Welcome to tomthinking.com Wednesday, January 24 2018 @ 03:35 AM UTC

The Power Of Powerlessness

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I had forgiven him. He had done some things against me that were unconscionable. But I told him I forgave him. Meanwhile, deep in the recesses of my heart where I hide all my secrets, I wished for his life to be a explosion of failure and public embarrassment. After all, he hadn't really repented. So I declared forgiveness, but privately imagined a downfall for him that would justify my secret hatred.
I hadn't really forgiven him, had I? There was an important reason why unforgiveness still clung to me. It was because I was powerless to harm him.

Powerlessness Is A Part Of Unforgiveness

How To Become A One Mina Man

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Hello. My name is Tom Terry. Perhaps you’ve heard of me. I’m that guy in Luke 19. You know, the servant who hid away the mina that his master entrusted him with—the one mina man. Okay, so I’m not “that” guy. But I’ve felt like it quite often and I’m sure that you have too. If you’re a Christian then you’ve probably had the experience of feeling like you are not doing enough to build the kingdom of God on earth. In some cases what we feel is true and in some cases it is false. We worry and say, “I could never do that.” Or, “I’m scared of doing that,” to whatever it is that we might be asked to do with church, a ministry, or missionary. In fact, of all of the excuses I’ve ever heard or said about not doing a particular thing the biggest one, and the biggest lie is, “I could never do that.”
Instead of venturing out to take a risk in our service to God we plant our butts firmly on the couch, TV remote in hand, and use our excuse to entertain ourselves believing that since we’re “already in” when it comes to Heaven, so we don’t have to do much more. But, oh my friend, how wrong we are.
So allow me to help you become all that you can be when it comes to being a failure in God’s kingdom. I can do this because I’ve been down that road more than once. In fact, I’m down the road too often, even now. I’m an expert in this and I want to help you become the one mina man you were meant to be. First, take a look at the story of the one mina man in Luke 19:12-27, then I’ll give you seven sure-fire ways you can also become a one mina man.
 

Why Is America A Divided Nation?

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America is divided for one, simple, yet profound reason. We no longer believe the same things.

Take the case of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Politically they were polar opposites, yet they shared the most basic principles of morality, right and wrong.

In today's America, most on the political left don't believe in an all powerful, benevolent Creator. Most on the right believe in a God, but they don't really live as if he exists and are accountable to him.

Are You A Religious Person?

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Of all of the questions or tools you can use to start a conversation about Jesus and share your faith with someone, this one may be the most useful: "Are you a religious person?"

There are many ways of opening up a faith conversation. Perhaps you've heard these types of questions: Do you go to church? Where are you on your spiritual journey? What do you believe about God? What do you believe about Jesus?

The Jedi Are Bad. Here's Why

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This is a post from a few years ago, but since The Last Jedi has been released I thought to revisit it. 

 

First, let me say that it's just a movie. We shouldn't take our entertainment too seriously. But entertainment does teach us things and it can reinforce our values or oppose our values. Who can deny that most of American entertainment opposes biblical values?

 

That being said, I enjoy the Star Wars movies. The Star Wars saga is epic in nature and presents a morality play that we can use if properly understood. But that doesn't mean we should just accept the quasi-good/evil scenario that is portrayed in Star Wars. In fact, if you examine the good/evil scenario drawn in the movies and compare it with a biblical view of morality, you can only come away with one conclusion.

 

The Jedi are bad.

 

The Jedi aren't as bad as the Sith. And the empire in Star Wars isn't good. But that doesn't mean that the Jedi are good either. They are simply a different form of evil than the Sith. It's like the war in Syria. ISIS is bad, really bad. But in terms of the whole conflict, with the exception of the victims, there are no good guys on any side. Thus it is with Star Wars. The Sith are bad. The empire is bad. But so are the Jedi. From a biblical perspective, they're just a different kind of bad.

 

Here are several reasons, from George Lucas' epic series and the scripture, why the Jedi, as heroes, are not all they're cracked up to be.

