62 minutes | May 29, 2023
Is Following Christ the Same as Following Christianity? (Part I)
When someone says they are a Christian, their claim can be easily interpreted in a variety of ways. Unfortunately, following the name of Christ has been a dramatically devalued description of religion over many centuries. Think back to the Dark Ages when the church mercilessly hunted, tortured and killed non-believers for the sake of “saving souls” in the name of Christ. Think about the smorgasbord of choices one now has available. We can choose a brand of Christianity that suits our lifestyle and fulfills our preferences. Being a disciple of Jesus Christ was not always this way. In the time of Jesus and the apostles, it meant something higher and had an eternal purpose. The question we all need to ask ourselves is simple. Is my chosen brand of Christianity in complete accord with Jesus’ original teachings? It's not easy Whether we want to admit it or not, following Jesus is a really hard task. Think about it, Jesus said that to be his disciple we have to take up our crosses daily and follow him. At its most basic and easy to understand level, this means we are called to live a sacrificial life. In our day, there is a pervasive belief that we should be able to have what we want, when we want, and how we want it. Sacrificing any comfort or convenience is looked upon as an unacceptable compromise. Following Jesus is not easy in our world when it comes to social acceptance. Another level of challenge Following the teachings of Jesus is another level of challenge that many Christians may not even be aware of. By definition, the wide variety of Christian denominations available makes finding the original values and standards that Jesus taught elusive. One can easily go church shopping to find a church system that suits them, that makes them feel welcome and comfortable. While there is nothing wrong with seeking a place to worship comfortably, we should not forget the more important question: is what this or that church is teaching accurately and diligently reflecting what Jesus himself taught? Check out our May 29, 2023 podcast, “Is Following Christ the Same as Following Christianity? (Part I)” for more. We address several pointed teachings of Jesus related to the doctrine of true Christian faith. Accepting that Jesus gave us higher standards than those of the Jewish Law but did not ever contradict the Bible as a whole is a good place to start. A critical look at what my church teaches Christianity has developed too much variety regarding important doctrinal teachings. For instance, Jesus taught that death is the absence of life and that fit precisely with the Bible’s overall instruction. Yet, many church groups build their understanding upon other, nonbiblical traditions. The same issue occurs with Jesus’ teachings on the cost of following him. Churches often focus on what they think you get instead of what Jesus teaches us to give, missing the most important point. Join us for this focused, eye-opening and controversial comparison of Christ and Christianity. We look for the truth from Jesus so we can experience the freedom of Jesus!
66 minutes | May 22, 2023
We Are What We Think About, So What Are We Thinking About? (Part II)
As a Christian, taking the time to understand what we think about is a worthy and necessary investment of our time and effort. When you look at anyone who is truly successful at any endeavor, you will always find that one of the common denominators of their success is controlling their minds. In Part I of this two-part series, we spent considerable time piecing together the groundwork the Apostle Paul laid out in Philippians 4 as a basis for productive Christian thinking. He understood the demands of Christianity and cared enough about his fellow disciples to teach us not only what he knew, but how to apply that knowledge. One major result of his spiritual wisdom was the letter he wrote to the Philippians. The Apostle Paul’s “dwell on these things” list was and is much more than a gathering up of nice and inspiring things to focus on. It was actually a specific and dynamic grouping of necessary characteristics that every true Christian must understand and internalize. Paul himself made this clear when he told us to "dwell on these things." The Greek word here used for “dwell” is very pointed. It is a precise word for taking inventory of something. It focuses us on giving these featured characteristics a highly calculated and proven value in our Christian walk. Beautiful and of good report In Part I, we saw how dwelling on what is true, honorable, right and pure, presents a broad-based foundation for our thinking. Without these characteristics, what follows can easily go off track. The next two characteristics Paul gives us to dwell on are things that are "beautiful" and "of good report." It is easy to see how we can pick and choose what we apply this list to, and end up focused on worldly things instead of spiritual things. With such an easy detour, how do we keep our minds firmly entrenched in godliness? What do we simply acknowledge and what do we dwell upon? It all comes down to the straightforward comparison between what we acknowledge and what we allow our minds to dwelling upon. There are many things in our world that are worthy of our notice and support. There are wonderful causes, just and righteous actions, things of beauty and experiences of victory and success that we can and should stand up for. However, this acknowledgment is entirely than dwelling upon things spiritually true, noble, just, pure, beautiful and of good report. These feed our lives in ways that things of the world simply cannot. Check out our recent podcast “We Are What We Think About, So What Are We Thinking About? (Part II)” for more. As we establish our approach to thought priority, we also look into the last two items on Paul’s list - things that are excellent and praiseworthy. Paul is teaching us a comprehensive way to think and leaves no stone unturned. He lifts our minds above that which is natural to that which is spiritual. Join us for this awakening journey of learning, application and change!
