Childhaven Thanksgiving Appeal – Help Orphans

tksgivingappeal2014

Please give to help orphans if you have the means. I will speak about Childhaven and talk about how we can all help orphans and combat the problem of fatherlessness at Dalraida church of Christ on 9 Nov 2014. You don’t have to be present to give. you can always give at the Childhaven website. Thanks for anything you can do to help the orphan and fatherless!

Soulbook: Psychological Disorders and the Soul – Are People With Mental Illness Sinning? @Enwrightened

soulbook cover

This is the thirty-second excerpt from Soulbook. Order Soulbook from Enwrightened Publications or Amazon.

Soulbook: Psychological Disorders and the Soul – Are People With Mental Illness Sinning?

Questions often arise when studying the soul concerning mental illnesses, especially that of multiple personalities or Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). Here are some to consider: Are people with mental illness sinning? Do people with more than one personality have more than one soul? Is mental illness something that can be healed? Is it like demon possession? How does the Soul connect with mental illness? How should Christians view the Soul with mental illness? As souls, we must consider our minds and how they are affected through mental illness and other difficulties with the brain, mind, emotions, and other inherited and external stimuli. In this chapter, we will take the questions above and explore how our souls relate to mental illness.

This is a difficult question to answer, since the range of mental disorders is very wide. Some illnesses, like Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) are fairly benign, while Paranoid Schizophrenia might lead to murder. However, at each level of mental illness, there are opportunities for people to make right and wrong decisions. This is also a very highly emotionally charged subject, as many people who have mental disorders or have family with mental illness often insist that the person with the illness is unable to control his or her actions. And it is very important to understand that people with mental illness are ill. They have a sickness that needs to be healed. In some cases, the illness is brought on due to actions of the person with the illness, but increasingly, mental illness is being passed along through mentally ill parents, through heredity, or environment. Either way, it is necessary to look at the whole person in order to understand where the illness lies and how it relates to the soul of that person.

For example, as we have already studied, people in general are made up of heart, soul, mind, and strength. Therefore, there is a division between the soul and the other parts of the person. Mental illness, while it affects the soul, may or may not be a disease of the soul. From a Biblical perspective, however, it is important to see how sin manifests itself in a person: “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death,” James 1:13-15. “All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death,” 1 John 5:17. “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness,” I John 3:4. Thus, sin is breaking God’s law and all of us sin. The height and depth of the sin are not the issue. Sin is the issue. So, yes, people with mental illness sin. They, perhaps, have less self-control concerning sin, but they sin, nevertheless, just as someone who is mentally healthy sins; and they can have forgiveness in the same way.

Zephaniah: The Day of the Lord Part 1

zephaniah day of the lord

Zephaniah: The Day of the Lord Part 1

I’ve read Zephaniah many times before. It’s a short book (only 3 chapters long), but it’s one that is full of meaning for those to whom it was written and to us today. Zephaniah wrote/preached primarily to his fellow Israelites in the Southern Kingdom of Judah, during a time of spiritual revival under Josiah’s reign. This is odd since most of the prophets wrote to warn the Israelites against how they were living and what kind of destruction it would bring. But, each statement Zephaniah makes clearly depicts how upset God is with Judah’s perennial sin. So, let’s look at how God characterized His punishment against Judah as well as how He delivers the same warning to all who would depart from Him.

God’s Judgment on Judah (Southern Kingdom) In Nahum (which David did such a great job teaching) Go proclaims the fall of the Northern Kingdom (Israel), so by the time the Babylonian occupation and destruction come to Judah, Israel has already been basically obliterated by Assyria. So, when Zephaniah begins in Chapter 1, he gives a terrifying image of how God will destroy His people: vss 1-6 “The word of the Lord that came to Zephaniah the son of Cushi, son of Gedaliah, son of Amariah, son of Hezekiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah. “I will utterly sweep away everything from the face of the earth,” declares the Lord. “I will sweep away man and beast; I will sweep away the birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, and the rubble with the wicked. I will cut off mankind from the face of the earth,” declares the Lord. “I will stretch out my hand against Judah and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off from this place the remnant of Baal and the name of the idolatrous priests along with the priests, those who bow down on the roofs to the host of the heavens, those who bow down and swear to the Lord and yet swear by Milcom (Molech), those who have turned back from following the Lord, who do not seek the Lord or inquire of him.”

