Archive | January, 2013

Women and Tools

30 Jan

Read: Hebrews 10:19-25

“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.  For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion.”

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10a NASB

 

They say that seventy percent of tools are purchased by women.  Given some of the women I’ve met, this doesn’t surprise me in the least.  My mother is the tool hoarder in our family… and it doesn’t take long to recognize that not every tool she purchases is… well, immediately useful.  She’s conned my father into buying her (among other things) a set of chisels and a jig saw and, upon this particular occasion, it was a nail gun which topped her list.

It needs to be understood that at the time of the request, my mother didn’t have a particular use for a nail gun.  There were no projects waiting to be finished and no tentative remodeling to be done in the near future.  What did need to be done could have been accomplished with a staple gun.  But Mom’s mind was made up: there was a pile of scrap wood in the back of the house and that would do splendidly for what she had in mind.  My father wanted to purchase a brad gun instead, explaining that it was just a “lower caliber nail gun,” but my mother didn’t buy it: she wanted the real thing.

While the family found this amusing, Mom was far from alone in her lust for tools.  “I keep telling my husband I want one of these, but he thinks I’m kidding!” my customer declared as she dropped the tire iron on the counter.  “He buys me great romantic gifts, but this is what I really want.  Since he won’t buy it for me, I suppose I’ll buy it for myself!  It would have been very useful the other day when I was fixing the fence out back.”  She then proceeded to explain the lug wrench and a few other assorted tools scattered across the bottom of her cart.

What else could I do?  I smiled and told her about my mother.

 “Men just don’t understand!” she laughed.  “Tell your mother I hope she gets her nail gun!”

And I did just that.  Not surprisingly, both women found encouragement in each other’s tales, supported by the knowledge that they were not alone in their deep love for implements of construction.  In the same manner, we as Christians should find ourselves refreshed as we share stories of God’s grace in our lives with our brothers and sisters.  When we feel most alone, the companionship of these friends, their common love and common experience, will lift our spirits and encourage us to remain faithful… even though others fail to understand.

Challenge:  Close friends can be a big encouragement when it comes to pursuing a deeper faith in Christ.  Take some time to get to know the other believers in your congregation, encouraging them as they grow more Christ like and allowing them to encourage you as you do the same.  If you don’t attend church, commit to visiting churches in your area until you find one that’s a good fit.  You’ll be glad you did!

 

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Stand to Reason

28 Jan

It doesn’t take long for most Christians to realize that evangelism isn’t just about presenting knowledge; It’s about how we present that knowledge.  Rattling off the Romans Road and a list of facts that lead to a reasoned faith in the resurrection isn’t bad, in and of itself.  But if we do so without attention to the direction of the conversation or an understanding of the positions of those with whom we’re sharing, it can have a major impact on how others perceive our God!  And that’s where Stand to Reason comes in.

Stand to Reason exists not for the purpose of helping Christians accumulate knowledge, but rather to assist believers in developing wisdom in regard to the presentation of knowledge.  Their goal is not simply to teach what a Christian ought to think, but to help Christians learn how to think – assisting believers as they form the skills to critically analyze the claims of other philosophies as well as their own.  Take a moment to review the Ambassador’s Creed for an overview of what makes a good Christian apologist and see if you’re willing to commit to developing these skills.  Then dive right in!

The site offers a wide range of resources for anyone seeking a ready answer, but without the time to read lengthy articles.  Check out Quick Thoughts where you’ll find concise answers to difficult questions as well as insightful articles from other Christian philosophers and theologians. Or examine on-site articles on topics ranging from bio-ethics to science and philosophy. Explore the link between abortion and human rights, discover a good reason for evil, and struggle with the question of animal ethics.  Want to be certain you can defend your point?  Why not take a look at the Solid Ground archives where you’ll find organized cases for everything from Israel’s attack on Canaan to the rejection of Mormonism as a Christian denomination.

