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Noah Confronts a Worldwide Catastrophe Part 2

Overall View of Noah's ark
jeff.jacobs1990
Image by Jeff Jacobs from Pixabay

Summers in the East Coast were often a treat for me as a young boy. I treasured spending those hot, humid days visiting my grandparents in Coney Island in New York. Besides cooling off in the Atlantic Ocean, the main attraction was Steeplechase Park. The assortment of rides this park offered to a young starry-eyed boy was dizzying. Of course, I was ambitious enough to think I could enjoy them all in one outing.

One go-to amusement was the swing ride. According to an online history of carousels, the “swing ride is a variant of a carousel ride – a fairground ride that has chairs suspended by chains from the top of the carousel . . . This ride is also called a swing carousel, wave swinger, yo-yo, Chair-O-Planes or a swinger”.

This mechanism operates on a principle of a spinning central core powered by a motor that forces the swings to extend outward on wires or metal chains. The faster the central core spins, the farther out the swings stretch.

What does this sentimental childhood memory have to do with Noah’s situation or any spiritual truths? Let me suggest our relationship with God begins with a person’s central core fixed on the Lord. From this connection to our Creator, we discover a powerful, inner centrifugal force that drives our spiritual aspirations. When that inner connection to God is fractured, there are grave spiritual consequences-lack of purpose, extreme self-centeredness, depression, broken relationships, and involvement in destructive sins. This truth brings us to the reason why God brought the Flood upon our planet.

Sadly, this catastrophic event in Noah’s day was due to man’s lack of any desire to enjoy a relationship with God. The human population refused to see their need to have God as that centrifugal force. Instead, they attempted to enthrone themselves at the core of their souls. We too are fooled by the same self-deception. As long as we keep the swings in motion, we are convinced we can be the “captain of our own souls.” Despite our sincere endeavors, we default to arrogant pride, extreme self-centeredness, and a refusal to believe there is Someone in the universe greater than ourselves.

From this breakdown in man’s bridge to God in Noah’s day, humanity spiraled out of control. The downward thrust of mankind was enough for God to respond with a promise of a worldwide Flood. Like the motion of the carousel swing ride from the central core, our trouble is due to a failure to see the need to allow God to become part of our energizing inner core.

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Have You Been Scammed by Your Own Heart?

All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.
Proverbs 16:2 NIV

כָּֽל־דַּרְכֵי־אִ֭ישׁ זַ֣ךְ בְּעֵינָ֑יו וְתֹכֵ֖ן רוּח֣וֹת יְהוָֽה׃

A study from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism asked thousands of people what news was most important to them. International news beat out celebrity and “fun” news by a margin of two-to-one. Economic and political news finished even higher. But what happens when readers were asked not what’s important, but what they actually read?

Derek Thompson with The Atlantic claims most Americans lie about what they actually read. He explains: [On June 17, 2014], the most important story in the world, according to Copyright: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/profile_gustavofrazao'>gustavofrazao / 123RF Stock Photo</a>every major American newspaper this morning, is the violent splintering of Iraq.

So what did we actually read on June 17, 2014? The top stories across the big media outlets focused on the World Cup, a YouTube game, gluten and postpartum depression, the Miss America Pageant, and the Video Music Awards. Thompson concludes, “Ask audiences what they want, and they’ll tell you vegetables. Watch them quietly, and they’ll mostly eat candy.”

If we are truthful about ourselves, we discover we are rather dishonest. Consequently, we wouldn’t par too well if we were asked to submit to a spiritual fitness test based on a thorough self-examination of our inner truthfulness. We tend to overestimate our goodness and underestimate how much we need to repent and grow.

In Proverbs 16:2 Solomon beckons us to sign up for an investigation of our inner lives lest we be scammed by a dishonest heart. (more…)




Do We Need to Repent To Be Forgiven?

The question of forgiving one another has plagued me ever since I became a follower of Jesus.  I heard many pastors and Bible teachers comment on this subject, but I did not feel they were teaching the message of the biblical text.  Instead, what I was hearing was  helpful common sense advice and psychological healthy ways to look at the way we should forgive one another.

Recently a good friend of mine whom I deeply respect, challenged me on my beliefs regarding the need for repentance as a condition for forgiveness.

