A Real Butt Whuppin’!

December 2, 2014

I had a friend ask me a very interesting question the other day, which led to a very interesting discussion. This individual just completed the requirements for his Masters in Theology at a major theological university, and is now beginning work on his dissertation for his Doctorate. I have been blessed the last couple of years to be his off-campus adviser.

His question came as the result of a recent visit by a real dignitary, a major “player,” who rode into Colorado like a conquering general, who was greeted as though he was the Messiah himself, who received a hero’s welcome on one of our college campuses, the Pope of Atheism – Richard Dawkins, whose sole purpose in life is the elimination of religious thought from all educational institutions, whose “god” is human intellect and science, and make no mistake, human intellect is a god, and science is that god’s relgion! It is the god and religion of Dawkins, and many others like him, and the millions who bow at the feet of his brilliance. He is the Vicar of Science! Human intellect and science is what gives him purpose and meaning to his life, what comforts him, and encourages him – his “god” by description and definition.

My friend’s question was, “why do Christians continue to get their @#$%&* kicked in the circles of academia, and continue to be viewed as laughingstock?”

Great question! Brilliant observation, and very true! I have observed this for more than thirty years in my study, and research, and teaching of the Bible. The answer is long and in-depth, but in a nut shell, can be attributed to laziness, and illogic, and unbelief in the handling of the Word of God by the “brains” and professors of theology and religion. I reminded my friend of the text he sent me regarding what he said to his professors while he was appearing on campus for the completion of his Masters, as he witnessed firsthand their laziness, and illogic, and unbelief in their own approach to Scripture, he said to them – “It is profoundly disturbing to me that at the highest level of Graduate seminary I still have to defend the Bible.” He went on to tell me how he gets in trouble quite a bit with them. But alas, he answered his own question as to why Christians continue to get their asses kicked.

There is a fantastic article/essay entitled The Illogic of Atheism, by an American Philosopher, Physicist, Mathematician, named Miles Mathis. It is worth a read by every atheist and Christian alike. Here is the link – http://mileswmathis.com/atheism.html

Mathis’ logic in the essay cannot be refuted. He is NOT a “believer,” nor Christian, in any way, shape or form, but rather more of an unbeliever, but his essay is worth the read because his challenge to atheism exposes the illogic and unanswerable science of the atheist religion. Oh yes, it is a religion, a philosophy, by its very conduct, character, and teaching.

Here are a couple of quotes from the essay to wet your appetite – “Atheists always take negative proof against a religion as positive proof for themselves, but this is both lazy and false. We see this with Darwinism, DNA, carbon dating, and so on and on. We have proved that the Earth was not created in 4004BC, so we have disproved a certain claim of certain Christians. So what? It isn’t much. We have evidence the Earth is more like 4.5 billion years old, but it is not clear how this number, even if it is totally accurate, precludes gods or creation. An Earth that was infinitely old would logically preclude gods or creation, but an Earth with a beginning yields just as well to the story of Genesis as the younger Earth. To be clear, I don’t believe in a single solitary claim of Genesis or the rest of the Bible, so do not mistake my argument. But a very old Earth does not score any points for atheists, either. Nebular models and solar disks and gravitational collapses are just as squishy and hypothetical as Genesis, and the origin of life from atoms bumping like pool balls is even more tenuous. Nor does replacing pool ball mechanics with probabilities and gauge fields and tensors impress me. None of the new math has come near answering the old questions: we have simply been forbidden from asking them anymore.”

“To be specific, let us look first at DNA. The princes of DNA like James Watson are among the ugliest scientists that ever existed. Watson is a strange atheist, in that he obviously finds himself to be godlike. But let us look at the actual content of his work. DNA is used by the cells as a source of information. It tells them how to build other parts of the cell as well as the greater body of the organism. But if we look closer, we find very great mysteries, ones that are never mentioned. For a start, the DNA strand itself is built and replicated by enzymes. These enzymes can cut the strand as well as move around the sugars and phosphates that make up the strand. Problem is, to do this, the enzymes must have self-locomotion and a sort of intelligence. The DNA tells the cell what to do, but what tells the enzymes what to do? We have a reductio at precisely this point. We are told that the body and cells do what they do because the DNA instructs them to do it, but why and how do the enzymes do what they do? There is no room for a blueprint inside the tiny enzyme. What propels it? Even more to the point, what propels it in the proper direction, at the proper time, to do the proper thing? I am not proposing that a god tells them, by whispering in their tiny ears, I am just showing that the discovery of DNA is no great step to understanding the origins of life. DNA is just a code, but it takes a sort of intelligence to create a code, another one to replicate it, and a third to decipher it. For this reason, DNA can in no way be a source of intelligence at any level, either cellular or human.”

I’m tellin’ ya, there’s some great stuff in this essay. It’s long and intellectual, and again, he is not a believer, but his criticism of atheism and its “Four Horseman” (Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris) is spot on. Of course, Mathis has critics, who love to poo poo on him as well. I’m sure I do too….likely plenty of them. You decide.

If you would like to contact us or support the work of the Bible Study Group, our email address is fellowship@biblestudygroup.org (you can use that same email address to donate via PayPal, or contact us to provide you with a postal address).

Ham Sandwiches

August 25, 2014

Millions of people around the globe right now, if asked, could recite the “Lord’s Prayer,” (“Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen” Matthew 6:9-13). It is sad that few actually believe “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”

Most Christian men and women like having a God in heaven. They enjoy knowing that they have a God in heaven who watches over them, who loves them, who hears their prayers and answers them – occasionally. And while they enjoy the peace of mind of having a God in heaven, and having His will done in heaven, very few desire to have His will done on earth. Yet, the Lord’s Prayer, so beloved and recited by so many, is that His Will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

Before His will can be done on earth, God’s will must be known. In the town in which I live and minister, Colorado Springs, Colorado there are many, many “Christian” organizations and churches. Many! (Colorado Springs is Mecca for Evangelical Christianity). I talk to people at least once a week who are either gearing up for, or returning from “mission work.” I always endeavor to ask, “Well, what did you teach the people in that country where you were doing mission work?” The usual reply is, “oh, we represented Christ to them. We showed them the love of God.” “Yes,” I’ll say, “but what did you teach them from God’s Word?” “Oh, we ran a waterline to their village, and fed them.” (translation – “made them a ham sandwich”).

One time a gentleman was in my favorite coffee establishment (no secret which one), and he was showing everyone photographs of the area in Indonesia where he had just returned from “mission work.” So, I asked him, “What did you teach them from God’s Word?” His response was, “I’m not a scripture guy,” but “they did this for the people, and did that for their village.” (translation – “made them a ham sandwich”). And people wonder why I have no hair. This individual wasn’t “a scripture guy,” and likely couldn’t quote me the books of the Bible in order, but he was returning from the “mission field.”

If people are not preaching and teaching the poor in these third world countries the Word of God, accurately, when they go out on the “mission field,” than what in the “h” are they doing there? What is the purpose of the “mission work?” The truth of the matter is that it is only the Word of God, rightly divided, that brings genuine deliverance to men and women. It is only the Word of God, rightly divided, that builds believing and confidence toward God. It is only the Word of God, rightly divided, that takes a man or woman from death unto life. It is only by the Word of God, rightly divided, that a man or woman receives spirit. NOT by good deeds and acts of charity!

