Monthly Archives: May 2011

Summing up the book of Ecclesiastes

“What’s the Use?”

If you read Ecclesiastes 3:1-11, you will find a very negative passage. Just before these verses, in the last part of 2:26, Solomon notes that “All is vanity and striving after the wind.” He then summarizes the first 8 verses of chapter 3 by writing in verse 9, “What profit has the worker from that in which he labors?!” In light of the truths expressed in verses 1-8, there seems to be no profit or value in laboring at all, because everything a man does eventually comes undone!

I see two things these verses are teaching us: (1) Life is frustrating, and (2) Life is frustrating for a purpose.

Just as there are seasons in nature, so are there seasons in our lives. There is a season of laughter, but it won’t last long – it will be followed ay a season of tears, but then, that won’t last long either, it will be followed by another season of happiness!

We fought WW1, — then peace; then came WW2, followed by peace; then came the Korean War, followed by peace; then theVietnam War, etc., etc. Things just keep on turning, turning, turning.

When you stop to think about it, life is pretty frustrating. You get something nailed down, but the nails eventually come loose or rust away. Nothing that man does will stay done forever. You may plant a perennial plant that blooms year after year, but eventually you’ll have to replace it. You can put a new roof on a house and it may last 40 years, but eventually you’ll have to replace it. I’m sure housewives could add a couple hundred things along this line: Wash dishes, but they don’t stay clean; make beds, but they don’t stay made; labor for two house in a hot kitchen to prepare a meal that’s devoured in ten minutes, and the family expects you to begin doing it all over again!

What’s the use of bringing a new life into the world when that little one will eventually grow, suffer and die? Doctors could conclude, “What’s the use of healing people, they will eventually die anyway!” Why labor and sacrifice for our children who will just grow up, leave home, and eventually forget all the sacrifices we made for them? Why give yourself totally to one man or one woman when the odds are 50/50 that your spouse will turn against you? Even preachers are tempted to say, “Why work so hard studying and preparing sermons when the majority will ignore them and their lives never change?”

When we look at life like this, everything does seem pretty pointless, doesn’t it? But the REASON it seems pointless is because such a view is only *two dimensional,* that is, we are looking at ourselves in lieu of this world, and God is no where in the picture! Without God in our lives, life will always seem like a mass of contradictions – and that’s exactly what the whole book of Ecclesiastes is trying to teach us!

In verses 1-9, God is not mentioned even once. But when we get to verses 10 & 11, we are told that the hand of God is in *everything* that happens; everything is overseen by Him; and in all these things, God has a purpose; and that purpose is “That we can be exercised in them!”

Now think about this. In every season of life: birth/death — healing/killing – weeping/laughing – war/peace, there is a purpose! And that purpose is so we can be *exercised in it.*

Finally, in verse 11, we read that God has also set eternity in their heart (NKJV, ESV, ASV). God allows all these frustrations of life so that we will seek something *permanent.* In this life, things just keep on turning, turning, and turning. We want off this merry-go-round, but every road we travel comes to a dead end! How do we “put on the brakes?” We get out of the two dimensional arena, and step into the three dimensional arena – the one that includes God! The purpose for your good times and bad is to make you realize that this world is not your final home. That should ignite that “sense of eternity” which will cause you to seek God. That’s the first purpose of this life. And amid all the dead end streets, there is still one way out, and only One Way. “I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father, but by Me.” (John 14:6).

–Toby Miller

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Father's day sermon

BEING A DAD: A DIVINE PRIVILEGE 

Text: Luke 15:11-24

Reading: Psalm 78:4-7

Introduction: 

In thinking about today being Father’s Day, I found two top-ten lists I thought you would like. 

The Top Ten Dinner Dishes When Mom’s Away and Dad’s “Cooking”

10. Hot dogs with just a hint of Tabasco.

9. “Kids eat free” night at the steak house.

