Apr 15

Will You Take This Short Bible Quiz?

21531102_sQuizzes can fun.  Just take a look at Facebook; every day there’s a new quiz that people are taking, ranging from how well you remember cartoons from the 70′s to which Disney character you are most like.

So since we seem to like quizzes, I thought I’d give a little “pop quiz” of my own. These five questions are on fairly familiar Bible stories, so they shouldn’t be too hard to answer.  See how well you do, then stick around for the application.

1.  Who was Esther’s uncle?
2.  Who cut Samson’s hair?
3.  Who was taken up into heaven in a chariot of fire?
4.  In which gospel account’s record of the birth of Jesus do we read about the innkeeper?
5.  Which apostle doubted the report of Jesus’ resurrection?

Okay, so you finished the quiz?  The answers are in the final paragraph of this article.  I’m putting them there so that you wouldn’t inadvertently see the answers in this paragraph as you read the questions above.  So, take a moment and read the last paragraph, then come back up and we’ll pick up here.

While these questions come from fairly well-known stories, probably most of you missed several of the answers. Someone might say, “So what?  What difference does it make?  It’s not like life and death or Heaven and Hell hing on these questions.”  And of course, that’s true, they don’t.  But here’s what I want us to think about, and why I offered this little quiz.  The next time you are tempted to say about your religious neighbors, “How in the world do they believe what they believe; don’t they read their Bibles?” you might remember this little quiz.  Chances are, they embrace errors for the same reasons we embrace errors (e.g. failure to read carefully, accepting tradition, trusting that what we’ve been told is the truth without doing our own research, etc.).

What I want this short quiz to do is to motivate us to be better students of the Bible and have a more patient and understanding attitude toward our religious neighbors who are in error.  Their mistakes may be more consequential than not knowing who Samson’s wife was (who by the way, wasn’t Delilah.  Look it up for yourself), but we struggle with the same weaknesses in Bible study that they do.

So don’t judge motives.  Don’t conclude they don’t love the truth as much as you do.  It’s more than likely they’ve simply made the same mistakes you’ve made with regard to Bible study and need a kind and gentle friend to help guide them.

So how did you do?  Did anyone get them all correct?

If you answered 1) Mordecai, 2) Delilah, 3) Elijah or Elisha, 4) Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, and 5) anyone less than all eleven of the apostles you were wrong. (I’d give you 1/11th of a point on question “5″ if you answered “Thomas.”).  Mordecai was Esther’s cousin, not uncle (Esther 2:7).  Delilah didn’t cut Samson’s hair, an unnamed Philistine did (Judges 16:19).  No one rode a chariot of fire into heaven, but a chariot of fire did separate Elijah and Elisha, then a whirlwind took Elijah away (2 Kings 2:11).  There is no mention of an “innkeeper” in any of the gospel accounts.  And all of the apostles were guilty of not believing the reports of Jesus raising from the dead, not just Thomas (Mark 16:14).

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Apr 08

Noah: The Truth Is Better Than Fiction

NoahThis past week, my wife and I watched the new movie, “Noah.”  I had read several reviews beforehand; some were claiming it was a powerful retelling of the biblical story, while others stated it had very little connection to the biblical story.

So I thought I’d see for myself.  Below is a sermon that I preached this past Sunday on the topic of “Noah.”  In it I summarized the movie, “Noah,” and drew several thought provoking lessons from the biblical account of this great man.

This lesson is a bit longer than my typical sermons, and the video is “streaming quality” which isn’t very good, but we are nearing completion of our video project and will soon have high quality video, as well as better lighting.

 

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Mar 19

Memories

siblingsToday’s post is just a personal post.  Since my dad died last Fall, I have found myself to be much more reflective and so many memories that were deeply filed away in my mind have found their way to my consciousness.

The picture to the left is a picture of my two sisters and myself.  While I don’t know the exact date, it was probably taken about two years before my older sister died due to complications from Down’s Syndrome.  She was just nine years old at the time of her death.

When my sister, Donna was born, the doctor encouraged my mom and dad to institutionalize her.  The doctor thought my mom and dad were young and didn’t need to be “burdened” with a Down’s Syndrome child.  My mom and dad summarily dismissed his recommendation, brought her home, and loved her until her death just nine short years later.

I was three years old when my sister Donna died.  Thus my memories are pretty sketchy.  But from what I have been told, my sister really loved me.  After all, she was a 7-9 year old girl and I was a “living” doll with which she could play.

Growing up in my family, I was very aware that I had an older sister who died as a child, but I was too young to grasp the depth of the loss.  Now that I am a parent of four children, I can better understand the depth of pain and loss my parents must have experienced.  When each of my four children turned nine years of age, I contemplated what it would be like to lose them which made my heart break for my mom and dad.

Not too long ago, while talking with a lady from TN, I discovered she had a brief video of my parents and my sister on 8mm film.  Of course, I wanted a copy of that clip, no matter how long or short it was.  So this lady actually had it copied to a DVD for me, and I presented it to my parents.