The truth of the matter is that sincerity is no guarantee for truth! Now, I am not opposed to acts and works of charity and kindness. We have the Peace Corps for installing running water and making the ham sandwiches. But it is the Church’s job to win men and women to Christ and to preach and teach the Word! (Not make the ham sandwiches!) I learned many, many years ago that everybody is a “Christian” who is physically hungry if you make them a ham sandwich. They will line up in the street, and get on their knees and pray with you and proclaim their “Christianity” if they don’t have to go the common outhouse in their village any longer. “Jesus” will pour from their lips if they get to take a hot shower in their own bathroom with their own running water.

What about God’s Word? Where is the accurate knowledge of God’s Word being proclaimed in all this “mission” work? It is only the Word of God that makes known the Will of God, and those who proclaim to know Him, and have this supposed wonderful relationship with Him, yet have no knowledge of His Word accurately, the Word of God declares are liars. “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” I John 2:4 (To “keep” His commandments you have to first know them, accurately).

My sons and I went to see the last “Rambo” movie a while back. The “Christian” community was a buzz about it. The premise of the movie was – sincere missionaries go to third world country and are hunted, persecuted, and killed by ruthless regime. The hero, that would be John Rambo, is convinced by a beautiful woman to help save them. It was supposedly a movie with a message. Oh, it was a movie with a message alright. It had a real lesson if you had eyes to see and ears to hear. Let me elaborate dear reader, as I did for my sons: premise – sincere, but stubborn, unknowledgeable and ignorant people go to country where they weren’t invited, and endeavor to impose their religion on the indigenous people there and get their butts handed to them. Then equally sincere but obstinate beautiful woman plays on guilt of hero to risk his life to save her friends.

The senseless killing of missionaries happens all the time. The persecution and imprisonment of young people for preaching Christianity in places where they weren’t invited is constantly in the news. I firmly believe that God raises up men and women to proclaim His Word in the nation in which they are born and live, and/or are welcome! I am an American. I was born and raised in the United States. This is the nation to which I am called to preach and to teach His Word. If He gives me revelation to do otherwise, that’s a different matter. But as God’s ministers and His ambassadors, I can guarantee you from His Word that He has not called you to make anyone a ham sandwich. You are called to speak His Word, to proclaim it, and to expound it accurately, not install running water and make ham sandwiches. It would be great if God’s people supported the ministry of teaching men and women His Word accurately, as much as they support making people ham sandwiches.

The question I have is if these sincere people, who get their butts in a sling, are so right, where is the power of God? Where is God? Throughout the Word of God you see “mission” work. Men and women who were knowledgeable of not just scripture, but how to operate the spirit of God in their lives, who operated the various manifestations of the spirit (not gifts of the spirit), received revelation from God on where to go and to whom and what to speak, and God backed up their “mission” work with signs, miracles, and wonders. You never read where Philip, in Acts chapter 8, went down to Samaria and made them a ham sandwich or dug them a well. When the apostles returned from their “mission” work in the gospels, of speaking the Word of God, the impact was Jesus telling them that he “beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” I know at times men like Jeremiah, Peter, and Paul found themselves in a little bit of trouble for speaking God’s Word. Those were entirely different situations and circumstances.

I have also often wondered why all the mission work is always in these faraway places and not in our own neighborhoods. Could it be because so many in our own neighborhoods and society are no longer interested in “Christianity.” Perhaps because of how God has been represented, or rather misrepresented by Christian religion. Perhaps because of how the Word of God has been handled, or rather mishandled.

“Thy will be done on earth” means His Word must first be learned, for His Word makes known His will. Then, when God’s will is known, it must be carried out “on earth as it is in heaven.” Once you have learned the will of God, you are obligated to carry it out, you are then responsible. And ignorance is never bliss when knowledge is available, and willful ignorance is sin, as is willful disobedience.

It’s like when people talk about Jesus Christ being their personal “lord and savior.” Most enjoy having him as their savior, but very few want him as lord here upon earth. “Lord” means master. If he is master than we are servants to his will. Then when he says jump, we jump! We don’t ask how high, we just start jumping. When God’s Word says “I would that ye all spake with tongues” why don’t people do it? Oh I know, because the local preacher says it’s of the Devil, or the local psychologist says it’s a “condition,” or the neighbors will think your nuts. When the Word of God says the first tenth of our increase (at a minimum) is His (called tithing), why don’t people do it? Oh I know, because their accountant says it is foolish and fiscally unsound to do it, or the critic says “that was then, this is now,” or friends say, “hmmm, I wonder what they do with the money.” That’s what the critics and the preachers and the accountants and the psychologists and the neighbors and the friends say. That’s not what the Word says! People have read their mistrust of their own words and deeds, and the words and deeds of others into the Word of God. But when God’s Word speaks, as believers, we listen, we take heed, and we act, and we let others make the ham sandwiches!

If you would like to contact us or support the work of the Bible Study Group, our email address is fellowship@biblestudygroup.org (you can use that same email address to donate via PayPal, or contact us to provide you with a postal address).

Impunity

September 5, 2013

Impunity

Webster’s Dictionary defines impunity as “exemption, or freedom from punishment.” We see examples everyday of men acting with impunity:

News outlets that pick and choose what they report according to a particular political agenda, and that pick and choose and distort and twist the facts of what they report to fit within that agenda, and they do so with impunity, under the guise of “absence of malice.”

Politicians and government agencies that use the power and status of their office to act inappropriately, even criminally at times in both their political responsibilities and their personal lives, with impunity.

Theologians and ministers who rely on the ignorance of their congregants and students, and the image of their own position and intelligence to mishandle scripture, to deceitfully handle scripture, to illogically handle scripture, to water down and adulterate biblical truth, to, as Jesus Christ is quoted in Matthew 15:9, “teach for doctrines (right believing) the commandments of men.”

Sometimes this is due to their own ignorance, due to the education they received. A man can’t teach any more than he knows, and he can’t know any more than what he himself has been taught. I recently learned that at Fuller Theological Seminary, one of, if not the, largest theological seminary in the world, in the Master’s Degree program, in a class regarding the Four Gospels, the professors teach how the Gospel writers were really just copyists and plagiarizers, with one writer being the first, and the rest just copying from him, and adding random information, thereby denying that “all scripture God breathed” (II Timothy 3:16), and that “holy men of God spake as they were moved by holy spirit” (II Peter 1:21). And they do so with impunity.

Or how, at the same theological cemetery…..er….uh….I mean seminary, in a class regarding the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible), the professors, the intelligencia, the “brains” as it were, teach how that the first five books of the Bible are really just a collection of parts and portions of myths that random Hebrew writers stole and collected from the Mesopotamian cultures that surrounded them. And they do so with impunity.

If what these “brains” are touting at Fuller, and similar theological institutions is true, then there was no original dominion of man, no fall of man and spiritual death, no need for a redeemer, no need for the Christ, no need for him to have suffered so horribly and die to meet the judicial requirements for the redemption of man (and, while I’m thinking about it, you can’t torture nor kill God). Therefore, in light of what they teach, there is no need for “Churchianity” …er….uh….I apologize, Christianity, other than to control men’s behavior and their wallets.