8. Pizza.

7. Broiled bologna benedict on rye.

6. Back-of-the-fridge goulash (with lots of pepper).

5. Chips & salsa.

4. Cocoa Puff surprise.

3. Something old, something blue, something frozen, call it stew.

2. Cold pizza.

1. Whatever’s cooking at Grandma’s. 

The Top 10 Tips for Fathers on Changing Diapers

10. Always use protective eye wear.

9. If you need a third hand, use your teeth!

8. Avoid changing baby on new persian rug.

7. Reach finger down back of diaper to see if there’s a “doodie.”

6. When you run out of baby oil, use Old Spice.

5. Insure proper ventilation, avoid open flames.

4. Always feed baby lots of apricots 3 to 4 hours prior.

3. Never scratch and sniff.

2. Be careful with high-pressure spray nozzles on baby.

1. Recycle! Recycle! Recycle! 

Father’s Day is a great day to honor our Fathers and to think about the concept of Fatherhood. Fatherhood is a divine privilege – a gift from God. Fatherhood is often overshadowed by the beauty of Motherhood, but in our society today we are beginning to see the impact of a fatherless generation. 

Former Vice President Dan Quayle has said, “…the failure of our families is hurting America

deeply … When families fail, society fails …. children need love and discipline. They need mothers and fathers. A welfare check is not a husband. The state is not a father. It is from parents that children learn how to behave in society ….. it is from parents above all that children come to understand values and themselves as men and women, mothers and fathers ….. Bearing babies irresponsibly is, simply, wrong. Failing to support children one has fathered is wrong. We must be unequivocal about this.” 

Father’s are an integral part to healthy family life. Today we want to focus on a Father in Scripture that can teach us all about taking full advantage of the divine privilege of Fatherhood.

We don’t know his name or the names of his sons. We know very little about him other than he was the one that Jesus chose to use to illustrate to us the relationship of the child of God to the Heavenly Father. He was the father of two sons. One is called the ‘prodigal’. A prodigal is a person who is recklessly extravagant; or characterized by wasteful expenditure. 

Often we are given the idea that there was one good son and one bad son, but that isn’t the way the parable goes. Both boys had some problems, and their father dealt with each one individually. Today we want to focus on the father rather than on the sons. Read Text. 

What are the qualities of this father in this parable that show us what a divine, God-given privilege it is to be a father? 

1. HE WAS AN APPROACHABLE FATHER (12-18) 

A. The family history is unknown. Perhaps these boys’ mother had passed away? The father is left alone to rear his sons. There is also an indication that they were a wealthy family. 

B. The younger son had dreams. He wanted to travel and see things he had never seen before. He wanted to go to the far country. Someone said… He dreamed of a great task, but found great temptation. He dreamed of adventure, but instead he found agony. He dreamed of prestige, but he found poverty. He dreamed of romance, but he wound up in rags. He dreamed of happiness, but found himself in the hog pen. 

But this son, when he wanted something, went to his father. Some would have slipped away without talking with his father. Still others might have gotten someone else to intercede on their behalf. 

C. This father was approachable by his sons, Men, and we need to be approachable. Can your children come to you about anything? Have you made yourself available to them? One of the most basic responsibility of being a father is being there. From Birth to age 21, we are awake for 105,000 hours.

10,000 are spent at school

2100 are spent at church

92,000 are spent at home

The average father spends 7-10 minutes/week in exclusive time with his kids. 

Penelope Stokes wrote: “A full half your sixty years were spent in fathering: watching down long dark nights in hospital halls; waiting for fish to bite; teaching that value lies in people, not in things. You could have fished alone, worked overtime, bought loyalty with toys, and made amends with money for the times we were alone—Some fathers do. Instead, you lived the truth that money can’t buy happiness…declined promotions, turned down jobs that only offered status, or more pay, and proved, with all your life, that a father’s occupation is his love.” 

Barbara Bush wrote: “If you have a child you must make a commitment to that child as if your job performance review evaluation depended on it. For many of you there will be hard choices. You will be busy. You’re going to be tired. You’re going to be torn in many directions, but your children must come first in your life. Remember, at the end of your life, you will never regret not passing one more test or winning one more verdict or closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband or wife, a child, a parent or friend.” 

