Monday, May 22, 2017

Fear in Modern America: A Christian Perspective (What does the Bible say about Fear?)


As I have gotten older, and watched, I have seen fear grow. Part to blame is the internet and social media, no doubt. Stories abound of situations that cause many to think twice about doing normal things in life. And extraordinary things are even more out of the question. As a person who has traveled a lot, I have been told by many people that "the world is a dangerous place." And while they are right, that the world is dangerous, most places are no more dangerous than here at home. Accidents happen anywhere. A tree could fall in the forest, a disaster could strike, car accidents are more common than we like to admit. But that is life. I look at the modern world and how we treat our bodies and I ask, "is that not dangerous, too?"

"And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Mark 16:15.

Jesus commanded us to go into all the world and preach the gospel. This requires one to let go of fear. It requires one to put trust in God. Right now there are many people who are terrified of war and terrorism, yet didn't Jesus address this too?
"And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet." Matthew 24:6
Jesus said to not be troubled. This is just a fact of life. Yet, have we followed it? We are more troubled than ever. People are terrified of others. We want to lock ourselves up and be "safe." Yet, we are told that there will not be peace and safety on this Earth - no matter where we are. And that is no different today than it was in Christ's time, or before.

"For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape." 1 Thessalonians 5:3.

The only real safety we have is in God.

"The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe." Proverbs 29:25

In fact, Christians are told over and over again in the Bible to not fear. Fear is a tool of Satan, the adversary. In fact, he wants us to fear, because fear leads to distrust and to hate. And here we are, in an age where fear is leading man to hate each other. Crazy, isn't it? Not really, this stuff was written centuries ago. And it makes complete sense.

As I travel the world, I see less and less U.S. citizens traveling, even in places like Central America. In fact, in Costa Rica I ran into far more Europeans. Why is that? I am not sure. I have traveled to places where there is war, such as Egypt and Ukraine, and people there were far more calm overall than what I see here in a place that is pretty much completely removed from the kinds of war that exists in the rest of the world. Yet, we are all the more terrified of it!

Americans have been blessed with so much. In fact, John likens the church of the last days as Laodicea.

And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:  “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.  So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.  To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne." Revelation 3:14-22.
I truly see the comparison with the church of Laodicea and the modern day United States. We feel "rich." In fact, we have everything we think we could ever want. Abundant food, technology at a cheap price, cars, homes, and land. Cheap and free "Entrainment" abounds. We can acquire much with less effort than ever before. Yet, we have an abundance of fear and a lack of faith in God. We have a need to learn to put fear behind us. This is not a suggestion.
"Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." Joshua 1:9
Jesus said:
"And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." Matthew 24:14.
Only when the gospel is preached to all nations will Jesus return. Yet, fear holds us back from that task. Americans have so much wealth as a whole that they could go into all the world. Yet it is fear that holds them back. Fear from outsiders. Fear of terrorism. Fear of difference. Fear of the unknown. Where is the trust in the Lord? An action is the same as a word. And through fear we are denying the power and strength of God.

"But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." Matthew 10:33

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Biblical Checklist for Consuming Media and Entertainment



How do you spend your time?  Do you spend it in a positive way that will truly benefit you and the world around you?  Do the things that enter your mind elevate you to higher and Holier things?  Memorize this checklist (or print it out) and keep it with you, testing to see if what you do truly is worth doing.

We all fall short of the glory of God more often than not, but this guide can help us to aim to reach a higher level of life than many of us (myself included) are currently at.

Beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 2 Peter 1:5-7

1.  Does this (movie, television show, book, news article, song, magazine, website, etc.) glorify God?

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.  1 Corinthians 10:31

2.  Does this elevate me in a way that will make me a better person, more fit for the Heavenly courts?

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

3.  Does this increase my knowledge and wisdom?  

Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding Proverbs 3:13

4.  Would God approve of this use of time?  Does this serve Him in any meaningful way?

5.  Does this (movie, television show, book, news article, magazine, website, etc.) break any commandments or glorify the breaking of any commandments (is there any murder, stealing, adultery, etc. portrayed)?

Abstain from all appearance of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:22

6.  Does the language in this media conform to the world, with cussing and foul speech, or does it wax poetic, with a type of speech that is fit for the ears of angels?

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 2 Corinthians 7:1

The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment. Pslam 37:30

***

If you have answered YES to these questions, then the media you are consuming is fit to behold.  If you answer NO, it may be an indicator that this type of media serves no purpose in your life.