Men stand in the pulpits of Western culture and civilization with no knowledge of the Eastern roots of the Bible, its Eastern culture and society and peculiarities and language, and yet pound their fists on the lectern and cry “repent!”

They stand in the pulpit and deny biblical truth, deny the loving, free will sacrifice of a man, the “Son of God” (NOT God the Son), deny the “gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:15), deny the “one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Timothy 2:5). And they do so with impunity.

They preach repentance through fear and threat of hellfire denying that “the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance” (Romans 2:4). They enslave people under the bondage of the very Old Testament Laws that Jesus Christ came to set men and women free from, “for Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (Romans 10:4). They put men and women under the “yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1), denying that “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4). “They bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders” (Matthew 23:4). And they do so with impunity.

Just like the news outlets I mentioned above, they wretch verses out of their context, pick and choose what they like from divine revelation and discard the rest like refuse, thereby displaying their disrespect for the divine authorship of Scripture, their unbelief of the very words on the cover of the book, “Holy Bible.” They are of the “many, which corrupt the Word of God” (II Corinthians 2:17). Since Paul’s day and time they have walked “in craftiness…handling the Word of God deceitfully” (II Corinthians 4:2), even mocking those things in the Word of God they don’t like, understand, nor agree with. And they do so with impunity.

The truth of the matter is that the modern “Christian,” so called, church is really not so modern, nor many times, even Christian. It is like the children of Israel in the days of Jeremiah the Prophet, “For My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13). The “modern,” Western (especially), post-Nicene “Christian” Church has hewed out for itself multiple cisterns, multiple systems of belief and practice all labeled differently but under the banner of “Christ.” In theological schools and universities today, like in Jeremiah’s day, they continue to hew out for themselves cisterns, ideologies, and theologies, and “refuse to hear” God’s words, and “walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them” (Jeremiah 13:10). And they do so with impunity. And God weeps.

But ours is an age of grace. It is “the administration of the grace of God” (Ephesians 3:2). It is the day of “man’s judgment” (I Corinthians 4:3). The word “judgment” in the original text of that verse is actually the word “day.” This is man’s day, the day of man’s judgment. Today a man can curse God, deny God, spit in God’s face, handle His Word deceitfully, corrupt it, adulterate it, propound and promulgate error, preach legalism and enslave God’s people, and he does so with impunity. But there is a day coming when that impunity will be revoked and those who deny and mishandle His Word, and deny His Son, and deny His grace, and abuse their authority and enslave His people will give an answer.

If you would like to contact us or support the work of the Bible Study Group, our email address is fellowship@biblestudygroup.org (you can use that same email address to donate via PayPal, or contact us to provide you with a postal address).

The Programming of the Mind

November 7, 2012

The truth of the matter is that the programming of the human mind is far more complex than the programming of the world’s most advanced super-computer. The human mind stores innumerable “bites” of data, recalls that data instantly (in a healthy brain), and it does so with amazing speed and minute accuracy, but, just like a computer, you can’t get any more out of it than it has been programmed with. Computer programmers have an expression, “garbage in, garbage out,” and so it is true when it comes to the programming of the human mind. You can’t get any more out of your mind than it has been programmed with.

We are all products of our human experience. We are “who” and “what” we are because of our upbringing, our education, our life experiences, our mentors, our friends (and our enemies), etc. Throughout our lives we are shaped by these inputs and points of reference for learning. These points of reference for learning, which are outside of ourselves, are what determines what we believe (about ourselves, about others, about anything), and what we believe determines who we are, what we have, and what we achieve in life, and our viewpoints and perspectives on any subject.

All of life is contingent upon believing. You are where and what you are today, right now, at this very moment because of what you believe, what you have concluded, based on what you have been exposed to, what you have experienced in life (good and bad), and what you have accepted as fact. You can’t get any more out of your mind than you have, or others have, by your allowance, programmed it with. You cannot believe beyond what you know and understand, and you cannot know any more than you have been taught.

Every human individual, from the moment of birth, must have points of reference for learning that are outside of themselves. If you were to take a newborn child and from the moment of its birth place it in a sensory deprived environment, supplying only the necessary nutrients to sustain its physical life, and leave it in that condition, with no sensory inputs, after thirty years it will still be in that same state of mental infancy. It may, or may not, come to some sort of sense of self-awareness, but it would have no understanding, no knowledge, no comprehension, and no believing. This kills many of the “I was born this way” arguments, physically at least.

The life story of the stateswoman Helen Keller is a great example of this. She was born deaf, blind, and mute, and remained that way for a number of years until a teacher/nanny named Ann Sullivan began to work with her and reprogrammed her brain.

Once the mind is programmed in a particular way, once it is set on a course of believing and subsequent action, it is very difficult to change its programming. This is especially true in philosophical fields. Once the mind is set, it is extremely difficult to alter its course. This has been the cause of debate and wars throughout human history.

I listened to a lecture recently by a neurologist that beautifully exemplified this. He described how to question ‘why’ is one of the most dangerous things you can do, because it takes a person to a place of uncertainty, and how the human mind can’t handle uncertainty. He gave a great neurological example of how the human mind can sometimes violently react to uncertainty – seasickness. Seasickness is the violent physical reaction that is brought about by confusion and uncertainty in the brain because of the conflict between the inner ear and the physical sense of sight. While the sight tells the brain that everything is solid and stable down in the cabin of the boat, the inner ear is telling the brain that things are moving up and down and rolling from side to side and….hold on a sec I think I’m going to be……

It got me to thinking about one of my favorite television shows, Deadliest Catch. It’s about crab fisherman on the Bering Sea. These men fish for months in some of the roughest, most violent seas imaginable. Yet, as you watch the show, there they are sitting around eating bacon and eggs and salty pork chops in the galley, below deck, with things rocking back and forth on the walls, objects moving about on the table, and yet they are unaffected. I sometimes get dizzy just watching it on television. I asked myself how and why this could be, and the answer was programming. They have programmed their minds to not be affected by the motion, to ignore it.

In fields of science or medicine many times when something new is discovered or old theories are challenged, it can cause great controversy and debate. Scientists and doctors of equal intelligence and education sometimes are vehemently opposed in their viewpoints and conclusions. This is seen in nutrition all the time. One doctor says eat only raw foods, while another says that is crazy. One prominent doctor says run for health and weight loss, while another says not to run. It is all so confusing, and yet, people who subscribe to one see successful results, and people who subscribe to the other see equally successful results. Why? The answer is believing. On a major news network just the other day they interviewed a woman who eats nothing but junk food (potato chips, white bread, processed foods). She has never eaten a raw vegetable or piece of fruit in her life. Yet, her cholesterol levels are perfect; she is thin, fit and healthy. (Don’t try this at home folks. She is a professional).

In philosophical fields, especially religion and politics, there is sometimes a violent reaction when someone’s beliefs are challenged because, like seasickness, it takes their mind to a place of uncertainty. You can observe this throughout history. Wars have been started and millions of people throughout history have been killed because of the reaction to a system of beliefs being challenged, and the uncertainty that it brought about.

As I write this, here in the United States of America we are in the final days of an election cycle where Americans will be voting to either keep the current president in office or vote in a new individual to do the job. It is a bloody affair (figuratively speaking). Each side is vehemently opposed to the other, each having a logical (in their mind) argument why their candidate is the right person to elect, due to the programming of their mind.