The Father’s role in the home demands that he be an approachable person. He is to provide for his family. (1 Timothy 5:8 “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”) 

He is to nurture his family. (Ephesians 6:4 “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.) 

He is to provide for good memories. (Colossians 3:21 “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.) 

He is to provide training in spiritual things. (Proverbs 22:6 “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”) 

To do these things in the best way, the father must be approachable. What makes this a divine privilege? It gives you a chance to walk in the footsteps of our heavenly Father who is approachable. (He hears us, he loves us, he invites us, he answers us.) 

2. HE WAS A SPIRITUAL FATHER (18) 

A. When his son thought about what he had done he realized that he had sinned. That seems to indicate that his dad had taught him right. The son considered that he had sinned against the father, and heaven. What an impact that father had on his son. Fathers, are we making the proper impression on our children? 

My Father’s Legacy by John Hendrix 

“There’s a portrait of my father, It’s the mirror in the hall,

Though the age is very different, And the semblance is quite small.

But the mind behind the mask, Bears the imprint of the years

With a man of many vices, Who brought very many tears.

His anguished disposition, Gained at birth or growing up

Fights my mind to gain control, And in my actions to erupt. 

He went on to write, “Despite all of the trouble and strife we knew that he loved us. And we all loved him. There was much to love about him. I am my father’s son, and the works of my father, at times, I will do: the bad and the good. The bad – with my repentance and God’s grace – can be forgotten. The good will last: a fitting tribute to someone who deserved some honor. After all is said and done, I am my father’s legacy. To eliminate the bad and imitate the good – to lead as good a life as I can – is the best tribute that I can give to his memory.” 

How sad to spend one’s life living down the legacy of a father who was ungodly and brought much pain into the household of his children. Have our children been taught how to pray by listening to us? Have we taught them to love God’s Word? The responsibility for child rearing rests upon the shoulder of the parents, not the school, and not the government. Our children have freedom to choose the way they take in life. If your children are serving God, thank God for it and be an encouragement to them. If they aren’t walking for the Lord, pray for them and do your best to influence them for Christ. 

A spiritual approach to fatherhood is so important.

Charlie Shedd is the author of a number of useful books on the subject of husbands, wives, the home and raising children. A few years ago he polled a large group of youngsters about what they regarded the qualifications for a good dad to be. They listed these:

a. He takes time for me.

b. He listens to me.

c. He plays with me.

d. He invites me to go places with him.

e. He lets me help.

f. He treats my mother well.

g. He lets me say what I think.

h. He is nice to my friends.

i. He punishes me only when I deserve it.

j. He is not afraid to admit it when he is wrong. 

Many fathers are gambling with the souls of their children by…

a. Not being Christians themselves

b. Not creating spiritual climate

c. Engaging in questionable behavior.

We just cannot afford such a gamble. 

This father in our text was approachable, he was spiritual, and …. 

3. HE WAS AN AFFECTIONATE FATHER (20) 

A. We can see his look of love. (20). The father had been looking for his son to return. When he saw him, he ran and hugged and kissed him. What a beautiful picture. 

B. No one is more aware of our need to love our children than a father himself. For some it is hard to show affection. For others it comes more naturally. A father’s feelings aren’t always easy to see. What is a Father? (author unknown) 

“A father is a thing that is forced to endure childbirth…without an anesthetic. A father is a thing that growls when it feels good… and laughs when it’s scared to death. He never feels entirely worthy of the worship in a child’s eyes. He’s never quite the hero his daughter thinks…never quite the man is son believes him to be…and this worries him, sometimes. So he works too hard to smooth the road for those of his own who will follow after him. Fathers grow old faster than people because they have to stand at the train station and wave good-bye to the uniform that climbs aboard. And while mothers can cry where it shows, fathers have to stand there and beam outside…and die inside. Fathers have very stout hearts so they have to be broken sometimes, or no one would know what’s inside. 

