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  • Questions Christians Must Answer – from Grover

    1 Peter 3:15 – But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  

    Why do you believe in God?  Ans. That is easy.  He has revealed himself trillions of times.  Let me ask you a question?  Why is there something rather than nothing?  … Since there is something rather than nothing, that necessitates the miraculous! How has God revealed himself?   Through Creation Rom 1:18General Revelation – to everyone, everywhere, at all times.  Consider this, if you see a painting, you KNOW that requires a painter, a watch, a watchmaker, a creation, a creator. That is clear logic. To deny that is delusional and an example of a depraved, immoral, and rebellious mind. Time permitting, go through more various proofs for God. 

    Why do you believe the Bible?  Ans. First a question – Who can predict the future?  NO ONE!

    The only thing in all the world that does so with pinpoint accuracy scores of times is the Bible.  We know that men penned the Bible so how do you account for prophecy?  The only answer can be that someone outside our time/space dimension had to have authored it.  Someone who knows the end from the beginning and is ultimately eternal.  GOD!  Prophecy is God’s sacred seal on his message to us and it is his unique fingerprint proving beyond doubt that scripture is absolutely unique in all the world.  A scripture explaining this is 2 Peter 1:20-21 Above all you must understand that no prophecy of scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation.  For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.  Have some examples such as Tyre or Jesus.  

    Scriptures that help seal up both of those questions of God and the Bible:

    Rev. 23:13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. 

    Isa. 46:9-10 I am God and there is no other; I am God and there is none like me.  I make known the end from the beginning.

    Isa. 44:6-8 “This is what the Lord says – Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.  Who is like me?  Let him proclaim it.  Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come – yes, let him foretell what will come.  Do not tremble, do not be afraid.  Did I not proclaim this and foretell in long ago?  You are my witnesses.  Is there any God besides me?  No there is no other rock; I know not one.  

    God is giving us the test of how we can tell the only true God from all other claims.  PROPHECY

    How does one become a “born again” Christian and join the family of God?  Simply put –              6 words:  CREATION FALL REDEMPTION – BELIEVE REPENT ASK = salvation

    I call this the Story of Reality – God’s word to us in his Special Revelation – Genesis to Revelation

    I put out this story in 111 word.  Modify how you wish, but keep it short and simple so that anyone can remember and tell the story and explain the process of salvation.  

    THE STORY OF REALITY

    In the beginning   God

    Created   The heaves and the earth – Out of Nothing

    For   Man – Made in his image

    And for   God’s glory and our pleasure

    God gave us free will to choose   With one restriction, don’t eat from a tree

    We chose badly / consequently   Man fell and sin entered the world

    All men are now   Under a Death Sentence

    God works his rescue plan through   Jesus, The Scriptures, and the Cross

    God Judges   Believers and non-believers

    God determines   Everyone’s Destiny

    Our life Quest is   Truth, and to live in truth

    Jesus is the Truth   He offers salvation – eternal life

    Our part is   Believe, repent, ask him to be LORD

    Simply put – Creation – Fall – Redemption       Our Part – Believe / Repent / Ask = Salvation

    Once that is done, you are forever sealed with God’s Holy Spirit and NOTHING can change that 

    Once that is done, the first action point of obedience, seemingly without exception in the New Testament, was to get baptized.  This was like putting your personal, public, blood oath, seal and signature to an official legal document, announcing you made an irrevocable, covenantal promise to be a follower of Christ through the act of baptism.  This act was the public ceremony that showed you were an official member of the family of God with all the rights, privileges, and blessings thereof, such as brotherhood fellowship and the Lord’s supper.  

    A verse that strengthens this act is Matt 10:32-33 “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven. 

    Another proof for God.  Creation is a physical proof for God, but the idea of perfection is a metaphysical proof.  Everyone will tell you they are NOT perfect.  But no one seems to grasp the full ramifications of that statement.  In order for anyone to make such a statement of comparison, they must first have a concept of perfection to compare it to.  

    If you were to dig into what a person was trying to tell you by that statement, it would most likely center in on not being perfect in character.  That directly translates into a lack of moral perfection that the Bible calls our sin nature.