Zephaniah highlights the obvious hypocrisy going on in Judah’s service toward God. Molech was an Ammonite god represented usually as a man with a bull’s head, to whom the people of Israel sacrificed their children. Molech was the antithesis of the one true God. So, when His people turned from Him to such an abomination, He simply couldn’t stand it!

This brings us to the next part of Chapter 1 where Zephaniah prophecies about The Day of the Lord. Look at vss. 14-16 “The great day of the Lord is near, near and hastening fast; the sound of the day of the Lord is bitter; the mighty man cries aloud there. A day of wrath is that day, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet blast and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the lofty battlements.” Here we see the day of the Lord described in terms of God’s justice being revealed through the Babylonians. God has had it with Judah and intends to bring down His judgment swiftly and completely.

Similar imagery is used in 1 Cor 15:51-52 where Paul says, “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” Of course, this trumpet ushers in a different kind of judgment; one that we’ll discuss later. But, in Zephaniah’s prophecy, God uses the trumpet to indicate the terror of battle and death that will come upon Judah.

In Chapter2, Zephaniah begins with an admonition to Judah, “Gather together, yes, gather, O shameless nation, before the decree takes effect —before the day passes away like chaff—before there comes upon you the burning anger of the Lord, before there comes upon you the day of the anger of the Lord. Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the Lord.” (Vss. 1-3) Here, God calls on His true, humble followers to seek Him and be spared. God wants them to turn away from evil and not follow the establishment. Ultimately, God’s judgment will be carried out on Judah, but what does God’s judgment look like toward all other nations and how does it translate to today?

Soulbook: The Whole Christian Soul and the Incomplete – The Complete Christian @Enwrightened

soulbook cover

This is the thirty-first excerpt from Soulbook. Order Soulbook from Enwrightened Publications or Amazon.

Soulbook: The Whole Christian Soul and the Incomplete – The Complete Christian

What does this mean for us today? When you look back over the torrent and flood of sin that had built up higher than the deluge of Noah, you begin to see just how helpless, how devoid of hope, we all were. Today, people are still in this condition, but the difference now is, there’s hope! As Christians, we have been restored to God through Jesus! There is no flood, only the ark of Christ that bears us up.

Hebrews 11:39-40: “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us, so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” We have been made “very good” again! We have been “made perfect” through the blood of Jesus. Hebrews 4:16: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet He did not sin. Let us, then, approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” We can approach God ourselves through Christ, (I Peter 2:4-9). We are a royal priesthood under Jesus. As Christians, we can go into the Most Holy Place and have our sins forgiven forever.

II Corinthians 5:21: “For our sake, He made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” God has taken our sin and shame away! We don’t have the sin and shame that Adam and Eve had after they fell. That shame is gone and we can walk with God in His garden once more. John 1:1,14: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” God once more walks among His people. He has not only come and been with us, He is still here. We need only accept Him in His death, burial, and resurrection in order to walk with Him! We can enter the Most Holy Place, (Heb 10:19, Mark 15:38), and climb the mountain of God, (Heb 12:20-22). Where, in the Old Testament, the Israelites were very restricted in their contact with God, we are now completely unrestricted through Jesus. When Moses went up on Mount Sinai, God told him that no person or animal could touch the mountain or it would die. Also, if anyone other than the high priest tried to enter the Most Holy Place, he would die. But, in Christ, not only can we enter these places and be with God, we are commanded to go see God and be with Him.

God will give us “hidden manna,” (Revelation 2:17), referring to the manna in the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 16:33). This “hidden manna” refers to the bread of life or Jesus, Who sustains us in our lives and throughout eternity. Through Jesus, we can virtually look into the mysterious ark of the Covenant that was only permitted for the high priest and see the mysteries of Jesus that are no longer hidden to us. II Corinthians 3:12-18 says the veil has been removed and we see God’s glory clearly. Where Moses had to wear a veil for the Israelites and be hidden in the cleft, so as not to die in God’s presence, we can see the fullness of God through Jesus.

Life, through Christ, has been made perfect again. This is not to say there is no evil or suffering, but it does mean that Christ has made us whole and reconciled us to Himself, the Father, and the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the complete Christian is made up of more parts than just heart, soul, strength and mind and soul, spirit, and body. We also have Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! We are ten-fold people! Of course, we are not God, but as I Corinthians 3:16 says “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” God is a part of us as Christians who have been made complete. But, this also means that we have a whole world full of incomplete people. Now, we have to go do something about that!

