6/15/15

From Mark Copeland... Evangelism Made Personal The Objective Of This Study



Evangelism Made Personal

The Objective Of This Study

(What To Expect In The Lessons To Follow)
The approach taken in this study devoted to the subject of evangelism varies somewhat from what you might normally expect to find. It is an effort to overcome the sort of problems that often follow special classes on personal work. Such problems as:
  • People losing their evangelistic zeal soon after the study is over, or soon after any efforts are made to try to reach others for Christ
  • People who do not have the ability to teach being made to feel as though they are not as dedicated to the Lord as those who do teach
  • People going out to teach before they are really prepared to teach, and often doing much harm in the process
  • People who are unable to teach not being shown how they can greatly assist those who are able to teach
  • Efforts in evangelism being carried out without being accompanied by a demonstration of the truth of the gospel in our own lives
In trying to overcome these and similar problems, this study is based upon the following assumptions:
  • If people can be properly motivated and maintain a positive perspective, they will do whatever they can in this enterprise we call "evangelism", both now and in the future
  • The Lord does not expect everyone to be a "teacher" in the formal sense of the word (Jm 3:11Co 12:29Ro 12:3-81Pe 4:10,11), and we fail to appreciate the diversity of function in the Lord's body (the church) if we expect everybody to become a teacher
  • Developing the ability to teach comes only with time, study, and training, which is far beyond the scope of any one course in evangelism
  • Those who may not be able to teach can still do a lot to greatly enhance the opportunities for others to teach, if only shown how
  • The most effective method of evangelism is one where the "verbalization" of the gospel is preceded by the "incarnation" of the gospel (i.e., demonstrating the truth of the gospel in our lives before we try to preach it to others)
I suspect not all will agree with some of these assumptions. Given time and experience, I myself may change some of my views. But for now, and for the purpose of introducing this study, these remarks may help to explain the direction this study takes...

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Flawless Food Laws by Kyle Butt, M.A.




http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=2122

Flawless Food Laws

by Kyle Butt, M.A.

Food regulations enumerated in the first five books of the Old Testament have been scrutinized repeatedly by credentialed professionals in the fields of dietary and pathological research. The regulations have proven to coincide with modern science’s understanding of various aspects of health and disease prevention. Old Testament food laws exhibit knowledge of bacteria, food preparation, and pathogen awareness that surpasses anything from cultures contemporary with the ancient Israelites. Furthermore, there is no evidence that the knowledge inherent in the laws was, or could have been, gathered experimentally by the Israelite nation. Thus, the Israelites could not have copied these laws from nations around them, nor did they arrive at them through their own experimental, scientific research. Where, then, did such amazingly accurate laws originate? Moses repeatedly acknowledged that the laws came from the Lord (Deuteronomy 10:4-5). A closer look into various Old Testament food regulations reveals the evident truthfulness of Moses’ claim.

FINS AND SCALES

The Mosaic criteria for eating water-living creatures was that the creatures have scales and fins (Leviticus 11:12). This injunction was extremely beneficial, since a multitude of problems surround many sea creatures that do not have scales and fins.

The Blowfish

The blowfish has fins but does not have scales. Thus, it would not have been edible under the Old Testament laws—fortunately for the Israelites. The blowfish can contain toxin in its ovaries, liver, and other organs that is highly potent and deadly. This toxin, called tetrodotoxin, is thought to be “1250 times more deadly than cyanide” and 160,000 times more potent than cocaine. A tiny amount of it can kill 30 grown adults (Dilion, 2005). As odd as it sounds, blowfish is served as a delicacy all over the world, especially in Japan and other far eastern countries. As a delicacy, it is called fugu, and is prepared by certified, licensed chefs. The toxins can be removed successfully, making the food edible, but the procedure often goes awry. Some who have researched fugu say that it is a food connoisseur’s version of Russian roulette. Due to the extreme danger involved in eating fugu, it is illegal to serve it to the Emperor of Japan! The Mosaic instructions concerning edible fish would have helped the Israelites avoid the dangerous blowfish, as well as danger posed by eating other toxic sea creatures such as certain jelly fish, sea anemones, and octopi.

Shellfish

Although shellfish are edible today, there are inherent dangers in eating ill-prepared types such as oysters. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has produced a twelve-page tract warning people about the dangers of eating raw or partially cooked oysters (“Carlos’ Tragic...,” 2003). In the tract, theFDA warns that some raw oysters contain the bacteria Vibrio vulnificus. In regard to this dangerous bacteria, the tract states:
Oysters are sometimes contaminated with the naturally occurring bacteria Vibrio vulnificus. Oysters contaminated with Vibrio vulnificus can’t be detected by smell or sight; they look like other oysters. Eating raw oysters containing Vibrio vulnificus is very dangerous for those with pre-existing medical conditions such as liver disease, diabetes, hepatitis, cancer and HIV.... 50 percent of people who are infected with Vibrio vulnificus as a result of eating raw contaminated oysters die (2003).
Eating oysters if they are not cooked properly can be potentially fatal, says the FDA. Thus, the wisdom of the Mosaic prohibition is evident to an honest observer. In a time when proper handling and preparation procedures were difficult to achieve, the best course of action simply would have been to avoid the risk of eating potentially contaminated foods, especially since the contamination cannot be detected by smell or sight.