    The Bible succinctly gives a list of moral characteristics in the 10 Commandments which includes lying, stealing, adultery, coveting, blasphemy which everyone intuitively knows is wrong by their own built in morality meter, called a conscience.  

    Here is the test: Ask someone if they consider themselves a good person.  Most people will answer, yes.  Then ask them if they are perfect.  They now answer, no.  What is it they are in fact admitting to?  Much of it will have to do with those moral qualities of the 10 Commandments.  

    Ask them if they have ever lied, stolen, lusted, or used God’s name in vain?  That is at the core of their own self-evaluation and admission.  If there is no God, then there is no basis for feeling ANY guilt, remorse, or judgement over those issues.  

    Once again this is strong proof there is a God and the Bible is his authoritive word.   When we admit we are not perfect, we in fact are comparing ourselves to the Biblical God, who is in fact is the one and only model of perfection and we intuitively truly know this.  All people everywhere, at all times have demonstrated the propensity to worship something outside of themselves.  

  • The Dark Night of Soul

    Joyful Confidence in God: The Dark Night of Soul
    by John Ortberg, from Soul Keeping

    When God Seems Silent

    Because the soul is the deepest expression of the person, the soul is the place of greatest pain. We do not speak of the dark night of the mind, or the will, or even the spirit; only the soul. The dark night of the soul.

    The phrase comes from a brilliant Carmelite monk named John who lived in Spain in the sixteenth century. He devoted his life to reforming the church, but his attempts were heavily criticized, and he ended up in prison. It was there in confinement, with his dreams lost, that he wrote his most famous work: The Dark Night of the Soul. It is an account of how God works to change us not just through joy and light, but through confusion, through disappointment, through loss. Because of his commitment in the midst of suffering, he became known as “St. John of the Cross.”

    The dark night of the soul, as he described it, is not simply the experience of suffering. It is suffering in what feels like the silence of God.

    This saint who bore the name of the cross of Jesus said that in the early days of spiritual life, the soul often finds delight in devotional activities: We love to read the Bible, we hunger for worship, we long to pray. We may think this is a sign of our maturity; it is really more a kind of honeymoon phase.

    “But there will come a time when God will bid them to grow deeper. He will remove the previous consolation of the soul in order to teach it virtue…” In the dark night, my prayers feel like they reach no higher than the ceiling. (Although, Dallas Willard often said, if we truly understand how radically present God is in our world, reaching the ceiling is more than high enough.) In the dark night, the Bible I read turns to ashes. In the dark night, words and books and songs that once spoke to my soul now leave me cold.

    It is important to understand that the dark night, as John writes about it, is not the soul’s fault. Of course, it’s possible for me to grow cold toward God because I cling to sin, or prefer an idol, or simply become lazy. These are all real occurrences that require wise response. But they are not the dark night.

    The dark night is God-initiated.

    There’s an old illustration that was used to teach uninterrupted intimacy with God as the norm for successful spiritual life. It never failed to add guilt to spiritual dryness. It is a picture of intimacy with God that’s as old as bench seats in the front of cars. A husband and wife are driving together. She says to him: “When we were dating, we used to sit next to each other while we drove; you would have your arm around me, I would lay my head on your shoulder, and I felt so loved. Now look at the distance between us.” And the husband replies: “Who moved?”

    In the dark night of the soul, it is God who moved.

    God may still be in the car. But He’s scrunched up small and pressing hard against the passenger door. I stretch my arm but I can’t reach him or feel Him or touch Him. My soul has not changed seats. God moved.

    Waiting in the Dark

    The practices that once fed my soul feed it no more. John of the Cross, writing from his prison cell, says in the dark night the soul is pained but not hopeless. “God’s love is not content to leave us in our weakness, and for this reason He takes us into a dark night. He weans us from all of the pleasures by giving us dry times and inward darkness…. No soul will ever grow deep in the spiritual life unless God works passively in that soul by means of the dark night.” We have a hard time with the dark night. Our churches are practical places, and we generally tell people the answer to any spiritual problem is more: more prayer, more serving, more giving, more trying.

