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Archive for August, 2010

Are Christians oblivious towards Satan and what he wants to do?

August 21, 2010 3 comments

He hates Christians and wants to destroy their testimonies, their lives and their careers.

Yes, I know some will roll their eyes and think of this as John Madden-style analysis, but I often wonder if Christians are really aware of this as much as they should be.

At Pensacola Christian College, I remember once casually asking Mr. Bob Greiner (who has since gone home to be with the Lord) about the rumor that Daryl Hall of the pop music duo Hall and Oates had once attended Mr. Greiner’s alma mater, Bob Jones University.

Mr. Greiner thought a moment.

“I don’t know, but anything’s possible,” he said. “I knew one guy at BJU who was studying for the ministry but is now a member of the Hare Krishna movement.”

Today, I am reminded of some people I know that if you looked at them and read about them, you’d hardly believe they once attended a very conservative Christian college and seemed like people who really loved the Lord.

There have also been the countless stories I’ve heard of or even know of directly of pastors, evangelists and missionaries who left the ministry.

I wonder how many Christians truly grasp that a) Satan hates our guts with all his heart, soul, mind and might and b) He wants to destroy us so that c) He can take with him as many damned souls into the eternal lake of fire as possible.

I knew one guy at PCC who wanted nothing more than to be an evangelist. He is now divorced and while living for the Lord and still attending church, is out of the ministry. Every day I wonder if perhaps that might have changed had I made it a habit of praying for him and being a far better encourager towards him when I roomed with him.

Richard Zowie is a Michigan-based writer. Post comments here or e-mail him at richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

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What Jesus was doing about 2,000 years ago at this time

August 7, 2010 Leave a comment

Much is made about how Jesus lived on earth about 2,000 years ago.

I wonder where he was in life and what he was doing exactly 2,000 years ago.

We’re living in A.D. 2010 (some now prefer the term Common Era). Many estimates say Jesus was actually born around 4 B.C. Assuming that’s true, then 2,000 years ago would’ve been A.D. 10. At this point, Jesus would’ve been about 14 years old, around the age of Bar Mitzvah. It would’ve been two years since he astonished rabbis at the temple by hearing and then asking them very complex theological questions. For us, that 2,000-year mark of Jesus perplexing the rabbis would’ve been in 2008.

I also imagine at 14 Jesus was quietly learning the carpenter trade from his legal father, Joseph, and probably spending a lot of time chuckling at his mother, Mary, scolding his younger brothers and sisters and saying, “Why can’t you be more like Jesus?! He never back talks! Or gives me an attitude! Or disobeys me!”

Richard Zowie is a Christian writer who loves to ask questions. Post comments here or drop a line to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Great visit with a Vassar, Michigan pastor yesterday

August 6, 2010 Leave a comment

My wife Jennifer and I on Thursday visited with a local pastor along with his youth pastor. I had envisioned a 15-30 minute conversation, but it turned into an hour. It was a very fruitful conversation as we learned things about the church along with doctrinal positions.

As I left, I realized there were a few things I did not get around to asking, but that’s fine. The conversation seemed a little too unreal: opinions I’ve had lately about music, Bible versions, convictions, etc., seemed very close to what this pastor and his youth pastor had. He also encouraged us that as members, to get active in the church; in many churches today, the adage is 10 percent of the congregation does 90 percent of the work. The pastor was also a strong proponent of being in a church that was a good fit.

I noticed he frequently said the word encourage. Hitting someone over the head with a 52-pound King James Bible is terrible motivation–especially someone who hasn’t been in church in a while or someone who’s a new Christian not well-versed with church. This pastor really seemed to echo what I believe is the best approach: teach the Word and disciple and as they grow, continue encouraging them down the right paths. So many pastors (especially in IFB circles), have this terribly backwards: the message they send to new Christians is, “Adopt these strict standards–or else!”

The church seems like a very good fit, and we’ll be praying for it. I just wish I had the type of work schedule that would allow me into church regularly on Sundays along with Wednesdays.

Richard Zowie is a Michigan-based writer. Post comments here or e-mail him at richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Hosea 2-3: Gomer is punished, restored

August 4, 2010 3 comments

Things apparently were blissful for some time between Hosea and Gomer, but as the years passed, perhaps Gomer felt the temptation to return to her former way of life. God obviously knew this, because, again, He wanted their marriage to be an object lesson to the Jewish people about how much their idolatry hurt Him.