REPTILES AND SALMONELLA

In Leviticus 11, Moses included reptiles in the list of unclean animals. Obviously, they are not cud-chewers that walk on cloven hooves, so they would not classify as clean, edible animals according to Leviticus 11:3. But to make sure that the Israelites understood, Moses specifically mentioned reptiles such as the large lizard, gecko, monitor lizard, sand reptile, sand lizard, and chameleon (Leviticus 11:29-31). Immediately following this listing of reptiles, the text states: “Whoever touches them when they are dead shall be unclean until evening” (11:31).
Interestingly, reptiles have a much higher rate of carrying Salmonella bacteria than do most mammals, especially those listed as clean in the Old Law. The Center for Disease Control has repeatedly warned people about the possibility of being infected with Salmonella passed through reptiles. In summarizing the CDC’s 2003 report, Lianne McLeod noted that the CDC estimates over 70,000 cases of humanSalmonella infection a year are related to the handling of reptiles and amphibians (2007). The CDCrecommends that homes with children under five should not have reptiles as pets. Furthermore, while other animals such as cats and dogs can pass Salmonella, McLeod noted:
As high as 90% of reptiles are natural carriers of Salmonella bacteria, harboring strains specific to reptiles without any symptoms of disease in the reptile. While it is true that many pets can carry Salmonella, the problem with reptiles (and apparently amphibians) is that they carry Salmonella with such high frequency. It is prudent to assume that all reptiles and amphibians can be a potential source of Salmonella (2007, emp. added).
In light of such evidence, the prudence of the Mosaic prohibition to eat or handle reptile carcasses is clearly evident.
Of further interest is the fact that reptilian Salmonella contamination can occur without even touching a reptile. If a person touches something that has touched a reptile the bacteria can spread. The ARAV(Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians) made this statement: “Salmonella bacteria are easily spread from reptiles to humans. Humans may become infected when they place their hands on objects, including food items, that have been in contact with the stool of reptiles, in their mouths” (“Salmonella Bacteria...,” 2007).
When this statement by the ARAV is compared with the injunctions in Leviticus 11:32-47, the astounding accuracy of the Old Testament regulation is again confirmed.
Anything on which any of them falls, when they are dead shall be unclean, whether it is any item of wood or clothing or skin or sack, whatever item it is, in which any work is done, it must be put in water. And it shall be unclean until evening; then it shall be clean. Any earthen vessel into which any of them falls you shall break; and whatever is in it shall be unclean: in such a vessel, any edible food upon which water falls becomes unclean, and any drink that may be drunk from it becomes unclean (Leviticus 11:32-34).
After reading Leviticus 11:32-34, it seems as though a microbiologist was present with Moses to explain the perfect procedures to avoid spreading Salmonella and other bacteria from reptiles to humans. How could Moses have accurately laid down such precise regulations that belie a superior understanding of bacteria? An honest reader must conclude that he had divine assistance.

BATS AND RABIES

Moses specifically forbade the Israelites to eat bats (Leviticus 11:19). The wisdom of this instruction is demonstrated by the fact that bats often carry rabies. While it is true that many animals are susceptible to rabies, bats are especially so. The American College of Emergency Physicians documented that between 1992 and 2002, rabies passed from bats caused 24 of the 26 human deaths from rabies in the United States (“Human Rabies...,” 2002). In the Science Daily article describing this research, “Robert V. Gibbons, MDMPH, of Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, MD., reviewed the 24 cases of humans with bat rabies.” From his research, he advised “the public to seek emergency care for preventive treatment for rabies if direct contact with a bat occurs” (“Human Rabies...,” 2002). Moses’ instruction to avoid bats coincides perfectly with modern research. Once again, the super-human wisdom imparted through Moses by God cannot be denied by the conscientious student of the Old Testament.

CONCLUSION

It is true that today, equipped with our modern understanding of food preparation and consumption, we usually can safely prepare and eat shellfish, effectively clean surfaces contacted by reptiles, and safely remove the toxins in fish such as the blowfish. But our knowledge has come through literally hundreds of years of detailed scientific experimentation unavailable to the Israelites. The Old Testament food regulations exhibit perfect instructions for a primitive people wandering in the wilderness. The instructions take into account the materials and procedures for food preparation that were available to the Israelites. Working within these limitations, the laws provided for the maximum amount of safe food consumption and health benefits. Modern dieticians and medical professionals who have compared Moses’ instructions to effective modern methods have come to realize the astonishing value and insight of the Old Testament text. As Dr. David Macht wrote: “Every word in the Hebrew Scriptures is well chosen and carries valuable knowledge and deep significance” (1953, p. 450). Such is certainly the case in regard to the laws of food consumption listed in its pages. Indeed, the wisdom found in the Old Testament dietary laws provides excellent evidence for the divine inspiration of the Bible.

