Monday, November 26, 2012

Sign Miracles

When you want to get someones attention, sometimes you have to use some drastic measures. Many people in today’s society might use riots, picketing or even violence. In the days of Jesus Christ, many in the Jewish and Gentile communities were rebellious towards God and were not living the life that they should have been. So Jesus showed Himself to humanity in human form and worked miracles, He was getting their attention while during His Father's work. He wanted to make sure that He was getting the attention of God's people and showing them the work of the Lord. There are 8 “Sign Miracles” that Christ used to get the people's and His disciples attention.

The miracle at the wedding was Jesus' first miracle. The disciples and Jesus were all at a wedding at Cana of Galilee. The miracle took place in the first year and beginning of the ministry of Jesus. The couple had run out of wine and Mary, who must have had a position of authority during the wedding, asked Jesus to do something. Jesus responded with a miracle that was beyond belief. He turned many pots of water into wine. Although, not many saw what Jesus had done, His disciples and servants knew. According to Elmer Towns, “Jesus was setting the stage for His ministry. The God-man demonstrated His desire to be with the multitudes and to eat and drink with normal people.”1 Jesus was setting the example for the rest of His ministry to His disciples.

As stated in John 4:46, “Once more He visited Cana in Galilee, where He had turned water into wine...” (NIV) A couple chapter later, Jesus has more work to do in Cana. In this miracle, a nobleman approaches Jesus with a request, to heal his sick son. The man had enough faith that when Jesus had
said in John 4:50 “Go...and your son will live...” This verse goes on to say that the man took Him at his word and realized that his son had been healed at the exact time Jesus had told him his son will live. Jesus was starting to urge people to believe in Him. Jesus wanted people to not just believe in His works, but to believe in Him. As Leon Morris states “John reports a number of times that people believed Jesus, or did not believe him, or were urged to believe him.”2 Jesus was beginning to want His people to recognize Him and not just His signs.

At this time, Jesus is starting to cause a commotion within the Jewish community. There are those who are starting to question Jesus' power and His words. Jesus is going to attend a Feast (Feast of Booths) in Jerusalem and stops by a pool of water that is supposed to have powers to heal the sick during the time of the feast. He happens by a man that has been sick for a long time and cannot get to the pool by himself. So Jesus says in John 8 “...Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” As soon as Jesus says this the man gets up and walked. The pool was incredibly busy at this time, as it says that the man cannot get to the Pool of Bethesda because people keep pushing in front of him. Jesus wanted those around him to see him perform this miracle. He was about to enter Jerusalem, and people would be talking about what Jesus did. This way they will want to see him and then He can speak to them about His Father's work. He didn't have to do this work at this location, but he chose it for a reason. As Max Lucado puts it “Surely there are more sanitary crowds in Jerusalem. Surely there are more enjoyable activities. After all, this is the Passover feast. It's an exciting time in the holy city.”3 He could have done this miracle anywhere, but He chose this location to show that He will surround Himself with ordinary people.

I often look at this story and laugh at how amazing Christ is. I like to believe that Christ had a sense of humor and I think that it partially shows in John 6:5-6 when Christ asks Phillip where they are going to get enough food to feed the great crowd. Verse 6 shows Christ humor when it says “He asked this only to test him, for He already had in mind what He was going to do.” I can see Jesus laughing to himself saying “Silly man,” and knowing exactly was Phillip was going to say. This sign had the most amount of people in one place, more than any other sign. Also, this is the only sign that appeared in all 4 gospels. Christ was wanting to disciple his followers but also show the crowds that He was doing God's work. Christ was showing Phillip that the Lord will provide, and He wanted His disciples to see what He was doing. His disciples were going to be the ones to build the church with Christ as the keystone, so He wanted to disciple them more than He wanted to show His sign to the crowd. That is why John mentions Phillip in this gospel.

Another sign Christ gives to His disciples is His walking on water. Right after the feeding of the crowd, Christ's disciples went to sea while Jesus went off to pray. While the disciples were at sea, it started to storm and they felt scared. While trying to regain control of there boat, they see a figure walking on water. At first they were frightened, but in John 6:20 Jesus says “But He saith unto them , It is I; be not afraid.” He was walking to them, while the storm was raging. Christ wanted His disciples to see that anything was possible with Him and that He was the Messiah. That is why Christ performed this sign with just His disciples around Him. Jesus wanted them to know He was always there with them and that He would guide them. As puts it “He is always there, right along with us. Jesus was able to overrule the laws of nature.”4

In John 9, Jesus once again performs a sign for his disciples. In John 9:2 his disciples ask Jesus who sinned for the man to be blind. But Jesus had a plan for this man, to not only show many His deity, but to show His disciples and the world that He is the Messiah. Nobody sinned for this man to be blind. It's the same thing with those that are sick today, there may not be any other reason but for Christ to shine through them.