 

Teleportation is not a Spiritual Gift

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Have you heard this one? It's a relatively new claim by some in the Faith movement in the last few years, and it's a whopper. In a nutshell, there are a few preachers teaching…get ready. Are you ready? Here it comes. Some preachers are teaching that teleportation is a spiritual gift.
No, this is not a joke. What is worse is that many Christians are falling for this deception. 
As often happens in the prosperity gospel movement, extreme claims are made and presented from the scriptures. The new Christian, or the Christian without a fuller understanding of the scripture is often taken in by such claims. This is one of the ways in which a prosperity preacher traps the unsuspecting person. His or her arguments seem to come from the Bible, therefore they present their teaching as trustworthy. In reality, however, the teaching is far from trustworthy or Biblically accurate. This is the case with this latest ear tickler: spiritual transportation. For the sake of brevity I will simply refer to it as teleportation.
Is teleportation a spiritual gift? Are there examples of it in the Bible? How do I know if this so-called gift is real or fake? I'll attempt to answer those questions by doing two things.
First, I'll present the only two passages of scripture that seem to refer to teleportation and demonstrate why the passages do not present teleportation as a spiritual gift.
Then I will present you with seven arguments from the scriptures and contemporary life why teleportation is not a spiritual gift, but is a deception.
Examples?

The Superiority of Jesus Christ

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Jesus Christ is superior to all religious founders, teachers, philosophers, and ideologies. The American Heritage Dictionary defines Superior as, “Higher than another in rank, station, or authority, or a higher nature or kind, of great value, excellence, extraordinary.”
Beginning with this common and well accepted definition, examining the world’s most significant religious and philosophical figures, and comparing them to Jesus Christ, we see that Christ is eminently superior in every category.

Christianity Doesn’t Have To Be That Hard

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The book of Leviticus can be a difficult read. It is filled with laws and regulations about ceremonial sacrifices, leprosy and health codes, dietary restrictions, and commands about relationships and sexual sins. In my early exploration of Christianity I was discouraged by reading texts like Leviticus, worried I could never measure up to what it taught. If that was Christianity, I thought, then it was too hard.

Hey Atheist, God Is Not All-Loving. Well, Not In The Way You Think

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 Regarding the problem of evil, the atheist objects saying, “How can God be all-knowing and all-loving and let evil exist?”

 

Underlying the atheist’s mindset is not that God is all-loving, rather, it assumes that a moral God must be only-loving. In fact, God possesses the full range of emotions and intellectual capacity as man, more so, thus, saying God is all-loving does not imply that he is only-loving.

 

Christmas Is About Sin

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One wonders why there are so many people in America who seem so offended at a simple greeting like, “Merry Christmas.” While talk show hosts rant about the “Attack on Christmas,” by big chain stores, school boards, and the ACLU, others wonder what in the world is so offensive about a seasonal greeting steeped in tradition like, “Peace on earth, good will towards men.” After all, we’ve been fed many lines over the decades that Christmas is about love, and family, and unity, and peace.

I suggest that our leftist friends have finally realized what Evangelicals have been saying all along—love and family and unity and peace are all well and good, but they have little to do with the core of Christmas. I think it is for this reason that the anti-Christmas crowd has rushed in its anti-Christian fervor to suppress the holiday—because its real meaning is making a real difference in society the other 364 days out of the year.