In the beginning, all was very good and perfect. God had a face-to-face relationship with His people. There was no sin to get in the way or to cause immediate death in God’s presence. There was only perfection and love and a choice. Adam and Eve sinned and we lost the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as part of ourselves. We were reduced as humankind from ten part people to seven part people. As incomplete people, mankind slogged on through history for thousands of years without hope. The Patriarchs were given a promise, but were still seven part people, without God and without hope. God gave His promise to them without salvation, but indicated that the promise would bring that salvation in time.
Under Moses, the Law atoned for sins, but still left people incomplete. While the relationship between God and mankind still didn’t exist, the figure of the plan of salvation was being explained and learned, although it would take thousands of years for it to be finally understood. Finally, Jesus returned us to ten part people again, but many are still incomplete, seven part people in our world. Our souls are at the center of all of these parts because they are who we are and relate to every part of us all at once. Think about the richness and depth of yourself as a person with ten, very important parts, three of whom are the rejoined Godhead with you through Jesus. Now consider how poor the rest of mankind is without these Three. The Gift is here. Let’s take it to the world!

God of Infinite Possibilities

God knowledge

God of Infinite Possibilities

For centuries, theologians and philosophers have struggled with two seemingly contrary characteristics of God; namely His love for us demonstrated in the gift of free moral agency (freedom of choice) and His absolute nature of omniscience (the fact that He knows all things in all times). These properties are evident throughout the Bible within the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and are immutable. But, as a result of these attributes, a controversy and debate swirls. Before we get into the debate, lets first consider the two attributes that seem to contradict one another and see what the Bible says about each: free choice and God’s omniscience.

Free choice is first seen in Genesis where God creates the Garden of Eden and speaks to the two humans He has created and placed there. “And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:9, 16-17). In the establishment of something that humans were not to do, God established the freedom of human will, choice, and volition. The theme continues after this point throughout the rest of the Bible with such statements as the one made by Joshua in 24:15 “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…but, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” This freedom is continued throughout the New Testament in passages such as John 14:6, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” Jesus essentially makes the statement that people must make a choice that will lead to salvation or destruction. These and many other verses and narratives throughout the Bible firmly establish the fact that human beings are created souls who have free moral agency.

God not only established within humans the ability to choose between right and wrong, God and sin, but also holds the distinction of being the all-knowing , timeless, spaceless, perfect Creator. This is made clear in a plurality of statements made by God Himself throughout the Old and New Testament. In Exodus when Moses asks God whom He should tell the Israelites had sent him, God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you'” (3:14). This statement establishes God’s own view of His eternal nature as the one and only necessary being. Jesus is established in the same way in John 1 where we see “In the beginning the Word was with God and was God…” (vs. 1). The clearest exhibition of the triune God is seen at the creation where God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) says, “Let Us make man is Our Image…” (Gen. 1:26) indicating His intent to create humans as individual representations of Himself (Soul, Body, Spirit = Father, Son, Spirit). Although there are many other passages that indicate God’s omniscience as well as His omnipresence, omnipotence, and ominbenevolence, the fact that He is all-knowing across all time and space is firmly established by scripture and understood to be true by virtually every Christian.

Now, to the controversy that has sprung up among Christians and non-Christians alike: how to reconcile God’s property of omniscience with His establishment of free will to all human beings. The question that most often arises goes something like this: If God is all-knowing, the He knows what each person will do before they do it, therefore there is no such thing as free choice. Conversely, if man has free choice, the God cannot be all-knowing since He would then not have foreknowledge of man’s choices. This is known as “Theological Fatalism” that we are fated to do what God knows we will do. Various philosophers and theologians have attempted to get around this issue through either denying one attribute or the other. In fact, a new movement called “Open Theism” has sprung up in which the adherents deny God’s omniscience in favor of human agency. Philosopher William Lane Craig in his video tries to account for this by saying, “Just because God knows you will do a certain thing doesn’t mean that you necessarily will and that if you change your mind and do something different, then God’s foreknowledge would have been different…” While this statement may be true, it seems somewhat incoherent in its statement and application which I believe leaves this question open to further and perhaps a more complete and coherent explanation.