Jesus rose Lazarus from the dead. Jesus was friends with Lazarus, as well as his sisters Mary and Martha. Jesus found out that Lazarus was ill and was dying. But instead of heading straight to him, he waited for a few days to go to Lazarus. He knew what was going to happen, but He wanted to show His disciples what He could do. This sign is to show the deity of the Messiah, that Jesus even has power over death!

Not only did Christ show that He was bigger than death, He showed that He Himself would overcome death. Christ had recently died and His disciples were trying to fish. They had not been catching anything, and they saw Christ, not knowing who it was, and Jesus said to throw your nets on the right side of the boat, and they came out with nets full of fish. The they realized who Jesus was and were amazed. Jesus had conquered death! Christ was showing His majesty by not just showing Himself to His disciples, but one last sign showing that He cared about them.

Christ is Messiah. He is Risen. He is Lord.

1Town, Elmer. The Gospel of John: Believe and Live. (Chattanooga, TN. AMG Publishers. 2002), 20.
2Morris, Leon. Jesus is the Christ: Studies in the Theology of John. (Grand Rapids, MI. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. 1989), 172.
3Lucado, Max. The Gospel of John. Nashville, TN. Thomas Nelson. 2007), 36. Signs and Miracles in John. (accessed November 25, 2012.)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

John 15

Christ used many different methods to share the Word and to try and reach people. There were parables, proverbs, insight, metaphors or using the culture He was teaching in. By this I mean that Christ would use their environment and culture as a learning tool. Christ used examples of shepherds, farming or vines, because that was what the people were used to and what they knew about. If Christ were around today, I bet He would use technology as a teaching tool, because that is what we know. 

In John 15:1-8, Christ used vines and branches as a teaching tool. There were a few things that He brought up in this illustration that is important to mention. These teachings of Christ should have a strong bearing on what we believe about Salvation, Discipleship and Eternal Security.

When Christ mentions in verse 5 "...apart from me you can do nothing," Christ is talking about salvation. Without Christ in the center of everything, we cannot grow. Without Christ in the center of a marriage or family it will wither the same way a grape will wither off a vine. Apart from that vine, the branches will fall. Christ is our way to the Gardener, and that is God. The only way to get to the Gardner is through the vine. Jesus referred to Himself as the vine and as Elmer Towns puts it in The Gospel of John: Believe and Live, "When Jesus called Himself "the true vine", He was drawing on an obvious parallel."Christ wanted people to know that He was referring to Himself as the only way to get to God. 

While not as obvious as Salvation, Discipleship is a major part of this passage. Christ says in Verse 15:2 that "He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." We as Christians are to be disciples to the world. As Leon Morris says in Jesus is the Christ: Studies in the Theology of John "The purpose of growing vines is to produce grapes, not foliage."The reason the Gardner, God, prunes us is that we might produce fruit. If we are not producing fruit, we are useless and He will cut us off from His blessings. That is the main reason we are here, we are given The Great Commission as God's children. 

The last thing that Christ brings up in this passage is about our eternal security. This is a much debated subject within the Christian church. There are even many colleges that will teach pastors that you can lose your salvation. Many use this passage as a way to say that Christ will cut you off and you are away from God. While I believe that this is what Christ is saying, I don't believe he is referring to our salvation. If you think of a branch on a vine, you know that once you cut off a dead branch or trim a branch, it will grow back and it can once again produce fruit. A dead branch will not produce any fruit. So, Christ is saying that He will cut you off from the blessings of the Gardner, but you are still a part of that plant, just not connected to God. We need to stay connected to God and keep producing fruit to receive God's blessings through the vine. Also, Christ could be referring to unsaved "believers," those who say they believe and say all the right things. Sam Storms puts it good when he says "The view that the fruitless branches are unregenerate is supported by what John's gospel says about unsaved believers. In other words, John often portrays people as "believing" in Jesus who clearly are not born again."3 

While Christ used many ways to teach, metaphors can often be used out of context. When using Christ's words for teaching, you often have to use other Scripture to help your point of view. There are many verses in the Word that guarantee our eternal salvation. See for more information. It is a great site to check out. 