REFERENCES

Dilion, Denise (2005), “Fugu: The Deadly Delicacy,” Welcome Magazine, [On-line], URL:http://www.welcome-moldova.com/articles/fugu.shtml.
“Carlos’ Tragic and Mysterious Illness: How Carlos Almost Died by Eating Contaminated Raw Oysters” (2003), U.S. Food and Drug Administration, [On-line], URL:http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~acrobat/vvfoto.pdf.
Macht, David I. (1953), “An Experimental Pharmacological Appreciatioin of Leviticus XI and Deuteronomy XIV,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine, September-October: 27:5.
McLeod, Lianne (2007), “Salmonella and Reptiles,” [On-line], URL:http://exoticpets.about.com/cs/reptiles/a/reptsalmonella.htm.
“Salmonella Bacteria and Reptiles” (2007), ARAV, [On-line], URL:http://www.arav.org/SalmonellaOwner.htm.
“Human Rabies Often Caused by Undetected, Tiny Bat Bites” (2002), Science Daily, [On-line], URL:http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/05/020506074445.htm.

Dawkins Is An Atheist Because He Wants To Be by Kyle Butt, M.A.




http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=2496

Dawkins Is An Atheist Because He Wants To Be

by Kyle Butt, M.A.

Richard Dawkins has become internationally famous for his caustic criticism of religion. He is an atheist, and he wishes everyone else would join his “enlightened” cadre of fellow non-believers. In The God Delusion, Dawkins declared the purpose of his book: “I am attacking God, all gods, anything and everything supernatural, wherever and whenever they have been or will be invented” (2006, p. 36).
Dawkins attempts to make atheism appealing by claiming that atheists are devoted to the truth, wherever it may lead. He stated: “We believe in evolution because the evidence supports it, and we would abandon it overnight if new evidence arose to disprove it. No real fundamentalist would ever say anything like that” (2006, p. 282). [NOTE: His statement is patently false, because the alleged evidence in support of evolution has been definitively disproved by many (Jackson, et al., 2007;Thompson, 2004.] Notice Dawkins’ rhetorical tactic, implying that atheists are unbiased, completely objective observers of facts.
In dealing with religious people, he suggests that their beliefs are tainted by what they desire to think or feel, and not by objective reasoning and observation. In his chapter titled “The Roots of Religion,” Dawkins attempted to discover the reason why people believe in an afterlife. He stated: “The idea of immortality itself survives and spreads because it caters to wishful thinking. And wishful thinking counts, because human psychology has a near-universal tendency to let belief be coloured by desire(‘Thy wish was father, Harry, to that thought’, as Henry IV Part II said to his son)” (2006, p. 190, emp. added).
A critical look at Dawkins’ reasoning reveals the pitfall into which he has plunged himself. Dawkins discounts belief in the afterlife because he claims that it is only held because people want to believe it. So why does Dawkins hold the belief that there is no god? Could it be the near-universal tendency to let his belief be colored by his desire? One can think of a host of reasons why an atheist would not want to believe in God. With God out of the picture, a person can behave how he wants, without feeling that he will ultimately be accountable for his actions. Without God, no regulations on sexual activity hinder a person’s unbridled lust. Furthermore, Dawkins’ atheistic writings and teachings have made him a very rich man. If there really is a God, and Dawkins wrote about His reality, what would separate Dawkins from so many other religious writers? Make no mistake, the concept of atheism is a very appealing, lucrative belief for Dawkins.
In some sense, Dawkins is right: most people let what they want to be true dictate what they believe. Many people hold false religious views because they desire to think or act in a certain way. But in at least one aspect of his thinking, Dawkins is tragically wrong. His atheistic belief is certainly not immune from this “near-universal” tendency. In fact, the Bible warned that atheism would survive only because of false belief based on a desire for godlessness. The apostle Peter wrote about scoffers who would deny God’s existence. Concerning these atheistic thinkers, Peter wrote: “For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old” (2 Peter 3:5, emp. added).
Dawkins is an atheist—but not because he adheres to a dogged determination to follow the evidence where it leads. Dawkins is an atheist because he wants atheism to be true. His desire for godlessness has produced his “willful” ignorance of the evidence of God’s existence.
It should be the goal of every individual to jettison personal desires and strive for absolute truth. If a person truly does that, he or she will arrive at the inevitable conclusion that there is a God. The realization of and obedient adherence to this fact is the only thing that can truly make a person free (John 8:32).