Throughout secular and biblical history there are records of the mistreatment of men and women who dared to challenge the “mainstream,” and the “status quo,” and who were maligned, negatively labeled, and persecuted for doing so. All because their argument and intellectual challenge brought about uncertainty in the minds of those to whom they spoke. Historically, some of the worst persecution, malignment, and ill treatment were leveled at men and women of God who dared to speak the truth as they were inspired and directed by God.

Jeremiah was put into stocks at the high gate of Benjamin in Jeremiah chapter 20. Elijah was hounded and pursued in I Kings 19. Jesus Christ was executed by the people to whom he was sent. The apostles, Peter and John and others were examined and beaten by the religious leaders in the book of Acts. Paul was persecuted and hounded by the religious leaders and betrayers among the believers throughout his life and ministry as is recorded throughout the second half of the book of Acts and as he describes in his second letter to the believers at Corinth. And so it has been throughout history; the challenge of truth and logic to the status quo of accepted “facts,” and norms, and traditions, and philosophies in any field, creating uncertainty and violent reaction.

The truth of the matter is that just like there is a multitude of choices of software and programs available with which to “load onto” or program a computer with, so there is a multitude of choices of thought and science and philosophies with which to program the human mind, and once programmed it is very difficult to change its course or direction, therefore choose wisely that with which you choose to program your mind with. As a very wise man once said, “choose your ruts carefully. You’re going to be in them a long time.”

If this had not personally happened to me I might not have believed it. If someone else had told me about this, I might have said, “no way!” I went into our local Home Depot this past Friday to purchase a few gallons of paint. The guy working the paint counter, Douglas, was a machine. He had to be. He had been left alone to run things, on a Friday afternoon with customers, some contractors, lined up. He was awesome! He had more plates spinning, more orders to keep straight, more paint mixing than I have ever seen. And he kept smiling, was helpful, and professional the entire time. Now keep in mind that the paint department and building materials are the two big money makers for Home Depot.

I asked the poor guy, “Douglas, where’s your help?” He said that his partner associate had been sent home. “What happened?” I asked, thinking maybe the person got ill or injured. He said the reason was “for hours,” which means that the associate would have too many hours if they had stayed to help continue to take care of the customers. Huh? The on duty manager, in his infinite wisdom, had sent the associate home, with customers waiting, on a Friday afternoon, in the busiest department of the store, because they might have too many hours. What?

So, I asked to speak to this “manager.” When I asked him how and why he would send home an associate in a situation like this, inconveniencing me and the other customers like we had been, he basically, and indignantly, stated (in a nutshell) that he had policies to follow. “What about the customers,” I asked. His reply was, and I am not kidding, are you ready for this, you better sit down, this was his reply – “the customer is not my concern.” I am absolutely serious! And he said it in the main aisle, in front of witnesses, with a chip on his shoulder the size of Texas, and a “how dare I complain” look on his face. I looked at him incredulously and said, “and there lies the problem,” and the back peddling began. He then put his hand up toward my face, saying something like, “I don’t have time for this,” and walked away. This “manager” was the consummate bean counter. He was a non-thinking, policy observing, stat concerned “dictator” I am sure, who was only interested in serving his own interests and covering his own (insert expletive here), with, as he stated, no concern for the customer. (And yes, a copy of this editorial was sent to the corporate headquarters, district manager, and general manager of that store).

There is many times a vast difference between management and leadership, though there ought not to be, but there is. Typical bean-counting, stat-focused, sit and dictate from behind a desk managers usually serve their own needs and make sure everyone tows the line, and things operate efficiently, according to policy, so their own (insert appropriate expletive again) is covered when those above them ask questions. (If you are in a position of management, don’t be offended, be motivated to examine whether or not you are a leader). Not only did this manager have no concern for the customer, I doubt he has any concern for, and does not serve, his employees, those he considers to be “under” him. His employees are likely merely a means to an end for him, the end being his stats. What he, like so many in our day and time in positions of management fail to realize, is that the associates, those on the front line of customer service are not “under” managers, supervisors, and corporate officers. They are actually above them.

So many businesses have lost sight of the basic tenet of business, and that is service. They are in business and have business for one reason and one reason only – their customers! The result of this “the customer is here to serve me” attitude is evident in so many businesses today. Customer service in our day and time has gone down the proverbial toilet, and is all but non-existent in so many places.

It should be the job of the guy at the top of the corporate structure, the corporate officers, to serve the supervisors. It should be the supervisor’s job to serve the managers. It should be the manager’s job to serve the associates, the men and women who are interacting with the customers, to take care of them, make sure they have everything they need to do their job. Like a military leader’s job should be to make sure his troops have everything they need to go into battle, and then lead his troops up the hill into the fray from the front. (Oh, for more George S. Pattons and Dick Marcinkos in our day and time!)
I, the customer, do not interact with the managers, the supervisors, or the corporate officers. I interact with, and my customer service experience is based on my interaction with the associates, not the managers, supervisors, or corporate officers.

The truth of the matter is that businesses need to turn their idea of the business model and structure upside down, which is really right-side up because it’s all kitty-wampus to begin with. If that manager wanted to send home an associate because of too many hours than he should have put his clipboard down (which he had in his hands when he came to talk to me) and put on his work clothes, and got his hands dirty, and jumped in to help Douglas mix paint.

The truth of the matter is that leaders lead! Leaders lead from the front! Don’t tell me what I ought to be doing, show me! You set the example! Leaders don’t dictate and direct from behind their desks. Leaders don’t tell those they deem to be “under” them what to do, how to serve. Leaders exhibit and show and demonstrate h-o-w to get the job done. Leaders serve those who they are supposed to be leading. Do they have the necessary tools and help so they can be the best at their jobs. Leaders, in war or in store, are willing to take risks, violate policy if needed, put their own (insert appropriate expletive again) on the line to achieve victory, success, and customer satisfaction.

There is a famous poem by Edgar Guest that I have always loved entitled “Sermons We See.” It goes –

I’d rather see a sermon, than hear one any day.
I’d rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way.
The eye’s a better pupil and more willing than the ear,
Fine counsel is confusing, but example’s always clear;
And the best of all the preachers are the men who live their creeds,
For to see good put in action is what everybody needs.

I soon can learn to do it if you’ll let me see it done;
I can watch your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may run.
And the lecture you deliver may be very wise and true,
But I’d rather get my lessons by observing what you do;
For I might misunderstand you and the high advise you give,
But there’s no misunderstanding how you act and how you live.

When I see a deed of kindness, I am eager to be kind.
When a weaker brother stumbles and a strong man stays behind
Just to see if he can help him, then the wish grows strong in me
To become as big and thoughtful as I know that friend to be.
And all travelers can witness that the best of guides today
Is not the one who tells them, but the one who shows the way.

One good man teaches many, men believe what they behold;
One deed of kindness noticed is worth forty that are told.
Who stands with men of honor learns to hold his honor dear,
For right living speaks a language which to every one is clear.
Though an able speaker charms me with his eloquence, I say,
I’d rather see a sermon than to hear one, any day.

