googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: April 2009

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Close the Border Already!!

On the Today Show, Joe Biden defended the administration’s decision to not shut down the border to Mexico in the face of the swine flu pandemic. He said he would advise his family against going into confined spaces (like planes, trains, and buses) but closing the border to Mexico is not an option.

Frankly, I don’t get it. So far, 100 school districts have closed schools to help prevent the spread of the virus. So let me get this straight – we close schools but we don’t close the border? In other words, I can’t go to school but I can go to Mexico?! That’s brilliant. And now Mr. Obama wants the government to run health care!

Stop the insanity. Close the border already!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

New Testament Greek Words You Already Know

As I began to learn Greek, I was surprised at the number of English words that have come from the Greek. Of course, English is descended from the European languages so I knew that Greek would certainly have had some influence on English. But I have heard estimates that as much as 1/3 of English words are of Greek etymology. I had no idea it was that much. I thought it would be fun to look at a few Greek words from the NT that have made their way into the English vernacular.

First is the word, “Bible.” It is a transliteration (an English spelling of a Greek word) of the Greek word, βίβλος (biblos) which simply means “book.” Coincidentally, (or perhaps not coincidentally) it is the first word of the New Testament.

Many words that are included in the English Bible are simply transliterations of Greek words:

Χριστός (Christos): It’s not hard to identify this as the word Christ. It’s the equivalent of the Hebrew word, “Messiah.” Both mean “Annointed.”

ἄγγελος (aggelos): When two gammas appear next to each other, the first gamma is pronounced like an “n”; thus, this is the word “angel.” The word means “messenger.” We typically think of angels as heavenly beings and when the word is used of such a being it is not translated. However, John the Baptist is referred to as a messenger (aggelos) in Mark 1:2.

ἀπόστολος (apostolos): This is transliterated as “apostle” in English Bibles. It can be translated as “messenger” but conveys a meaning closer to the word “envoy” or “ambassador.”

βαπτίζω (baptidzō): This is the verb “baptize.” It means to dip or immerse. It generally isn’t translated when referring to ceremonial baptism. However, there are a few verses where it is translated; one instance is John 13:26, where Jesus dips bread in a bowl and gives it to Judas at the Last Supper. The cognate noun of βαπτίζω is βάπτισμα (baptisma) which means “baptism.”

γένεσις (genesis): This word only appears once in the NT (Matthew 1:18) – in this form – where it is translated. Of course, most people will recognize it as the name of the first book of the Bible. It means “origin, birth, or genealogy.”

The words above are all transliterations. However, there are also words in the NT which are translated yet English readers will recognize the Greek word.

εὐαγγέλιον (euaggelion): This is a compound word – eu (good) + aggelion (message). It is translated as “good news” or “gospel.” It is where we derive the word, “evangelical.”

ἰχθύς (ichthus): Many people will recognize this word from the fish symbol that has become popular on cars. It means “fish” but some people use the letters as an anagram: Ἰησοῦς Χριστός θεός υἱός σωτήρ – Jesus Christ: God, Son, Savior.

θεός (theos): This word is usually translated as, “God.” Some might recognize this as the root of the term, “theology.”

μαθητής (mathētēs): This word is usually translated as “disciple” though the meaning is closer to “student.” From this word we get the English word, “mathematics.” Jesus had 12 apostles but many disciples.

πνεῦμα (pneuma): The word for “Spirit” is πνεῦμα but the word is also translated as “breath” or “wind.” It is where we derive the word, “pneumatics.” This creates an interesting exchange in John 3:8 where Jesus talks to Nicodemus: “The wind/Spirit blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the wind/Spirit.”

πρεσβύτερος (presbuteros): This word is typically translated as “elder.” You can easily see that this is the term “Presbytery” or “Presbyterian.”

There are many more words I could include but I wanted to begin those that would be most readily identifiable. Hopefully, when you come across these words now in the Bible, you will have a little better understanding of the meaning behind them. Keep studying the word! God Bless!!

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Credentials of an Apostle

As I was reading in Revelation the other day, I came across following verse:

“Thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:” Revelation 2:2

As I read it, I wondered how the Church in Ephesus might have tested these false teachers who called themselves Apostles but weren’t. Looking in Scriptures, I believe there are 3 credentials a true apostle should have: they are called by Jesus, they are given the ability to perform miracles, and they are given a message to speak by the Holy Spirit.

