May 31, 2009
Sometimes, I come across people who seem very anti Christian. I’ve run into them online, I’ve met them in person, and I’ve seen them in one form or another in the media. One thing that stands out to me, however, is that no matter how anti Christian someone is, they usually have some kind of Christian ideals they live by, believe in, or respect, although typically they are quite unaware of this. Let me give an illustration…
There is a group called Crash Test Dummies who some see as anti Christian. This may actually be farther from the truth than what actually is going on in the mind of the lead singer’s head, Dave Robert’s, because in some ways, he seems to be actually searching for God. Now, that isn’t the point of why I’m writing this article, and Dave Roberts, might actually cringe at that idea, but there is something I noticed about one of his songs that stood out.
This isn’t one of his songs that mention God – I’m not even going to try and tackle any of his songs that mention God because I have no idea what point he is trying to make, good or bad. I do know, however, that I really like one of his songs called “Superman’s Song”, and part of the reason is because it talks (or sings) about some ideals that, as a Christian, I can relate to.
Disclaimer: please note that I do not think that Dave Roberts had Christianity on his mind when he wrote this song or when he sings it. I simply think it is a very cool song that talks about some very cool ideals.
Now, if you want to listen to the song, you can listen to it on Youtube at this link, and if you like it, feel free to buy the CD somewhere online to support Crash Test Dummies.
Here are the lyrics from the song that I really liked:
“Even though he could have smashed through any bank in the United States, he had the strength, but he would not”.
This reminds of a verse in the Bible which talks about how when Jesus, just prior to his arrest, that he could have called 12 legions of angels to wipe out everyone around him, but he did not, because if he had, the world could not be saved by his death, and subsequent resurrection.
“Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” (Matthew 26:53)
There is a saying that goes something like this: “it wasn’t the nails that held Jesus on the cross, but His love for you and me”…
“Superman never made any money for saving the world from Solomon Grundy, and sometimes I despair the world will never see another man like him”
What is really sad is there are a lot of televangelist out there who are flat out greedy, and they sound more like con artists who are trying to convince you to donate money so they can live a lavish lifestyle, rather than people who really care about you and your walk with God. However, Jesus was homeless, and never asked for any money. He healed people without trying to gain anything from it, and he stood up to the Pharisees and teachers of the law, who, back in Biblical times, thought they were above everyone else.
In other words, Jesus truly cared about the people around him, showed them compassion, and spoke out against the religious leaders who thought they were better than everyone else. Next time you see a televangelist trying to rip people off, remember that Jesus never did anything like this, and when all is said and done, these scam artists are going to have to answer for their crimes. See my article at this link about geedy Christians for more details. Please note that this article does not pertain to genuine Christians who are rasing money for good causes that truly do benefit other people.
“Sometimes when Supe was stopping crimes I’ll bet that he was tempted to just quit and turn his back on man, join Tarzan in the forest”.
The night before Jesus was crucified, he prayed that God would take the burden he was about to endure away from Him, but he never lost perspective:
“Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).
Even though Jesus dreaded what he was about to endure, what was more important to him was doing God’s will, and fulfilling his mission: to save people from their sins.
Again, I don’t think Dave Roberts, the lead singer of the band had any of this in mind when he wrote “Superman’s Song”, but I do think there are some Christian ideals he lives by whether he realizes it or not, and I hope that by reading this, you will discover that Jesus isn’t such a bad guy after all, and that by reading the Bible, you just might find some ideals that you can really relate to, that might even change your life…
On one final note, The Crash Test Dummies has one of the neatest versions of “The First Noel” that I have ever heard – and in their video, they even make the point that Christmas is more than about just giving and receiving gifts – you can listen to the song and watch the video at this link.
March 16, 2009
Bible commentaries can be helpful for understanding the Bible, especially when they provide a historical context for certain passages of Scripture.
On the other hand, Bible commentaries can sometimes derail your understanding of the Bible as God intended. Here is what I mean.
Biblical commentaries are often used to interpret the Bible, and sometimes, they are viewed as THE authority on Scripture, and this is where the danger is in using them. It is important to realize that much of what you see in commentaries is simply someone’s interpretation of Scripture.
The thing I’m getting at here is that there is a difference between what the Bible says, and someone’s interpretation of it. Now, there is nothing wrong with interpreting the Bible, as there are some “grey” areas where Christians have a different take on things, but it is important to realize that these Bible commentaries were written by men, with a finite understanding of God’s word.
When Bible commentaries make interpretations of things, sometimes, people turn these interpretations into doctrinal statements, and as Christians, we really need to be careful about these kinds of things.
Additionally, they discourage Christians from thinking on their own. Its not uncommon in Bible studies to hear people reading from the Bible commentary, and sometimes, when I hear people read from the commentaries, I want to hear what people in the group think, rather than what some obscure Bible commentary author thinks.
Martin Luther thought outside of the dogma that was accepted for hundreds of years, but this dogma not based on Scripture. One thing that was important to Martin Luther was what was actually written in the Bible, vs the rules and regulations of the church.
So, just make sure that the truths you believe appear in the Bible, rather than someone’s opinion of the Bible. Also, make sure to look at the “big picture” by looking at various Bible verses that talk about the same subject, which can be a big help in understanding difficult passages. It is also important to read things in context.
In short, although Bible commentaries can be helpful, don’t rely on them too much, and don’t mistake them as the WORD OF GOD, because in reality, commentaries are the word of man – there’s a big difference between the two.