For those of you who remember Donna, and for those of you who know my parents, you might find the following video interesting.  This video was recorded in 1959, making my mom and dad 25 and 26 years old at the time.

As I watch this video, here are a few thoughts that come to my mind.

  • While I miss my dad, I’m happy to know that he is able to be with his daughter, Donna.
  • I know that a person’s value is not measured in what they accomplish in life, but by in whose image they are made.  Due to Donna’s mental shortcomings, she would have never been “normal,” but she was made in the image of God; her innocence was a daily reflection of God, and she taught others to love like God.
  • I know that the imperfection in Donna’s body wasn’t nearly as glaring or noticeable as the imperfections in the souls of many “normal” people.

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Mar 17

The “Silence” of The Scriptures

20140317_160954Without a common understanding of how the Bible authorizes, even the most earnest desire and irenic spirit are insufficient to attain and maintain unity.  A brief examination of our own history over the past 150 years will bear this out. A little more than a century ago, the United States Census Bureau, for the first time, listed Churches of Christ and Christian Churches as two separate religious bodies.  This official recognition of the division that existed between Churches of Christ and Christian Churches was the culmination of half a century of disagreement over how the Scriptures authorize; specifically, how to interpret the “silence” of the Scriptures.

How is one to understand “silence” after God has already spoken?  Is “silence” prohibitive or permissive?  Is “silence” intentional or incidental?  Disagreement over this fundamental issue is what divided us 100 years ago, and continues to keep us separated today.

However, let’s allow the Scriptures to answer this question for us and allow it to be its own interpreter.

The prophet Jeremiah was told to stand in the gate of the temple and to urge the people to “Amend your ways…” (Jeremiah 7:3).  What ways did they need to amend?  According to Jeremiah 7:31, they had built high places upon which to burn their sons and daughters.  But note the principle or rationale by which God condemned their action.  God said they were guilty of doing that “which I did not command, nor did it come into My heart.”  Their condemnation was not based upon the explicit prohibition of idolatry, but rather was based on the equivalent practice of doing that which the Lord had not commanded.

In Leviticus 10:1-2, Nadab and Abihu sinned by ignoring this principle of silence.  They offered strange fire before the Lord “which He had not commanded them.”  By doing that which the Lord had not commanded them, they were found guilty.  Nowhere did God say, “You cannot use this fire.”  However what God did do is tell them what fire they were supposed to use, and there was no permission to be found in God’s silence about other fires.

I challenge all men to heed the words of the Puritan preacher, Richard Baxter (1615-1691) who stated, “For what man, dare go in a way which has neither precept nor example to warrant it? Can that be obedience which has no command for it…O, the pride of man’s heart, that instead of being a law-obeyer, will be a law-maker! For my part, I will not fear that God will be angry with me for doing no more than He has commanded me, and sticking close to the rule of His word, in matter of worship; but I should tremble to add or diminish!” (Baxter, 24)

May we have such reverence for God and his authority that we might all tremble at the very thought of adding to or diminishing from God’s word!

 

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Feb 24

What Do Atheists Look Like?

7192369_sWhat do atheists look like?  Do they have tattoos and piercings?  Do they look rough and rebellious?  Do they drive cars with ACLU bumper stickers? Or do they have a look of smug arrogance and intellectual superiority?  What if I told you that many atheists look just like the couple in the picture to the left?  What if I told you that many atheists are frequently seen with folded hands, praying or with open Bibles, reading?  Yes, it’s true.  Now allow me to explain.

Probably most of us could quote Psalm 14:1 – “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”  We keep that verse handy as an apt description of atheists.  However, I would like for you to take a closer look at this familiar passage.

My friend and colleague, Jody Apple, brought this to my attention over a year ago.  The words “there is” in this passage, is not in the Hebrew text and is an addition by the translators.  Several Bible translations will italicize those words, denoting they were added by the translators.  The significance is that instead of saying “the fool has said in his heart there is no God,” it could be saying, “the fool has said in his heart, ‘no, God.’”

I would call this “practical atheism.”  While of course it is foolish not to believe in the existence of God, it is also foolish to believe in God, but to say “no” to him.  In what practical or functional sense does this differ from atheism?

So maybe we had better reevaluate the way we have applied Psalm 14:1.  Could it be that this passage isn’t about “them,” but about “us?”  Do believers ever say, “no” to God?

  • What do we say when God calls upon us to make deep sacrifices?  Do we ever say, “no, God?”
  • What do we do when God calls us to pursue peace and unity within the church?  Do we ever say, “no, God?”
  • What do we do when God calls us to discipline the impenitent brother in Christ?  Do we ever say, “no, God?”
  • What do we do when God calls us to forgive one who has sinned against us?  Do we ever say, “no, God?”
  • What do we do when God calls us to speak up and be heard, to stand against our culture, and the tide of public opinion?  Do we ever say, “no, God?”
  • What do we do when God calls us to seek him and his kingdom ahead of our own lives and family?  Do we ever say, “no, God?”

If so, maybe Psalm 14:1 has as much to say to us as it does to the atheist.  Give it some thought!

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