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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Netflix offers The Nightmare. Sleep disorders or spiritual forces?

What to do with a long holiday weekend?  

Black Friday shopping perhaps? I've been there and I've done that and I think never again  most aptly describes my attitude towards that experience.  

Decorate for Christmas..... Soon but not yet. 

Work on a paper for Bible college or the book I'm writing?  I'm proud to say I did do some work on both but maybe I was suffering the effects of tryptophan from the turkey consumed because i didn't write much.

Be it tryptophan or the fact that I was  paying off a sleep debt but this weekend was spent in my chair in front of the television in varying states of consciousness.  

Seated in my chair I decided to be productive and started to eliminate items from my Netflix watch list.  One of the movies I  decided to try was a documentary called "The Nightmare".  



I know what is a Christian doing watching something with a macabre title like that?  Shouldn't I be watching Highway to Heaven or Vegitales?  

Well, honestly I do enjoy a good scare and I like to remind myself that even though I live in the relative safety of Middle class America there are dark forces to be aware of either in the evil that men do or in the spiritual realm.  

With that said although I was a huge horror fan before becoming born again I am noticing that I don't have the stomach for the macabre as Much as I did before, especially when  a film is violent or gory just for the sake of violence and goriness with little or no story.  I recently said good bye for ever to AMC's the Walking Dead as a case in point.  

Anyway so I sat down to watch the Nightmare.  To be honest I didn't know it was a documentary before I started watching it but was somewhat relieved because watching a documentary is educational right? 

The  Nightmare is about people who suffer from a sleep disorder called sleep paralysis.  It was really quite interesting and honestly a little creepy and unnerving.  I won't give any spoilers here really but a common thread through the victim's of sleep paralysis is the presence of malevolent "shadow men".  


The film does a good job of taking a wide view of the experiences of the sufferers of sleep paralysis and theories of what is happening.   The explanations range from the scientific to the spiritual and even the extra-terrestrial.  It is definitely worth the watch and could actually help a Christian's worldview, that we are in an "open system" where God, and good and malevolent spiritual forces can and do interact in our lives.  One of the suffers came to faith in Christ as a result of her experience and another admitted that they were no longer an atheist because of what they had experienced.  

I have had a spiritual experience, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and I now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is real and cares about us.  To quote the x-files, there's something out there but I think that the something is not extra-terrestrial in the sense of aliens but are most likely beings in the spirit realm.

I often quote Matthew 6:33,

33  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. , 

Because in my experience I have sought Him and the truth has been revealed, and continues to be revealed to me.   

So enjoy the film and considered the questions of life,death, and the unseen realm of the spirit.   

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't tell you the only way through to God and an afterlife of peace and joy is through Jesus Christ.  John 14:6 says 
6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. 









Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving! A Year of Blessings to be Thankful for


It's Thanksgiving eve, and once again I will be going out for dinner with my brothers and their wives (And fiancé,  Tommy still is yet to close the deal as the last holdout but like tomorrow's Turkey his goose is cooked!)  We're going for Mexican and a few laughs.  I won't be drinking.  I'm happy to report I've been sober sine 03/22/15 and I ain't going back! I am truly blessed because God has freed me from the prison I created for myself. Alcohol's lies have been exposed and I will remain vigilant to steer clear of the drink that consumes you.  Hey man to each their own I just know how I am and I am happier to leave it behind forever.  

Sobriety is enough to be Thankful for all by itself every single day of my life but God has given me so much more.  

The year in review of thanks! 

January, I was happy and thankful that a transition to a new foreman in the Schenectady line crew went off without any problems.  After some doubt and last minute changes, I ended up in a situation I was content with.

This January had virtually zero snow and I was extremely thankful for that because I work outside and I pay to have my driveway plowed.  I don't ski or snowmobile so I'll take all the snowless winters I can get! 

February- I went on a mission trip to Zimbabwe and Zambia. I also went on a safari in Botswana and saw Victoria Falls.  I honestly felt I was my ideal self on Mission, all my thoughts and actions were directed to the service of my Lord and Savior. 


As fate would have it while I was away. My wife Michele suffered a recurrence of a kidney infection/ stones. She was in a great deal of pain and terrible health.  I am thankful for the doctors and my parents for helping her  in my absence.  And I thank God that she has been healed. 

March - I was thankful that my eldest brother Matthew finally got married at 47 years old!  Kat Flynn is a wonderful person for taking this burden upon herself, welcome to the party Kat! 

April- I'm thankful for Easter where we celebrate the fact that Jesus is alive!  It's no zombie movie,  Jesus was risen to show that He is the Son of God and that through His work on the cross all who put their faith in Him will be forgiven of their sins and live forever with Him in paradise! 

May - Verizon went on strike, so I am thankful for my Union brothers and sisters that took a stand for the middle class by sacrificing income to insure we there could be good jobs in this country.   In the face of corporate greed who make billions in profit there is no reason they can't pay a wage where their employees can prosper.  I pray for other workers to band together to insure good jobs and dignity for all Americans.  

June - Verizon and the union came to an agreement.  It was back to work and I thank God Almighty because I was able to work again and to grab enough overtime to meet all my financial needs after being out of work for six weeks. At times I didn't think I would make it but God was with me.  

