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Point of Reference

    by Fred Price

June 25, 2004

Recent articles, interviews and books F1 have questioned not the person of Jesus, who is too widely accepted as a leading historical figure in one form or another; but questioning – even attacking the cross. Its function and value has been declared grotesque and insulting to today's sensitivities. After all, doesn't God condemn violence? (Ezekiel 45:9 – Romans 12:19,20) How can a loving God then condemn anyone, let alone his own son, to death as a result of sin? (Not realizing it is the depth of his love for us that motivated him to do so.) John 3:16

It's an ideal…  ( Click for more )

To understand this admonition fully we should define what it means to be yoked. Webster defines it as: A pair, harnessed together – to fulfill a job; the yoke being a farming apparatus that fits over the animals necks that combines their strength to accomplish a goal. A condition of being under control. Who's? He who puts the yoke in place, they no longer choosing their separate ways but being directed – through the yoke – to a single purpose. Being united or bound; uniting for a common purpose or bound to a cause.

A precondition for yoking animals is that…  ( Click for more )

"For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matthew 7:13,14

I must admit that this scripture bothers and confuses me. Jesus said that, "…God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 Paul re-enforces that by stating, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Romans 10:13; while explaining that, "…it is…  ( Click for more )

"For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matthew 7:13,14

I must admit that this scripture bothers and confuses me. Jesus said that, "…God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 Paul re-enforces that by stating, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Romans 10:13; while explaining that, "…it is…  ( Click for more )

As the embarrassment of Abu Ghraib continues to unfold, many are left wondering – how could well-trained American soldiers engage in such activity and why would they stoop to behavior that mirrors what they were sent to Iraq to stop? We have convinced ourselves that as a civilized people – a "Christian nation" – we are somehow morally superior and incapable of such activity. If we truly believed and practiced our so-called national faith, that might be true; but evidence is mounting to disprove that theory. Admittedly not everyone claims a Christian heritage anymore…  ( Click for more )

School is almost over – for some it may well be already – and I want to congratulate you on your effort this year and send some of you out into the big bad world with sound advice and encouragement. In meditating on what to say, an old-time hymn came to mind, "Take the Name of Jesus With You." In looking for it I came across another good one, "Take Time To Be Holy." No other advice I could give would be more appropriate or better expressed.

You are all well-educated and prepared for success in the world of business as wage-earners. Make sure you are as well-prepared…  ( Click for more )

May 14, 2004

Sometimes we say things we don't really mean, often as a result of anger or in an attempt to protect other's feelings. It happens as well in church as we sing praise choruses to a God we don't really know but want to impress none-the-less. One of the more insightful choruses being sung is "Breathe"F1. It's not complicated musically or lyrically, but if sung with conviction and understanding can be extremely powerful.

"This is the air I breathe, this is the air I breathe;" The first breath of air we take at birth signifies life, supplying the oxygen our bodies must have to…  ( Click for more )

"Be merciful, just as your father is merciful!" Luke 6:36

The concepts of mercy and grace are cornerstones of our faith; salvation depending on them. But does that have anything to do with our relationship to others? We know Jesus, "…came to seek and to save what was lost." Luke 9:10 To do so he became the substitutionary sacrifice for our sin; offering forgiveness and heaven in exchange for a recognition of need, acknowledgement of responsibility and repentance of sin. Is anything more required? We are to, "Be imitators of God." Ephesians 5:1, modeling…  ( Click for more )

Jesus' comment to the Samaritan woman was not merely a rebuke but a challenge to her complacency. Like many today, what beliefs she had she held strongly; but her knowledge of the truth was limited and she was not motivated enough to seek a more complete understanding of her faith. She was comfortable in the knowledge she had; her faith reinforcing who she was and what she did rather than encouraging her to question who she was and what she was about in relation to God and his expectations.

