Monday, July 21, 2014

Catechism #29

Q. What is the eighth of the Ten Commandments?
A. The eighth of the Ten Commandments is, “You shall not steal.”

For many people the command to not steal applies to big things, like cars, money, or jewelry. But the eighth commandment is not limited to home invasions or bank robberies; God did not define stealing with a dollar amount.

Stealing is taking anything that doesn’t belong to you—regardless of value. Stealing is wrong even if the item stolen is an ink pen, piece of candy, or something intangible.

We have probably all stolen at some point in our lives. What does Paul tell former thieves to do?

“Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.”
Ephesians 4:28

Instead of taking from someone else what does not belong to us, let us give to someone else that which does not belong to them.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Know Your Bible (Google Image Series)

Yes, please do know your Bible.

Only the King James Version uses the word unicorn. The last time the KJV was updated was 1769, and at that time the word unicorn did not mean what it means today.

Newer translations use the words wild oxen, but no need to get hung up in those pesky facts.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Catechism #28

Q. What is the seventh of the Ten Commandments?
A. The seventh of the Ten Commandments is, “You shall not commit adultery.”

When we first hear the seventh commandment some might feel off the hook—“I’m not even married. I can’t commit adultery.”

Others might proudly say, “I would never cheat on my spouse!”

But while adultery is defined as sexual misconduct inside of marriage (as opposed to fornication, which is misconduct outside of marriage), Jesus took this command a step further. Just as He equated hatred with murder, He also equated adultery with lust.

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
(Matthew 5:27-28)

Before we pat ourselves on the back because we have never cheated in marriage, we need to examine our own thought life. Jesus said that every intentional lustful thought is the same thing as the physical act of adultery.

Some guys will look at images of women who have had so many plastic surgeries they could have been made by Mattel. Some women will watch a chick flick and fantasize about the character who dances with his girlfriend on the street in the pouring rain. Both are fake; both lead to unrealistic expectations that can never be fulfilled.

We should not commit adultery, whether the physical act or the secret thought. Like Job, we need to make a covenant with our eyes and not look or think with lust.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Ovid's Metamorphoses and the Bible

There is a strange scene recorded in Acts 14. Paul and Barnabas are on their first missionary journey, in a city known as Lystra. Lystra is in modern day Turkey and was in close proximity to Phrygia.

In Lystra the Holy Spirit allowed Paul to heal a man who was crippled. When the town’s people saw the miracle they cried out, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men (v.11)!” They called the missionary duo Zeus and Hermes (some translations say Mercury and Jupiter, which were their Roman counterparts), and began to worship them by offering sacrifices. Paul and Barnabas rushed to stop them, pleading, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God…”

While this is a humorous scene, a little history can shine some light here.

In 8 AD, approximately 40 years prior to this event, Ovid published The Metamorphoses, which is considered to be one of the greatest classics in Greek mythology. So prevalent was Ovid that Shakespeare alluded to him in every one of his plays.

In Book VIII of Metamorphoses Ovid shares a story about the time Zeus and Hermes came to earth in the likeness of men and visited Phrygia. “To a thousand homes they came, seeking a place for rest; a thousand homes were barred against them.”   

As the story goes, the gods finally came to the last house in the city, the home of Philemon and Baucis. This elderly couple was poor, but they not only welcomed in their guests, they gave them the best of what they had.

Baucis soon noticed that no matter how many times she topped off their glasses, the wine was not running out. “The two old people saw this strange sight with amaze and fear, and, with upturned hands they both uttered a prayer.” The gods revealed themselves to the couple and told them to leave the city because it was going to be destroyed due to the lack of hospitality that was shown.

After running to the top of a hill, the couple saw their city destroyed. The only surviving house was theirs, and it was turned into an ornate temple to the gods. The couple became its guardians, and upon their death, were turned into a pair of intertwining trees to forever stand guard over the temple.

With this piece of literature in mind, we can better understand the reaction of the people in Lystra. Not wanting to repeat the mistake of those in Phrygia, they rushed out to offer their best to “Zeus and Hermes.” Understanding this, Paul used the occasion to teach about the one true and living God who “created the heaven and earth and the seas and all that is in them (Acts 14:15).”

We need to be ready at all times to turn people to the gospel.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Why Hobby Lobby Matters

On Monday the Supreme Court handed down a 5-4 decision in favor of Hobby Lobby, the Plaintiff in a suit filed against The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Some might wonder why this matters. This is more than a Republican vs. Democrat issue. Hobby Lobby challenged the Contraception Mandate in Obamacare, which required employers to provide birth control to their employees. 