1. Towns, Elmer. The Gospel of John: Believe and Live. Scofield Ministries.2002. Page 150
2. Morris, Leon. Jesus is the Christ: Studies in the Theology of John. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. 1989. Page 121.
3. Storms, Sam. John 15:1-6 and the Security of the Believer. Nov. 7, 2006. Enjoying God Ministries. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Marriage and Divorce

Marriage is a sacred sacrament between man and woman. Marriage was given to mankind from the Lord and it is a promise between man and woman. That promise to each other, God, and all those present during your ceremony is not to be broken. The meaning behind marriage is given to us by the Lord. The purpose of this writing is to explore the meaning of marriage, what does it say in God's word about marriage, when does the Bible consider a couple married and how that differs from today’s time, what the Biblical teaching is on divorce, some objections to the reason for divorce, if it is acceptable for a Christian to re-marry, and what the social impact of divorce is in the church and in society.

The Bible teaches us that marriage was given to us by God. Some debate that marriage started with the making of Eve when God stated in Genesis 2:18 “...It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (NIV) This is the first time that God has blessed a union between man and woman. God made a woman to be the man's helper, because He saw it was not good for man to live life on his own. As you read the Bible, marriage grew to be less and less God's gift to mankind and more about marrying for politics, lust or convenience. There were requirements placed on marriage. It was common in Old Testament times to marry within immediate family group, but there were requirements to stay within. Such as marrying cousins was fine. People were limited to certain members of the family, such as in Leviticus 20:17 it says “If a man marries his sister, the daughter of either his father or mother, and they have sexual relations, it is a disgrace...”(NIV) According to Walter A. Elwell “It was not until early Christian times that marriage came to be regarded as a sacrament.” But what does the Bible say about when the couple actually become married?
Often in Bible times a spouse was chosen for their children by the parents. Often, the children had no say in who they were going to marry. There was no chance to court, date or get to know the individual they were going to marry. There was usually something called a "bride-price" that varied in value. The parents of the soon to be groom would give a gift to the soon to be bride that the bride would keep going into the marriage. If the gift was acceptable, the parents would make a legally binding contract of marriage. In Biblical times, that is when you would be betrothed. The way that marriage works today is that the man and the woman will find each other, court each other and then marry; with the parents having very little say on who their children marry. This can be a good thing so that spouses get to know each other, but it can also become a bad thing to where the couple will make decisions through lust or convenience which can cause issues such as divorce.

Divorce in the Bible is not mentioned much. But when it does mention divorce, it gives very strict requirements. You don't see many divorces in the Old Testament because it was very expensive and available only to those with wealth. Usually the only means for divorce was sexual misconduct, which even that is debated among theologians today. In the New Testament the word teaches us that the only reason for divorce is a word called “porneia” which according to is translated in the Old Testament to have had “strong associations with harlotry.” Many Christians in New Testament time and the Church Age (today) consider this strong sexual immorality such as adultery or selling your body. However, in today's age it seems like you can get a divorce even if you look at your spouse the wrong way. Many people today get married on a whim, and never fall in love. Many see marriage as not a covenant but as a tax break, or someone to spend some time with. We see many people in Hollywood that get married and are divorced months, or in some cases days later. The only case I believe it is alright to re-marry is if your previous spouse committed adultery and had to divorce, in many abuse cases that cannot be resolved by counseling or seperation, or the spouse has passed away.

The divorce rate in our country has caused a major shift in spiritual and mental dynamic. Kids are being raised in homes without original parents, and that is not how God planned families. Kids grow up to think that their mom left dad, so it must be ok for me to do the same. The church is making more and more reasons why divorce is ok, so couples will seek out the church that will grant them that divorce or anullment. My goal as a Christian is to support strong Biblical views on Marriage and the covenant between my wife and I.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Reading through the book of John for class have been not just an assignment, but a pleasure. To be able to sit down and study John, not just read it, has been rewarding in so many ways. There is one character who has stood out to me so far and that character is Nicodemus. First, let me give you a little background on Nicodemus.

Nicodemus is part of a group called the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin were a powerful group that was in charge of judgment in the time of Jesus. They were more powerful than the standard Pharisee and were part of the high court of Israel. Nicodemus first came to Jesus at night in John 3. There are many possible reasons to why Nicodemus approached Jesus at night. Some speculate so that nobody would see him speaking with Jesus. Others say it was the time to meet with Jesus because there were not as many people around, so that sat down for some coffee at the local Starbucks and spoke. Nicodemus asked Jesus about being "born again" and how that worked. He was very analytical and precise when speaking with Jesus, and didn't seem to have the faith that Jesus was trying to pull from him.