When I say that I really mean it.  One Sunday one of the women at my church that I did not even know was led by the Holy Spirit to give me a financial donation at a time when every penny counted.  I hadn't told anybody that I was in need and I didn't know this woman.  She told me that during her morning prayers the Lord directed her to give to me.  The money was appreciated but the thought that God moved this women to give to me, that God was thinking about me, and sending help is a blessing that I will always be thankful for.  He is real. He is alive. Salvation is through Christ alone. Please believe me and put your faith in Him! 

July - I took my family on a vacation to Niagara Falls Canada.  It was fun, even with the two angsty teens although it may be their last trip! Lol.   So In retrospect in 2016, I beheld the glory of God's creation by seeing 2 of the most magnificent waterfalls on the planet, Victoria & Niagara Falls! God is awesome. 

August- Michele and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary by going to the Rhode Island ocean and had all you can eat lobster at the world famous Nordic Lodge. The weather was sunny but not too hot. It was a nice weekend away. Recalling this I am reminded that through all my insanity and the wrong I've done, life's tragedies, the good times and the bad, Michele has continued to love me.  We've lived together since 96, so I am truly thankful for the 20 years of Michele's love and life that she has given me. She hosting my family for Thanksgiving so that proves she loves me! 


September - This was the month my Son Brennan,who had been a slacker for the past two years by not doing his homework and getting in trouble at school, decided to change his life.  He decided that a life of irresponsibility and the chaos that came with it wasn't the way he wanted to live anymore.  He started doing his work unprompted and has a real desire to succeed.  

My daughter, Haley, who had made that decision a few years ago after being a slacker, continues to do her work.  

So both my kids are staying out of trouble, they do their school work, they don't fight one another and they do whatever is asked of them.  They may be a little obsessed with video games and watching you tube but they haven't bugged me for cellphones...yet.  They talk to me and we are endlessly joking around. I am so proud and thankful because I honestly couldn't be happier with them. 

October - Autumn in upstate New York is a sight to behold.  Fall Foliage!  Also I got assigned to the double wood crew in Albany,  right where I wanted to be at the beginning of the year. It's a shorter commute and it's just in time before winter starts roaring.  

The kids both decided to sign up for drama, both getting small parts in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.   Like I said before, very proud.   

The kids had a Halloween party with their at the house to end the month! 

November- The election happened and the world didn't end.  I don't comment on politics, other than to declare that Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

I took the kids to see Julius Caesar in Chatham and it was really good. The kids of course sat with there theater friends but I'm cool like that.  
A day later I had the pleasure of seeing my kids in Romeo and Juliet. They were great and I think they really found what they are good at.  I wonder how they became so dramatic? 

The same weekend, Michele and I had the pleasure of attending Matt & Kats Wendy reception, 8 months later? It was a great venue and it was good time for all (even with Matt's tribute to all things Heavy Metal).  

And tomorrow is the big feast! 

All through the year I have had the honor of attending rock solid church, I am so thankful Pastors Jaron Halsted, Chris Romano, Mike Lambert, and Ethan Thomlinson, who has taken the reigns  as youth pastor this year.  I am thankful for the worship team and all those who serve and attend.  

I am thankful for Celebrate Freedom, my sponsor and mentor Bob Costello and the opportunity to teach. I am thankful for Paula williams, Cheryl Manchuck for leading the women's group. I also extremely thankful to Chris Manchuck for picking up leading worship.  Guitar hero I am not! 

I am thankful for Pastor Bob Engelhardt's preaching that has inspired me to write a book about Spirit-filled Christianity.  It's his work that will be the basis of the book and I pray my efforts will bring more people to the Lord.  The work is rewarding and challenging and I hope to have it completed soon.  That's why there's been no blog entries for months.  I've been working almost ever morning since the strike.  

I am so thankful for all of this and of course God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit who are responsible for it all!  

To all my friends and family, trust in Jesus and Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

It really is a wonderful life! 




Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Hail Mary? Not quite. Jesus corrects a Roman Catholic.

Every morning I read the Bible and am enriched by the Word of God.  Sometimes I am convicted. Sometimes I am in awe. And sometimes I laugh out loud.  

This morning I was in Luke 11 and among the many rich teachings in that chapter I was able to find some humor.  Jesus is midst of teaching when....

27 And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, "Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!" 

28 But He said, "More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!" 

It is a short and simple instruction: blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it.  It's a good lesson that is calling us to read the word of God and to do what it says! 

But was funny to me is what Jesus is responding to.   All I could think of was there was a groupie in the crowd.  I mean, think about it.  " Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts that nursed You! "  Now imagine it said suggestively.  Jesus definitely had a fan in the crowd.  Talk about an awkward moment.  

Okay I know that's silly. There's no funny business going on in the Bible! 

So I'm crazy.  The woman was pure as the driven snow and was merely paying homage to Jesus' mother Mary.  

If that's the case, why?  As far as I can tell. Mary's not there.  Jesus is doing all the talking.  Perhaps this was a customary form of compliment back in the day or maybe she was trying to gain favor in the eyes of Jesus? or the crowd? Was this a female Pharisee trying to look good in public? 