REFERENCES

Dawkins, Richard (2006), The God Delusion (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin).
Jackson, Wayne, Eric Lyons and Kyle Butt (2007), Surveying the Evidence (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Thompson, Bert (2004), The Scientific Case for Creation (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/pdfs/e-books_pdf/scfc.pdf.

Another Pointless Attempt to Defeat Biogenesis by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.




http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=4498

Another Pointless Attempt to Defeat Biogenesis

by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.

“British scientists recreate the molecules that gave birth to life itself”—the title of a recent article posted by the UK based, Mail Online (Enoch, 2012). Such a bold, presumptuous title certainly grabs your attention, considering that it leaves the impression that abiogenesis has finally been proved—that non-living “molecules” can give rise to life, contrary to the mounds of scientific evidence that prove that life comes only from life (see Miller, 2012). Unfortunately for the atheistic evolutionist, the article admits more bad news for the beloved theory than good.
The article begins with the statement, “Scientists [i.e., evolutionary scientists—JM] are one step closer to understanding the origin of life...” (Enoch). To the atheist, this would sound exciting, until he realizes that the author is tacitly admitting that after decades of work trying to establish that life could somehow evolve from non-life—which must have occurred in order for Darwinian evolution even to begin—scientists still do not understand the origin of life. Robert Hazen, a research scientist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Geophysical Laboratory, admitted in his lecture series, Origins of Life, that scientists “don’t know how life began,” but rather, have to “make an assumption that life emerged from basic raw materials through a sequence of events that was completely consistent with the natural laws of chemistry and physics” (Hazen, 2005). Paul Davies, theoretical physicist, cosmologist, astrobiologist, and professor at Arizona State University said, “One of the great outstanding scientific mysteries is the origin of life. How did it happen?... The truth is, nobody has a clue” (2006, 192[2578]:35). Eminent British evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins, also admitted that no one knows how life began (Stein and Miller, 2008).
The problem with this idea, from a scientific standpoint, is that science has, in fact, spoken about the origin of life. Science has proven time and again that, in nature, life comes only from life (Miller, 2012). Life does not come from non-living things in nature. So, according to science, the answer to the origin of life question must be found outside of nature—from a supernatural source. Don’t expect the atheistic evolutionist to accept that logical implication from the scientific evidence, and don’t expect Enoch’s article to make that admission either.
What are the facts that can be gained from the research discussed in the article? The tests conducted by organic chemists at the University of York and the University of Nottingham reveal that “using simple left-handed amino acids to catalyse the formation of sugars resulted in the production of the predominantly right-handed form of sugars” (Enoch). This is amazing and significant research. The problem, as usual, is not the evidence of science, but the interpretation of the evidence by evolutionists. The researchers assert that their find might explain how carbohydrates could have originally evolved on Earth and why the right-handed form dominates in nature. According to Paul Clark, who led the team of scientists who conducted this research, “One of the interesting questions is where carbohydrates come from because they are the building blocks of DNA and RNA. What we have achieved is the first step on that pathway to show how simple sugars—threose and erythrose—originated” (Enoch, emp. added).
Notice that they “jump from A to Z” in their conclusion that their findings have proven to be the “first step” in showing how “simple sugars…originated.” How can one make such an assertion? That’s like seeing a car for the first time, noticing that it is green, and proceeding to assume that the first step has been taken in proving that all vehicles are green cars. The researchers go beyond the evidence when they apply their excellent research to a hypothetical world that allegedly might have existed eons ago, that might have had just the right conditions and available materials to produce the results they gathered from their experiments—conditions and materials which have only been present in their laboratory, not in nature—which may or may not have been the means by which, in the evolutionist’s eyes, life could have somehow spontaneously arrived in the first place.
As is usually the case when such research is publicized, the authors want to grab your attention by boldly implying something that has not actually occurred. One has to read the article cautiously to catch the myriad disclaimers laced throughout the article, which subtly highlight the fact that the implications of the research are characterized by mere assertions and conjecture—not proof. A quick perusal through the short, 357 word article, watching for disclaimers, reveals the following phrases concerning the interpretation of the research: “could have occurred”; “could explain”; “many people think”; “we are trying to understand”; “most scientists believe”; “hypothetical conditions”; “that may have been present on early Earth.” The truth: naturalistic scientists don’t have a clue how life originated. They can only guess and speculate because (1) they were not around when life was originally initiated, and (2) because nature reveals that life cannot come from non-life.
With that in mind, notice the significant admission by Paul Clarke. “For life to have evolved, you have to have a moment when non-living things become living—everything up to that point is chemistry. We are trying to understand the chemical origins of life” (Enoch, emp. added). So, Clark admits that his team’s research does not even involve trying to answer the ultimate question of how life could come from non-life. His team was merely interested in trying to figure out how the non-living building blocks of life could come about—not how they could make the jump to life. That question is still untouched by Clark’s team, and the scientific world at large.
In essence, these scientists are merely trying to figure out how the blocks of life could have come about from pre-existing materials that they hope were in existence eons ago—not how those building blocks could have accidentally arranged themselves into a building that came to life and started walking around giving birth to other fully functional buildings. In truth, the question of “how life could come from non-life” has already been addressed by the work of Redi, Spallanzani, and Pasteur, and their scientific research indicates that abiogenesis cannot happen (see Miller, 2012). So why are Clark and his team wasting their time trying to prove how the building blocks leading up to a disproven theory could form? According to the article,
The research has echoes of the landmark Miller-Urey study in 1952, which simulated hypothetical conditions that may have been present on early Earth. It showed how the building blocks of life can form from simple chemical reactions—for example, electrical activity like that associated with lightning can prompt the formation of amino acids.
The problem with this statement is that the authors appear to have not gotten the memo that the Miller-Urey experiments are now considered to be almost totally irrelevant to the abiogenesis question today (see Miller, 2012 for a discussion of these experiments and how they are viewed today). The fact that the authors point to those experiments indicates that either they are behind the times among the evolutionary community or are so desperate to validate the possibility of abiogenesis that they ignore recent research which refutes their hopes.
Sadly, in this day and age, many scientists are only interested in studying nature to determine how things happen through various evolutionary theories, rather than simply finding how things happen. Their initial assumptions corrupt their interpretations of the evidence. Why would scientists not simply follow the evidence—wherever it might lead? Could it be that “they have itching ears” that prohibit them from enduring “sound doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:3)? Could it be that they refuse to “receive the love of the truth,” but instead, choose to “believe the lie” because they take “pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12)? Regardless, the evidence is clear. In nature, life comes only from life. So, according to the scientific evidence, the only way life could have been initiated in the beginning was through a supernatural act by a Being outside of the natural realm. That is where the scientific evidence leads the logical mind.

