From Jim McGuiggan... NOT ON THEIR WATCH


t's a great Story! There are no losers or useless among Christ's chosen. None at all! They're all on the walls keeping watch and playing their part. They come in different sizes, shapes, genders, ages, degree of giftedness, particularity of giftedness, social status, color, ethnicity, physical and mental health—but they all serve! Their service is flawed, it's true, but nobody knows that better than they do and no union or government, club or community criticizes itself more severely or more consistently than the chosen People.                    . 

They're very often happy but not always "happy" due to their life’s circumstances— they haven't been given exemption from humanity's awful pain, they're called to share it; besides, it isn't only the happy people that serve God's gracious purposes. People in the world might “go down” despite the presence of the Story people in it, but they won't go down without their taking note of it. They can't themselves take away all the world's pain but just by their very existence as the Story and Storied people, in their physical presence they offer an alternative to a sad and harrassed human family—an alternative to its sinking without trace.

The walls they guard are not just the “church” walls. These “chosen in Christ” are not just “church patriots”—they’re “cosmic patriots” (to borrow GK Chesterton’s phrase). They maintain a presence in the world and they do it for the world! Their enemies are not flesh and blood; their enemies are everything that is an enemy of flesh and blood, all that insinuates itself into flesh and blood as a parasite and a destroyer of the human family.

In their better moments these chosen ones have no sense of superiority; they are as sick and beaten-up as the peoples of the world around them. If you cut them they bleed, if you cheat them they feel betrayed, they weep at the graves of their dead ones and groan at a child that has gone astray or a marriage that has fallen apart. They have no personal charisma that the world should admire them but what they have (by God’s good and sustaining grace) is a Story and a place in that Story and as the prophetic embodiment of that Story—the Story that says there is a God who will right all wrongs and that he has given the assurance of that by raising Jesus Christ from the dead. This chosen People  in their sacraments, their Story and their embodied preaching at its best proclaim the rejected Jesus who stands for all throughout the world who experience rejection and oppression. Their embodied message is that entrenched evil, enforced poverty and ignorance and brutal oppression are not the end of the Story.  After suffering and rejection there was the resurrection and vindication of the rejected One. Believe that, they say, think noble things of God who puts his honor at stake and offers the resurrected Jesus as his assurance that he will keep his word. 

Poor souls might go down to oblivion but they won’t go down unnoticed or unmourned—not on their watch!

by Jeff Miller, Ph.D. ... Tampering with the Chief Engineer's Design

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=3725Tampering with the Chief Engineer's Design

by  Jeff Miller, Ph.D.

The Great Designer designed designers. An exploding mass cannot design anything, much less design a designer. Genesis 1:28 confirms concerning mankind: “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the Earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the Earth.’” Thus began the field of engineering. Using our ingenuity, humans have since engineered many ways to fulfill the commands to “subdue” and have “dominion over” the Earth, from harnesses for oxen to automobiles to space shuttles and beyond. God created the Universe with potential for infinite growth in human knowledge that can lead to many improvements in living conditions when we learn to harness and utilize the phenomena God designed and implemented on Earth for us to discover. Consider the effect that harnessing the power of electricity, magnetic fields, nuclear reactions, and chemical reactions has had on life as we know it. Unfortunately, as the poison of atheism becomes more prevalent in society, encroaching into the field of engineering, we can be guaranteed that progress will be slowed, and eventually, stopped or even reversed.
An image of an artificial heart exhibited at the London science museum.
A few years ago, I attended a Bio-engineering seminar concerning design improvements on artificial hearts for use in transplants. After the presentation, during the question and answer period, a professor stood up and asked the presenter a question that went something like this: “Has nature optimized the heart yet after all of these millions of years of its evolution, or is it still necessary for us to help it along with our designs?” At that moment, it struck me how dangerous the Theory of Evolution can be if allowed to run rampant in the field of engineering. Those who follow out the implications of the Theory of Evolution could cause not only a hindrance to scientific and technological progress, but could actually place us in mortal danger. How so?
If engineering design is approached from an evolutionary perspective, the above question is appropriate. Has nature optimized the ______, or do we need to fix it? If the Theory of Evolution is true, there should be a multitude of examples in the physical world of creatures and plants, and the components that comprise them, that are sub-optimal—since they are all in the process of evolving to better states. [NOTE: Such is not the case, which is further proof that the Theory of Evolution cannot effectively account for the state of the world.] After all, an explosion, plus a series of random accidents, no matter how many, do not produce optimized systems. Vast improvements would be necessary. Thus, the intelligence, experience, and wisdom of mankind could improve the condition of the system that “Mother Nature” dealt us. [Also note: the fact that we have the ability even to consider improving nature, implies that we as humans are too advanced to be the result of a series of random accidents. Nature could not create and then improve us to the point that we can take over and improve it. Mother Nature could not produce an entity greater than herself. The effect cannot be greater than the cause.]
However, if the Theory of Evolution is false, and the God of the Bible is the Chief Engineer of the Universe, an evolutionary approach could be very dangerous. To tamper with the design of the Almighty Engineer of the Universe would be tantamount to placing oneself above Him in knowledge and declaring oneself to be omniscient. Consider also that science is constantly evolving as research is conducted. Views once held as fact have been radically revised or even abandoned. Though some people for centuries held that the Earth was flat, modern science has proven that the Earth is spherical. The medical practice of “bleeding” a sick patient to eliminate ailments in the blood was common only 200 years ago. However, through further research and scientific investigation, and following many deaths, such a practice now seems barbaric.
Now consider an example that could be directly relevant today. If humans become arrogant enough to think that we have the knowledge necessary to improve the design of the heart, act on those feelings, and then find out through further research that the design of the heart was actually already optimal, what damage could have been done in the process? Those whose hearts had been “improved” by the wisdom of mankind, could have shorter life spans or suffer major physical complications due to the arrogance of atheistic engineers. Thus, humans could potentially be harmed due to atheist engineers making design decisions without adequate understanding of the intricacies of God’s design! No wonder Almighty God, by the hand of Paul, warned: “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their own craftiness’; and again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile’” (1 Corinthians 3:18-21).
Many other examples illustrate the dangers of atheistic engineering. Since sin entered the world in Genesis three and mankind was evicted from the Garden of Eden, the pristine conditions of life on Earth have severely deteriorated. The Earth, as well as the general condition of the human body, is running down as the Second Law of Thermodynamics implies. Disease and genetic mutation, for example, attest to this. Isaiah declared: “Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look on the Earth beneath. For the heavens will vanish away like smoke. The Earth will grow old like a garment, and those who dwell in it will die in like manner....” (51:6). We have used God-given engineering abilities to combat some of this decline through designs of our own, including, for example, medicine to combat disease, and sophisticated structures to withstand the forces of natural calamity. However, with a warped perspective about Who the Author and Designer of the Universe is, mankind could attempt to fix things that do not need fixing, and thereby bring calamity, suffering, and unhappiness.
Now consider: If engineers would respect the Chief Engineer Who has surrounded us with amazing prototypes—an engineering school into which we have all been admitted—they could make quicker and better advancements in technology. Engineers of the past understood this. The Wright brothers, for example, analyzed birds to determine how to get an airplane to stay in the air (Fausz, 2008; Root, 1905), thereby achieving their objective. However, evolutionists will tend not to use God’s optimized designs since, to them, there is no ultimate Engineer to mimic. Rather, they are the results of a multitude of random accidents. Evolutionists would, therefore, have to recognize that optimized designs could not possibly come from an explosion. [NOTE: Ironically, many evolutionists openly gape at the amazing complexity and seeming design of the world, and yet fail to recognize the implications of their awe (Block, 1980, p. 52; Jastrow, 1981, pp. 96-97; Lipson, 1980, 31:138; Wylie, 1962, p. 25).] Thus, technological advancement is slowed and designs often will fail to reach their potential.
If scientists fail to ask the right question, we will begin to see notable deleterious effects in the field of engineering. If engineers ask the right question, they, and indirectly we, will continue to have major advancements in technology as blessings from the Chief Engineer. What is the right question? The correct question to ask is, “Why did the Chief Engineer do it that way?” Studying that question will help us to have better “dominion” over the Earth. He designed the Earth, and we can be assured that His design, and the rationale behind His design, will be very useful. After all, who could possibly out-design the Chief Engineer of the Universe?


