astray, we need to love them towards truth. Calling them morons, idiots, heretics, blasphemers, retards, snakes, wolves-in-sheeps-clothing, blah, blah, blah, on and on (I have heard/read all of these and more in the past few weeks, so there are too many to link!), only pushes them further away. You may actually be doing more harm than those poorly teaching them! You become just as guilty as the false teachers!

Telling them of their error is necessary, but it can and should be done with gentleness and respect. They deserve the same grace and patience we have all been given by our Lord. We just may be working through years of spiritual and psychological abuse, so it is needed! As Paul reminded us, it must all be done with love! Sometimes that means putting these poor sheep through some “The Biggest Loser: Spiritual Edition” with Jesus hosting and us working as trainers, guiding them through spiritual exercises and feeding them with healthy teaching. It will be tough on all of us, but it takes hard work and perseverance.

There have been great thoughts shared over the past couple of weeks! What else have you? Am I right? Am I being too nice? Am I naive? Have you dealt with anyone who has been sucked in by sneaky false teachings? How long should we work with them?

Balancing Our Prophet Deficit

Over the weekend the Rapture did not happen. I just thought I would fill you in case you were wondering. (For the record: Harold Camping is now saying that everything is happening on October 21. There is no longer a final Tribulation period, just the final act.)

Now we are faced with the question:

What do we do with Harold Camping?

Really, the question is “What do we do with false prophets and teachers, heretics, blasphemers, sinful brothers and sisters, and every other supposed Christian who messes up in some way?”

I have poked some fun at our friend Harold. I even do that for people with whom I agree! It is just the kind of great guy that I am. I must say, however, that I am quite put out by the number of people raking this guy over the coals. Do you not realize that this public display of renunciation in such a manner helps prove right those who want nothing to do with Christianity?

Do not get me wrong. He has done something that should not be condoned, and we should denounce his actions and teaching concerning this past weekend’s non-event. To ignore it or even praise it would send the signal to those outside the Church or those struggling within the Church that we are okay with dissenters and those who misuse Scripture and the name of God, and we are therefore deserving of their ridicule. To publicly call the guy names and attempt to smear his reputation is childish and exactly what we see happening in our culture with people every day. How is that the Church being better than the world?

Instead, we have two biblical models to follow:

  1. Tell the man to stop. If he refuses, simply have nothing to do with him. We should “hand him over to Satan” in hopes he will actually be purged of his sins (read the link). Then we respond to his claims so that the world knows what is going on, but we also make it clear he does not speak for all of us. Done. No name calling. No character assassination (admit it, a false prophecy is enough to do that). No helping the non-Christian masses with defaming our faith and our Lord.
  2. Tell the man to stop. If he refuses, treat him like a sinner. What are we supposed to do with sinners? Love them unconditionally in the hopes that they see their error, but we do not condone what they are doing.

Once again, I am guilty of what I am speaking against. I have joked around at his expense, albeit I kept it between myself and friends. I am not saying it is any better in God’s sight. I might still be guilty of leading others astray. However, we should strive to win over as many as possible through our love and loving actions towards each other.

Any thoughts on how we should treat Harold Camping, and any others who consistently sin? What does it mean to excommunicate a fellow believer in this day? Should we excommunicate him? (Quite honestly, it seems he already was by many Christians)

Stolen Goods

(Bedford County (Pa.) District Attorney's Office)

Ill-gotten treasures are of no value,
but righteousness delivers from death.
Proverbs 10:2, NIV

How about we go from Church unity to a potentially controversial topic?! Okay!

Stealing things can be fun. I do not deny that. The rush of exhilaration and the excitement of getting something you may or may not want.

Of course, there is usually the issue of not being able to use stolen money since it could be traced. There is the issue of not being able to drive a stolen car around since it would take too much extra work to make sure the VIN could not be traced … let alone if you get caught with a car that is not yours. There is the issue of serial numbers or storage or fingerprints not properly wiped or a myriad of other things that can make having the stolen property so … inconvenient.

It is the same with faith.

You cannot skate into salvation on your parents’ or friends’ or spouse’s faith. You cannot skate into salvation by simply going to church or doing good deeds.

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29) It can be argued that this can mean not only physically leaving things and family and friends but growing up. It can mean “I have left behind letting others tell me how to believe and have made my faith my own!”

Jesus did say (to a specific woman, in context, but I assure you that it is applicable) “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7:50)

It is the same with churches.