62 minutes | May 15, 2023
We Are What We Think About, So What Are We Thinking About? (Part I)
Most of us don’t realize just much of our lives come down to our own personal choices. We have far more power over how we handle our everyday experiences than we give ourselves credit for. Why wouldn’t we claim this power so we can better influence our path? Because we subtly and regularly fall into habits of thinking that lull us into a lukewarm and compliant attitude of submission. The Apostle Paul was all about helping us, as his fellow disciples of Christ, challenge the status quo and reset our minds so we can daily think and choose with spiritual clarity. Much of the letter he wrote to the Philippian Christians focused in on the adverse conditions in life and how to think through them. Examining this letter is the first step to better focusing our Christian thinking! The Apostle Paul really loved his fellow Christians at Philippi. While on house arrest under Roman guard, he wrote them a comprehensive letter concerning their Christian growth and development. One of his conclusionary teachings in this letter is found in the commonly read verse of Philippians 4:8. Paraphrased it says, "Finally, whatever is true, honorable, right, pure lovely or of good report, if there is anything excellent or praiseworthy, dwell on these things." This letter to the Philippians is a tutorial on several of the high standards that true discipleship requires. Paul showed us how to handle limiting circumstances by talking about his own imprisonment. He implored all of his brethren to work through their issues in a unified fashion. He focused us on the importance of leaving our old standards of success behind and instead seeking success in a life of sacrifice. These and many other teachings were all in place to address the building up of a mature Christian mind. A special list Paul then gave us the list of things he pointed us to and what we should dwell upon. This was no mere listing of nice things to preoccupied us. This was a list of solid, connected, sequential and spiritually-sound priorities. Dwelling on them meant we were to use them as solid foundation stones of our Christian lives. First on this list was the instruction to dwell on what is true. As we dig more deeply into his teaching, we realize the apostle was pointing us not to general worldly truth, but to godly eternal truth. All of the rest of his “think about this” list had its foundation in this solid beginning. Check out our May 15, 2023 podcast, “We Are What We Think About, So What Are We Thinking About? (Part I)” for more. After comprehensively summarizing the letter to the Philippians, we delve into the meaning of what is true, what is honorable, what is right and what is pure. What we find is the beginnings of a profound and life-altering approach to setting our minds up for true Christian thinking. Join us as we begin to learn what to think about and how to think about it!
62 minutes | May 8, 2023
Is God an Angry God?
The thought that God is a God of anger - especially in the Old Testament - is alive and well. It’s a very convenient thought. All one has to do is select from the many passages in the Old Testament that show God commanding the destruction of this or that people. It’s easy to say He has anger issues and therefore should not be worshipped. The only problem is that this conclusion is in direct opposition to the truth. To grasp the correct thought, we need to begin by focusing on putting God’s anger into its proper context. This basic exercise opens up a perspective on God’s anger that redefines it. Simply stated, God’s anger is an occasionally used tool of His overwhelmingly just, loving, wise and powerful character. He is SO much bigger than He is given credit for. In Exodus 32:10, God is speaking to Moses and He is not happy. God had just delivered the children of Israel from the bondage of Egypt with miracles and drama. He had called Moses up to the mountain to give him the Law and instructions to bring to this newly-freed nation. Because Moses was gone for a while and they didn’t know when he’d return, the people built a golden calf to worship. God sees this overt disobedience and disrespect and tells Moses, “Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them.” Unreasonable anger? It is so easy for many to interpret God’s anger in this account as out of control and unreasonable. The irony of this is that when this account is considered in its entirety, it shows us the exact opposite conclusion. It shows us the depth of God’s compassion and mercy. It helps us see that God’s anger - though real - is simply a tool in His hand and not an aspect of His character. On top of that, this account also reveals the process through which God ultimately deals with all of humanity. All of this comes down to two words. Further along in the context of God dealing with Moses and the rebelliousness of the people, God describes Himself. Though His description is detailed, there are two particular words that stand out. They stand out because they are only used in the Bible to describe God Himself. They are used together multiple times throughout the Old Testament. Check out our May 8, 2023 podcast, “Is God an Angry God?” for more. We zero in on the powerful standard God set with Moses in dealing with the rebelliousness of Israel. We then track through many of the other scriptural accounts that use these two special words together as a description of God. What we find is no less dramatic or inspiring. Every time these two words appear together, they expand our understanding of God’s true character. Join us for this is unusual journey that verifies who God is, how He works and all that He stands for in a very unique way.
62 minutes | May 1, 2023
How Do We Positively Provoke Others Without Offending Them?
We all know someone who has been in some kind of altercation that didn’t end well. When we go back and look at the events, we always want to know who started it. What we are looking for is who initially provoked the other party to cause the chain of events that led to someone on some level being hurt. The point is, provoking one another is not usually looked at as a good thing as we think of things like sibling rivalries or having someone “push your buttons.” However, with an appropriate approach, provoking others can be a powerful tool, as it can stimulate them to positive action and conflict resolution. So, how do we do that? How do we provoke others towards everything good and avoid provoking them towards anything bad? The book of Hebrews The book of Hebrews is a very deep treatise that emphatically teaches the value of Jesus as the singular centerpiece of God’s plan. It was written (we believe by the Apostle Paul) to help the Jewish Christians of his time put their long-held belief in and reliance on the Mosaic Law to rest. This was no simple task, as keeping the Law was the only way many generations of God’s chosen people could remain in God’s favor. To abandon it and cling solely to Jesus was a quantum leap that many were not easily convinced they should make. Out with the old! The Apostle Paul crafted the book of Hebrews as a tool to fully and finally break this reliance on the old Law. In its place he would show them the more spiritual, more powerful and eternal power of Jesus. To do this, Paul used a masterful communication approach. If we examine the book of Hebrews by focusing on how he wrote, we can begin to see this amazing and incredibly practical process unfold. Check out our May 1, 2023 podcast, “How Do We Positively Provoke Others Without Offending Them?” for the details. We break down the first 10 chapters of Hebrews and home in on how he communicated his message. We sum up each chapter with a summary of what he taught. What we find is a specific, step-by-step process that would open the door for his naturally skeptical audience to be able to hear his message. This whole process began with the brilliance of not even mentioning his own name. By doing so, he took away any preconceived ideas about hearing from the former Pharisee who now spent so much time with former Gentiles. He next began to craft a common base of credibility that all of those Jewish Christians would be comfortable with. He then focused in on the Old Testament Scriptures as the primary source for his teaching. Paul continued to build his message with subtle power and with outright logic: Jesus was, is and always will be the most important part of God’s plan. Join us as we absorb this process and learn how to communicate with those we love but may disagree with.