Block, Irvin (1980), “The Worlds Within You,” Science Digest, special edition:49-53,118, September/October.
Fausz, Jerry (2008), “Designed to Fly,” Reason & Revelation, 28[2]:9-15, February, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/3599.
Jastrow, Robert (1981), The Enchanted Loom: Mind in the Universe (New York: Simon and Schuster).
Lipson, H. S. (1980), “A Physicist Looks at Evolution,” Physics Bulletin, 31:138, May.
Root, Amos Ives (1905), “First Published Account of the Wright Brothers Flight,” Gleanings in Bee Culture (Medina, OH: A.I. Root Company), [On-line], URL: http://www.rootcandles.com/about/wrightbrothers.cfm.
Wylie, Evan M. (1962), Today’s Health, July.

From Mark Copeland... The Church In Antioch Of Syria (Acts 11:19-30)

                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

              The Church In Antioch Of Syria (11:19-30)


1. A major church in New Testament times was the church in Antioch of
   b. Begun by disciples who had been in Jerusalem - Ac 11:19-21
   c. Where disciples of Christ were first called "Christians" - Ac 11:26

2. The church in Antioch of Syria would later...
   a. Serve as Paul's starting point for his three missionary journeys 
      - Ac 13:1-3
   b. Send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem to resolve the issue of
      circumcision - Ac 15:1-2

[In our text for this lesson (Ac 11:19-30), we read the beginning of
the church in Antioch of Syria.  But first, let's review some
background material concerning the city of Antioch itself...]


      1. Founded in 300 B.C. by Seleucus Nicator, one of Alexander the 
         Great's generals
      2. Named after his father Antiochus
      3. Located on the river Orontes, 15 miles upstream from the port 
         city Seleucia (named after Seleucus himself)

   B. FAME...
      1. Became known as "Antioch the Beautiful"
      2. Famous for its fine buildings, and a long, paved boulevard
         flanked by a double colonnade with trees and fountains
      3. Absorbed by the Roman empire in 64 B.C., it became the capital
         of the imperial province of Syria (and later Cilicia)
      4. Josephus called it the third city of the empire, after Rome and

      1. Estimated at 300,000, extremely cosmopolitan (multicultural)
      2. A Greek city by foundation, inhabitants included Latins as well
      3. With a large colony of Jews, attracted by Seleucus' offer of
         equal citizenship
      4. There were also people from Persia, India, and even China,
         earning it another name:  "the Queen of the East"

[Much of the above information about the city of Antioch is from Stott,
J. R. W. (1994). The Message of Acts: The Spirit, the Church & the
World. The Bible Speaks Today. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL:
InterVarsity Press.  Now let's consider the church itself...]


