Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Our Lord, a Poem by Emily Nelson

The following is a poem written by my 10 year old cousin, Emily Nelson of Wisconsin, USA. I was so proud of her insight into the Lord, especially given her young age, that I felt the need to share it with all of you. I hope you enjoy it, and feel free to share it (with full accreditation to Emily, please):

 
Our Lord by Emily Nelson


He is not just someone
He helped us when we needed it
He was the one who sent His Son down to earth
He is the Father of all fathers
He always forgives us
He will be there until the end of time
He has the power and will
He will come again to judge the living and the dead
He will answer our cries for help
He will never back down
He is everyone's hero
He has a kingdom waiting for us
He will continue to make the earth a better place
He is GOD

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Alleged Biblical Q source

+JMJ+

May the Word of the Lord be in our minds, in our hearts, and on our lips.

Greetings, one and all! I hope that you had a very good Easter season.

It is not well known to anyone except biblical scholars, but there is a theory that has been around for quite some time that there was a common, possibly written, source for the Gospel writers, due to the striking similarities of some of the Gospels, especially Matthew, Mark and Luke. This source is called "Q"  (for the German word Quelle, or "source.")

This theory has had many variations, including that there may have been more than one common source, maybe 2, 3 or even 4, by some theories. It has been debated for so long that the various theories have almost gotten silly. But, the basic idea, is that the "Q Source" contributed many of the words of the Gospels.

Now, as Christians, we can easily say, "well, yeah, the common source was the Holy Spirit! God inspired their writings so of course they will be similar." And this is very true.

And while I do not know if there is actually a specific source behind the theory of "Q," I am certain that one person contributed much to the stories in the Gospel, as they were the only person present during many of the stories of Jesus' life. That person, of course, is Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Luke 2:51-52     51Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

The above is from the story where Jesus was presented at the temple. Is it a surprise that Mary would keep all of the details of Christ's life in her heart? It is no surprise that I am not the son of God, but my own mother kept a daily diary of the first 5 years of my life. Now, let me ask you, dear friends, if you knew, as Mary did, that you were about to give birth to the Son of God and raise Him until adulthood, don't you think you would go out of your way to remember everything that happened? Everything He did? Of course you would. This was not just her child, this was the Son of God Himself that she was raising! His life growing up was pretty darn important, and as Luke says, "she kept all of these things in her heart" as He "grew in wisdom and stature."

As I said earlier, there was only one person alive during the time of the Apostles who was also there during many of the stories that they recounted in their letters, and that was Mary, the Blessed Mother. The Apostle John was even adopted as her son, via the command of Jesus at the cross. You can rest assured that the apostles would be asking all sorts of questions about Jesus' childhood, wouldn't you? And who else was there, that was still alive during the time of the Apostles, when Jesus was born? When the wise men appeared? When they fled into Eqypt? Those are some very detailed stories, and only Mary could recount them, as Jesus was too young to remember, and Joseph had since passed away. 

And it is certainly possible that Joseph wrote many things down along the way, as well, although the bible makes no reference to that as it does Mary keeping these things in her heart.

But only Mary could have told the apostles the details of Jesus' birth and childhood, they were not there, yet. So, it is clear that she contributed much information to the authors of the Gospels of the New Testament. Does this make her the "Q Source?" That's hard to say, but her contributions are obvious, so it is not beyond possibility.

Godspeed!

Eric
WWJD?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Who's Birthday Is It?

+JMJ+

May the word of the Lord be on our minds, on our lips, and in our hearts, amen.

Well, prayers for guidance got answered quickly, as it did not take long for me to feel the urge to post on a topic. This urge was reinforced and further inspired by watching an old episode of Mother Angelica Live on EWTN last night discussing the same topic.

So, when your birthday comes around, assuming you celebrate it and other people remember it, what would you think if everyone else around you received gifts on that day but not you? That wouldn't seem fair, or even make sense, would it? You're feelings would likely also be hurt.

Jesus' birthday is coming up on Sunday, in case you hadn't heard, and so I ask: What did you get Him for his birthday? When He was born, the three wise men brought Him gifts. There was no exchange of gifts among anyone else, only Jesus received them. So, what are you getting Him this year?