We recently looked at "unbelieving born-agains" at this site, lamenting the fact that…  ( Click for more )

Only in part, the scripture noted here fully rendered asks, "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?" It continues by cautioning against self-deception - 'God made me this way' – 'A loving God wants us all to be happy', in whatever condition we place ourselves in – and defines what God deems wicked; sexual immorality of the heterosexual or homosexual variety, thieves, the greedy, drunks, slanderers and swindlers. (1 Corinthians 6:9,10) Romans 1:29 expands this definition to include envy, murder, strife, deceit, the disobedient, faithlessness,…  ( Click for more )

In continuing last week's article, "They Sow the Wind and Reap the Whirlwind," let's look at a few things we often convince ourselves are no big deal, yet which nevertheless influence our lives in ways we fail to consider. A major factor in so many of these incidents is our comfort level. As the shock or fear of these enticements fade due to repeated exposure or mental indulgence, we become comfortable doing what we have become comfortable thinking about or imagining. We must be on our guard and work to "…not be overcome by evil, but over-come evil with good." Romans 12:21

Much…  ( Click for more )

What kind of mental picture do you get from that? A little 'sowing of wild oats'? Having fun, even as it borders being on the wild side? Hosea was speaking to the people of the covenant, the good guys; those who had been called, responded, and should have known better. Like most of us. What's wrong with being a little wild? Don't we just need to get all that out of our system while we're young? Only if you are in turn willing to accept responsibility for your actions and their consequences; for there are always consequences. It's like telling little 'white' lies. Pretty soon…  ( Click for more )

Songs and liturgy have always been used to reinforce ideals. Some are better at it than others; many we recite without consideration. 'Holiness'F1 is a praise song with the capability of teaching and inspiring if we let it.

'Holiness, holiness is what I long for.' Do you? Longing is defined as strong yearning or earnest wishful-ness. Scripture characterizes it as hungering and thirsting (Matthew 5:6), as if the object of our longing were of great worth, able to sustain us or impart life. David described it as a desperate need, associating it with survival. "As the deer pants…  ( Click for more )

March 26, 2004

In an article for World Magazine titled, "Gods and Country", Gene Veith makes several statements and poses questions which deserve consideration. His central premise is, "America's civil religion is becoming polytheistic, raising the question: Should we prefer a naked public square to the pagan alternative?" Mr. Veith begins by taking us back to a place in time where political speeches, public schools, ball games and civic organizations openly and proudly incorporated faith issues, scriptural quotation and prayer into their public and private functions. In some places at certain…  ( Click for more )

because God has made it plain… Romans 1:19

The debate between supporters of creation/intelligent design and evolution ebbs and flows, often turning mean-spirited. Many Christians are reluctant to respond because they feel they have nothing to add to the conversation but 'The Bible says…'; which doesn't sound very convincing when others are citing dates, figures and facts, however dubious some of them may be. (It being particularly difficult to cite scripture effectively when your opponent doesn't believe in the Bible – there is no common ground to…  ( Click for more )

March 12, 2004

Green - the color of Ireland, the emerald isle; necessitating the wearing of green on St. Patrick's Day. Images of a pugnacious character, with a look of defiant determination on his face and shamrocks abound. Pride in being Irish is expressed in parades, ceremonies and the color green. But beyond celebrating one's Irishness, what or who was St. Patrick? The patron Saint of Ireland. But who is it we are being encouraged to remember and honor; and why?

Patricius, a Romanized Briton, was captured by slave-traders from Ireland at the age of 16. During his exile in the wilderness…  ( Click for more )

The tables are being turned on us in the debate concerning Mel Gibson's movie, "The Passion of the Christ"; with some in the secular world asking - What would Jesus do? We'd better be ready with some answers.

Some ask if Christ were to make a movie about himself, would the focus be on the last twelve hours of his life or would it concentrate on his love, tolerance and forgiveness as well as the selflessness he expects his followers to emulate. Would he really want man's inhumanity to man portrayed in such graphic detail? Would he risk inflaming passions against his countrymen…  ( Click for more )

(With the recent commemoration of the 31st anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, many find themselves asking this once again)

This question is still frequently asked as incidents occur that shock and confuse us. An epidemic has swept across our land, not of illness or disease but an affliction of the soul; sickening us all the same – manifesting itself in our bodies or inflicted on others.