Firstly, an apostle is called by Jesus. Consider Luke 6:13, “And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles.” It was very clear that Jesus assigned them the office of apostle. It certainly was not a self-designation seeing how Jesus also said, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit” (John 15:16).

Paul also was an Apostle chosen by Jesus. Most people are familiar with his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). Afterward, in his epistles, Paul would sometimes affirm to his readers that he also was called by Jesus to be an apostle (as in Romans 1:1 and 1 Corinthians 1:1). So even though he was not a part of Jesus’ ministry during His life, he was still named an apostle by Jesus after His ascension.

Secondly, the apostles were given the ability to perform miracles. In Matthew 10:8, Jesus listed some of the types of miracles they were to perform: “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils.” That’s a fairly impressive list.

The performing of miracles as a sign to speak God’s word is a practice that hearkens back to the prophets of the Old Testament. When Moses was called to deliver God’s people from Egypt, he was worried that the people would not believe God had sent him. God gave Moses certain miracles to perform as evidence of his calling (Exodus 4:1-8). When Jesus cast out the money changers from the temple, the Pharisees demanded a sign from Him as proof of His authority to do this. He promised the sign of His resurrection. (John 2:18-21).

We see that Jesus’ word was fulfilled in the apostles. Read Mark 16:20: “And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.”

Finally, the apostles were given the words to speak by the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised that the Comforter would teach them all things and remind them of everything He had said to them (John 14:26). When He commissioned the twelve and first sent them out, He warned them that they would be persecuted for their message and brought before rulers and princes. When that happened, He said to them, “take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you” (Matthew 10:19-20).

Since the early, New Testament church did not have the benefit of the New Testament Scriptures, God gave His word to the apostles to be preached and written down. As such, I believe the apostles spoke with absolute authority from God and were not able to speak in error. Anyone who claims to be an apostle should not have a gospel different than the revelation we already have in the Old and New Testaments.

There are probably a few other criteria that an apostle should possess but I believe these three items are absolutely essential. I would be suspicious of anyone today claiming to be an apostle. Ask yourselves these questions about such a person: Was he specifically chosen by Jesus Himself to be an apostle? Does he perform miracles – such as raising the dead? Does his preaching in any way contradict Scripture? I doubt there is anyone alive today who would fit the bill.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Today is Earth Day

Today is “Earth Day.” According to Wikipedia, “Earth Day… is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment.” That sounds well and good and I’m all for appreciating the Earth’s environment. But there’s a fine line between appreciation and adoration and I fear too many people blur the distinction. As Christians, we must be clear about what our role is in this world. When God put Adam and Eve in the Garden, He gave them a few, simple instructions.

First, we are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26). We’re different than the animals. When God made Adam, He gave him the task of naming the animals (Genesis 2:19-20). Adam saw that he wasn’t like the beasts or the birds; he was in the image of God. When God made Eve, Adam at last saw someone like himself. Upon seeing Eve he exclaimed, “This is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23). But some celebrants of earth day don’t draw the line between humans and animals. In fact, they state the opposite! Read how the Oakland Zoo is celebrating Earth Day:
Bring the whole family out to the Oakland Zoo from 10:00am - 3:00pm for Earth Day 2009 Festivities! This year, the theme is "We're All Connected." All of the world is connected in a beautiful web of life, including you!
So when kids go to the Oakland Zoo on Earth Day, they’re told they’re just another knot in the web of life. Lizard, bird, monkey, and man – it’s all the same.

Another commandment God gave to Adam and Eve is, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28, NASB). He gave this same command to Noah and his family after they left the Ark (Genesis 9:1). Procreation is a blessed event that God encourages within marriage. However, one of the driving motives behind the original celebration of Earth Day was “zero population growth.” US Senator, Gaylord Nelson, an early leader in the Earth Day movement, made the following quote:
"The bigger the population gets, the more serious the problems become ... We have to address the population issue. The United Kingdom, with the U.S. supporting it, took the position in Cairo in 1994 that every country was responsible for stabilizing its own population. It can be done. But in this country, it's phony to say 'I'm for the environment but not for limiting immigration.'"
We can see that Senator Nelson’s goal was to limit the population growth. In this quote, he suggests limiting immigration as a method. Unfortunately, we sometimes see much more radical methods being employed by nations like China – such as forced abortions. The idea of limiting population is the antithesis of God’s command to fill the earth. He made the earth perfectly capable of supporting a population many times larger than we currently have (read about the overpopulation myth here). We need not adopt the same attitude as the people at Babel.