For questions, information regarding fellowship, or to support the work of the Bible Study Group contact us at fellowship@biblestudygroup.org

Join us online for our weekly Bible Study Group meeting at 10:30AM MST at –http://my.dimdim.com/studygroupmeetingroom

The Quest

January 3, 2011

The search for truth and self-purpose is perhaps the greatest of all human quests. The yearning for truth, the yearning to understand the reason for being, has been the inspiration of great poetic lyric. It has been the subject of masterpieces of artistic expression. It has been the driving force behind epic adventures. “Who am I in the grand scheme of the universe? Why am I here? What is my purpose for being? Is there a God, an Almighty Creator? Is there an intelligence and purpose behind the schemes of the universe? Or, is all of this that we see, that which surrounds us, the product of mere chance and happenstance, the result of unintelligible and random acts of mutation.” The reason for man’s yearning is set forth in the book of Ecclesiastes.

Ecclesiastes 3:11
“He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.”

The Word of God declares that He “hath set the world in their heart.” The word “world” in that verse is the Hebrew word ‘olam,’ which means ‘forever,’ ‘eternity,’ ‘of old,’ ‘antiquity,’ ‘everlasting,’ and this is its usage throughout the Bible. God has set eternity in the heart of mankind. Every human individual knows deep within themselves that there has to be something more, some greater purpose and meaning to life than just that which they experience and see around them.

It is like a void, a vacuum, in the depth of the soul of a person that they live with throughout their lifetime, endeavoring to fill it with temporary pleasures and carnal remedies, until they come to the knowledge of God, and humble themselves before the understanding of man’s purpose as declared in the scriptures, again in the book of Ecclesiastes.

Ecclesiastes 12:13
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”

The word “duty” is italicized in the King James Bible because it was added by the translators, and as such may be deleted without affecting the truth of God. The word “fear,” as it is used throughout the Bible in this context, means a healthy and deserved reverence, awe, and respect. It is not used in the sense of terror or dread. We are not terrified or in dread of our God. We stand in awe of Him, and have a healthy and well deserved reverence and respect for our Creator. This is the whole of a man or woman, to reverence God and keep His commandments (His Word). This is the conclusion of the whole matter. The only heart satisfying reason for being. Anything less is a mere empty and painful existence.

Proverbs 1:7
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

The ships that sail in the quest for truth and self-purpose must first be laden with awe and reverence and respect for the true God, or they will return with empty holds, or holds filled with worthless and counterfeit trinkets.

Nehemiah 8:8
“So they read in the book in law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.”

In this great epic adventure of the quest for truth, man’s first port of call must be the accuracy of God’s Word, the scriptures – rightly divided and handled logically, simply, and lovingly. The first cargo secured must be the knowledge of God, not the religious traditions of men, theological speculations, or the mutterings of the intelligencia and the critics. Not the ‘testimonies’ of the devout, or the academic world’s opinion or analysis of the scriptures, but the scriptures themselves, understood in light of every word of God. This is how a man or woman truly lives.

Matthew 4:4
“But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”

Yet, throughout history, the great cargo of the treasures of God’s Word have continuously been thrown overboard as just so much worthless ballast, despised and rejected, even by God’s own people at times.

Jeremiah 2:13
“For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold not water.”

Hosea 4:6a
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee.”

The truth of God’s Word has been cut up by the pen knife of a king of antiquity, as recorded in Jeremiah 36, even as it is cut up by the pens of modern theologians, to the end of being so muddied and confused that hardly anybody can understand it, or believes it, or can even read it today without the commentaries, study aids, or opinions of men.

II Corinthians 2:17a
“For we are not as many, which corrupt (adulterate, water down) the word of God.”

II Corinthians 4:2a
“But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully.”

The accurate knowledge of God’s Word, His Holy Scriptures, which the world, and religion, and sense-knowledge, pseudo-intelligent man treats with such disdain, is the first, and most valuable treasure we must fill our cargo holds with in our quest for truth and self-purpose.

Psalm 19:10
“More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.”

Proverbs 4:20-22
“My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.”

In man’s quest for truth and self-purpose, when his ships of discovery are laden first and foremost with a healthy and well deserved respect and reverence for the Creator God, and his first port of call is the accurate knowledge of God’s rightly divided Word, then his cargo holds will be filled with the genuine treasures of the knowledge of God, and he will understand his purpose and reason for being, and be satisfied and blessed all his days.

The Time of the Reformation

October 28, 2010

The last Sunday of every October is the day we commemorate a turning point in history. In the year 1517, on October 31st, which was a Sunday, a Roman Catholic priest, after years of study, walked up to the doors of a seemingly insignificant little church in Wittenburg, Germany and nailed a document to the door that would turn the world upside down and change the course of history. The document contained ninety-five theses, in which he set forth where the teaching of scripture differed from the teaching of the Roman Church. He never intended to cause division within the church that he loved, nor did he intend to start his own denomination. Rather, he desired that those in the positions of authority within the Church would recognize and heed to the authority of scripture. He had no idea what the impact of his actions that day would be on his life, his Church, or the world.

Every cause has an effect and every effect has a cause and nothing ‘just happens,’ especially something of this magnitude. There are always causes that bring it to that particular moment of time and history. So it is true of the Reformation period in history that many consider to have begun with the nailing of the ninety-five theses by Martin Luther to the door of the church at Wittenburg, there is much that preceded it.

The book of Acts records the history of the Christian Church in the first century. During that time, under the ministry of the Apostle Paul, in a period of only two years and three months, all Asia had the opportunity to hear the Word of God. This feat has never been duplicated since that time, even with all the technological media available to us today.

Acts 19:8-10
And he (Paul) went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.

The knowledge of God grew and prevailed in the first century (Acts 19:20). Yet, in spite of the great outreach of God’s Word under Paul’s ministry, in spite of the unprecedented revelation that God gave to Paul and that Paul made known regarding the Church of the Body of Christ – called the Great Mystery; in spite of the power of God in evidence that the believers experienced in their lives as they applied this knowledge; in spite of all of this (as is recorded in the book of Acts) the Church walked away from the Word of God that Paul made known.

2 Timothy 1:15
This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me;

To reform something means to re-form it, to form it again. There would have been no need for a reformation, a re-forming, if things had not changed from their original form. The Church had changed. It had gotten away from its original, Godly, form. The first change from it’s original form, the first step on the road down to ruin during the first century was that the church turned away from Paul (II Timothy 1:15). They began to reject what Paul had declared and made known – the Great Mystery – the knowledge contained in the seven Church, or Pauline Epistles concerning Jew and Gentile both making up the Church of God, the One Body of Christ with Christ as the Head of that Body. The second step on the road down to ruin was that the Church began to err regarding the Hope of Christ’s return and the rising and resurrections (II Timothy 2:18). The third step downward was that they began to withstand and resist the truth of God’s Word (II Timothy 3:8). The final step was it turned away its ears from the truth and turned unto fables, or myths (II Timothy 4:4). Even before the death of Paul the original form of the Church was lost. Paul died sometime around 64 A.D. Within thirty to forty years after his death, writings began to emerge from within the Church that were far removed from anything resembling true, original, God inspired Christian doctrine. The Church was already in need of a reformation even before the end of the first century.