REFERENCES

Davies, Paul (2006), New Scientist, 192[2578]:35, November 18.
Enoch, Nick (2012), “British Scientists Recreate the Molecules that Gave Birth to Life Itself,” Mail Online, January 27, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2092494/Life-sweet-New-clue-chemical-origins-sugar-molecules-DNA-recreated-scientists.html.
Hazen, Robert (2005), Origins of Life (Chantilly, VA: The Teaching Company).
Miller, Jeff (2012), “The Law of Biogenesis,” Reason & Revelation, 32[1]:2-11, January (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1018&article=1722.
Stein, Ben and Kevin Miller (2008), Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (Premise Media).



Are You a Patriot? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.



http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=2821

Are You a Patriot?

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

A rather incongruous situation exists among America’s politicians, judges, academicians, and even many of the rank and file Americans. On the one hand, they claim to be true Americans—genuine patriots. On the other hand, they disdain Christianity and live contrary to the moral principles contained within the Christian religion. They literally labor to subvert the influence of Christianity on the nation. Politicians reject Christianity by making laws that contradict the Bible. Judges “legislate from the bench” by insisting that Christianity must not be countenanced in their rulings. Educators have banned Christianity from the classroom, avoiding any mention of Christian morality to students. In short, a sizable segment of American society has bought into the ludicrous notion of “separation of church and state,” consequently excluding anything that smacks of the Christian religion or Christian morality in the execution of their societal responsibilities.
In stark contrast stands the “Father of our country”—George Washington. Not only did he lead the Continental Army to victory over the British, thus enabling the launching of the Republic, he also served as our first President (twice). He was unquestionably a quintessential Founder, a critical cog in the overall scheme of things. Before retiring to private life after a distinguished career of public service, Washington delivered his “Farewell Address” to the nation. In that impressive pronouncement, he articulated the foundational keys to the success of the Republic:
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them (1796, emp. added).
The Father of our country insisted that the two fundamental pillars on which the Republic is poised are the Christian religion, and the moral principles that are derived there from. These, he said, are the great pillars of human happiness and the firmest props incumbent on citizens. Anyone who does anything to undermine Christianity is no friend of the Republic! He or she is certainly no patriot!
If George Washington were alive today to witness the widespread assault on the Christian religion in government, schools, and public life, he would undoubtedly be aghast, and incredulous that so many would pretend to be good citizens and loyal Americans—while actively pursuing a course that will surely hasten the demise of the Republic.
Set your hearts on all the words which I testify among you today, which you shall command your children to be careful to observe—all the words of this law. For it is not a futile thing for you, because it is your life, and by this word you shall prolong your days in the land (Deuteronomy 32:46-47).

REFERENCES

Washington, George (1796), “Farewell Address,” The Avalon Project at Yale Law School, [On-line],URL: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/washing.htm.