Consider for a moment the hypothsis of multiple alternate realities. I will first make the disclaimer that I don’t believe in alternate realities, but I think that the idea can be instructive when talking about God and His ability to know all while we still function within free will. The alternate reality hypothesis states that there are infinite realities that could exist alongside our own (this is also termed in some circles as the multiverse) where something in that timeline went differently and changed the historic trajectory. For instance, in our timeline, the Allied nations won WWII, but in an alternate timeline, Hitler and Japan might have won and that “reality” or “universe” would be different. But, alternate realities are not just formed out of large-scale events such as World Wars, but something as simple as choosing a paint color or taking a different route to work. You see, in this hypothesis, every decision, minute and large, makes a difference in the way life would have gone for one or all people within that particular “universe” or “reality”. I usually equate this to the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books I read when I was a kid. In the book, you come to the end of a chapter and get to make a choice about which way you will go. One decision takes you on through the story in one direction whereas another decision could lead you another direction entirely. In “The God of Infinite Possibilities” hypothesis, I propose something similar to the “Choose Your Own Adventure” or “multiverse/alternate reality” hypotheses. God, being all-knowing not only knows what will happen within one timeline, but knows what would happen given ANY choice, circumstance, or aberration within any timeline at any point EVER. As a result, God can consistently know everything without human choice being fettered by His omniscience. In other terms, I can make any seemingly infinite combination of choices in my life span and God with His infinite knowledge can know the outcome of any of those combinations of choices. You could possibly represent it this way:

GK = ∞ and HC ~ ∞ therefore GK > HC

GK or God’s Knowledge is equal to infinity and HC or Human Choice approximates infinity, therefore GK is greater than HC. In other words, God’s Knowledge of all events, past, present, and future, overcomes any need to doubt that any human choice can be made and not still allow His omniscience.

Overall, the fact that God has infinite knowledge and wisdom can overcome any such matters, especially when dealing with moral, cosmological, and teleological questions. The above information could likely be adapted to fit these various questions.

Soulbook: The Whole Christian Soul and the Incomplete – After the Fall: The Law @Enwrightened

soulbook cover

This is the thirtieth excerpt from Soulbook. Order Soulbook from Enwrightened Publications or Amazon.

Soulbook: The Whole Christian Soul and the Incomplete – After the Fall: The Law

As mentioned above, the Law was given to Moses, who acted as a mediator between God and the people of Israel. As the mediator, Moses was able to speak to God and take His messages back to the Israelites in order to establish a law that would allow them to be set apart from the rest of humanity as God’s people. The only person allowed contact with God was Moses himself, (Ex 19:20-24). Clearly, God’s presence was extremely limited to the Israelites. While He considered them to be His people, He still could not have a close relationship with them due to the perpetuation of mankind’s sin. This is evident in all of the rites and ceremonies God set up as a way to bring the people closer to a right standing with Him. But, even through these various laws, God was still not a part of mankind.

The same limits applied to the tabernacle and temple, (Leviticus 16:1-10). God only allowed the high priest to approach Him and to sacrifice the lamb for His people. Only the high priest could enter the Most Holy Place before Him in order to sprinkle the blood on the Mercy Seat upon the Ark of the Covenant. Only this person could speak to God on their behalf and God did not return the favor. He still only spoke to Moses during this time and the rest of the people could not have the kind of contact Moses did, nor could the priests. God was their God, but He was too Holy for public consumption. He was the purity that was unattainable and unknowable, even by Moses himself.

We see that Moses could not look at God like Adam and Eve once did. His own sin did not allow him to see God in His purity and might. God Himself said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” There was a definite separation, even for Moses. Obviously, there was still something not right with human beings and this incompleteness prohibited them from seeing Him and having a relationship with Him.
Even with the sacrifices the High Priest made, Heb 10:1-4 tells us that these sacrifices merely put off the sins for another year. They were never forgiven under the Law. The people of Israel suffered under the weight of their sin, year after year. The sin was like a bank debt that you postpone until it finally has to be paid. Of course, by then the debt has built up so much with interest that you can’t pay it even if you had a thousand lifetimes. Ultimately, under the Law, the Israelite people were not reconciled to God, nor were the Gentiles. Mankind was just as lost as that day in the Garden when Adam and Even took the fruit and ate it. The sin of mankind kept building up and up and up, until it was an overwhelming mass of filth. The sin and death that man was resigned to did not relent, no matter how many animals were sacrificed and no matter how many prayers were uttered. All of humanity was incomplete and lost. They all still were missing a piece of themselves; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.