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admin on January 25th, 2013

Ok as a father of a teenage son you get the questions about what is going on in our world and is it right or wrong from a biblical perspective.

Teenagers have a natural desire to fit in and they seem to want to do what they think “everyone else is doing” just so they fit in. Christian teens are no different in this regard. As MK’s coming back to America the last thing they want is to be too different. That means when we are home on furlough we get the questions about what is happening in the youth culture both good and bad and is it right or wrong. We have to say that one of the big culture shocks for us returning to the states was the increase in number of young people both Christian and non Christian with tattoos and body modifications including multiple piercings, gages in their ears etc, etc. So the first question is it Biblical is their a command against this.

The quick answer is found in Leviticus 19:28 where the God is telling the Israelites to keep his Statues and in verse 28 he says: “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord.” That is pretty straightforward. Of course you will have people say this is the OT and aren’t we under Grace not under the Law. To that you have to wonder what Christ meant when he said’ ” Do NOT think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did NOT come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”  We can debate this for a long time but I want to move on and give what I feel is less debatable in this area.

First I want to address the fact that when a teenager says; “everyone is doing it” that usually means someone they know is doing it and they either think it is cool or a good idea. The truth is that not everyone is doing it. A 2006 survey taken by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology states that an estimated 36% of Americans aged 18-29 now have tattoos. That would be a lot of people but not everyone. A Harris Interactive poll conducted in January 2008 concluded that 14% of all adults in the United States have a tattoo, with the highest incidence (25%) found among gays, lesbians and bisexuals. So we can see that really it is not everyone but a lot larger number then when I was a teenager for sure.

First, I would ask any believer to question himself as to why he or she wants a tattoo or a body piercing. What exactly is the purpose of getting it? The plain fact of the matter is that any tattoo or piercing is a self-centered thing. The primary purpose of tattoos is to draw attention to the person, and as a Christian shouldn’t we question whether or not that is what we are trying to do. Are we trying to get others to notice us. Then we need to ask  does this act truly honor the Lord? Or will what I am doing negatively affect my witness?

Secondly, we hear the argument that this OT law was to help Israel move away from pagan culture and some Christians want to argue that tattoos and piercings are no longer connected to pagan customs. I am not sure that I totally agree with this, tattoos are most definitely associated with American sub-culture. The main groups of individuals who sport tattooing on their bodies are those people who are outside the norms of our American society. Who do you think of when you think of tattoos it is the bikers, the gangs,  rock and roll bands and their followers, the gothic culture and other groups that act in rebellion toward the mainstream of society. These are folks who don’t like to be told what to do, what to believe, and go to great lengths to demonstrate opposition toward those in authority who want to hold them accountable to their behavior. If a Christian wants to get a tattoo, he needs to take this into consideration and determine if whether or not he wants to be associated with these various, worldly groups whose world-view promotes rebellious attitudes.

Finally, tattooing and piercing is often done by young and impetuous folks who want to be trendy, and thus they do not think of the consequences of putting a permanent mark on their body. When they “grow up” and desire to become serious about life, a family and a real job, having tattoos and piercing holes all over their bodies tends to be a distraction for them. I personally know many Christians who got a tattoo when they were young unbelievers and now they regret it something terrible. All Christians need to ponder carefully if whether a tattoo or a body piercing is something they are willing to live with the rest of their life, before they get one.

I think that the biggest thing that we need to remember is that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you and we do not want to defile the Temple. I think that we need to be careful that what we do to and with our bodies needs to be carefully considered before we jump in and do something that will harm our testimony and have people look at us rather than to God. The Bible teaches us “not to be conformed to this world” the trends of today will pass but the scars will be permanent.  One of the principles in the New Testament is to die to self, especially the body where sin dwells.  Rom 6:13: “And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” One has to decide if tattoos come under this topic.  I will end with this there is no explicit or implicit command against tattooing in the New Testament but there still is the principle that whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all things to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). We all need to be  fully convinced in what we do. 

admin on January 17th, 2013

Ok a few days ago my sister-in-law posted a question on her Facebook page about Psalm 47:1

O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph.

Her question got me to thinking, and I think that was her intention, about worship and forms of worship in church.The question that my sister-in-law posted was this:

1. Psalms are songs
2. Songs are for praising God
3. This psalm seems to indicate that clapping and shouting should be part of worship to God in song

This is a hotly debated subject if you look on the internet you will find a wide variance of beliefs about clapping in church. Some going so far as to say if you clap in church you are a wicked sinner and on the day of judgment God will say to you–”depart from me you worker of iniquity I never knew you.” I think that view might be a little too far fetched. That brings us back to the question, what are we to make of this and should we be clapping in church? Is this a command?