Eleven centuries later, around the year 1180, there was in the region of Southern France, Northern Italy and Spain a group of people known as the Cathari. The word “Cathari” means “pure ones.” The Cathari had formed together to endeavor to return to the purity of the scriptures. They stood in opposition to the wealth, power and influence of the Roman Church. They were one of the first groups to propose the idea that common people had as much right to teach the Word of God as did priests, which idea was revolting to the Roman Church. From the Cathari descended a group of people known as the Waldensians, who continued to stand upon the Word of God and stand against the Roman Church, promoting the idea that every man had a right to a knowledge of the scriptures, and a right to teach and preach the Word of God. In 1229 the Roman Church decreed that it was forbidden for anyone except a priest to read the scriptures or do any preaching or teaching. At the same time they denounced any translation of the Bible other than their own. Around 1360 John Wycliffe dared to translate the scriptures from Latin into English. In 1415 the Roman Church exhumed his body, tried him for heresy, and burned his already dead body at the stake. In 1373 John Huss was born. He loved the Word of God and became a devoted follower of John Wycliffe. On July 6th, 1415 he was burned alive at the stake as a heretic. In 1450 Gutenburg invented the printing press. In 1471 the New Testament was first printed and distributed in Italian. In 1477 it was printed in French, in 1478 in Spanish, and in 1488 a Bohemian New Testament was published.

All of these events set the stage for the next great event that occurred, Martin Luther’s nailing of his ninety five theses to the door of the church at Wittenburg on Sunday, October 31st, 1517. Following Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli preached the Word of God in Switzerland. John Calvin, after being forced to leave France, also came to Switzerland where he became a major figure in the Protestant movement. Calvin’s writings are still considered required reading for students of theology. In France during this time, were a group of Protestants who were known as Huguenots. They became known as Huguenots because in the area of Toures, the king, who had died, whose name was Hugo, was believed to go out at night as a spirit. Due to the persecution going on at that time, Christians would go out at night to witness and preach the Word of God. The Christians, because of their behavior, coupled with the legend of King Hugo, became known as Huguenots. John Knox brought the Word of God to Scotland. His ministry developed into what is known today as the Presbyterian Church. In England, King Henry VIII began to reject the authority of the Roman Church as well. William Tyndale became a champion of the Reformation in England. In 1520 he translated and published the entire Bible in English. He was thanked for his efforts by the Roman Church by being burned at the stake.

All of these men were wonderful, God fearing men who loved God and did the best they could to reform the Church and return to the purity of the Word of God with the resources that were available to them, but the resources were limited during that time in history and many were influenced by Roman theology. Some of these men, like Martin Luther, were deeply devoted to the Roman Church, even though they desired to see it reform. All of them stood in the face of tremendous opposition and persecution. Some gave their lives for what they believed. All of these men, and many others through the centuries since, are responsible for the awesome privilege we have today of not just having the printed Bible but having the tools to research the scriptures, and gain an understanding God’s Word, of being able to gather together to study the Word of God, freely, without the threat of death hanging over our heads – at least not yet.

The work of these men continues today. The Church today, both Protestant and Roman, continues in need of a reformation. Doctrines introduced into Christianity during the dark days of its rejection of the truth of God’s Word need to continue to be uncovered and cleansed from its thinking. There is still work to be done. The Church needs to conduct itself nobly and learn to recognize the doctrines in its system of beliefs that do not line-up with the teaching of scripture and not be afraid to reject them, and change, and return to true, God inspired doctrine. The Church must examine its doctrines and practices in light of the divine authority of God’s Word to see “whether those things are so” (Acts 17:11). Those doctrines that that line-up with scripture, they ought to continue to hold on to. However, those doctrines that they promulgate that do not line up with the Word of God must be disposed of, no matter how dear to their heart they may be.

Perhaps the greatest requirement of a student of the scriptures is their willingness to unlearn. Christians must be willing to unlearn and give up and change any belief that does not line-up with scripture. Approaching the Word of God in this manner, while being at times unpopular, and not being without challenges, is rewarding.

© 2010 The Bible Study Group, Inc.

For questions, fellowships, or to support the work of the Bible Study Group, contact – fellowship@biblestudygroup.org, or write us at The Bible Study Group, 11605 Meridian Market View, Unit 124-125, Peyton, CO 80831. You can also join fellowship online every Sunday morning at 10:30 by going to htpp://www.dimdim.com and joining the meeting room – “thebiblestudygroup.” God bless you!

Valiant for the Truth

October 19, 2010

The record of history shows that wherever and whenever men and women have taken a stand for God and the inherent and inerrant accuracy of the truth of His Word, it has always kindled the fires of religious fervor. Such was especially the case during the period in history known as The Reformation. Those in the positions of religious power and authority expended themselves to fan the flames and consume anyone who stood in their way, because the truth of God’s Word (that sets men and women free) threatened the stranglehold and control that the religious order held over people (and their money), and this they could not tolerate.

The truth of the matter is that the truth of God’s Word always sets men and women free, in every category of their life.

John 8:31, 32
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

The accurate knowledge of God’s Word (not the knowledge of denominational theology) sets men and women free in mind and body. It brings healing to the physical body, and restores sanity to the human mind. It will set men and women free in their finances, in their marriage, in their parenting, in their relationships with others, in their businesses. There is no category or segment of human existence that the accurate knowledge of God’s Word does not address and bring deliverance!

II Peter 1:3
“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:”

The truth of the matter is that throughout history God has spoken in a variety of ways. One of these many ways was by His prophets – His messengers.

Hebrews 1:1
“God, who at sundry (various) times and in divers (many) manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets.”

These individuals received the revelation of God directly from the source, and then delivered the message to those to whom they were sent. They were God’s spokesmen, God’s mouthpiece, His messengers. They used their vocabulary, but what they spoke was God’s Word. That is why the written Word of God (the revelation of God in writing) is of no private interpretation, because it did not come by the will of man, but these holy men of God spake as they were directed by God. They spoke (and wrote) what God wanted them to declare.

II Peter 1:20, 21
“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”

The record of God’s Word shows time and again how God’s prophets, those who spoke for God, were received and treated by the people.

II Chronicles 36:14-16
“Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the LORD which he had hallowed in Jerusalem. And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.”

Jeremiah was such a man. Jeremiah was a prophet of God, a messenger of God. He spoke for God and delivered “the word of the Lord” that God gave him verbatim to God’s people. Of all the prophets in Old Testament, none was ever treated any more cruelly than was Jeremiah. Yet, he remained valiant for the truth.

One time during his life and ministry Jeremiah was put in the stocks at the gate of the city, by the religious leader of the community (the “chief governor of the house of the Lord”), so everyone could laugh at and ridicule him, because the religious leader of the community didn’t like the Word of God that Jeremiah had been speaking.

Jeremiah 20:1, 2
“Now Pashur the son of Immer the priest, who was also chief governor in the house of the LORD, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things. Then Pashur smote Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the LORD.”

Sincerity and religious piety is no guarantee for truth. Just because a man is religious, just because he is sincere, just because he has the right degrees from the right theological seminary or is intellectually eminently qualified, doesn’t make him right or in line with the truth of God’s Word. Pashur was religious! He was sincere! He was at the top wrung of the religious ladder – “the chief governor in the house of the Lord.” He was top echelon of the denomination. What makes a man right is whether or not what he speaks is in line with the truth of God’s Word (rightly-divided), not whether or not it is in line with accepted theological thought or religious teaching.