    But John says just the opposite. When the soul begins to enjoy the benefits of the spiritual life and then has them taken away, it becomes embittered and angry. There are some who become angry at themselves at this point, thinking that their loss of joy is a result of something they have done or have neglected to do. They will fuss and fret and do all they can to recover this consolation. They will strive to become saints in a day. They will make all kinds of resolutions to be more spiritual, but the greater the resolution, the greater the fall.

    Their problem is that they lack the patience that waits for whatever God would give them and when God chooses to give. They must learn spiritual meekness, which will come about in the dark night.

    What do we do in the dark night?

    We do nothing. We wait. We remember that we are not God. We hold on. We ask for help. We do less. We resign from things, we rest more, we stop going to church, we ask somebody else to pray because we can’t. We let go of our need to hurry through it.

    You can’t run in the dark.

    We love psalms about restoring our souls. They are sometimes called psalms of orientation — psalms that help us direct our lives to God. But there are other psalms. After we learned of Dallas’s diagnosis, my wife delivered a message based on what Walter Brueggemann calls “psalms of disorientation.” These are the psalms where the soul is disoriented; God is absent; darkness is winning. “Break the teeth in their mouths, o God… Let them vanish like water that flows away… like a slug that melts away as it moves along, like a stillborn child that never sees the sun.” That’s one that doesn’t get used at a lot of prayer breakfasts. Eugene Peterson (author of The Message) once wrote that before we can love our enemies, we have to pray our hatred. In these psalms — which are more frequent than the psalms of orientation — Israel vented and boiled over at God, apparently believing He was secure enough to be able to take it.

    Nancy talked about an unmarried friend who once punctured the polite piety of a small group Bible study that was having an abstract discussion about “Where is God when it hurts?” With the honesty rarely seen in Bible study groups, she declared, “If Jesus thinks that three hours on a cross makes up for forty-two years of singleness, I think that’s crazy.”

    Cool!

    Nancy waited for the group to get swallowed up in a sinkhole. Eventually someone chirped in with a Christian cliché, and the moment passed. But there was more honest faith in that one real comment than all the safe platitudes that came before and after it.

    In my own darkest time some years ago, my greatest disappointment was deep and unfixable. I questioned my calling. I didn’t think about suicide, but I definitely thought that if my life were over, I’d be grateful for the end of pain. I would talk to a few close friends, and they would generally give sympathy and support, for which I was grateful.

    But then I did what I have so often done when I cannot think or pray or reason my way out of something. I called Dallas. I walked him through the circumstances and the heartbreak and the pain, eager for his answer.

    Long pause. “This will be a test of your joyful confidence in God.” Silence. I did not miss the challenge in this sentence, all the more goading for its gentle phrasing. Not just my confidence — my joyful confidence. Human beings around the globe had been suffering a year ago, and I was capable of joy then. Why should I consider my own suffering grounds for a crisis of confidence in God when I don’t react the same way to others?

    If there is a God who is worthy to be the Father of Jesus, I can trust giving this situation as well as my own feelings joyfully into His hands. If there is not, I have infinitely bigger problems than a merely human circumstance. Either way it is true: this will be a test of my joyful confidence in God.

  • Romans 6 and Francis Schaeffer

    From Romans 6 – Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means

    • What have we been doing for a 100 or so years?
    • We are supposed to have been freed from sin which would also include silence? (Knowing the good we ought to do and not doing it is sin)

    From Romans 6 – What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of?

    • Should we not be ashamed of our silence?

    From Romans 6 – Those things result in death.

    • Might we also say millions of babies have died as a result of our silence?

    When are the leaders of the church going to start pushing back against the moral decline of this country and quit being silent for a tax exemption or out of fearing man more than God Almighty?

    Francis Schaeffer – A Christian Manifesto – How should Christians Respond

    Is immorality or stupidity worse?

    What is loyalty to Christ worth to us?

    If there is no place for disobeying the government, that government has been made God. Christ must be the final Lord and not Caesar and not society.

    Have we denied what we say we believe by our silence?

    Has our preaching of the gospel caused a change in culture, which effective preaching should?

    Francis Schaefer’s Christian Manifesto talked mostly about true spirituality. True spirituality means that Christ is the Lord of all our life and not just our religious life. And if we think there is a difference in these things we are denying our Lord his proper place, and regardless of how many butterflies we have in our stomach we are poor spiritually. True spirituality means that Jesus is the Lord of all of life and that includes standing for freedom and many of the other things that are founders stood for.