When I looked at this passage and did a little research in the Psalms I only find 2 references for clapping during worship of God and one of them involves floods Psalm 98:9 Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together. On the other hand you will find at least 70 or more references to singing in Psalms. I think this alone is enough to start to question the importance of clapping and singing. I think that we get into dangerous territory when we start basing what we do on one verse of scripture rather than the whole council of God’s word. Especially to justify something that seems so small in light of the multiple times we are told to sing.

One worship leader (a term I do not like and find very misleading, but that’s another matter) says that the reason many worship leaders use clapping include the following:

  • clapping creates a segue between songs to eliminate dead space (is dead space and silent reflection bad?)
  • clapping gives a sense of the Holy Spirit moving in a worship service (a dangerous thing in my opinion)
  • clapping is entertaining and fun especially if cleverly used in a creative clap pattern (where is the focus? on the worshiping of God or entertaining people)

I did find one very funny post about clapping in church. . .I think this post alone is a good reason not to clap but again that is off topic.

I think the real issue we are talking about is worship in the church. How should we worship?  First me must clarify that worship is giving to God. We do that in the service not only in song but also in prayer, special music, and the preaching. This is why I feel the term worship leader is misleading it gives us the idea that the worship leader or worship team are leading the worship when in reality they are only a small part of the worship in most services. They generally have nothing to do with prayer time and the preaching time or in leading during those times. So how do we worship? I think we find the answer in the fact that God wants us to worship him in Spirit and in truth. John 4:23-24

23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.  24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

I believe that this is telling us that we need to have the focus on God and not anything else. To worship in Spirit indicates that there has been a heart change and a new song in our heart. To worship in truth means that when we worship it is to be aligned with His Truth. God desires his people to worship him with songs that have sound doctrine (this is a real problem with many songs used in worship today) and to worship him in spirit and in truth and with their hearts and minds. Some people think that Worship of God only happens when instruments play and people sing this is a wrong notion of what worship is. It should occur every day, it is not just passive, and it doesn’t only happen during the song time at church. For example, I can worship God by having my daily  devotions, by meditating on his Word, and by obeying what He commands.

Paul said, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;” (Ephesians 5:19). This calls for a wide variety of worship styles, but the importance here, I believe, is not the style so much as the substance. I believe God has given us liberty in how we worship but with that comes great responsibility to make sure it is done in a glorifying manner. I have been in services that resemble rock concerts and I have been in services that resemble funerals as well, neither of which I felt glorified the Lord fully or were worshiping in Spirit and in Truth.

I think how we worship is important.  For example, imagine an unbeliever walking into a church with a heavy dose of Contemporary songs, flashing lights, drums, guitars, several keyboards, a place where the people can dress any way they feel, and the preaching focuses on meeting felt needs, this gives the unbeliever the painful belief that the people in this church are no better than those that organized the rock concert he most recently attended. An unbeliever walking into a church for the first time should immediately recognize that this is a holy place and those running and attending the church are serious about God.

Worship needs to be done in such a way as to contain spiritual truth and be doctrinally sound. Does this mean it can only be done one way, the answer is NO! But those that throw out the wonderful depth of God’s Word to clap hands, raise hands, fall to the ground so that they somehow feel connected to the Spirit or God through their worship songs are also wrong. We need to have a heart change in us as we worship. Much of modern “contemporary” worship is directed to feelings only and not the heart. The songs need to go along and support the message of the scripture and the preaching teaching ministry of the church.

So what should be our guideline when we ask if something should be included in our church worship. Here are some guidelines, not just my ideas, others that I admire have put forth similar list. Ask yourself some of these questions:

  • Is the worship God focused?
  • Does the music advocate a full understanding of God and His standing?
  • Is what we doing in our worship being done in a decent and orderly fashion?
  • Is the content of the music Biblically sound?
  • Is the music used in worship promoting Church Unity or are others brothers and sisters going to be offended by the song choices?
  • Is what we doing done to the best of our talents and in an excellent manner?
  • Is the music part of worship preparing the heart for the message part of worship?
  • Is your church’s philosophy of music based on biblical principles?

This is of course not an exhaustive list but a good start to help us ask the right questions when it comes to worshiping in Church. Back to the original question should we clap while singing. I think we can clap if it meets the criteria listed above but if not we should reconsider why we are doing it. This goes for anything we are using in our worship, including instruments, songs, or anything else for that matter.

