This guy found a problem in the Bible and thinks he can now disprove God

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds…” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

I was reading comments on a friend’s Facebook page on something she had written about the Bible.

After a number of statements from one critic in particular–each comment shallow and several of them insulting–she patiently responded with kindness and reason.

But nothing worked on that guy.

When one is determined not to believe, no amount of truth or reason or logic can penetrate the protective armor of alibis, arguments, excuses, and slander in which he clothes himself.

What was the “contradiction” he had found in Scripture?

He said, “In one place the Bible says an eye for an eye and another place it says turn the other cheek.  What do you say about such a contradiction?”

I found myself wondering if this guy was serious.  My 13-year-old neighbor could answer that.

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Perhaps the most profound thing our Lord ever said

“Except you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

What’s lacking in the great majority of religious experts–of all tribes, all beliefs, all everything!–is a childlike humility.

I’ve sat across from the salespeople hawking Jehovah’s Witness and Mormon doctrine door to door and been amazed at the sheer gall and arrogance of these know-it-alls.

I’ve sat in the auditoriums and classrooms when prophecy teachers were spreading out their charts and telling far more than they could ever know, pronouncing their anathema upon anyone daring to believe otherwise and taking no prisoners in the process.

I’ve sat in massive conferences among thousands of my peers and heard ignorance spouted as truth but camouflaged with alliteration and pious phrases and encouraged and affirmed by thundering echoes of “amens” and “hallelujahs”.

In every case, I longed to hear someone say, “We see through a glass darkly….”  (I Corinthians 13:12).

To hear someone say, “I have not arrived. I press toward the mark….” (Philippians 3:12-13).

To hear someone say, “We do not know how to pray as we should….” (Romans 8:26)

To hear someone say, “That which I am doing, I do not understand.  I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15).

Where is the childlike spirit we hear so much of in the Word?

1) I can hear someone say, “Well, we enter the kingdom by that spirit, but thereafter, as we learn and grow, we become teachers and instructors and gain confidence and are allowed to become more bombastic.”

Rubbish.

We are expected to be of a childlike spirit all our lives.  We are to remain teachable all the way to the end. We are instructed to grow in the fruit of the Spirit, and that includes such traits as gentleness, humility, self-control, and faithfulness (Galatians 5:22-23).

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The delights that constantly come from our surprising Lord!

It’s great to be able to say with Paul of Timothy, “From a child you have known the Holy Scriptures” (II Tim. 3:15), as some of us can.

But it has its downside.

Familiarity breeds contempt, the saying goes. However, for those of us raised in church, I suspect it’s more boredom than outright contempt.

The amazing story loses its edge.

One of the works of the Holy Spirit in our lives is to continually sharpen our commitment to Christ and our enjoyment of Him. He alone keeps putting the edge on our faith.

When we drift from faithfulness to the Lord, that is, when we backslide, well, the Holy Spirit, who can take a hint and know when He is not wanted, turns to others who want His help. You and I are hardly aware that He has moved away. We are the last to see that something else has happened….

We have lost something special. We have become bored with our faith and boring in our proclamation of it.

When the Holy Spirit is in the driver’s seat in our lives, many things happen. And one of the best is this: We see the Scriptures through fresh eyes.

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You are loved. Everlastingly so.

“The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying, ‘Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love….’” (Jeremiah 31:3)

What part of ‘everlasting’ do we not get?

Lately, we are learning through science what unending and infinite look like. Space seems to be continuous, going on and on.  The lineup of galaxies across the heavens staggers our imaginations, considering their size, makeup, number, complexity.

The Psalmist who said, “The heavens declare the glory of the Lord” (Psalm 19:1) had no clue just how much they say about the majesty and might of our Creator. That’s not to imply we do, only that we have far more information on the complexities and delights of the universe which the Father has wrought with His own hands than biblical writers ever dreamed of.

“From everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God.” (Psalm 90:2)

From everlasting in the past to everlasting in the future, God is God.  There never was a time when God did not exist; there will never be a time when God does not reign.

Personally, I cannot get my mind around that. To my puny intellect, infinity of any kind is fearful.  To think of being snuffed out upon death, that after our last breath, we are extinguished forever, is frightening and painful beyond belief.  I think of loved ones whose passing took with them a huge hunk of my heart and soul. The thought that I would never see them again strikes me with a sadness incalculable.

But infinity of the other kind–living forever and ever, world without end–is just as mind-boggling. How could that work? How could we exist knowing that nothing would ever end?

The answer is and absolutely must be: “It’s a different realm.”  This mortal must put off its mortality, its corruption, its limitation, and be changed forever–into immortality, into glory, into power.  “We shall be changed.”  (See I Corinthians 15.) That “change” is a requirement before you and I begin to make that adjustment.

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Humility: It looks so good on you!

“God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Submit therefore to God” (James 4:6).

“Clothe yourself with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (I Peter 5:5).  

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time….” (5:6).

A Facebook friend said, “I’m very proud of my humility.”

I think he was teasing.

Humility is not a subject most of us would claim to know much about.  In fact, we would shy away from anyone claiming to be humble.  The very claim contradicts itself.

In fact, a truly humble person would probably be the last to know it.   So, when told that “You are a genuinely humble person,” the appropriate response might be something like “Who, me? I wish!”

Now, there are few traits more attractive in a leader than humility.  The Lord of Heaven and earth stooped to wash the feet of His disciples, in so doing forever disallowing His preachers from playing the royalty card (John 13).  “The Son of Man did not come to be ministered unto,” He said, “but to minister and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

Biblically.  Anecdotally.  And personally. The evidences of a truly humble person are no secret.

Seven traits of a humble person….

One.  An overwhelming sense of the blessings of God.  His generosity. His grace.  “Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for HIs wonderful works to the children of men!” (That praise eruption of praise comes from Psalm 107 where it is repeated in verses 8, 15, 21, and 31.)