Perhaps like people in my former tradition, Roman Catholicism, she had a deep genuine reverence for the Jesus' mother.  I recently attended the first communion of my niece and I vividly recall the statue of the Virgin Mary adorned with a fresh crown of flowers.   I recently ran a 5k hosted by a Catholic school and before the race was run the "Our Father" and "Hail Mary" was said.  The Funny thing  is that I loved that these prayers were said in public and I felt that old power of group recitation.  It didn't help with my performance in the race although I did thank God it was over at the end.  Maybe the woman was just showing respect.  

Regardless of the intentions of the woman, Jesus, the perfect teacher,  teaches the perfect lesson. 

Regardless if the woman's words were said out of lust, out of an attempt to gain favor, or out of the most holy reverence for Mary: Jesus says to Read the Word of God and do what it says.  

He's not saying that Mary isn't important or isn't to be respected as an example of faith. However, Jesus says "More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!" 

So say the Hail Mary before the race, but don't forget to read your Bible and try to do what it says afterward. 

In Luke, before  this woman spoke up, Jesus said:

9  "So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 
10  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 

I don't care what denomination you belong to, we are to continually seek God and to deepen our relationship with Christ.  



Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Buying Smart Guard may be a dumb move. Is Amazon in league with a company to steal your cash?

II have to share this experience and I am asking you to share this too.  

I bought Beats headphones for my son  for his birthday this past December via Amazon.com and did so because they offered 3 years of "Smart Guard Protection".   It offered: 

  • 100% Parts and Labor Coverage
  • Free In-Home Service on Large Products (i.e. television, appliance)
  • Repair or Replacement Promise on Every Product
  • Contract shipped via email so there is no waiting
  • Repair Plans are Fully Transferable at No Additional Cost







Sounds good right?  

I assumed it would cover accidental damage.  It didn't.  

I know, l know I assumed.  Shame on me.  I'm out twenty bucks and the cost of the headphones.  My bad... 

But what bothers me is I was angry and wanted to warn fools like me from doing the same thing by posting a review.   


Here's what I composed:


Worthless plan, don't spend your money.
 
Do not buy coverage. It is worthless. No ADH, must mean no accidental handling I guess but what it really means is you spent you're money for no reason and you expensive electronic device is broken. I will never use this company again and will advise everyone I know to do the same. Web site and registration was a little glitchy too. When I was finally able to get a claim in, it was denied.

Amazon should not offer this coverage, or suggest it or whatever.

 

I am a fool mind you but I was actually surprised that Amazon denied my review!  


However they did encourage me to revise and resubmitted noting the following guide lines: 

  • Your review should focus on specific features of the product and your experience with it. Feedback on the seller or your shipment experience should be provided at www.amazon.com/feedback.
  • We do not allow profane or obscene content. This applies to adult products too.
  • Advertisements, promotional material or repeated posts that make the same point excessively are considered spam.
  • Please do not include URLs external to Amazon or personally identifiable content in your review.

So I composed this: 


No accidental damage,
 
I found this coverage inadequate. I bought headphones for my son and this coverage was offered. I assumed it would cover accidental damage. It doesn't. I normally buy electronics from chain stores that offer similar coverages which offer:

no hassles,
somewhere you can go and speak to someone in person
Accidental coverage.

Needless to say, I didn't get any of those from this coverage.

Web site claim and registration was a little glitchy too. When I was finally able to get a claim in, it was denied.

Beware.


Guess what denied again.   I left out the part about chain stores in the middle and resubmitted.   I'll let you know if it gets posted but in the mean time  I am using my blog to share my voice with anyone and everyone who is curious enough to click and read this far.  


You know,  it's junk like this that causes many people to not trust retailers. I have been shopping online for years and have never felt like I was set up to fail before.  Amazon and I go way back to 1995 and it hurts to feel they maybe partnered with something sketchy.  I checked and other consumers were equally dissatisfied and felt they had been misled in purchasing this protection.  I don't blame Smart Guard.  They are a fly by night cyber product insurance company, I guess.  They are made to take people's money for nothing in return.  I blame Amazon because of the relationship I have had with their excellent service, Intrusted them not recommend something that frankly isn't worth a dime.   

I use Best Buy nornally when I buy electronics and yes I buy protection have used it successfully.  They have a store you can go to.  


They website you can order from.  Make buy the accidental protection for drops and spills. oh they are very clear when they offer it, that there are different levels of protection, even online, it's clear.  

I won't use Amazon to buy electronics ever again.

By the way, what's up with the censorship Amazon?  



I'm pretty sure most people would agree that my reviews were reasonable and certainly would have found them helpful if they were considering buying Smart Guard protection.  

I hope this was helpful to all the other fools out there.

Dr. Dre,  



The headphones snapped after a simple drop.  You'll be hearing from us.  They should be under warrantee only.  Hope it goes well. 






 

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Shallows gets deep. More than a fishing story.

This weekend I had the pleasure of seeing the feature film "The Shallows" starring Blake Lively.  

The film is given the following description via an Internet search so don't blame me for any spoilers.