After Pashur released Jeremiah from the stocks and had summoned him to see whether or not Jeremiah would like to change his mind about what he had said, Jeremiah gave him the Word of God again, and then some. Jeremiah hit Pashur ‘right between the eyes’ with the truth of God, with absolutely no concern whether Pashur would like or appreciate what he had to say. With no concern whether or not he would be ostracized or ridiculed or imprisoned or even killed.

Later in his life and ministry the political heads of the society didn’t like the Word of God that Jeremiah spoke, so they lowered him into an abandoned cistern that was used as a holding tank for human excrement.

Jeremiah 38:6
“Then took they Jeremiah, and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the son of Hammelech, that was in the court of the prison: and they let down Jeremiah with cords. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire.”

They lowered this wonderful man of God, God’s spokesman, God’s prophet, His messenger, into a septic tank filled with human waste – sewage! This is as heartbreaking as it is incredible! This was the value society placed on the truth of God by the mouth of Jeremiah the prophet. They considered him, and the Word of God he spoke – sewage! We see this today in our modern society where the Word of God is unwelcome in so many places. It is unwelcome in our schools. It is unwelcome in our legislative bodies (how dare we open a legislative session with a prayer beseeching God for His blessing and guidance on the proceedings). It is unwelcome in our businesses (lest a lawsuit be filed for religious harassment). It is unwelcome at our sporting events (lest the unbelievers be offended). It is even unwelcome in many of our churches (if what the Scripture declares contradicts the theology of the church). This was true in Jeremiah’s day and time as well, and he spoke to it.

Jeremiah 23:1, 11
“Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!

For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the LORD.”

O’ for a Jeremiah in our day and time! O’ for men of God who will speak for Him. Men who are willing to boldly and courageously declare the truth of the accuracy of God’s Word in the face of religious opposition. Men who are valiant for the truth!

© 2010 The Bible Study Group, Inc.

For questions, fellowships, or to support the work of the Bible Study Group, contact – fellowship@biblestudygroup.org, or write us at The Bible Study Group, 11605 Meridian Market View, Peyton, CO 80831

There a number of things that many people would like to tell us come with age – wisdom, tolerance, and beauty, being among them. (In my case I don’t know about the “beauty” part.) I’d like to throw a couple in the mix – loving honesty and fearless boldness. As I have gotten older I have come to appreciate these, in myself as well as others. Earthly life is so fleeting. As I have gotten older I have come to realize how fleeting it is. When I started in the ministry I was twenty years old (though my study of Scripture began many years before that) and thought I was invincible, that I’d live forever. Now, more than thirty-three years later the invincibility factor has gone down a notch or two.

As the years have gone on I have developed a serious appreciation for loving honesty and fearless boldness. Tell me what you think. Cut to the chase. Spit it out damn it! Don’t beat around the bush, please! I haven’t time. If you think I’m a no-good, four-flushing, double-talking, two-faced, bottom-feeder…..tell me. I’m good with it! I have a thick hide! I don’t go wee-wee in my pants because somebody tells me what’s on their mind. I promise I won’t take my toys and go home because you tell me what you’re thinking. I won’t think any less of you either. As a matter of fact, I will think more highly of you and have more respect for you. I so appreciate honesty and boldness in men and women as I have gotten older.

The truth of the matter is that loving honesty gets to the bottom of things, and fearless boldness is required to be lovingly honest most times. I have always told my wife, my sons, and others that I have counseled over the years that “light makes manifest.” This is true throughout the Word of God. Sooner or later, as the truth is spoken with love and honesty and boldness, as principle is stood upon, the facts of the case become evident and the truth of the situation becomes crystal clear. A person doesn’t always need to jump up and down in their defense. “Light makes manifest!”

When someone is young I think they spend a lot of time worrying about how not to offend people, how to be diplomatic, how to hide what they’re really thinking, how not to hurt people’s feelings. Now, please don’t misunderstand, I’m not advocating being unkind, unloving, rude, or crass. I have dealt with people like that too; People who have a ‘running off of the mouth,’ that are loud and rude and unkind in their speech under the guise of (pseudo-) honesty.

James 3:3-8
“Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.”

This is not what I’m talking about – being loud, and rude, and obnoxious, and hurtful. I’m talking about loving honesty and fearless boldness to introduce ‘light’ and truth into situations, which always “makes manifest.” I have watched businesses, organizations, and ministries go down the proverbial toilet because men and women were not willing, or were afraid to have the boldness to speak up, afraid to be honest, or have others be honest with them. We are not to be obnoxious and hurtful in our honesty, but bold and at the same time, loving. Those who have the Word of God hidden in their heart ought to have a word to speak at the right time and in the right way.

Proverbs 25:11
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”

Galatians 6:1
“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”

Matthew 10:16b
“Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”

Fear and hesitancy to ‘speak up’ and be honest many times might seem to be justifiable. People in positions of perceived power and authority and leadership are often very proud of what they have achieved, and they oftentimes don’t want to hear, and aren’t interested in the opinions of others. Unsolicited opinions and reproofs are often met with dire consequences, especially in government and religion. Many is the resignation of a leader that has been asked for; many are those that have been told their services were no longer needed, for ‘speaking up.’

John 9:22
“These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.”

I have a few people in my life, my wife being the primary one, who keep me ‘grounded,’ who I trust, who I rely on for counsel and wisdom and honesty. I may not always like what they have to say at the moment, but after the sting goes away, and I put my ego away, I always take what they say and search my heart and go to my Heavenly Father in prayer and to the Word of God because I know that they love me. Some of these are men and women who I have had the honor and privilege of teaching the Word of God for many years; men and women who are ‘workmen’ of the Word, who are faithful, who are seasoned in the Word of God and spiritually mature, who have proved their mettle, and who walk with the power of God in their life. What would it say about my ability as a minister, or as a teacher if I were to dismiss the counsel of those individuals? In the book of Acts, the Apostle Paul did just that when he decided to go to Jerusalem against the will of God, ignoring wise counsel and reproof, and it cost him dearly, landing him in prison, and severely curtailing his ministry and the outreach of the Word of God for the rest of his life.

Proverbs 11:14
“Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.”

Proverbs 27:6a
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend;”

Along with serving and coordinating the Bible Study Group, I have also enjoyed teaching martial arts for many years. I tell my students that when they ‘pull their punches’ or intentionally execute a technique ‘offline’ or ‘half-heartedly’ that it is disrespectful to their training partner. It shows they don’t think their partner is capable of handling the situation, which is going to be detrimental to their partner if they find themselves in a real life self-defense situation.

When I train with my students I want them to hit me, to execute their attack straight-forward, direct and at the target. I expect, and appreciate the same thing from my wife, my sons, and my friends. Don’t pull the punch; don’t throw it offline, or beat around the bush. Give it to me straight! Spit it out damn-it! Tell it to me like it is! Tell me what’s on your mind! Please don’t disrespect me by not telling me the truth! It is disrespectful to not tell someone the truth who needs to hear it. Likewise, it is disrespectful to dismiss out of hand the counsel of the faithful. What someone does with the truth from your lips is their problem, not yours. Sometimes they may be so offended, become so enraged, that they will consider you an enemy. That is between them and God, and you have nothing of which to feel guilty.

Galatians 4:16
“Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?”