February 25, 2009
Some Christians beleive that drinking alcohol is a sin. Does the Bible support this view or is this a man made idea? You are about to find out.
On the one hand, there are some verses that seem to indicate that alcohol might be a bad thing. For instance, the book of Proverbs has warnings about beer being a “brawler” and wine being a “mocker” – and goes on to give warnings to the person who is “led astray” by beer and wine.
There are also verses such as “do not even look at the wine when it is red”, which is followed by versus about what alcohol can do to you if you are led astray by it.
If you were to isolate these verses by themselves, without looking at what other versus have to say on the matter, then you could argue that drinking alcohol – in any amount – is a sin. However, one thing you have to remember is that Scripture interprets Scripture. Its important to look at what other verses say about these things before you jump to conclusions about what these versus mean.
For example, Jesus turned water into wine, and there are versus in the New Testament which actually encourage people to “drink a little wine because of your stomach and frequent illnesses”. If drinking alcohol was a sin, I don’t think Jesus would have chosen to turn water into wine in his first public miracle…and it certainly would not be encouraged to use as a remedy for stomach problems and illnesses.
What is interesting is that many people make assertions without giving a lot of thought about what their assertions mean. Because of their bias, some Christians have gone as far as to state that the wine back in those days was really “grape juice”, since there is no word in the original translation of the Bible that could be translated to wine (the actual word, they say, is “fermented beverage”, and if it really had only a few drops of alcohol in it, to get drunk from it, you would have to drink about 40or 50 glasses or some other absurd amount).
Well, there are some problems with that reasoning. First of all, wine is an ancient tradition – people have making wine for centuries on end. In fact, God gave the Israelites specific rules regarding what to do with their wine skins (or “fermented beverage skins” if you go with the biased interpretation).
Secondly, there are countless references in the Bible to drunkenness – and this was always a bad thing. If it was impossible to get drunk with the wine back in those days, then why in the world would God give commandments against it?
The fact of the matter is that alcohol is a gift from God – but unfortunately, with many things, people abuse it. There is nothing wrong with drinking a beer or enjoying some wine – the key is moderation. However, if you are getting drunk when you are drinking wine or beer, then you are clearly doing what God has commanded against in the Bible about not getting drunk. This is where the sin is – it is important to recognize the difference.
So, does this mean that if you are a Christian and you do not drink, that you should suddenly start drinking, just because you can? Of course not – its fine to abstain from certian things – alcohol being one of them – and Paul does say that the one who abstains does so to the Lord, while the one who does not, also does so to the Lord. It should also be noted that “everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial”, meaning that for some people, although drinking may be permissible by God, it could cause you to stumble, so to start drinking would not be beneficial.
However, you should be very careful about judging another Christian who chooses to drink. It would be one thing if the Bible said, “though must never have an alcoholic beverage”, but it clearly does not state that. Just be sure to check what man says about God’s word, up against God’s word – because their is a difference between God’s word and man’s interpretation of God’s word – and those who say it is a sin to drink aren’t examing God’s word closely enough…
It seems like televangelist are popping up all over the place. While some of them are obviously sincere, you really have to question the motives of a lot of them.
Before I go into some of the reasons why, I want you to imagine a scenario in which Jesus would do something like this:
Walk up to someone, bonk them on the head, claim he has healed them, then ask them to donate money.
Anyone who is familiar with what Jesus actually does in the Bible knows how ridiculous this is. We do know Jesus healed people, but we also know that he wasn’t in it for the money – and he didn’t go around bonking people on the head in the process. It should also be noted that Jesus was homeless…
Unfortunately, there are a lot of televangelists that persuade their audiences to send them large sums of money. Often, they use manipulative tactics such as guilt and promises of riches to convince people to send money, as they claim that God will withhold His blessing if they don’t.
Let’s contrast Jesus with a guy like Benny Hinn. If you don’t know who Benny Hinn is, you might want to take a look at this video:
Personally, I do get a little irritated when churches ask for money, but I do understand it to the extent that ministers and church staff need salaries to live on, or to help the church pay its electricity bills and that kind of a thing. HOWEVER, when I watched the video of Benny Hinn, that is a completely different story…
While I’m human and can’t judge people, or look into their hearts to understand their motives, God did give me a brain, and I think He also gave me discernment. Here is what I think of Benny Hinn:
I think its safe to say that Benny Hinn is in it for the money and the lifestyle it brings him. I mean, is it really necessary to use church money to pay for a $5,000 a night hotel room? Does he really need a house with 5 garages, purchased with money that was meant for the church?
Benny Hinn claims to be able to heal people, and he also claims to be able to see the future. There have been documented cases where his future predictions have turned out to be false (making him a false profit – see this article for more information), and his healing ministry is probably bogus.
There are several reasons I’ve written this, but one of the things I want to stress is that while there are some very greedy Christians out there (many of which may not really be Christians at all), being a Christian isn’t about ripping people off, taking their money, or living a lavish lifestyle. These kinds of things are totally inconsistent with what Jesus taught.
For any Christians reading this, I would encourage you NOT to support guys like Benny Hinn who are always begging for money, or trying to reel you in with gimmicks like “prayer cloths”.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t support your local church or homeless shelter, Christian radio, or even guys like Pat Robertson, but it does mean that you shouldn’t throw away your money “in the name of God” so that someone can line their pockets to live a lavish lifestyle on money that should be used to help others.