62 minutes | Apr 24, 2023
What Does It Feel Like To Have Real Faith?
Christian faith is a big deal. The Bible tells us that faith is a gift from God. It tells us the just live by faith. It tells us that faith without works is dead, and that without faith, it is impossible to please God. It tells us that we can be of little faith needing more and then it tells us that if we have faith like the grain of a tiny mustard seed, we can move mountains. With all of these varied and important applications of faith it is surprising that defining faith and how it really works can be difficult tasks. Faith is far too often described as a feeling or a pathway to believing in something that has no substance. When it comes to biblically defined faith, nothing could be further from the truth! Christian faith frequently comes under fire as foolishness. Skeptics seem to love to challenge us to “prove” that there is a God. Their standards of proof require us to show God to them, which is simply not possible. Interestingly, biblical faith is defined as "a conviction of the reality of something unseen, based on credible evidence." We believe in God because we see unmistakable evidence pointing to Him. Christian faith is a sincere belief in that which is sensible. Let’s use a cell phone as an example. Think of all the planning, engineering, manufacturing and testing that goes into it. We all use them, and we all credit their manufacturers and the genius minds that created such incredible devices. Now, what would it take for nature to duplicate that creation? Seriously. Would any of us EVER believe that the wind, the sea, the land and elements, on their own by just the forces of nature could create one? Of course not. That would not fit the biblical definition of faith, because believing in such a thing would be foolishness. While this may be obvious, many critics of Christian faith seem to do this very thing. They credit the forces of nature with creating DNA, which is so complex that it took a decade for our best and brightest to simply map it out so we can begin to understand it. And what about massively complex things like functional eyes, ears and noses? We credit nature, which incidentally does not have a conscious mind, with creating humans who because of their intelligence, can create little things like cell phones. Now who believes in ridiculous things, and who believes in that which is sensible? Check out our April 24, 2023 podcast, “What Does It Feel Like to Have Real Faith?” for more. We examine biblical faith on several levels. We find that it begins by the grace of God. It is then put into our hands so we can develop it and live according to its direction. True biblical faith is no small thing, and it certainly does not fit the definition that so many label it with. Join us as we unravel the confusion surrounding what faith is and what it is not.
60 minutes | Apr 17, 2023
Will the World’s Pain and Suffering Ever End?
In all of recorded history since Adam, there has never been a time when humanity did not know pain, sorrow, trauma and death. Never. These things are so ingrained into the fabric of our lives that the very idea of not knowing pain and suffering is a pipe dream. And death? It’s a given. Everybody has death touch those around them, as we all eventually will be swallowed up by it. If we try and have someone imagine a world without these things, the thought is often met with the classic response, “That would be great, but it sounds too good to be true!” Why do we bring up this hope that sounds like a fairy tale happy ending? We bring it up because the Bible explains it through many prophecies. We bring it up because we believe it is the true conclusion of the stated plan of God. It's easy to blame God Because pain and suffering are hard things to deal with, it can become easy to blame God for our experiences with them. If God loved us, He would never allow these things to happen! I wouldn’t let my children go through such things, so why does God let us go through them? These are but two of the many reactions people have to God in the face if the difficulties of life. You can’t blame people for feeling this way, as a logical, God-based explanation for our current social circumstances is hard to find. Does He really care? Along with these kinds of reactions, there are a list of questions people typically wonder about when trying to make sense of God in the context of our current troubles. “Does God really care about the massive suffering that humanity experiences?” is probably near the top of the list. This fundamental question demands a simple yes or no answer. If we were to answer yes, and we absolutely believe that to be true, then another question immediately follows, “If God does care, then what possible benefit could there be from the thousands of years of human suffering we have endured?” Answering this question is by necessity a much more detailed endeavor, as it requires reasoning through several levels of proof. Here again, we believe that there is a sound, scriptural and logical conclusion that can be drawn. These two questions are a gateway to several other pertinent life questions dealing with God and the existence of things like fear, crime and violence. Check out our April 17, 2023 podcast, “Will the World’s Pain and Suffering Ever End?” for more. We directly approach these and other questions about God and humanity. Our objective is simple. To the best of our ability, we want to be able to square the loving character of God with the sin, pain, suffering and death of our present world. The good news is that there are sound and inspirational scriptural answers that provide hope and opportunity for every human being who has ever lived. God DOES have a plan! Join us as we unfold its solutions!
64 minutes | Apr 10, 2023
When Jesus Said, “It is Finished,” What Did He Begin?