Fathers are what gives daughters away to other men who aren’t nearly good enough…sothey can have grand-children who are smarter than anybody’s. Fathers fight dragons almost daily. They hurry away from the breakfast table off to the arena which sometimes called an office or a workshop. These with callused, practical hands tackle the dragon with 3 heads: work, weariness and monotony. And although they never quite win the fight, they never give up. Knights in shining armor — fathers in shining trousers — there’s little difference, as they march away to work each day.” 

This father pictures for us the love and compassion of our Heavenly Father. 

Conclusion:

The father in our text was approachable, spiritual, and affectionate. Fatherhood is a divine privilege, because we walk in the shoes of our Heavenly Father. He showed us how to love our kids. 

It is appropriate to have Father’s Day. 

Calvin Coolidge said, “No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been a reward for what he gave.” 

Fathers give a lot to their families if they follow the Biblical example. If you are a young man or an older man who is not a Christian, I want to encourage you to give your life to Christ this morning so that you can fulfill the role that God intended for you. Your influence is so powerful. You are living a life that will impact your children and grandchildren in ways you would never dream. 

Dad’s Hands by JoAnn Melton 

I witnessed a reincarnation last night — for those of you skeptics, hang in with me a little longer. David died in 1982 during an especially hot July, early in the morning, – perhaps to escape the heat of day. Or, perhaps the heat seemed more intense to me because I was many months pregnant and really feeling heavy — in body and in mind. Heavy in mind because my dad who was invincible, was shrinking from his larger-than-life proportions to a frail-looking man in an awful seersucker gown that exposed sagging skin and thinning hair. 

I was bringing into life a new personality/creature/lovechild and life was taking the foundation of by thirty-five years. A quiet man who had never been president of Exxon, but had never harmed anyone. Never flown to corporate meetings in exotic places, nor been too busy to pull my horse trailer or fix my roller skates. Never made demands on me and was not going to be there to guide my son entering the world. He passed gently, as he did all things, and when he did, I was gladdened his suffering didn’t linger. The prayer that he might live long enough to see his grandchild’s birth had long since changed into a prayer for a peaceful, pain-free rest. 

When, in a few months, our son was born, life again became busily encompassing as family routine took priority. Pictures of Dad in family memory scenes popped up at strange occasions, but I was comforted by the peaceful thoughts of his heavenly home. Many times I have wished for another opportunity to spend time, or re-do time I had wasted. To feel his quiet strength for just a little longer, and maybe show a bit more appreciation for his jokes, even if I had heard them over and over. Perhaps, I could admire his carpentry ability, instead of wish that we could afford “store-bought” cabinets and furniture. So what if the boat he built in the basement had to have a wall knocked out in order to take it on its maiden voyage. How many fathers did I know who could build a boat? 

If I just had another chance to watch those hands create … There’s a new house going up just down the street. The carpenters are doing a great job, but they obviously have missed the point of which parts of the wood are valuable.

 The grandson my father missed meeting made three trips yesterday with a much-used wheelbarrow and returned with his prizes like a Roman conqueror, eyes bright – spirited,

with plans for his treasures similar to Donald Trump’s dreams for the Plaza. And when he had arranged the wood and nail box, I saw … my father’s hand pick up the hammer and begin to swing … 

What heritage are you leaving your children … which they will see in your grandchildren? 

Resources:

Sermon entitled “Fathers Day ” by Pastor Don Robinson, Grace Baptist Church, Bloomington, IN, found on the internet, http://www.sermons.org/sermons/sermon32.html

Sermon entitled “Some Thoughts For Fathers and Their Children” found on the internet, http://syscdj1.gmu.edu:81/sermons/base/FATHERS.TXT

Sermon entitled “Honor Thy Father” found on the internet, http://syscdj1.gmu.edu:81/sermons/base/FATHER.TXT 

Sermon entitled “My Father’s Legacy” by John Hendrix found on the internet at http://syscdj1.gmu.edu:81/sermons/base/FATHER3.TXT

Top Ten Lists found on the website of the National Council on Fatherhood, http://www.fathers.com/humorx.html 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

John Dobbs

Forsythe Church of Christ

Monroe, Louisiana

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A sermon outline on false signs

What about false signs?