 

admin on January 13th, 2013

So today I photographed the family I wanted to use the saberstrip light with. Their son is a trombonist and I thought it would be fun to do a composite photo. I set the two saberstrips on either side of the him and shot with another light in the front so all together three lights.

I then extracted him from the background and since he is a trombonist in New York City I placed him on a city scape background. I was quite pleased with the result.

Trombonist Composite Photo

admin on January 12th, 2013

Ok So I have a photoshoot tomorrow and I was thinking that I would love to use some strip banks in the photo but I don’t want to purchase equipment here in the states since most everything else is in China. I also was not interested in spending the $135 dollars just to purchase one Saberstrip. Now I am sure that they are a great build quality and that they are effective in doing the job but $135 seems like a lot of money to me. So I was thinking I could do the same thing with some mailing tubes.

Supplies

 

DIY Saberstrip Supplies

 

I purchased 2 white mailing tubes from Staples at the cost of $8. I already had spray adhesive on hand so I used that but your could use double stick tape or glue or what ever you have on hand to tack down the aluminum foil. I purchased heavy duty aluminum foil for $2 from Walmart and black Duct Tape also from Walmart for $4. So the total cost for me for 2 saberstrips was $14.

I also had an old long box I thought I would make a larger strip light out of at the same time you can see that pictured here.

I took the tube and the box and I marked a center line and cut with a small pocket knife down the center. Then I went across the top a little way to open the tubes and box up. On the tubes I cut the flaps off (in hindsight I might not have done this) on the box I left them on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I cut a hole in the end of the box to fit my flash in tightly and the same in the tubes as well. Then I sprayed the insides with spray adhesive and placed the aluminum foil in the tubes and the box.

 

 

 

 

After I finished this I did a test to see what the light spill was like. The large box with the built in barn doors was able to control the spread much better then the saberstrip style tube without barn doors.

 

 

 

 

 

This was the setup process but how did they work in a lighting situation was my next step. (Little disclaimer my daughter agreed to stand in for these test shots but she wanted everyone to know that she was dressed for a portrait or have her hair ready for a portrait.)

just main light

With Main light and large strip box over head for hair light. Think the small flash might need to be on full power to fill this box it was not in this test.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With main light and Saberstrip in the same position and at the same strength as larger box. You can see the smaller size gave more light in this case as there was less room for the light to bounce around.

just the two saberstrip lights to show their effectiveness. These have the lights on at 1/2 power at f8 ISO 200

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

with main light and two DIY saberstrip lights. I had to feather the Main light as I could not dial it down and had no room to move it back in the small space this was shot. Overall I was pleased with the result and I am anxious to use them on a real shoot.

 

admin on January 10th, 2013

This is a video of Bethany and Penny-Sue Singing Speak O Lord. Here are the lyrics for the song.

Speak, O Lord, as we come to You
To receive the food of Your Holy Word.
Take Your truth, plant it deep in us;
Shape and fashion us in Your likeness,
That the light of Christ might be seen today
In our acts of love and our deeds of faith.
Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us
All Your purposes for Your glory.

Teach us, Lord, full obedience,
Holy reverence, true humility;
Test our thoughts and our attitudes
In the radiance of Your purity.
Cause our faith to rise; cause our eyes to see
Your majestic love and authority.
Words of pow’r that can never fail—
Let their truth prevail over unbelief.

Speak, O Lord, and renew our minds;
Help us grasp the heights of Your plans for us—
Truths unchanged from the dawn of time
That will echo down through eternity.
And by grace we’ll stand on Your promises,
And by faith we’ll walk as You walk with us.
Speak, O Lord, till Your church is built
And the earth is filled with Your glory.

Speak O Lord from Samuel Laterza on Vimeo.

Man’s search for Wealth

Since we have been home I have seen a lot of ads and commercials and actually watched an episode of Gold Rush a History channel show about searching for Gold in Alaska. There are a lot of shows out there today that show man’s unquenchable search for wealth in some of the strangest and most dangerous places. Man will go to the extreme all in an effort to get wealth. This is not a new phenomenon. In my reading today in Job 28 we see that same search for wealth happening during this time that some believe to be about 600 years after the flood some 1800 years before the birth of Christ.Yet Job challenges his friends and us to search not for wealth but for wisdom which is far superior.