“It is finished.” When Jesus said these three words, he signaled an ending. He proclaimed to those who were gazing upon his beaten and crucified body that he had completed a specific set of tasks successfully. He had done what he had set out to do. Looking back on this event, some may wonder, what did he really accomplish? If we are living God’s plan, it sure seems disjointed, broken and worthless. But all they can see are the tragedies of human choices and experiences. As we look more deeply into the final moments of Jesus’ earthly life, we will see how they were a catalyst to change the downward sin and death-ridden course that Satan had begun so long before. We will see that Jesus proclaiming, “It is finished” was also a victorious proclamation of what was to begin! Jesus approached death after hanging on the cross for about six hours. Before that, he had been through an all-night ordeal of betrayal, illegal trials, beatings, mocking and scourging. At the very end he said two things: “It is finished.” Afterwards came the loud proclamation of putting his own spirit into God’s hands. What did he mean? Though we can’t be sure, “It is finished” seems to have been meant for those around him as he was expiring. While one can look at this statement as a very negative resignation, we think Jesus meant it as a comfort and as a sign of victory. The list of what was actually finished at this moment of Jesus’ death is surprisingly long. His mission to become “the man Christ Jesus” was a complex mixture of doing unlikely and miraculous things, teaching revolutionary ideas and standing against the religious leaders of his time. In all of this, the theme was always the same. Do, say and stand for only what the Father had put before him. We typically think about “It is finished” in relation to all of these things. But have we ever paused and considered it in relation to what all of this cost Jesus? Clues in Isaiah 53 The 53rd chapter of Isaiah was a prophetic preview of what the sacrifices of Jesus’ earthly life would entail. Much of what Jesus went through on a personal basis is listed in its verses. When we begin to look at these scriptures just a few at a time, we realize they are showing us a series of very significant personal costs. Check out our April 11,2023 podcast, “When Jesus Said ‘It is finished,’ What Did He Begin?” for more. Whenever there is an ending in God’s plan, there is always a beginning that follows. Jesus’ crucifixion was no exception. Join us as we examine the many challenging endings Jesus completed and uncover many glorious beginnings he brought about as a result. This journey through his personal sacrifices will deepen your appreciation of just how much Jesus gave to save us all from sin and death.
61 minutes | Apr 3, 2023
Why Did Jesus Ride Into Jerusalem?
The last week of Jesus’ earthly life was both eventful and tumultuous. His riding triumphantly into Jerusalem four days before his crucifixion was a dramatic and unmistakable display of hope and respect by the hundreds of thousands who honored him as he rode. The events that would take place after his kingly entrance into the city would also be dramatic, as the wheels of betrayal and murder would furiously spin towards their grisly end. Through all of this, Jesus never faltered in his character or objectives. Today we will focus on the powerful messages and prophetic fulfillments that came from his inspiring ride into Jerusalem, as its meaning is far deeper than many realize. The Old Testament is full of prophecies, stories and individuals that point to Jesus. When considered, they give us a panoramic picture of what many of the details of his life would look like. Not the least of these revealed details is the prophecy in Zechariah chapter 9. This prophecy plainly revealed that the Messiah would come to Jerusalem and the people of Israel riding on a donkey and being proclaimed as their king. The prophecy shows the expansiveness of Messiah’s future kingdom, and sadly also alludes to the people rejecting their Savior. Jesus literally fulfilled this prophecy. He literally borrowed a donkey and rode into the city. Now, one could argue he staged the event. After all, he did have to borrow the donkey! While that detail is true, we need to remember that it was impossible for him to stage the hundreds of thousands who welcomed him, lauded him as king and sought for deliverance through him as their Messiah. He could not have staged such love and adoration. Why was this particular event so public and so important? Why did Jesus know it had to happen? It turns out that this prophecy is unquestionably linked to some other Old Testament events that also foreshadowed Jesus and his earthly mission to save the world. It also turns out that this prophecy had to be fulfilled at a precise time because of its connection to these other Old Testament events. One of the amazing parts to this whole puzzle of God’s foresight and providence is the fact that Jesus knew so many of the details and fulfillments ahead of time. Check out our recent podcast, “Why Did Jesus Ride Into Jerusalem?” for the details. We go over the details of this event commonly known as “Palm Sunday” and their larger meaning. What we find are amazing connections to many other scriptures that profoundly deepen the meaning of God’s plan behind Jesus’ sacrifice. There is one other thing we discuss that we will simply state as a question here. What if the traditional view and appreciation of Palm Sunday was flawed? What if the Bible plainly stated that some important details of this event were absolutely different than the tradition we so easily accept? Join us for this fascinating and inspiring journey into Bible prophecy and its fulfillment!
65 minutes | Mar 27, 2023
If I Have God’s Peace, Why Am I So Stressed?
It is a given that life is stressful. We all know that the sheer quantity of input that we are each exposed to from the various parts of our lives is overwhelming. Now come the decisions. Do I watch, do I listen, do I click, do I respond, do I message, do I like? Now comes what is supposed to be the main part of our day, our work, or schooling or caregiving and attempting to do a good job. Next comes our down time, which for many is laughable. It is now in our downtime that we watch, listen, click, respond, message and like, so downtime easily becomes stress time. As Christians, we are supposed to have God’s peace covering our lives. I say "supposed to" because many of us have a really hard time finding that peace in the midst of our daily chaos. Where are we going wrong, and how do we correct it?
62 minutes | Mar 20, 2023
What Can David, a Battlefront and Cheese Teach Us?