Still reeling from the loss of her mother, medical student Nancy Adams (Blake Lively) travels to a secluded beach for some much-needed solace. Despite the danger of surfing alone, Nancy decides to soak up the sun and hit the waves. Suddenly, a great white shark attacks, forcing her to swim to a giant rock for safety. Left injured and stranded 200 yards from shore, the frightened young woman must fight for her life as the deadly predator circles her in its feeding ground.



The film is a great summer movie with plenty of thrills and I highly recommend it. The reason that I enjoyed this film so much was not for the Shark but for the story.  I can't recall a summer thriller really allow an audience to contemplate, suffering, life and death with any degree of sensitivity in the midst of the action. The character, Nancy Adams, is trying to find herself and grieving her mother's loss when she is suddenly forced to face her own weaknesses and mortality.  She doesn't know if she will survive. With this heightened sense of the value of life, she demonstrates compassion and even forgiveness to someone who doesn't deserve it.  With time running out, she knows the importance of her family and confirms her identity with the dogged determination to fight to survive.  

I was really moved by her struggles because it reminded me  that we are all stranded on a rock being stalked by death.  In our lives we come to times where we may question who we are and may spend too much time on things that don't ultimately matter.  Contemplating her death, Nancy Adam's thoughts are on her family and being true to them. 

Now don't get me wrong, family is very important.  I just wish that she had considered the other side of eternity on that rock.  I got pretty choked up at a certain point in the film and I'm telling you if Nancy Adam's had prayed to God for help or forgiveness I would have completely lost it and would have been a crying mess.   Why?

You see,  I've had an experience through my relationship with Christ that I know that the good news of the gospel is absolutely true.  Like Adams, I suffered a major loss and I questioned everything I knew.  It sent me on the journey of searching for truth.  I discovered that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are real and alive.  When I sought them, they revealed themselves to me, saved me from my sins, changed me, and gave me new life that will never end. 

So if Adam's had made a plea to God, I know that it would have been heard.  I know that if she asked Jesus to save her, He would have. 


If she had done this, I would have cried but the tears wouldn't have been tears of fear or sadness.  They would have been tears of hope and joy.   Regardless of whether the shark got a meal or not, Nancy Adams would live.  

I encourage everyone to read this to search for the living Christ or deepen your relationship with Him.  
John 14:6 says "Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."   Jesus is the only way.  Seek Him.  In the end, it will be the only thing that matters.   

































Friday, May 27, 2016

Strike My Words -

Long Time…. No blog.  Ever have a desperate urge to tell people how you feel and what you’re going through but life has thrown you a curve ball and you are in the midst of something that you have no control over and it has you questioning everything?   

Well I have.  The reason I haven’t written in so long is because I am on strike from my job as a lineman at a major telecommunications company.  I feel I can finally write about it because it has been announced that the company and the unions have come to a tentative deal and they expect the strike to be settled with us to return to work this week. 


First things first. Thank you God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit! I have been praying for a fair settlement and the reports are that is what we are getting.  Last night, I closed our recovery meeting in prayer and I included my requests for the strike to end. The very next day the report that a settlement is in the works has been released.  Thank you for answered prayer, Lord.  Also I would like to thank the Lord for the good men and women I work with who sacrificed and were faithful to each other as we all stood in solidarity for our dignity as workers.  


When you go on strike, the pressure starts. The regular routine is disrupted.  The company canceled my family’s health care on May 1st.  Savings had to be used to meet our needs that normally are covered by my pay check.  Your sense of purpose is called into question.  Supposed friends question the union’s motives and tactics.  You wonder if the company is going to try to break the union.  People I used to work with crossed the picket line a few weeks in.  A rumor was circulated that the company was going to send us a letter telling us to report to work in 5 days or be terminated. 

Our success was anything but guaranteed but I had faith from the very beginning that God would provide for me and I had nothing to fear. The way I saw it was that there was corporate greed on one side and working families asking for dignity on the other.  We were on the side of righteousness.  It was only a matter of time for things to follow God’s perfect will. 

These comments might cause some to scoff and say that I would have lost my faith if things had gone badly for the union; that my faith is only as good as my good fortune.  That’s not the case.

You see, I believe in God’s plan for my life, but the thing is, I don’t know specifically what that plan is.  So when the strike happened, although I honestly thought that it would be settled and we would go back to work, I also decided to be open to the possibility that God may have other plans and that I should look to be prepared for anything by remaining faithful and abiding in Christ. 

The strike made me question my future in general and whether or not God was calling me to do something else.  The first week I updated my resume.  Rethinking your career at soon to be 44 years old can be somewhat terrifying.  The number one consideration is my family.  I have a wife and kids to support and we are used to a certain lifestyle and although I might have vague dreams of working for the Lord, I didn’t find anything that would pay close to what I was making with the company.  I didn’t really feel pulled to anything either so I saved my resume but stopped the job searches.  

Go on strike can really mess with your head.  Your emotions are in constant flux.  You have anxiety about finances, anger at the company scabs, and listlessness caused by your normal routine being derailed.  So I had to find something to do that wouldn’t have me obsessing over the strike to the point where I would be contemplating sabotage or doing violence to scabs.  Nice Christian, right? 

 I also didn’t want to cause my wife and kids to worry about the strike or to disrupt their normal routines since I would be home a lot more. 