Verse 1 of Chapter 2 begins with this: “Say ye unto your bretheren, Ammi; and to your sisters, Ruhamah.” Whether this means Hosea’s middle and youngest children had new names or whether God’s commanding the brethren to be called “My People” and the sisters “Mercy”, I do not know.

The next several verses show the direct correlation between Gomer’s adultery and Israel’s spiritual adultery against God. Just as Hosea tried to enlist his children to talk sense into their mother, God was trying to talk sense into His people.

Sadly, neither worked as both Gomer and Israel went their own ways and had to learn the hard way what happens when you live a foolish life and make foolish decisions. God’s plan for both Gomer and for Israel would be that they’d see nothing but misery and no fulfillment in their paths that they’d return back to Hosea and God and realize they had it far better then.

I imagine this must have been a heartache for Hosea to see his wife, whom I’m sure he loved and probably was very attracted to, reject him and go on her way and return to her old life. Even today, when a spouse learns they’ve been cheated on, it’s an extremely bitter pill to swallow. The recovery time takes years, if ever. And at this point of the book, I imagine Hosea was praying that Gomer would return to her senses and come home and, while facing judgment, would also face forgiveness and mercy.

In verse 23, God pledges, once Israel has returned from her wickedness and idolatry, to “sow her unto me in the earth,” and to have mercy and restore His people and for them to acknowledge Him as their God.”

Chapter 3 begins the restoration process for Gomer, who apparently has faced the further public humiliation of being sold on the market as a slave (which, of course, was common when someone accumulated more debts than they could pay). God tells Hosea to love an adulteress as God loves Israel in all its seeking after idols. On the market, Hosea bought her back for 15 pieces of silver, and 1.5 homers of barley.

In verse 3, Hosea tells Gomer: “Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee.”

He wanted her back as his wife and pledged that both would be faithful to each other. There would be no revenge extramarital sex for Hosea. By this time, I believe Gomer was the Prodigal Wife and was more than glad to return to Hosea. She had learned her lesson, just as David had painfully learned his lesson about adultery a few centuries before.

Verse 4 tells us that Israel would abide many days without a king or prince. Whether this refers to the Babylonian Captivity or the nearly-1,900-year gap between Jerusalem falling in A.D. 70 and statehood for Israel in 1948 or perhaps even a future event, I do not know. But, eventually, they would return to seeking God.

Richard Zowie is going through the Bible in his Richard’s Two Shekels blog when not commenting on Christian issues or blogging about his Christian walk. Post comments here or drop a line to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Acts 11-12: The church grows, then endures persecution

August 4, 2010 Leave a comment

Reading through these chapters really is a reminder of how much Peter has developed as a Christian. At the end of John, he had returned to his trade as a fisherman, defeated, only to have Jesus speak with him and empower him to return to the ministry. In Acts, Peter seems a man on fire for God. Not bad for an impulsive, act/speak-first-think-second man.

When Peter returned from Caesarea, he dealt with the apostles and other brothers and sisters in Christ who did not understand why he would meet with a Gentile. Knowing they would want to know why Peter spent time among the “uncircumcised” (non-Jewish people), he rehearsed what he would say.

He then explained his vision and how he presented the Gospel. In verse 17, he asked: “Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?”

In other words: If God is willing to receive and save them, who was I to refuse God?

They began to understand what God tried to explain centuries ago to a stubborn prophet named Jonah: God wants all the world to come to Him, not just the Jewish people. Then, they started spreading out and preaching the Gospel to non-Jewish places.

During this time, Barnabas, a man known as an encourager, sought out Saul (who, again, soon would be known as Paul) and brought the new apostle to Antioch. And, in verse 26, we learn this group of believers first were called “Christians” in Antioch. Whether a term best used to describe them or a term of contempt, I don’t know.

Finally in this chapter, Agabus received word form the Holy Spirit there would be a “great dearth” to take place in the days of Claudius Ceasar. The disciples then, according to their own abilities, sent relief unto their brethren who were in Judea.

I suppose this was all bad news for King Herod, who then decided to persecute the church. What Herod didn’t seem to understand, and what the Romans would rapidly learn, is that if you want to make the Christian church go away, persecuting it is not what you want to do.

James was killed (apparently not the same James who wrote the Book of James), and then Herod imprisoned Peter. This, according to verse 3, “pleased” the Jews who undoubtedly saw this Christianity as a threat to their monopoly on religious control.

The church prayed for Pete as he was in prison and guarded by soldiers and bound with chains. The angel of the Lord came and with all the bright light, also served as a primitive alarm clock by “smiting” Peter to wake him. Pete’s chains fell off.