It’s not too often that those who are young adults rise up to be the heroes of the day. Usually they are in the "figuring life out" stage, but occasionally there comes a young adult who is living far beyond that perplexity. David, who would become known as "a man after God’s own heart," was such a young man. This designation would be made apparent when he visited the battlefront to bring food to his brothers and ended up defeating Goliath. Now, the story of his battle with Goliath is well-known, but the events leading up to that battle? Well, they deserve our attention. Focusing on what David already believed and thought - and what he said and did as a result - will reveal Five Points to a Stronger Christian Life for us. Why not learn how to be more focused on God’s will from a man after God’s own heart? Literally, a big problem The armies of Israel stood ready to fight the armies of the Philistines, but they had a really big problem. His name was Goliath. He was a menacing presence, a literal giant of a man standing about nine feet tall. Every day he would stand in the valley between the two armies and put out a challenge for Israel to send their best warrior to fight him to the death. It was a winner-take-all proposition. Goliath’s brash challenge was repeated day after day for 40 days. King Saul and his men stood paralyzed! How could anyone expect to be victorious over such an overwhelmingly imposing figure? Food delivery! David, the teenage shepherd from Bethlehem, shows up to deliver food to his three brothers and cheese to their commander. He hears the brash challenge from Goliath, immediately questions what is happening and volunteers to fight the giant. David goes before King Saul, rejects the king's offer to use his own royal armor and boldly goes down into the valley to meet Goliath for this epic battle. Wait a minute! Why would any king ever agree to sending a teenage shepherd boy with zero military training or experience to fight a seasoned warrior in a winner-take-all battle? The answer here is deep and compelling. The bottom line wasn’t about sending a boy to do the job of an experienced and powerful man. Instead, it was all about sending the right person to meet and defeat an enormous challenge. David was that right person. Check out our March 20, 2013 podcast, “What Can David, a Battlefront and Cheese Teach Us?” for more. We dive into why David was the right person for this overwhelming task. We look at who he had been during his short life before this challenge presented itself. We breakdown what drove him, why it drove him and how he was able to keep fear from burying him. These lessons ring loudly in our ears. Join us for this inspiring conversation with our special guest Matt Kerry, as we learn from and apply the power of David’s character to our daily lives.
64 minutes | Mar 13, 2023
Am I Throwing Away My Life’s Greatest Privilege? (Part II)
King Solomon ruled over a united kingdom of the 12 tribes of Israel. While the king celebrated the breathtaking splendor of Israel’s civil engineering feats and the exquisite opulence of his palaces and buildings, the people were being suffocated under unreasonably high taxes and forced labor. Tribal jealousies were prevalent between the northern and southern regions, especially between Ephraim in the north and Judah in the south. These conditions, along with Solomon’s impending death, set the table for a never-before-seen fracturing of national unity. But there was hope! In Part I of this 2-part series, we laid the groundwork for what would happen. Simply stated, it all came down to being given extraordinary opportunity and privilege by God and the decisions that followed these gifts. Solomon's son, Rehoboam Rehoboam was King Solomon’s son and inherited the throne of Israel when Solomon died. Becoming the king of God’s chosen people was an enormous privilege. Rehoboam had the choice to do things God’s way or to follow in his father’s later footsteps and leave God behind and do them his own way. Israel was in rough shape. Solomon's servant, Jeroboam The overworked and overtaxed people rallied behind one of Solomon’s valiant warriors named Jeroboam. This warrior had been told by a prophet that God would bless him and give him kingship IF ONLY he would obey God’s laws. Here we have two men from two regions of Israel given the opportunity of a lifetime. Both had choices as to how they would handle that opportunity. Both had full knowledge of God’s influence over and protection of Israel. Both also knew of the current sorry state of the nation as it wallowed in idolatry and disunity. As we look from the outside in at the choices these two men faced, it is so easy to see what we would consider as the obvious course of action. Follow God! He has worked miracles of deliverance and victory in the past! Do things God’s way! Let Him bless you AND the people! Sadly, neither of these men ultimately chose that path. Israel would be split into two kingdoms and have two kings. Jeroboam would rule over the ten tribes to the north, and they would be called "Israel." He would leave a legacy of idolatry so blatant that his bloodline would end in disgrace. Rehoboam would rule over the two tribes to the south and they would be called "Judah." His legacy was only slightly better. How could both kings be so foolish? Check out our March 13, 2023 podcast, “Am I Throwing Away My Life’s Greatest Privilege? (Part II)” for answers. As we examine their failed choices, we do so with a mirror of self-assessment in hand. Think about this: if we claim to be true followers of Jesus, then we are claiming the highest privilege humanity has EVER been offered! How are WE handling OUR privilege? Are we really following Jesus or just doing it our way like these two kings? Don’t miss this enlightening journey as ancient history reveals our potential present day pitfalls!
62 minutes | Mar 7, 2023
Am I Throwing Away My Life’s Greatest Privilege? (Part I)
When God miraculously rescued His people from Egyptian slavery and established Israel as a nation, He put a system of rulership through judges in place that did not include having a king. We all know what happened. The people complained to the prophet Samuel because they wanted a king like everybody else. Even though they were warned of the dire consequences that a monarch would bring, they stood fast in their desire, so God let them have their way. Saul was Israel’s first king, and we all know how that ended. David was their second king, and his life and reign ended with turmoil. Solomon was their third king. His reign began in wisdom and faithfulness and ended in the grip of idolatry. From that time on, Israel’s unity fractured, and they would never have a king to rule over their entire nation again. What happened? Israel and its rulers would teach us how easy it is to throw away great privilege! Peace and prosperity come at a price At the end of King Solomon’s reign, Israel was in a socially weakened state. The people were seriously suffering under the high taxes and conscripted labor that built Solomon’s empire. Israel had also become very idolatrous as Solomon’s godly wisdom gave way to the heathen beliefs of his hundreds of wives. Solomon would leave this unhealthy and ununified nation to Rehoboam, a son of one of those wives. Before Solomon’s death, another man named Jeroboam had been told by God through a prophet that he would have the opportunity to rule Israel. The prophet said he would be blessed of God if he diligently followed God’s law and instructions. Now, Jeroboam was a valiant and trusted warrior under King Solomon and must have been quite surprised by this prophetic message. Solomon dies and his son Rehoboam becomes king Things begin to happen! Many of Israel’s mistreated people approached their new king through the valiant warrior Jeroboam to ask for reasonable treatment. With their request, they promised their loyalty. With this opportunity for godly righteousness right before him, the king responds by seeking to think on it for three days. Now the stage is set. On one hand we have this new King Rehoboam who has a golden opportunity to right a sinking ship. On the other hand, we have Jeroboam who was promised extraordinary blessings from God if he would lead according to God’s principles. Who would step up and follow the incredible privilege that God put before them? Check out our March 6, 2023 podcast, “Am I Throwing Away My Life’s Greatest Privileges? (Part I)” for more. We walk through these two unique stories of opportunity and observe human reactions to God’s will. There is so much that this account can teach us! The fact is, we also have grand and godly opportunities before us every day. Learning how the responses of these two significant men in Israel’s history can show us the do’s and the don’ts of handling our own life privileges. Join us for these powerful lessons!