From Jim McGuiggan... Psalm 22

Psalm 22

Many of us go through spiritually depressed periods that feel like near-death experiences. On advice, we read the rich biblical texts that have helped so many others, yet our hearts remain as cheerless and lifeless as a cold fireplace. We try all the spiritual tonics, speak to all the wise people, do all the spiritual aerobics, read all the books on the spiritual disciplines, and try the "seven steps" offered by the well-known authors — all to no avail. Our depression deepens, and despair begins to knock on the doors of our hearts.
All those cures are supposed to work! They appear to have worked for other people and churches, why not us? That they haven’t worked for us is a matter of real concern if we are serious about having a relationship with God that pleases rather than grieves him, one that involves our giving as well as receiving. But our prayers and promises — our vows, sworn in blood-red earnestness that we’d be better, speak better, do better, and think better — have all come to nothing. The vows were sincere — at least we thought they were — and they were made in agony. But when the passion cools, we feel that "the summer is gone and we are not saved." Despair or near despair sets in. And why wouldn’t it? We share the poet’s distress:
Weary of passions unsubdued,
Weary of vows in vain renewed,
Of forms without the power,
Of prayers, and hopes, complaints, and groans,
My fainting soul in silence owns
I can hold out no more.
(Quoted in Sangster, The Pure in Heart, p. 51)
And the words of the sufferer become ours, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?" (Psalm 22:1)
And in our hearts, they aren’t words snarled in bitterness — they’re weary and disappointed rather than angry, because with our track record we can blame no one but ourselves. Still... still... we were hoping that God in his mercy would take sides with us against ourselves and deliver us for his own name’s sake.
"O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent." (Psalm 22:2) And as we complain, we’re perplexed, because the God to whom we make our appeal has a reputation as a deliverer: "Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel. In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed." (Psalm 22:3-5)
Wonderful stories. Salvation stories. True stories. But all the more distressing because they are true. Others called and were saved. We call and, instead of rescue, continue to see ourselves as worms, and our "enemies" mock us even though we throw ourselves on God for deliverance. (Psalm 22:6)
So we lie down, exhausted, having despaired of ourselves and feeling that God must have despaired of us also. And as we lie in our silent graves with no earthly help that will make any difference, paralyzed by a crushing hopelessness, we hear the whisper of the wind; and the word of God comes to us again through a nation that was dead in sin and beyond all human help.
As a nation they had tried everything to stave off the death they richly deserved. They paid tribute until they were broke, made treaties with foreign powers, and sent ambassadors north, south, east, and west. They fortified cities and studied the ways of war. They even tried religion — they built altars and prayed. But there was no salvation in any of their efforts. They were all just new ways of speeding the death process, and they ended up in a national grave. (Ezekiel 37:1-14)
"Turn to me and be saved... for I am God, and there is no other." Isaiah 45:22
Their bones were more than dry; they were "very dry." And there weren’t only a few of them — the valley, like one giant coffin, was choked with them. The prophet spoke, and bone came together with bone; but there was no life — only a huge ravine full of skeletons. Sinews and flesh wound themselves around the bones, but there was no life — only a mighty gorge filled with corpses, an eerie, silent valley of corpses! Well, not absolutely silent. There was the wind. The man was told to speak the word of God to the wind, and the wind became the Spirit of God entering those lifeless figures — just as on the day of creation — and they were filled with life and stood on their feet, a mighty army. A nation alive from the dead!
And hearing their story, we’re persuaded to trust again — or at least not to not trust again. At this very moment, we may feel a sense of fatigue and despair, but it’s not the end of the story. God — and may it please him to be soon — will give us reason to rejoice as life courses through us, delivering us from one enemy after another. One day we’ll assemble to worship and feel compelled to turn to fellow-worshipers and speak of our deliverance. In the strength and joy of the Spirit of God, we’ll dismiss depression’s view of sadder days and say with the psalmist:
He has not despised or disdained
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.
(Psalm 22:24)
And we, as our forefathers did, will enthrone God as the Holy One and the praise of our hearts. From him will come the theme of our praise in the great assembly, (Psalm 22:25) and our story will be told as one of deliverance to children not born, and people will trust because we were delivered. (Psalm 22:30-31)
And what is true of individuals can be true of whole congregations, and what is true of congregations can be true of cities and nations! What is true for others can be true for you. What is true for you can be true for me. Weep if you must, and tell him your poor heart’s breaking — but trust, wait, and listen for the wind!
(Quoted by permission from my little book called Where the Spirit of the Lord Is,  Permission from Howard Publishing, West Monroe, Louisiana.)