      1. Of those scattered by the persecution in Jerusalem, who first 
         spoke only to the Jews - Ac 11:19; cf. Ac 8:1-4
      2. Some of them from Cyprus and Cyrene, began speaking to 
         Hellenists (Greeks) - Ac 11:20
      3. Preaching the Lord Jesus, with the aid of the Lord, a great
         number believed and turned to the Lord - Ac 11:21  

      1. News of this new church reached Jerusalem, so they sent Barnabas
         - Ac 11:22
         a. Introduced earlier as also being from Cyprus - Ac 4:36-37
         b. Who helped Saul to be accepted by the church in Jerusalem
            - Ac 9:26-27
      2. Upon his arrival, Barnabas (whose name means "son of 
         a. Saw the grace of God and was glad - Ac 11:23
         b. Encouraged them to continue with the Lord with purpose of
            heart - ibid.
      3. For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith
         - Ac 11:24; cf. Ac 4:37; 6:5
      4. Result:  "And a great many people were added to the Lord" - Ac 11:24; cf. Ac 2:41,47

      1. Barnabas went to Tarsus to find Saul - Ac 11:25; cf. Ac 9:30
      2. Together at Antioch, Barnabas and Saul assembled with the church
         for a year and taught a great many people - Ac 11:26
      3. It was at Antioch disciples were first called Christians - Ac 11:26; cf. Ac 26:28; 1Pe 4:16

      1. Some prophets arrived from Jerusalem - Ac 11:27; cf. 1Co 12:28;
         Ep 4:11
      2. One of them, Agabus, by the Spirit foretold of a famine - Ac 11:28; cf. Ac 21:10,11
      3. The disciples at Antioch determined to send relief - Ac 11:29
         a. Each according to his ability - cf. 1Co 16:1-2; 2Co 8:2-4,
         b. Sent by the hands of Barnabas and Saul to the elders  
      4. Thus the church demonstrated one "zealous for good works" - cf.
         Tit 2:14; 3:1,8,14


1. So began a great church in a great city...
   a. Established by evangelists
   b. Endorsed by Barnabas
   c. Educated with Saul
   d. Exemplified good works
   -- Perhaps the second most influential church after Jerusalem in the
      first century A.D.

2. We will read more of this church in the book of Acts...
   a. As an important factor in Paul's missionary journeys
   b. Contributing to the successful resolution of a problem involving 

Indeed, there are good lessons we might glean from "The Church In Antioch
Of Syria", a few of which we shall look at in our next study...

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2012

From Gary... Bible Reading June 1

Bible Reading  

June 1

The World English Bible

June 1
Judges 21

Jdg 21:1 Now the men of Israel had sworn in Mizpah, saying, There shall not any of us give his daughter to Benjamin as wife.
Jdg 21:2 The people came to Bethel, and sat there until evening before God, and lifted up their voices, and wept sore.
Jdg 21:3 They said, Yahweh, the God of Israel, why has this happened in Israel, that there should be today one tribe lacking in Israel?
Jdg 21:4 It happened on the next day that the people rose early, and built there an altar, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.
Jdg 21:5 The children of Israel said, Who is there among all the tribes of Israel who didn't come up in the assembly to Yahweh? For they had made a great oath concerning him who didn't come up to Yahweh to Mizpah, saying, He shall surely be put to death.
Jdg 21:6 The children of Israel grieved for Benjamin their brother, and said, There is one tribe cut off from Israel this day.
Jdg 21:7 How shall we do for wives for those who remain, seeing we have sworn by Yahweh that we will not give them of our daughters to wives?
Jdg 21:8 They said, What one is there of the tribes of Israel who didn't come up to Yahweh to Mizpah? Behold, there came none to the camp from Jabesh Gilead to the assembly.
Jdg 21:9 For when the people were numbered, behold, there were none of the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead there.
Jdg 21:10 The congregation sent there twelve thousand men of the most valiant, and commanded them, saying, Go and strike the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead with the edge of the sword, with the women and the little ones.
Jdg 21:11 This is the thing that you shall do: you shall utterly destroy every male, and every woman who has lain by man.
Jdg 21:12 They found among the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead four hundred young virgins, who had not known man by lying with him; and they brought them to the camp to Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.
Jdg 21:13 The whole congregation sent and spoke to the children of Benjamin who were in the rock of Rimmon, and proclaimed peace to them.
Jdg 21:14 Benjamin returned at that time; and they gave them the women whom they had saved alive of the women of Jabesh Gilead: and yet so they weren't enough for them.
Jdg 21:15 The people grieved for Benjamin, because that Yahweh had made a breach in the tribes of Israel.
Jdg 21:16 Then the elders of the congregation said, How shall we do for wives for those who remain, seeing the women are destroyed out of Benjamin?
Jdg 21:17 They said, There must be an inheritance for those who are escaped of Benjamin, that a tribe not be blotted out from Israel.
Jdg 21:18 However we may not give them wives of our daughters, for the children of Israel had sworn, saying, Cursed be he who gives a wife to Benjamin.
Jdg 21:19 They said, Behold, there is a feast of Yahweh from year to year in Shiloh, which is on the north of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah.
Jdg 21:20 They commanded the children of Benjamin, saying, Go and lie in wait in the vineyards,
Jdg 21:21 and see, and behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in the dances, then come out of the vineyards, and each man catch his wife of the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin.
Jdg 21:22 It shall be, when their fathers or their brothers come to complain to us, that we will say to them, Grant them graciously to us, because we didn't take for each man his wife in battle, neither did you give them to them, else you would now be guilty.
Jdg 21:23 The children of Benjamin did so, and took them wives, according to their number, of those who danced, whom they carried off: and they went and returned to their inheritance, and built the cities, and lived in them.
Jdg 21:24 The children of Israel departed there at that time, every man to his tribe and to his family, and they went out from there every man to his inheritance.
Jdg 21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

