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Point of Reference

    by Fred Price

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 )

Rabbi Dennis Prager – author and social commentator

Some view statements like this as unnecessarily alarmist while others greet it with a yawn. Rabbi Prager admits that, "Such moments are extremely rare in history. And when they have occurred, they have been between two, not three, competing ideologies." Yet he believes there are now indeed three competing ideologies striving for pre-eminence in shaping mankind's future; Militant Islam, Western European secularism/socialism and American Judeo/Christian Capitalism.

The first – Islam – is being…  ( Click for more )

The best-selling novel, The DaVinci Code, purports to reveal hidden information regarding Jesus Christ and the early church's development within its story-line; adding fuel to the debate concerning the role of women in the church then and now. It repeats allegations that have circulated for centuries; that Mary Magdalene was more than a spiritual supporter of Jesus' ministry, being his lover if not his wife. As a result of her relationship with and understanding of Jesus she supposedly rivaled Peter's leadership of the early church; having lost a power struggle with him she was then…  ( Click for more )

December 19, 2003

Don't you just love this time of year? The family get-togethers, exchanging gifts, playing in the snow and caroling. Even the works of charity in the food and gift drives for the less fortunate make us feel better for those we've provided for and about ourselves as we feel a warm glow of accomplishment and satisfaction! Yet in making new memories and remembering old times together, let's not forget what is really important. Think back with me for a moment and...remember.

A cool starry night - a quaint little stable at the outskirts of town. As we peek through the front entry-way…  ( Click for more )

December 12, 2003

Have you ever considered the practical applications of your faith? Many think religion is superfluous – excessive, burdensome, un-needed; impractical to everyday living. Others see it as mystical, beyond our grasp – interesting yet unattainable. The Bible's authors expended much time and effort to reveal how practical our faith in Christ can and must be for it to be effective personally and productive relationally. (See Matthew 5,6,7 and Romans 12.)

Whether we see our faith as practical and applicable in the world determines our attitudes and responses to the world.…  ( Click for more )

December 5, 2003

The words intolerance and prejudice are being used quite frequently these days! What do they mean and are we? More importantly, what does the Bible have to say concerning this? Prejudice defined is: a dislike or distrust of people solely based on their being of another race, religion, or country. An opinion formed not of fact but on rumor, innuendo or others supposed experiences. To be honest we are all probably somewhat prejudiced. There is however, a big difference between prejudices and being racist, which is: the practice of discrimination, segregation and separation based…  ( Click for more )

November 28, 2003

The recent uproar over Florida Governor Jeb Bush's rescue of Terri Schiavo from starvation has once again spot-lighted America's shifting morals concerning the value of life.

Mrs. Schiavo is severely handicapped as a result of illness which first struck her twelve years ago; but she did not die nor is she in eminent danger of doing so now – unless she is refused the care she needs. Her vital organs continue to function, she is capable of recognizing loved ones, responding with laughter; she has no terminal illness threatening her life. And yet her husband, aided by a court…  ( Click for more )

At this time of year when we are encouraged to take stock of our blessings and to share our bounty, love and thankfulness like no other - who should we give thanks to? Our parents, for raising us well, for doing their best? Our families and friends for sticking by us and putting up with us through good and bad times? Our spouses for really knowing us and loving us anyway? Our teachers and preachers who did their best to teach us to be successful and righteous? Absolutely! But is that what the Thanksgiving Season is all about? For regardless of politically correct teaching concerning…  ( Click for more )

The seriousness of this attempt and the effort needed to achieve it is indicated by several scriptures. "Those who belong to Jesus Christ have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires." Galatians 5:24 "I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." Galatians 2:20 "For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin, (not perfect but no longer ruled by uncontrolled passions and our natural inclination to sin either) because anyone who has…  ( Click for more )

November 7, 2003

One of the exciting aspects of being out on your own, one we all look forward to as young people, is being able to decide for ourselves what we do and don't do. Things like where we go, when we go there, and who we go there with. Up for debate is whether we study or not, get up early or late, eat our vegetables, brush our teeth; or on a more serious note, who we date, how long we stay out and how far we go in a relationship. Do we do drugs, alcohol, smoke, or not?

Even though you are on your own now more than ever before you can still be influenced in your decisions and actions…  ( Click for more )

October 31, 2003

Lot was Abraham's nephew. Their families lived in Chaldea. Abraham was raised among the many "gods" of his people, but was evidently a righteous man as God decided to use him and his family to influence the world. His first directive was for him to "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you." Genesis 12:1 Who was this God? Sure, he promised to bless Abraham by turning his offspring into a great nation but at what price? Leave the familiar comforts of home, the luxury of family wealth for an unseen home in an unknown land.…  ( Click for more )

October 24, 2003

What does it celebrate and should Christians be involved? A good first indicator would be to examine it's decorations. Consider the images it conveys: ghosts, witches, monsters, demons, dead people, blood and gore, the devil, graves, pumpkins with garish faces, black cats, and black magic - symbols of evil or good, wholesomeness or unwholesomeness?

What's to celebrate? Even the cry, "Trick or Treat!" is a threat or at the very least bribery. Treat me and I won't play a trick on you. Don't and you're in for it. For some, it is nothing more than an excuse for bad behavior,…  ( Click for more )

Why is that so hard – accepting a message, advice, instruction and direction? Why do we often rebel against "help" even when we know the advice is well-intended and beneficial? It may have something to do with the condition of our hearts. "He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God." John 8:47 Granted, not everyone's word carries the weight of Christ's, "…I came into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me." John 18:37 But most of your advisors, particularly your parents,…  ( Click for more )

October 10, 2003

What change? Nobody likes unexpected change. We get comfortable where we live, with what we do, who we associate with, how we worship; and want to be left alone. Change is associated with work, discomfort, learning something different or new. But so much of what we do and who we are is superficial; camouflage really. We often hide ourselves, cover the real us up, only to have that real you jump out in unacceptable ways at inappropriate times. Steven Curtis Chapman dealt with this topic in a song titled, “The Change.” In it he bemoans the hip, glossy change that often…  ( Click for more )

Nearly everyone curses today. Many Christians do; if not in public then in private, especially if they get really mad. In fact, we seem to have set up a standard of practice for cursing. It's not permissible at this time and place but almost expected in another set of circumstances.

