Tag Archives: paul

“What’s A Newspaper?” And a little about Bible study…

newspaper“What’s a newspaper?” Those words may very well be spoken in just a generation or two. Fewer and fewer people are getting news from newspapers. In fact, even a major group that represents newspapers (Newspaper Association of America) reported this week that it is dropping the word “newspaper” from their title! They will now be known as the News Media Alliance.

The Internet has significantly changed the news industry. But even the Internet is changing rapidly. For example, just this week, a study showed that 60% of online time is now spent on apps (phone & tablet) rather than traditional websites. Where and how we get our news may soon be something that hasn’t even been invented yet!

Technology can be exciting. But there are downsides too. For example, Facebook created an algorithm to eliminate human editors and let computers determine the headlines. It ended poorly: a false story about Megyn Kelly getting fired from Fox for supporting Hillary Clinton, and an absurd and inappropriate story about a man and a McChicken sandwich were the stories it selected.

When it comes to Bibles, like newspapers, the old, paper Bibles seem to be on the way out too. People often ask what I think of the electronic versions. Here are a few things to consider:

1) Apps are great. And, I really like technology. But before you get rid of your paper Bible, just remember that a paper Bible never needs rebooted, never crashes, never needs plugged in, and never changes. There is some comfort in knowing it always works when needed!

2) Don’t let an app choose your study. Facebook’s algorithm chose ridiculous news stories because those were the ones that were receiving the most clicks on the web. “Most clicks” is just as bad a way to determine Bible study, as it is to determine relevant, meaningful headlines. No algorithm can ever supplant time in consistent, orderly Bible study.

3) Myths, lies, and scandal may get more clicks, but sound doctrine provides the words of life. Heed Paul’s warnings in 1 Timothy 4:3-4. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”

Urged To Finish

runners-olympic, hugOccasionally, at the Olympics, we get the privilege of witnessing something greater than a world record being broken. Because these moments are so rare, they are even more precious than gold medal victories. Sometimes, because of an accident, we get to see what true sportsmanship is all about.

Often, a person’s true nature and character are revealed in times of stress, pain, and disappointment. It is easy to be “all smiles” when you are at the top of the podium receiving a gold medal. But how we react when we get tripped up and see our dreams crashing in front of us, well…that is a true measure.

That is why I was so impressed with American athlete, Abbey D’Agostino, and New Zealand’s, Nikki Hamblin, in Tuesday’s 5,000 meter run. Due to a mid-race collision, Hamblin tripped and fell, causing Abbey to fall as well. What they did next represents a greater spirit than competition.

You see, as Nikki sat there, stunned, Abbey D’Agostino put her hand on Nikki’s shoulder, and urged her to finish. Hamblin recalled Abbey yelling, “Get up, get up! We have to finish! This is the Olympic Games. We have to finish this.'” And as the pair went on, when it was obvious that Abbey had trouble finishing due to her injury, Nikki returned the favor, encouraging Abbey to finish.

When the race was finished, Hamblin said a great thing about D’Agostino: “I am so grateful to Abbey for helping me.’ “That girl was the Olympic spirit right there. I am so impressed and inspired by that.” Nikki and Abbey didn’t know each other, but now they have a bond that can never be broken. They overcame adversity together and finished the race.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus reminds us what our attitude should be. It wasn’t the champions of that day (Pharisees, Priests, etc.,) who stopped to help the man who was beaten and robbed. It was a lowly Samaritan who showed the right heart (Luke 10:30-37).

The Apostle Paul saw some Galatians who had been “running well” in their faith but had stumbled because of bad teaching (Galatians 5:7). He helped pick them up, and he encouraged them to run their race “by the spirit,” not the flesh (Galatians 5:16). Finishing the race is more about how we run than coming in 1st (2 Timothy 4:7).

Everyone stumbles in life. We all need encouragement. There are two types of runners generally: 1) Those who say, “They can pick themselves up!”; or 2) Those who say, “Let’s finish this race together.” What kind of runner will you be?