If you do not have an answer for the above question, or the answer is "nothing," then I'll ask if you bought gifts for anyone else. I'm willing to bet most of you did, and the crowds at the stores will back that up. 

So here we are, celebrating Jesus' birthday, and everyone buys gifts for everybody else, and forget to give Him anything. Does that seem fair? Does that even make any logical sense? 

Yes, I am aware that a large part of the tradition of gift giving on Christmas was inspired by the gift giving generosity of the real St. Nicholas (hence Santa Claus being called St. Nick, even though that's not even his first name!)  who's feast day is December 6. But let's not forget who received the gifts first: the birthday boy Himself, Jesus Christ.

Now, since Jesus has obviously ascended into Heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father, you're probably asking how in the world can we give Him any gifts? He certainly doesn't need any gold or Frankincense now, right?  And I doubt he'd be too interested in a new video game system, anyways.

The reality is, Jesus is all around us. Remember Jesus' words in Matthew 25:45: Whatever you do for the least among you, you also do for me." What does this mean for us?

It means that this Christmas, you can find Jesus at homeless shelters, food pantries, nursing homes, run down housing, halfway houses, all alone in their homes with nobody to celebrate with, in jails, in cardboard boxes on the street, in orphanages, maybe even next door or down the street from you.. He is literally everywhere, because He is all of these people!  

And that means, my dear friends, that you can give Jesus gifts for His birthday by giving to the least among us! The needy, the poor, the suffering, the sick, the lonely, every time you give to them, either a material item or simply your time, you are giving Jesus a birthday gift. 

Maybe, as part of your "wish list" every year, you could give up some of your gifts and ask people to donate to a charity in your name, instead. 

After all, who's birthday is it?

Godspeed and Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Christmas!!!

Greetings, once again! 

I know I haven't posted as much lately, but I wanted to take a moment to wish everybody a very merry Christmas, and I hope your Advent season has been blessed. We're about to celebrate the miraculous birth of the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who came to save us from hell. Never forget the real reason for Christmas.

I will be posting on a couple new topics soon, including "Who Was Q?" Obviously, as time goes on, there are less and less topics to cover, so if there is any topic you'd like to be talk about, just drop me a note or leave a comment. And, of course, pray that I am guided to talk about what God wants me to talk about on here

Next month will be the one year anniversary of this blog, which was the result of a New Year's resolution, and something I had been wanting to do for quite some time, and felt called to do it. In the past year, this blog has had nearly 2,000 hits from nearly a dozen countries around the world. Praise and thanks be to God for the blog growing as fast as it has, especially without as many posts in recent months. I have really enjoyed writing it the past year, as well as interacting with you, the reader. 

Thank you, as well, for visiting and reading Scripture Demystified. God willing, we'll have another year of scripture discussion ahead of us.

God bless, Godspeed, and merry Christmas, and a happy and blessed New Year to one and all!!!!!

In Christ's Love,

Eric
WWJD?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Evil of Moral Relativism

+JMJ+

May the Word of the Lord always be on our mind, on our lips, and in our hearts.

Come Holy Spirit...

Greetings and God bless one and all!

Moral relativism is the belief that there is no right or wrong. There is no "good" or "bad." This is often justified by people by saying that our rules, morals, etc. are "old fashioned" or "out of date." Apparently in modern times, right and wrong no longer apply in more and more people's minds. In other words, morality is relative. 

But is this true? Is the Bible and church teaching out of date, old fashioned, or no longer relevant? If so, what is this belief based on? 

The simply answer to that last question is, it is based on nothing. There is zero reason to believe that morality is suddenly relative and that the line between right and wrong has been erased. This is a lie that Satan has come up with to pull God's people away from Him and His teaching. 

Is there evidence that God's laws are as still relevant in the year 2011 as they were in the years 1911, 1511, 1011, or even 111? Yes! There certainly is! 

Malachi 3:6-7

I the Lord do not change. (Italics mine.) So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.