62 minutes | Feb 28, 2023
How Strong Are My Relationships? (Part III)
Human relationships are a key factor in human survival and well-being. We need them, and God has designed humanity in such a way as to thrive when healthy relationships are present. In Part I and Part II of this three-part series, we drilled down into marriage relationships, as well as family and close friend relationships. We found striking similarities in the “how to” of making these relationships stronger. Much of our input came from 1 Corinthians 13, the "love chapter." In our final episode of this series, we now look at our relationships within our Christian fellowship. Though the principles remain the same, what we will find here are some significant differences and challenges unique to our calling to Christ. You may have heard the saying, “You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your relatives.” The implication is that relationships with relatives will have more inherent challenges due to this unchosen connection. Now think about our relationships with fellow Christians. These connections are based not on our personal preferences or family blood lines. They are based on the blood of Christ only. This means that those whom we would have chosen to avoid or those who were even former enemies are now in the category of being closer than a brother. A necessary connection with our opposites If we claim to be true disciples of Jesus, this close connection with those who may be our opposites is a requirement. It can be an invitation for disaster if we attempt to develop it just based upon our human thoughts and feelings. Just ask those who were the earliest Christians, especially after Gentiles were called to Christ along with Jews. Before the call to all nations to follow Jesus, Jewish culture avoided Gentile influence. Now as disciples, both groups were instructed to leave their past thinking, habits and traditions behind and adopt a unified approach as a brotherhood. Jesus told us to “Love one another as I have loved you.” How do we do that? How do we make these brotherhood relationships work on such a high level? The answers are abundantly clear in Scripture if we choose to search them out. The first 2 parts of this series laid important groundwork, as they focused on the scriptural principles of selfless love and respect. Putting these principles into practice in all of our close relationships is the necessary staring point. Check out our February 27, 2023 podcast, “How Strong Are My Relationships? (Part III) for more. Using the scriptural basis of 1 Corinthians 13, we delve into the practicality of how to enhance our Christian fellowship. Interestingly, our love for one another needs to be based upon both selfless love and brotherly love. It needs to be profoundly respectful, coming from as pure a heart as we can possibly have. Jesus showed us how to do this, and the Apostle Paul explained it in great detail. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn how to be better connected to the body of Christ!
62 minutes | Feb 21, 2023
How Strong Are My Relationships? (Part II)
In Part I, we opened the door to talking about strong and healthy relationships by focusing on marriage. We looked at what it is built upon, what makes it work, what hinders it and how to stay with it when challenges arise. We discovered a powerful scriptural pattern for success that can be traced to the simple descriptions of what selfless love is and is not in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Our next set of relationships will focus on our families and closest friends. In many ways, these relationships are similar to the marriage relationship and what it stands for and therefore can be nurtured and healed with the same scriptural principles. God’s design in all of this is truly magnificent! Greek to English There is such a difference between the English and Greek languages. In English, we talk about loving our family, loving our friends and loving selflessly by using the same word, "love." In Greek, these different types of love are expressed with specific and precise words. Greek defines love of family and friends with specific words that are all based on a fraternal relationship. The Greek word for "selfless love" is entirely different and expresses a love and caring that gives without a need to receive. Understanding these differences in the meaning of love helps us to see the depth of the Bible’s instruction regarding our relationships. Family and close friend relationships are easy targets for frustrations and issues. Because we have such a close natural or chosen connection with these individuals, we are easily liable to fall into misunderstanding and disagreement. Fortunately, the Bible gives us several ways to approach these challenges. One basic piece of scriptural guidance is to simply listen to Jesus. This can come across as almost too basic because we are always supposed to listen to Jesus, so let’s get specific. In Matthew 7, Jesus talked about judging others. His guidance was unmistakable as he stated it in an exaggerated example. To paraphrase, he instructed us to remove the log out of our own eye before we try and remove the speck of sawdust out of someone else’s eye. This is a simple lesson that teaches us to right our own attitude and perspective before approaching those things in someone we care about. Being willing to do this shows that we truly care for and respect those in our lives who may be having issues. This is just one of many practical ways the Bible helps us to feed and nurture our family and close friend relationships. Check out our February 20, 2023 podcast, “How Strong Are My Relationships? (Part II)” Further steps and guidance include a deeper grasp of the listening process and what to do after we listen. We also delve into the profound realization of how to connect brotherly and family love with the selfless love that Jesus taught us. Learning to put these things together is learning to have stronger family and friend relationships. What are we waiting for?