Man will go to extreme measures to find wealth. They will turn the world upside down. They will go into the wilderness – where no one has gone before – risk their lives to get rich. This is what man will do for wealth. These verses found here in Job chapter 28 are talking about this: “Surely there is a vein for the silver, and a place for gold where they fine it.  2 Iron is taken out of the earth, and brass is molten out of the stone.” and “He putteth forth his hand upon the rock; he overturneth the mountains by the roots.  10 He cutteth out rivers among the rocks; and his eye seeth every precious thing.” All of this from verse 1-11 are leading up to the question of verse 12. “Where can wisdom be found?” Wisdom is far more precious then the wealth that the world has to offer.

Proverbs 8:11 For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.

Proverbs 16:16 How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!

Man goes to great length on the show Gold Rush there was a teenage boy that moved almost an entire mountain with an excavator in a search for Gold he thought to be there. If you go to Wyoming you can see open pit mines. Job points out how far man will go in verses 1-4. In verses 8 he talks about man going to places that birds can’t fly and where the fiercest lion would not dare to tread. Man will risk life and limb in his pursuit of wealth.

Where is Wisdom Found?

Job 28:12-19 “But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding?  13 Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living. 14 The depth saith, It is not in me: and the sea saith, It is not with me.  15 It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof.  16 It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire.  17 The gold and the crystal cannot equal it: and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold.  18 No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls: for the price of wisdom is above rubies.  19 The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, neither shall it be valued with pure gold.

Job’s point in all of this is man is searching for wealth and he will go to great lengths to find it but, is he searching for wisdom. For wisdom is  much greater than wealth. The truth is man does search for wisdom, just that he searches in all the wrong places and he uses all the wrong means.

Wisdom Is In The Fear of God!

When you get to verse 20 Job ask two more questions. “Whence then cometh wisdom? and where is the place of understanding?”  Job continues to tell us that this wisdom is hidden from the eyes of the living. But he says that God understands wisdom after all he is the one who established this earth. Job says he has:

  • established the weight of the wind.
  • measured out every drop of water on the earth
  • set the rules for rain
  • established the path of the thunderbolt

So if we want to find true wisdom Job concludes we need to search at the source of Wisdom. vs. 28 “And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.

The question we need to ask ourselves is are we looking for wealth or are we looking for Wisdom and if we are looking for Wisdom that can only be found in the Lord.

May we seek His wisdom today.


admin on January 8th, 2013

I am continuing my daily devotions in Job and I have to say I have considered over the last few days why Job in such adversity was able to find hope and not commit suicide. When you read his story and think about all that he was facing you have to wonder how he is able to stand strong in the midst of his adversity yet so many today are not able to stand. Statistics tell us that 1 million people a year commit suicide or approximately one every 40 seconds. In the US alone there is one every 13 minutes or so. Most of those committing suicide are 40 to 50 year old men. With all this we look at Job and see that he fits all the criteria for a person that should commit suicide and yet he doesn’t.  Add to this that his wife and friends, instead of encouraging him, add to his misery and even suggest that he curse God and die.

Why does Job not commit Suicide and Why Should Christians not Commit Suicide?

The thing I noticed as I have been reading through Job is that in the midst of the suffering and sorrow he finds hope and teaches us a valuable lesson about how we should view our situation in light of who we are to God. Where Job’s friends right in condemning him, saying he was being punished by God for some hidden sin in his life? The answer is NO! Job was an upright man. God himself testified “there is none like him on the earth, a blameless man, one who fears God and shuns evil.” This was not a punishment by God. God was allowing Job to be purified through suffering.

Even though Job’s situation seems hopeless, Job entrusted his soul to God who was his and our only hope. This realization of Job comes through as a small prick of light in his thoughts. He starts by saying “14 If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.  15 Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.” (Job 14:14) He starts to contemplate life after death and what his life would be like after the resurrection.

He moves from this to a greater revelation in (Job 19:25-27) with the statement. “25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:  26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:  27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” As Job continues he gains more and more insight into who His Redeemer is and his attributes.