Where I agree on this issue with my friend is that we both are in harmony that for a person to be reconciled with God, there must be a display of contriteness or repentance to experience the eternal forgiveness of God.  This is designated “vertical forgiveness” because it takes place between man and God.

iStock_000003523715Medium

Forgive One Another

Where my friend and I disagree is whether or not repentance is necessary when we as humans forgive one another.  If I offend another person, do I need to go to that person or have that person come to me so that I can confess my sin, state my intention to repent and ask for that person’s forgiveness?

My friend’s viewpoint is that we can forgive the other person through the forgiveness Jesus obtained for us through His death on the cross. The grace of God shown in the sacrificial death of Yeshua on the cross should so overwhelm us, that the natural outflow of our awe towards God’s love is to forgive others because God has shown His merciful forgiveness to us through His Son.

There is not always the need for repentance when there is “vertical forgiveness.”  On the basis of the atonement we have in the Messiah, we forgive one another. with or without any display of repentance. In the Sermon on the Mount, in the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:12, we read, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors (NIV).  (more…)




Why Israel Exists ‘for the Palestinians’—and the Rest of the World | Christianity Today

Why Israel Exists ‘for the Palestinians’—and the Rest of the World | Christianity Today.

I am including the final installment of the dialogue between Jew for Jesus head David Brickner and Pastor and author John Piper regarding Israel’s divine right to the land. This four-part article has been helpful to lay out the issues on the table even though many aspects of this discussion left much unsaid.  Today Piper attempts to maintain the exclusivity of God’s promise to the Jewish people and yet also hold to the position that the whole world will inherit Israel as well.  Though the Gentile world enjoys the blessings of the land of Israel during the messianic kingdom, the prophecies in Ezekiel make it clear that the land of Israel is divided among the twelve tribes of the elect nation.

Pastor John Piper

Pastor John Piper

Piper displays the confusion among Reformed theologians who try to affirm Israel as the object of God’s blessings and at the same time extend those blessings to the world while maintaing Israel as a unique chosen nation. Somewhere in the theological mix as explained by Reformed theologians, the elect status of Israel is lost in the universal blessings God promises to the world.  Brickner’s words still stand true, ” “You are taking away with one hand what you give with the other.”

This is the conclusion of a four-part discussion between Bethlehem Baptist Church pastor John Piper and Jews for Jesus executive director David Brickner on the relationship and attitudes American Christians should have toward Israel. See parts onetwo, and three. (more…)




Just Published! Jesus or Yeshua: Exploring the Jewish Roots of Christianity

Today ScriptureSolutions  published a new booklet written by Louis Lapides. This brief  book can be found for Kindle at Amazon.

Jesus or Yeshua: Exploring the Jewish Roots of Christianity

Jesus or Yeshua: Exploring the Jewish Roots of Christianity by Louis Lapides

It came to no surprise to me that when I first became a Jewish follower of Yeshua, I was going to have a cultural crisis trying to fit into a Gentile Church.  I lasted a few months before I started asking inevitable questions, “I’m Jewish. Jesus is Jewish. His first followers were Jewish. The New Testament was written by Jews and a lot of the concepts they discussed have a powerful Hebraic background.  Then why is Christianity so “not-Jewish”?

Jesus or Yeshua: Exploring the Jewish Roots of Christianity provides the reader with some of the findings I came upon as searched for answers to my questions. For me a lot of the issues were resolved when I studied the origin of most of the terminology used by Christians when describing their beliefs and practices.  When I was growing up attending Hebrew school in preparation for my Bar Mitzvah I never expected that Rabbi Printz would tell me that the mass practiced by the Catholic Church across the street from our temple was actually based in the Jewish Passover.  Nor was I told that baptism has it’s origins in the Jewish practice of immersion or mikveh used when Gentiles would turn from their paganism and convert to Judaism.

Attending a church for me at age 23 was a shocker as I describe in my opening chapter.  Here is a sample section from that chapter that will give you an idea of what Jesus or Yeshua: Exploring the Jewish Roots of Christianity is all about.

Here’s a shocker . . . Jewish people don’t feel at ease in a Christian church. The first time I attended a Protestant congregation, a Southern Baptist one, I couldn’t avert my eyes from the 10-foot tall stained glass mosaic of Jesus looming behind the pastor. I imagined for a few moments the man from Galilee was about to step out of the window, float over to my pew and ask whether I noticed the “Jews Not Welcome” sign at the church’s front door. “Of course,” I would respond, “But Jesus, aren’t you . . . .?”

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