Still another thing that bothers me about Earth Day is the misguided notion that it’s somehow noble to leave the environment untouched. Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe we should be good stewards over the environment; but don’t forget that God said, “Let them [men and women] have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:26). Time and says, “Earth Day is usually celebrated with outdoor performances, where individuals or groups perform acts of service to earth.” Excuse me? Acts of service to the earth? The earth is here to serve us; we are not here to serve the earth.

Finally, I’m a little uneasy with the whole “nature worship” that seems to go on this day. Romans 1:25 talks about how people, “worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator.” I remind you of the dreadful day of the Lord discussed in 2 Peter 3:10:
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
This earth and everything in it is going to pass away. While we’re here, don’t pollute, act responsibly, and let’s be good stewards over what God has given us. Beyond that, don’t get too caught up with this “Earth Day” craze. I believe it focuses on all the wrong things.

Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: and thy glory above all the earth;

Monday, April 20, 2009

Post Your Prayer Requests Online

This is a long overdue addition to my blog. I would like this to be an on-going, interactive part of my blog where readers can post their prayer requests and praises. Everyone is welcome - just click on "comments" and leave your request/praise. I encourage everyone to read them and pray for the requests mentioned. Feel free to post words of encouragement as well.

"Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2

Friday, April 17, 2009

Why I Hate MSNBC **WARNING – This Video Contains Hate Filled Speech**

Hate is a strong word and I don’t like to ever say I hate something. As Christians, we’re forbidden to hate another person but sometimes I believe we’re justified to hate things – including actions. Well, one thing (or rather things) that I’ve come to hate is liberal news shows. It’s not that I just don’t care for them – I HATE them. I cannot stomach to watch them. When I watch them, I find myself getting worked into a frenzy at the stupidity being broadcast. So rather than frustrate myself, I simply exercise my remote button and turn the channel to something that doesn’t destroy brain cells as I watch it.

But yesterday, as I was channel surfing, I came across Keith Olbermann’s show on MSNBC. He was talking about the Tea Parties so I decided to watch it for a moment. Bad idea!! His guest on the show was an actress named Janeane Garofalo. I had never heard of her before and even after looking up her bio online I don’t think I recall ever seeing her in anything. I have no idea what makes her qualified to give political commentary but Olbermann seemed to value her opinion.

In the few minutes I listened to her speak, I believe I heard every lame, strawman argument ever used by liberals beginning with the “racists” canard. It was truly incredible; never would I have believed so many insults and lies could be spoken in so short a time and with such hubris. This girl was a truly gifted in spouting liberal spin. Perhaps that’s why Olbermann invited her.

Rather than attempt to describe her litany of pejoratives, I suggest you watch it for yourself. Be warned that it’s pretty intense.

One thing that struck me as I watched it is that Ms. Garofalo didn’t limit her remarks to just the protesters. She specifically aimed her remarks at all people who are conservative or Republican. Another thing I noticed is that as she ranted, Mr. Olbermann would chime in every now and then with a “yes” to signify his approval with what she was saying. They are truly kindred spirits.

I looked up the ratings of different news shows from the day of the Tea Party (4/15/2009). In Olbermann’s time slot, Bill O’Riley garnered more viewers than all other cable news shows combined. You would think that the producers of these shows would get the message but I guess their elitism blinds them to truth.

So, I once again have sworn myself off liberal news shows. These folks are extreme elitists who have no idea what the real world is like. But before I go I’ve resolved to do one thing. I’m going to force myself to watch an hour of Olbermann’s show and take not of who is advertising during his show. Then I’m going to email this video to every company and ask them if this is the kind of programming they support.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

They Just Don't Get It!

CNN reporter, Susan Roesgen, really showed her stripes at a recent Tea Party held in Illinois. She questioned one protester who was there with his 2-year-old and asked him, “Why are you here today?” He began replying about how Lincoln stood for liberty but before he could complete his point, she interrupted saying, “Sir, what does this have to do with taxes?... Do you realize that you’re eligible for a $400 credit?” The man asked to finish his point but was again interrupted saying, “Did you know that the state of Lincoln gets 50 billion dollars out of the stimulus?”

Do liberals think people are just stupid? I guess so because that’s how liberalism survives. Too many people can’t see past their own pocket book. The old saying is that if you rob Peter to pay Paul, you can count on the support of Paul. Liberals believe if they pay off enough people, they’ll win support for their reckless budget. Hopefully, the Tea Parties will help bring the danger to light.