Three years ago had enrolled in Ray Comfort’s Way of the Master –Online School of Biblical Evangelism. The school entails witnessing requirements, audio teachings, and 101 online lessons.  Previously I had only managed to do about 40 of the online lessons so I decided that I would use my extra time because of the strike to get all 101 done. 


Much to my delight I also discovered the local library was nearby so I got a library card to feel legit and started frequenting the place to focus on my goal of completing the 101 lessons.  The library quickly became my beloved refuge, providing me with a place to go and my family with a sense of a normal routine restored. 


I’m happy to report that I have successfully completed all 101 lessons and only have a few audio teachings to listen to and I will have met all the requirements for “graduating”.  
All those lessons on evangelism really convicted me of the need to increase my evangelistic efforts to share the gospel.  So I have been distributing gospel tracts like crazy and went out last Monday with my mentor Bob Costello and his evangelism team to the streets of Hudson to spread the good news of Jesus Christ.  I have to be intentional in sharing the gospel more going forward because it really is what the Lord would have us do. 

I often share Matthew 13:45-46, where Jesus said 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, 46 who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”, to point out that we should be willing to give everything to be a part of the kingdom of God and that it is our honor to serve the one who paid for all our sin and who gives us eternal life. 

If you are not sure of your salvation or have never given yourself to Christ, I urge you to do so now by saying a simple prayer to make Christ your Lord and Savior. 



I pray that people see this blog and give themselves to Christ. 

In closing, I would say it is such a relief knowing that the strike is ending but I am so glad that I used the time I had to continue to prepare myself to serve the Lord more.
So even if I lost my job and had to struggle to find a way to live, I would continue to follow the one who saved me.  And even though I am going back to work soon, I will continue to prepare myself and to remain open to follow the plan that God has for me, as it is revealed to me from day to day. 





Friday, May 6, 2016

Walking with God

“I love the idea that the Christian life is a walk. Sometimes I take a couple of steps forward, and sadly by my own foolishness, sometimes a step backward, but by God’s grace I’m making progress in knowing and loving and obeying and serving my Savior.” – From “Wisdom for Your Walk” by James MacDonald


I share MacDonald’s quote today because I often think of my relationship with Jesus as a journey or a walk where the path isn’t always smooth or straight.  Often my old habits or thought patterns have led me astray. I found myself caught up in the same confusion and darkness which amounted to trying to find meaning, happiness, or purpose in something other than God.  Be it material success, collecting and acquiring things, extreme experiences (sex, alcohol, drugs, travel, sport), or human relationships, anything you try, other than communion with Christ, will ultimately fail to satisfy.

Thank God, I woke up to this fundamental life changing truth in 2010.  Coming to Christ wasn’t an easy path for me. 

I had to not only see that I was lost 
(Yeah?... Well,  all my friends will be in Hell too! It's going to be a big party!)

but I also had to see that God would actually forgive me for ALL The wrong I had done (Really?) 

and that, when I accept Christ as my Savior, I would be forgiven for the sin I hadn't even done yet 
(Say What?)

and when God considered me, He would see the righteousness of Jesus Himself!   
(The only way I could be made righteous).  

When the truth was finally revealed to me, I was overjoyed at the peace and assurance of my salvation. Unfortunately my understanding wasn't the best,  so I was content to keep walking in my wild ways knowing that Jesus had my back.  I was filled with a love for Him and His word.  I flew through the four Gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) in my dusty Bible,

 (which I had received when I was confirmed into the Episcopal Church back in June 2001, before 911 and the death of my son in the spring of 2002 sent me on a journey of despair that had me renounce faith in Christianity and embrace the doctrine of suffering of Buddhism which I was fully entrenched in on the day I heard the Gospel and was saved.   – Wow!)

 , highlighting all the words Christ spoke.  I found a Church home in Rock Solid Church in Hudson and started serving as an usher then doing the audio visual work for the worship team. I even joined the Bible College.

However, my faith and my sinful lifestyle didn’t COEXIST so well.  As I kept making progress in my Christian walk, in knowing, loving, and serving Him, I wasn’t exactly obeying Him and I seemed to fall deeper into my alcoholism and sin.  Knowing I was forgiven but frustrated at my personal failures I had moments of great success and great failure.  Last year I went into the church’s recovery program and have left my addictions and failures of the past behind.  Since then I have had incredible experiences and insights into my life that have confirmed, beyond any doubts, the existence of the triune God, the exclusivity of Jesus to save, and the reality of the Holy Spirit’s presence in my life. 


SO I am making great progress! However, I still often get caught up in my own foolishness or the things of the world and take a step off the path that God would have me walk.  The good news is that as Christians no matter how we mess up or fall down,  We can always get back on track knowing “…that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it…“ (Philippians 1:6 (NKJV)).  

I encourage all who reads this to follow the path that leads to salvation, Jesus Christ. To those of you who know Christ, don't forget to keep walking and to invite others to join you.  


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Bible says...? So?

Often I am challenged by others regarding my beliefs as a Christian. I do my best to explain that as a follower of Christ I am trying to do His will for my life rather than my own.  I have done things "My Way" for most of my life and discovered that the maker of all things, God, has a better way.  Knowing God's will can be difficult to figure out but one way He reveals His will for us is through the Bible.  