Naturally, Peter–having just waked up–didn’t know if this was real or some strange elaborate dream. He soon realized it had really happened and then had to convince others that he was indeed really out of prison, released on divine probation.

Herod, as you can expect, wasn’t happy Peter had escaped and promptly had the prison keepers executed.

The king then made a speech to the folks of Tyre and Sidon that was probably designed to fortify relations. Verse 20 said they desired peace with Herod for this key reason: “…Because their country was nourished by the king’s country.” Herod probably reminded them of that frequently as he spoke.

Dressed in royal apparel (some commentaries say he wore a robe of shimmering silver), he delivered a speech to them. The folks were very pleased with this and concluded Herod must’ve been a god and not a man.

Herod’s ego probably made him in no hurry to correct them (assuming he would have, which, frankly, is doubtful). And he was then smote by the angel of the Lord for not deflecting that praise and giving honor where honor was due. The text said he was “eaten of worms” and suggests he died a very excruciating death.

And as this happened, God’s word spread and multiplied as Paul and Barnabas continued in their ministry.

Richard Zowie is a Christian writer. Post comments here or drop a line to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Hosea 1: ‘God, you want me to do WHAT? Marry a PROSTITUTE?!’

August 3, 2010 Leave a comment

When he received his commandment from God, I have little doubt that the prophet Hosea checked his calendar to see if it was April Fool’s Day. Or whatever the ancient Israelite equivalent of it was.

“Dear God, surely you are joking?!” Hosea probably asked, reverently. Could he really be hearing God correctly?

God had instructed Hosea to do the unthinkable:

“Go and marry a prostitute.”

It must’ve been a very strange pill to swallow. Little is known of Gomer, Hosea’s wife, and I wonder if she was one of those prostitutes in the temples of the false gods. If so, it must’ve seemed especially distasteful for Hosea.

This minor prophet, we learn from the opening verse, lived during the time of King Hezekiah of Judah and of King Jeroboam of Israel. This means, of course, that the events of this book actually happened before those of Daniel.

We see in the second verse that God doesn’t call Hosea to marry Gomer for divine amusement. There’s a reason for it: “…And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD.”

There’s a lesson to be learned: Hosea and Gomer’s marriage will mirror God and Israel’s marriage.

They had three children: a son named Jezreel (because God would soon avenge Jezreel upon Jehu and would bring Jehu’s rule in Israel to a close and would judge Israel); a daughter named Loruhamah (from the Hebrew phrase meaning “no mercy” to indelicate God would cease from having mercy for Israel and would take them away while having mercy on Judah through some apparent tough love); and another son named Loammi (from the Hebrew meaning “not my people” to indicate a period of separation that would take place).

According to my Bible commentary notes, some believe that Loruhamah and Loammi were not Hosea’s biological children due to the wording of the text. I’m not so sure, simply because similar wording is used to describe all the kids Leah had when she was married to Jacob, but yet the context of Jacob and Leah shows nothing to indicate Jake wasn’t the father of all those boys and the daughter.

Verses 10 and 11 indicate that Israel will have a period of separation from God as God punishes the country for its idolatry before restoring it. I suspect this refers to the Babylonian captivity and then the Jewish people’s return back to Israel.

Richard Zowie is going through the Bible in his Richard’s Two Shekels blog when not commenting on Christian issues or blogging about his Christian walk. Post comments here or drop a line to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Looking for a pocket-sized Bible

August 3, 2010 Leave a comment

I had one at college, courtesy of a rummage sale. That one wore out and now I’m looking for another one.

Actually, it might be as simple as going to a Walmart and buying the same Bible I purchased for my wife a few years ago. It was King James with a soft leather cover that made it easy to open. It even had small references and notations in it.

Reason I saw this is because I’d like to be able to blog about my Bible reading on the go. Presently, I read my Bible at home, take notes and then open up my WordPress blog and write regarding what I read.

Presently, I have at least two Gideon New Testaments (one of which is a New King James), two Zondervan King James Study Bibles (one hard cover and one a very stiff leather cover) and a near-pocket size New American Standard Bible. Besides the portable King James Bible, I’m hoping to add these Bibles to my personal collection:

* King James Version New Open Study Bible (which I’ll probably have to order online)

* New King James Version

* New Living Translation

* The 21st Century King James and the American King James (if they can be found)

Please understand that the different versions I seek are not necessarily an endorsement of them but rather are reference resources I’d like to use when studying the Bible. Since I am no longer King James-Only, I feel more at liberty to compare and pray for God’s guidance.

Richard Zowie is a Michigan-based writer. Post comments here or e-mail him at richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.