The Counterfactual Condition

counterfactual condition, mets

Mets fans are disappointed. That’s to be expected; losing the World Series is tough. But as fans analyze the loss, we actually learn something far greater than just a baseball score. It is called the “counterfactual condition.”

What is the counterfactual condition? It is a principle that states that “if-only” a single decision had been made, contrary to the one that was in fact made, then the outcome would have been different. So, for example, “if” Terry Collins had put Jeurys Familia, in the game, instead of leaving Matt Harvey in, then the Mets would have won.

But we will never know what would have happened if a different decision was made. In 1748, David Hume expressed reverse causality as, “if the first object had not been, the second never would have existed.” Nelson Goodman coined the phrase “counterfactual condition” in 1947 for what the “contrary-to-fact” condition. A World Series has only two possible outcomes, but millions of ways to get there. All we can do is guess as to what would have happened otherwise.

And we love to guess at “what ifs?” If he had thrown 1 more strike, if they had hit one more run, if they had eaten fewer eggs that morning…etc. But the truth is, that there is no way of knowing the outcome from the counterfactual conditions. Except when it comes to scripture – another reason the Bible is so unique.

The Bible records for us what happened in reality. It tells us the true condition of man. But it also records for us what would have happened “if” Jesus had not risen on the 3rd day.

In 1 Corinthians 15:13-19, Paul writes, “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.”

In other words, the counterfactual condition of mankind is a disaster. There is no hope. You die in your sin. There is no salvation. There is no afterlife. Thankfully, Paul continues in verse 20: “But now Christ has been raised from the dead…!”

There is hope! There is salvation! This life is not all there is! And the factual condition is eternal life with God because of Christ’s saving work. Are you still hoping for “ifs” and “buts” or are you enjoying Christ’s glory today?

Twisted Sharks

Jonathan Davis was indignant. In 2013, as a Ph.D. candidate at the University of New Orleans, he had been tracking bull shark activity in Lake Pontchartrain. So he was excited when the Discovery Channel wanted to film his work. Unfortunately, Davis’ joy ended when he saw the final product.

He was horrified to find that his work had been misappropriated to boost ratings for “Shark Week,” – a smear campaign against sharks that made him look like a voodoo shark hunter. Since then, several other researchers have denounced editors for their misuse of interviews and filming to ignite controversy in the aquatic world.

At the heart of the problem, is the same old issue: no one likes it when people twist and pervert their words. Most of us get upset when someone takes our work and misuses it to teach something opposite of our beliefs.

And people do it all the time. Even with inspirational material. Take for example, the inspirational calendar which quotes Luke 4:7, “if you worship me, all will be yours.” But the passage was a temptation of Christ by Satan, not words to live by for the Christian!

Imagine, therefore, how God feels about those who would twist and pervert His Word and work for their own glory.

If you have made a decision not to follow God’s Word, or if you don’t believe that God exists at all, that is certainly your decision to make. And no matter how foolish I might think that decision is, it is your right. God gives us all the freedom to choose whether to follow Him or not.

But why? Why oh why, would you try to convince others and yourselves that the Bible doesn’t say what it clearly says? I might suggest that the effort tells us much about the nature of humans.

Why not say, “who cares what God thinks!” I’ll tell you why. Because there are far too many obvious features of this world that prove there was a beginning, a beginner, and an intelligent design to life. Everything else is foolish when put in the light of, “who cares what that infinite being who made everything thinks.”

Rather, if we admit what nature clearly teaches, and if we acknowledge that the Bible is worthy of being followed, then we must cease to pervert His Word to justify our sins. Those who do say are like the “untaught and unstable” men who distort Paul’s words, “as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16).

Don’t be fooled! God is not mocked. Quit trying to find loopholes! He will not eternally allow His Word to be twisted and perverted by evil men with evil plans. Make your decision to adhere to the Word and live eternally in His glory!