I have read and studied the Bible and know that it is not just an ordinary book. I also know it was not written by men to impose their evil will upon the powerless or ignorant.  The Bible is "is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV).  I know the Bible to be true but get tongue tied or have trouble expressing it to others.  

So below, I share an article by Brian Edwards, an apologist from answersinGeniesis.org that makes the case for believing the Bible to be true. I pray his work answers questions, clears doubts and inspires people to not only trust the Bible but to read it and to place their faith in Jesus Christ. 

The original link is: 


"Apologetics

Why Should We Believe in the Inerrancy of Scripture?

by Brian H. Edwards on July 5, 2011

*
Many people deny that Scripture teaches its own inerrancy, but Brian Edwards shows that, based on Scripture, Christians should absolutely hold to biblical inerrancy.

Introduction
“You don’t really believe the Bible is true, do you?”

The shock expressed by those who discover someone who actually believes the Bible to be without error is often quite amusing. Inevitably, their next question takes us right back to Genesis. But what does the Christian mean by “without error,” and why are we so sure?

Inspiring or Expiring?

Let’s start by understanding what we mean when we talk about the Bible as “inspired” because that word may mislead us. The term is an attempt to translate a word that occurs only once in the New Testament, and it’s not the best translation, even though William Tyndale introduced it back in 1526. The word is found in 2 Timothy 3:16, and the Greek is theopneustos. This term is made from two words, one being the word for God (theos, as in theology) and the other referring to breath or wind (pneustos, as in pneumonia and pneumatic). It is significant that the word is used in 2 Timothy 3:16 passively. In other words, God did not “breathe into” (inspire) all Scripture, but it was “breathed out” by God (expired). Thus, 2 Timothy 3:16 is not about how the Bible came to us but where it came from. 

The Scriptures are “God-breathed.” 

To know how the Bible came to us, we can turn to 2 Peter 1:21 where we discover that “holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” The Greek word used here is pherō, which means “to bear” or “to carry.” It was a familiar word that Luke used of the sailing ship carried along by the wind (Acts 27:15, 17). The human writers of the Bible certainly used their minds, but the Holy Spirit carried them along in their thinking so that only His God-breathed words were recorded. The Apostle Paul set the matter plainly in 1 Corinthians 2:13: “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches.” 

The word “inspiration” is so embedded in our Christian language that we will continue to use it, though we now know what it really means. God breathed out His Word, and the Holy Spirit guided the writers. The Bible has one Author and many (around 40) writers.

With these two acts of God—breathing out His Word and carrying the writers along by the Spirit—we can come to a definition of inspiration:

The Holy Spirit moved men to write. He allowed them to use their own styles, cultures, gifts, and character. He allowed them to use the results of their own study and research, write of their own experiences, and express what was in their minds. At the same time, the Holy Spirit did not allow error to influence their writings. He overruled in the expression of thought and in the choice of words. Thus, they recorded accurately all God wanted them to say and exactly how He wanted them to say it in their own character, styles, and languages. 

The inspiration of Scripture is a harmony of the active mind of the writer and the sovereign direction of the Holy Spirit to produce God’s inerrant and infallible Word for the human race. Two errors are to be avoided here. First, some think inspiration is nothing more than a generally heightened sensitivity to wisdom on the part of the writer, just as we talk of an inspired idea or invention. Second, some believe the writer was merely a mechanical dictation machine, writing out the words he heard from God. Both errors fail to adequately account for the active role played by the Holy Spirit and the human writer.
How Much Is Inerrant?

If “inspired” really means “God-breathed,” then the claim of  2 Timothy 3:16 is that all Scripture, being God-breathed, is without error and therefore can be trusted completely. Since God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18), He would cease to be God if He breathed out errors and contradictions, even in the smallest part. So long as we give theopneustos its real meaning, we shall not find it hard to understand the full inerrancy of the Bible. 

PLENARY AND VERBAL INSPIRATION MEANS THE BIBLE IS GOD-GIVEN...IN EVERY PART...AND IN EVERY SINGLE WORD.

Two words are sometimes used to explain the extent of biblical inerrancy: plenary and verbal. “Plenary” comes from the Latin plenus, which means “full,” and refers to the fact that the whole of Scripture in every part is God-given. “Verbal” comes from the Latin verbum, which means “word,” and emphasizes that even the words of Scripture are God-given. Plenary and verbal inspiration means the Bible is God-given (and therefore without error) in every part (doctrine, history, geography, dates, names) and in every single word.

When we talk about inerrancy, we refer to the original writings of Scripture. We do not have any of the original “autographs,” as they are called, but only copies, including many copies of each book. There are small differences here and there, but in reality they are amazingly similar. One eighteenth century New Testament scholar claimed that not one thousandth part of the text was affected by these differences.
1 Now that we know what inerrancy means, let’s cover what it doesn’t mean.

*  Inerrancy doesn’t mean everything in the Bible is true. We have the record of men lying (e.g., Joshua 9) and even the words of the devil himself. But we can be sure these are accurate records of what took place.