The next time you see Nicodemus is in John 7. The Pharisee's are sitting around chatting, pondering how to kill Jesus, and accusing Him of blasphemy. Nicodemus is there and he says this: "“Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?” (John 7:51) It sounds like he is starting to stand up for Jesus, but still timidly.

That made me start thinking about the how much I am standing up for Jesus. Am I asking timid questions trying to hide in the background, and sort of supporting Jesus, or do I proclaim Him a STATEMENT and not a QUESTION! Don't get me wrong, Nicodemus went on to be a great servant for the kingdom of God. But while reading this statement, I thought to myself that I don't want to timidly ask those who distort the teachings of Christ questions. I want to stand up and show my faith. After Nicodemus asked this question, the Pharisee's shot him down and there was no more to the story. Did Nicodemus stay in the good fight and continue for fighting for Christ? According to what we read in John 7:53, they all went home after that. I can see Nicodemus sitting there with his tail between his legs.

Makes me think of a song by the Beastie Boys "FIGHT for your right to PARTAAAAA!" But instead, fight for your faith, fight for Jesus, fight for the teaching of Christ. Don't give up!

Nicodemus Visits Jesus by Night

Monday, November 12, 2012


I wanted to share some amazing, beautiful things that have happened to me yesterday. Yesterday, God gave me new life.

While I was getting ready to go to church yesterday to teach the amazing middle schoolers for Sunday School, my daughter comes out of her bedroom carrying her Bible. I look at her and ask her "Lorelai, are you going to read your Bible?" She says Uh-huh, sits down on the kitchen floor, bows her head, closes her eyes and starts praying. Praying in Lorelai language, sure, but she was praying. She looked like she knew who she was talking to, prayed for about 30 seconds with her eyes closed and head bowed. I heard a little "in Jesus name" and then she said "AMEN!" Opens her eyes and then starts reading her Bible out loud. She is pointing to the pictures and says "Jesus." Pointing to the words and reading in her little own language. My wife and I look at each other and I could tell that it blessed Amanda's heart too. We both got a little weepy after that. It was the most beautiful thing I have seen in my life. That a little girl that is not even 2 can do that just amazes me and shows me God's love!

Another thing that happened yesterday is I took out some middle school kids to rake leaves yesterday. An achy, sore, tired body 1 day later and I am still beaming about those kids! They were amazing! They worked so hard and I am so proud of each of them. We raked 3 yards and not once did they stop and say "I'm so TIRED!" I couldn't let a whole bunch of Middle schoolers show me up, so I worked right along with them...shows me I am not such a young person anymore when I can't really feel my arms today. Also a shout out to Bill for coming along for the ride. I feel so blessed to have this group of kids, to take out their Sunday afternoon to serve the community and to show Christ's love!

Christ showed me these things for a reason. I have some good things going here, and I don't deserve them. Only by God's amazing grace do I have the blessing of my little girl and these Middle Schoolers. Thank you God for such an amazing, beautiful Sunday!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Election

As most of you would probably guess, I voted for the other guy. Also, as many of you know, especially those who follow me on Facebook, I was not a fan of either guy. Being a conservative Christian, I felt that neither candidate was the right guy for President, one that would bring this country closer to God and do the right thing. That being said, the elction is done, and we need to come together to support our President. Here is the reason why:

Romans 13:1-5 says "Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience." (NIV)

We are to respect and honor our governing authorities, because they were placed there by God. The President may not have been the popular vote for the Christians, but God must still have a plan and a purpose for him. Who are we to question God's authority?

I love my country and I fear that it has become more divided every year. The division is from petty things such as race, income, etc. Why do we let these things come before our love of freedom? Christians, STAND UP AND UNITE! Become one again and show this country God's love by supporting the person God has placed in office.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Existence of Evil

The problem of evil is the existence of evil. Many argue that if God is without sin and He was the creator of the Universe, how does evil exist? If God is perfect and the creator of the Universe, then He must have created evil, and that would make Him not perfect. Many use this argument as a theological argument to argue the non-existence of God. Another way to use this argument according to Walter Elwell in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology: Second Edition is “there are those who argue specifically against the Judeo-Christian concept of God.” These people claim to not be atheists, but don’t believe in the God of Christians and Jews.