What is the number factor of church-growth in the United States today? Church migrants, those who leave one church for another.

I am not saying that all churches steal people from other churches. Obviously, some churches die out. I am not saying all those who get most if not all of their new congregants from other churches are doing it on purpose. However, there are some who are only playing the numbers game. These churches tend to not care too much about growing new believers. Quite honestly, the biggest reason there are so many disputes today about and between different churches over theology, philosophy, and practices is because as a whole we have neglected raising new believers in understanding. We have been happy to get converts and baptisms to say “See! We have this many new people/converts this year!”

Way to spread plenty of seed on rocky soil. Go us. We are robbing God and people by not providing fertile ground or cultivating and watering after seeding.

In effect, we are working with stolen goods.

Fortunately, I am beginning to see people begin to wake up to this problem.

Fortunately, possession still tends to be nine-tenths of the law with God. He knows who belong to Him. He has the power to redeem whatever and whomever He wishes.

How about we not stand in His way? Instead, how about we move with Him?

What say you? How are we faring as the Church? Do you see people getting it right?

Weekend Words and Sunday Stanzas – 05/01/2011

Today I bring to you one of the first poems I ever wrote for God, and it happens to be based on one of my favorite passages. The passage is a reminder to me that God works in and changes us to be holy, but He still requires us to do something. You can call it “God helps those who help themselves” (which I might explain my thoughts on this in the future) or “We have our role to play in our sanctification.” Either way, God gives us the freedom to either choose Him or choose ourselves in every moment.

i submit to You  God
daniel m  klem

if i draw near to You
You draw near to me
You will purify my heart
my hands will be clean
i am double minded
i am a sinner  indeed
i will now resist the devil
We will make him flee
i submit to You  God

so You are with me

****

 James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist
the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Draw near to God,
and He will draw near to you. Wash your hands,
you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-
minded.

Taken from the book simple words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m klem, p. 157.

Weekend Words and Sunday Stanzas – 04/24/2011

HAPPY RESURRECTION SUNDAY!

How do you know this day is important? As Chuck Swindoll says “What other event do we celebrate 52 times a year?” We remember the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth every Sunday, but this week commemorates the actual day (even if it is usually off slightly, it is like communion … in remembrance).

and so It begins
daniel m  klem

Jesus is on the cross
held with my sin
but i am forgiven
for He is risen
the Father revived
the Son to live
and He loves us
even after His strife
He gave His Son
so we may live
and now through Christ
God will forgive
Jesus is the one
that set us free
and i can love
because of He
who died on the
cross for the world
that we can praise
God and His Word

Taken from the book simple words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m klem, p. 99.

risen

daniel m  klem

the curtain torn
the tomb now sealed
God watching as
His angels work
the lights flashing
thunder clapping
the joy surrounds
all in heaven
explosions  cheers
lightning  thunder
flashes  novas

on earth  Jesus
taking a breath
opening eyes
He sits straight up
removes the cloths
folds them neatly
rises and leaves

Taken from the book simple words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m klem, p. 132.

HE IS RISEN!

Special Friday

For this Friday, I posting two of the poems from my first book. You will catch the reason why I posted these.

crucifixion
daniel m  klem

the bottom of the hill
the sun goes black
in the eighth hour
three structures
one man per structure
each with his arms outstretched
the One in the middle did nothing
closing in on the ninth hour
the Man asks for a drink
i place a sponge soaked with vinegar on a stick
offering Him His drink as He dies
i break down grief-stricken

Taken from the book simple words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m klem, p. 61.

it means something
daniel m  klem

i remember the death
and remember suffering
but i can see more
than just the bad things
the cross gave freedom
when He is burdened
He carried all this sin
and will until the end
the cross reminds me
He died to save us
and that i can trust
in the living Jesus

Taken from the book simple words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m klem, p. 159.

I pray you remember what our Lord has done for us on the day we celebrate today. I pray you remember that He is indeed alive again!

Grace and Peace.

Daniel

Merciful Death

Cross Walk 2008

Me doing the Cross Walk in 2008

If we honestly looked around our world, we could see plenty of good reasons why people would want to take their lives. Sad? Definitely.

Sorry to be gloomy and maybe even a bit sick, but what if they are on to something?