It is this same Redeemer that we can look to today for hope in our hopelessness. We know that Job’s Redeemer still lives today. He came to earth and died for our sins and is coming again and we can look forward to that day as Job looked to that day as well. “11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,  12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;  13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;  14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” (Titus 2:11-14) All our hope is in Christ and Christ alone. Paul who suffered much knew what it meant to look for Christ for hope in the midst of his suffering “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:  2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;  4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:  5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5:1-5)

We also know from Paul that the tribulation and suffering we experience is temporary and nothing compared to the Glory we will one day experience. “18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.  20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,  21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” (Romans 8:18-21)

So as I read Job’s story and see how he was treated I look to him for the hope that he Found in his Redeemer. May we have that same hope in our lives even in the midst of our suffering. “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Romans 15:13)

 

admin on January 6th, 2013

As I continued my devotions today in Job I couldn’t help but ponder the thought about why God allows us to suffer. I also thought about the fact that there is coming a day where all suffering will end for the Saint. Revelation 21:4 tells us that one day he will wipe away all tears, and that pain, sorrow, and death will pass away. That is a blessed promise and I think that really is what Job was looking for when you read in Job where he mourns the day of his birth and looks forward to the end of his days. He was looking for a day when his sorrows would end. The question still stands though why does God allow suffering in the first place if he is a loving God.

Where Suffering Started

There was a time where even here on earth there was no suffering. In the beginning God created a perfect world where there was no suffering, no death and no pain. This was of course before Adam and Eve sinned. It was God’s plan that man live without having to experience sorrow, that we would live in peace with each other and even with nature itself. However, man choose to sin and not obey God and thus brought an end to the peace that existed between God and man as well as brought sorrow into this world. In Genesis 3:16-19 God says to them, “16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.  17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;  18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;  19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”  With sin comes the first time we see the mention of sorrow in scripture. So the sorrow that we see today is not the work of an unjust God but is the result of man’s sin. We suffer because we are sinners. The ultimate result of sin is death. Romans 3:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death.

Of course the immediate response to this is that I didn’t do anything wrong. Well we are all sinners and Romans 3:10 tells us that there is non righteous no not one. So sin is what started the suffering in this world and it is why many suffer today but there are other reasons for suffering as well.

Some Suffer so They Find Christ

God has been known to cause some to suffer in order that through their suffering they might find him. By God allowing some people to suffer it causes them to come to a realization that they are missing something or that they need something else in their life. I have dealt with people and seen them come to the Lord because of the pain they were experiencing in their life. Sometimes it is marital trouble sometimes it is sickness. When people come to the end of their rope they start to realize they need help and God is the only one that can heal them. I remember dealing with an 83 year old man who was dying from cancer, if he had not been dealing with cancer I may never had the opportunity to talk with him about Christ. He came to the Lord shortly before his death. It was his suffering that brought him to Christ.

I don’t believe God enjoys watching others suffer but he does allow it if it will humble us to the point of seeing a need for Christ in our life. We have several examples in scripture of God allowing others to suffer to bring them to himself. The leprous and the blind during his earthly ministry seek him. The Centurion the nobleman seek him due to others suffering. Naman in the OT suffered and was brought to God’s prophet.
Nebuchadnezzar was made low through suffering to bring him to a point he could recognize God. God even allowed his close friend Lazarus to suffer and die in order to bring others to Christ.

Some Suffer because of God’s Chastisement

God also tells us in his word that sometimes Christians suffer because of their disobedience toward him. We can all think of examples I am sure of people in scripture that suffered because of disobeying God. The easiest example might be David and his sins. First, he sinned with Bathsheba and God allowed his child to die. Second, he numbered the people and God sent pestilence and 70,000 people die. We shouldn’t think we are greater lest we fall ourselves. We just need to remember those whom the Lord loves them he chastens.

Some Suffer because they are God’s Children

God tells us in His word that the righteous shall suffer persecution. (2 Tim 3:12) That means that if we are doing what God wants us to do we will probably suffer at times just for doing what is right. Again we can look to scripture and see that the apostle’s, Paul, David, Jospeh, and many more all suffered for doing what the Lord wanted them to do. So sometimes we suffer just because we are Christians and the world hates us the same way it hated Christ.

Lastly, Some Suffer to Learn more about God

It is important to note, and the reason I even started to write this, that not all suffering is because of sin or disobedience. I started to ponder this whole thing because I was reading about Job. Job was suffering not because of his sin, nor because of other reasons but so that the Lord might teach him, his friends, and Satan more about himself. Some people tell you that we suffer because of lack of faith that is not always true. The Apostle Paul did not live in sin nor did he live a disobedient lifestyle but God allowed him suffer to learn more of God’s Grace (2 Corinthians 12:7) God allowed Paul to suffer to keep him humble and keep him from being exalted above measure. Sometimes God allows us to go through things to make us stronger. I believe that he allowed Joseph to go through his trials to make him stronger. James 1 tells us “2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;  3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.  4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