Jun. 1, 2
John 9

Joh 9:1 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth.
Joh 9:2 His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
Joh 9:3 Jesus answered, "Neither did this man sin, nor his parents; but, that the works of God might be revealed in him.
Joh 9:4 I must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day. The night is coming, when no one can work.
Joh 9:5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."
Joh 9:6 When he had said this, he spat on the ground, made mud with the saliva, anointed the blind man's eyes with the mud,
Joh 9:7 and said to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which means "Sent"). So he went away, washed, and came back seeing.
Joh 9:8 The neighbors therefore, and those who saw that he was blind before, said, "Isn't this he who sat and begged?"
Joh 9:9 Others were saying, "It is he." Still others were saying, "He looks like him." He said, "I am he."
Joh 9:10 They therefore were asking him, "How were your eyes opened?"
Joh 9:11 He answered, "A man called Jesus made mud, anointed my eyes, and said to me, 'Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash.' So I went away and washed, and I received sight."
Joh 9:12 Then they asked him, "Where is he?" He said, "I don't know."
Joh 9:13 They brought him who had been blind to the Pharisees.
Joh 9:14 It was a Sabbath when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes.
Joh 9:15 Again therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he received his sight. He said to them, "He put mud on my eyes, I washed, and I see."
Joh 9:16 Some therefore of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, because he doesn't keep the Sabbath." Others said, "How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?" There was division among them.
Joh 9:17 Therefore they asked the blind man again, "What do you say about him, because he opened your eyes?" He said, "He is a prophet."
Joh 9:18 The Jews therefore did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and had received his sight, until they called the parents of him who had received his sight,
Joh 9:19 and asked them, "Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?"
Joh 9:20 His parents answered them, "We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind;
Joh 9:21 but how he now sees, we don't know; or who opened his eyes, we don't know. He is of age. Ask him. He will speak for himself."
Joh 9:22 His parents said these things because they feared the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that if any man would confess him as Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue.
Joh 9:23 Therefore his parents said, "He is of age. Ask him."
Joh 9:24 So they called the man who was blind a second time, and said to him, "Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner."
Joh 9:25 He therefore answered, "I don't know if he is a sinner. One thing I do know: that though I was blind, now I see."
Joh 9:26 They said to him again, "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?"
Joh 9:27 He answered them, "I told you already, and you didn't listen. Why do you want to hear it again? You don't also want to become his disciples, do you?"
Joh 9:28 They insulted him and said, "You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses.
Joh 9:29 We know that God has spoken to Moses. But as for this man, we don't know where he comes from."
Joh 9:30 The man answered them, "How amazing! You don't know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes.
Joh 9:31 We know that God doesn't listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshipper of God, and does his will, he listens to him.
Joh 9:32 Since the world began it has never been heard of that anyone opened the eyes of someone born blind.
Joh 9:33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing."
Joh 9:34 They answered him, "You were altogether born in sins, and do you teach us?" They threw him out.
Joh 9:35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and finding him, he said, "Do you believe in the Son of God?"
Joh 9:36 He answered, "Who is he, Lord, that I may believe in him?"
Joh 9:37 Jesus said to him, "You have both seen him, and it is he who speaks with you."
Joh 9:38 He said, "Lord, I believe!" and he worshiped him.
Joh 9:39 Jesus said, "I came into this world for judgment, that those who don't see may see; and that those who see may become blind."
Joh 9:40 Those of the Pharisees who were with him heard these things, and said to him, "Are we also blind?"
Joh 9:41 Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, 'We see.' Therefore your sin remains.

From Gary... Warning: Stupidity may be hazardous to thinking

Stupidity, sheer stupidity!!!  Reading these warning labels shows how sue-happy our society has become. But then again, consider the concept of Law versus Grace.  Paul writes...

Galatians, Chapter 3
Gal 3:2  This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?
Gal 3:3  Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
Gal 3:4  Did you suffer so many things in vain--if indeed it was in vain?
Gal 3:5  So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?
Gal 3:7  Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.
Gal 3:8  The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU."
Gal 3:9  So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.
Gal 3:10  For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM."
Gal 3:11  Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, "THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH."

Gal 3:12  However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, "HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM."
Gal 3:13  Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us--for it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE"--
Gal 3:14  in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Gal 3:15  Brethren, I speak in terms of human relations: even though it is only a man's covenant, yet when it has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it.
Gal 3:16  Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, "And to seeds," as referring to many, but rather to one, "And to your seed," that is, Christ.
Gal 3:17  What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise.
Gal 3:18  For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.

Gal 3:19  Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made.
Gal 3:20  Now a mediator is not for one party only; whereas God is only one.
Gal 3:21  Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law.
Gal 3:22  But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
Gal 3:23  But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed.
Gal 3:24  Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.
Gal 3:25  But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
Gal 3:26  For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

Gal 3:27  For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
Gal 3:28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Gal 3:29  And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise.

God accounts righteousness; man tries and fails.  Obedience to the Law of God has always been a wonderful thing and there is an eternal blessing for those who attempt to please God in every way.  BUT, no matter how hard we try, we fail (at least in some minor point). Like Abraham, it is our faith, which is expressed in our efforts to please God through obedience, that saves us.  Do yourself a favor- expand your understanding of faithfulness to God BEYOND MERE OBEDIENCE TO THE 10 COMMANDMENTS. That is why God sent his son- to show us the way!!!  Going back to rules-based religion is like following the directions listed for Dial soap "Directions: use like regular soap". You wind up trying to use common sense anyway!!!

From Jim McGuiggan... ELECT OR ELITE


One of the dangers in choosing a special group to act on behalf of a larger group is that misunderstanding and envy may arise. In choosing a special priesthood out of a nation that was, at least, priestly in calling, God was willing to risk the misunderstanding and envy of some of the people. There are numerous texts that show that envy and bitterness were indeed a problem connected with this.