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

From Gary... Bible Reading June 15



Bible Reading 

June 15

The World English Bible

June 15
1 Samuel 23, 24

1Sa 23:1 They told David, saying, Behold, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah, and are robbing the threshing floors.
1Sa 23:2 Therefore David inquired of Yahweh, saying, Shall I go and strike these Philistines? Yahweh said to David, Go, and strike the Philistines, and save Keilah.
1Sa 23:3 David's men said to him, Behold, we are afraid here in Judah: how much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?
1Sa 23:4 Then David inquired of Yahweh yet again. Yahweh answered him, and said, Arise, go down to Keilah; for I will deliver the Philistines into your hand.
1Sa 23:5 David and his men went to Keilah, and fought with the Philistines, and brought away their livestock, and killed them with a great slaughter. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah.
1Sa 23:6 It happened, when Abiathar the son of Ahimelech fled to David to Keilah, that he came down with an ephod in his hand.
1Sa 23:7 It was told Saul that David was come to Keilah. Saul said, God has delivered him into my hand; for he is shut in, by entering into a town that has gates and bars.
1Sa 23:8 Saul summoned all the people to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men.
1Sa 23:9 David knew that Saul was devising mischief against him; and he said to Abiathar the priest, Bring here the ephod.
1Sa 23:10 Then said David, O Yahweh, the God of Israel, your servant has surely heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city for my sake.
1Sa 23:11 Will the men of Keilah deliver me up into his hand? will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? Yahweh, the God of Israel, I beg you, tell your servant. Yahweh said, He will come down.
1Sa 23:12 Then said David, Will the men of Keilah deliver up to me and my men into the hand of Saul? Yahweh said, They will deliver you up.
1Sa 23:13 Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, arose and departed out of Keilah, and went wherever they could go. It was told Saul that David was escaped from Keilah; and he gave up going there.
1Sa 23:14 David abode in the wilderness in the strongholds, and remained in the hill country in the wilderness of Ziph. Saul sought him every day, but God didn't deliver him into his hand.
1Sa 23:15 David saw that Saul had come out to seek his life: and David was in the wilderness of Ziph in the wood.
1Sa 23:16 Jonathan, Saul's son, arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God.
1Sa 23:17 He said to him, Don't be afraid; for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you; and you shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you; and that also Saul my father knows.
1Sa 23:18 They two made a covenant before Yahweh: and David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house.
1Sa 23:19 Then came up the Ziphites to Saul to Gibeah, saying, Doesn't David hide himself with us in the strongholds in the wood, in the hill of Hachilah, which is on the south of the desert?
1Sa 23:20 Now therefore, O king, come down, according to all the desire of your soul to come down; and our part shall be to deliver him up into the king's hand.
1Sa 23:21 Saul said, You are blessed by Yahweh; for you have had compassion on me.
1Sa 23:22 Please go make yet more sure, and know and see his place where his haunt is, and who has seen him there; for it is told me that he deals very subtly.
1Sa 23:23 See therefore, and take knowledge of all the lurking places where he hides himself, and come again to me with certainty, and I will go with you: and it shall happen, if he is in the land, that I will search him out among all the thousands of Judah.
1Sa 23:24 They arose, and went to Ziph before Saul: but David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the Arabah on the south of the desert.
1Sa 23:25 Saul and his men went to seek him. When David was told, he went down to the rock, and stayed in the wilderness of Maon. When Saul heard that, he pursued after David in the wilderness of Maon.
1Sa 23:26 Saul went on this side of the mountain, and David and his men on that side of the mountain: and David made haste to get away for fear of Saul; for Saul and his men surrounded David and his men to take them.
1Sa 23:27 But a messenger came to Saul, saying, "Hurry and come; for the Philistines have made a raid on the land!"
1Sa 23:28 So Saul returned from pursuing after David, and went against the Philistines: therefore they called that place Sela Hammahlekoth.
1Sa 23:29 David went up from there, and lived in the strongholds of En Gedi.
1Sa 24:1 It happened, when Saul was returned from following the Philistines, that it was told him, saying, Behold, David is in the wilderness of En Gedi.
1Sa 24:2 Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to seek David and his men on the rocks of the wild goats.
1Sa 24:3 He came to the sheep pens by the way, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were abiding in the innermost parts of the cave.
1Sa 24:4 The men of David said to him, Behold, the day of which Yahweh said to you, Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you. Then David arose, and cut off the skirt of Saul's robe secretly.
1Sa 24:5 It happened afterward, that David's heart struck him, because he had cut off Saul's skirt.
1Sa 24:6 He said to his men, Yahweh forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, Yahweh's anointed, to put forth my hand against him, seeing he is Yahweh's anointed.
1Sa 24:7 So David checked his men with these words, and didn't allow them to rise against Saul. Saul rose up out of the cave, and went on his way.
1Sa 24:8 David also arose afterward, and went out of the cave, and cried after Saul, saying, My lord the king. When Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth, and did obeisance.
1Sa 24:9 David said to Saul, Why do you listen to men's words, saying, Behold, David seeks your hurt?
1Sa 24:10 Behold, this day your eyes have seen how that Yahweh had delivered you today into my hand in the cave: and some urged me to kill you; but I spared you; and I said, I will not put forth my hand against my lord; for he is Yahweh's anointed.
1Sa 24:11 Moreover, my father, behold, yes, see the skirt of your robe in my hand; for in that I cut off the skirt of your robe, and didn't kill you, know and see that there is neither evil nor disobedience in my hand, and I have not sinned against you, though you hunt for my life to take it.
1Sa 24:12 May Yahweh judge between me and you, and may Yahweh avenge me of you; but my hand shall not be on you.
1Sa 24:13 As the proverb of the ancients says, Out of the wicked comes forth wickedness; but my hand shall not be on you.
1Sa 24:14 Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom do you pursue? A dead dog? A flea?
1Sa 24:15 May Yahweh therefore be judge, and give sentence between me and you, and see, and plead my cause, and deliver me out of your hand.
1Sa 24:16 It came to pass, when David had made an end of speaking these words to Saul, that Saul said, Is this your voice, my son David? Saul lifted up his voice, and wept.
1Sa 24:17 He said to David, You are more righteous than I; for you have done good to me, whereas I have done evil to you.
1Sa 24:18 You have declared this day how you have dealt well with me, because when Yahweh had delivered me up into your hand, you didn't kill me.
1Sa 24:19 For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away unharmed? Therefore may Yahweh reward you good for that which you have done to me this day.
1Sa 24:20 Now, behold, I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand.
1Sa 24:21 Swear now therefore to me by Yahweh, that you will not cut off my seed after me, and that you will not destroy my name out of my father's house.