    The LIE of separation of church and state must be smashed.

    When a government negates the law of God it abrogates its authority.

    At a certain point it is not only the privilege but it is the duty of the Christian to disobey the government. That’s what the founding fathers did when they founded this country, and that’s what the early church did.

    Should we be repentant for the silence of the last 80 or so years?

  • Worship vs Making Him Known

    Someone says, ‘My life is so busy I don’t have time to do anything more than a couple hours Sunday morning. God’s purpose for us is worship, so I am so blessed to have all my needs met by meeting with the best worship team in the area on Sunday mornings.” Would you have anything to say and if so, what?

    My answer: I believe our main focus should be to know Christ, who He really is, and to make Him and His truths known to others; then help others do the same. If I spend most of my time singing songs to God, how is that making Christ known to those who would rarely, if ever, walk though the doors of my auditorium?

    Ron’s answer: Worship is best described in the summary of the 10 Commandments by Jesus to love the Lord our God with all our heart and all our soul and all our mind and with all our strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. That is true worship. Therefore worship is a way of life and it’s not something one just does on a Sunday morning. That is far too narrow of an understanding of worship that is a reflection of every day of our lives.

    The psalms are known as the hymnbook of the Bible. Working through the Psalms one will find that worship is connected to every part of one’s life and never isolated into one place of worship. Psalm 121 is known as the travelers Psalm and it deals with experiencing God’s strength and presence through all of the ups and downs of life and obviously it includes far more than a Sunday morning or a Sabbath.

    The daily picture as noted in Luke 9:23, to come after Jesus we have to take up the cross daily and follow him.That is worship.

    Check out John chapter 13- 17 discourse of Jesus before the crucifixion. The Chapters give us an expansive picture of the life of disciples. The picture is clear that it is way beyond Sunday morning.
    It involves humility, loving one another, love demonstrated by obedience, abiding in the vine, allowing his word to be rooted in us, experiencing friendship with the Lord, experiencing the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and on the list goes with the concepts for a true life of a disciple and genuine worship.

    Jesus ultimately brings it Together in the high priestly prayer of John 17 in which Jesus prays for himself, the disciples and all of us who would believe on the message. Belief is demonstrated in actions.

    These chapters drive home genuine worship involving the Trinity and the community of faith, which goes beyond a Sunday morning window.

  • Thoughts on James 1:2-7 (Wisdom & Doubt)

    James says we shouldn’t doubt and if we do we shouldn’t expect to receive anything from the Lord. How does that all work?

    Ron’s answer:
    Without doubt we can expect to receive wisdom from God. We can be assured that God will give us needed wisdom to somehow find joy when facing many trials, which in turn help us grow and mature as we persevere through them.

    My answer:
    The point was asking for wisdom. We can be assured that we will receive wisdom. But, unfortunately, the context of this section would probably indicate that we may receive most of our wisdom as a result of trials. Also, we have no choice as to what trials we may receive nor do we know what they will be.

  • Coronavirus is shaking up the traditional model of church

    Here are a few highlights from an article in the Christian Post, “Dinner Churches and how the coronavirus is shaking up the traditional model”

    The problem with most churches is that our living rooms look nothing like the front porch.

    What are known as “nones” are those who have no particular religious affiliation. “Dones” are those who are burned out on or “done” with church.

    Dinner Church feels like this is a group of people who say, ‘Hey, let’s break bread together and sit down together and share these mealtimes, share God’s Word together, pray together, and do some work together.’ And that’s all it is,” he explained.
    We’re not there for any other ulterior purpose but to simply be present with one another and be present with Jesus.

    To give people an aesthetic of worship that is so removed from their Monday through Saturday is not doing them any good service. It’s teaching them that in order to connect with God, in order to grow as a Christ follower, you need to pretend that you don’t live in 2020 anymore. And I don’t think that kind of formation as disciples is going to have lifelong transformation,” he said.

    The entire church came on Sunday expecting to see a great show, were fine to leave a little money in the plate and then come back next week to do it all over again.
    “That’s cancer, full-on cancer,” he reiterated, “because church is supposed to be a missional expression of Christ in their community, their neighborhood and in their city. Anything shy of that is different from the Christianity that Christ laid out.”