In the Bible we find the word “false” being used about 30 times.
This morning we want to look at this word and examine it from 3 perspectives.
The Bible warns about things that are “false.”
The things labeled as false may appear to be quite convincing (this will be our second point).
Our final point will emphasize how “many” are led astray by these falsities.

ONE OF THE FIRST PLACES WHERE WE FIND THE WORD “FALSE” IS MATTHEW 7:15.

1) We will return to this verse a little later because there are some other details here that are important.

2) For now let’s note that God says there are people who profess to be “prophets” in our world.

3) Jesus did not use the word “many” in Mt. 7, but He did use the word “many” in Mt. 24:11.

4) The first part of Mt. 24 deals with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

5) Jesus said that during this time “many false prophets” would arise –READ

6) False prophets abounded in the time of Jerusalem’s destruction, but so did false Christ’s – verse 24a – READ

7) If people are not claiming to be prophets and the Messiah, they may claim something else.

8) 2 Cor. 11:13 refers to “false apostles” and “deceitful workers.”

a) A few verses later – 2 Cor. 11:26 – Paul spoke of “false brethren.”

b) These two verses tell us that religious error comes in several different packages.

9) Gal. 2:4 – READ

a) Paul spoke of “false brethren” who were “privily brought in.”

b) Sometimes it is really easy to identify those involved with religious error.

c) In other cases such as here those who involved with religious error are like carbon monoxide.

10) Some doubt that religious error is really a big problem, but listen to what God says in 2 Pet. 2:1.

THE PASSAGES WE HAVE LOOKED AT LEAVE NO DOUBT THAT RELIGIOUS ERROR EXISTS.

a) READ Mt. 24:11.

b) The word “many” is also used to describe false teachers in verses 5 and 10.

2) A lot of people can believe or teach something, but they may not be very influential.

3) Jesus said the people He was warning about would have a lot of success.

4) The end of this verse says “many” would be led astray.

5) The deceit in the first century world went was not the only time people have been duped.

6) Here is what John said in 1 Jn. 4:1 – READ

7) John also used the word “many” in 1 Jn. 2:18 and 2 Jn. 7.

BASED ON WHAT WE HAVE LOOKED AT SO FAR RELIGIOUS ERROR EXISTS AND IT IS VERY, VERY COMMON. NOW WE COME TO POINT THREE: THE ERROR THAT PEOPLE PROMOTE IS OFTEN CONVINCING.

1) Mt. 7:15 – READ

2) The image of “sheep” tells us that some who are involved with religious error seem very kind and pleasant.

a) When Jesus spoke of “false christs” and “false prophets” in Mt. 24:24 He said something else.

b) He said people would show “great signs and wonders.”

3) 2 Cor. 11:13 – Paul spoke of “deceitful” workers.

a) 2 Cor. 11:14 says the devil “fashions himself into an angel of light.” Mt. 7:22-23.

4) How many people are described by the word “many” in verse 22?

5) Our eternal salvation depends on knowing what is right and doing what is right.

6) If we know the truth part of our job is helping others identify what is fake.

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Heaven is For Real book by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent

Heaven is For Real book by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent
May 27th, 2011

Book Review for Heaven is For Real
by Mural Worthey (Cawson Street church, Hopewell, Virginia)

Background: New York Times’ best seller, 2010. Todd and Colton were interviewed on Fox News recently. They just briefly retold their story. Minister’s family in Nebraska: Todd & Sonja Burpo, and children: Colton, Cassie and Colby (who was born after the incident with Colton at 4 years of age). Todd is the minister of Crossroads Wesleyan Church in Imperial, Nebraska.

Colton’s Story

1) This riveting book is about a preacher’s family struggling with a very sick little 4 year-old named Colton. The doctors at first thought he had a stomach virus, but he kept getting worse. After days of sickness and deteriorating condition, they discovered that his appendix had ruptured.