61 minutes | Feb 14, 2023
How Strong Are My Relationships? (Part I)
This may sound odd, but for a moment think about your personal relationships like a car. You depend on your car though you generally don’t think much about it. When you get in it you are ready to go, and if it doesn’t start or it breaks down, it creates issues. A lack of attention and maintenance will inevitably bring trouble. Proper maintenance is key to keep it running smoothly and to keeping you happy. Well, our personal relationships are immeasurably more important than our car, so we need to keep them in good working order as well. Because there are so many kinds of personal relationships, let’s start by looking at marriage. What are some basic principles to keep our Christian marriage going and growing? When we think about what a healthy marriage looks like, most of us think about being happy. We think about quality time, doing things for one another, encouraging each other, giving to each other and intimacy. Images of things like walking together along a deserted beach or being surprised with a gift or gesture, or going on an adventure or a having quiet dinner for two give us a sense of a powerful marriage connection. All of these things are awesome, and we’d all love to be there! But how do we do it? How do we build our marriages up to this kind of sharing and security? Let’s face it, life is incredibly complicated and busy. Even thinking about all of these sharing experiences can be stressful - nevermind actually doing them. The unfortunate equation many of us find even our Christian marriage trapped by looks something like this: Work stress plus responsibility, multiplied by financial challenges, plus social media, multiplied by digital entertainment equals no time and little desire left to intentionally strengthen our marriages! What we would love to have is seemingly inaccessible as we face the tangle and drain of simply living everyday life. There is a better way. The starting point to untangle the confusing mess of life’s expectations begins with doing one thing and understanding two principles. The one thing is to self-assess. Decide that the responsibility for making your marriage better lands squarely on your shoulders. Now, you might respond that marriage is by definition give and take, contributions from both sides! You could not be more correct! However, the process of positive change always begins with taking personal responsibility to take the first small steps, regardless of what anybody else does. Simple...but not easy. Check out our February 13, 2023 podcast, “How Strong Are My Relationships? (Part I) for more. We expand on this self-assessing process by homing in on what to focus on, which brings us to our two principles: LOVE and RESPECT. The key here is understanding that the kind of love we are talking about is the kind Jesus showed us. It is a love that graciously, selflessly gives. And respect, well, that’s much bigger than we might think as well. These are just our starting points. Join us for the rest of the story!
61 minutes | Feb 6, 2023
What Is Truth?
We all would agree that truth is important. Legally we know it is critical. When pressed to speak the truth under oath in the United States, you are asked, “Do you solemnly swear/affirm that you will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God/under pains and penalties of perjury? As important as this sounds, we human beings are often lazy about truth and even afraid of it. Winston Churchill once said, “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.” So, what is truth? Are there absolute truths? How can we know which ones are reliable and which ones are merely situational? As they sought to unjustly put Jesus to death, the Pharisees brought him before Pilate and presented their case. When Pilate saw no merit in their accusations, he questioned Jesus without them. After some conversation, Jesus told Pilate that he came to proclaim the truth and those who heed his voice are of the truth. Pilate had a dilemma. Those who accused Jesus were supposed to be truthful religious leaders, and yet Jesus was innocent. How could their story be so far off from what Jesus said? It was here that he uttered his famous question, “What is truth?” To many, truth is subjective. We live in a time where information and opinions are overwhelmingly accessible. At every turn, we are encouraged to create and adopt our own personal truths. These conditions result in endless debates and demands regarding the acceptance of our truths. In such a state, truth becomes what we decide it should be. Sadly, we are confused and misled with these conclusions. Why? We have confused “truth” with personal observations, opinions and values. Have you heard the one about the elephant? The famous story of a group of blind men seeking to describe an elephant by their touch observations reminds us of this. In one version of the story, the first man thought the elephant was like a snake as he held onto its trunk. The second described it to be like a rope as he held its slender tail. The third man described the elephant to be like a pillar or tree trunk as he put his arms around one of its massive legs. All of these men were right. All of them spoke the truth, and yet none of them could fully describe the elephant, as they were limited by their own perspective. Checkout our February 6, 2023 podcast, “What is Truth?” for more. We challenge the adoption and acceptance of personal truths as unquestionable truth. We examine what absolute truth is and how it, by definition, must be above and beyond our human framework. The conclusions are inspiring as we see how God and His word can lead us to absolute truth. Truth is always true, even if we choose not to believe it. Join us on our journey towards the freedom that comes from knowing and embracing genuine, unchangeable truth!
65 minutes | Jan 30, 2023
Why Doesn’t God Just Destroy Satan?
There are some questions that are just plain difficult. One of those questions that many believers in God may wrestle with has to do with God seemingly allowing Satan to run the show. Let’s face it, evil stinks and we just want it to go away. Yet, God has continued to let Satan's influence dominate our world for thousands of years! Most Christians believe God is absolutely capable of destroying Satan but begins to fall short when asked why it has not yet happened. Answers touch on God creating all of His spiritual and earthly intelligent beings with free choice, and this is a great start. The key factor in all of this is seeing HOW God gives each being a free choice and the ability to have fair and just choices. Unbelievers incapable of seeing the gospel In 2 Corinthians chapter 4 the Apostle Paul is talking about unbelievers. He describes them as incapable of seeing the gospel. Why are they incapable? In verse 4 he says they have been blinded by Satan, the "god of this world." He is not saying they blinded themselves, or purposefully ignored the gospel. He is clear that they can’t see it because Satan has made it so. When Jesus spoke the Parable of the Sower and the Seed, he made a similar claim. He interpreted the birds eating the seed by the roadside as Satan taking the gospel message before it could be appreciated. Is Satan in control? Seeing both Jesus and the Apostle Paul making such plain statements about Satan’s ability to control the gospel’s reach can raise questions. Who is really in charge here? Why hasn’t God stopped - or at least diminished - Satan’s reach, especially regarding the gospel? The answers are simple. God IS in charge. Period. He hasn’t thwarted Satan’s influence because it is not yet time for that part of His Plan. While these are simple answers, they certainly need detailed reasoning and scriptural support to reveal their logic and harmony. Let’s begin to open the door to those important details. Consider that God’s continued allowance for Satan to keep on living is an integral part of His Plan to benefit ALL of His created beings. Satan’s rebellion actually serves God’s plan in two ways: Satan’s continued existence and influence serve as an undeniable and unavoidable example of what rebellion against God’s righteousness unfolds. Satan’s continued existence and influence serve as the basis for testing each and every one of God’s created beings. Every intelligent created being will ultimately choose to stay loyal to God’s righteousness OR ultimately choose to follow the darkness of Satan. Check out our January 30, 2023 podcast, “Why Doesn’t God Just Destroy Satan?” for more. We provide strong scriptural reasoning to support these two reasons for Satan’s continued existence. We do this by tracing how Satan initially got the power he now abuses. Next, we trace how this power grab exactly fits into God’s eternal purposes and what its end result will be. Join us for an eye-opening journey that helps us see the wisdom, power and love of God!