Let me tell you what taxes have to do with liberty:

According to the National Debt Clock, as I write this, the national debt is over $11.2 trillion. That means each and every citizen is already on the hook for $36,000 that the government has already spent. Since 9/2007, the debt has been growing an average of nearly $4 billion per day! But according to the Congressional Budget Office, the deficit for this year alone will be a record $1.7 trillion!

That’s not the half of it. Are you sitting down because here’s an eye opener for you; according to Richard W. Fisher (president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas), “Add together the unfunded liabilities from Medicare and Social Security, and [the national debt] comes to $99.2 trillion over the infinite horizon.”

So what effect does this crushing debt have on our liberty? The short answer is that the cost of this staggering amount is going to enslave our children – literally! Again from Mr. Fisher - “Let’s say… every U.S. citizen who is alive today decided to fully address this unfunded liability through lump-sum payments from our own pocketbooks, so that all of us and all future generations could be secure in the knowledge that we and they would receive promised benefits in perpetuity. How much would we have to pay if we split the tab? Again, the math is painful. With a total population of 304 million, from infants to the elderly, the per-person payment to the federal treasury would come to $330,000. This comes to $1.3 million per family of four—over 25 times the average household’s income.”

Our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren are being burdened with a debt they can never repay. Their entire income will not be sufficient to pay even the interest on the debt – never mind any government programs like defense!

Of course, Ms. Roesgen just doesn’t get it. Her take-aways from the Tea Party was that it was an anti-government, anti-CNN event contrived by Fox News and talk radio. What’s especially sad about her “anti-CNN” comment is that the estimated number of protesters attending the various Tea Parties is probably greater than the entire viewing audience of CNN. It is truly a sorry testimony if your network has more protesters than viewers!

So Ms. Roesgen, you can keep your $400 tax credit, your $50 billion in stimulus for IL, your bailouts, and your entire stinking packing for all their worth. The government is supposed to “secure the blessing of our liberty to ourselves and our posterity” – just read the Preamble. Obama and his cohorts wish to leave our posterity drowning in a sea of red ink!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.

Luke 24:1-7

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Palm Sunday – The Triumphant Entry

"And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee." Matthew 21:6-11

When Jesus entered Jerusalem on what is now known as Palm Sunday, He received a hero’s welcome. After all, He was looked upon as a deliverer, the one who would rescue the Jews from their Roman oppressors. They called Him the son of David and expected Him to take the throne that David once held. As I read the account in Matthew, I’m reminded of a similar scene when David was welcomed after defeating Goliath:
And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick. And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands. 1 Samuel 18:6-7
David was their deliverer then and they wanted Jesus to be their deliverer now. His entrance into Jerusalem to the accolades of many is sometimes called The Triumphant Entry. He was the long awaited Messiah. However, Jesus’ plan wasn’t the same as those receiving Him.

The Jews were looking for a conqueror – someone who would break the yoke of Rome’s tyranny over the nation. They wanted the Messiah to overthrow Caesar’s kingdom and establish His own kingdom. It’s true that Jesus will one day return as the Conqueror; One day, He will come as the Lion – but first He had to come as the lamb.

The Bible says there were times that people wanted to make Jesus their king (John 6:14-15, et al) but Jesus rejected the idea. His plan was to seek and save that which was lost (Luke 19:9-10). He was the Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice that would take away the sins of the world (John 1:29). When He stood before Pilate, He didn’t proclaim Himself to be king; instead, He stood silently as a sheep before the shearer (Acts 8:32).

I can imagine the disappointment of the people less than a week later when they saw that Jesus was a prisoner of Pilate. The one in whom they had put their hope was now standing before them mocked, beaten, and humiliated. At the coaching of the Pharisees, they chose Barabbas (who had led an insurrection against Rome) for clemency over Jesus. Just a few days before, they hailed Jesus as the son of David; now they were crying, “Crucify Him!”

People are fickle. Some people want God to serve them rather than the other way around. They have a picture of who God is and how He is supposed to act. These people wanted God to rain fire down on their enemies but instead Jesus said, “Father forgive them” (Luke 23:34). They wanted Jesus to lead rebellion and Jesus said to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). They wanted the Messiah to be a conqueror – not sometime in the future but now! And when Jesus wasn’t, they didn’t want anything to do with Him. They wanted Him to be their king – next they wanted Him dead.

I hope to live to see the return of Christ. I long to hear that trumpet sound and be delivered from this world. I want to see the Lion of Judah. But I’m more glad for the Lamb! We sometimes want God to do things our way; I like God’s plan better.