Our son-in-law Thomas’s Birthday was yesterday so he, Sherri, their son Courage, Patty and I went out to dinner to celebrate. So the big deal in a nice restaurant is going over the menu and deciding from all the wonderful choices what you are going to have. It sometimes takes awhile for everybody to make up their mind, and it helps if we agree ahead of time to exchange bites so we at least get a sampling of food that we didn’t order. I got to thinking about dying recently because of some things going on in my body, and I wondered what it would be like if God gave us a menu with various options on how we would die, and when. I bet that would create quite a bit more “hand wringing” than choosing between steak and fish for dinner. I would choose this one,
Hebrews 11:5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.
This would be my second choice, actually it sounds pretty cool, I think a I will make it first.
2 Kings 2:11 As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven.
But this is the one that I would really choose,
1 Thessalonians 4:17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.
While we were at the Steen’s Mountains camping, hunting, and fishing the last couple of weeks a guy shot a buck with his bow and then fell down the cliff where the buck went and was killed.
Several years ago a fellow I knew had a heart attack while fighting a salmon.
My Dad died from liver cancer and the last couple months of his life he was at home and spent lots of time with family.
I could go for any of those as choices if I couldn’t have the rapture one.
So how about the “when” part of the option on the menu. I felt good at 40 with no aches or pains, and I could climb Mt Adams easy, and all my kids were born. Leaving then would have eliminated so much physical pain and disappointments in life, why wait.
I am soon to be 71 and I have so many aches and pains, I am always tired, I can’t hear very well, my eye sight is getting worse by the day, and I can’t remember where I left anything. I am thinking it is only going to get worse every year, a glorified body like that of Jesus sounds really nice right now.
I was reading about what is called dying grace which many Bible passages talk about such as Psalms 23, “even though I walk through the valley of death …. the Lord will comfort me”. Dwight L. Moody said on his death bed,”This is glorious! Earth recedes; heaven is opening; God is calling me”. Many martyrs expressed great joy while being burned because of the grace given them at that moment.
Once we get there the time will go rapidly, and it will be just like the blink of an eye and everyone will be there together with the Lord in amazing joy. Hebrews 2:15 says, “and He will free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.” If the Lord makes me stay here until I am 100, I will work as hard as I can and bear as much fruit as possible, but as Paul says in Philippians, “to depart and be with Christ would be so much better”!
My life purpose statement is, “Be a man devoted to prayer, and convince as many others to become people devoted to prayer as is possible in my lifetime.”
I wrote that for myself way back in February of 1989 at the conclusion of the first ever 4 day “Pastor’s Prayer Summit” held at Cannon Beach Conference Center. 1980 through 1988 were very tough years as a pastor for me as it seemed that I could do nothing right and I was always in trouble with someone or a group of people at JBC. I was sure that more people wanted me gone as the pastor than wanted me to stay.
I went to the Prayer Summit having made up my mind that I had made a mistake when I thought God was calling me to be a Pastor, and that I needed to get back into dairy farming where I had some idea of what I was supposed to be doing. My 4 days of continuous prayer with 63 other pastors changed that emphatically in my mind and heart. I committed to God that I would continue as a Pastor and that I would stay at Jefferson Baptist Church until I died. I became convinced that every problem that I had experienced was because of a lack of prayer, and that I could change anything, rather God would as a result of prayer, not a little prayer, but much prayer, devoted prayer.
Over the last 30 years since I wrote that purpose statement for myself I have pursued a lifestyle of prayer. I continually write new and bigger goals for myself in regards to the discipline of prayer, I have written a book on prayer and have preached and taught on the topic of prayer all over the world.
It is interesting to me that prayer has never gotten easy. My flesh hates to pray as much now as it did when I first started this journey. If I don’t make goals, keep track of my time in prayer, write out many of my prayers, keep lists of prayer requests and the names of people that I am praying for, my devotion to prayer begins to fade.
Over the last 30 years the most important part of my prayer life has been the time that I spend in prayer with other people in our church. The more time that I have spent in corporate prayer the hotter my devotion to prayer has become, and the less time that I have prayed with others the colder my devotion to prayer has become. It is a very simple principle to understand, but so very true.
Pastor Mike Dedera recently was officially ordained as a minister of the gospel by our church as a member of the Conservative Baptist Association of Churches. There were 5 other pastors, an official from the Conservative Baptist office, 4 JBC Elders and an Elders wife on the panel that examined Mike. By examine, I don’t mean like a doctor’s visit, but for 3 hours on 4 different nights the panel asked Mike all kinds of questions about his theology. When he would give an answer they would ask a follow up question, and really made him squirm and sweat, all that was missing was the bright light in his eyes. As he was grilled about what he believed I thought, every serious Christian ought to go through this. The truth is most Christians would totally fall apart and probably start crying, even the men, trying to explain what they believe and why.