Keep in mind, the best use of our time is praying and speaking to God and reading the Bible.  Nothing else in this world comes close.  Next is spending time with the ones we love and helping others.  No form of media should take the place of these things.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  Philippians 4:8

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

How Can I Live a Good Life According to the Bible?

How can I live a good life?

Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.  Proverbs 4:7

What must I do in this world to gain wisdom?

A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel Proverbs 1:5

Who shall be considered wise counsel?
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.  Proverbs 1:7

Interesting.  So, how can I learn more about the Lord??

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.  John 14:6

How do I learn to walk with Jesus?

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
2 Timothy 3: 16-17

Scripture, as in the Bible? 

Yes, the Bible.  The book that is largely being forgotten by the world, but is still relevant today as the day it was written.  Maybe even more so.

Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.  Revelation 1:3

If there was ever a time in which to read the Bible, to step away from the things of the world, the politics, turmoil, violence, and all the other things that war against the soul, this is the very time to search diligently.

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman who needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  2 Timothy 2:15

How can I find happiness in this world?  

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  Phillippians 4:8
So ignore the negative?  What is pure in this world?

Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.  Proverbs 30:5


Amen

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Where is your mind? Heaven or Earth?

Sometimes we catch a glimpse of Heaven in nature.

One only needs to catch a glimpse of a few music videos to realize that the time is not long before Jesus makes his triumphal return to the world.  While sitting in Costa Rica, eating lunch, we were exposed to many songs with strong sexual themes.  Although I travel quite a bit, I have not really seen music videos in years, and I usually do not pay attention to mainstream music.  In fact, living in the Washington coast has allowed me to ignore a lot of that kind of thing.  However, what I saw in mainstream songs made me realize just how wicked things are getting.

Sadly, many have been so desensitized to it that they do not see it as one who does not look upon it for a long time.  I was not the only one who was disgusted by it.  My wife and our friend who we were traveling with also showed great disgust.  Yet, this is what the world wants.



The Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. 1 Sam. 2:3.


Today I was reading Maranatha by Ellen White and I came upon an entry that I read at least five times.  This struck me as such an important and sobering thing to read and I think that any Christian should keep this in mind:

I have seen an angel standing with scales in his hands weighing the thoughts and interest of the people of God, especially the young. In one scale were the thoughts and interest tending heavenward; in the other were the thoughts and interest tending to earth. And in this scale were thrown all the reading of storybooks, thoughts of dress and show, vanity, pride, et cetera. Oh, what a solemn moment! the angels of God standing with scales, weighing the thoughts of His professed children--those who claim to be dead to the world and alive to God. The scale filled with thoughts of earth, vanity, and pride quickly went down, notwithstanding weight after weight rolled from the scale. The one with the thoughts and interest tending to heaven went quickly up as the other went down, and oh, how light it was! I can relate this as I saw it; but never can I give the solemn and vivid impression stamped upon my mind, as I saw the angel with the scales weighing the thoughts and interest of the people of God. Said the angel: "Can such enter heaven? No, no, never. Tell them the hope they now possess is vain, and unless they speedily repent, and obtain salvation, they must perish." . . .

I saw that many measure themselves among themselves, and compare their lives with the lives of others. This should not be. No one but Christ is given us as an example. He is our true Pattern, and each should strive to excel in imitating Him. . . . I saw that some hardly know as yet what self-denial or sacrifice is, or what it is to suffer for the truth's sake. But none will enter heaven without making a sacrifice. A spirit of self-denial and sacrifice should be cherished. Some have not sacrificed themselves, their own bodies, on the altar of God. They indulge in hasty, fitful temper, gratify their appetites, and attend to their own self-interest, regardless of the cause of God. Those who are willing to make any sacrifice for eternal life, will have it; and it will be worth suffering for, worth crucifying self for, and sacrificing every idol for. The far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory swallows up everything and eclipses every earthly pleasure.
This struck me because I see how I have fallen short of this ideal.  I see myself enjoying time out in Nicaragua and Costa Rica, and the beauty of God's work is impressive, but I know that all of this pales in comparison to that of Heaven.  In Heaven there will be scenery so gorgeous that none of us can even imagine it.  No more extreme heat, cold, or fear.  No more sickness while traveling.  No more tears or sorrow.   I really enjoy traveling, but it can be hard.  In Heaven, traveling will be a complete joy - full of splendor.

Our thoughts should always be on Heaven.  Those who think more of this Earth truly have made the Earth their home.  Those who have their minds on Heaven look towards the place that is their true home.

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:20-21