2) In addition, Todd the father also suffered from several illnesses. His fellow preachers called him “Pastor Job” because of all that he had endured.

3) The second half of the book is about what Colton told his family happened to him during surgery. He said that he was dead for 3 minutes and journeyed to heaven. Based on all that he experienced in heaven, they believe this was not literally 3 minutes, but a much longer period of time.

4) This was not a brief, out of the body type experience, where a bright light or something indescribable was seen. He recounted details about what he saw in heaven.

5) His father wrote the book putting down the circumstances surrounding their conversations when they learned about his experiences little by little over several years after his surgery.

6) The first thing that Colton told his family was that angels sang to him while he was in surgery. When asked what songs, he replied: Jesus Loves Me and Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho. Colton often told them things that Jesus said to him.

7) Colton said that Jesus wore a white robe with a purple sash, but that he did not have wings like everyone else. Jesus moved about by just going up and down like an elevator. Remember the ascension? (Acts 1.)

8) He said that Jesus had red markers on his hands and feet. Jesus rode a rainbow horse; brilliant colors of the rainbow were in heaven.

9) Colton told them that there were many children in heaven and no old people. Everyone was either young adults or children. There were men and women in heaven. He said that there were lots of children.

10) When asked what they did in heaven, he replied that it was like school. Jesus was the teacher and he taught all the children.

11) He remembered specific people that he met in heaven. He met Jesus, God, the Holy Spirit, John the Baptist, angels, Pop (his dad’s grandfather), and lots of children.

12) Colton claimed that he came back to his body because of prayers and that Jesus sent him back from heaven to earth.

Proof for his story

1) Most rational people would want proof before believing something so extraordinary. Colton’s father, Todd, gave several proofs that convinced him that his son went to heaven and came back.

2) He recognized Pop, his great grandfather, from an old picture when Pop was much younger and before Colton was even born. How did he know what his great grandfather looked like?

3) Colton was asked where Jesus was in relation to his Father (God). He said that he sat in a chair on his right side. When Todd asked him who sat on the left side, he replied that Gabriel did. (The Bible does not say anything about Gabriel sitting on God’s throne on the left side.)

4) Colton also told his family that he met his other sister. Sonja and Todd were shocked. They asked him, What other sister? You have only one sister, Cassie. He said, No, he met his other sister. A little girl came running up to him in heaven and recognized Colton. When asked her name, he said that she did not have a name. Other children did, but she did not have one. Todd and Sonja lost a child before Colton was born. Sonja had a miscarriage when her baby was only two months old. The nameless child in heaven was his little sister. No one had ever told Colton about this incident. Thus, the parents believe that this is proof that Colton went to heaven and back.

5) Another proof was that when Colton was in surgery and so very sick, his mother and father were praying. Todd was so distraught that he went into a closet in the hospital and yelled at God. Sonja, his mother, was in the waiting room praying and calling family and friends. Colton revealed to his father where he was and that God answered his prayer. This is the reason that he came back from heaven. Todd said that no one else could have known where he was. Colton said that he saw him from above looking down.

6) Todd was once at a youth conference where a minister challenged the young people to become missionaries and preachers. Todd felt the power of God’s call to become a minister. He went home after the conference and told his mother that he was going to be a preacher when he grew up. Only his mother and Todd knew about that conversation. Now Colton revealed that he knew about it because Jesus told him that his father obeyed his call to preach. Colton was told to be quiet once while his father was studying his message for Sunday. He said that he prayed for his father on Sundays while he was preaching. He told them that he could see power coming down from God to his father helping him with his message.

7) Colton’s eyewitness account of Jesus’ appearance corroborated by a little Lithuanian American girl who claimed she had visions of heaven and Jesus. From the age of four, Akiane began seeing visions. She painted what she saw. She was born into an atheist’s family who taught her nothing about God. When Colton saw the picture of Jesus that Akiane had painted, he was stunned because it was exactly like the Jesus he saw in heaven. Todd and Sonja said that they were looking at the face of Jesus when looking at Akiane’s painting.