Even before Christ was born, God dealt with people ignoring His laws (decrees.) And what is His response? That He does not change! Ever. God is the same in 2011 as he was thousands of years ago. He is perfect, He does not need to change. And since the Lord does not change, then neither do His laws.  

God also said, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." --Revelations 22:13.

Of course He is, because only He started everything and He can end everything as we know it. And along the way, He does not change, he has already said.

So the argument that God or His church's moral teachings are no longer relevant in this day and age does not hold up at all. He does not change. Not yesterday, not today, not tomorrow. God and His laws remain forever. God is not "old fashioned." He is the beginning and the end. Society's tolerance for immorality does not affect God in any way. We are still called to follow Him, not the world.

God gave Moses the Ten Commandments for a reason. Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount for a reason. God gave His church the Bible for a reason. These were not temporary rules or mere suggestions that He thought might be nice for us to peruse at our leisure and follow if we feel like it, or when the world tells us it's OK. These are eternal rules to live by.  From the beginning until the end. From the Lord who does not change comes moral rules that do not change. There is no relativism. Right and wrong are still clear as day. Just because society tolerates something does not mean God does. This is why Jesus tells us to not be of this world. We are not to follow the world's rules, but God's alone. The world's rules may change, but God's do not. He said He does not change, and He doesn't lie.

Jesus called Satan "the father of all lies." And the theory of moral relativism is one of Satan's biggest, and most dangerous, lies. It causes us to rebel against the Lord. It causes us to live in ways that are not in accordance with God's laws for us. 

How far back has Satan been tempting us to question whether or not what God said actually applies to us? From the very beginning!

Genesis 3: 1-4

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman.

We all know how that ended. Right from the start, Satan was telling us that God didn't really mean what He said, so go ahead and do what we want to do. And that became the first sin.

Moral relativism is still a sin. It is still evil. Because it is a lie and leads to rebellion against the Lord, which is exactly what Satan did himself, and exactly what he wants us to do, as well. But it is still a lie.

"I, the Lord, do not change." And neither do His rules about right and wrong, no matter what generation we live in. Reject Satan's lies, and instead embrace God's Truth.

And remember, God loves you.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Are You A Member of The Fellowship of the Unashamed?

The Fellowship of the Unashamed


I am a part of the fellowship of the Unashamed.
I have the Holy Spirit Power. The die has been cast.
I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made.
 
I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.
I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.
My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure.
I am finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams,
tame visions, mundane talking, chintzy giving, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity.
I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded.
I now live by presence, learn by faith, love by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power.

My pace is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven, my road is narrow,
my way is rough, my companions few, my Guide is reliable, my mission is clear.
I cannot be bought, compromised, deterred, lured away, turned back, diluted, or delayed.
I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity,
negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity,
or meander in the maze of mediocrity.
I won’t give up, back up, let up, or shut up until I’ve preached up,
prayed up, paid up, stored up, and stayed up for the cause of Christ.
 
I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.
I must go until He returns, give until I drop,
preach until all know, and work until He comes.
And when He comes to get His own, He will have no problem recognizing me.
My colors will be clear for “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes..” (Romans 1:16)

The Author of this work is in dispute, however Dr. Bob Moorehead is considered the likely author.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Does Hell Exist?

+JMJ+

May the Word of the Lord be on our minds, on our lips, and in our hearts.

Come Holy Spirit.....

Greetings, everyone! Sorry for the lack of updates, but my job plus summer has kept me busy, plus I am trying to start a local charity (prayers appreciated!) so I haven't been able to properly relax and update as much as I have wanted to.  

I have felt called to discuss whether or not Hell really exists, as lately, I have been hearing far too many people, including clergy, say that it does not, and that many people are starting to actually believe this.

The Bible references Hell in some way so many times it is hard to even count them. But the descriptions are consistent: fire, torment, etc. But people are starting to say that the Bible was merely metaphorical in its descriptions, and that it can't be as bad as it sounds, and that maybe it isn't even a real place! 

While much of the Bible is allegorical and Jesus spoke in many parables, as I said above, the descriptions of Hell are quite consistent. There is not a lot of room for interpretations. 