*  Inerrancy doesn’t mean apparent contradictions are not in the text, but these can be resolved. At times different words may be used in recounting what appears to be the same incident. For example, Matthew 3:11 refers to John the Baptist carrying the sandals of the Messiah, whereas John 1:27 refers to him untying them. John preached over a period of time, and he would repeat himself; like any preacher he would use different ways of expressing the same thing.

*  Inerrancy doesn’t mean every extant copy is inerrant. It is important to understand that the doctrine of inerrancy only applies to the original manuscripts.

Inerrancy does mean it is incorrect to claim the Bible is only “reasonably accurate,” as some do.2That would leave us uncertain as to where we could trust God’s Word. 

What Does the Bible Claim?

Is it true, as John Goldingay stated, that this view of inerrancy “is not directly asserted by Christ or within Scripture itself”?3 Let’s look at what the Bible says about itself.

The View of the Old Testament Writers

The Old Testament writers saw their message as God-breathed and therefore utterly reliable. God promised Moses He would eventually send another prophet (Jesus Christ) who would also speak God’s words like Moses had done. “I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him” (Deuteronomy 18:18). Jeremiah was told at the beginning of his ministry that he would speak for God. “Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me: ‘Behold, I have put My words in your mouth’” (Jeremiah 1:9). 

The Hebrew word for prophet means “a spokesman,” and the prophet’s message was on God’s behalf: “This is what the Lord says.” As a result they frequently so identified themselves with God that they spoke as though God Himself were actually speaking. Isaiah 5 reveals this clearly. In verses 1–2 the prophet speaks of God in the third person (He), but in verses 3–6 Isaiah changes to speak in the first person (I). Isaiah was speaking the very words of God. No wonder King David could speak of the Word of the Lord as “flawless” (2 Samuel 22:31; see also Proverbs 30:5, NIV). 

The New Testament Agrees with the Old Testament

Peter and John saw the words of David in Psalm 2, not merely as the opinion of a king of Israel, but as the voice of God. They introduced a quotation from that psalm in a prayer to God by saying, “who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: ‘Why did the nations rage, and the people plot vain things?’” (Acts 4:25). 

Similarly, Paul accepted Isaiah’s words as God Himself speaking to men: “The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers” (Acts 28:25). 

So convinced were the writers of the New Testament that all the words of the Old Testament Scripture were the actual words of God that they even claimed, “Scripture says,” when the words quoted came directly from God. Two examples are Romans 9:17, which states, “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh,” and Galatians 3:8, in which Paul wrote, “the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand . . . .” In Hebrews 1many of the Old Testament passages quoted were actually addressed to God by the psalmist, yet the writer to the Hebrews refers to them as the words of God. 

Jesus Believed in Verbal Inspiration

In John 10:34 Jesus quoted from Psalm 82:6 and based His teaching upon a phrase: “I said, ‘You are gods.’” In other words, Jesus proclaimed that the words of this psalm were the words of God. Similarly, in Matthew 22:31–32 He claimed the words of Exodus 3:6 were given to them by God. In Matthew 22:43–44 our Lord quoted from Psalm 110:1 and pointed out that David wrote these words “in the Spirit,” meaning he was actually writing the words of God. 

Paul Believed in Verbal Inspiration

Paul based an argument upon the fact that a particular word in the Old Testament is singular and not plural. Writing to the Galatians, Paul claimed that in God’s promises to Abraham, “He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your Seed,’ who is Christ” (Galatians 3:16). Paul quoted from Genesis 12:7; 13:15; and 24:7. In each of these verses, our translators used the word “descendants,” but the Hebrew word is singular. The same word is translated “seed” in Genesis 22:18. Paul’s argument here is that God was not primarily referring to Israel as the offspring of Abraham, but to Christ. 

What is significant is the way Paul drew attention to the fact that the Hebrew word in Genesis is singular. This demonstrates a belief in verbal inspiration because it mattered to Paul whether God used a singular or plural in these passages of the Old Testament. It is therefore not surprising Paul wrote that one of the advantages of being a Jew was the fact that “they have been entrusted with the very words of God” (Romans 3:2, NIV). Even many critics of the Bible agree that the Scriptures clearly teach a doctrine of verbal inerrancy. 

Self-authentication

To say the Bible is the Word of God and is therefore without error because the Bible itself makes this claim is seen by many as circular reasoning. It is rather like saying, “That prisoner must be innocent because he says he is.” Are we justified in appealing to the Bible’s own claim in settling this matter of its authority and inerrancy?

SINCE THE BIBLE IS GOD’S WORD, WE MUST LISTEN TO ITS OWN CLAIMS ABOUT ITSELF.

Actually, we use “self-authentication” every day. Whenever we say, “I think” or “I believe” or “I dreamed,” we are making a statement no one can verify. If people were reliable, witness to oneself would always be enough. In John 5:31–32 Jesus said that self-witness is normally insufficient. Later, when Jesus claimed, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12), the Pharisees attempted to correct Him by stating, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid” (John 8:13, NIV). In defense, the Lord showed that in His case, because He is the Son of God, self-witness is reliable: “Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true . . .” (John 8:14). Self-witness is reliable where sin does not interfere. Because Jesus is God and therefore guiltless (a fact confirmed by His critics in John 8:46), His words can be trusted. In a similar manner, since the Bible is God’s Word, we must listen to its own claims about itself. 