I have two wonderful friends that come to mind as I write this. I consider each a trusted confidant and wise counselor. Each has a unique approach in their loving honesty and fearless boldness toward me. One will sit with me, quietly tell me what’s in his heart, what he thinks about a situation, or if he thinks I could handle a situation better. The other will tell me in no uncertain terms exactly how he feels about a situation, exactly what he is thinking, and if he thinks I need to relocate my head to a different part of my anatomy. God how I love and respect them both! I thank God for ‘long-suits’ and the ministries in the Body of Christ, without which all would be left to their own devices. Every believer should be blessed and consider it an honor to have friends and counselors like that. People with the courage to be lovingly honest and fearlessly bold! We’d have fewer problems and failures in governments, in families, in businesses, in churches and ministries.

Ephesians 4:11-15
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:”

Proverbs 19:21
“There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.”

Loving honesty and fearless boldness ought not to be feared, but sought after and appreciated.

For questions, information regarding fellowship, or to support the work of The Bible Study Group, contact fellowship@biblestudygroup.org

People believe what they believe because of what they have been taught and exposed to, and many times people will blindly accept what they are taught without checking “the facts” as it were against the truth of God’s Word. In Genesis 2:16, God had told Adam that the very day that he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, “thou shalt surely die.” The Serpent, as the Devil is called in Genesis chapter 3, stated otherwise. In Genesis 3:4, “the Serpent said unto the woman, ye shall not surely die.” Cloaked in sincerity, this original lie is still being palmed off on men and women today.

God had said, “thou shalt surely die.” The Serpent said, “ye shall not surely die.” Somebody’s got to be a liar! (My money is on the Serpent). Life after death is understandably a subject of great interest as man investigates and endeavors to come to terms with his own mortality, and the loss of those whom they love. Sadly, most come to terms with the subject apart from an understanding of the truth of God as made known in Scripture, and fall prey to the original lie of the Serpent.

Currently there is a very popular nationally syndicated radio talk show called, “The Other Side, with Steve Godfrey,” where Mr. Godfrey displays his sensitivity to the “spirit world,” allowing call-in guests to “get in touch” with those from “the other side.”

The truth of the matter is Mr. Godfrey is displaying the age old practice of conjuring up (exercising) “familiar spirits.” Familiar spirits are so called because of their being “familiar” with things, people, and events that have taken place in the senses realm. (Only you and Grandpa knew how you would sneak up to the barn after he went inside and puff on the cigar he left on the window sill. Nobody else ever saw it, knew it, or could possibly know it, so this has to be Grandpa that Mr. Godfrey is talking to on your behalf). The Old Testament speaks of the practice of exercising familiar spirits and the consequences it brings –

Leviticus 19:31
Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 20:6
And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.

II Kings 23:24
Moreover the workers with familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols, and all the abominations that were spied in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD.

Isaiah 8:19
And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?

One of the contributing factors that led to the death of King Saul, beside his continuous rejection of the Word of God in his life, was his asking council of a woman who had a familiar spirit.

I Chronicles 10:13
So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it;

Spiritualism, and the practice of conjuring up familiar spirits, is still a very popular field of interest today. Even in the toy aisle in most department stores you can still find Ouija Boards. (What a wonderful way to introduce children to the spirit world! “Oh, but it’s just a harmless game.”)

Perhaps men and women fall prey so easily to the Devil’s original lie, and seek council of those who are exercising familiar spirits, because most mainstream “Christian” churches offer few clear, biblical answers or comfort concerning death. While condemning those who are investigating or operating spiritualistic practices (i.e. exercising familiar spirits), they themselves teach that when you die “you’re not really dead,” you’ve just gone home to be with Jesus! The original lie of the Devil of, “ye shall not surely die,” is still being palmed off on men and women today by sincere (but dead wrong) respected religious leaders.

Most mainstream “Christian” churches and the likes of Steve Godfrey both will tell you the same thing – that those who have died are not really dead. The difference however is that while those same churches tell that you cannot or should not talk with your dead loved ones because that would be sin, Mr. Godfrey will tell you that you can and should talk with your dead loved ones. Mr. Godfrey will help you get in contact with those on “the other side.” He will tell you that your dead loved ones want to talk with you, to tell you not to worry about them, to tell you not to grieve, to tell you about the beauties of the after-life. Which one sounds more appealing, more comforting, and more inviting?

Mainstream “Christian” teaching for centuries has propounded that those who have died are not really dead, but are in one of two or more places. This is exactly what the Serpent told Eve in the Garden of Eden when he said, “ye shalt not surely die.” The Serpent’s original lie is still being palmed off on people today by sincere and trusted religious leaders who propound that those who have died are not really dead, but rather are alive, either in eternal bliss with the Lord or in the eternal flames of Hell, or in a temporary place of waiting until entrance is granted into one or the other. All of which are false teaching if the Bible, the Word of God, is true.

Thinking men and women have grown dissatisfied with what is all too evident in so many mainstream “Christian” churches today – that it lacks spiritual authority and power, and is destitute of the supernatural, sorely lacking sound, simple, biblical doctrine, and clear, logical answers. This has resulted in thousands upon thousands being drawn into this harmful and deadly snare of the Devil, turning to the likes of Steve Godfrey and the multitude of others who seem to be operating genuine “supernatural” abilities.

The question I have is if death takes a person into the presence of God, then why are Christians the first ones to pray for healing for the sick? Why not be consistent in their logic? Why not pray for, and do everything they can to hasten death? Why not support suicide? (You see, when you tell a lie you have to remember the lie and continue to come up with illogical, dishonest and unbiblical ways to cover for the original lie you told.)

The truth of the matter is that death is not a welcomed friend that takes us home to be with the Lord. According to the Scriptures, death is an enemy (I Corinthians 15:26) that robs us of life and joy and fellowship with God and our loved ones. It is an enemy that, with the return of Christ, will ultimately be destroyed. The so-called “supernatural” abilities being demonstrated by Mr. Godfrey and other spiritualists are nothing more than the conjuring up (exercising) of familiar spirits, which are devil spirits, which brings severe consequences to the operator and those who listen to them.

The truth of the matter is that the scriptures are very clear for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. The Bible clearly teaches that ALL who have died are DEAD, with the exception of the lord Jesus Christ who is called in I Corinthians 15:20, 23 the “firstfruits” from the dead, and in Revelation 1:5 “the first begotten of the dead.” If Jesus Christ is the “firstfruits” from the dead and the “first begotten” from the dead, then Abraham is dead! Moses is dead (Hebrews 11:13)! David is dead (Acts 2:29)!

The Word of God declares that there is no consciousness in death, and that ALL those who have ever died remain in the grave in the continuing state of death until the return of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, when ALL will be made alive – in particular order and sequence. The Scriptures also declare that those who produce these “supernatural” phenomena are acting contrary to the truth of God’s Word and are possessed by, and operating, devil spirits. For further study you may want to check the following sections of scripture – Ecclesiastes 9:5-10; Psalms 30:9; 115:17; 88:5-12; 146:4; 6:5; Isaiah 38:18, 19; Acts 2:29, 34; I Thessalonians 4:13-18; I Corinthians 15:1-58.

If you would like to contact us or support the work of the Bible Study Group, our email address is fellowship@biblestudygroup.org (you can use that same email address to donate via PayPal, or contact us to provide you with a postal address).