The reason so many Americans don't understand Hobby Lobby's position is they don't understand contraceptives. 

The word contraceptive means to prevent conception. A separate form of birth control, known as abortafacients, allow conception and then kill the fertilized egg. In essence, these pills intentionally cause abortions.

After the Supreme Court ruling the Left immediately resorted to their "War on Women" mantra, saying Hobby Lobby is oppressing women and sending them back to the Stone Age.

So now, some facts.

*Hobby Lobby provides 16 different contraceptives to their employees, while refusing to pay for four abortafacients. This has been their policy for years, so they are not sending anyone back to the Stone Age. Female employees did not lose any benefits after the Supreme Court decision.

*Far from being a War on Women, Hobby Lobby provided these benefits long before Obamacare forced them to.

*The cry that women won't have access to birth control is obviously false. If women want abortion-inducing pills, they can pay for them. If they want birth control, they can have it.

*This ruling also means that Hobby Lobby will stay open. The store's owning family said they would close their business before they paid for abortions; the other alternative was to pay a heavy "tax" for failing to comply. Now Americans can continue to buy awesome stuff at discount prices.

*Other businesses can follow suit. Whether it's Notre Dame or The Baptist Hospital, faith-based organizations are freed from the tyranny of funding abortions for their employees.

*A precedent has been set. Once the High Court votes on an issue, they typically refuse to try similar cases, instead pointing back to previous decisions. This will help to ensure that the contraception mandate remains unconstitutional. 

*Religious liberty wins. In a country where liberals will fight to call the grossest actions free speech, they also fight to strip the free exercise of religion. On Monday the Supreme Court reminded Americans that their right "shall not be infringed." 

While it is scary that four justices voted in favor of this mandate, we can celebrate that our First Amendment right was upheld. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Catechism #27

Q. What is the sixth of the Ten Commandments?
A. The sixth of the Ten Commandments is, “You shall not kill.”

Every person, even non-Christians, understands that it’s wrong to take a life. Killing someone is the worst thing you can do to a person because their life is the most you can take from them (physically speaking).

So if its wrong to kill, how do we justify capital punishment, wars, and the God-ordained killing in the Bible? We need to understand the differences in the words.

Kill, as it is used in the sixth commandment, should be translated as murder. The Hebrew word God used, ratsach, means, “to murder, slay, or kill.” While the word has been associated with accidental killing, such as manslaughter, it usually refers to premeditated murder and assassination.

Compare that to the word muwth, which means, “to be executed, to die as a penalty.” That word is used throughout the law as a consequence for violating the law. In English we might miss the difference, but in Hebrew the difference is black and white—you might say a matter of life and death.

But the command that is most likely to hit home with believers today is the angle that Jesus took. He said, "You have heard that it was said to those of old, `You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment (Matthew 5:21-22).’”

The most important issue for us is not whether or not we are murdering people, but whether or not we are showing love.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Edmontosaurus: Discovered in North America

My family and I recently took a trip to a museum in Columbia, South Carolina. As someone who has always been fascinated by dinosaurs, I was excited to check out the “Land of Fire and Ice” exhibit. Of course, I realize these exhibits are always tainted by the inaccurate descriptions of evolution, as I was greeted by the sign that said we were going to travel back 70 million years.

In the second of the three rooms I got to see a replica of Edmontosaurus, a dinosaur supposedly from the Cretaceous period. Beside the dino was this sign that read, “Did you know? In 2004 a well preserved Edmontosaurus (with skin impressions) was found in North Dakota.”

And that really was quite a find. Very few mummified dinosaurs have been discovered.

Then in the third room there was a map on the wall that showed what North America looked like 85 million years ago. Notice where North Dakota is. If you cannot see, it is almost completely underwater.

In fact, scientists believe that through the entire Cretaceous period (65-145 million years ago) North Dakota was submerged. Anyone else curious how a well preserved Edmontosaurus was found in a region that he never would have been in?

(To be fair, the northeast corner of North Dakota doesn't appear to be underwater, but this discovery was made in the southwest corner)

The story gets better. According to an article on Red Orbit’s website, “Typically, animal tissue decomposes shortly after death. But researchers said [this dinosaur] must have been swiftly buried under just the right circumstances for the texture of the skin to be preserved.”

By “just the right circumstances,” I’m assuming they don’t mean Noah’s Flood, but that certainly would have done the trick.

This is an amazing discovery, but the discovery itself points to a young earth. Even the most well preserved bone or fossil, even in “just the right circumstances,” could only last a few thousand years. 65-145 million years would not leave us with anything, let alone a complete lizard.