Not Exactly Right

bear

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” That’s actually a quote of Friedrich Nietzsche. I guess the bear thing is funny, but… the statement is unnecessary. The original quote creates two categories, things that kill you and things that don’t. Since bears will kill you there is no exception. There are plenty of things that will kill you but the encouragement for survivors is what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

Of course I have a sense of humor. The Happy Monday series is about to celebrate two years and 100 posts and shares plenty of funny captioned pictures that are not necessarily accurate from a technical point of view. Captioning funny cat or dog pics is one thing; we need to be a little more careful when it comes to handling theology. There have always been quotes and statements people mistakenly attribute to the Bible (This too shall pass, Money is the root of all evil) but in this day and age of sharing and re-posting we spend less time fact-checking than ever before. Reposting incorrectly captioned pics of the president or falsely ascribed Ben Franklin quotes are one level of misconception, sharing inspirational statements about our faith or even misquoted verses of scripture is something else. When we point and click all day every day but never actually read the Bible we run the risk of of not rightly dividing the Word of Truth without even realizing it. Maybe the bear pic is funny and I need to relax, but this one actually bothers me:

faith quotes

Faith is more than belief, it’s a belief that motivates one to action. You may heard that believing a chair will hold your weight is one thing and actually sitting down comfortably is another. And just because you put faith in something doesn’t mean that person or thing is worthy of your faith and does not guarantee you will not be disappointed. The above quote is inspirational but not scriptural. I would classify it as “name it claim it” theology because not only are these words not found in scripture they are actually contrary to scripture. The poster is scripturally unsound and potentially misleading.

I recently wrote about the Fourth Man in the Fire who appeared after Shadrach, Mechach and Abednego were thrown into the fiery furnace. Look again at their statement of great faith in response to King Nebuchadnezzar’s threat:

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18

They had faith that God could but not necessarily that he would. As a matter of fact God did not deliver them from the king, a fact that did not cause the young men to loose faith. Rather than deliver them from the fire God was present with them in the fire. When they came safely out of the furnace Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged their God and worshipped him. They were promoted in Babylon and a decree went out from the king that if anyone spoke against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego they would be torn limb from limb. God demonstrated his power and was acknowledged by the king, satraps and governors of Babylon because he did not deliver them from the fiery furnace. He had even greater things in mind.

God works all things together for good, often times behind the scenes in ways we don’t see or understand. God explains his plans to Abraham in Genesis 15 that take place over the next 400 years. Joseph did not fully see or understand while he was being sold into slavery or cast into prison by Potiphar but he explained to his brothers that God used those events for good and many people were saved alive from the great famine. Moses did not understand all God was doing and argued with him at the burning bush, eventually asking him to please send someone else. Yet all of these events together, from Genesis 38 to the Book of Joshua, accomplished what God promised Abraham.

Faith is knowing God can. Real faith is believing that God knows what he is doing and that we should pray for his will to be done and not ours.

Broken and Poured Out

anointed And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and wheneveryou want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” Mark 14:3-9

So to summarize: A costly vessel was broken, a precious substance poured out, something valuable was given away but not wasted.  Continue reading

A Defense of The Apostle Paul

PaulSaul of Tarsus developed quite a reputation in the world of the early Christian church, zealously hunting down those who taught and preached in the name of Christ. He was on his way to Damascus, with arrest letters from the Jerusalem Sanhedrin in hand, when he had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. As the Apostle Paul he became one of the most prolific church planters and writers of the first century; 14 of the 26 New Testament books are his letters (epistles) to various individuals and churches.

But here’s the rub: Do we today make too much of Paul? Does our attention become Paul-centered rather than Christ centered? Just because he wrote many epistles that become a major component of the New Testament, is everything Paul wrote the Word of God? Which is why I propose a defense of Paul to consider and respond to these criticisms. Continue reading

Discussion: The Altar

altar prayerDoes you church have an altar (or more than one altar) in the sanctuary? Does each service end with an altar call style invitation? What are we being invited to do at the altar if/when we get there? I would like to put aside personal feelings, experiences and what any particular local church does or doesn’t do and look into the Bible as we analyze the purpose of the altar. Ultimately I would like us to answer this question: what is the place of the altar in the New Testament church? Continue reading

New and Improved Bible Gateway

Screenshot 2014-06-27 at 8.45.06 AMThe preview of the new Bible Gateway has been available for several weeks in beta, but you may have noticed the new site design going live this week. Not everyone saw the change at the same time, but the roll out of the new format has been gradually taking place since Monday. Here are some of the key new features:

  • Bible annotation and personalization built around user accounts
  • Seamless cross-platform syncing of user-created content
  • Responsive design that adapts to any screen size or viewing device
  • Clean, clutter-free presentation of Bible, devotional, and reference content

Anything new takes a little getting used to. Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) about the new design and functionality. Below is a short video tutorial.

The Master’s Table is a proud partner of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid. 

Are All Christians to Share the Gospel?

Screenshot 2014-06-24 at 10.54.12 AMIn the circles of Christianity that I run in, we believe that some are called to preach, some are gifted to teach, but all are called to be evangelists. Any born again Christian should be able to communicate to another person what Christ has done, even if the exchange is one on one. You do not have to be a preacher, Sunday School teacher or any sort of public speaker to share the Gospel. Apologetics is about presenting a defense of our faith and any Christian if asked ought to at least be able to explain why he or she is a believer. There are some, however, that still preach from the pulpit that only the ordained minister can evangelize from the pulpit. Consider this summary of one reformed pastor when responding to this issue on the Puritan Board website: Continue reading

Fourth Man in the Fire

Screenshot 2014-06-18 at 8.48.53 AM

When King Nebuchadnezzar decreed that only his image should be worshiped in Babylon three of his Hebrew subjects, Shadrach, Mechach and Abednego continued praying to the only true God. When called before him they boldly had this to say:

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18

Continue reading

An Exhortation to Father’s

familyFirst, a word about society. Our culture at large has pretty low expectations for behavior. Honesty, morality, decency and work ethic are no longer expected from most people. Slipping in a few minutes late, taking home a few office supplies, riding the clock a few minutes here or there is what employers and co-workers expect as normal these days. People will do what they can get away with, at school, at work, at red lights without cameras, filing their income taxes, etc. I’m not talking about embezzling corporate funds, I’m talking about the “little things” that supposedly everybody does, from running errands in the company car to flirting with the waitress.

Hopefully Christians – I said hopefully – attempt to rise above falling expectations. Continue reading

Is Jesus Radical?

radicalLet’s begin by defining our terms. Most people have a concept of radical that may be hard to put into words. You could be a radical thinker in a good way that doesn’t involve overthrowing the government (but that’s one possibility). Miriam-Webster’s online dictionary gives 3 definitions, these are the two that apply to our discussion:

1) very new and different from what is traditional or ordinary
2) having extreme political or social views that are not shared by most people

Radical describes something new, different, or views that are not shared by most people. I contend that Jesus was radical from man’s point of view, but not from God’s.  Continue reading