When are you most apt or tempted to curse? Does it make you appear more attractive, well-spoken, strong and in control? In fact, usually just the opposite is true when we are crude and disrespectful. Many have commented on the coarseness of our society; but people have always cursed. What's the…  ( Click for more )

The question as to whether there is a higher moral law to which we will all be held accountable has been highlighted once again in the face-off between Judge Roy Moore of Alabama and those opposed to the Ten Commandments memorial displayed (until recently) in that state's rotunda. Judge Moore has vowed to take his cause to the Supreme Court in an attempt to see the monument re-instated to what he feels is its proper place of prominence.

In the shadows of this judicial battle lie the questions that must be answered before any reasonable solution can be arrived at. Was our nation…  ( Click for more )

This belief is at the heart of our brotherhood's refusal to create one more denomination, choosing instead to join together in a loose confederacy of believers who none-the-less share a common faith and cooperate with one another in advancing the Gospel. Having no centralized authority to dictate our behavior or monitor our doctrine gives us a freedom to worship that many don't have but a responsibility to police our own actions that many ignore. To obey God's word requires that we know what it says and understand the context in which it was spoken.

Our confidence in the record…  ( Click for more )

'Right on! Power to the people! (Young people anyway) You don't know every thing just because you're older. Who say's I'm wrong just because I'm young? Old ideas are out-of-date, out of touch. Young ones are correct, applicable, positive. Down with the old - up with the young!'

Is that what Paul was talking about? Hardly. "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Romans 12:18 How do we "not let anyone" without being arrogant and demanding? Remember, God says in Proverbs 8:13, "I hate pride and arrogance,..." (See also Proverbs 16:18)…  ( Click for more )

What Does It Take To Get Your Attention? You would probably say, 'Not much, I listen pretty well'. Would mom and dad agree? Before you get mad, let me say you're both probably right. You undoubtedly listen more than you let on and as parents we might possibly over-state our case because we're not sure you are.

Is that an attempt to impose our will, deprive you of fun and force you to be what we want you to be? NO! It's because we love you so very much, because we're scared - about you and for you. We want the absolute best for you! Always before, we could steer you clear,…  ( Click for more )

August 29, 2003

No matter how much time we may spend in God's word it can always remain fresh, with new insights, direction and inspiration; it being a peculiar characteristic of God's word to be intensely relevant to any number of different people of various backgrounds, personalities, circumstances and ages. It speaks to us on different levels, at different times according to the changing needs of our lives. Some material is so unique it may surprise, amuse and even confuse us. The Prophet Ezekiel's story of "Dry Bones" could certainly qualify as one such topic. It spoke to those contemporary…  ( Click for more )

August 22, 2003

Johann Gutenberg was born in the city of Mainz, Germany around 1400, into the middle of a movement to make God a personal God by revealing Him to people in their own language, making Him available to any and all who could read. He greatly facilitated and energized this movement with his refinement of the printing press.

Before Gutenberg's invention of moveable type, all copying of printed material was done by hand or on presses that imprinted designs or words on parchment or cloth using blocked images or letters - extremely time-consuming and expensive. It is believed the Chinese…  ( Click for more )

August 15, 2003

Have you ever received contradictory advice? Grow up - but not too fast. You need to take on more responsibility - but not too much. You need to act like an adult yet have fun as a kid. Part of the problem is in your perception, part of it is in others' expectations; while some of the problem is in understanding the issue. Sometimes we confuse the concepts of privilege and responsibility, demanding the privilege while ignoring the responsibility that comes with it. You do need to grow up, but not so fast that you miss out on the fun of being young. You do need to take on responsibility,…  ( Click for more )

The misrepresentation of truth, either intentionally or in ignorance, seems rampant today. God's declaration concerning a previous generation's lack of truthfulness appears applicable to America today. "This is the nation that has not obeyed the Lord its God or responded to correction. Truth has perished; it has vanished from their lips." This resulted in their being rejected as God's spokesmen to the world, which was their true calling. (Jeremiah 7:25-29 and Exodus 19:5,6)

Three incidents suffice to highlight the problem, though it is not found exclusively among the rich,…  ( Click for more )

August 1, 2003

The loss of space shuttle Columbia, the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the ongoing hardships associated with our response to Afghanistan and war in Iraq as well as our continuing involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian quaqmire has altered our sense of well-being and how we view the world. Activities once taken for granted no longer bring satisfaction, some of which may be good. My personal response, after shock and anger, was a need for solitude. Unable to fully comprehend what was happening, I was torn between needing to do something and not knowing what to do. Lacking direction and excitement…  ( Click for more )

July 25, 2003

The opening statement of a July 6 Tribune Star editorial, "Institution Under Siege - Winds of Change Threaten the Tradition of Marriage," refers to a cultural debate intrinsically tied to our religious base as a nation. "The U.S. Supreme Court ruling that outlawed state bans on homosexual sex was the latest loud volley in an ongoing culture war over the shape and nature of personal relationships." The Justices ruled 6-3 that a Texas sodomy law, used to arrest, fine and jail two Houston men caught in the "act" violated their right to privacy under the U.S. constitution.

Although…  ( Click for more )

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