Two well-educated young people and a dead baby; who did what and why never fully discovered. At the very least, they conspired to deliver an unwanted child secretly and do something with it;…  ( Click for more )

The recent fiasco involving Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake concluding their Super Bowl performance raises a number of issues; not the least of which is the hypocrisy of some who are protesting Janet's clothing "malfunction."

I was surprised and upset by what happened but wonder how much would have been made of the performance if Janet's breast had merely been exposed through the thin, red, clingy top she was wearing under her leather jacket. The intent was to rip away the jacket, showing as much of her breast as possible without actually baring it – but it would have…  ( Click for more )

Have you ever wondered how some holidays got their start? All of them intend to be a reminder of something or someone, to commemorate a day that a significant thing happened or the person who did it. Some are obvious; Christmas, Easter, July 4th. Some are not. Others we view in a light not at first intended; one of those would be Valentine's Day.

Originally this celebration commemorated the martyrdom of one, possibly two priests, both named Valentine. One, a priest and physician; the other, bishop of Terni, were beaten and beheaded along the Flaminian Way in Rome, Italy,…  ( Click for more )

This follow-up article is not meant to scold but to encourage; which is in part the function of church. (1 Thessalonians 4:18) We have been commissioned by Christ to make disciples, baptizing them into the community of believers – his church – and teaching them to obey his commands. (Matthew 28:19,20) The first Christian sermon delivered by Peter to an inquisitive assembly on the day of Pentecost outlined the immediate necessities of faith, repentance, baptism and Holy Spirit indwelling. (Acts 2:38) The fundamentals of worship are recorded in Acts 2:42; "They (believers,…  ( Click for more )

January 30, 2004

A recent Barna poll confirms statements by Dave Shiflett in the Wall Street Journal; claiming many Christians no longer feel compelled to convert heathens – primarily because they aren't sure there are any. They apparently have bought into the idea that every religion is equally valid; embracing the modern dictates of tolerance and inclusion over the traditional teachings of their faith. (Such as John 14:6,7 and Acts 4:12) The findings of the Barna poll surprise at first glance, but in truth only reveal a trend we've chosen to overlook at our own peril, the phenomenon of unbelieving…  ( Click for more )

January 23, 2004

"Stand up, stand up for Jesus, Ye soldiers of the cross. Lift high His royal banner, it must not suffer loss. From vict'ry unto vict'ry His army shall He lead, 'Til every foe is conquered and Christ is Lord indeed."

Stirring words, exciting strong emotions, inciting us to action.

"Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the trumpet call obey. Forth to the mighty conflict in this His glorious day. Ye that are men now serve Him against un-numbered foes. Let courage rise with danger and strength to strength oppose."

But what kind of action? Can we force…  ( Click for more )

So says Jesus concerning the Holy Spirit's role of revelation in and through the Word. Yet the world continues to echo Pilate's question, "What is truth?" John 18:38 Time magazine's article, "The Lost Gospels"1, addresses this on-going search for truth in surprisingly balanced fashion, citing mankind's desire for full disclosure and understanding while voicing dissatisfaction with that disclosure, seeking additional revelation to either support or supplant what they've learned.

The so-called gospels of Peter, Mary, Thomas and Truth, along with the Acts of John, the Homilies…  ( Click for more )

January 9, 2004

Jonah, called by God to preach to the Ninevites; gentiles – considered unclean, unsaved and ignorant. He didn't want to. Travel was inconvenient; he would have to leave his home, family, job and friends. All this for people he disrespected, disliked, even hated. He went elsewhere and made himself unavailable.

You know the story. There was a storm at sea. Others on board approached to ask who he was, where he was from, what God he served. They didn't know why this calamity had overtaken them and hoped he could help figure it out. Was he responsible? Could his God…  ( Click for more )

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