The Promises of God Come With Separation and Death, So Merry Christmas

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Christmas is one of those holidays that I can take or leave. Perhaps it’s because of the way that we have trivialized what the holiday represents. We hang stockings, decorate trees, arrange manger scenes, and give gifts. Of course no one is fooled, it’s the gift giving and receiving that has become the real focus of Christmas. We love to get stuff. And we get joy, happiness, and a lot of squishy good feelings when our loved ones rip off the wrapping to expose our expressions of love. That’s a form of “getting” too. Nothing wrong with that, in and of itself; but we are fooling ourselves if we think that benign gift giving and receiving is really representative of what God gave man in Jesus Christ. God’s great gift to man, in point of fact, didn’t happen on that first Christmas. It happened on Good Friday when Jesus was violently crucified for our sins. Had the crucifixion never happened, and the resurrection, then Christmas would be meaningless.
The incarnation of Jesus Christ – God becoming a man – was an event so powerful and significant that for 2,000 years man has counted his days and marked his history by the birth of the babe in the manger. While ancient kings the world over were positioning themselves to be worshipped like living deities to their populations and remembered like gods, the real Son of God busied himself with becoming an everyday man. And yet that humble event, regarded as a sweet treasured moment that gives hope to mankind was in fact something altogether more brutal and violent than our holiday pageants, Christmas TV specials, and even church services willingly remember. We focus our Christmas remembrances on the coming of “Immanuel,” the God with us from Isaiah 7:14 and the “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace,” of Isaiah 9:6. But the Christmas tradition, that is, the belief that God would send a Savior, appears in the Bible long before Isaiah’s hopeful promises. And in these foundational promises of God, from which even Isaiah’s prophesies spring, the seed of Adam, Abraham, and David was planted in blood.

Why Doesn't God Do Something About Evil?

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Have you heard this famous quote from Epicurus?
“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”
The problem of evil is one that theologians have struggled to answer for many centuries. Many of the explanations fall flat for some people since they revolve around answers like God is not on our time table for defeating evil. Actually, this answer is true. But for many in today’s culture the answer holds little water. Man has been around for thousands of years and evil continues. Why wait so long to defeat evil?
However, I believe that God has already done something about evil. In fact, God has done at least six things about evil. Allow me to provide what I think are six relevant answers to this dilemma, then a point of application.
If God is all powerful and good, then why doesn't he do something about evil? God has done something about evil. He has done at least six things:
 

Genesis 1:28 Is Everywhere!

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 Have you ever paid attention to the language of Exodus chapter 1? Some of us read it like an introduction of a novel without noticing something dramatic is taking place.

 

After Moses completes writing Genesis, he sets to work presenting to the Israelites their contemporary history. It is not that Exodus chapter 1 is an introductory chapter, rather all of the book of Genesis is the introductory chapter leading up to the book of Exodus. And Moses takes great pains in the language he uses to show Israel exactly what God is doing. What is he doing? Read Exodus 1 and take note that 8 times Israel’s multiplication is mentioned center stage. Moses uses the words fruitful, multiply, and spread out. Three times he refers to Israel as mighty.

 

Why is this important? 

 

You Need Four Things To Be Happy

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Are you happy or unhappy with your life? If you sat down and made a list of reasons why you are happy or unhappy, chances are, you will be able to find a variation of four things that you need for happiness. I’m not usually one to try and boil down life to some formulaic approach to fulfillment. However, I think in this case, in general terms, we can self-assess our lives to discover what contributes to or takes away from our happiness. I’m not going to give you a pop culture answer like, “All you need is love.” Nor will I give you a pat religious answer like, “All you need is Jesus.” Love may be supreme and Jesus is the ultimate expression of God’s love—and you need both for eternal happiness. But what I’d like to do is present four things that are necessary for human happiness in this life, right now. I believe that God has wired us in this way, whether you are a Christian or not.

Happiness is important. Happiness is not the be all and end all of existence. In fact, happiness should not be the primary pursuit of our lives because happiness is best seen as a byproduct and not a pursuit. But that doesn’t mean that happiness isn’t important. If we are happy in our work then getting up in the morning to go to work isn’t a chore for us. If we are happy in our home life then we look forward to being home and spending time with the ones we love. The catch is knowing where our happiness comes from. If we can know what we need to be happy then we can self-assess to find out if we have what we need, or if we are missing happiness by missing one or more of the four elements necessary to happiness. So, allow me to wax philosophical for a moment as I define the basic elements of happiness, why they are important, and then present you with biblical examples for these four elements. Let’s get started.

Why I Believe In Jesus

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Do you believe in Jesus? I’ve believed in Jesus since October of 1983. When I first came to Christ I knew almost nothing. I had a sense that there was a God, but wasn’t sure. I also had a sense, before I was ever exposed to Christianity in any meaningful way, that if I died I would not go to Heaven, but would go to Hell.
 