Book’s theology of heaven

1) Whoever wrote the book (Todd with Lynn Vincent’s help; or an eyewitness account of heaven), it reveals someone’s theology of heaven. This is helpful in determining whether it is true or not.

2) The General Superintendent of the Wesleyan Church, Jo Anne Lyon, wrote this about this story: “Colton’s story could have been in the New Testament—but God has chosen to speak to us in this twenty-first century through the unblemished eyes of a child, revealing some of the mysteries of heaven. The writing is compelling and the truth astonishing, creating a hunger for more.” She thought that this little book is on equality with Scripture.

3) Todd presented as proof of their story that Colton saw Jesus’ nailed pierced hands and feet. He said that in their Bible classes for very young children, they do not get into details about the crucifixion. How did he know that nails were driven through his hands and feet? “Red markers” indicates falsely that the scars of Jesus’ earthly body would have been in heaven. Will Paul have his scars on his back when he was beaten? This is a misunderstanding of the resurrected body. When Jesus appeared to his disciples, they were frightened. He said to them, “Behold my hands and my feet; it is I myself. Handle me and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as ye see that I have.” (Luke 24:39.) A flesh and bone body does not inherit heaven, according to Paul. (1 Cor. 15:50.)

4) Jesus was literally seated on the right hand of God. Gabriel was on God’s left side. This is a misunderstanding of what “right hand” means. It does not mean right versus the left side. It means one with authority to speak or act for another.

5) This book reveals a theology of the age people will be in heaven. It claimed that no old people will be there; just middle-age and young people. It is interesting that Muslims say everyone will be about 32 years old; the same age as Jesus. But the Bible does not say. If we think in terms of this life and our families, the theology is wrong. What if someone marries more than once? No marriages in heaven. (Matt. 22:29-32.) Will you be in your parents’ family or in yours? Neither. The apostle John wrote that it has not yet appeared what we shall be like in heaven. (1 John 3:2.)

6) Colton said that angels needed swords, real ones, in heaven. He was playing with swords at home when his mother casually said that there will not be any swords in heaven. He argued with her. He said that he saw them; they were needed because the Devil has not yet been defeated. The angels needed them to fight against demons and the Devil.

7) He told his dad that he saw the future as well. He saw the “battle of Armageddon” and that his dad fought in it. This is another false theology in his story. Revelation is not about future events thousands of years removed from John and Christians in the first century. They were the ones suffering from persecution. The beast is identified in Daniel 7 and Revelation 13. The battle of Armageddon is not future; it has already been fought. It is a spiritual battle, not a physical one. Satan has been defeated.

8) This story is filled with subjective ideas; not subject to verification. I encourage believers to stay with objective matters. Paul was allowed to see things in the third heaven, but he was not permitted to tell them. (2 Cor. 12.) What he saw was not a necessary part of the Gospel. It has not yet appeared what we shall be, said John the apostle. (1 John 3:2.) We have natural bodies now, but then we will have spiritual bodies after the resurrection of the dead. (1 Cor. 15:44.)

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Guide to the holy lands; guide to lands of the Bible

If you are going to travel to Israel one book you may want to purchase is The Holy Land: The Indispensable Archaeological Guide for Travelers, by Jerome Murphy-O’Conner.  As you are being transported by tour bus, read the article associated with your next destination.

Here are some suggestions for those planning a trip to the lands of the Bible:

1.  Pictures get outdated quickly when people are in them.  I still use photos from several trips years ago and they seem like they were just made; no people. To get the best scenes, either get off the bus first and make the pictures before the tourists get in the way, or wait until the bus is loading, then make the pictures.  Try to make photos without people.

2.  If you want photos with local color and people be prepared to distribute a little baksheesh ( A gratuity, tip, or bribe paid to expedite service) in the form of dollar bills.  It opens doors and minds, and eliminates camera shyness.