Much of the Bible’s story is such that unless God had revealed it we could never have known it. Many scientific theories propose how the world came into being. Some of these theories differ only slightly from each other, but others are contradictory. This shows no one can really be sure about such matters because no scientist was there when it all happened. Unless the God who was there has revealed it, we could never know for certain. The same is true for all the great Bible doctrines. How can we be sure of God’s anger against sin, His love for sinners, or His plan to choose a people for Himself, unless God Himself has told us? Hilary of Poitiers, a fourth century theologian, once claimed, “Only God is a fit witness to himself”—and no one can improve upon that.

Who Believes This?

The belief the Bible is without error is not new. Clement of Rome in the first century wrote, “Look carefully into the Scriptures, which are the true utterances of the Holy Spirit. Observe that nothing of an unjust or counterfeit character is written in them.”4 A century later, Irenaeus concluded, “The Scriptures are indeed perfect, since they were spoken by the Word of God and his Spirit.”5

This was the view of the early church leaders, and it has been the consistent view of evangelicals from the ancient Vaudois people of the Piedmont Valley to the sixteenth century Protestant Reformers across Europe and up to the present day. Not all used the terms “infallibility” or “inerrancy,” but many expressed the concepts, and there is no doubt they believed it. It is liberalism that has taken a new approach. Professor Kirsopp Lake at Harvard University admitted, “It is we [the liberals] who have departed from the tradition.”6

Does It Matter?

Is the debate about whether or not the Bible can be trusted merely a theological quibble? Certainly not! The question of ultimate authority is of tremendous importance for the Christian.

Inerrancy Governs Our Confidence in the Truth of the Gospel

If the Scripture is unreliable, can we offer the world a reliable gospel? How can we be sure of truth on any issue if we are suspicious of errors anywhere in the Bible? A pilot will ground his aircraft even on suspicion of the most minor fault, because he is aware that one fault destroys confidence in the complete machine. If the history contained in the Bible is wrong, how can we be sure the doctrine or moral teaching is correct?

The heart of the Christian message is history. The Incarnation (God becoming a man) was demonstrated by the Virgin Birth of Christ. Redemption (the price paid for our rebellion) was obtained by the death of Christ on the Cross. Reconciliation (the privilege of the sinner becoming a friend of God) was gained through the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ. If these recorded events are not true, how do we know the theology behind them is true?

Inerrancy Governs Our Faith in the Value of Christ

We cannot have a reliable Savior without a reliable Scripture. If, as many suggest, the stories in the Gospels are not historically true and the recorded words of Christ are only occasionally His, how do we know what we can trust about Christ? Must we rely upon the conflicting interpretations of a host of critical scholars before we know what Christ was like or what He taught? If the Gospel stories are merely the result of the wishful thinking of the church in the second or third centuries, or even the personal views of the Gospel writers, then our faith no longer rests upon Jesus but upon the opinions of men. Who would trust an unreliable Savior for their eternal salvation?

Inerrancy Governs Our Response to the Conclusions of Science

If we believe the Bible contains errors, then we will be quick to accept scientific theories that appear to prove the Bible wrong. In other words, we will allow the conclusions of science to dictate the accuracy of the Word of God. When we doubt the Bible’s inerrancy, we have to invent new principles for interpreting Scripture that for convenience turn history into poetry and facts into myths. This means people must ask how reliable a given passage is when they turn to it. Only then will they be able to decide what to make of it. On the other hand, if we believe in inerrancy, we will test by Scripture the hasty theories that often come to us in the name of science.

Inerrancy Governs Our Attitude to the Preaching of Scripture

A denial of biblical inerrancy always leads to a loss of confidence in Scripture both in the pulpit and in the pew. It was not the growth of education and science that emptied churches, nor was it the result of two world wars. Instead, it was the cold deadness of theological liberalism. If the Bible’s history is doubtful and its words are open to dispute, then people understandably lose confidence in it. People want authority. They want to know what God has said.

Inerrancy Governs Our Belief in the Trustworthy Character of God

Almost all theologians agree Scripture is in some measure God’s revelation to the human race. But to allow that it contains error implies God has mishandled inspiration and has allowed His people to be deceived for centuries until modern scholars disentangled the confusion. In short, the Maker muddled the instructions.

Conclusion

A church without the authority of Scripture is like a crocodile without teeth; it can open its mouth as wide and as often as it likes—but who cares? Thankfully, God has given us His inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word. His people can speak with authority and boldness, and we can be confident we have His instructions for our lives.


Footnotes
1. Bishop Brook Foss Westcott, The New Testament in the Original Greek (London, MacMillan, 1881), 2.
2. John Goldingay, Models for Scripture (Toronto: Clements Publishing, 2004), 282.
3. Ibid.
4. Clement of Rome First letter to the Corinthians XLV.
5. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, XVII.2.
6. Kirsopp Lake, The Religion of Yesterday and Tomorrow, (Boston, MA: Houghton, Mifflin Co., 1926), 62."