The truth of the matter is that God allows suffering for various reasons but he still knows what is best. He never makes a mistake. David said in Psalm 119:71 It is good for me that I have been afflicted: that I might learn thy statutes. We should have the same thought. As Job says the Lord gives and the Lord takes away blessed be the name of the Lord. If we are a Christian then we can rejoice in the fact that one day Christ will return and will make a new heaven and a new earth and we will again be able to experience life without suffering and sorrow. Until then we should trust God even in the midst of our sorrow and learn the lessons that he has for us. I pray that the Lord will give me the patience of Job in the midst of my trials as well.

admin on January 5th, 2013

I was doing my devotions today and I was reading the book of Job. As I was reading and thinking about why man suffers I started to think about how Satan wanted to believe a health and wealth form of gospel. God, however, knows that true belief does not revolve around only believing during times of prosperity but that true faith in God does and should go deeper then this. The book of Job is about the innocent suffering of one man. Job has not sinned against God or against his fellow man yet God allows him to go through unbelievable pain and suffering. I believe that God allows us to go through pain and sorrow, sometimes because of our own sin, sometimes because of his loving discipline of us, sometimes to strengthen us, and sometimes to reveal his comfort and grace. However, there are sometimes that we, like Job, suffer because of God’s divine reasons and we are not allowed to know the reason for the suffering, as in the case of Job here.

The problem we have when it comes to suffering is that we like Job’s friends and family want to analyze our suffering and look for some cause or solution. We then start using our limited understanding of God and our limited insight and come up with wrong ideas or solutions. I believe this is the foundation of the teaching of a health and wealth gospel. Satan wants us to believe that true believers will always prosper at the hand of God and that nothing bad can befall them. This is why he tells God, when confronted by God with Job’s faithfulness, take away his prosperity and Job will reject you. He was trying to prove that salvation and saving faith our dependent on our circumstances. This is one of the major problems with a health and wealth gospel.

God does bless his children there is no denying this. I can speak from personal experience how God has blessed me and my family.  God also blesses the wicked so just because a person is receiving blessing from God does not mean that this person is saved or free from sin. God has also blessed our family in the area of health and for the most part we have been extremely healthy. The problem with preaching a health and wealth gospel comes in the fact that God also allows his children to experience suffering. As I said earlier this can be for any number of reasons including our own sin but God also allows suffering for his divine purpose as seen in the case of Job as well as the Blind man in John 9. Jesus said of his Father in heaven, He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matt. 5:45) In other words God extends his grace to all men, but in the same way suffering is experienced by all men as well.

The gospel is very clear. It is eternal life available for all through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Yes there will be blessings unimaginable in the world to come, but nowhere in the Bible do I find Jesus promising us “prosperity, health and success”. He says in John 16:33 that “In this world, you will have tribulation” In this same verse, Jesus promises us peace, but that does not mean material wealth as a given. Another problem with this gospel is that it refocuses the primary mission of Jesus. Jesus came to save us from our sins not to make us rich. It is quite often silent on the subject or equates the experience of suffering as not having faith or living in sin. Besides this it tries to turn God into some sort of ATM by teaching that giving to God is an investment that must yield returns, it deliberately fails to see that all forms of giving to God are primarily acts of worship.

I think that reading job is a good way to disprove the whole theory of a health and wealth Gospel and was glad for the thoughts that this reading started in my own mind today to keep me focused on the true gospel of Christ. I encourage you to read job as well if ever you are wondering about weather or not we should listen to those teaching a health and wealth gospel.

admin on January 3rd, 2013

Image from Ark Encounter

I have started my devotions and this year I will be reading through the Bible chronologically. So far I am still in Genesis and today I was reading about Noah’s ark and it is always a reminder to me about Salvation. The ark was part of God’s plan for salvation for the world in the time of coming judgment just as Christ is the vessel of salvation for God’s coming judgment.  In the ark we have the picture of God’s mercy. God could have destroyed all of mankind without giving them any opportunity to repent and accept his Salvation, but instead he allowed for 120 years of preaching to tell the world of the coming judgment. God is still patient and merciful:

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

God had Noah prepare the ark as a means of salvation and God also prepared his Son before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:3-7) to be a vessel perfect and pure for salvation. When God instructed Noah to build the ark he told him to put only one door in the ark (Gen. 6:16) and when it comes to salvation there is only one door, Jesus Christ (John 14:6) the only way. What a wonderful picture the ark is for us and a great reminder that Christ is merciful and patient.