1Sa 24:22 David swore to Saul. Saul went home; but David and his men got them up to the stronghold.

Jun. 15, 16
John 16

Joh 16:1 "These things have I spoken to you, so that you wouldn't be caused to stumble.
Joh 16:2 They will put you out of the synagogues. Yes, the time comes that whoever kills you will think that he offers service to God.
Joh 16:3 They will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me.
Joh 16:4 But I have told you these things, so that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you about them. I didn't tell you these things from the beginning, because I was with you.
Joh 16:5 But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, 'Where are you going?'
Joh 16:6 But because I have told you these things, sorrow has filled your heart.
Joh 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth: It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I don't go away, the Counselor won't come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.
Joh 16:8 When he has come, he will convict the world about sin, about righteousness, and about judgment;
Joh 16:9 about sin, because they don't believe in me;
Joh 16:10 about righteousness, because I am going to my Father, and you won't see me any more;
Joh 16:11 about judgment, because the prince of this world has been judged.
Joh 16:12 "I have yet many things to tell you, but you can't bear them now.
Joh 16:13 However when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth, for he will not speak from himself; but whatever he hears, he will speak. He will declare to you things that are coming.
Joh 16:14 He will glorify me, for he will take from what is mine, and will declare it to you.
Joh 16:15 All things whatever the Father has are mine; therefore I said that he takes of mine, and will declare it to you.
Joh 16:16 A little while, and you will not see me. Again a little while, and you will see me."
Joh 16:17 Some of his disciples therefore said to one another, "What is this that he says to us, 'A little while, and you won't see me, and again a little while, and you will see me;' and, 'Because I go to the Father?' "
Joh 16:18 They said therefore, "What is this that he says, 'A little while?' We don't know what he is saying."
Joh 16:19 Therefore Jesus perceived that they wanted to ask him, and he said to them, "Do you inquire among yourselves concerning this, that I said, 'A little while, and you won't see me, and again a little while, and you will see me?'
Joh 16:20 Most certainly I tell you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.
Joh 16:21 A woman, when she gives birth, has sorrow, because her time has come. But when she has delivered the child, she doesn't remember the anguish any more, for the joy that a human being is born into the world.
Joh 16:22 Therefore you now have sorrow, but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.
Joh 16:23 "In that day you will ask me no questions. Most certainly I tell you, whatever you may ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.
Joh 16:24 Until now, you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be made full.
Joh 16:25 I have spoken these things to you in figures of speech. But the time is coming when I will no more speak to you in figures of speech, but will tell you plainly about the Father.
Joh 16:26 In that day you will ask in my name; and I don't say to you, that I will pray to the Father for you,
Joh 16:27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me, and have believed that I came forth from God.
Joh 16:28 I came out from the Father, and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world, and go to the Father."
Joh 16:29 His disciples said to him, "Behold, now you speak plainly, and speak no figures of speech.
Joh 16:30 Now we know that you know all things, and don't need for anyone to question you. By this we believe that you came forth from God."
Joh 16:31 Jesus answered them, "Do you now believe?
Joh 16:32 Behold, the time is coming, yes, and has now come, that you will be scattered, everyone to his own place, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.
Joh 16:33 I have told you these things, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have oppression; but cheer up! I have overcome the world."