The book of Numbers has this as one of its recurring themes. Chapters 12, 16 and 17 mention the problem. In twelve Aaron and Miriam are chafed by Moses' authority and in sixteen Korah and his companions are maddened by the peculiar claims of Aaron and his family.

In electing a special priesthood God was not creating an elite group but an elect group; not a 'lording it over' group but a servant group; not a 'self-chosen' class but 'an obedient to a call' class of men.

It's clear from a reading of the biblical text that God didn't make these priests paragons of virtue, he didn't work a moral miracle and make them into sinless beings. The behavior of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eli's sons, Hopni and Phineas this and the frequent denunciation of the priesthood by the prophets leave us in no doubt that priests had their character flaws. Nevertheless, though flawed like all others, these God was pleased to choose as leaders of his people.

That being the case, there was no ground for priests to act as though butter wouldn't melt in their mouths. They were chosen not because they were uniformly of wonderful character. In this they were like the nation which God reminded again and again. "I didn't choose you because of your righteousness." Israel had no more reason to look down on their neighbors than the priests had to scorn their fellow-worshipers, the Israelite nation.

But while the priests had to understand and act on that truth, Israel needed to understand that the choice of Aaron and his family was God's choice and as such, when they opposed Aaron, they were opposing God. And when God called Aaron and his family, Israel needed to understand that for Aaron to say no would have been to rebel against Yahweh.

Let me say it again, both priests and the nation needed to understand that the special priesthood was on Israel's behalf. They were called to serve Israel. Envy against the priestly representatives is out of order for many reasons but it misses the mark because it is leveled against those whose very existence was to serve them.

And the priests needed to understand that they were called to serve not to enslave. Authority in the form of representation is for others rather than over others. And this remains true even though the priests are given the authority to settle certain things, they are given decision-making power. The people in many things must submit to the instructions of the priests and are required to regard them as God's representatives to the nation as well as the nation's representatives to God.

This truth of honorable representation is embedded in the very nature of humanity as God created it. He created humans for community and so he created them as interdependent. Deuteronomy 1:9-18; Exodus 18:13-26 and Deuteronomy 16:18-20 speak of the need of honorable representation. Moses isn't able to care for all the needs and troubles of the nation so men who knew and loved God and the nation are chosen to broker peace and justice and contentment between disputing or mutually ignorant parties who differ.Once more, the choice of these judges was for the benefit of the nation and to defy them was to defy God's arrangement by which the entire Community was to be blessed—it was to defy God in the form of anarchy [Deuteronomy 18:7-13]. God-given authority is not an enemy of justice or peace or community! 

Imagine thousands who wished to offer sacrifice to God at the Tabernacle. Paint the picture as realistically as you are able. Bearing in mind that the manner of sacrificing was appointed by God, how could they have managed it without priestly representation? Imagine a sinful nation with all its inner conflicts and picture it left to the physically strong or the wickedly influential or those who can gain overwhelming power because they had the money to bribe support among the people [see the case of Absalom]. Honorable and wise representation beats anarchy and national disorder.

Social justice is viewed as profoundly serious in the OT—it's one of the fundamental requirements of Israel's existence as God's nation. When leaders [priests, prophets, judges or kings] become corrupt and in this way corrupt the entire nation God moves to deal with the situation. The authority structures he put in place are not the problem—corruption in all its forms is the problem!

Up to this point I've been dealing mainly with the individuals rights of the nation and how God's choice of authoritative representation is designed to cater to those God-given "rights". But that is only one perspective of the larger picture. Israel's business was to image God and his ways before the nations of the world! The self-disclosure of God in the story of the covenant with Abraham and his children through Jacob, the Exodus and all that is part of that self-disclosure was to shape Israel's Story and national behavior. As a People they were to be a living embodiment of that continuing self-revelation of God. That imaging of God was for the benefit of the entire human family—a Community was called to bring light to the nations and salvation to the ends of the earth. This of necessity involved the pursuit of social justice within the community [note God's "hearing" Israel's groaning under Egyptian bondage—Exodus 2:23-25].

It's clear that some structures came and went with God's appointment and/or approval because they were no longer needed or no longer served their purpose. SEE. It's also true that some laws were introduced that God did not approve or promote—he tolerated and regulated them [polygamy, concubinage, divorce "for any cause" are examples (see Matthew 19:3-9]. But the truths that underlay all these structures, truths that these structures served, truths about God as creatior and Redeemer—these truths abide despite change.

Democracy and egalitarianism can foster dangerous tendencies. In a world like ours, if we pursue equality "in every conceivable area and way" too vigorously we can destroy something more fundamental that gaining our "rights" in every conceivable way. We can destroy "community" without which "rights" can't exist or if they can they could not be enjoyed.

©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.

Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, theabidingword.com.

From Kyle Butt, M.A. ... Telling People What to Think


Telling People What to Think

by  Kyle Butt, M.A.

Dan Barker, the ex-preacher who deconverted to atheism, is most famous for his book Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist. In this treatise against God and religion, Barker discussed a book that he wrote for children that contained these words: “No one can tell you what to think. Not your teachers. Not your parents. Not your minister, priest, or rabbi. Not your friends or relatives. Not this book. You are the boss of your own mind. If you have used your own mind to find out what is true, then you should be proud! Your thoughts are free!” (1992, p. 47). Noble sentiments indeed!
But, as one digs deeper into Barker’s book, it quickly becomes clear that those sentiments do not find a willing practitioner in the person of Dan Barker. In his chapter on prayer, Barker wrote:
Don’t ask Christians if they think prayer is effective. They will think up some kind of answer that makes sense to them only. Don’t ask them, tell them: “You know that prayer doesn’t work. You know you are fooling yourself with magical conceit.” No matter how they reply, they will know in their heart of hearts that you are right (1992, p. 109, emp. in orig.).
From Barker’s statement about what should be “told” to those who believe in prayer, it is easy to see that he does not necessarily believe his previous statement that “no one can tell you what to think,” or that a person should use his own mind “to find out what is true.” In fact, what Barker is really trying to say is that a person should only think for himself if such thinking will lead him to believe that there is no God, or that prayer does not work, or that all religion is nonsense. If thinking for himself leads a person to believe in the efficacy of prayer or the existence of God, then that person should be “told” what to believe.
In truth, the Bible demands that each person weigh the evidence for himself or herself. First Thessalonians 5:21 states: “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” Among those things that should be tested are the writings of skeptics like Barker. When blatant inconsistencies pepper their pages like so many spots on a Dalmatian, then those writings should not be “held fast.”