Moral evil is defined as those evils in the world caused by other free agents in the world. Examples of moral evils are the crimes against people such as murder, theft, rape, or even lying. These are the injustices of a person with free will and make the decision to commit an evil. Natural evil are the evils of things that just happen such as natural disasters including floods, tornados or earthquakes. Many ask why things are done to them because they are good people.

A theodicy according to Walter Elwell is “a term used to refer to attempts to justify the ways of God.” When you communicate a theodicy successfully, you should be able to prove the existence of an Almighty God. When communicating why moral evil exists in our world, you need to communicate that God is mankind’s creator, and He created us with free will. God created man with the option for man to do what he pleases. I am sure God created man wanting man to worship Him for all time, but He didn’t want man to have to do it and control us. Moral evils are the abuse of that free will that God has given us. The argument to this is that God created man and free will, so shouldn’t that make Him evil and the answer is absolutely not. It is the abuse of that free will that makes man evil. Say that I was given a guitar for my birthday. It is a beautiful guitar and one that I cherish; it is an amazing gift. But I use that guitar to smash over the head of a complete stranger. Is that the intended use of that guitar? God’s gift to us was beautiful but misused. As far as the theodicies of natural evil, there are a few that stand out to me; one example being that natural evils fulfill a larger purpose. While this may be true, it can be used by many non-Christians that why God can still let these things happen. While it may be hard for us to see a larger picture, God knows what He is doing.  He knows that an earthquake may harm few, but that he needed an evacuation of that area for a larger purpose. For example, I am late going to work because I can’t find my keys. If I did find my keys in time, I could have been in a fatal car accident. God has a purpose for everything that happens. Another theodicy of natural evil is that is was man created. I find this to be true. God created a perfect world for us to live in. God said that His creation was good and He was pleased. But man was kicked out of that perfect world and thrown into their punishment for the original sin. Throughout time we have abused the world that God made for us and now we are seeing consequences. While writing theodicies you have to be sure to remain Internally Consistent, which means that you cannot contradict yourself. Your argument for the existence of Natural evil cannot contradict the main fact that God is perfect and without sin.

I know many experience personal pains in their lives that may cause relationship problems with our God, but it is important to know that God has a purpose and a plan for everything that happens. My experience with a broken home and abuse has given me strength as a better husband and a better father. (And I love my father now very much.) I learned who I needed to be and I know that God has plans for my life. I don’t blame those problems on God. When I blame God for things that happen in my life, I am sinning against my Father and attacking who He is. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Another day of thanks

As all of you know I write to expose my thoughts to you about religion, family, and life. Throughout my time at Liberty I have learned a lot about Theology, religion, Christianity, etc. and I love to share all that I am learning. But now and then I have to step back from my studies and look at my life, who I am as a servant, husband, father and friend. I give thanks to the Lord above for the blessings in my life and all the things that He has given me. So, here is a list of some of the things I am thankful for.

1) God's Grace: Grace defined by Merriam Webster's dictionary is "unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification." God's grace to me is unmerited. I don't deserve God's love and abundant flow of blessings. God has provided me with what I need and more in life. Just being able to attend classes at Liberty has been a huge blessing and I have grown so much because of it. I wouldn't be able to go back to who I was before I started attending classes for God has provided a strength in me that I didn't feel last year.

2) My wonderful family: My wife Amanda and my daughter Lorelai. The Lord has given me such an amazing and beautiful family and I feel so blessed to have them. God has put them in my life for me to provide for, love, and cherish. It is my responsibility as a husband and father to be there for my family and provide for them, to laugh with them, to play with them and comfort them. It is a huge responsibility as a man, but one that God has given to me.

3) Pastors: Pastor Ernesto and Pastor Jayson have been a huge help to me as I have been attending classes. I am able to go to them and throw things by them that I don't understand and they give me what they think. They are my spiritual mentors. They are the ones I go to when I am struggling with some theology ideas. It is so important to have those people in your life that you can go to for spiritual guidance and these two men are so strong in the Lord, and I am incredibly blessed and thankful to have them in my life.

4) Friends: Pastor Jim always says that he can name about 5 friends or so that he can truly count on and that will be there for him when he needs them, or he can go to for guidance. I have about the same. These people are the Cromp's, the Lyman's, and the Beebe's. These three couples are some of the most important people to me and I feel that God has placed each of them in my life for the long run. You always have those friends that will come and go, but you also have friends that will be there for you through out your life. These three couples are those friends I know that are there for me. To you I say thanks for putting up with me and some of my crazy ways.

These are just a few of the things I am thankful for in my life. Have a great November everybody. Look for a blog in the next couple days on the study of evil.