Prefer to listen instead of read?  STR offers a broad selection of podcasts ranging from the Stand to Reason Weekly Radio Show to Thinking Out Loud, a few brief thoughts on the subjects that really matter.  Then, visit the Stand to Reason Blog for follow-up on the shows and links to relevant sites.

There’s plenty to see on this easy-to-digest site, so give it a quick scan, then bookmark it for future reference.  You’re sure to be back time and time again!

26 Jan

kittypalmer

IMG_1848This week I am going to share my favorite prayer verses. For years I have felt the desire to lift others up to the Lord. So I have found favorite scriptures that I love to pray. Praying from the Word of God is an amazing way to learn scripture and exercise faith all while helping others by lifting their needs to God.

  • Ephesians 1:17-23
  • Philippians 1:9-11
  • Galatians 1:3-5
  • 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
  • 1 Corinthians 1:4-9
  • 2 Timothy 1:6-7
  • 2 Corinthians 13:11
  • Numbers 6:24-26
  • Psalm 25:4-5
  • Psalm 68:19
  • Numbers 10:35-36

I have to admit that my very favorite verse of these is:

Ephesians 1:17-23 (NKJV)

“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are…

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How Do Christians Determine What they Accept as Scripture: The Test of Value

25 Jan

Not every accurate text written during the time of Christ was included in the Christian canon.  Often times, the reason for this was that these texts were written by those who were not followers of Jesus.  But what about books written by non-apostolic contemporaries who were?  To answer this question, we turn to the final test in our series on how Christians determine what they accept as Scripture: The Test of Value.

Anyone who has read Christian writings beyond those included within the Scriptures will likely understand why such a test is necessary, even though it may at times appear to be a bit subjective.  Christian book stores abound with volumes written by educated men: preachers, theologians, and philosophers.  On occasion, these books meet the other standards set for Scriptural writings in that they are accurate, internally consistent with both themselves and other revelation, and even helpful to believers in general.  To include such works within the Christian canon, however, would make for more reading than most of us could do in a lifetime.

Such products are not limited to our modern age and Christians in the early Church found themselves in a position of needing to refine what would or wouldn’t be selected for inclusion in their Sacred Text.  The easiest way to make the decision was to select only those texts containing authentic and new apostolic doctrine.

You can think of it a bit like making a decision whether or not to include the writings of C. S. Lewis as part of the New Testament.  Provided that Lewis was an authentic apostle (he wasn’t) and that his writings were always consistent with previous revelation (not always the case) and that what he had to say would be useful to the Church worldwide (it is), they might make a good addition to the Holy Writ.  So why not include them?  The answer is that Lewis’ writings are an exercise in the application of Biblical principles, not a presentation of new principles upon which believers should act.  It is for this reason that some otherwise good candidates for inclusion in the Bible, such as the Shepherd of Hermas and the Didache or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles are unknown to many of today’s churchgoing believers.

By limiting the Sacred Text in this way, Christians erred on the side of caution and also kept their writings compact enough that every believer would have the ability to read, understand, and master the core doctrines of the faith.  (That’s not to say that this always happens or even that it happens frequently – just that it is a conceivable possibility!)

So there you have it: the tests which have been traditionally used to determine what does or doesn’t belong in the Christian canon.   They have influenced the Church for millennia and will likely continue to do so well into the future!

What happens if you aren’t sure about all of the selections made by the Church in the past?  Next week, we’ll conclude our series with a look at the finalization of the Canon and what it does or doesn’t mean for believers today.  Meanwhile, feel free to share your own thoughts on this test and why (or why not) you accept its validity in the comment box below!

Caught in the Till

23 Jan

Read: Mark 7:14-23

“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

Proverbs 16:18 KJV

 

I’m not quite sure how I managed such a feat of idiocy (much less such a painful one), but I did. I had been assigned to the check stands and was informed that I would be spending the rest of my day there.  Though this was not one of my favorite tasks, I was managing to pull it off without a great deal of strain. In fact, I was even growing proud of myself, since I had mastered bagging, checking, talking on the phone, chatting with customers, and making calls on the radio all at the same time.