Barker, Dan (1992), Losing Faith In Faith—From Preacher to Atheist (Madison, WI: Freedom from Religion Foundation).

From Mark Copeland... Peter Defends His Actions (Acts 11:1-18)

                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

                 Peter Defends His Actions (11:1-18)


1. The news of Cornelius' conversion quickly spread...
   a. Those in Jerusalem heard of the Gentiles' reception of the Word
      - Ac 11:1
   b. But Peter's actions were soon criticized by some Jewish Christians
      - Ac 11:2-3

2. As noted previously, there are two accounts of Cornelius' 
   a. There is Luke's description, given as it occurred - Ac 10:1-48
   b. There is Peter's description, when he is called to defend his
      actions - Ac 11:1-18

[In this lesson, we will focus our attention to Peter's description of
the events as they occurred...]


      1. While praying in Joppa, in a trance, Peter has a vision - Ac 11:4-9
         a. A sheet descends from heaven, containing all sorts of
         b. A voice tells him "Rise, Peter; kill and eat"
         c. Peter objects, for he has never eaten anything common or
         d. The voice tells him, "What God has cleansed you must not call
      2. The vision is repeated three times - Ac 11:10

      1. Three men from Caesarea arrive as Peter contemplates the vision
         - Ac 11:11
      2. The Spirit tells Peter to go with them, doubting nothing - Ac 11:12
      3. Six brethren from Joppa went with him (now with Peter in 
         Jerusalem) - Ac 11:12
      4. They entered the man's house - Ac 11:12

      1. He had seen an angel standing in his house - Ac 11:13
      2. Who told him to send to Joppa and ask for Peter - Ac 11:13
      3. "who will tell you words by which you and all your household
         will be saved" - Ac 11:14

      1. "As I began to speak...as upon us at the beginning." - Ac 11:15;
         cf. Ac 2:1-4
      2. Reminded Peter of the Lord's promise to the apostles concerning
         being baptized with the Holy Spirit - Ac 11:16; cf. Ac 1:5
      3. Convinced him that if God gave Gentiles the same gift as given
         to the apostles when they believed on the Lord, who was he to 
         withstand God? - Ac 11:17 

      1. They were silenced, then glorified God - Ac 11:18
      2. Saying, "Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to
         life." - ibid.

[Peter's account silenced the objectors, and led to the Gentiles
considered acceptable recipients of the gospel of Christ.  His account
also adds a few details of which we should take careful note...]


      1. Peter explained the events "in order from the beginning" - Ac 11:4; cf. Lk 1:3
      2. If there is any question as to the sequence of events, Peter's 
         account takes precedence
      1. Remember that Cornelius was told to send for Peter, who would 
         tell him...
         a. "what you must do." - Ac 10:6
         b. "words by which you...shall be saved." - Ac 11:14
      2. From this, and from what we see in other conversions...
         a. Cornelius was not saved until he heard the "words" (i.e.,
            after the sermon)
         b. Cornelius was not saved until he obeyed what he was told to
      3. What were the words he and his household were told to do?
         a. They were told to believe, as implied in Ac 10:43
         b. They were told to be baptized, as commanded in Ac 10:48
      4. Thus Cornelius and his household were not saved until they
         believed and were baptized! - cf. Mk 16:16; Ac 8:12,13

      1. Some presume that the purpose was to save Cornelius and his
         a. That therefore they were saved before obeying the command to
            be baptized
         b. But the Spirit came upon them as Peter "began to speak",
            before they could hear words by which they could be saved! 
            - Ac 11:14-15
      2. The purpose of the Spirit can be gleaned from the following...
         a. The effect it had on the Jewish brethren who were present,
            and Peter's response - Ac 10:45-47
         b. The reaction of those in Jerusalem when Peter explained what
            happened - Ac 11:17-18
         c. Peter's explanation at the council held later in Jerusalem 
            - Ac 15:7-11
      3. The purpose of the Spirit falling on Gentiles was therefore to 
         show Jewish brethren...
         a. That God was no respecter of persons - Ac 10:34-35
         b. That God was willing to grant Gentiles opportunity to repent
            and have life - Ac 11:18
         c. That Gentiles could be saved in the same way as Jews... - Ac 15:9,11; cf. Ac 2:38; 10:48


1. Peter's defense of his actions silenced those who accused him of
   a. For socializing with Gentiles
   b. For sharing the gospel with them

2. But the issue of Gentiles in the church was not over...
   a. It will come up again later in Acts - cf. Ac 15:1-2
   b. It was a major issue addressed in several epistles (Romans,
      Galatians, etc.) 