    Thus, only one out of a hundred Christians know how to reach the secular lost person, introduce them to Jesus, and get their life on a meaningful spiritual flow, he noted. And it’s in the absence of being on the front lines of Gospel mission that consumer-cancer starts to grow.

    “Christianity is not the issue.”
    “Churchianity is the issue,” he stressed.
    Expecting everybody to sit in rows and hear a message from a stage is a huge sociological oversight.”

  • California morality and leadership…

    People tell you that in polite company you shouldn’t talk religion or politics.  When you believe that, the pictures below are an INEVITABLE result. The more startling ones would be the piles of dead in the Nazi concentration camps.  

    Religion and politics are the two sides of the same coin.  YOUR RELIGION is ALWAYS played out in YOUR POLITICS.  Politics is simply religious beliefs being manifest and displayed in the out workings of your beliefs about reality.  

    The enemy of good doesn’t want you to THINK or TALK about how to live a clean life, personally or collectively.  The real enemy behind the lies is Satan himself, who is the father of lies whose aim is to steal, kill, and destroy. 

    Godless ideology always promises a man conceived earthly utopia with a man or group of elites, holding all the power and that ALWAYS goes VERY BAD.  Russia, China, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, and now the USA is following the same path.  

    I have A LOT to say about how this happened to our country, that started out being the hope of the world where MASSES of immigrants poured into the USA hoping for freedom and a better life.  Just as a zebra at a water hole, if it doesn’t stay alert, it becomes lunch for the lion.  Satan is described as a roaring lion seeking to devour you.
    Vigilance is forever necessary to stay alive and free. 

    Our Churches and religious leaders fell asleep and then our schools were taken over for generations.  Now we don’t even know what is between our legs. (gender insanity)  There has NEVER been a culture so utterly depraved as we have become, yet not everyone. 

    Christians are supposed to be the salt and light and show the way.  But an ignorant Christian who doesn’t know, or obey the Bible will not be able to lead well.  

    I hope to stay alive long enough to be of some assistance and comfort to you as you began to navigate this dangerous life outside the Garden of Eden.  Life here is not a playground.  It is a BATTLEGROUND.  God has given us plenty of blessings now.  But everything is in a fallen state and will never completely satisfy until we see him face to face in his full glory.  

    I don’t have all the answers, but I have learned a lot in my old age.  Please use me while you have the chance.  Who else do you have that is willing and able to do this?  Talk to me on occasion or I will not be able to know how to best meet your needs or answer the questions that every person on earth truly has on the issues of life.  Get knowledge and wisdom or perish like a dumb beast, which is the default position that most people drift to.  

    I have hope for you my dear ones.  This world is getting darker by the hour.  Seek to shine like a bright beacon of hope for those who are living in desperation.  

  • American Christmas, a better way?

    If there were a better way to do Christmas in America what might that look like?

    When we go to a birthday party, who receives the gifts or to whom do we give the gifts?

    Christmas is supposedly Jesus’ birthday, so why not give our gifts to him? So, how might we give gifts to Jesus on Christmas?

    “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40

    So, if something were given to “the least of these”, it would be given to Jesus.

    Christmas suggestion:

    • During the year or on Christmas, have your group/family donate to a special account.
    • An easy way to do this might be from your phone via Zelle.
    • No one would know who has donated or how much any individual donated.
    • Then on Christmas day, all would see the account balance and as a group decide where to give to “the least of these”.

  • Contentment

    Passage I Read Today as a result of sharing time with a younger couple who are learning to struggle well, primarily with difficult health issues:
    Philippians 4:11‭-‬12 NIV:
    I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

    Her initial thought:
    If we are Christian, we can expect to automatically be and do as Paul did in the New Testament.

    After struggling from some time with life’s circumstances, she came to realize:
    Contentment is a learned  process.

    My thought:
    I have not yet learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, it’s a journey; Lord help me.

  • Bad Ideas

    “Ideas have consequences, and bad ideas have victims.” – often quoted by John Stonestreet at BreakPoint.

    How do we keep ourselves from being victims of bad ideas?

    “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” – Lao Tzu