Sometimes it seems if it weren’t for billboards I wouldn’t have any topics for this blog. Poor theology can be found anywhere, but especially on the roadside. I think this is the case because good theology cannot be condensed enough to fit on roadside signs that are read while you are driving 60 to 70 miles per hour. A good summary of the gospel would result in print too small and too much to read in the few seconds the billboard is readable before you pass it up. This is similar to Twitter. You can tweet a short statement that is true, but you can’t say all there is to say about a particular topic in 140 characters.
I am so blessed to be able to sit under sound preaching of God’s word each Sunday. My pastor just began a new series through the book of Acts. As he was discussing verse 6 of chapter 1 he mentioned God’s timing. You know the verse. Before his ascension the disciples ask Jesus a question.
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6 ESV)
As my pastor pointed out, this question reveals that the disciples still misunderstood quite a few things. However, my attention was drawn to the disciples asking about something happening “at this time.” Jesus replies in verse 7.
He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” (Acts 1:7 ESV)
In his own eloquent way my pastor told us Jesus was telling the disciples to mind their own business. Continue reading
Truth seems to be in short supply these days. I think many would agree with that statement, but, in order to agree (or disagree), one must understand what I mean by truth. When I speak of truth I’m speaking of something that is objective. The words “constant,” “solid,” “unbending,” and “unyielding” come to mind when I think of truth. When we say the bible is true we are not simply saying it is factually accurate. We are saying what the bible teaches is accurate and true for all time. In other words whatever God has said in the Scriptures is just as true today as it was when written and will forever be true. Now, that is just fine if we like what the bible says. But what do we do if we do not like what the bible says? Continue reading
A common saying I hear today when someone has been going through an extended period of distress is, “They deserve some happiness.” The implication is, based on how bad things have been, it’s time for some easy living. The idea that we deserve some happiness is a gross misunderstanding of our true situation. No one deserves anything but God’s wrath and judgment. Anything we experience other than that is due to God’s mercy and grace, both the common mercy and grace he shows to all people and the special mercy and grace he shows to his elect. When it comes to believers that are enduring some type of suffering, many times the expectation is, when the particular difficult circumstances end, life will be better. After all, when Job’s suffering was complete God restored to Job twice as much as he had before (Job 48:10). This is not always the case, though. One of the churches mentioned in Revelation is an example of this.
Many churches have signs that display messages. Sometimes the message is the scripture passage and title for next Sunday’s sermon. Other times the message is announcing an event at the church. Many times, though, the message is meant to inspire or encourage the reader. Unfortunately these messages often cause me to sigh and shake my head.
Recently while driving home from out of state we passed a billboard with the message “Lust will drag you down to hell – James 1:15.” As one who does not want to go to hell I found the billboard’s message interesting. In particular I wondered what was the goal of the billboard. Did the person or persons who erected the billboard hope to keep people out of hell, stop people from lusting, or both? Also, what type of lust is being denounced? Typically when I see the word lust without any context I think of sexual lust. Is this billboard against pornography and other sexual sins? The referenced bible verse says
Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 1:15 ESV)
The King James Version uses the word lust instead of desire.
Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. (James 1:15 KJV)
Evidently the creators of the billboard were thinking of the KJV rendering. However, using the word lust on the billboard without the original context of the verse misses the true meaning. Continue reading
God blessed me with a wonderful father. He went to be with Jesus when I was just 27, which is half my current age. Memories fade over time, but one thing in particular I remember about Daddy (yes I’m from the south) was his wit. Between my sophomore and junior year of college he and I traveled from Hattiesburg, Mississippi to Las Vegas, Nevada to help a new church with Vacation Bible School. The Vacation Bible School lasted a week, and, instead of heading home, we decided to tour California. From Las Vegas we went to San Francisco, drove the Pacific Coast Highway to Los Angeles, then went to San Diego. While in Los Angeles we went to see the game show Password Plus. Game shows record a week of shows in one day. The same audience is used for the first three shows, then a new audience is used for the last two shows. We were in the first audience. As we were leaving the studio we passed by the people waiting to enter for the final two shows. All of a sudden a voice cried out, “Cecil Carpenter!” Well as it turned out a couple that lived in Hattiesburg and knew Daddy were waiting to enter the studio. The woman said, “What in the world are you doing here?” Daddy replied jokingly, “Well, everybody has to be somewhere.”
Part 1 showed that God will not share his glory with anyone or anything, but we “fall short” of giving God the glory he is due (Romans 3:23). We plagiarize his glory by taking his glory and applying it to someone other than God, usually ourselves. In this part we will examine some of the areas in which God is glorified and how in each area fallen man refuses to give God the glory he deserves. Continue reading
Plagiarism is a serious offense in literary and academic environments. According to the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary plagiarism is “the act of using another person’s words or ideas without giving credit to that person.” We tend to limit plagiarism to the academic or professional arenas, but we find it in all spheres of life. I imagine most of us have had the experience of someone “stealing our thunder.” We have exciting news that we tell someone and they reply, “So and so already told me,” even though you told “so and so” not to repeat the news. That experience leaves us feeling a bit deflated. Also, a major problem today is identity theft. In this electronic age our personal information is always at risk of being stolen and used by someone else. This is the ultimate form of plagiarism, someone pretending to be me. So plagiarism runs the gamut from the minor repeating of family news to the more serious non-credited use of information or ideas to the take over of an identity. We are very scrupulous when it comes to making sure we get credit when credit is due, and we are outraged when someone else gets the recognition that is due us.
Why does God do what he does? What is his motivation for his plans, purposes, and actions? Is God motivated primarily by love? God’s love is certainly emphasized in Scripture. John 3:16, the most famous verse in the bible, speaks of God’s love.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 ESV)
Also, who doesn’t like 1 John 4:7-10, especially the end of verse 8 where it says, “God is love.”
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:7-10 ESV)