Let's take a look at the most famous scripture reference to Hell, where the physical setup of the afterlife is actually described by Jesus:

“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame. But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’—Luke 16:19-26

The words "anguish" and "flame" are once again used, as they are repeatedly throughout the Bible. It also tells us that Hell is not under the earth, as we imagine it, but within view of heaven. While some say that the knowledge of being separated from God and His Love is the real Hell, which likely has some truth to it, Jesus still describes the flames in these verses. 

Lets take a look at some other Bible verses on Hell:

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.—Revelation 20:9-15

"You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way."-Matthew 7:13 

"For God did not spare even the angels who sinned. He threw them into hell,
in gloomy pits of darkness, where they are being held until the day of judgment." -2 Peter 2:4 
 
"And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. - Matthew 13:42 

As you can see, Jesus did not ever mince words when teaching about Hell. His descriptions are clear and consistent throughout Scripture.  Hell is painful and sad, there is fire and torment. Describing Hell as anything else is calling Jesus a liar. 

So, where does this notion of no Hell, or even no Satan, coming from? From the one Jesus called "the father of all lies," Satan himself!  By taking away the fear of Hell, Satan's job of tempting us to rebel against the Lord is even easier. So, he starts to plant these lies in our heads and hearts that we would never truly be punished for rejecting the Lord by sinning or outright denial of God's existence. Satan is making his job as easy as possible by convincing us that Jesus lied, or at least really exaggerated what Hell is like. Jesus is perfection, and Satan is the father of all lies, so we know that in reality, Jesus teaches the truth only, and the truth always scares Satan. (Jesus is "the truth, the way, and the life," remember.)

The number one argument people use against the reality of Hell is that "a loving God could never send us to such a horrible place." To this, I say you are 100% correct. God does not send any of us to such a place. We send ourselves there by the choices that we make. 

In fact, God is every bit as loving as the people who argue against Hell say He is. So loving in fact, that He gave us a way to avoid Hell:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.-John 3:16-17

God sacrificed His only Son so that we may be saved from the fires of Hell. Think about that for a minute. How much love does it take to sacrifice your only child so that others might be saved? And how bad must that other place be to cause someone to sacrifice their child so that people can avoid going there? If there is no Hell, there is no reason for Christ. God loved us so much, that He became flesh and died a horrible death, so that we can avoid the torment of Hell by simply believing in Him and serving Him as He asks us to. 

Why were Jesus' final hours so brutal? Because that was the heavy price of our sins. Because He had to suffer as the people who would go to Hell would suffer. The beatings that He took, that horrible walk to Golgatha, the being nailed to a tree alive and left to hang there for hours until dead, were all necessary because that suffering is the price of our sins. He took that suffering upon Himself so that we can avoid that same suffering in Hell, if we choose to follow Him. If Hell did not exist, or if it was not as bad as Jesus described it, then His suffering and death would not have been necessary. To deny Hell is to deny Christ because of this. You cannot have one without the other.

God wants us to avoid Hell so badly, he offered up His son as a sacrifice in our place. So yes, He is a very loving God who does not want to send us into the fires of Hell. However, that does not mean such a place does not exist. You can blame Satan's existence for that necessity. And God will not stop us from choosing to reject Him or His teachings if that is the path that we choose (see Matthew 7:13 above.) And, needless to say, God's judgement of us is always just. He knows our hearts better than even we do, you simply cannot hide anything from Him.

As I said in the beginning, God does not send us to Hell, we send ourselves to Hell by rejecting the Lord and His teachings. God gave us a way out. We must be willing to accept His offer of salvation if we wish to avoid Hell. God did not have to do it, but He loved us too much, despite our sinful natures, to not offer His son in our place. And Jesus loved us enough to accept His horrible fate. Whether we appreciate that and love the Lord in return with all of our hearts and minds is totally up to us. 

No amount of denial can make the reality of Hell go away. It exists, whether we want to believe it or not. And rest assured, if we go there after we die, we truly deserved it, and we only have ourselves to blame.

Godspeed.