Everyday I drove by a church and noticed that its parking lot was filled with cars. Why in the world are there cars in a church parking lot on a Tuesday, I wondered? One day curiosity got the best of me and I pulled into the lot of Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. I talked with the Christian school principal and a guy named Max. They explained the Gospel to me, showing me passages from the Bible. I was hesitant and conflicted. I wanted to be patient and gracious. But what I really wanted was to get out of there. But as Max shared the scriptures with me something began to click. It made sense. When he asked me to pray to receive Christ I was still hesitant and afraid, but I did it anyway. That evening I became a Christian. But what did I really know beyond the first bit of knowledge that Jesus died for me and rose from the dead? Not much. If someone were to have asked me why I believed in Jesus at that moment I would not have known what to say. So here it is, over 30 years later, and I’m pondering what I’ve learned and believed and how I’ve changed. You know what?  

 

I know what to say.  

 

Why I believe in Jesus today, after 30+ years in Christ, is different than why I first believed. There are many reasons why I believe in Jesus. They are reasons that everyone should consider. Some are subjective, dealing with what has gone on in my heart for the last 30+ years. Some reasons are more objective. In other words, evidence outside of my perspectives and feelings about Jesus that convince me year after year about the truth of who he is. There are many reasons why I believe in Jesus—and why I hope you will believe in Jesus. But for this article I will share just six.  

 

Deciding on your Predestination

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Six times in the scripture your destiny is mentioned as something that the Lord has foreordained since before the foundation of the world. This is an encouraging and wonderful thing, to think that God elected you and I to enjoy him forever. However, there is more to predestination than personal salvation from sin and a home in Heaven. In fact, every time predestination is mentioned there is one thing not far behind. Can you guess what it is?

 

The cross. 

You Want To Approach God? Who Do You Think You Are?

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Some people regard the God of the Old Testament as a judgmental God. Yet, in the book of Exodus God begins to make a way for the people to approach God, or rather, more importantly, for God to approach the people. Notice this progression in the book of Exodus about how people approach God.

The Trinity and the Holy Spirit

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One of the great difficulties of understanding the Trinity is that we have a tendency to want to think of God in completely human terms. We look at ourselves and we think that we are one and therefore since we are made in God’s image, he must also be one. Alas, scripturally, it doesn’t work that way.
The trouble with a unitarian or oneness view of the Trinity is that it attempts to explain God’s personhood within a purely human way of thinking about relationships. We also can, using human-based analogies, attempt to explain God as a Triune being. But our attempt by using analogy cannot convey the fullness of what it means for God to be a Triune being. I’ll touch more on that in a moment. First, we should clarify the existence of the Trinity.
What is the Trinity?
That the Trinity exists, as explained in scripture, there can be no doubt. The Father and the Son are clearly delineated in scripture as being one, yet different persons. The Father spoke from heaven during Jesus’ baptism while the Holy Spirit descended as a dove upon Jesus. This is probably the clearest picture of the Trinity’s existence in the New Testament. Jesus taught his disciples to pray to the Father in Jesus’ name (i.e., authority).

I've Decided I Don't Want To Live A Moral Life. Really

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Recently, I posted a question on social media asking, “Can you live a godly life without reading the Bible?” As expected, the range of answers went from a simple yes or no to everything in between. But no one hit my perspective.

 

Yesterday I did not read the Bible even once. The day before I completed my reading of the Bible and then took a one day break. Did I sin? Was I less godly yesterday because I didn’t read scripture?

 

To answer my own question I’d like to change its terminology just slightly, but significantly. But before I do so, I’d like to define just what the Bible is. The Bible isn’t merely a collection of religious writings. Rather, it can be described as what theologians call, revelation. This means that its content is not simply writings of mere men. Rather, the Bible is God’s revelation of himself to man. This is significant because you can’t go anywhere else to discover the specifics of who God is. Now, some might argue that we can go to godly men to learn about God. But where do they get their information about God’s character? From the Bible. 

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