Sweet Death

I read an article recently in Christian Research Journal (Vol. 34, No. 2, 2011) titled “A Christian View of Human Nature“. The author, John S. Hammet, had this to say about death:

Moreover, may not the end of life in this world be a severe mercy from God? True, death entered the world as the punishment for sin, but a punishment that opened the door to mercy. For once humans had fallen and become like God in knowing, not just good, but now evil, God intervened: “He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and live forever” (Gen. 3:22). It was the mercy of God that established the limitation of life as a fallen human; as redeemed persons, we are welcomed to the tree of life (Rev. 22:3).

Not only could God have allowed death as a mercy to get away from the suffering we brought upon ourselves (and for the record, I am not making any arguments today about the afterlife for all people; this is just about this life), but He used death to defeat death!

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.

But:

Since the children have flesh and blood, [Jesus] too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

From the beginning, God showed us mercy through death. Even if you do not hold to Hammet’s take, here are some examples:

What do you think? Is death God once again showing His grace in the midst of our punishment?

The Gospel of Nothing

Nothing to offerWhat are we able to give God?

What is it that we can give God to get closer to God?

Creator of Everything

God is the Creator of everything. All things we are able to measure. Almost all things we are not able to measure.

God created light. God created atoms and molecules. God created mass. God created single-celled organisms. God created plants. God created animals. God created us. God created emotions and infact has emotions. God created and is goodness. God created and is truth. God created and is Life.

God did not create lies. God did not create hurts. God did not create pain. God did not create hate. God did not create evil. God did not create sin.

What we give God

This last line is what we can give God … at least at first.

This is the gospel: We have nothing to give God but our filth, our hurts, our lies, our hate, our evil, our sin.

In other words, nothing.

But we also give God our choice to follow.

In other words, we choose to love God.

God takes all this and gives us in exchange grace, forgiveness, grace, the Holy Spirit, grace, a new car new life, grace, and hope for a future in Eternity.

God also does not want us to continue living as we have. That is why there is new life with the Holy Spirit. This is also why there is so much grace: we will continue to mess up.

But God wants more.Empty to receive

After clearing us out of all of our nothing, God knows we need something.

If we present ourselves as ready and willing for whatever, God fills us with Himself – the Holy Spirit – to go out and perform good works for the benefit of others to bring glory to God.

After giving God our nothing, God gives us the ability to give our very lives, to give the Love given to us, to give forgiveness to ourselves and to others, to give our all.

Rising Second Title

Earlier we heard from Mark about faith in Christ and the importance of the Resurrection. I have some other thoughts.

Today is Groundhog Day! This is the day a bunch of American’s put their faith in a small mammal who rises out of the ground to tell us whether we have to wait six more weeks for spring or should expect spring to come on March 20. So many people put their faith in this tiny creature to let them know if we have to wait 42 days to see the snowy season end or … 46 days.

Do those four days really matter? And, really, the hope is that it is an early spring will come if the little guy does not see his shadow. A few funny tidbits about Phil and his history:

  1. His predictions are frequently “Long winter”, sometimes for multiple years in a row, with “Early spring” never being repeated a year after it was last reported. That is rather pessimistic!
  2. Out of 115 predictions, 15 (13%) have been early spring.
  3. Out of 115 predictions, 45 (roughly 39%) have been correct.

To be fair, the Bible tends to be rather pessimistic, as well:

  1. All (as in all people. Every single person, minus One … but He was also fully God) have sinned.
  2. Israel could not listen, and they had to be disciplined.
  3. Our world will get worse before it gets better.

 This can cause a lot of us to doubt our world, the Word, and even weather predictions! (That order seems off)

Consider this:

  1. How many Bible prophecies have been proven false? (Honestly. Not “there is no evidence” quotes from people who have barely even touched a Bible)   0 (Zero).
  2. How many religions have founders who died, rose to life again, and have not died since?   1 (One).
  3. How many religions have changed how time itself is measured?   1 (One).

It seems that the Bible is rather reliable, and Christianity seems to be the best … nay, the ONLY real option. It really is centered around the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. There are some great places discussing this very thing (Most recently at Matt Appling’s blog). It is through the cross we are truly introduced to God’s grace, another central point. It is through the cross we were given forgiveness. It was the Resurrection that solidified the deal forever, justifying us by signing the check that was written in His blood to pay for our sins.

It is not faith in a furry animal that gives us peace. It is not weather forecasts or cute productions that allay our fears of death and judgment. It is all through the death and Resurrection of Jesus the Christ.

What doubts do you still have? What fears keep you from moving forward? Where are you placing your faith, your trust? Who do you reveal your worries and concerns to? What hope do you hold on to?