We only had one other checker with such phenomenal multi-tasking skills and she was considered quite a wonder.  Astonished to find myself in the same league, I began to entertain thoughts of myself as “Super Checker” – faster than a speeding bullet – and the pace of my multi-tasking quickly picked up.

It was then that God decided to make a point. I slammed the cash drawer shut with a flourish… forgetting to remove my finger beforehand.  (An obvious oversight on my part.)  Doing my best to hide my agony, I uttered only a few loud exclamations of “Ow!” and “Garbage!”, then continued to ring out the next customer in line.

By the time I had finished, my finger had begun to turn a nice shade of black and, roping off my check stand, I headed to the break room for an ice pack.  Unfortunately, the only ice on hand was being used to refrigerate pet medication and, since I couldn’t keep my hand in the freezer and check at the same time, I was out of luck.

My finger was throbbing by this point, so I decided that at least I’d find myself some pain pills… and, to my dismay, discovered that we didn’t keep pain medication in our first aid kits. Our sporting goods clerk felt rather sorry for me and generously kept volunteering to help me relieve the pain, but since all of his solutions consisted of a combination of a multi-tool and field expedient surgery, I declined.  Reluctantly grabbing one of the giant ice packs from the vet fridge, I quickly applied it to my injured appendage.

Little did I know that I was going through all of this for the sole purpose of learning yet another skill: how to check left handed!  I spent the next hour in attempting to explain to some rather amused customers that the odd growth on my hand (the “well-concealed” ice pack) was not fatal, but the result of a lack of foresight on my part.

Though the situation was rather painful and uncomfortable, it was, in the end, a rather harmless way for God to remind me of the truth that “Pride goeth before destruction,” in this case the destruction of my finger.

Challenge: There is nothing wrong with confidence… but when our confidence is in our skills and abilities rather than the God who gave them, it becomes pride.  Take a moment to make a list of the things you’re best at.  Ask yourself whether you’ve taken time to acknowledge each talent as a gift from God.  If you haven’t, spend a moment in prayer doing just that!

Reasonable Faith

21 Jan

Is faith in God reasonable?  If God’s exists, what type of being is he?  What moral responsibilities do human beings have?  Is there an afterlife?  Such questions shouldn’t go unanswered.  That’s why Dr. William Lane Craig started Reasonable Faith.  A former atheist and a trained philosopher, Dr. Craig understands the importance of responding to skeptic’s questions with clarity and depth… and is dedicated to training Christians to provide both.

On the site, you can explore a wide range of popular articles on topics ranging from the Existence and Nature of God to Science and Theology.   Discover how Christianity relates to other faiths or start learning the fine art of Apologetics – defending the faith with accuracy and precision.  Want something deeper?  Why not hone your philosophical skills with a few of Dr. Craig’s peer reviewed scholarly articles.

Got some time to spare?  Watch as Dr. Craig debates philosophers, scientists, and theologians from around the world. Then, download the Reasonable Faith Podcast or take your training a step further with the Defenders Class.

Got something to say?  Share your thoughts and get answers to your questions on one of the site’s many forums or find a Reasonable faith chapter near you.  You’re sure to have some great conversations with other Christians passionate about giving an answer for their faith!

There’s a lot to see and hear, so plan to spend some time exploring the site.  You’re sure to come away both more confident and more competent!

19 Jan

Markcares's Weblog

Chapter two of the Teachings of Lorenzo Snow deals with baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost.  The following paragraph occurs towards the end of this chapter.

     “To obtain religion that will save us in the presence of God, we must obtain the Holy Ghost, and in order to obtain the Holy Ghost, we must believe on the Lord Jesus, then repent of our sins, that is, forsake them, then go forward and be immersed in water for the remission of sins, then receive the laying on of hands.” (emphasis mine)

In Mormonism, as is clearly stated in this paragraph, repentance involves the forsaking of sins.  In fact, as President Snow says above, it is the very essence of LDS repentance as he makes forsaking sin synonymous with repentance. Another word that is often used in Mormonism to express this idea is abandonment.  Repentance means abandoning sin.

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