63 minutes | Jan 24, 2023
What Sins Can Never Be Forgiven?
Everybody sins. We can’t help it because we are imperfect, and therefore we will inevitably fall. As Christians, we can and should claim the amazing advocacy of Jesus, ask forgiveness, make right what we did wrong and move on. But are there sins that go beyond what Jesus can help us with? Are there "unforgivable" sins? Are there sins that once committed doom us to eternal death? The Scriptures do say such sins exist. The good news is the Bible is specific about what they are and how they work. The difficult news is that some verses are hard to understand, and that can lead to confusion. So, what are sins that go beyond forgiveness, and how can we stay far away from them? What if I accidentally commit this type of sin? First and foremost, we need to understand that according to the Bible, no one can commit a sin that dooms them to eternal death by accident. Many seem to walk through their lives with this fear hanging over their heads. What if I said this or did that without realizing it? Or, what if I did something as a joke or out of immaturity or a whim in the past – does that doom me to future eternal death? The answer here is no. Sins with no resurrection are not accidental. Remember, God is just and not vengeful. He is wise and not emotionally driven. He is powerful, not reactionary, and He is love but not weak. However, this is not to say that being foolish about or disrespectful to God and His eternal power is ever advisable. It never is, as we all bear responsibility for our thoughts, words and deeds. The primary principle that needs establishing in this whole discussion has to do with “who.” Who is liable to committing a sin that leads to eternal death? The Bible unequivocally speaks about a resurrection for all of humanity that brings them an opportunity for reconciliation. This one fact tells us that all of humanity therefore does not have such liability here in this present age. If they did, they obviously would not be raised out of death. Not all Christians are in this category The liability to a death with no resurrection falls upon Christians, but NOT on all Christians. Once again, you look at this and think, what? The explanation for this is clearly laid out in Scripture and really is a must see. Check out our January 23, 2023 podcast, “What Sins Can Never Be Forgiven?” for more. We systematically go through the three sets of scriptures that always seem to come up when talking about sins with no resurrection. What we find is a deep subject that has been muddied in its understanding and application over time. Phrases like “speaking against the holy spirit being unforgivable,” “the second death,” “for whom black darkness has been reserved forever” are all put in order. Join us as we attempt to separate out all of the mystery and leave just the plain statements of biblical truth to learn from. You don’t want to miss this!
63 minutes | Jan 17, 2023
What Does God’s Grace Do For Us?
The Bible is full of examples of God’s love, justice, wisdom, power and plan. It is a fountain of mercy and foresight, and a treasure trove of prophecy. Understanding the magnitude of all these things helps us see God as the Sovereign Creator and Father that He really is. But wait, there’s more! Running through ALL of the descriptions we just mentioned is another facet of God’s character - His grace. The word for "grace" in the Bible has many shades of meaning. When we understand how this word is applied to God in both the Old and New Testaments, we are given a profound glimpse into the depth and breadth of His character. God’s grace is and always has been a game changer. Let’s see how! A gift God’s grace is often and accurately described as His unmerited favor. On a mere human level, this concept can be exciting and fulfilling. Suppose you know someone who has a favorite sports team. You decide one day that you will buy them two tickets to an important game their team will play in. You buy the tickets not because you are returning some favor, but simply because you want to give them something that was previously out of their reach. Finally, you give them the tickets and they are stunned in their joy and surprise. This is a tiny example compared to the magnitude of God’s grace. His grace is expressed in many ways at many times under many circumstances. Think of the gift of Jesus. The Bible says God gave us this gift as an expression of His grace. This means that we are ransomed from death because God wanted to give humanity the unmerited gift of an opportunity for eternal life. This gift changes everything about the futures of every human being who has ever lived. It’s a pretty big gift! So, is our reaction to it as joyful as receiving tickets to a big game? What if they are just paper? How would you feel if your friend you gave those tickets to never went to the game and instead just stared at the tickets and loved the fact that they had them? Your reaction would be that they missed the point of the gift. You wanted them to be at the actual game and not just appreciate the fact that they could go. It is the same with God’s grace, only on a massively larger level. He doesn’t want us to simply appreciate the opportunity for life; He wants us to live in that opportunity, to change and grow as a result of its presence in our lives. God’s grace always seeks an active response! Check out our January 16, 2023 podcast, “What Does God’s Grace Do for Us?” for more. We reveal the countless ways His grace is described, give examples of how it works and lay out what it does for us. God’s grace is bigger and more powerful than we think. Do yourself a favor and join us for an awe-inspiring look at the grace that changes the world!