But we who are Gentiles today can be thankful that God in His grace has
made it clear:  He is no respecter of persons, and that all can be
saved by the grace extended through His Son Jesus Christ...!
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2012

From Gary... Bible Reading May 31

Bible Reading 

May 31

The World English Bible

May 31
Judges 19, 20

Jdg 19:1 It happened in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite sojourning on the farther side of the hill country of Ephraim, who took to him a concubine out of Bethlehem Judah.
Jdg 19:2 His concubine played the prostitute against him, and went away from him to her father's house to Bethlehem Judah, and was there the space of four months.
Jdg 19:3 Her husband arose, and went after her, to speak kindly to her, to bring her again, having his servant with him, and a couple of donkeys: and she brought him into her father's house; and when the father of the young lady saw him, he rejoiced to meet him.
Jdg 19:4 His father-in-law, the young lady's father, retained him; and he abode with him three days: so they ate and drink, and lodged there.
Jdg 19:5 It happened on the fourth day, that they arose early in the morning, and he rose up to depart: and the young lady's father said to his son-in-law, Strengthen your heart with a morsel of bread, and afterward you shall go your way.
Jdg 19:6 So they sat down, ate, and drank, both of them together: and the young lady's father said to the man, Please be pleased to stay all night, and let your heart be merry.
Jdg 19:7 The man rose up to depart; but his father-in-law urged him, and he lodged there again.
Jdg 19:8 He arose early in the morning on the fifth day to depart; and the young lady's father said, Please strengthen your heart and stay until the day declines; and they ate, both of them.
Jdg 19:9 When the man rose up to depart, he, and his concubine, and his servant, his father-in-law, the young lady's father, said to him, Behold, now the day draws toward evening, please stay all night: behold, the day grows to an end, lodge here, that your heart may be merry; and tomorrow get you early on your way, that you may go home.
Jdg 19:10 But the man wouldn't stay that night, but he rose up and departed, and came over against Jebus (the same is Jerusalem): and there were with him a couple of donkeys saddled; his concubine also was with him.
Jdg 19:11 When they were by Jebus, the day was far spent; and the servant said to his master, Please come and let us turn aside into this city of the Jebusites, and lodge in it.
Jdg 19:12 His master said to him, We won't turn aside into the city of a foreigner, that is not of the children of Israel; but we will pass over to Gibeah.
Jdg 19:13 He said to his servant, Come and let us draw near to one of these places; and we will lodge in Gibeah, or in Ramah.
Jdg 19:14 So they passed on and went their way; and the sun went down on them near to Gibeah, which belongs to Benjamin.
Jdg 19:15 They turned aside there, to go in to lodge in Gibeah: and he went in, and sat him down in the street of the city; for there was no man who took them into his house to lodge.
Jdg 19:16 Behold, there came an old man from his work out of the field at even: now the man was of the hill country of Ephraim, and he sojourned in Gibeah; but the men of the place were Benjamites.
Jdg 19:17 He lifted up his eyes, and saw the wayfaring man in the street of the city; and the old man said, Where are you going? Where did you come from?
Jdg 19:18 He said to him, We are passing from Bethlehem Judah to the farther side of the hill country of Ephraim; from there am I, and I went to Bethlehem Judah: and I am now going to the house of Yahweh; and there is no man who takes me into his house.
Jdg 19:19 Yet there is both straw and provender for our donkeys; and there is bread and wine also for me, and for your handmaid, and for the young man who is with your servants: there is no want of anything.
Jdg 19:20 The old man said, Peace be to you; howsoever let all your wants lie on me; only don't lodge in the street.
Jdg 19:21 So he brought him into his house, and gave the donkeys fodder; and they washed their feet, and ate and drink.
Jdg 19:22 As they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain base fellows, surrounded the house, beating at the door; and they spoke to the master of the house, the old man, saying, Bring forth the man who came into your house, that we may know him.
Jdg 19:23 The man, the master of the house, went out to them, and said to them, No, my brothers, please don't act so wickedly; seeing that this man is come into my house, don't do this folly.
Jdg 19:24 Behold, here is my daughter a virgin, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble them, and do with them what seems good to you: but to this man don't do any such folly.
Jdg 19:25 But the men wouldn't listen to him: so the man laid hold on his concubine, and brought her forth to them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning: and when the day began to spring, they let her go.
Jdg 19:26 Then came the woman in the dawning of the day, and fell down at the door of the man's house where her lord was, until it was light.
Jdg 19:27 Her lord rose up in the morning, and opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way; and behold, the woman his concubine was fallen down at the door of the house, with her hands on the threshold.
Jdg 19:28 He said to her, Up, and let us be going; but none answered: then he took her up on the donkey; and the man rose up, and got him to his place.
Jdg 19:29 When he was come into his house, he took a knife, and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, limb by limb, into twelve pieces, and sent her throughout all the borders of Israel.
Jdg 19:30 It was so, that all who saw it said, There was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt to this day: consider it, take counsel, and speak.
Jdg 20:1 Then all the children of Israel went out, and the congregation was assembled as one man, from Dan even to Beersheba, with the land of Gilead, to Yahweh at Mizpah.
Jdg 20:2 The chiefs of all the people, even of all the tribes of Israel, presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God, four hundred thousand footmen who drew sword.
Jdg 20:3 (Now the children of Benjamin heard that the children of Israel had gone up to Mizpah.) The children of Israel said, Tell us, how was this wickedness brought to pass?
Jdg 20:4 The Levite, the husband of the woman who was murdered, answered, I came into Gibeah that belongs to Benjamin, I and my concubine, to lodge.
Jdg 20:5 The men of Gibeah rose against me, and surrounded the house by night. They thought to have slain me, and they forced my concubine, and she is dead.
Jdg 20:6 I took my concubine, and cut her in pieces, and sent her throughout all the country of the inheritance of Israel; for they have committed lewdness and folly in Israel.