The Bible prophecies that as we get closer to the end the proliferation of weird doctrines will increase dramatically and many believers who don’t know what they believe will get sucked into these false doctrines.
1 Timothy 4:1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,
Ephesians 4:14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine,
2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,
In my 8:00 am class this year I am going to teach on basic doctrines of the Bible and we will talk about systematic theology. As a result of the class you will know what you believe to be true about God, about Jesus, about the Holy Spirit, and you will know how to explain the inspiration of scripture. We will talk about spiritual gifts, about healing, the “voice of God”, and many other topics.
The class will start on my birthday, October 27, if you want you can bring me a birthday present😀
Almost every week someone will correct my grammar or spelling in my blog. I appreciate it because I want to get better at writing and grammar and spelling is a key part of communicating accurately to others. I wish that I could remember each week what I am corrected on so I didn’t have to keep learning it.
Hermeneutics is the system that we use to determine what someone meant by what they wrote. It isn’t easy with the Bible because of the time difference, of almost several thousand years at the shortest to approximately 3500 years to the longest between us who read today and those who wrote the various books in the Bible. That means many things are different, way different between the writers and the readers culture and understanding of words and their meanings. We understand that the writers were “inspired” by God through the Holy Spirit leading and prompting the various writers, and that today the Holy Spirit helps us to understand the supernatural book of the Bible, but that doesn’t negate good scholarship, study, and thought in arriving at our theology and doctrine. Our system of hermeneutics acknowledges that the authors of the various books of the Bible didn’t write in a vacuum, but that they had a history and a culture, and wrote out of that experience from the past and present.
One of my favorite verses when it comes to interpreting the Bible is Proverbs 25:2 “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.”
In a conversation in writing with a person they asked, “where does Jesus teach about this particular topic?” and I answered, “He doesn’t“. “Well, how can it be true then?” I responded by writing, “Where does Moses teach on that subject?” They accurately responded, “I don’t think he does”. I wrote, “You are right, he doesn’t, so how can it be true then?” Their response was right on, “I don’t think Moses had to have written about a topic for it to be true”. And my response was, “ So if Moses didn’t need to teach about a topic for it to be true, why did Jesus?” I went on to write, “If you study the teaching of Jesus you will find most of it already written somewhere in the Old Testament, He was teaching what He had been taught as He grew up, an example being Jesus telling a parable in Luke 14 about not picking out a seat of honor at a banquet, which is very close to the proverb in chapter 25 of Proverbs. But did Jesus teach some brand new, never before revealed truth? Sure he did! lots of it! How about the Apostle Paul, did he teach some stuff that he had learned as a student of the Old Testament, yes he did, a lot. But did he teach some brand new, never before revealed truth as well, yes he did. You see, the Bible was written progressively, and you have to interpret it in the direction it was written.
So now we have a simple rule of hermeneutics that gets violated all of the time, “Use scripture to interpret scripture, but don’t do it backwards”, which simply means, Genesis was written before Revelations, interpret it that way.
I am teaching a class this Fall on Theology, Doctrine, and How to Rightly interpret the Bible. It starts on October 27th, will meet at 8:00 am on Sunday morning at JBC in the Discipleship Center, upstairs in room 201. You all are invited.
Because of our radio program I get a lot of questions emailed to me about the Bible and about what is taught today on the radio, television, and by various groups and churches. One of the “signs of the times” is that what is taught as Biblical Truth will get farther and farther away from the truth, but more and more attractive to the average Christian and even non-Christian.
1 Timothy 4:1 says, “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,”
“Doctrines of demons”, that is an interesting phrase, meaning that demons through their influence in the lives of people get doctrines established and that many will believe them. A doctrine is a basic truth that is important, some being important enough to be required for our salvation from Hell to heaven. “Jesus is God, without beginning or ending, eternal, always has been and always will be,” is such a doctrine, but I hear teaching constantly that would teach as doctrine stuff that doesn’t agree with that at all, and people are believing it.
The Apostle Paul instructed his student, Timothy to correct those were teaching “strange doctrines” in 1 Timothy 1:3. “As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines,” I hear so much taught as truth today that is “strange”, “weird”, and even “crazy”.
Ephesians 4:14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;