3.  Go where there are no tourists.  Side streets offer unusual photo ops and opportunities.

4.  On bazaar day, or free time periods, visit the local museums.  The Palestine Museum (Rockefeller) in Jerusalem is filled with artifacts from Qumran, Megiddo, etc.. items you will not find elsewhere.  Purchase (or rent-baksheesh) an English guide book which has descriptions of all items.  Take photos of the ones most interesting.  This will give you an advantage over others in that you will be seeing authentic things most tourists miss.

5.  Purchase permission to walk through Hezekiah’s tunnel from the Gihon Springs to the Pool of Siloam.  It is the real thing.  For a little baksheesh, the iron gate will be opened.  You need a flashlight, shoes that can get wet, and camera(s).

6.   The Dome of the Rock (mistakenly called Mosque of Omar)  has many rooms underneath.  Baksheesh can provide a guide.  Hint at the possibility, do not directly ask.  Be prepared to walk without shoes.

7.   Do not purchase ready made slides.  The color fades and they are of poor quality.  Digital is the only way to go.

8.   If you want the best place to prepare for what to see, go to http://www.bibleplaces.com/.  It is loaded with photos, information, and descriptions.  It has a special section on Jerusalem, as well as most other places.

Ernest Clevenger, Granny White church, Nashville, Tennessee

Additional tips:

Watch out for pickpockets!  Invest in a good money belt and carry things like a camera around your neck, especially when you are in a crowd.

 

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Depressed? Read this post!

 

I never cease to be amazed how easily, and under what circumstances, depression sets in upon the child of God.  Elijah experienced depression shortly after his victory over the 430 prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18).  One would think that following such a wonderful “high” he would have been able to dwell on the mountain for the foreseeable future.  But such was not the case. 

 Once upon a time there was a man who felt he’d reached the end of his rope.  It seemed that all interest had vanished from his life.  His old friend, the family doctor, saw his depression and said, “Alright, you must do exactly as I tell you.  I want you to find a lonely stretch of beach and spend all day at the shore.  Take  nothing to read.  I’m going to give you four prescriptions.  Take the first one at nine, the second one at twelve, the third at three, and the last at six.  Don’t look at them now. Wait until you arrive at the shore.”

 Arriving a little before nine, he parked his car on a lonely stretch of beach, walked to a sand dune and sat down.  He opened prescription number one and read it. It said, “Listen.”  And so for three hours that’s all he did. He listened to the song of the buffeting wind and the lonely cries of the gulls.  At noon he read the second prescription. It said, “Reach back.”  And so for the next three hours he let his mind go back as far as it could, and thought of all the incidents of his life – the happy times, good times, struggles, and successes.  At three o’clock he tore open the third prescription. It read, “Re-examine your motives.” He thought through his reasons for living, clarifying and stating his goals. Finally, at six o’clock, under a grey, darkening sky and with a taste of salt in the wind, he read the fourth and final prescription. It read, “Write your worries in the sand.”  And so he did.  Within a short period of time he watched as those worries were washed away by the tide.  And the young man turned homeward with a renewed attitude. 

 I wonder how often we allow the circumstances around us to chip away at our faith and lead us down the path into depression.   If you are suffering from depression, may I make a couple of suggestions?  Unplug your TV for 30 days.  Dwell on things that are good, things that are of good report, and things that will restore your confidence in God and His providential watch care over us.   Focus on that wonderful promise in Hebrews 13:5: “Be ye free from the love of money; content with such things as ye have: for himself hath said, I will in no wise fail thee, neither will I in any wise forsake thee.”   There are no less than four keys contained within that passage for defeating depression.  First, “Be free from the love of money.”  Mammon is not your master; Christ is!  Second, be content with such things as ye have.  The mad race for things has destroyed the faith of many a man and plunged him into despair and destruction.  Third, remember that God will not fail thee. This speaks of our Father’s power and ability to care for us. Finally, remember that God will not forsake thee. This speaks of His will to care for you. 

 If you are depressed, discouraged, disappointed, or simply down and out, take some time to mediate on the word of God.  Therein lies the power for overcoming depression. 

–Tom Wacaster

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