Jdg 20:7 Behold, you children of Israel, all of you, give here your advice and counsel.
Jdg 20:8 All the people arose as one man, saying, We will not any of us go to his tent, neither will we any of us turn to his house.
Jdg 20:9 But now this is the thing which we will do to Gibeah: we will go up against it by lot;
Jdg 20:10 and we will take ten men of one hundred throughout all the tribes of Israel, and one hundred of one thousand, and a thousand out of ten thousand, to get food for the people, that they may do, when they come to Gibeah of Benjamin, according to all the folly that they have worked in Israel.
Jdg 20:11 So all the men of Israel were gathered against the city, knit together as one man.
Jdg 20:12 The tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, What wickedness is this that is happen among you?
Jdg 20:13 Now therefore deliver up the men, the base fellows, who are in Gibeah, that we may put them to death, and put away evil from Israel. But Benjamin would not listen to the voice of their brothers the children of Israel.
Jdg 20:14 The children of Benjamin gathered themselves together out of the cities to Gibeah, to go out to battle against the children of Israel.
Jdg 20:15 The children of Benjamin were numbered on that day out of the cities twenty-six thousand men who drew the sword, besides the inhabitants of Gibeah, who were numbered seven hundred chosen men.
Jdg 20:16 Among all this people there were seven hundred chosen men left-handed; everyone could sling stones at a hair-breadth, and not miss.
Jdg 20:17 The men of Israel, besides Benjamin, were numbered four hundred thousand men who drew sword: all these were men of war.
Jdg 20:18 The children of Israel arose, and went up to Bethel, and asked counsel of God; and they said, Who shall go up for us first to battle against the children of Benjamin? Yahweh said, Judah shall go up first.
Jdg 20:19 The children of Israel rose up in the morning, and encamped against Gibeah.
Jdg 20:20 The men of Israel went out to battle against Benjamin; and the men of Israel set the battle in array against them at Gibeah.
Jdg 20:21 The children of Benjamin came forth out of Gibeah, and destroyed down to the ground of the Israelites on that day Twenty-two thousand men.
Jdg 20:22 The people, the men of Israel, encouraged themselves, and set the battle again in array in the place where they set themselves in array the first day.
Jdg 20:23 The children of Israel went up and wept before Yahweh until even; and they asked of Yahweh, saying, Shall I again draw near to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother? Yahweh said, Go up against him.
Jdg 20:24 The children of Israel came near against the children of Benjamin the second day.
Jdg 20:25 Benjamin went forth against them out of Gibeah the second day, and destroyed down to the ground of the children of Israel again eighteen thousand men; all these drew the sword.
Jdg 20:26 Then all the children of Israel, and all the people, went up, and came to Bethel, and wept, and sat there before Yahweh, and fasted that day until even; and they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before Yahweh.
Jdg 20:27 The children of Israel asked of Yahweh (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days,
Jdg 20:28 and Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, stood before it in those days), saying, Shall I yet again go out to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother, or shall I cease? Yahweh said, Go up; for tomorrow I will deliver him into your hand.
Jdg 20:29 Israel set ambushes all around Gibeah.
Jdg 20:30 The children of Israel went up against the children of Benjamin on the third day, and set themselves in array against Gibeah, as at other times.
Jdg 20:31 The children of Benjamin went out against the people, and were drawn away from the city; and they began to strike and kill of the people, as at other times, in the highways, of which one goes up to Bethel, and the other to Gibeah, in the field, about thirty men of Israel.
Jdg 20:32 The children of Benjamin said, They are struck down before us, as at the first. But the children of Israel said, Let us flee, and draw them away from the city to the highways.
Jdg 20:33 All the men of Israel rose up out of their place, and set themselves in array at Baal Tamar: and the ambushers of Israel broke forth out of their place, even out of Maareh Geba.
Jdg 20:34 There came over against Gibeah ten thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and the battle was sore; but they didn't know that evil was close on them.
Jdg 20:35 Yahweh struck Benjamin before Israel; and the children of Israel destroyed of Benjamin that day twenty-five thousand one hundred men: all these drew the sword.
Jdg 20:36 So the children of Benjamin saw that they were struck; for the men of Israel gave place to Benjamin, because they trusted the ambushers whom they had set against Gibeah.
Jdg 20:37 The ambushers hurried, and rushed on Gibeah; and the ambushers drew themselves along, and struck all the city with the edge of the sword.
Jdg 20:38 Now the appointed sign between the men of Israel and the ambushers was that they should make a great cloud of smoke rise up out of the city.
Jdg 20:39 The men of Israel turned in the battle, and Benjamin began to strike and kill of the men of Israel about thirty persons; for they said, Surely they are struck down before us, as in the first battle.
Jdg 20:40 But when the cloud began to arise up out of the city in a pillar of smoke, the Benjamites looked behind them; and behold, the whole of the city went up in smoke to the sky.
Jdg 20:41 The men of Israel turned, and the men of Benjamin were dismayed; for they saw that evil had come on them.
Jdg 20:42 Therefore they turned their backs before the men of Israel to the way of the wilderness; but the battle followed hard after them; and those who came out of the cities destroyed them in its midst.
Jdg 20:43 They surrounded the Benjamites, chased them, and trod them down at their resting place, as far as over against Gibeah toward the sunrise.
Jdg 20:44 There fell of Benjamin eighteen thousand men; all these were men of valor.
Jdg 20:45 They turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon: and they gleaned of them in the highways five thousand men, and followed hard after them to Gidom, and struck of them two thousand men.
Jdg 20:46 So that all who fell that day of Benjamin were twenty-five thousand men who drew the sword; all these were men of valor.
Jdg 20:47 But six hundred men turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, and abode in the rock of Rimmon four months.
Jdg 20:48 The men of Israel turned again on the children of Benjamin, and struck them with the edge of the sword, both the entire city, and the livestock, and all that they found: moreover all the cities which they found they set on fire.