God is so good to me.  Far better than I deserve. “I feel like I’m God’s favorite child,” a friend says.  “My cup runneth over,” said King David (Psalm 23:5).

Words you will hear a lot from the truly humble: “Thank you!”

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Now, take Christmas. That’s certainly not how I would have done it.

(With tongue firmly planted in cheek, let us rethink this greatest of all stories.)

What was the Lord thinking, doing Christmas the way He did?

A Baby is born to an unwed couple after a long, arduous journey.  The cradle is a feeding trough in a stable in Bethlehem.  Welcoming committees of shepherds and foreigners show up. A murderous king sends his soldiers to slaughter babies. The young family flees to Egypt.

And thus Jesus arrives on the scene.

Admit it.  You would not have done Christmas that way.  It’s not just me.

As the God of the universe, the infinite and omnipotent Heavenly Father, you could do anything you please, right?  In the beginning, You created the Heavens and the earth, right?  The opening statement of Scripture certainly establishes who is in charge.  So everything is on the table.  Nothing off limits.

“Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” It says that right there in Psalm 115:3.

Now, all I’m saying is that had I been God and in charge, with no one to tell me ‘no’ or no administrative authority to question my actions, I think I might have done things differently.

Now. take that stable.

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Marginalizing Jesus

“And she gave birth to her first-born son, and…. laid Him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7).

One reason God’s people have made so much of this verse, even to the point of inventing harsh innkeepers who slam doors in the faces of the young couple from Nazareth until they find a friendly face who apologetically gives them room in his stable, is that it so perfectly summarizes what the world has done to Jesus ever since: shunted Him off to the side and tried to ignore Him.

Scripture says, “He came unto His own and His own received Him not” (John 1:11).

Of course, in the birth narrative Scripture mentions no innkeepers, harsh or otherwise, and doesn’t even reference a stable. Only a manger, a feed-trough.

I said to a church in rural Alabama, “Of course, those of us who grew up on the farm know that stables are where you find feed-troughs! There might be one manger outside in the ‘lot,’ what some would call a corral, but the little family will not be seeking shelter in an open cattle pen. So, our vision of Jesus as being born inside a stable is probably exactly right.”

Ever since that time, the world has tried to continue that practice, crowding out the Lord Jesus and giving Him tiny places in our world and our hearts.

We honor Him with words–think of the thousands upon thousands of books written about Him–and even give Him His special day!  Then, we want to ignore Him the rest of the year.

School boards and city councils tell those they invite to pray, “Just don’t get sectarian.”  That translates to one thing and one thing only: “Do not mention Jesus in your prayer.”

That’s why it will be a cold day in Washington, D. C., before Franklin Graham and Rick Warren get invited to pray at another presidential inauguration.  They made the fatal errors in their inauguration prayers: They mentioned Jesus.

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How Jesus learned to love parables

No one automatically comes into this world with their teaching techniques firmly in hand. We learn them from the people who teach us, we learn them by trial and error, we figure out for ourselves what works best.

Even though the Lord Jesus Christ was Who He was when He arrived–with all that the Incarnation means–we can safely assume that He learned somewhere along the way, growing up in Galilee, the value of a well-placed story.

But more than any other way, the Lord Jesus learned to love parables from Scripture. And by Scripture, we mean the Old Testament, since that was the only sacred text available at that time.

The parable has played a leading role all through the years of God’s dealings with His people.

The first memorable parable, to most of us, was given King David by the prophet Nathan. David had stolen another man’s wife, Bathsheba, and had arranged to have her husband Uriah killed in battle in order to hide his wickedness from his people.

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10 things about the Christmas story you may have missed

They were not “kings” from the east and there wasn’t three of them (as far as anyone knows). And when they arrived in Bethlehem, Joseph and Mary and Baby Jesus were not still in the stable, but in a house, contrary to half the Christmas cards that will be arriving at your house.

Furthermore, there’s no indication cattle were in that stable or anywhere nearby. In fact, the only thing that leads us to believe Jesus was born in a stable is that Luke 2:7 tells us Mary laid the Baby in a manger, a feeding trough.

But you knew all this.

And you knew that all of this was predicted through the centuries by God’s prophets. We particularly treasure the promises of Isaiah 7:17 (“Behold a virgin shall conceive….”) and 9:6-7 (“For unto us a child is born….”), as well as Micah 5:2 (“Bethlehem…out of you shall come forth One to be Ruler over Israel…”).

And I expect you knew that, contrary to the Christmas hymn “The First Noel,” the shepherds in Bethlehem’s fields did not “looked up and saw a star shining in the East beyond them far.” (Modern hymnals have revised that line to read “For all to see there was a star….”)

But, allow me to point out some aspects of this wonderful story it’s possible you might have missed. There is no particular order intended.

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Options the Lord did not leave open to us

“If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how shall you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (John 3:12)

The Christian faith is not a cafeteria from which one may pick and choose what to believe and leave the less appetizing choices behind.  It is a turn-key operation, to change the metaphor.  “It is finished,” said our Lord from the cross.  Salvation will not be needing my touches, God’s wisdom will not be helped by my cleverness, and the gospel will not be enhanced by my talents.  The gospel is a done deal.

Scripture says the revelation God has given us is sufficient.  “So that the (child) of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy  3:17).

Nothing is missing from this amazing salvation given us in Jesus Christ.

But we keep trying, don’t we?  Consider these attempts of ours to cherry-pick doctrines and truths…

One.

Some people insist, “The Bible is not a book of science. It is not a history book, in the same way it’s not a cook book or a travel guide.  It is reliable in terms of spiritual matters, but should not be expected to get all the other things right.”

Many would say that sounds right.

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